Monday, February 27, 2012

Tricolore Lunch

I was out of greens today for my lunch salad, so I had to improvise. These three pairs work well individually and together: carrots and dates, fresh cremini mushroom sauted with small black beans and a dash of BBQ sauce, and balsamic roasted beets with toasted pine nuts. Green salad, who?

Carrots and date salad: (1 serving)

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
  • juice of 1 lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
  • 1 ts sugar or honey
  • 1 date, chopped

Mix the lemon juice with the sugar, and pour over the grated carrots. Mix well, add the chopped dates and mix again – serve.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Salad, the restaurant edition

The other day I drove to Belfast, ME, and had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, Chase’s Daily, which again has been nominated for Best Chefs, Northeast by the James Beard foundation this year. Chase’s grow their own produce and they often have openings for helpers in the kitchen and on the farm. I had the roasted beet salad, made with garlic vinaigrette, walnuts and gorgonzola cheese. Interestingly, the side salad was (rare) mixed greenhouse greens stretched with the more winter-friendly white cabbage. 


At home I roasted the 2 large beets I had bought at the Belfast Coop to prepare my own roasted beet salad for the week. I cut up the beets, arranged them in a ovenproof ceramic form, drizzled some Fig Balsamic vinegar and added some vegetable broth, covered the form with foil, and baked at 400F for 1h 15 min. 


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mango Coconut Kale

Sometimes, the simplest dishes are the best – especially if they include a new flavor combination. – 


Melt 1 ts of coconut oil in a pan, slice about a 1/3 fresh mango into small chunks and saute in the coconut oil (add optionally: Brussels sprouts or edamane). Add 1 grated clove of garlic, and about 4-5 sliced Tuscan kale leaves. Add about 3 TB of water, and a teaspoon of tamari sauce and saute until the kale is wilted. Serve with Sriracha.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Vegan Chia Waffles

With spring approaching it is time for brunches and…. waffles. I bought this great all-clad waffle maker a few years ago that makes thin, crispy waffles. This is a very basic vegan recipe that tastes fantastic -- a slight sweetness to it, crisp and tasty. It can be altered with walnuts nuts, blueberries or cacao nibs  (mixed in the dry ingredients). They also freeze well. 

Vegan Chia Waffles (makes 6 waffles)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 TB chia seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ts liquid stevia
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, and mix the wet ingredients in a different bowl. Combine and mix until the waffle dough is without lumps.

Preheat waffle iron (typically, a green light goes on). Now spray with nonstick baking spray (it has some flour in it) (or wipe down with some oil). Cook waffles according to the waffle maker's instructions, which usually means putting about 1/4 cup batter on the iron, closing, and waiting for a light to go out. I baked mine longer than the light signal (about 4 min altogether so that they are on the crispy side). 

Make 6 waffles using 1/4 cup of waffle dough. 1 waffle, 90kcal.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Roasted plum tomato soup

Tomato soup. One of my all time favorite soups. There is only a handful ingredients, but there are so many ways to get it right or not so right. The preparation of the ingredients makes all the difference between a so-so dish and a smack your lips gourmet soup. This is definitely the way to ‘do it right’. All the steps and the order are very important: plum tomatoes (out of a can, at this winter season) roasted in the oven with fresh carrots, shallots and a dash of brown sugar to get the deep, caramelized flavors, and starting the soup base with a tablespoon of butter (vegan or not, this is a must!), red pepper flakes brought back to life in the bubbling butter, garlic caramelized  in the heated butter, all mixed up with some tomato paste and then thinned out with a jigger of lemon flavored vodka. The rest is easy. Salute! 

Roasted plum tomato soup (makes 3 medium or 2 large servings):

  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained of their juices (I used Trader Joes unsalted plum tomatoes)
  • 1/2 TB light brown sugar
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 shallots, chopped into large pieces (or 1/2 red onion)
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper 
  • 1 TB unsalted butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 2 TBs tomato paste 
  • 2 TBs of lemon flavor or regular vodka 
  • 1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 1 TB sour cream or creme fraiche (or heavy cream)

Step1: Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl, mix the plum tomatoes from the can (without their juice, save those juices for the soup or later!), the carrots, shallots, and brown sugar with a dash of ground black pepper, and arrange in a flat spread-out layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat (or aluminum foil). Place in the middle of the oven and roasted for 30 min. The sugars likely caramelize not only on the tomatoes but also on the mat. 


