For the past two weeks I have been locked out of my kitchen. Take out meal, after take out meal, I stare at my gleaming kitchen, imagining myself at full speed; chopping on the counter, simmering a sauce on the stove top and roasting something in the oven. Of course, my romantic kitchen fantasy doesn’t include: the chopped veggies that have fallen way side on the floor; the sauce that’s splattered against the walls and the sugary stickiness from the roasted potatoes all over the sides of the oven.
It’s true. I’m a mess in the kitchen. Hopefully said partner doesn’t hold this against me in future moments when he’s wondering why there’s pomegranate juice on the ceiling. I am just not the kind of cook that can operate without leaving crumbs behind. Thankfully my obsessive compulsiveness has started to bully out the slob in me - so it’s getting better.
So why am I being locked out of the kitchen and forced to endure nightly take out. It’s within good reason. We decided to put the place up on the market after many deliberations over two years. It’s very exciting as it could mean a larger sink and more counter space, but it means that I’ve had to live like a squatter, leaving no sign that I exist in that apartment. For those that know me, I’m sure they will find it hard to believe that my past bad habits can survive this kind of environment. I’m happy to report that we’re two weeks in and you won’t be able to find a pair of panties anywhere.
Being that this is my current predicament, I’m finding myself fantasizing about new recipes or past ones I’ve made and counting down the metaphorical days to when I can cook again. [CAUTION: Friends, I may be coming to a kitchen near you]
I’m salavating right now about a dish I made two weeks ago. It was probably one of the most well rounded satisfying bowls I’ve ever made. It’s gluten and dairy free, packed with protein, antioxidants and high in fiber. Not to mention it’s seriously delicious. You can serve it warm or cold depending on your mood.
It’s called “Super Foods on a Bed of Warm Quinoa”. I was inspired by Green Kitchen Stories once again. I can’t quite you!
Yields 6 servings
· 2 cups of quinoa
· 1 large butternut squash (chopped into cubes and roasted)
· 2 avocados, diced in to medium size chunks
· 1 broccoli, broke into bite-size florets
· 2-3 handfuls of spinach and kale chopped into smaller pieces (half size of your palm)
· 1 pomegranate, seeds
|Chunky Herb Dressing|
· 1.5 handful basil, finely chopped
· 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
· 1.5 handful of cilantro
· 2 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped
· whole lemon, juice and some rind
· 2 tsp of agave nectar
· 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
· salt & pepper
Half butternut squash. Scoop out the seeds and remove the tough peel with a sharp knife or a peeler. Cut into 1 x 1-inch (2 x 2 cm) dices. Place on an oven tray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sea salt. Bake on 400 F° (200°C) for 20-30 minutes or until soft and slightly brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Cook quinoa as directed, making sure to rinse first. Let cool slightly before combining other ingredients.
Cut avocados in cubes, chop spinach in half and kale into chunks and seed pomegranate.
Prepare Herb Dressing in a food processor or hand mixer.
Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl, add the herb dressing (reserve a quarter) and mix with your hands or spoon to make sure everything is coated with dressing. Add all ingredients to quinoa, remaining dressing and gently fold to combine. Now put some in a bowl, grab a fork, put your favorite record on or TV show and enjoy!
On the few nights a week I end up not cooking, my partner and I spend more time than necessary deliberating on what we can pick up. We go through the large pile of take out menus, spend countless minutes browsing the forums on yelp and try to decipher what we’re craving by calling out different food groups.
About 1/3 times I blurt-out that I’m craving one thing and one thing only. This usually sends him pulling at his hair, as there’s very few places to order it from, resulting in many more wasted minutes of no food on the dinner table. Sorry love.
What is this mystery food you ask? We’ll I’ve written about it before and I could literally eat it everyday. Bonus: Sirachi is a great flavor companion, but most importantly this dish is incredibly healthy and diversible.
I’m talking about the COLD ROLL. The food that lets you open your fridge, take whatever you have in it, and stuff it in a rice wrapper. Well, with some sense of precision and thought of course. I don’t recommend a casserole leftover or sandwich meats (I’m hoping you don’t have sandwich meats), but rather some fresh veggies, some kind of a protein and an herb to bring an added taste experience.
