Archive for the ‘vegetable’ Category

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More to love. (GRILLED RADISHES)

June 18, 2014

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Radishes are awesome for so many reasons. They add beautiful color and texture to all kinds of dishes and they are full of vitamin C and potassium. Radishes stimulate hunger as well as aid in the digestive process so, depending on the culture, they are served before and after big meals.

Among different varieties of radish, flavors can range from mildly peppery to downright hot and spicy. Cooking the radish however, changes that significantly. When heated, especially grilled, they take on a sweet, juicy consistency that is very different from the crisp raw version.

Synopsis: when looking for interesting veggies to throw on the grill (even on the stovetop grill pan) think radish! Simply slice and sear.

 

 

 

 

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Catchup! (AN OVERDUE POST ON ROMESCO)

May 29, 2014

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Romesco is a smokey condiment of the Spanish influence that can be made lots of ways and most often incorporates some kind of red pepper. It beautifully accompanies food from grilled meats to poached eggs to any raw or roasted vegetables you choose. It is an especially perfect topping for straight vegetables because it adds a touch of decadence to otherwise square stuff; roasted cauliflower, salt boiled potatoes, grilled spring onions, for example.

I do not consider my cooking very decadent. I was raised eating all kinds of tofu and later went to a vegan culinary school (even though I am an equal opportunity eater). Especially on this website, I have geared my recipes towards scoring healthy points, being quick/easy and most importantly towards being ‘damn delicious ways to eat stuff that is good for you’. That’s the mission.

When this blog was formed in the year two thousand and something, I was in the thick of cooking for clients who wanted to eat just right. For many years I didn’t often use bacon and heaps of butter or drench things in cream or deep fry. Don’t get me wrong, these are obviously awesome ways to cook and once in a while extremely useful but I tried not to lean on them, finding other ways to develop flavor and richness.

Now I am back on the restaurant scene. I do not work in a health-food place and I am given the opportunity to roll out lots of small plates with big flavor, no holds barred. I can stretch my style of cooking a little further into the naughty department. Frying* has been my favorite lately. Getting a crisp crust on lamb patties, putting an extra crunch on nuts or, as you will see here, cooking some garlic slices in oil until they are like little golden nuggets. And though this particular recipe for Romesco is, in fact, vegan, lately I am having lots of fun smearing my somewhat austere culinary upbringing with a little bit of pork fat.

ROMESCO THIS WAY

7 cloves of garlic, sliced (plus one whole clove)

4 chunks of bread, about 1 cup

2 whole tomatoes, canned or fresh, chopped

1 tablespoon smoked paprika (pimenton)

2 red bell peppers, roasted

40 blanched almonds*

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of the best sherry vinegar you have

5 jarred piquillo peppers

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt

black pepper to taste

pinch cayenne

oil for frying (canola is fine)

In a small skillet, pour enough frying oil so that it is about an inch deep. Warm it up and toss in one slice of the garlic. When it begins to bubble around the edges, remove from the oil and add the rest of the garlic slices (reserving one clove), stirring frequently until golden.

Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel. Add bread chunks to the oil and fry on both sides until crisp, remove from skillet onto paper towel.

Discard all but a few tablespoons of oil from the skillet, heat it up again and sauté the chopped tomatoes for a few minutes. Add the smoked paprika and a teaspoon of salt to the skillet and stir to combine with the tomatoes. Cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Now that all of the components are prepped, time for the easy part.

Place the fried garlic, the raw garlic clove, the bread, the tomato mixture, roasted peppers, almonds, olive oil, sherry vinegar, piquillos, remaining teaspoon of salt, some black pepper and a pinch of cayenne into the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth.

Check for seasoning and adjust. Also adjust the consistency with more oil or vinegar to thin and more bread or almonds to thicken.

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Roasted asparagus waiting patiently for romesco and a soft boiled egg…

 

 

 

 

* When I was a culinary student I once got roped into a call for one of the competitive cooking shows…I don’t remember which. When asked about one of my special skills in the kitchen I reluctantly replied, “I can fry”.

** Any almonds would work, roasted, salted, etc. To blanch raw almonds, plunge them in boiling water for 1 minute and drain. When cool enough to touch, slip the skins off… but do it before the skins dry or else it becomes difficult.

 

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Lunching. (IN PRAISE OF BENTO)

October 21, 2013

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Healthy lunches can be elaborate or simple and sometimes both! Using ingredients that might be readily available in the pantry (or leftovers from another meal) make the daily process of producing balanced meals-to-go a little bit easier.

