March 10, 2014
Here I share another inspiration (see my previous post) from Vegetarian Everyday, published by the Swedish couple who bring us the Green Kitchen Stories blog. This spread makes a yummy vegan sandwich, but it also can enhance almost any dish you make.
Sweet pepper & sunflower seed spread with rosemary
I took a shortcut and used a jar of fire-roasted red and yellow peppers, but you can substitute 3 large red bell peppers, roasted and peeled, as in the original recipe. To unify the flavors and make the spread creamier, I added avocado.
- sunflower seeds
- New Mexico chile powder or cayenne
- kosher salt
- roasted red and yellow peppers from a jar, drained, rinsed, and chopped
- fresh lemon juice
- fresh rosemary leaves from a couple of sprigs
- Lightly toast sunflower seeds with chile powder and salt in a dry pan over medium heat.
- Whirl peppers with sunflower seeds, lemon juice, and rosemary until smooth. Add avocado and adjust seasonings to taste. Store chilled in an airtight glass jar.
Serving suggestions: Use on toast, corn tortillas, or steamed vegetables; as a topping for a bowl of soup, chili, or stew; or as a dip with chips.
Feel free to share how you use it!
March 9, 2014
If you haven’t made fresh spring rolls, you’re in for a treat and a great no-cook, DIY party idea. A rice paper wrapper becomes pliable and a bit sticky when dipped in hot water, which makes it easy to wrap around your favorite springtime ingredients.
Veggie spring roll with nori
What makes this spring roll special is adding nori (the toasted seaweed wrapper used in sushi rolls) inside the rice paper rollup. You can dip your rolls in sauces, like peanut and sweetened vinegar, but I just add my favorite sauces (Sriracha and Sontava hot sauces) inside my rolls.
- bean thread noodles
- vegetables: daikon, carrot, mushrooms, green onion, spring garlic, snow peas, sugar snap peas, steamed asparagus, etc.
- lettuce leaves
- fresh basil, cilantro, and mint leaves
- avocado, sliced
- seasoned tofu or tofu burgers, sliced
- cashew pieces or slivered almonds
- rice paper wrappers
- toasted nori, cut into strips
- hot sauce and dipping sauces
- Hydrate bean thread noodles in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and transfer to a small serving bowl.
- Slice raw vegetables into thin strips or matchsticks and transfer to a serving plate. Add asparagus, lettuce, herbs, avocado, and tofu or tofu burgers to the plate. Set nuts in a small serving bowl. Put several cups of hot water in a large bowl.
- Dip one wrapper in the hot water about halfway and quickly rotate it clockwise until the wrapper is completely wet. Immediately remove it from the water and spread it out on a plate (it will become translucent and sticky). Add a strip of nori along the middle of the wrapper and top with fillings and sauces. Don’t overfill. Fold one edge of the wrapper over the ingredients, tuck in the wrapper sides, and roll until the opposite wrapper edge sticks to the roll. Repeat.
February 23, 2014
The cookbook that currently has the place of honor on my kitchen counter is Vegetarian Everyday, just published by the Swedish couple who bring us the Green Kitchen Stories blog. Among their creative and tasty vegetarian recipes is a pizza crust made with cauliflower instead of wheat flour. What? Yes, and it’s really good.
Here is an overview of the steps, but for the details, find their cauliflower pizza crust recipe online.
You whirl the cauliflower in a food processor until it looks like grains of rice, then mix it with almond meal, oregano, and eggs (the authors include a vegan version using chia seeds instead of eggs; I used chia seeds and one egg). Form the mixture into a crust on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
What makes it so tasty is baking the cauliflower crust until golden. Once the crust is fully baked, top it with your favorite pizza ingredients. Mine was topped with a sautéed mixture of mushrooms, leeks, sweet peppers, jalapeños, and parsley. Pop it back in the oven until the toppings are heated through and voilà!
My omnivore loved it, and I think you will too. Next time, I might replace some of the almond meal with cornmeal and/or chickpea flour just to see how that changes it. And I’m definitely scouring their cookbook and blog for more recipes to try. Stay tuned …
January 25, 2014
The saying “You can’t take it with you” is certainly true—we go into whatever we envision comes after this life without any belongings.
So what is ours to keep? I heard an interesting answer at the meditation group I attend: Our actions are what we always have—they are our belongings here and what we leave behind when we go “there.” Definitely something to ponder.
