Saturday, April 30, 2011

chopped salad with thai flavors

Tuesday night I made Chopped Salad with Thai Flavors,* and I added some things to make it a main dish. I'm loving these main dish, practically no cook salads lately, and EDW helped me with the prep work on this one.

While I chopped a carrot, yellow pepper, snow peas, radishes, and cabbage, EDW cooked some soba noodles and edamame. I whisked together some fish sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil and a jalapeño, and then I chopped up 1/4 cup fresh basil and 1/4 cup fresh mint. Once the noodles and beans were cooked and cooled, I tossed them with the vegetables, along with some bean sprouts, peanuts, and the dressing. The fresh herbs rounded out the whole thing, and I had a mound of vegetables just waiting to be gobbled.

We were supposed to let the salad sit for a while to let the flavors meld, but we were ready to eat so we just dug in. It was delicious and fresh, and I loved the pop of lime in the dressing. The noodles are hiding under all the veggies in this phote, but they were lovely with the edamame. While we enjoyed it Tuesday night, the salad was really more spectacular the next day as leftovers.
Bittman, Mark. The Food Matters Cookbook. "Chopped Salad with Thai Flavors." p. 152.

Friday, April 29, 2011

fiesta salad with chipotle tilapia and mango salsa

The next round of made-up recipes is officially fish + salads. I hope you're excited! Here's the first one:

Fiesta Salad with Chipotle Tilapia and Mango Salsa
serves 4

For the tilapia:
4 4-6 ounce tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 T pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 T EVOO

For the salsa:
1 cup cooked black beans
1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 t kosher salt
1 lime, zested and juiced

For the salad dressing:
1/2 c cilantro
1.5 limes, zested and juiced
1 t pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 T EVOO
1/2 t kosher salt
1 t sugar

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (remember, I just dump the contents of the can in the blender and use the puree as salsa), garlic, lime zest, lime juice, and oil. Pour over the fish and set aside while oven is heating. When oven is heated, cook the fish for 12-15 minutes, until it flakes easily with a fork.

Combine the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender. Thin with water, as needed.

Now you're ready to assemble your salad. Toss salad greens (I used spinach) with dressing, to taste, reserving any leftovers for future use. Place a piece of cooked fish on top of the greens, with a large scoop of mango salsa on the side.

I don't have many process photes for this one, because all it really involves is some chopping and blending. I made this after work on Monday and it came together in a snap.
Edwin and I really enjoyed this. The fish marinade was awesome-- I will definitely be making it again. We both give the salad an A-.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

coconut lime macaroons

For our Easter dessert, I made coconut lime macaroons, combining Mark Bittman's basic macaroon recipe with Two Peas and Their Pod's coconut lime variation. I used Mark Bittman's recipe as a base because I didn't have sweetened condensed milk in the house. I mixed my egg whites, sugar, coconut (I used sweetened, not unsweetened) 2 tablespoons of lime juice and zest, vanilla and salt, and formed the dough into balls.

This was my first time with macaroons, and I didn't realize how difficult it'd be to shape the cookies. I'm thinking the added lime juice to Mark Bittman's recipe interfered with the dry to wet ratio, because after trying to for 2 or 3 cookies, I realized I needed more coconut. I probably added about a half to a full cup of coconut to my bowl in the end-- I just kept adding until the dough was solid enough to stick together. These are messy messy, but not really difficult in terms of technical skill.

I baked mine for 15 minutes and then let them cool. They were really sticky, even once they had cooled, so I decided not to dunk them into the melted white chocolate and went for a more rustic drizzled look. Drizzling, in this particular case, was definitely rustic, though I'm sure there are instances when drizzling creates quite the fancy effect.
We ate these for dessert after lunch, and wow. I have always loved macaroons, but I'm not sure I've ever had a homemade macaroon before. The cookies are phenomenal-- sweet, chewy, sticky, and full of lovely coconut goodness. My only complaint is I wish the lime had been a bit more of a star ingredient. We could both taste the hint of citrus, but I would have preferred these with more lime flavor. I will absolutely make macaroons again, for anyone who isn't a weirdo and anti-coconut (I know you're out there, and I love you, but seriously people? How can you not love coconut?).

