Friday, May 3, 2013
Forbidden rice. Not only does this delicious rice have a cool name, the fact that it's black makes it even more awesome. Forbidden rice is a strain of Chinese black rice that is considered to be both a food and medicine in China. It received it's name (also known as imperial rice) due to the fact that it's was eaten only by royalty (thereby being "forbidden" to the common people) during the time of the Qing dyansty.
When you buy this heriloom rice in the store it looks black, but as you cook it, it turns a deep purple, which comes from the high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are what give fruits, vegetables, and flowers their color. They are part of the flavanoid family and help protect against cancer, inflammation and help protect the nervous system from degeneration. It is high in fiber, iron, vitamin E and has more anthocyanins that blueberries!
You can serve forbidden rice as you would any type of rice although I think it's best when served alongside some steamed or sauteed vegetables or as a base for a salad. The rice has a tendency to stain the other ingredients when it's hot so I make sure the rice is cool and will add any other components at the last minute to keep it looking vibrant and fresh. Since this variety of rice originated in China, I decided to play around with some Asian inspired ingredients to make a healthy, protein packed salad with tofu, edamame, and lots of fresh herbs with a tangy ginger-sesame dressing.
Asian Forbidden Rice Salad
1 c. uncooked forbidden rice
1 c. edamame
1/3 c. scallions, sliced
3/4 c. cilantro, stems removed
1 T. unhulled sesame seeds
8 oz. tofu, cut into 1" cubes
1/4 c. wheat free tamari
2 T. rice vinegar
2 t. mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 cloves garlic, grated
2 t. fresh grated ginger
1 T. toasted sesame oil
2 T. peanut oil
3 T. wheat free tamari
1 1/2 T. rice vinegar
1 1/2 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. grated ginger
1/4 t. cayenne (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
Bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the rice, cover with lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until all of the water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. When the rice is done, let sit covered for ten minutes, then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, while the rice is cooking, prepare the tofu. Place the tamari, rice vinegar, mirin, garlic, giner and sesame oil in a large bowl. Add the tofu to the bowl and gently toss with a spoon to fully coat tofu. Let marinade for at least an hour, stirring occasionally. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and let it cook for a couple minutes on each side until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add your edamame and cook for a couple of minutes. Drain and set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing.
When the rice is cool, add the dressing and gently fold in the edamame, scallions, cilantro and tofu and garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
In the colder months, this shaved brussels sprout and kale salad was my go to when I needed something green and crunchy, but in the warmer months, when there is a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, my salad options become alot more interesting. I may shave some asparagus with a vegetable peeler and toss with a little lemon juice and olive oil or thinly slice cucumbers and give them a quick marinade in vinegar and top with fresh chopped dill. When vegetables are in season, there is little you have to do to make them taste really great.
Fennel is one of those vegetables that people either love or hate; being reminiscent of licorice, which can be offputting to some. Personally I love the delicate flavor and the fact that it pairs well with a variety of foods. I'm not really sure when fennel is in season in New York.. I usually see it at the farmers market in late summer but for some reason I feel like it's one of those vegetables that I can eat year round. I roast it up all winter long and serve it raw, either juiced or tossed in a salad all throughout the summer months.
Now that it's getting warmer again, I decided to make a simple fennel salad to accompany these quinoa patties. Thinly sliced fennel is tossed with a little lemon juice and olive oil, then mixed with some fresh grated parmesan and chopped flatleaf parsley. It's fresh and crunchy and the tanginess of the lemon plays off the saltiness of the grated parmesan. It's one of those salads that comes across as being super fancy but takes less than fifteen minutes to throw togther.
Fennel Slaw (serves 2-4)
Slightly adapted from Sprouted Kitchen
1 large bulb fennel, very thinly sliced
2 T. chopped fennel fronds
1/12 T. fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
1 1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. chopped flatleaf parsley
1/4 c. finely grated parmesan cheese
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Using a mandoline or knife, slice the fennel bulbs horiziontally as thinly as possible. Remove any large core parts then add the slices to a mixing bowl with the fronds.
Add the olive oil, lemon juice and zest to the bowl and toss with your hands. Let the fennel sit for 10 minutes to soften. Before serving, add the parsley, parmesan, a couple pinches of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. Toss everything together and serve immediately.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
I know, I know... brussels sprouts season is over and done with. For those of you that eat seasonally, you're probably sick to death of those miniature cabbages. You want ramps and asparagus and fava beans and I couldn't agree more.
I actually made and photographed this salad months ago, but totally forgot about it up until now. This is definitely one of those salads that you want to add to your winter repertoire, so I figure why not blog about it now so you'll have it for next year.
Serving brussels sprouts and kale raw, in a salad, may be new to some of you. In fact, I've talked to many people that didn't even know you could eat either one without cooking them first. When you're in the dead of winter and tender lettuces are nowhere to be found, thinly sliced kale and shredded brussels sprouts are your next best bet. You could probably toss the two with a little olive oil and lemon and have a simple side, but why not throw in some grated pecorino romano, salted almonds and serve with a lemony-dijon-shallot vinaigrette. You could eat a large bowl of this on it's own for a light lunch or serve it in place of your typical dinner salad.
