Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cool Ranch Massaged Kale Salad

The ying and the yang, good v. evil, each action has a corresponding reaction, every rose has its thorn...we live in a world of opposites.

Remember my Hot Massaged Kale? Not to be outdone by Newton's third law, I developed a complimentary salad to answer to the spicy kick of the chipotle in the first recipe. Enter the Cool Ranch Massaged Kale Salad. Where the "Hot" was, well, hot, the "Cool Ranch" is not. The herbs in this salad give a feel of spring, despite the December air. I recommend making double the dressing so you have extra to dip crudités into!

Cool Ranch Massaged Kale Salad

1 head kale, destemmed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 tbs salt
2 tbs olive oil
1 avocado
1/2 tbs honey
2 tbs fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh dill weed
1/8 wedge from a small yellow onion
1 small clove garlic
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbs lemon juice
1-2 tbs almond milk, as needed
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 c carrots, thinly sliced
1 tbs sunflower seeds

In a medium bowl, combine kale, salt, and half the olive oil. Massage the kale until the leaves start to take on a shiny, wilted appearance.

In a blender, puree the rest of the oil with avocado, honey, herbs, onion, garlic, pepper, and lemon juice until smooth, using the almond milk to thin as necessary. Toss the remaining ingredients and the dressing with the kale to combine. Serves 2.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Pot of Chili and Jalapeño Beer Bread

As part of my preparation for my raw experiment in January, I'm trying to cook everything that I will most likely crave in the wee weeks of the year. One of those things is a steaming hot bowl of meat-ful chili and a thick slice of toasted bread.

Also, I wanted to try out my shiny new Cuisinart. Formerly when I wanted ground beef, I'd pick up the cut of meat I wanted then have the butcher grind it down for me (I have a very serious aversion to pre-packaged ground beef....I mean, really, who knows what is put in there?). With the powerful new processor on my counter, I can grind my own meat. Yay! These are the things that make me happy....

So here it is....a HUGE pot of chili. I wasn't thinking clearly when I decided to grind one pound each of chicken and beef (instead of total). The result is enough chili to feed a small army....or just my family for two nights.

The bread was a vehicle to help me get rid of an insane number of jalapeños from my parents' garden. I still have quite a few, but at least this made a dent!

Big Pot o' Chili

1 lb chuck roast, placed in freezer for about an hour
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, placed in freezer for about an hour
4 tbs butter
1 tbs dried marjoram
1 tbs dried savory
1 tbs mustard seed
1 tbs caraway seed
1 tbs peppercorns
1 tsp salt
1 tbs chili powder
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 6oz can tomato paste
4 15oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 c water
2 15oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbs Chipotle Tabasco sauce
additional salt and pepper
greek yogurt and fresh parsley, to garnish

Cut the beef and chicken into 1" cubes. In a food processor, pulse until ground to desired consistency.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large stock pot. Add the ground meat and allow to brown. In a spice grinder, combine marjoram, savory, mustard, caraway, and pepper; grind into powder. Add ground spices, salt, and chili powder to the browning meat and stir to combine.

Once the meat is mostly brown, add onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Allow to cook 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat ingredients. Pour in the diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Add water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add kidney beans and Tabasco. Stir to combine, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If needed, add additional salt and pepper to taste. To serve, ladle into individual bowls and top with a spoonful of greek yogurt and some chopped parsley. Makes a whopping 16 servings of chili!

Jalapeño Beer Bread

3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c roasted jalapeños, diced
1 c shredded smoked cheddar
1 12oz bottle beer
1/2 c butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Add the jalapeños and cheese. Pour the beer into the mixing bowl and stir until blended. Pour mixture into a greased 9" loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top of the loaf. Bake one hour or until golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and cool an additional 10 minutes before slicing. Makes one spicy loaf of bread that is perfect for dipping into soup or sandwiching for grilled cheese with a kick.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Vegetarian Baby Shower - Part II - Avocado Sandwiches, Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers, and Rum Runner Punch

It's part deux of the baby shower goodies that graced my sister's party! Here we have miniature avocado sandwiches with tomato pesto, sweet peppers stuffed with Indian-flavored quinoa and served warm, and the non-alcoholic punch meant to mimic a rum runner. Enjoy!

