Friday, February 28, 2014

Smoked beet salad

Today’s packed lunch fits the occasion of last packed lunch for 2 weeks: a smoked beet salad with sheep milk’s feta from the farmers market and a slice of home-baked bread.


For bread, you can use these recipes:

The smoked beets are based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver: place beets in a aluminum foil tent (just fold the sides shut) with a spring of rosemary and back at 450F in the oven for 45-60min (or in charcoals, same amount of time).


To round out the salad I added feta, and a sliced calamondin for some citrus flavor, all served with the best balsamic vinaigrette ever.



Time for lunch!


Friday, February 21, 2014

Lazy day vegan tempeh chili

Yesterday, during my social media marketing attack, I also found a nice looking tempeh chili recipe. I realized I did not even have half of the ingredients handy so I improvised with my own ‘vision’ of it (“Tempeh in chili!”). As said, I was really lazy (and tired) so shortcuts were ok. Store-bought pasta sauce? Yep. BBQ sauce? Definitely. A can of beans instead of dried beans cooked from scratch? Had to be good enough. The result, on the other hand, is fabulous. And not just because I was hungry and tired.


Lazy day vegan tempeh chili (2-3 portions)

  • 1 medium sized sweet or regular onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 TB canola oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • half regular sized can of navy beans, rinsed thoroughly
  • half jar of your favorite store-bought tomato sauce  (I like Prego light) or a half can of Amy’s chunky tomato soup
  • 1/2 block of tempeh
  • 1/2 TB ground cumin
  • 12 TB chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 1 ts smoked paprika
  • 1 TB light agave
  • 1-2 TB bbq sauce
  • a few dashes of hot sauce
  • If you use a can of regular beans they are so salty you don’t need any other salt; if using low-sodium beans, add salt to taste
  1. In a 2 quart bottom heavy sauce pan with a lid, heat the oil and saute the onion until browned. Once browned, add a 1/4 cup of water (or broth) to loosen the (tasty) brown bits from the pot bottom and scrap them off (into the onions).
  2. Add the beans,tomato sauce, spices, agave and sauces, and grate in (or crumble in, more realistic) the tempeh.
  3. Stir, and simmer on medium heat with closed lid for about 20-30min. Stir occasionally.
  4. Serve!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Lunch in a jar

Today, the home-brought work lunch changed from a fresh salad to warm food in a (mason)  jar ---- a first layer of sauted roasted bell peppers, an second layer of creamy polenta, and concluding with freshly sauted cauliflower and broccoli in garlic, breadcrumbs, olive oil and almonds.


The cauliflower idea stems from this wonderful recipe which was dinner last night, slightly changed, with mushroom but without bacon.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

18 Minutes

The day proceeded almost as planned: with skiing and donuts. However, it took a slight right turn after I found a set of pristine donut pans in my pantry when I was looking for something else. Donuts!  Baked donuts! Exactly during the time they baked in the oven (18 min) I cleared the entire driveway of its 10 inches snow layer. Without a snow blower, it would take me about 2 hours.

My reward was a freshly baked, delicious donut, with glaze and still warm, a cup of coffee and the prospect of skiing in winter wonderland for the rest of the afternoon. Not bad.


Baked chocolate donuts (GF, vegan)
  • 1 cup all-purpose GF flour/baking mix (Bob Mill)
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dagoba cocoa powder
  • 2 TB almond meal
  • 2 TB fine coconut flakes
  • 2 TB ground flax meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 TB grapeseed oil (or organic canola oil)
Chocolate glaze:
  • 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons earth balance buttery spread
  • 2 TB almond milk
  • 1/4 ts rum extract
  • 1/2 ts instant espresso powder
  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a donut pan.
  • For the donuts: Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir until combined. Make sure to remove all clumps with a sieve. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  • Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let batter sit for 5 minutes for the flax seed to plump up and bind the dough.
  • Spoon the batter into the donut pan, filling each mold about a little bit more than half (I definitely overfilled mine). Smooth out the top of the batter with a spoon. The batter should be enough for 2 of these pans, not just 1 plus one extra donut.
  • Bake for 18-24 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Use a fork to remove the donuts and place on a cooling rack and allow to fully cool before adding glaze.
  • For the frosting: Add the frosting ingredients into a medium bowl and beat with electric mixer until smooth. Apply with large spoon.
  • Enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Calamondin Jam

The Calamondins in my potted indoor plant have been plentiful in their first season. Suddenly, they seemed to all be ripe, too many to add to salads. --- Time to cook citrus jam.