Brussels Sprout and Kale Salad with Salted Almonds
From Bon Appetit
1/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 T. dijon mustard
1 T. minced shallot
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1/4 t. sea salt, plus more for seasoning
fresh ground black pepper
2 large bunches lacinato kale, stems removed, thinly sliced
12 oz. brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 c. raw almonds, coarsely chopped
1 c. grated pecorino romano
Combine lemon juice, dijon mustard, shallot, garlic, sea salt and black pepper in a bowl. Place shredded brussels sprouts and kale in a large bowl.
Measure 1/2 c. olive oil in a cup. Spoon 1 T. oil into a small skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add the almonds and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about two minutes. Transfer almonds to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Slowly whisk remaining olive oil into the lemon juice mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
Add dressing and cheese to kale mixture and toss to coat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and top with salted almonds.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
March is such a teaser month. Temperatures may fluctuate anywhere between the 20's to the 60's. One day it could be snowing and the next people are walking around in shorts and tank tops. The change in the weather and the arrival of spring always gets me amped up for all of the new vegetables that will be coming our way soon, like asparagus, fennel and artichokes. I begin to crave salads, cold noodle dishes and spring rolls instead of soups, stews and hot tea.
As much as I'm ready to start eating lighter, the temperatures haven't gotten much above the 30's for the greater part of the month. So, until I'm able to wear any less than three layers outside, I'm still sticking with comfort foods to get me through this last bout of cold weather.
Polenta is one of the foods that I always have in the cupboard for a quick meal. With the addition of a little butter and cheese, it is transformed into a creamy base that goes with just about anything! I'm a big fan of topping my polenta with sauteed greens and a poached egg, or a sautee of wild mushrooms or come summer time, stirring in a drizzle of pesto and topping with roasted vegetables like red pepper, fennel and zucchini. It's a great meal to make when you have little odds and ends in your fridge that you're not quite sure what to do with, which is exactly what I did this time around.
I had very few things to work with other than a bag of spinach, some spicy sausage links and a small hunk of pecorino romano. My first intuition was to throw these together with pasta but since I ate an entire baguette doused in olive oil for lunch, I decided to cut back on the wheat and make it gluten free with some polenta, and it totally hit the spot.
Creamy Polenta with Sausage, Spinach and Pecorino
1 c. polenta
4 1/2 c. vegetable broth
3 T. butter
1/2 c. grated pecorino romano cheese, plus more for serving
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
3 links hot Italian sausage, casings removed, cut into small pieces
1/2 lb. spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
1/4 c. chopped flat leaf parsley
Place vegetable broth in a medium sized heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in polenta. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook polenta for about thirty minutes, whisking every couple of minutes to prevent it from clumping up or sticking. When the polenta is soft and creamy, whisk in the cheese and butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low while you prepare the sausage and spinach.
Heat 1 T. extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the sausage and cook until cooked through and browned on the outside. Transfer to a paper towel to drain excess oil. Wipe out the pan and heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and spinach and cook just long enough for the spinach to collapse. Season with salt and pepper.
Before serving, give the polenta a good stir (if it has thickened up too much, you can thin it out a bit with more vegetable broth). Divide the polenta evenly between shallow bowls. Top with the sauteed spinach, sausage parsley and an extra dusting of pecorino romano.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
I first started this blog with the intention of having it be strictly vegetarian. Although I ate fish and turkey on occasion, the world of pork and beef was unbeknownst to me. Not a bite had passed my lips in over fifteen years and I never thought I would be eating, let alone cooking meat anytime in the near future.
About six months ago I was dining in Manhattan and decided then and there that I was going to eat pork. I don't know why all of a sudden, at that moment the idea sounded so appealing, but I decided to go with it and I would either love it or hate it. I didn't go all out and order a steak or ribs or a porkchop but instead eased into it slowly with a wood fired pizza topped with broccoli rabe, fresh mozzarella and spicy sausage.
...It was hands down, one of the top ten meals I've ever had.
Over the past six months, I've s-l-o-w-l-y incorporated meat into my diet. I would go out for an occasional grassfed burger or buy a package of local sausage links or some maple smoked bacon. I've made some dang tasty grub featuring these foods but for some reason didn't feel comfortable blogging about it since 95% of my blog is vegetarian (I've featured fish in a couple posts) and I didn't know if I would lose an audience of vegetarian readers if I decided to start blogging about meat.
...and then I got over it....
The tagline of my blog is, "tasty whole foods cuisine" and I think meat (if raised in slaughtered in a sustainable way) fits the bill... in moderation. So, from here on out, some of my posts may feature fish, chicken, beef or pork... or seaweed, kale, pomegranates or sweet potatoes. I can guarantee that whatever I choose to post gets my stamp of approval and tastes delicious.
