Monday, November 23, 2009

Apple Cider Purple Cabbage

Apple Cider Purple Cabbage (shown with Grilled Chicken Bratwurst & Roasted Dill Potatoes)

It's a little hard to experiment with side dishes when your fridge is bare. We'll be in Vermont for the holiday, so we're letting the supplies dwindle. We have leftovers for tonight, going our separate ways for dinners out tomorrow, Wednesday we'll eat with the in-laws, and Thursday we go. Meanwhile, here is a recipe requested often by my friends. Unfortunately, I've only recently begun to write down my recipes. So I'll never be able to recreate the holiday party version they long for, but this was an attempt that was close.

Apple Cider Purple Cabbage
2 T Veg oil

1 tsp of Mustard seeds

½ head of red cabbage, sliced into strips

1/4 tsp of paprika

1/4 tsp of coriander


1/2C apple cider

2-3 T white wine vinegar

1 Tbsp sugar

Heat veg oil in big stock pot. Add Cabbage and spices, sauté for a few minutes. Add cider and vinegar. Season to taste. Simmer for 30min to 1 hr to desired tenderness. Garnish with some chives or dill.

*I would also suggest tossing in some apple chunks or raisins to enhance the sweetness of the cider.

*I only used 1/2 head of cabbage here, since an entire head can feed about 12 people. Even with half a head, I remember having way more leftovers than a single girl could handle.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Side Dish Revived: Baby Brussels Sprouts with Herbs

The season of gluttony has arrived. It is the season of food-centric holidays. First we have Thanksgiving, then various holiday parties, Christmas and New Year's Eve. Soon after - the Superbowl. Each year my recipe database grows, I explore new ingredients and flavors, and I find my tastes and style evolving. However, the holidays are a time to pull out the old favorites, and traditional flavors. In the spirit of pre-Thanksgiving preparation, I'm going to try and revisit a few neglected recipes in my file (or from memory). I haven't made Brussels sprouts in a few years. Since then I have made a habit of keeping fresh herbs instead of dried, and they make a big difference.

Baby Brussels Sprouts with Herbs
1 pint Baby Brussels Sprouts – steamed or boiled
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Tbsp fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme, chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
Salt & Pepper

Steam Brussels sprouts in a bamboo steamer about 10-15 minutes, until tender. Leave whole or cut in half to absorb more flavors. Add oil and butter to skillet, and sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes over medium heat. Add Brussels sprouts and herbs and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add a little salt & pepper to taste. Add lemon juice to de-glaze, and toss everything together in pan. Serve garnished with lemon and fresh herbs on the side.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mango Soyrizo Enchiladas

Welcome back, husband. Welcome back,good camera. Welcome back, fake meat! Tonight the jet-lagged business traveler passed out on the couch, and I made enchiladas. Instead of salsa, today I made fresh guacamole. I also added some mangoes to give sweetness to the spice and salt of the soyrizo. They came out great - as anything with golden crispy melted cheese would.

Mango Soyrizo Enchiladas
(4 very full 8” enchiladas – can be stretched to 6)

1 T vegetable oil
½ small yellow onion, diced
1 medium clove garlic, chopped
Soy Chorizo, removed from casing (1/2 package)
1 can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp Adobo seasoning
1/8 tsp Cumin
1/8 tsp Oregano Salt / Pepper / Red Pepper Flakes to taste
¼ C water (or stock)
1 Tbsp Sour Cream
½ Mango, diced
¼ C fresh Cilantro, chopped
¼ C Shredded Sharp White Cheddar
1 C Wisconsin Cheddar (Yellow)

Enchilada Sauce:
3T Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Arrow Root (or 1 Tbsp Flour)
1 Large Tbsp Chili powder
1 small can of (no salt added) Tomato Sauce
1/8 tsp (+more to taste) each: Cayenne pepper,Cumin, Oregano
Season to taste with: Red Pepper Flakes, Salt, Chili Pepper Hot Sauce

Saute onions in oil 3 minutes. Add garlic for 1 minute. Add Soyrizo and black beans. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, adobo, cumin and red pepper. Add water and simmer about 10-15 minutes until water is reduced. Check seasoning and add mango and cilantro. Remove from heat and add sour cream. Sprinkle a little (about 2 Tbsp) white cheddar down the center of each tortilla, top with filling, and sprinkle another small amount (2 Tbsp) of yellow cheddar. Fold closed, place in pan and seal with a toothpick. Cover with enchilada sauce and yellow cheddar. Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Serve garnished with cilantro, guacamole and sour cream.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Persimmon & Grapefruit Salad with Poached Salmon

