Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Salad of Quinoa and Greens with an Asian dressing

Who doesn't love quinoa?  Its so healthy, easy to work with, and it has a neutral taste so it takes on the flavor of whatever you mix it with.   

I shared a link to this recipe Allergy Friendly Friday at Cybele Pascal's bog, at the Heart and Soul Hop and Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop blog.  And a big thanks to Angie at the blog cocina diary for her food photography tips.  This is just my third post taking my own pictures - using the Picnik photo editer she suggested - I think these photos are so much better than my previous ones.  I'm tempted to go back and edit all of the previous photos, but don't have time.

It's a bit awkward posting this recipe, because its hardly a recipe at all.  I've put amounts for the dressing ingredients, but truthfully, I don't measure any of it.

A bit of info for foodie nerds... quinoa is not a grain, but a species of goosefoot, related to beets and spinach with edible seeds.  Quinoa originated in South America, where is was domesticated more than 3000 years ago.  The Incas referred to quinoa as the 'mother of all grains' and held it to be sacred.  After the Spanish conquest, the cultivation of quinoa was suppressed because of its sacred status within the indigenous cultures.  Quinoa's protein content is quite high (12% - 18%) and it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it, very unusally, a plant that is a complete protein.  Quinoa is gluten-free a great source of dietary fiber, magnesuim, and iron. 

Quinoa requires rinsing because in its natural state, it has a coating of bitter-tasting saporins (which makes it unpalatable to birds).  Most quinoa sold in the U.S. has been pre-rinsed - however, I always rinse it briefly for my own peace of mind - although probably not at all necessary. 

1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
2 cups filtered water

daikon radish, peeled and cut into small cubes
napa cabbage, shredded
purple cabbage, shredded
dandelion greens, torn into bite-sized pieces
snap peas, cut into bits-sized pieces
1 bunch cilantro, chopped (including the stems - they taste good)

2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 - 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ume vinegar
couple drops agave or other sweetener
1/2 teaspoon gluten-free tamari
1 - 2 teaspoons grated ginger
Sriracha (or hot sauce or red pepper flake) to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan.  Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a fine meshed strainer and rinsed under cold water.  Add to boiling water.  Cover and turn down the heat so that the quinoa is gently simmering. Simmer the quinoa for about 15 - 20 minutes, until all of the water has been absorbed.  Turn out onto a sheet tray and separate grains with a fork.  Allow quinoa to cool. 

Place all of the veggies in a large bowl. 

Mix together ingredients for the dressing with a whisk.  Taste and adjust the dressing so it tastes great to you. 

Spoon cooled quinoa in the bowl with the veggies, pour dressing over and mix.

Amounts for the veggies are not given because you can add whatever veggies and greens in whatever amounts that you like. 

Options (are endless...):

just to give one example with an Italian flare - roast some veggies (see my post regarding roasting vegetables) such as broccoli, onion, red pepper, garlic.  Dress the salad with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, red pepper flake, salt, and pepper.  Add kalamata olives, cubed fresh mozzarella, and chopped flat-leaf parsley for extra wonderfulness. 

don't like cilantro?  substitute basil and a bit of mint.

of course, grilled chicken, shrimp, steak, or marinated tofu can be added to the salad.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pasta with Chard and Tomatoes

This is a modified version of a recipe I received last week with my CSA box, which made use of several vegetables which I received in the box.  How thoughtful of them to provide me with recipes.  The greens cook down so much, I usually add any extra greens I can find in the frig - kale, spinach, etc.

I shared a link to this recipe at Just Another Meatless Monday at the blog Hey What for Dinner Mom? and My Meatless Mondays at the blog My Sweet and Savory and Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays at Midnight Maniac.