Although I can't vouch for the following recipe since I didn't actually TRY them myself, my dogs absolutely love the bacon fat dog biscuits that I made for them. I always have leftover grease from cooking bacon, and never felt the desire to do anything with it myself, so I decided to make my little pooches a tasty little treat that was free from all of the crap that is usually found in any of the ones you would buy at the petstore.
Although they may not be as healthy as carrot sticks and kale stems, these little biscuits are something that you can feel good about giving your furry friends.
Whole Wheat Bacon Fat Dog Biscuits
From The Kitchn
1/2 c. melted bacon fat
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. cold water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until a dough is formed. Tear off a sheet of parchment paper and lay on a flat surface. Sprinkle with flour and roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness. Transfer to a large baking sheet and score with a pizza cutter or butter knife into desired shapes/size. Poke small holes (I think this is more for decoration) with the end of a chopstick. Bake for 20 minutes, break apart and flip the biscuits over. Return the biscuits to the oven and turn off the heat. Let sit for 20-30 minutes to allow them to crisp up a bit. Store in an airtight container.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Years ago, when I lived in California, I used to hit up the farmers markets at least twice a week. The Bay Area was a food lovers paradise.. the growing season gave you tender lettuces in February, tomatoes in March and basil in January. In addition to the variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from year round, there was always a handful of locals selling homemade goods ranging from kombucha to goat cheese, to kimchi. At the tail end of the market was an older woman sporting dreadlocks and a smile that was contagious. She harvested her own seaweed and sold an amazing gomasio.
Gomasio is a Japanese condiment consisting of unhulled sesame seeds and sea salt. It's great sprinkled over a salad or rice or over steamed vegetables, basically anywere you want a bit of salt and crunch. The woman at the farmers market (she had some hippy name like Rainbow or Moonbeam or something), took a basic gomasio recipe and added dried nettles and nori and sold it in little baggies for like, five bucks. I quickly became addicted to the stuff, not only because it was delicious, but I knew that everytime I sprinkled a little of her magic fairy dust on my quinoa and steamed greens I was doing my body a big favor in the health department.
Sesame seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, iron, B vitamins and fiber. Nori (a dried seaweed) is also rich in B vitamins as well as vitamin A and E and contains more vitamin C than oranges. It is rich in iodine, a trace mineral that stimulates the thyroid to produce hormones required for metabolism and keeps hair, nails and skin looking their finest! Nettles are one of those "super herbs" used to treat anything and everything. It's a slow acting nutritive herb that gently cleanses the body of metabolic wastes. It has a gentle, stimulating effect on the lymphatic system, enhancing the excretion of wastes through the kidneys. It is rich in iron, vitamin C and calcium, making it a great herb for women to prevent anemia and keep bones strong without the use of dairy products. It is commonly used for people that suffer from seasonal allergies, can help alleviate joint and muscle pain, increases circulation and purifies the blood.
... Not to bad for a simple condiment.
Nori Nettle Gomasio
3 sheets nori
6 T. unhulled sesame seeds
1 T. black sesame seeds (opt)
3 T. dried nettles
1/2 t. sea salt
Cut nori into small pieces. Place in a spice grinder and pulse a couple times to break it down. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining ingredients, except the salt. Working in batches, transfer to the mixture to the spice grinder and pulse until the nori and nettles are powdery and the sesame seeds are broken down a bit ( I did mine in two batches). Place in a bowl and stir in salt. Store in an airtight container.
Sunday, March 3, 2013
To switch things up a bit, I'm always looking for new ways to flavor my popcorn. Some of my favorite combinations include:
Truffle oil and parmesan cheese
Toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds and dulse or nori flakes (dried seaweeds)
Olive oil and zaatar (a blend of sesame seeds, sumac, oregano, thyme, marjoram and sea salt)
Coconut oil and curry powder
I've heard of people topping their popcorn with butter, cinnamon and sugar and the idea has never really done it for me. When I make popcorn, it's usually because I need salt and fat, and lots of it. I recently came across a recipe for honey butter popcorn and decided to leave my comfort zone and give it a whirl.
Let's just say I've made this three times in the past week and it just might be my new favorite snack when I want something on the sweet side and there isn't a single thing in the house other than popcorn, coconut oil, honey and salt (this is only a SLIGHT exaggeration).
This combination has everything you could want in a snack: fat, sugar, salt and crunch.
Need I say more?
Honey Butter Popcorn
From Food Loves Writing
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons raw honey
sea salt to taste
Melt coconut oil in a large stockpot with a lid. Place two kernels of unpopped corn in the pot and cover it. Once you hear the kernels pop, take off the lid and add the 1/2 cup kernels. Put the cover back on and shake the pot. Cook over medium heat, shaking the pot again once or twice, until all you stop hearing popping sounds (about five minutes or so).
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter, honey and a pinch of salt over low heat. When the popcorn kernels stop popping, turn off the heat. Transfer popcorn to a large bowl and toss with the honey-butter mixture.