Monday, April 25, 2011

spiced lamb and lentils

Whole Foods sent out an email a week or two ago highlighting spring recipes, and spiced lamb with lentils caught my eye. EDW holds a special place in his heart for lamb, which we always refer to as lambs, and I thought it'd be fun to make a middle-eastern inspired dish for Easter instead of the traditional ham. (Plus, I don't love ham, and I don't eat deviled eggs, so shying away from the tradish comfort food isn't an issue for me)

I started by sauteeing onion and garlic, and then I browned the ground lamb. To that I added cinnamon, dill, and oregano, followed by lentils and broth. I let the whole thing simmer for about 45 minutes, while my rice cooked. The topping came together quickly, since all I had to do was chop some grape tomatoes (on sale again, so I subbed for the roma) and slice a cucumber.
We had the spiced lamb with french green beans, for no other reason than I had some in the fridge waiting to be used. I blanched the green beans and then tossed them in a homemade dressing I've been making lately.
Edwin was mildly obsessed with this dish. He was absolutely delighted with the whole meal, and that made me quite happy. I thought the lamb was okay, but not anything super special. I'm not really sure when my tastes changed, but I just don't love red meat the way I used to. (Sidenote: I'm not going vegetarian, but I walk that line pretty often.) Edwin couldn't believe I wasn't raving about the lambs, but he was more than happy to sign up for leftover detail.

All in all, we had a great Easter weekend. I love to plan an extra special meal to eat in the mid-afternoon, and I'm a fan of pulling out the fine china. EDW thinks it's especially nice to have lambs.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

quick-braised vegetables, thai style

I made quick-braised vegetables, Thai style* for dinner Friday night, and since it's Mark Bittman and he always gives variations, I added and substituted lots. Here's what Mr. Bittman says about this recipe: "Half stir-fry, half braise, this quick, thick stew can be varied in a number of ways, all delicious. If you like Thai-style curries, this is for you." Sold.

The base recipe calls for eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash, but I used broccoli and snow peas instead. I started out by sauteeing a sliced onion in some oil, and then I added in a lot of garlic, a minced jalapeño (half seeded, half not-- EDW's palate is getting bolder!), and some lime zest. Next I stirred in some snow peas, followed by some parboiled broccoli. To that I added pressed tofu (not in the base recipe, but one of the add-ons, and I wanted this to be a main not a side) and a can of coconut milk. I let the mixture simmer for about 5 minutes, until it was slightly thickened.At this point you're supposed to add soy sauce or fishless fish sauce, but we're not actually vegetarians and I like fish sauce, so I just stirred in the real anchovy based deal. Because I used quicker cooking veggies than eggplant, the whole cooking process only took about 10 minutes.
I served this brown rice and a lime wedge. We both added sriracha to our bowls (me more than Edwin, but he still added a good squirt) and tucked in. We liked this quite a bit, and I can see myself making the meal with other vegetables in the future. It reheated well the next night, and I was sad it only made 4 servings.
Bittman, Mark. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. "Quick-Braised Vegetables, Thai Style." p. 379-80.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

cilantro lime spelt berry salad

I've been wanting to try spelt berries for a while now, and this cilantro lime spelt berry salad seemed like a great place to start. Also, I'd like one of each of the other high protein salads featured on that post, please. Thanks in advance.

I cooked a pound of black beans earlier in the day (I rarely use canned beans anymore. Dried are cheaper and almost as easy. I cook them, then divide into 2 cup portions-- roughly the amount in a can-- and refrigerate or freeze until I need them) and made the spelt berries in the afternoon.

Does anyone know why they are called spelt berries when they're grains? I get that they're like wheat berries, but I'm unclear why those are called berries as well.

I didn't have green onions, so I left those out. Grape tomatoes were on sale this week, so I used about 3/4 pint of those in place of a whole tomato. Instead of using balsamic vinegar in the dressing, I went with white wine vinegar. I stirred everything together and plopped it onto a bed of spinach.
This was delightful. EDW and I loved the flavors, and the spelt berries really do have a nice chewy bite to them. One thing I've learned about Angela over at Oh She Glows: girlfriends loves her varying textures. The salad is chewy and crunchy and crisp and soft. I'd make this again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

miso-ginger wild rice

Another Whole Foods recipe without many photes. What can I say? These recipes are easy and require minimal prep, which I love. I made miso-ginger wild rice for dinner Wednesday night.

While my wild rice was cooking, I toasted the sesame seeds and cooked about 2 cups of edamame. The recipe looked delicious as it was, but I wanted to amp it up a bit with some protein to make it more of a main dish. I'm glad I did. I used brown rice miso instead of barley miso for the dressing, since it's what was in my fridge.