2 tablespoon olive oil
2 - 4 large shallots, minced
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch red chard (remove central rib and chop)
1 cup white wine
2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes
handful of Kalmata olives, chopped finely
1/2 cup vegatable stock
salt & pepper
red pepper flake
4 servings of pasta, cooked al dente (corn, kamut, rice, wheat ...)
parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large saute pan heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add shallots and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Add mushrooms tossing to coat with oil and cook until browned and soft.  Add chard and toss until wilted.  Add the wine and bring to a simmer, scaping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Simmer until about half of the wine has cooked away.  Add tomatoes, olives, and stock and cook for 5 - 8 minutes, until tomatoes begin to soft and break down.  Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake to taste. 

Serve over pasta and top with parmesan if desired.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pear Chocolate Crisp

This isn't really the time of year I usually think of pears, but I am still receiving them from our CSA - so gotta use them...

This is inspired by a Pear Crisp with chocolate idea from the Caprial and John Pence who are wonderful chefs and have a restaurant and cooking school in Portland - I got to know them thru their PBS cooking show.  This is where I first encountered the idea of a fruit crisp with chocolate, which, I think we can all agree, is genius. 

Please don't be put off by the picture which looks like a handful of dirt on a pretty plate.  You can eat it at room temperature, in which case you will stumble upon the bittersweet chocolate in small chunks, or warm it up a bit and the chocolate will be more melty - either way its yummy.

I shared a link to this recipe at this week's cravings at the blog Mom's Crazy Cooking and slightly indulgent tuesdays at the blog simply sugar and gluten free.

I love ginger in anything, but this may be a minority view - if you don't like it so much, leave it out or use less. 

I used maple syrup as the sweetener because I think it complements the deep chocolate flavor.  You can use agave, honey, or even brown sugar.

4 - 5 cups peeled, cored and sliced pears
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 - 4 tablespoons chopped candied ginger (depending on how much you love it!)
2 tablespoons corn starch
5 ounces chopped bittersweet chocolate (I use Scharffenberger)

2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter (or coconut oil, melt before measuring)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.         

Mix together the pears, agave, ground ginger, candied ginger and cornstarch and mix well.  Place in an oiled 8" x 8" baking dish.  Top with the chopped bittersweet chocolate.

To prepare the topping, place the almond flour, cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons agave, vanilla, butter and salt in a large bowl and mix until you form a crumbly crust. Top the pears with the crust. Place in the oven and bake about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Susan Sanford's Yellow Split Pea Dal

This is a wonderful heart-warming Dal - which is a kind of thick soup made with legumes.  It is often served with rice or flat bread.  I received this recipe from my dear friend Susan Sanford and I've been eating and making this for about 20 years.  I always have these ingredients in my pantry / frig and so can throw it together in a few minutes.  The yellow split peas are mild, so the flavor comes from the spices (make sure yours are fresh!)  The tomatoes and coconut lend a very interesting texture. 

For folks who cannot abide cilantro, I suppose it could be left out or flat-leaf parsley could be substituted - but for me, the brightness of the cilantro is essential to this dish.  If you do try the Dal without the cilantro - perhaps try adding a bit of citrus (lemon or lime).

Although I don't see Susan too often, she lives in the mid-west now, I think of her with love and gratitude whenever I make this Dal.  I miss you Susan!

1 cup yellow split peas
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 - 1 tablespoon grated ginger (depending on how much you like)
2 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil or butter may be substitued)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon ground coriander (or garam masala)
red pepper flake, to taste (optional)
2 - 6 garlic cloves - minced
1 cup chopped tomatoes
salt to taste
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more, I use an entire bunch)

Bring peas, water, turmeric, and ginger to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer until peas are tender, about 15 minutes.  Add more water if needed.  The Dal should be the consistancy of a thick chowder.

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil or oil in a skillet.  Add garlic and saute about a minutes.  Add ground seasonings, tomatoes, salt, and coconut.  Simmer about 10 minutes. 

