Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bok choy with bean salad

The weather can’t quite decide if it is clearing up or staying dreary. The lunch, however, was bright: baby bok choy (from the farmers market!) fried in grapeseed oil, a tablespoon of mirin and tamari, a bed of fresh grated carrots, and some of the bean salad from yesterday. Fantastic!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bean, chickpea and carrot salad

Another great summer salad for those potluck BBQ parties and picnics! Red kidney beans, black navy beans, chickpeas, carrots and a light Asian flavored sauce.
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Bean, chickpea and carrot salad (makes 2 servings)
  • 1/2 cup red kidney beans (sodium reduced)
  • 1/2 cup black navy beans (sodium reduced)
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, grated
  • 1.5 TB mirin
  • 1/2 TB roasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 TB organic tamari
Rinse all the beans and chickpeas, and mix with the carrot and the mirin, sesame oil and tamari. If the tamari does not make it salty enough, add salt to taste.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Spaghetti with artichokes, cannellinis, thyme and mushroom

It is cold today, thunderstorms went through, it is dreary, fortunately likely dreary only for a day after a sunny weekend. So cold, however, that a warm lunch was in order: frozen artichokes, cannelini beans, fresh thyme, and a few sauteed baby portabellas. 

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Spaghetti with artichokes, cannellini beans, mushroom and thyme
1 serving
  • 2 oz cooked spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup of frozen artichokes
  • 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans
  • 1/8 cup white wine
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 anchovy filet (or 1/4 ts anchovy paste)
  • salt, pepper to taste
  • a few springs of fresh thyme
  • a few grates of parmesan
  • 3-4 baby portabello mushroom
Heat the olive oil with the grated garlic and anchovy/paste in a frying pan for 2 min. Add the frozen artichokes, cannellini beans, cooked spaghetti, water and white wine to the pan, and stir well. Heat through until the artichokes are cooked, ca. 10min. Add fresh thyme, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with mushroom (below). 

In a separate pan, dry-fry the mushroom in a separate pan, and serve on top of the pasta.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Lemon olive oil bundt cake

How is your long weekend? After much socializing  and catching up yesterday, I took it easy today, and baked a fabulous bundt cake: with a fruity olive oil, lemon zest (and extract) and some quinoa flour and almond milk. If it would not be for the eggs, it would be vegan. It is wonderfully light and flavorful, perfect for a potluck or picnic at the beach.

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Lemon olive oil bundt cake

Ingredients (small cake, 6 cup pan)

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1 ts baking powder
  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup fruity extra virgin olive oil (like an Arbequina olive oil)
  • 1/2 ts pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 ts lemon extract
  • 3 free-range large eggs
  • 1/2  cup almond milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the pan(s). Combine the flours and baking powder. Set aside.

Using a standmixer with the paddle attachment, beat the olive oil, cane sugar, salt, vanilla, lemon extract, and lemon zest in a large bowl until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, for ca 2 min for each egg. Add the almond milk.

Add half of the flour mixture and beat at low speed just until blended. Add the remaining flour, and mix in. Use a silicon spatula and scrape the batter into the pan(s).

Bake the tiny cake for ca 30min, and the small bundt cake for 1 hour, until cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the pan(s) on a rack for about 15 minutes. Then turn the cake right side up on a rack to cool completely.  

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Lentil Quinoa Chive Salad

This is a beautiful, light ,yet hearty salad: quinoa and beluga lentils for sustenance, bell pepper and edamame for summery lightness, and chives and chive flowers for the onion dimension. Simply dressed with salt, toasted sesame oil and mirin. Perfect potluck salad.
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Lentil, quinoa and chive salad:
  • 1/2 cup dried beluga lentils,
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 israeli couscous (or harvest grains from TJ)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 ts butter
  • 1 TB roasted sesame oil
  • 2 TB mirin (sweetened rice wine vinegar)
  • 1 ts sea salt
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • handful of chives with flowers
Cook the lentils, quinoa and couscous separately. Cook lentils in 1 cup water with 1 fresh bay leaf and 1 garlic clove for ca 25min. In another pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic clove; fry for 1min and add quinoa, and toast it shortly. Add the white wine, cook it off and add the water. Bring to a boil and let simmer on low with closed lid for 30min. In a pan, melt the butter, and add the harvest grains. Toast shortly, then add the water. and simmer on low for 20min. 