Once the rice was done, I tossed it with the miso dressing and vegetables. It couldn't have been easier, but the flavor combinations seemed fancy to me. This is the first of the Whole Foods recipes that I've actually thought could be on the beloved salad bar or behind the deli case. It tastes like it's 6.99 a pound for sure.
Edwin and I liked our rice a lot, but we agree that without the edamame it really can't stand on its own as a main dish. Add some chicken, tofu, or other protein if you try it for yourself.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

salmon with strawberry salsa

I really love Whole Foods and their recipe database. I also really love the weekly emails I get with recipe highlights. Most of all I really really love this recipe for baked salmon with strawberry salsa and spinach.

I threw this together after work on Monday. I baked my salmon (I added a bit of EVOO and salt and pepper, along with the requisite lemon zest) and diced my salsa ingredes. Hello strawberries, thanks for being on super sale. I peeled and seeded my cucumber, because it seemed liked a good idea, but you could totally just wash and go.
I decided not to heat my spinach, and just made the whole thing into salads. EDW loved it, too. I can't wait to scoop up the leftover salsa with sweet potato chips.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

asparagus soup

Sunday night I made creamy asparagus soup for dinner, and while my photes aren't nearly as appealing as Sommer's, this soup was goooood.

We all know by now that EDW prefers a chunky soup, and I promised him earlier in the day that I'd at least see what I could work out to make the soup not completely smooth. Unfortunately, asparagus stalks plus vegetable broth (I made mine vegetarian) plus navy beans plus onions looks absolutely unappetizing. There was no way around the cuisinart smart stick on this one, so I blended it to green perfection.
I know. I know. This is not pretty. My crummy lighting and lazy staging are a problem. But the taste? We loved it. The yogurt gives the soup a great creamy flavor and I love the slow, gentle heat from the cayenne pepper (I used 3 small pinches). I especially like that there are protein rich beans thrown in to the mix-- it's like a wonderful nutritious secret!
Like most soup, this tasted even better when we reheated it for lunch the next day. I tried a spoonful cold, just to check-- it's not a soup that's good cold. You want it hot, so save it for a cool spring evening.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

pasta with tomatoes, tuna, and capers

We've been eating really simple meals lately. This weekend, I made breakfast quesadillas (scrambled eggs plus whatever fillings you have, toasted in an ezekial wrap) one night and a made up pasta bean thing last night (pasta with a sauce of olive oil, grape tomatoes, navy beans, garlic, and basil-- amazing). I feel like I'm finally getting my stride in the kitchen and I'm becoming more and more comfortable throwing things together. When I make up recipes and post them on the blog, I do a lot of prep work, thinking about measurements and flavors ahead of time. This weekend, though, it was all on the fly. Color me excited!

I did make a delicious and simple Mark Bittman pasta last week: pasta with tomatoes, tuna, and capers.* I had everything I needed in the pantry, so I went to town.

I heated some olive oil and sauteed an onion until it was soft, and then I added a can of whole tomatoes. I let that cook down until it was saucy, and then I added a can of tuna and some capers. I tossed the pasta with the sauce, along with some white wine and red pepper flakes, added a bunch of fresh basil, and called it a day.
I was really impressed with how flavorful this was. EDW and I were incredibly satisfied with this meal, and I'll definitely make it again. Considering the fact that I almost always have all of the ingredients (fresh basil is the only one I may have to run out for), it's an easy keeper.
Bittman, Mark. The Food Matters Cookbook. "Pasta with Tomatoes, Tuna, and Capers." p. 232.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

cauliflower with ginger, onions and cashews

Here's another Splendid Table Weeknight Kitchen recipe that I can't link to: cauliflower with ginger-cashew-onion sauce. If you get the newsletter too and want to dig it out of your gmail archives like I did, it's from December 29, 2010.

I started by sauteing 3 onions (lots of onions-- consider yourself warned) and then adding cooked chickpeas (the recipe calls for canned but I almost always cook my own these days), ginger, garlic, cilantro, raisins, a jalapeño, and some rice vinegar. Next I scooted everything out of the way (hey really big straight sided calphalon skillet with cover from TJMaxx, I love you for your ample cook surface) and mixed tomato paste and chickpea cooking liquid (the recipe says use water, but I had the leftover bean broth to use so I went with it).