Add contents of skillet and cilantro to the split peas.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Roasted Vegetables

If you know the basics of roasting vegetables, you can work miracles in your kitchen, because roasting brings out the natural sweetness of anything.  I know many people marinade their vegetables before roasting - adding things like vinegar or lemon juice.  I don't think that does anything for the actual process of roasting.  When you add an acidic element, not only may you have too much liquid, so that your veggies end up steaming and not roasting, but it immediately started breaking down the fibers of the veggies and you run the risk of a steamed, soggy mess - that may be eatable, but it will not be scrumptious.

So remember - in the oven, all you need on your veggies is oil - nothing else.  If you want to add other flavors, add it after the roasting is complete.

1 large onion
2 red peppers
2 small zucchini
1 large funnel bulb
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
fresh herbs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (if you don't feel comfortable with your oven that hot, 400 degrees will work also - you may need to roast a few minutes longer).

Cut the onion in half and slice into wedges.  Cut the peppers into 1 inch chunks.  Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and slice on the diagonal into 1 - 2 inch chunks.  Cut the funnel bulb in half, core, and trim the tough outer layer.  Cut into roughly 1 inch chunks.  Place all of the veggies on a sheet tray, add olive oil and toss until all of the vegetables pieces are coated with oil.

Roast in the preheated oven for 15 - 20 minutes, turning the veggies half way thru.  Test with a fork, veggies should be tender crisp and beginning to brown. 

Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Also, add any fresh herbs you like. 

- substitute your favorite veggies for the ones listed above (broccoli is our favorite)
- after removing from the oven, sprinkle with a good quality balsamic vinegar
- when cooled a bit, roasted veggies are fabulous in a green salad
- also wonderful on pasta, top cooked pasta with roasted veggies, a fresh herb such as flat-leaf parsley, a bit of red pepper flake, garlic, parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup or so of the pasta cooking water - toss.  Lemon zest would be good too.
- add roasted veggies to cooked quinoa (bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup quinoa to a boil, simmer, covered for 15 - 20 minutes - til all the water has been absorbed).  Might also want to add a bit more olive oil, vinegar, herbs, etc. This could be a warm side-dish, or a room-temp salad.  (I love anything in quinoa!)

Note: when roasting dense vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes or butternut squash, you will probably need to roast 5 - 15 minutes longer (depending on the size of the pieces).  Or you can blanch these vegatable first in salted water for about 10 minutes prior to roasting.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gluten Free Brownies

The almond flour in these brownies makes for a dense crumb, exactly right for brownies and, it is subtly sweet and rich, so you can get away with using less sweetener and fat.  If you have reservations about the almond flour, substitute part of the flour called for with another gluten-free flour (quinoa, millet, etc.) or a flour mix (such as Bob's Red Mill).

Bob's Red Mill Almond Flour is readily available, and produces an exceptable product - however, the texture is improved by using a more finely ground blanched almond flour (such as Honeyville Blanched Almond Flour available on-line).

(Note: do not substitute almond meal for almond flour.  Almond meal is made from unblanched almonds)

3 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 cup dutch process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch of xanthum gum (optional)
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup agave or maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil (or olive oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Prehear oven to 350 degrees and oil an 10 x 7 inch glass pan.

Whisk together dry ingredients, breaking up any lumps of almond flour or cocoa. 

In a separate bowl whisk together remaining ingredients.  Add the wet mixture to the dry and stir well. 

Spoon batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (test with a toothpick).   Frost cooled brownies with Chocolate Ganache.  They are also really good without the frosting.

This batter can also be baked in 12 paper-lined muffin cups.  Bake about 25 minutes.  Allow to cool about 5 minutes in the pan and then remove to a rack.  Use the chocolate ganache to frost.  (or use your favorite frosting)

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces good dark chocolate
(add a small amount (1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and/or chili powder) - optional

Bring the milk to a simmer.  Meanwhile, break the chocolate into pieces and put into a bowl. When the milk comes to a simmer, pour over the chocolate pieces and add vanilla. This will melt the chocolate. Stir until it is smooth.  Cool in the frig or in an ice bath.  The ganache is quite liquidy at first, but will thicken as it cools.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Chicken and Broccoli with Cheese Sauce

This is for my non-vegan friends, they are all lovely people and deserve some attention!