I recently listened to a bit that had aired on public radio called “The Kindness of Strangers“ about a woman who decided to do a year’s worth of daily acts of kindness for strangers. She gave flowers, cookies, notes, and other things to people she did not know and money to those who asked. How interesting!
I thought about it for a few days and decided that I wanted to become more aware of the people who cross my path—especially their suffering—and see if I could be present for them in some way. Since then, I’ve opened doors for people, offered assistance to people who looked ill, and rescued items that people had dropped.
Years ago, I gave money to organizations that helped the homeless and food to people on the sidewalk. But I have never given money to individuals on the street. Generally, I am more comfortable giving of my time than of my money. In this new spirit of awareness, presence, and kindness (and taking a few risks), I decided that I would also give money to anyone who asked. I can’t afford to support everyone’s monetary needs, but I wanted to be open to the possibility.
The week before the recent San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks football game, I had my first opportunity. A white-haired man with sparkly brown eyes and a wide toothless smile was standing outside the grocery store and asked for money for the homeless. Without hesitation, I said, “Sure.” Then he asked for money for a sandwich, and I gave him that.
With a broad grin showing a few teeth here and there and an even brighter twinkle in his eye, he said, “So do I know what you are going to be doing on Sunday?”
“Umm, I don’t know,” I said slowly, obviously a little hesitant at being asked a personal question.
“Rooting for the 49ers, right?” He was smiling even more.
We ended up talking for a few moments about the upcoming playoff game and politics, found our views to be similar, and had a few laughs. This was my very first conversation with someone who asked for money.
As I walked to my car, I felt a deep calm and a warmth in my heart and couldn’t stop smiling. Being open, aware, present, and kind could turn into an addiction. But I suppose this type of action isn’t a bad addiction to have.
January 12, 2014
I know a Sunday brunch chef who is an inspiration because he continuously invents new ways to prepare the age-old egg. So you think that you have eaten eggs for breakfast every way possible? Think again.
Some of us find it difficult to decide whether to have scrambled eggs or the yolky goodness of a sunny-side up egg. If you can’t make up your mind, this recipe from the Sunday brunch chef is for you.
Sunny-side scramble for two
- Olive oil
- Chopped vegetables for the scramble, such as onions, sweet peppers, mushrooms, chiles, chard, spinach, kale
- Eggs (typically 5 eggs for 2 people)
- Herbs and spices, such as parsley, thyme, basil, oregano, sage, cilantro, fennel seed, caraway seed, cumin, chile powder
- Milk of choice or half-and-half
- Heat large frying pan, add oil, and sauté vegetables over medium-high heat.
- Take 2 eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Put each whole yolk in its own small bowl and set aside. Add the separated whites to a medium bowl. Crack the remaining eggs into the bowl with the whites and whisk to combine.
- Add herbs and spices to the vegetables and stir.
- Create a well in the middle of the vegetables. Add oil to the well, and pour the whisked eggs into the well. Let cook until just beginning to set, add a dollop of milk to bring the temperature down, then stir the eggs into the vegetables. Cook over medium heat until done the way you like. Put egg mixture in a serving bowl and cover to keep warm.
- Add a little oil to a small frying pan over medium heat. Gently set the individual yolks in the pan and cover. Fry the yolk until just set but still runny, about 1 minute.
- Meanwhile, divide scramble among two plates. With a thin-bladed spatula, place one yolk on top of each mound of scrambled eggs. Serve immediately for a little bit of egg heaven.
January 6, 2014
Flatbreads enhance any meal, so I have decided to make homemade flatbreads inspired by world cuisines, with a focus on non-wheat flours.
This recipe, adapted from inpursuitofmore.com and thekitchn.com, requires the batter to rest in order to thicken—at least 2 hours at room temperature or overnight chilled.
The “flour” is ground chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and is used across the globe, including in India, France, and Italy. Find the flour at Indian markets (called gram or besan) or in the baking aisle at well-stocked grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill brand).
This flatbread’s texture is similar to cornmeal, and with its mild flavor, it partners well with strong toppings, like grated parmesan, olive tapenade, oil-cured sun-dried tomatoes, or pesto. I will definitely make this one again.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- One or more optional seasonings: fresh rosemary, thyme, or oregano; ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, curry powder, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, etc.
- Whisk together all of the ingredients. The batter will be loose. Let rest for at least 2 hours on the counter, whisking occasionally, or chill overnight to allow the batter to thicken.
- Heat oven or toaster oven to 450°. Line a rimmed baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Preheat pan for 5 minutes in hot oven.
- Whisk the batter and pour into the pan to coat the pan’s entire surface. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, until the top is a bit browned.