Food presentation is not my strength, but this dinner was outstanding! It was probably the fastest (20 minutes start to finish) and healthiest thing I have made in a while. The salad recipe came straight from Fresh Direct: INDIAN SUMMER SALAD from "Nicole Routhier's Fruit Cookbook" by Nicole Routhier. I have never before used walnut oil, but it made an excellent salad dressing. I skipped the garlic, and the only thing I would add next time would be some toasted walnuts for crunch. The Wild Alaskan Sockeye Salmon Fillet was also perfect, with just a little salt, pepper, and some dressing drizzled over.

INDIAN SUMMER SALAD -*no longer available on Fresh Direct, please email for recipe.

Add 1/2" of water in a wide skillet with a cover. Add 1/4 tsp Kosher Salt, a few peppercorns and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and carefully slide in the salmon fillet skin-side down. Cover and poach about 10 minutes until the flesh starts to separate, and pulls apart easily with a fork. Lift out with a spatula, and season with salt & pepper.

Non-committal Decorating

After brunch today, I decided to go clothes shopping on Broadway in Soho. I have been meaning to get to Topshop since it opened, months ago. However, my tastes have changed since my last visit 8 years ago in London. I only spent about 10 minutes exploring before I walked out. I have no patience for this kind of store, and no interest in wasting money on fast-fashion. As usual, the clean restroom in Crate and Barrel beckoned, and I became sidetracked ogling almost everything in there. I liked so many things, in fact, that I grabbed a catalog and started circling and list-making. Oh yes, a public display of my anal tendencies! I left the store very inspired to revive the guest bedroom decoration project. Inspiration turned into obsession, as usual, and I came home to research online to decide how to pull it all together.

As a Libra, I like many many things, and I find it hard to commit to a look. I can make decisions based on other's needs, but my own fickle desires are hard to nail down. I compiled my research and opened all my reference photos in Photoshop, where I set up layers of possibilities. Layer 1 represents my blank canvas: a photo of the room as it is now. Layer 2 is the bedding I fell in love with enough to call customer service for stock availability when I couldn't find it online (oh, it does exist, you just have to ask a few times). Subsequent layers consist of a home-made padded headboard and accessory possibilities to tie the color scheme together. The reason I added the picture rail and headboard is because the painting is looking a bit to high over the bed. But regardless of height, it is floating in space, so I feel the need to tie it down with other elements. I need to sit with this for a bit, but I feel about ready to commit to the bedding before it completely sells out for good, as my friendly Crate & Barrel rep suggested it was in very high demand.

my blank canvas: pale yellow room with ivory and white accents

Non-committal photoshop file of possibilites... wondering if the colors are too primary, but happy with how they bring out the painting's colors, and make use of cheap Pier 1 lamps. Roughly $325 without the headboard.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Maple Pureed Yams & Apples, Cheesy Cheddar Cauliflower and Chicken Apple Sausage

This morning I discovered the joy of sauteing vegetarian Italian sausage slices. I was convinced they tasted almost like the real thing. But maybe, just maybe, I've been denying myself the pleasure of real sausage for far too long. With only myself to feed this week, I had ordered some Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausage from Fresh Direct. It was a compromise of sorts, since I didn't want to go all the way with the pork variety in my first relapse of sausage gluttony. They were absolutely heavenly grilled with a bit of olive oil. I'm not sure the apples were even necessary with the wonderful salty sausage flavor and the crispy pop of the casing. My husband often asks me to describe what meat tastes like, but it's so hard to describe the faint fatty flavors and the texture when you bite into it. Alongside the pre-made sausages, for which I can take no credit for, I experimented with some sides that may be worthy of a Turkey-Day appearance. I steamed the cheddar cauliflower to balance the calories in the cheese sauce I was topping it with. God forbid I consume 700 calories and add unnecessary oil for cooking. Steaming is the most respectful way to cook, for both the vegetable, and your body - remember 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or even margarine) equals about 100 calories. I was tempted to roast or grill the sweet potato and apple, but I figured it was easier and healthier to boil. This was truly a 3 burner meal, no oven required, and was complete in about 30 minutes.

Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce
(2 servings)
1/2 head cauliflower
1 T unsalted butter
1/8 tsp arrowroot
6 T heavy cream
½ C shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ tsp dry mustard
1/8 tsp paprika
4 grinds black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
(plus salt & pepper to taste)

Separate the cauliflower into florets and steam in a bamboo steamer about 15 minutes, until tender. Set bamboo basket aside and use the saucepan to make the sauce. Add butter and arrowroot to the hot pan over low heat. Arrowroot dissolves easier & smoother than flour, but 1 Tbsp all purpose flour can be substituted. Add balance of ingredients and continue to stir over low heat until creamy. Drizzle over cauliflower and sprinkle with paprika. Salt & pepper to taste at the table.

Maple Pureed Yams and Apples
2-3 servings
2 medium yams, peeled and cubed
1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 Granny Smith Apple, peeled and cubed
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Salt & Pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes. Add the apples and boil 5 more minutes. Drain and transfer to food processor. Add a little salt and pepper, turn the processor on, and add the maple, sugar and butter through the feeder. Blend until smooth. Serve garnished with a little dried parsley or fresh grated nutmeg.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pizza with Yellow Tomato Sauce

Please don't tell anyone I ate a whole pizza tonight. Really, it's pathetic, I have no self-control when left to my own devices. But it was just so delicious. I had thawed out a ball of dough from Fresh Direct, and I made a fresh sauce from a big ripe yellow tomato. I know it doesn't look yellow after adding tomato paste, but it has a much lighter sweet flavor than red. When I make pizza, I focus on layering flavors. A pizza should not just be sauce and cheese. Sometimes your cheese comes off in the first bite. Sometimes there's a bald spot with no sauce. Sometimes everything just comes together in perfect harmony in that bite from the tip of the slice. So pizza is all about making sure every bite is amazing. That is why it is important to add flavor and seasoning every step of the way - about 4 times. First, in making the sauce, make sure there is enough salt, maybe even some sugar for sweetness, and pepper for a hint of spice. I think of the crust as a garlic bread - something I would be happy eating even without topping. Then I add herbs over the sauce, and again on top of the cheese.

Lately, I am experimenting with sauce. I have realized over time, that you don't need to cook down a sauce for a long time when making it from scratch. I'm really getting into throwing raw ingredients into a blender as a sauce, and just cooking it enough to get the water out. It actually makes a much fresher, cleaner flavor. Most importantly, it is much lower in sodium when you control what goes into it. Again, please forgive the awful photo, our camera is currently en route from Frankfurt to Bangkok.

Pizza with Yellow Tomato Sauce
(for 1 small 10” pizza)
1 Large Yellow Tomato
1 small garlic clove
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt (Kosher)
4 grinds of black pepper

Pizza dough for 1 10-12” pizza, stretched thin
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt (Kosher)
Garlic Powder
Dried Oregano, Basil & Parsley
Thin sliced rings from a small yellow onion
Shredded Mozzarella
Grated Parmesan cheese

Remove stem area from tomato, cut into large chunks. Add this, and all the sauce ingredients to a blender and chop until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat 10 minutes, or until thickened.

Heat oven to 450. Stretch the crust carefully and coat the bottom side with cornmeal. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with some kosher salt and garlic powder. Pre-bake the crust until it starts to turn golden and bubble.

Top crust with dollops of sauce and season with basil and oregano. Distribute the onion rings evenly and top with cheeses and parsley flakes. Bake again for about 10 minutes or until cheese and crust turns brown and crispy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Roasted Tomato Soup & Lemon Basil Cauliflower Gratin

I'm sad to see this weekend end. Friday I saw my husband off on his business trip, and looked forward to my personal training appointment. My trainer cancelled, which killed my motivation to workout, and sent me on a comfort-food indulgence rampage. Unfortunately, my BBQ delivery was less than spectacular, and left me wishing that I had taken the time to cook something much better. But, it was all uphill from there. A friend made dinner for me on Saturday, and then I re-connected with lots of old friends at various birthday parties. I even talked to new people. I feel like maybe I haven't really participated in the world outside for a while. Sunday I continued my love-affair with society, and had brunch and went shopping with the girls. After the sessions of relationship talk and some retail-therapy, I came home to create the two dishes inspired by yesterday's greenmarket excursion.