I was having just that kind of, ‘craving a cold roll’ night not too long ago, but too the amazement of my partner, I was prepared to make it at home. I had a whole bunch of fresh goodies waiting to be used: sweet potato, avocado, cucumber, radicchio, yellow pepper, vermicelli, basil, mint and pumpkin seeds. I’ve never made a cold roll with a cooked root vegetable, so I thought that adding the pumpkin seeds would make for a nice fall dish. Just in time for pumpkin season! The cold roll doesn’t need this many ingredients. They’re even just as delicious with some slivers of cucumber, shreds of carrot, a wedge of tofu, sprouts, coriander and noodles.
Yields - as many as you want, I made nine.
| Ingredients |
Sirachi or Hoisin or both for dipping
| Preparation |
Preheat oven to 450 d and cut large sweet potato into small cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes or until crispy. Wait until they cool to wrap.
Lay out a working table with a hot bowl of water (large enough to fit a rice wrapper in it) and all of your ingredients. It’s easier to maneuver quickly with everything laid out in front of you.
You want to use your ingredients sparingly as it’s difficult to close these if you they are too stuffed. Whatever you do though, do not stinge on the ingredients. My method is as follows.
I have included a video that walks you through the step-by-step guide to wrapping cold rolls.
Eventually you’ll get the hang of wrapping these and then find yourself at odds when choosing the perfect sauce to dip into: peanut, sirachi, sweet sour, hoisin, tahini…the list goes on and on. I love them all.
Your body, pocket book, time and your taste buds will be thanking you for making these a monthly or even weekly staple to your eating routine.
When I first started cooking and perusing online for recipes, I used to get serious food blog envy. The innovation on recipes, the incorporation of an array of colors and the pornographic food photography that induces one into a perverse sexual food act. Ahhh.. the prowess of an SLR and a photographer with a high aptitude of sensuality….rear!
Although, my photography skills have only approved slightly, my experimenting through trial and error in the kitchen has enriched my ingredient knowledge and skill. I now handle my spice cabinet with more finesse, playing around with the flavors and colors of my fridge and pantry. It feels like a huge accomplishment when you can begin to grasp the chemistry of how flavors work together. It’s one thing to be passionate about cooking, but another to taste and deliberate on whether your dish is missing something sweet, savory, hot, salty, nutty etc…
Speaking of color, I wanted to make a meal that not only spoke to me in flavor but also in color. The pineapple sitting smack middle in my kitchen had been asking to be fondled for a few days now. I was craving something Asian, and decided I’d turn pineapple-fried rice on its head, going leaner and cleaner with a Spicy Cashew Pineapple Quinoa Stir Fry - That’s a mouthful!
My pantry was bursting at the seams with quinoa; as a super food it would be a great stand in for rice. I was inspired by Veganomicon similar recipe, but changed the ingredients and functionality of the dish. Their interpretation was on the salty side. I wanted to entice a savory taste experience to imitate the sensory experience of fried rice, so I used coconut milk as my base. To top it off, I added an extra color dimension by spooning the stir-fry into royal purple radicchio cups.
| Ingredients |
| Preparation |
Measure quinoa and rinse with cold water. Place on stove top with water, pineapple and tamari bringing to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes until soft and water has evaporated. Chill in fridge.
Using your largest skillet, toast cashews dry until golden in hue – 8-10 minutes, Remove
Make sure to have all ingredients for stir-fry chopped. Add the sesame oil, scallions, and garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the sliced Serrano and ginger. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, and then add the yellow and red pepper and edamame. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the bell pepper is softened and edamame is bright green. Cook until softens, 5 minutes.
Add the basil and mint, and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.
In a measuring cup, combine the coconut milk, tamari (or soy), mirin, lime juice with zest, garlic powder and agave.
Add quinoa and pineapple folding into ingredients. Mix for three minutes. Add sauce and continue to mix for another five minutes.
Lower to medium heat, add cashews and let sit for another 5 minutes to get crispy pieces. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon into radicchio cups or bowl and serve.