- Remove pan from oven. Use a spatula to ease the pancake from the pan. Cut into pieces and serve immediately or chill and toast.
January 3, 2014
Okay, put on your seatbelt. Here are some of my interpretations of the term “breakfast food.”
- steel-cut oats and raisins soaked, cooked, and served with almond butter and mashed banana
- coarsely chopped apples simmered with orange zest and cinnamon, then topped with yogurt and almond butter or nut pieces
- cooked vegetables, beans, and/or lentils seasoned with mustard, mustard aioli, or hot sauce, heated in the microwave, and spooned onto a warm corn tortilla
- mashed avocado, hot sauce, super-firm tofu, and butter lettuce on walnut wheat toast
- almond butter, super-firm tofu, leaf lettuce wrapped in a warm corn tortilla
- mustard or mustard aioli, tempeh, and romaine lettuce on a toasted rosemary ciabatta roll
- mustard or mustard aioli, a homemade or purchased veggie burger, and butter lettuce on a brown-rice rice cake
- seasonal fruit smoothie with a bit of soy milk
- yogurt topped with my homemade fruit compote or jam and nut butter or nut pieces
Feel free to add your favorites to my list (vegetarian options only, please).
December 31, 2013
Now is the time to pick up some kale and chard at your local San Francisco Bay Area farmers’ market. The recent nighttime lows with their kisses of frost have given winter greens a sweetness that their summer selves just don’t have.
We cook greens year-round in olive oil and garlic, occasionally adding fennel seeds, mustard seeds, and/or coriander seeds. But this time, I took a walk on the wild side and lightly steamed chopped kale leaves without any seasoning—just on their own. Boy, were they good.
I can see steaming several bunches of kale and storing the cooked leaves in an airtight glass container in the fridge to add to servings of beans, rice, pasta, and soup.
Who said that there wasn’t an upside to low overnight temperatures?
December 27, 2013
Yet another reason to feel grateful: At nearby Taqueria ¿Coma Esta?, the cooks simmer tofu in a flavorful tomato-based sauce and offer it as a “meat” choice on their menu. Yum! The last time I had their “tofu ranchero” it finally dawned on me that I could make and enjoy something similar at home.
I love one-pot meals, so my version includes brown rice and chopped green cabbage, but you could serve tofu ranchero over rice, steamed vegetables, or salad with beans and corn tortillas alongside or wrapped with beans and rice in a large flour tortilla burrito-style.
- olive oil
- onion, chopped
- shallot, chopped
- mushrooms, sliced
- jalapeño chiles, diced
- sweet peppers, diced
- super-firm tofu, such as Wildwood, cut into 1-in. strips
- tomatoes, chopped fresh or canned, or tomato sauce
- brown rice
- small green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-in. dice
- salt and pepper
- hot sauce
- green onions, sliced (optional)
- corn tortillas (optional)
- beans (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, shallot, mushrooms, chiles, and sweet peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.
- Add tofu, tomatoes, salsa, and brown rice. Cover and cook until rice is tender. Stir in cabbage and cook, covered, until soft.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper, and your favorite hot sauce. Sprinkle green onions on top and serve with corn tortillas and beans if you like.
December 25, 2013
I’m sure you too have experienced radishes as either bland and boring or too biting. But I love the color they add to salads and their perfect size for a snack, so I keep bringing them home.
I recently took a cooking class about using what you have in your fridge and your pantry taught by local chef Laura Stec. She mentioned quick-pickling some sliced jalapeños to add some heat and tang to a carrot dish she was making. So when I spied some red and purple radishes at the farmers’ market, an idea popped up: I would slice and marinate the radishes overnight in sweetened, salted vinegar to see what would happen.
The experiment worked! The vinegar bath transformed them into an inspired, crunchy, even more colorful (bright pink) addition to salad or a tangy, exciting snack. I also pickled chopped fennel bulb the same way with the same good results, so why not other fresh vegetables like carrots, cauliflower, celery, daikon, salad turnips, etc., etc., etc.?
Quick and easy pickled vegetables
- raw vegetables of your choice (as fresh as possible), cut into bite-size pieces
- rice vinegar
- powdered stevia or sugar
- kosher salt
Put the vegetables in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Add rice vinegar to cover. Sprinkle with a small amount of stevia or sugar and a dash of salt. Cover and shake vigorously. Chill several hours or overnight. Shake and taste. Adjust sugar and salt if you like and shake vigorously. Enjoy!