While the tomato mix is roasting, prepare the soup base. In a large pot, melt the butter on medium heat. Stir in the red pepper flakes, before the butter turns it color (it should NOT get brown). Now, add the micro planed garlic, and constantly stir. The butter and garlic will get slightly brown, but only saute for about 1 min and then add tomato paste and mix in until it  is all combined (it probably comes together in a tomato paste ball). Cook it like this for about 1 min, constantly stirring and breaking it up. Take pot of the heat (you don’t want the vodka to suddenly ignite), and add the vodka, stir it in the sauce, and bring the pot back to the heat, constantly stirring and mixing, for about 1 min.

Now, add the can of crushed tomatoes (crushed, not diced! If they diced, puree them first). Mix it all until the butter-garlic-tomato paste-vodka mixture is well combined with the crushed tomatoes. Add 1 cup of water with some bouillon (or 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock), and bring it to a simmer.

Once the roasted tomatoes are ready, add all of them and the onions and roasted carrots to the soup, and simmer for about 15min (last picture below).

Now, you can use an immersion blender and blend the soup or let it cool, and puree it in the vitamix, and then reheat. Once the soup is blended, stir in about 1 TB of creme fraiche or vegan sour cream or heavy cream. Serve with a dash of creme fraiche and pepitas. 

Finest tomato soup, EVER. 

Leftovers are also great.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Carrot cakes

A few days ago I found really small round spring forms in the Easter baking collection at Target, ideal for single-serving cakes. Today, I did my second batch of carrot cakes (the first one without eggs was a bit soggy), so, the carrot cakes are not quite vegan and not quite gluten-free, but they are very tasty, nevertheless.


Carrot cakes (makes 3 small carrot cakes):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 ts cinnamon
  • 1 large organic free range egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 90 ml almond milk
  • 1 ts maple syrup 
  • 1/4 ts vanilla extract
  • 1/8 ts liquid stevia
  • 2 large carrots, grated
  • 2 TB coconut flakes, sweetened
  • 20 pistachios, chopped
  • cooking spray (for 3 X 5 inch spring form)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix the dry ingredients in a larger bowl (all-purpose flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon) and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (1 egg, mustard, almond milk, vanilla extract, stevia), then pour the wet into the dry ingredients and combine well. Add the grated carrots, the coconut flakes and the pistachios, and mix in well.

Spray the spring pans with some cooking spray, and divide the carrot cake batter into the three spring pans.

Bake at 400F for 35min or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Note: 1 carrot cake: 250kcal.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Star spangled salad

How was your day? Mine was very long since I woke up way too early and I feel like putting up my feet tonight, watch TV and not think much. My salad moved on from Florida strawberries to star fruit. As per usual, a layer of mixed lettuce, followed by a layer of radicchio, and balsamic vinaigrette, cherry tomatoes, creamy goat cheese crumbles, fresh crushed pepper, and the salad star… well, the star fruit.


The White on Rice

There we think brown rice is the good stuff since it is not stripped of its hull which contains, as they tell us, all the vitamins and minerals. But now, it turns out, that very specific hull can also contain an extraordinary amount of arsenic, which is in the soil naturally but also often used in pesticides. A recent study claims that organic (!) brown rice syrup, often used in cereal bars and even baby formula, contains alarming rates of inorganic arsenic. Baby formula? really? Let me think, doesn't organic mean no pesticides? 

Quote: (report on ABC News Medical Unit)

“The EPA drinking water standard is 10 parts per billion for total arsenic, which combines inorganic and organic arsenic. Jackson's team tested one package of soy-based baby formula made with organic brown rice syrup and found a total arsenic level of 60 ppb, including about 25 ppb of inorganic arsenic.


They also detected arsenic levels ranging from 23 to 128 ppb in cereal bars made with brown rice syrup; and levels of 84 to 171 ppb in three flavors of energy shots.”

So, I guess it’s back to the white on rice. 

And let’s just hope the arsenic study was not funded by the old lace corn (syrup) industry.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day

If you are in a relationship or not. If you are happily in love or have a broken heart. If you get a Valentine’s card from your mom or your cat only – remember, with Whitney Houston, the greatest love of all is to love yourself. Happy Valentine’s day!