Cool all ingredients, and mix with the sesame oil, mirin and salt. Add the bell pepper and edamame. Chop the chives, and preserve the flowers. Mix in about 2/3 and use the remaining for decor. Serve!

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Take me away

These days I have a small obsession with Wallis and Edward. I caught a glimpse of the preview of W/E on one of the DVDs from netflix, but did not get the movie’s name and started googling for Edward and Wallis. I ended up with the (well-known) story of Wallis Simpson, and the king that abdicated for her. I put W/E in my DVD list, and the Edward & Mrs Simpson 1978 British TV mini series on my instant play list. I have a thing for beautifully filmed British movies that play between 1850 and 1945 in England. It seems such a tranquil, beautiful, understated time (well, if you are rich).

Today is a gray, cool day; the week has been full and arduous, and I felt I wanted to get away and have fun. Portland. But once the clock moved passed 12pm, my desires turned into a pumpkin. The trade-off between a 4h drive and browsing the isles at Wholefoods, lingering in downtown Portland, and fun/but unnecessary shopping seemed to tip towards a ‘too much of a drive”. I talked myself out of it. Instead, I am sitting on my couch, an amorous Chanelle No 1 next to me, and W/E in the DVD player. The combination is not too bad.  Take me away, to different places, different times, different lives.

Something is cooking, too.   Quinoa. Israeli couscous. Beluga lentils.

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Preparing for the long weekend

Are you gearing up for the holiday weekend? It always puts me in a good mood to think about a long weekend, especially in the summer. Hikes, lobsters, ocean. Yesterday, I browsed through an old Gourmet Magazine, and found the image below. Doesn’t it capture a great summer hangout in a place like Maine or Montana perfectly?

Now, I only hope that Marc Zuckerberg uses his new billions to revive the Gourmet mag.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The skinny on balsamic vinaigrette

I use my home-made balsamic vinaigrette on most of my salads. However, I have a little trick. So, here it is – the skinny on an excellent home-made vinaigrette.

Most vinaigrettes use a ratio of 2/3s olive oil and 1/3 vinegar. This makes sense if the vinegar is extremely tart, like red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar, however it does not apply (in my opinion) for really good, aged, sweet (expensive) balsamic vinegar. So, when I make my balsamic vinaigrette, I use a ration of 7/8 balsamic vinegar and 1/8 olive oil. The flavor is in the balsamic vinegar afterall.
  • 1 cup very good, smooth, at least 8 year aged balsamic vinegar (I use Fini or Fiore's Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar)
  • 1-2 TB excellent extra-virgin olive oil (currently, I used a price-winning Australian olive oil I got at Wholefoods)
  • 1 TB grainy mustard (Maille recommended)
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 garlic clove, microplaned
Add all ingredients in a vinaigrette bottle (or simply a jar with a tightly closing lid) and shake vigorously. Keep chilled in the fridge, and serve for salad. 

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vinaigrette

Southwestern Fiddleheads

Oxymoron? Smiley face (fiddleheads are a northeastern thing). But it is a great way to prepare them since most recipes I know are rather bland, but this one is not at all. It is more the Eva Mendes form of fiddleheads.

Start with spicy olive oil (I bought a fiery hot harissa olive oil at Fiore), add some spicy chili flakes (1/2 tablespoon), some fresh grated or granulated garlic, and heat up. Add the kernels of a fresh chucked ear of corn, and a pinch of salt. Saute for ca. 3 min. Add precooked fiddleheads, and heat through (2min). Serve!  It is a great side to any steak or hamburger. Great also with a cup of cooked quinoa.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Glutenfree marbled cake

Over at Bea’s, she left us with a small marbled cake recipe before she travelled to Fance. Love her style of taking silicone molds with her on vacation to bake cakes. This time, she used it to make a small marbled cake, similar to my hazelnut cake a few weeks ago, but small, for the small family or the small occasion. Instead of a whole stick of butter, I only used a half stick and added instead a 1/2 cup of pre-cooked cannellini beans. You would never taste the difference. There was enough dough to make the small cake and 2 tiny individual cakes.

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Small GF marbled cake with cannellinis:

  • 1/2 stick (55 g) unsalted butter, soft 
  • 1/2 cup cooked cannellini beans  (best home-cooked from dry w/o salt)
  • 3/4 cup (100 g) millet flour
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) quinoa flour
  • 2 TB flax meal
  • 1/2 cup (60 g) almond meal
  • 1/2 TB  baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) blond cane sugar
  • 3 large organic free-range eggs at room temperature
  • 1/2 TB vanilla extract
  • 1 TB strohrum
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) buttermilk
  • 1.5 tablespoons sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a small cake or cake mold or muffin pan. I use a small silicone mold (needs no spraying).