 
Lately I have been seeing some great bento-style lunchboxes for sale. The cool thing about bento boxes is that each ingredient has its own separate compartment so you can really be creative and vary the things that go in. From a bean dip surrounded by fresh veggies, fruit and crackers to cold buckwheat noodles and shredded chicken with colorful roasted veggies (from last night’s dinner), lunch-makers can be endlessly creative and diverse with their lunch packing, staving off boredom all year long. Lunch-eaters can assemble and eat the meal in a variety of ways and really make it ‘their own’. It’s the same concept that launched Lunchables into the success stratosphere, but this version is 100% wholesome and homemade.
 
Use one compartment for a green salad, the lidded part for dressing/dipping sauce and cut a sandwich to perfectly fit into remaining sections. Don’t forget to add a sweet treat and, just a reminder, that nature provides us with many a nutritious dessert. Remove the pit from a date and stuff it with your favorite nut or seed butter and a drizzle of honey for an instant energy boosting (candy-like!) snack. 
 
Find some cool bentos here:
 
black and blum at west elm (pictured below)
 
 
 
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A little lesson. (FARMERS MISO SOUP)

September 19, 2013

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I am a miso lover. I need to have miso soup at least once a week, usually as the precursor to some sushi even though that feels like the lazy way out. Miso paste in general has so much more potential than a few cubes of tofu and some lonely sails of seaweed. By learning a few different (easy!) ways to use it, miso can be a staple in your fridge forever and ever. You, as the owner of a high-quality tub of miso, can reap the many health benefits for just as long.

Since it’s a fermented food, it is important is to avoid boiling miso. High heat will harm the living enzymes that make this a genuine superfood as it will also dull the unique flavors. Use miso to ‘finish’ dishes that you have created rather than adding it when there is still cooking to be done.

Miso to-do list:

-Mix into softened butter to make ‘miso butter’, the best topping for seafood ever.

-Mix with minced garlic and chili paste as a condiment for grilled meat.

-Whisk into salad dressing or marinades.

-Just miso solo in a bit of simple broth.

-I’ve seen people use it in pesto as a substitute for parmesan but…

Below is a hearty soup recipe that uses a bunch of fantastic end-of-summer vegetables, but any mixture of veg would work. Once the soup is off of the stove, dunk a measuring cup into the broth, scooping out about one cup of hot liquid. Drop a few spoonfuls of miso into measuring cup and whisk/stir until it is dissolved. Pour the miso mixture back into the soup pot and adjust to taste. You can simply repeat this process until you have reached the desired amount of umami.

Try potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, cabbage, spinach and/or noodles. This recipe can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like, the main thing is hot (not boiling) liquid*, dissolve miso, enjoy.

FARMERS MISO SOUP

(serves 4-6)

2 quarts stock or water

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 kohlrabi, peeled and cubed into small chunks

1 celery rib, thinly sliced crosswise

1 cup chopped kale leaves

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 pound tofu, cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 splash of rice vinegar

a few red pepper flakes

1/4 cup wakame seaweed, soaked in cold water until softened

1/4 cup miso paste (any color)

1/2 carrot

1 inch ginger

chopped chives to garnish

  • Place the stock in a large pot and bring to a gentle boil. Add onion, kohlrabi and celery. Simmer about 10 minutes. 
  • Add kale, garlic and tofu. Cook until all vegetables are tender, about 10 more minutes.
  • Remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar and red pepper to season. Taste and adjust. Add wakame.
  • Take one cup of stock out of the pot and place in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk miso into the hot broth and pour it back into the soup. Taste and adjust.
  • Ladle soup into bowls and using a fine grater (preferably a microplane), grate some carrot and ginger into each soup and sprinkle with chives to garnish.
  • When reheating the soup, warm it but don’t boil. I’ll say it again.

*Make your own stock! I love stock making.

https://upchefcreek.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/elaborations-veggie-dashi/

https://upchefcreek.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/balancing-it-out-alkalizing-broth-2/

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Reason #3419. (FRUIT CRUMBLE)

August 18, 2013

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I don’t even peel the fruit, I don’t add more than a tablespoon of sugar to it. A squeeze of lemon and a badass crisp topping (as healthy or as buttery sweet as you want it to be) and not only do you have an impressive seasonal dessert but you have a crazy quick (outstanding) breakfast when you drop a scoop of crumble into a bowl of yogurt. Sweet summertime!