Time and time again, I’ve tried to beat the odds - wear a shirt without getting something on it. My clothes typically have a one-to-two wear life span, dodging a variety of sticky, greasy or colorful messes. Whether I’m bibbed up or strapped into a face funnel, something ugly, loud and rude always rears its face on my clothes. I fear that one day, I’ll end up in a predicament like this GUY
Hundreds on dry cleaning bills and irritated friends, who swear they’ll never lend me a shirt again, has given me a complex when it comes to handling the worst kinds of staining foods. I see them in the grocery aisle, glance at them on the menu, but the knee jerking psycho semantic complex keeps me looking the other way. Beets are one of those foods. It’s purpley red flesh, once broken, can paint everything from your hands, clothes, walls, counters and dishes. It’s up there next two red wine and oily fish on the DANGER STAINING SCALE.
A couple days ago I was craving something fresh and colorful. I had received a bundle of beets from a farmers market and they’d been staring me down for a week. I couldn’t take it any longer. I stripped down, put on some blacks and covered the kitchen a la’ Dexter Morgan, preparing myself for the inevitable mess. I knew I could do it. Beets had been a popular fix for the past year and I’ve yet to see anyone with stained hands and clothes where it was prepared. It’s likely that these people aren’t prone to being a n’th degree klutz, but regardless, I was ready to conquer the beet and succeed, sans stain.
Tri-Color Beet Salad
| Ingredients |
| Preparation |
Preheat oven to 475ºF. Cut ends off of beets, drizzle with olive oil and wrap tightly in tin foil. Place in oven and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. Wrap clove of garlic and leave in for 20 minutes. Check with a fork to see if beets are soft, as some oven temperatures vary. Once beats are ready, take them out of oven and let cool. Then using gloves, Ziploc bag or paper towel rub the skins off of the beets. [You can also try peeling in cold water, then reserve the liquid to make a drink. YUM.]
Cut beets into cubes or quarters. Cut the heirloom tomatoes in half and combine both in bowel. Add chopped green onion and basil.
Mix dressing ingredients together and whisk. Adding salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle dressing on top of salad, mix then serve alone or with a crunchy warm baguette.
My favorite meal of the year is a bitter sweet experience. The bitter, I have to fast for an entire day; the sweet, I’m privy to a glorious buffet of homemade dairy goods by Jewish moms. The bitter, my digestive system screams at the top of its lungs all night, post dairy fix, causing me to live through the consequences of a dairy overload; the sweet, I get to indulge in lasagna, lox, Mediterranean dips, eggplant parmesan and three types of quiche all loaded onto one, relentless paper plate. It seems like a lot of grief for one meal, but it’s worth it. This year just ended up being particularly hard because of my mostly in the home vegan cooking…my digestive walls had not built up the immunity required for such a feast. Despite the recent war with my digestive track, my love for the breaking of the fast meal has not wavered. It still stands strong.
Cooking my way through my new vegan cookbooks I decided that I’d bring a special vegan treat to the breaking of the fast, that could be a good offload from the dairy feed. I ventured into the world of vegan baking and decided my food offering for the meal would be “Green Tea Matcha Vegan Cupcakes”. A bunch of conservative Jewish eaters, who find Italian food a foreign culinary experience…Serving green cupcakes next to the usual fruit tray and cheesecake would be risky. I pictured myself like “Sam I am” insisting to try my dish – perhaps in a house, or in a boat or on a train. Would anyone go for one? Would it take creative poetic manipulating? Would they be left a shore with the always ignored bland honey cake?
They loved it. People were hesitant at first. Gawking and doing the back and forth jaunt until they finally picked one up and shoved the bite size green treat in their mouth. Shock was painted on all of their faces – how could something green, be so tasty? They were grabbing more than one, probing for the recipe and I saw the host sneak some into her fridge before they were gone.
I find vegan cooking so liberating. I love that you can enjoy many of the same flavors and dishes, but without the unhealthy ingredients and the bonus of getting your daily vegetables and vitamins. Watching people gasp as they shake their head in disbelief of no diary, “how could it be so moist…no eggs…no milk…?” It’s possible. You can enjoy some of your favorite sweet treats without sacrificing your digestive system or your animal rights beliefs.
Courtesy of Color me Vegan, I was inspired by her Matcha Cupcake recipe. I changed only one thing but for the most part stuck to her advice. Best to do that with any baking recipe, until you’ve become a savant in the science of baking.