In a food processor, chop the butter and the beans to a soft mousse. Add to the bowl of a standmixer with a paddle attachment. Add the sugar, and whisk until both are well combined. Add 1 egg at a time, and mix in. Add the vanilla extract and the rum and buttermilk, and whisk well.

In a separate bowl, combine the flours, flax meal, almond meal, baking powder and salt, and mix through. Slowly add to the wet ingredients until well combined. Remove about 1/3 of the dough and mix with the cocoa powder. Fill 1/3 of the ‘white’ dough in the mold, add the chocolate dough and top with the remaining “white” dough. Bake for ca. 40min. Cool for 15 min and remove from mold. Eat!

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Fiddleheads, kale and quinoa

The weather is wonderfully warm again but today was a quiet day with running errands around the house, buying cat food and red wine. The essentials. Refilling the vegetable drawer. Checking out the deals at Old Navy. Watching “The descendents”. Dinner came together with pre-cooked quinoa and fiddleheads and fresh kale, all sauteed in harissa flavored olive oil with chili flakes, fresh garlic, and rosemary, salt and pepper. Sundried tomatoes would have been good, too. 

fiddleheads_ quinoag

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Chanelle No 2

Today was a perfect day --- sunny, warm, almost ‘break a sweat if I move too much’ warm which is warm enough for most Mainers. After the farmers market I headed to Acadia National Park for the first hike of 2012. But first I was sidetracked after we found each other: a black kitty who must be a reincarnation of Chanelle. I was browsing an antique site (more like a junk yard) and I like this place because last time there were the cutest kittens. I appeared and 2 black cats immediately showed up and followed me around, super-friendly. One of the them not only look exactly like Chanelle but he is the same love bug. Once I sat down he snuggled up to me, curled up on my lap laying on his back, pressing hard against me, not going anywhere. Love. I almost took him home, but I am sure Chanelle No 1 would be less understanding.

So I could not leave, until we were all snuggled out after 1h. He decided he needed a little nap in the shade. And I moved on to the hill and the hike. After that, the obligatory (shopping/browsing) walk in Bar Harbor. Next time I have to get on that schooner at the Bar Harbor Inn!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Bodum grill adventures

Another nice sunny day and I finally had the courage to move my indoor plants outside for the summer, and add some more lawn furniture. Another adventure? Finally try out my small cute Bodum charcoal grill that I bought last summer. I have never use charcoal grills before so it was more or less an experiment. I bought charcoals with lighter fluid built-in, built a little pyramid in the grill, lit it and had a glass of wine. It burnt brightly but something went wrong, not all the charcoals were really white-hot, some still half dark. So, I guess I did something wrong.

Nevertheless, I threw on some mini bell peppers on the grill and closed the lid. More wine. More patience. I realized another seasonal occurrence: mosquitos interested in the orange grill adventure and me. Compared to a gas grill, a not very well light small charcoal grill seems to take forever to cook vegetables. Next time: more charcoal. However, it is a nice little portable grill for picnics. More adventures to come.

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grill_2

grill_3

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The orchestra of blooms

Nature has started with its orchestra of blooms.Some people are great conductors of the blooming in their gardens with an ever changing reign of beautiful matching flowers throughout spring and summer. I slowly get aware of the ever changing wave of blooms and their order. Currently, the fruit trees blossom, the cherry trees, apples, peach trees, and the dandelion adds a yellow blanket to the green lawns. Soon, it will be the time of rhododendron and peonies. Spring has finally begun.

spring_dandelion

Sleepy Cat

It is a sleepy day around here due to gray skies and cold temperatures. BC did not even blink an eye when I took a series of photos of her. Fortunately, I don’t feel quite as sleepy.

sleepy_day

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Planting time

It is rainy, then warm and the lawn, like usually in May with all the rain, needs to be mowed every week now. Free exercise and fresh air, right? I planted  round zucchini this year, grown from seeds, peas and lacinato kale. The perennial herbs have come back, the sage, thyme, oregano, chives and I am looking forward to cook with them, especially fresh thyme. I also grew several seedlings of kuri squash from the seeds of a squash I had bought last fall; they are doing so well I might have to give some away since I don’t have the space for all of them.