Calamondin are similar to kumquats, however, they lack the bitter quality of kumquats although they are about the same size. They just throw a puckery punch of orange flavor, and can be eaten with skin and flesh. They are so puckery that the best way to use them is… in a jam. A calamondin infused vodka would rival a limoncello.


I plucked them, washed them with a bit of baking soda and hot water, rinsed them, and sliced them up, removing the seeds and making sure to preserve all the juice they’d loose when cut up. They are cooked barely covered with water ‘until soft’.  In my case, I cooked them about 20 min, and then let them chill overnight. Since the calamondin membranes are a natural pectin and marmelade thickener, this ‘gel-ing’ happens in the wait period. Today, I measure the amount of base jam I had, equaled it with sugar, and cooked it for another 20 min.  Many tiny mason jars were filled (great gifts!) and 2 large ones for me. The cooking spoon taste taste says: insanely good! ---

They would be fabulous with raincoast crackers and soft goat cheese.


How to make calamondin jam?
  1. one pound of calamondin
  2. water
  3. large bottom heavy pot
  4. 3-4 cups sugar
  5. 1/2 cup orange juice
For preparation, sprinkle the calamondin with about 1 TB of baking soda, and cover with boiling water for about 3 min. Wash thoroughly under warm, then cold water.

With a sharp knife, slice calamondin into small slivers, and removed the seeds. Cut on a plate to make sure to capture the juice (if this is taking too long, you can also chop them in a food processor and work with the pulb, however, the thin slivers of calamondin skin look a lot prettier).


Place all the sliced calamondin in a large, bottom heavy pot, and cover barely with water.


Simmer under gentle heat until calamondin are soft (ca. 15 min). Remove from heat, and chill in fridge for 24h (I did about 18h).


The pectin in the calamondin develops, and thickens the jam.

Add the orange juice, stir, and measure the amount of base jam you have (I had exactly 4 cups). Then, add that much sugar.


Under much stirring and gentle heat do simmer for another 20 min (max). The jam changes its consistency, the sugar melts and the mixtures becomes dark and candy like.


Prepare mason jars by sterilizing them (and the lids) in boiling water for 10min.

Fill mason jar with jam, close the lids, and turn jars on their head to make sure they are sealed through the hot jam.


After 10 min, turn mason jar around. Let cool and set.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Curried lentil and carrot coconut soup

I am starting to run out of ideas for dinner again. So, I took the easy route and warmed up the leftover curried carrot lentil coconut soup, added more curry powder and gnocchi and topped the reheated soup with baby portabella mushroom sauted in coconut oil. Fabulous!


Curried lentil and carrot coconut soup

(makes 2 larger or 4 small servings)
  • 1 medium sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 TB coconut oil
  • 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped or better microplaned
  • 5-6 medium sized carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/3 cup red lentils
  • 1 TB curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup lite coconut milk
In a heavy bottom pan, melt the coconut oil and saute the onion. Once translucent, add the ginger and the carrots, and saute for 1-2 min. Add the broth, and scrap off all the brown bits on the bottom. Now, add the lentils, curry powder, and  tumeric. Bring to a simmer, cover, and lightly simmer for 20 min until the carrots and lentils are soft. Add the coconut milk, and simmer for another 5min. Take off the stove, and with an immersion blender finely puree the soup. – Adjust for salt if needed. Serve with cilantro.

For leftovers: reheat soup with a handful of gnocchi for 6min;  meanwhile sautee 4-5 sliced baby portabella mushroom in 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil with some salt and pepper.  Add sauted mushroom on top of soup with sliced almonds.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Frozen ocean sherbet

Sunday. After I headed out to the coast yesterday, the snowy coast for once, half frozen, half thawed, did all around new things without driving too far, I feel calm today. Just local circles to the grocery store, some skiing, a walk, some reading, and all-around chillin’.


Frozen ocean (bay)



Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chocolate Souffle

Saturday! It is still winterwonderland around here, plenty of nice powdery clean snow and sunshine. Sometimes I think I am a sunshine addict. It infuses me with so much love and energy I just want to get into my superman (woman) suit and fly off to wonderful places with wonderful adventures. Since this is Saturday, maybe I can! Also, since I got the shiny new snow blower I renewed my friendship with snow. So, where to go today?