For the green tea powder, I spent a lot of time deciding on whether I go with something high end or bottom shelf. I decided to stick with the Japanese variety instead of the Korean and Chinese. I bought mine from Davids. It was mid range price. I was mostly concerned with the color, as I wanted a bright green cupcake. Since green tea is strong, the flavor breaks through, so don’t be too concerned if you don’t spend a fortune. It’s for baking so you really shouldn’t be spending more than $15 for 50 grams, and that slightly on the higher end.
Green Tea Frosting
| Preparation - Cupcakes | Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil a muffin tin or fill with cupcake liners. I used the mini cupcake tins. It made 36 mini cupcakes. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine flour, sugar, green tea powder, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in milk, oil and vanilla. Stir to combine, making sure to break up any large clumps and being careful not to overstir.
Divide batter among the 36 mini or 12 prepared muffin cups and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a rack.
| Preparation - Frosting | With an electric hand mixer or using a fork, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and mix until well incorporated and smooth. Once thoroughly combined and smooth add green tea powder, 2 Tbsp milk, vanilla extract and almond extract. Beat for a few minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy, adding 1 or 2 Tbsp more milk, if needed. Cover frosting with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 1 hour
| To Serve | When ready to use, frost each cupcake and top with ground pistachios.
Have you ever had the question posed to you, “If you were on death row, what would your last meal be”?
I find it to be a defining question into someone’s personality and its come up in most conversations with friends. This is one of the last tangible choices you have. If you’ve never had anyone ask you what your last meal would be, think about it; what would it be? Some people like to enforce rules like: has to be realistic to your location, you only get one choice of cuisine, one item etc… I play with no rules. Let your imagination run wild, you’re about to have the plug pulled; have whatever you want! You want Chef Ramsey - we can do that. You want an unusual beach slug from Japan - we can do that too. In the world of “imagination death row’”,anything is possible.
I’ve thought long and hard about my last meal. Spent a few years jumping from cuisine to cuisine or focusing on my flavor of the month. As my food child matured, I decided that I better start having conviction in my last meal, and be prepared for the next time I was asked that vital question.
My last meal would be a Mexican Smörgåsbord. A long wooden table, stretching to the very end of the room, carpeted with a variety of my Mexican favorites: swordfish ceviche, tuna ceviche, shrimp ceviche; a taco stand with all of the fixings; four types of empanadas; an oversized bowl of guacamole, that if I so choose, I could swim in; tamales stuffed with the most succulent fish; hand made corn tortilla chips; arepas; a tray of serano’s, habanero’s, limes, coriander and a tall pitcher of rock sugar mint mojito. To top it off, I’d request the presence of the patriarch of Mexican cuisine, from a small village outside of Mexico City; who would cook in front of me, sharing his secrets to the cuisine and the stories from his childhood of cooking with his grandmother. You may think it’s a bit excessive, especially if I’ve committed some heinous crime, but I like to see my story as being similar to that of ‘The Life of David Gale”: wrongfully accused with poetic undertones, justifying the need to milk the people’s taxes to pacify my betrayal through my palette.
So, this brings me to the empanada. It’s not often I get to indulge in an empanada chow down, since most available options are meat centric or extremely heavy and gas inducing (so people have told me…) I was flipping through one of my new baking cook books and came upon a recipe for empanada dough. I knew I had a ripe eggplant, red peppers, onion, chickpeas, heirloom tomatoes and fresh herbs. I could make Roasted Vegetable Empanadas, playing around with the dough, so it wouldn’t be too heavy.
It’s tempting to want to eat these all to yourself, but thankfully my roommate called three as they came hot out of the oven. We enjoyed it with a tomatoe chutney I had made and some Italian hot peppers in oil. Empanadas are like a blank canvas, you can literately stuff anything in them. I encourage fresh ingredients, creative flavor combos and not last nights left over dinner of pizza and wings.
Up until recently I had a revelation in the world of salads. Around five years ago I used to make fun of people who claimed to get full on a salad. I always treated it as a side meal or a bargaining piece in a mental negotiation for something fried and unhealthy. Greens are the convenient illusion of balance when you’re going glutton and beyond. Soon enough, my taste buds matured and I became one of those people I laughed at, ordering salads as meals, raving about all the different ways you could eat it. When I got sick of the romaine, I moved onto to the boston; when I grew tired of that I stuck with spinach; when I craved a flavor change I went on to arugula; when I got sick of the spicy I’d take a jump into kale and then back again to romaine. Sometimes I even mixed them all; yes, living on the dangerous side of salad!