Lunch salad were the leftovers in the fridge: radicchio with balsamic vinaigrette, sauteed kale with yellow bell pepper, fresh squeeze orange juice and white wine and a 1/2 hot pepper, topped with goat cheese and strawberries.

radicchio_salad

Monday, May 14, 2012

Vegan Pesto Spaghetti with Fiddleheads

I had plans for the remaining cooked fiddleheads: a pasta dish – spaghetti with vegan pesto. Then I found a Thai curry with fern recipe in the Saveur Magazine. I think I might have to buy some more…..

fiddleheads_pesto_spaghetti

Vegan Pesto Spaghetti with Fiddleheads

Vegan Pesto (makes several servings).

  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1 cup packed mache (or any other ‘filler’ leaves like baby spinach)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 T white miso (I use sodium reduced white mellow miso)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1/8 cup water (more or less depending on desired consistency)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon (prevents that the pesto turns brown)
  • optionally (for non-vegan version): 1 oz of sheep's milk feta

Pack all ingredients in a food processor and start with about half of the water. Add tablespoon wise for desire consistency. Chill or use right away.

Vegan Pesto Spaghetti with Fiddleheads (1 servings):

  • 2 oz spaghetti, cooked according to instructions
  • 2 TB vegan pesto
  • 1/2 ts butter
  • 1/2 ts chili flakes
  • 1 small garlic cloves
  • 1 cup cooked fiddleheads

Heat the butter with the garlic and chili flakes until butter is lightly browned and garlic sauteed (ca. 1 min). Add the fiddleheads, and saute in the spiced butter, mix until all the butter is absorbed. Add the spaghetti, 3 TB cooking water and 2 TB pesto to the pan. Mix all ingredients and heat through for about 1 min. Serve!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Strained herbed goat milk yogurt

The other day I picked up something new at Trader Joes: goat milk yogurt. Hmmmm?

I love soft goat cheese so I was curious about how yogurt would taste. Then, when I tasted it I immediately disliked it: it definitely tasted like goat cheese and I could not think of combining it with anything sweet or fruits. So, it sat there in the fridge.

Yesterday at the farmers market I tasted a new product at the Olde Oak Creamery that was similar to the goat milk yogurt, just thicker, with olive olive and herbs mixed in, more like a spread than a crumbly goat cheese. The Aha! moment happened. Strained goat milk yogurt! So, I put the goat milk yogurt in the trusty strainer for about 36h, and it became thick and creamy, similar to Greek yogurt, much more the consistency of a cheese than a yogurt.

strained_g_yogurt

I mixed it with a tablespoon of pesto, some salt, finely chopped chives and fresh thyme, and served it as a spread on toasted bread with olive oil. Superb! A step closer to make your own goat cheese. Even with out adopting one of the adorable baby goats.

strained_herbed_goat_cheese_yog

Fiddleheads with garlic and chili pepper

At the farmer market I had bought a quart of fiddleheads (instead of searching for them myself). Today, I cleaned them, basically shortened the longer stems, and boiled them in salted water for 12min. There are many ways to serve them --- just with butter and salt and pepper, some people add some vinegar, but I was looking something more exotic.

clean_fiddleheads
In a skilled heated a teaspoon of butter with a thinly sliced dried hot pepper and a small grated garlic clove, and let the butter brown for 2 min. Adding the fiddleheads and mixing it through, with some salt and pepper, some baby kale, white wine… served with goat cheese --- delicious.

FH_kale

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The white picket fence

It was a beautiful day today and since I’d been just to the coast it would be a nice day staying put. Farmers market, petting 3 week old super cute, mellow, sunbathing twin baby goats, sampling goat cheese, buying fiddleheads. In the afternoon, I got a tan, plenty of exercise, and fresh air….. and my deck railing got a new white coat.

painting

baby_goats

Friday, May 11, 2012

Treasures by the sea

The rain finally stopped today, I got some work done and started into the weekend mid-afternoon with another coastal exploration trip. My mission this summer is still the hunt for antique bundt cake pans, and fortunately several of the flea markets along Rt 1 were already open. No bundt cake pans, though, but hey, it is just May. Dinner for once at Chase’s Daily in Belfast, but rookie mistake – I had no reservations. Friday is the only day Chase’s serves dinner, and obviously it is booked solid. Nevertheless, I got dinner, at the bar, reserved for those rookie interlopers. It was fabulous and made with love, as usual. 

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