Avocado Sandwiches

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced thinly
1/4 c fresh lime juice
30 slices whole wheat cocktail bread, toasted
1/2 c prepared sun-dried tomato pesto
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c broccoli sprouts

Toss the avocado slices with lime juice. Spread 15 slices of bread with pesto. Top the pesto-covered bread with avocado, onion, and sprouts. Top with remaining slices of bread and secure with a toothpick. Makes 15 mini-sandwiches.

Quinoa-Stuffed Sweet Peppers

1/4 lb (about 15) sweet peppers
1 tbs peanut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c carrot, finely shredded
1/2 cup spinach, washed patted dry and roughly chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbs pine nuts

To prepare the peppers, cut a slit in the pepper lengthwise from the stem to the tip. Gently open the pepper and pull out the seeds and ribs.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté about a minute (don't allow to brown!). Add remaining vegetables and sauté until the spinach is wilted down, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garam masala. Add the quinoa and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F.

Stuff each pepper with the quinoa mixture and place on a baking sheet, cut side up. Heat in the oven for 15 minutes. Serves 4-6 (I doubled the recipe for the party).

Rum Runner Party Punch

2 c pineapple juice
2 c orange juice
2 c blackberry juice
1 c pomegranate juice
4 tbs rum extract (1 oz)
2 tbs coconut flavoring
2 bottles sparkling white grape juice
1 liter club soda
Orange and lime slices

Chill all juices and the soda before making. Combine all liquids in a large punch bowl and garnish with fruit. Makes about 20 1-cup servings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hot Massaged Kale Salad

Here's another raw recipe--this one adapted from The Raw Chef's recipe. By the way, I highly recommend signing up for his e-zine. It's entertaining and has great recipes! I first heard of this individual from my friend, Amber (of Almost Vegan), who had Russell James as an instructor at raw culinary school. I likes his site, so I signed up. So far, it's been a great (free) investment!

Anyway, this salad is great for the cold weather that's hit all of a sudden. Despite being uncooked, it's extremely warming with the spicy chipotle doing what it does best. Chipotle peppers are obviously not raw, but raw Nazis (rawzis?) could sub in cayenne or a fresh serrano for the heat. Kale is typically a pretty rough leaf to tackle, but massaging it with salt and oil causes the fibers to break down a little; this gives the kale more of a blanched texture. Plus, who doesn't love salt and oil?

Just saying the name of this salad raises my temperature a little....imagine a room lit only by candlelight....a little Barry White wafting through the speakers....and then someone says to you, "Hey baby, wanna have some hot massaged kale?" Aw yeah....

Ahem. Or it's just a healthy, easy to prepare salad. After all, who wants a relationship with a bunch of leaves? Now excuse me as I casually walk away from the awkward silence.

Hot Massaged Kale Salad

1 head kale, destemmed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tbs salt
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs grapefruit juice
1/4 tsp grapefruit zest
1 tbs tahini
1/2 chipotle pepper
1/2 tbs agave
1/2 grapefruit, segmented
1/4 c red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 c sunflower seeds

In a medium bowl, combine kale, salt, and half the olive oil. Massage into kale until the leaves start to take on a shiny, wilted appearance.

In a blender, combine the remaining oil with the juice, zest, tahini, pepper, and agave. Toss the remaining ingredients and the dressing with the kale to combine. Serves 2.

Raw Asian Noodles (and very rare steak)

I received my first box of raw goodies the other day....just some hemp seeds, seaweed, sun-dried olives, and liquid aminos. The offspring had their curiosity sparked by the kelp noodles and asked me to make something with them.

Hell, I thought....why not? Let's see what this raw-anti-chef-to-be can come up with!

I threw together some standard ingredients and ended up with this raw noodle salad....Asian-style. Because I had it in the fridge, I also did a quick pan-sear on a steak and served it with the noodles. The kids dug it, as did I. Not too shabby for a first try, I don't think!

Raw Asian Noodle Salad

2 tbs liquid aminos or tamari
1 tbs sesame oil
1/2 tbs fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp black pepper
5 pearl onions, peeled and thinly sliced
4 oz lobster mushrooms, julienned
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 stalk green onion, thinly sliced
1 12oz package kelp noodles

Whisk together aminos, oil, ginger, and pepper. Toss dressing with remaining ingredients and allow to sit a few minutes to allow the kelp noodles to soften. Serves 4.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Vegetarian Baby Shower - Part I - Mushroom Tartlets, Tofu Skewers, and Pineapple Cake

Is December really almost half over? I find it hard to believe that it is already almost the new year, and yet here we are.