The Winter Olympics in Sochi started.  The parts of the opening ceremony that I saw were spectacular (although I am not one for patience much, so I always skipped to other channels when some Swan lake dancing would take too long), and somehow I missed the much reported lightning of just 4 Olympic rings and the dead silence and that producers switched to rehearsal footage. But the internet knows the truth! Anyway, shit happens, right? Women usually get photoshopped on magazine covers, so Olympic coverage can get photoshopped, too, right? But at least now with social media we get reports from the truth. Haha. Otherwise, we’d all be the wiser.

We are all gearing up for Valentine’s day, which in my house is called Valentino’s day (one of my cats) but we also celebrate with chocolate and sparkling wine (not for the cats). Plenty of it, all week long. Now, the only thing that I still feel compelled to make is a chocolate souffle. Awwwh….. fluffy, chocolately, with whipped cream, so worth it. Should stop watching the Food network.


Here, some fun links for the weekend if you don’t have great weather:


Monday, February 3, 2014

Lemon Gnocchi with Portabella Mushroom

Today I discovered that one of my Meyer Lemons had a slight cut on the side, and thus it was declared ready for consumption. My first home-grown  lemon! This called for something like lemon cake or lemon spaghetti. But I did felt more like gnocchi. Gnocchi, lemon peel, mushroom, garlic, creme fraiche and some parmesan cheese. Delight.


Lemon Gnocchi with Mushroom (1 serving)

  • 1 cup gnocchi (cooked in salted water for 2-3 minutes)
  • 1 ts olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • thinly sliced peel of a half meyer lemon
  • juice of a half meyer lemon
  • 1 ts agave nectar
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 Tablespoon creme fraiche
  • parmesan for serving

Cook the gnocchi according to instruction. In a pan heat the olive oil, and saute the sliced garlic and sliced button mushroom until both the garlic and mushroom are browned. Drain the gnocchi and add to the pan. Add the creme fraiche and some salt. Finish with grated parmensan.


Sunday, February 2, 2014


An eggplant was still left from last weekend’s grocery haul and yesterday reading (yes, reading!) Rocco Dispirito’s Eat this now: Italian recipes under 350kcal I found just the right dish: caponata. Caponata is used as a condiment in Italian cuisine (like pico de gallo in Mexican food), fabulous on bruschetta, or a side to a steak but it great on its own with some crusty bread. Caponata in my adapted recipe is a combination of grilled eggplant, grilled red bell pepper, garlic, capers, grilled mushroom with a dash of balsamic vinegar and agave. I used fresh charred bell peppers instead of some out of a jar (I find them too vinegary), and the dish is fa-bu-lous!


Caponata (makes 4-5 servings as sides)
  • 1 medium sized Italian eggplant (ca 1 pound)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 3-4 large baby portabella mushrrom
  • 1 garlic cclove, peeled
  • 1/2 TB olive oil
  • dash of salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 TB mini capers with brine
  • 1 ts agave nectar
Preheat the grill (stove top or outdoors). Cut the eggplant into thin slices lengthwise and sprinkle with kosher salt. It will draw out liquid and bitterness. After 10 min rise the slices, and pad dry. Place on grill and char on both sides (ca 5 10 min). Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and the bell pepper. Once the eggplant slices are grilled, stack, and place in a microwave safe bowl, cover with paper towel and cook for 2min (you could place them in a ziplock back to steam them, but I am hesitant about cooking food in plastic in the microwave). Let cool. Then cut into 1 inch pieces.


In a pan, heat the olive oil. Use a mandolin and thinly slice the garlic (or you could use a razor blade like in the Sopranos); toasted it in the olive oil until it is brown on both sides. Now add the capers, the eggplant, peppers, and mushroom, and gently combine. Add some salt and pepper, the balsamic vinegar and the agave nectar. Let the flavors combine for about 1-2min, turn off the heat and take off the stove.

Caponata is typically eaten at room temperature.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Quinoa salad with kumquats, cranberries and toasted almonds

So, this is my version of a good quinoa salad of the day: lots of white quinoa, 2 sliced kumquats (or calamondia), finely chopped dried cranberries, toasted sliced almonds and a half diced apples, topped off with some toasted sesame oil, olive oil and a bit of orange juice.


Quinoa salad with kumquats, cranberries and almonds
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2-3 kumquats, thinly sliced, peel and all
  • half tart apple, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped into finer dice
  • 3 TB sliced almond, shortly toasted in a dry pan
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • dash of salt
  • dash of cinnamon
Mix all the fruit ingredients with the almonds.


Add the quinoa and mix well and gently. Add the dressing either all into the salad, or mix separately and add.


Serve as side to other dishes, e.g. garlicky kale.