This mixture is what Lynne is calling the sauce. To me it seemed nothing like a sauce and I kept rereading the recipe to see if I was missing something. I wasn't. It's not sauce like alfredo or tomato. It's sauce like something spoonable.
I was supposed to steam my cauliflower, but I boiled it instead, since it wouldn't all fit in my steamer (I didn't let it go too long in the water-- I pulled them out when they were barely tender). I also threw in 8 ounces french green beans for good measure, because when are more green vegetables ever a bad idea? The recipe's instructions are to put the vegetables in a serving dish and spoon the sauce over them, with rice on the side. I decided to stir everything in together before serving, and I used cooked quinoa as my grain. I squeezed a bit of lime juice into the pan, and garnished each plate with chopped salted cashews and dried coconut.
I know the whole thing sounds a bit odd, but we really enjoyed it. We get really excited about raisins in a warm dish, and they were so pleasant with the onion and chickpeas. Every texture had its counterpart, and I loved that. EDW and I were happy to have seconds of this one, and it made great leftovers for lunch today. Email me if you want the recipe.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

vegan frittata

I'm still not sure what this quarter's recipe theme will be, but I made up a vegan frittata on Sunday. I had some silken tofu in the fridge, and it just seemed like you could make it into an "egg" dish. Here's the recipe:

Vegan Frittata
serves 2-3

1 small yellow onion, diced
1 T EVOO
1 T minced garlic
1 block silken tofu
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and sliced
3 T nutritional yeast
1 t sea salt
1/2 fresh ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400.

In a small non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. When hot, add the onion and saute until softened and golden. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.

While the onion is cooking, blend the tofu and almond milk until smooth. (I used a big bowl and an immersion blender, but I don't see why a regular blender or food processor wouldn't work) In a large bowl, combine the tofu and milk with the remaining ingredients.

Add the tofu mixture to the skillet and bake 45 minutes, until almost set. Turn off the oven and leave the frittata in for 10 more minutes.

Serve, hot or room temperature.
I was a little nervous about this when I checked on it after 30 minutes--it seemed to be bubbling a lot and not setting up like a real egg frittata would, but in the end it all worked out. This looks like an egg frittata. This tastes like an egg frittata. And it's amazing.
You can use this recipe as a model for any frittata-- just fill with what you have. I do think you'll need to have plenty of herbs and spices, regardless of your filling, since tofu by itself has very little flavor.

EDW didn't quite believe I'd made up this recipe. He said, "Not to belittle your other creations, but this tastes like a professionally tested and published recipe." He was sure it was Mark Bittman. Go me!

Monday, April 4, 2011

quinoa loaf

I made a quinoa loaf for dinner Saturday night. I found the recipe on the Whole Foods website a few weeks ago, but I've been saving it for a weekend when I had a bit more time. It's not a difficult recipe, but it does take about an hour in the oven to cook. The whole thing is assembled like meatloaf, with some special vegan ingredients instead of ground beef and eggs.

I combined the chickpeas, oats, and water in my food processor while the mushrooms were cooking. Then I stirred all my ingredients together and smooshed them into my loaf pan. After an hour in the oven, my kitchen was smelling quite cozy and we were ready to dig in.
My pieces didn't stay together like meat loaf slices do. It may have something to do with the fact that I didn't let it rest the whole 10 minutes, but even when we went back for seconds it didn't stick together once cut. Even though the slices became heaps, the flavor was fantastic. This isn't a knock you over with exciting taste combinations-- it's just really nice and subtle.
EDW said it's the best treatment of quinoa I've cooked, so you know he thinks it's pretty special.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

quick-cooked edamame with soy sauce

I made quick-cooked edamame with soy sauce* for dinner one night last week, and it was everything I was hoping it'd be: quick, easy, and flavorful.

I sauteed green onions and ginger in a bit of oil, and then I added in soy sauce and water. The recipe calls for either a cup of kombu dashi or 1/4 cup soy sauce plus 3/4 cup water. I didn't want to mess with making kombu dashi, so I went with the soy sauce. I brought the mixture to a low boil and added edamame, carrots, and snow peas. That cooked for just a few minutes and then I spooned it onto brown rice.
Edwin and I loved this dish. It was really really flavorful and filling, and the leftovers made great lunches. I was a bit surprised by how complex it tasted, since the only seasonings come from the ginger and soy sauce. EDW is always happy with Asian inspired meals, so it was a good night in the Arnaudin household.
*Bittman, Mark. How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. "Quick-Cooked Edamame with Soy Sauce." p. 584-5