While some may say debate that it's the most wonderful time of the year, I think everyone can agree that it's the most BUSY time of the year. Your own personal anti-chef has been busy, too. There's the job and the kids, as well as planning my next adventure in food. What may that be?

Starting January 1st, I'm going to embark on a mostly raw diet. My friend, Amber (of Almost Vegan), has been attending raw culinary school, which has pushed me from just pondering it to making the commitment in my head to do this. So I've been deep in the planning stages of this experiment of sorts. I bought a few new kitchen toys and signed up for a local co-op home delivery service for organic fruit and veggies (oh, the sacrifices I must make!). I've already given my first raw recipe a trial run, which I'll post about at a later date.

And now for the main event du jour: Recipes from my sister's baby shower! My sister is a
vegetarian, so the food naturally followed suit. I am splitting them into two posts for the sake of keeping my blog readable. On the menu were mushroom tartlets (recipe below), quinoa-stuffed sweet peppers, hummus (recipe HERE) and crudités, avocado sandwiches, tofu skewers (recipe below), a variety of flavored nuts, fruit bowl, and--of course--a virgin rum-runner punch.

First I want to show off the cake I made. My
sister's theme was pirates, so I created this rather messy-looking skull with sparkly blue eyes and the cutest pacifier ever. Can you read what it says? The cake was pineapple cake with coconut-
cream cheese frosting (recipe below--spoiler, I used cake mix). This recipe is totally a cheat, but after all I'm not the anti-pastry chef!

Now on to the recipes!

Mushroom Shallot Tartlets

3 tbs peanut oil
2 c fresh mushrooms of choice, diced (I used shiitake, oyster, and baby portabellas)
4 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbs fresh sage, minced
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbs vegetable stock
2 15-count packages of frozen mini fillo shells
1/4 c goat cheese of choice (I used Humboldt Fog)
3 oz enoki-dake mushrooms (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms and shallots for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms start to soften. Add the herbs, pepper, salt, and stock; stirring frequently, cook another 10 minutes or until most the liquid is cooked off.

Arrange the fillo shells on two baking sheets. Divide the goat cheese evenly among the shells. Do the same with the cooked mushrooms and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. If desired, garnish with enoki-dake mushrooms (as you can see in the photo, I ran out of time....the poor enokis were left in the fridge!). Serve immediately. Makes 30 tartlets.

Crispy Tofu Skewers

1/4 c peanut oil
18 oz extra firm tofu, drained and cut into 1 1/4" cubes
1 tsp salt
1/4 c tamari
12 pearl onions
12 cherry tomatoes
1/2 zucchini, cut lengthwise into quarters and then cut into thirds to make 1" wedges
12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 10 minutes

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Salt the tofu cubes, then add in a single layer to the hot oil. Allow to fry for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the tofu is a golden-brown. Gently flip each cube and fry the opposite side for 5 more minutes. Depending on the height of the oil in the pan, the sides of the tofu may also need to receive contact with the cooking surface. The goal is the have all six sides golden-brown. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. When ready to assemble skewers, toss the tofu cubes with the tamari.

On each bamboo skewer place one pearl onion, one tomato, one cube of tofu, and one zucchini wedge. Arrange on a baking sheet and heat in oven 15 minutes. Make 12 tofu skewers.

Pineapple Cake and Coconut Cream Cheese Icing--for the lazy!

3 eggs
1 box pineapple cake mix
2 15oz cans crushed pineapple, undrained
1 canister of cream cheese icing
1 tbs coconut flavoring

Heat oven to 350°.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add the cake mix and the pineapple and beat on low speed until just combined. Pour into the greased baking p an of choice and bake in the preheated oven according to the recommendations on the box for the cake pan you chose. Obviously I went with a skull-shaped pan....

For the icing, simply heat the icing in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time until it's easy to stir. Mix in the coconut flavoring, and it's ready!

I was pretty pressed for time when cake-decorating came around, but that didn't affect the flavor negatively. For posterity, I also made chocolate cupcakes for those who weren't feeling the pineapple vibe.