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BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH ZUCCHINI SLAW

July 17, 2013

BLACK BEAN TACOS WITH ZUCCHINI SLAW

Summer food!!

ZUCCHINI SLAW

2 small yellow and/or green zucchini, grated

two tablespoons of a fresh herb, chopped (cilantro, parsley, mint or mix)

juice of one lemon

dash of red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

  • Mix together all of the ingredients and season to taste.

Proceed to pile Zucchini Slaw onto any sandwich or taco or as a side dish to grilled meat or fish. I think I’m gonna throw it into an omelette tomorrow and see how that flies because morning is the only bearable time to cook these days.

Stay cool. xo

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Balancing it out. (ALKALIZING BROTH)

April 19, 2013

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Remember the science lesson about acids and bases in the form of a number line? Seven is neutral, like water, right in the middle of both states. Anything over 7 is a base (alkaline) and anything under is acidic. Our blood, which our body maintains at a pH of 7.35-7.45, is therefore slightly alkaline. The thing is, many of the foods we eat are acid-causing, even some pretty healthy ones.

Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, most grains and legumes in excess and without balancing are not the only things that have the power to make us acidic. Some of our experiences like stress, lack of activity and poor diet choices in general can also be culprits of this undesirable condition. And though we need both acid and alkaline to be in balance, when too much acid is present, the body works overtime to keep the blood in its proper state. Foods that are alkaline*, most fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs, seaweed, miso, olive oil, for example, are not only important for daily functions, but when ingested regularly will more readily balance out the less than perfect moments in our lives.

All that to say, hey! eat your veggies!

Lately I have been making extra effort to do just that by keeping the fridge stocked with beautiful organic produce and cooking lots of healthy dinners. Also trying to keep my fridge from being a graveyard of dead leftovers or, even worse, perfectly good uncooked stuff going to seed. One of the ways I like to stretch my organic grocery bucks to the fullest is by making stock. All of the lovely and delicately aromatic things that make for a good, clear stock (carrot, celery, onion, leek, fennel, thyme) go into freezer bags until I have stockpiled enough to be dumped into a big pot with some water, simmered until a lightly golden stock is born.

A few months ago, while doing a cleanse, I learned about alkalizing vegetable broth. It broke every classic culinary rule for stock-making which advises no leafy greens, no cabbage, no squash, no root vegetables, no radish. Each one of these things said to make the stock cloudy, sulfuric, bitter, etc. but the recipe included all of these things. The product was delicious, had none of the qualities Escoffier warned about. Now I am happily breaking the rules and adding all of this stuff to the freezer bag to create broths that can double as alkalizing tonic. The broth is dark and rich and can stand alone warmed  with a little extra sea salt (also alkalizing). The recommendation is to drink it several times daily. That is a great theory and I enjoyed it when I was eating strictly, but I am more often using the stuff in soups, stews, curries and risotto in lieu of more boring stocks, giving a nutritional boost and extra flavor.

ALKALIZING BROTH

You can really be creative with the vegetables you put in there, this is just a guideline:

1 onion, quartered

(plus shallot, onion, leek or scallion trimmings)

3 carrots

3 celery stalks

2 fennel tops

4 cloves garlic

2 cups green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, collard, beet greens, etc.)

1/4 head of cabbage + the core

peels, trimmings (no seeds) of one (organic) butternut squash

1 sweet potato, large dice

1/2 cup seaweed (I like kombu)

2 cups mushroom stems (or 1 cup dried mushrooms)

1/2 bunch of parsley or cilantro stems with or without leaves

1 cup of radish (with or without tops) -optional

pinch of salt

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

4-5 quarts of water (enough to cover all of the ingredients by a few inches)

  • Place all ingredients in a large pot.
  • Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  • Immediately turn down to a gentle simmer. Cook about 1.5 hours.
  • Strain out the vegetables and save the stock in containers.
  • Freeze what you are not using. Defrost as needed.

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Scrap bag! Red cabbage, mushroom, leek, scallion, celery, sometimes chicken bones too.

In culinary school after  pastry classes when we were ingesting sugar all day long, we were told to go home and alkalize with a hot miso soup. Yea! I give it to my kid too, after parties and stuff.

*A proper alkalizing food chart lives here. These sistas are serious!