4 Tablespoons butter
2 shallots, minced
4 - 6 cups of mushrooms, sliced
Salt & pepper
Red pepper flake
3 - 4 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 - 2 cups non-fat evaporated milk (this has the exact consistency of half-n-half)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 cup or so of parmesan or pecorino cheese
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 or 2 heads of broccoli, cut into large pieces
1/2 - 1 pound pasta (try whole wheat pasta, )

In a large Dutch oven, melt butter and saute shallot for a few minutes.  Add mushrooms and seasonings, and saute at medium high heat until mushrooms begin to brown.  Sprinkle with the flour and stir until the flour cooks a bit (a few minutes).  There should be a nice brown roux as a result (the roux should not burn - so if it seems to be cooking too fast, turn down the heat). 

Deglaze pan with the wine over medium heat, stir and it should thicken.  When wine it entirely incorporated, start adding the milk, add 1 cup or so and add more if needed to make a nice sauce.  Turn heat under pan to low and add a handful of cheese and cream cheese, stir to combine.  Add a bit more milk if your sauce is too thick - however as the chicken and broccoli cook in the sauce, they will both give off moisture, so err on the side of too thick.  Taste your sauce and add more parmesan to your taste.

Add chicken and stir into sauce.  Place broccoli on top and cover.  The chicken will cook gently in the sauce and the broccoli will steam.  Check the chicken for doneness after about 12 - 15 minutes.  Continue to cook on a low heat if necessary.  Check for seasoning and adjust.    Serve over pasta with more cheese on top.

- this can be made without the chicken, add more veggies, such as red pepper, sliced fennel, whatever you like.  Saute addition veggies with the onions and mushrooms.
- use the gluten-free pasta of our choice
- use coconut milk instead of milk, use vegan cream cheese, use coconut oil instead of butter
- there really is no substitute for parmesan (if you find one, let me know)

Baked Tortilla Chips and Several Salsas & Dips

To make your own tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut each tortilla into 8 wedges (stack them and do several at a time).  Spread out tortilla wedges on a baking sheet.  Brush each with olive oil (or use an olive oil spray).  Bake until crisp, 8 – 10 minutes.  (you can sprinkle the wedges with salt, cumin, etc before baking if desired).

Tomato Salsa

1 – 2 jalapeno chilies (add more if you like it hot!)
couple of garlic cloves, peeled
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted have the best flavor)
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 - 2 tablespoon lime juice
salt to taste

In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chile(s) and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and have some brown spots, about 10 minutes for the chile(s), 15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool until you can handle them, then pull the stem(s) off the chile(s) and roughly chop (remove the interior seeds if you want a milder flavor).  Peel the skin off the garlic.  Scoop garlic and chile(s) into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped.

(Note: don’t have a food processor?  – just chop everything as finely as you can)

Add the tomatoes with their juice and pulse until you have a coarse puree.  Remove to a serving dish.  Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.  Taste and season with salt (start with about ½ teaspoon).

Spicy Black Bean Dip

1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (remove seeds and interior ‘ribs’)
couple of garlic cloves, crushed (or pressed thru a garlic press)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon hot sauce (my favorite is Frontera Chilpotle Hot Sauce) or ground chili powder
3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed under cold water)
1 tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat, add onion, pepper, and garlic.  Saute until onion is soft (about 5 minutes.  Add cumin and hot sauce (or chili powder) and sauté another minute, stirring.

Add cooked beans and mix, scraping up all the bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add contents of pan to a food processor along with lime juice and salt, process until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasons if desired.