Eventually, I grew tired of that and started finding that I was no longer feeling satisfied no matter how I mixed the greens. What was I to do? I loved salad. I really needed to start thinking out of the ‘salad bowl’ (yes I just did that). Shortly after, I visited a vegetarian restaurant for lunch and ordered their mix salad. On it came a variety of salads, but none of them had lettuce. No lettuce! Impossible! There was a green bean salad, a beat salad, a broccoli salad, chickpea salad and so on. Instantly a kaleidoscope of veggies took over my vision; my imagination bursting with ways to re invent the salad.
Butternut squash is in season so I knew I wanted to experiment with it and find something that could be a good contrast to its sweet robust flavor. Looking through the grocery aisles I came upon rapini. Rapini is a very bitter green and on it’s own can be quite overpowering, but melding the two juxtaposing flavors would create for a very interesting teeter-totter of taste experience. The whole recipe is incredibly easy to make. Short prep and assemble time. You just have to be patient as the squash roast. Sometimes I’ll make the squash the night before and then assemble everything in the morning.
Lets just say, the salad didn’t last long. My roommate ended up loving it so much, he kept sneaking spoonfuls until I caught him, giving him a speech about kitchen hygiene. But who am I kidding, I did the same thing and soon we were both spooning until there was nothing left.
* Beat all ingredients together
Pre heat oven to 475 F. Cut squash into cubes and layout on to tray, covering it with a generous layer of olive oil, salt and pepper. Then mix with hands to make sure all areas are covered. Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat oil in a pan and sauté garlic. Before it turns gold, add rapini and some rapini leaves and sauté until rapini is semi soft.
Add rapini, squash and chickpeas into one bowl. Season with spices to taste. Add all herbs and green onion. Drizzle dressing and then mix thoroughly.
Enjoy on it’s own or with a slice of the Vegan Zucchini Carrot Banana Bread.
Life before smoothies? It was empty. Mornings spent longing for something more. Granola didn’t cut it, avacodo on rice crisps was a bloat boat and oatmeal left imagination to be desired. I knew something was missing in my life, but I couldn’t quite get a handle on what it was. I tried different types of granola, tried having more than one rice cake, but by 11.30am my stomach would be beckoning for attention and my energy levels fizzling further and further into oblivion. But as we do, I kept on pushing through the same routines, hoping that one day my body would find a way to adapt to the monotonous routine. Then Smoothie came along. “Oh smoothie, you came and you gave without taking..” I can’t help it. I just want to jump up on my kitchen counter top, and sing at the top of my lungs. I feel like a high school girl in love.
No exaggeration here my friends. I have found love. Love in the form of blended fruits and vegetables, and it can happen to you too. Breakfast routines typically involve grabbing the first thing you see as you dash for the door, or sugary cereals that promise thinner waist lines through misleading commercials or complex high protein, high carbs breakfast that we’ve borrowed from one of the dozen health magazines, claiming one meal diets..pffff. Toss the magazine aside, open up your fridge and I’m sure there’s at least two things you can blend. Put down the chicken. Good. We’re talking breakfast here and I see a few more goodies in your fridge we can play around with. Cucumbers, spinach, peach, blueberries, celery, ginger….the list goes on and on.
Attempting not sound like a C actor on an informercial; ever since I’ve started ‘blending’ I can’t even begin to explain how its changed my life. My energy levels, my digestive, my appetite and my overall health. Every morning after slurping down my tall glass of green, I feel like I’m ready to run a triathlon or do 10 front hand springs (I can’t do any of these things, but I feel like I can, so that’s got to count for something.) Oh and to make it even more exciting, not even after half of the drink I’m ready to visit an unmentioned white porcelain friend of mine. It’s also probably one of the easiest meals you’ll make all day. I’ve included below tips on how to make blending fun, creative and even easier then it already is.
NO BLENDING BLUNDERS HERE – TIPS
Go on, and get your dairy free mustache!
SMOOTHIE RECIPES COMING SOON