(Note: a blender will work here also.  If you have neither food process or blender, see next recipe…)

Shortcut Spicy Bean Dip

1 can refried beans (I like black refried beans with no added salt)
2 – 4 tablespoons of prepared salsa
2 minced scallions
¼ cups chopped cilantro

Mix together and serve.  The dip can also be heated in a low oven (or microwave).


2 ripe avocados preferably the black-skinned Hass
1 jalapeno chili, interior ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped (optional)
1 - 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 small tomato, chopped

One at a time, run a knife down through each avocado, starting at the top, until you reach the pit; continue cutting around the pit until you reach the point you started.

Twist the two halves of the avocado apart.  Remove the pit and discard.  Scoop the flesh into the bowl with the chilies.  Mash coarsely with the back of a spoon or an old-fashioned potato masher.

Add chopped jalapeno, salt (start with ½ teaspoon), and lime juice -  stir to combine, then taste.  Add more salt and/or lime juice to your taste.  Serve with a garnish of fresh chopped tomato.

Mango & Avocado Salsa

Fruit and avocado are a magical combination, the acidity of the fruit is a wonderful contrast to the buttery lusciousness of the avocado. 

2 large ripe avocados
1/2 to 1 fresh jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus a few leaves for garnish (optional)
about 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 medium ripe mango, diced (see note below!)
Salt to taste

Cut the avocados in half, running your knife around the pit from stem to blossom end and back up again.  Twist the halves in opposite directions to free the pit, and pull the halves apart.  Dislodge the pit, then scoop the avocado flesh into a large bowl.  Coarsely mash the avocado using the back of a large spoon or potato masher.   

Add the jalapeno, cilantro and lime juice.

 Mix in the diced mango and season with salt.  Garnish with cilantro sprigs.  Serve with tortilla chips, slices of cucumber or jicama.

(Note: if you don’t know how to cut up a mango, do a search on the web – its far easier to watch then to explain with words – don’t be afraid – mangos are worth a bit of effort!  Don’t like mango?  - use any fruit that has some acidity – such as kiwi or pineapple.  Fruit such as strawberries, cherries, peach, nectarine, plum can also be used; you may need a touch more lime juice.  Also, you can buy difficult to deal with ingredients (such as mango) at many salad bars.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Veggie Curry with Coconut Milk

2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely diced
2 – 6 garlic cloves minced or pressed (garlic lovers: use the entire bulb of garlic!)
2 – 4 teaspoons ginger finely chopped or use a microplane
2 tablespoons curry paste (I use Patak’s Madras HOT Curry Paste) use a milder version, or use less
2 – 3 cups vegetable stock
1 can coconut milk (full –fat)
2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
1 head cauliflower cut into small flowerets
2 – 4 medium tomatoes, diced (canned tomatoes or fine)
1 – 2 cups cooked chickpeas
Handful of golden raisins
Brown Basmati Rice
Heat coconut oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Add mustard seeds and onion and let sauté until onion is soft and translucent.  Add garlic and ginger (turn the heat to low if necessary, garlic and ginger burn easily).  Add curry paste and continue to sauté (allowing the spices to ‘bloom’). 
Add vegetable stock and bring to a simmer, add coconut milk.  Taste for seasoning, you may want to add a bit more curry paste, or add additional cumin, cardamom, etc.  I do not add salt, but you may want to.  
Add the veggies, chickpeas, and raisins and simmer gently until veggies are cooked thru.  You may want to add more stock or coconut milk to achieve the consistency you like.
Serve over rice.
To cook the rice:  Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add 1 ¼ cups of brown basmati rice and gently simmer, covered, until done (about 30 minutes, but times may vary).  Fluff with a fork.  If the rice is not quite cooked, but the water is all gone, add a bit more water, turn off the heat, and let steam, covered for a few minutes.
- use whatever veggies you like
- add meat
- don't have black mustard seeds?  leave them out, but they add an interest texture and appearance
- serve over quinoa instead of rice
- add more stock to make a soup