The tomato soup was delicious. I usually keep vine tomatoes on hand, but these local New Jersey beefsteak and yellow tomatoes were juicy, perfectly ripe and sharply sweet. The grape tomatoes were quite sweet, as well. I'm not sure this soup would be as nice with a lesser quality tomato. The cream added at the end brings out the sweet and salty flavors - but I add it mostly to convince myself that I'm not just eating tomato sauce. The cheddar cauliflower is a little milder than the white, and it made a very nice roasted gratin. I served it all alongside simple salt and pepper sauteed lamb loin chops - but my meat-cooking skills are a little rusty, so the veggies were definitely the best part.

Roasted Tomato Soup
(about 5-6 Cups)
1 large Yellow Tomato
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 medium to large Beefsteak tomatoes
2 small yellow onions
4 small garlic cloves smashed
2C water
1 tsp sugar
¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste if needed
20 grinds black pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Heavy Cream, to taste

Quarter the large tomatoes. Quarter and separate layers of the onions. Toss tomatoes, onions and garlic with olive oil and salt and roast 30 minutes at 450 in a glass baking dish. When browned and soft, empty all contents and juices from the dish into a stock pot.

Add water, sugar, salt, pepper and butter. Boil 20-25 minutes. Transfer to blender in batches. Loosely hold the center of the top with a towel and puree until smooth. Add back to the pot and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with about 1 Tbsp heavy cream drizzled into each 1 Cup of soup. (At first I added too much cream to my bowl - so add just a little at a time, you can always add more).

Lemon-Basil Cauliflower Gratin
(4 servings)
1 medium head of Cauliflower
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Lemon Juice from 1 lemon
Nutmeg – few grates of fresh through microplane over the pan
Pepper – a few grinds
2 Tbsp fresh chopped Basil
2 Tbsp Breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp Grated Parmesan
2 Tbsp Shredded Mozzarella

Boil Cauliflower about 5 mintues and drain. In a large shallow glass baking dish, toss w/ oil, lemon, nutmeg, salt, pepper and half the basil. Top sparingly with breadcrumbs and cheese. Roast until browned (about 30 minutes at 450). Garnish with basil chiffonade.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today's Greenmarket Finds: Eucalyptus, Cheddar Cauliflower and Tomatoes

This morning's episode of Tyler's Ultimate inspired me to go over to the farmer's market and find some tomatoes to roast. He made this delicious-looking and easy soup by roasting several kinds of tomatoes and onions. So I headed out to gather as many types of tomatoes as I could find. Today all I could find were yellow, beefsteak and grape tomatoes, so that will have to do. I also found an appealing table of unusual varieties of cauliflower. Some looked like green spiky alien pods, others were a pretty purple like cabbage heads, and then these orange "cheddar cauliflowers" stood out. How could a cheese addict resist a vegetable named "cheddar"? I assume it won't taste like cheddar on it's own, but I plan to make a cheesy gratin out of it. I also found bunches of fresh-cut eucalyptus at the stands. For some reason I love putting things in vases all over the house - so I just had to get it. I also like the smell of eucalyptus - I've developed a habit of adding eucalyptus oil to water and spritzing it around lately to make the house smell good. Now I'll have the natural version. So here are my finds today, stay tuned for what becomes of them. Please forgive the terrible photos, as the good camera is traveling around the world with the husband for a couple of weeks.

Eucalyptus in the Master Bath

Cheddar Cauliflower

Yellow, Beefsteak and Grape Tomatoes

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vegetarian Sausage over Spaghetti Squash

There's nothing like a hot sausage on a cold day. Even if you're vegetarian. As a meat eater, I find that the sausage form of "fake" meat does the best imitation of the real thing. The fennel and spices make it taste very similar, although I'm not sure the texture will ever be perfect. I eat it because I enjoy it, but I don't expect it to replace pork. On the other hand, I disagree with the notion that spaghetti squash tastes anything like spaghetti. It tastes like squash - not pasta. Let's not call oranges apples here. Why can't we just accept healthy food for what it is? Isn't it deliciousness that counts? If you want spaghetti, eat spaghetti. If you like squash, maybe you'll like spaghetti squash. Why must we play mind-tricks to get ourselves to eat healthy? Healthy food can be delicious and satisfying if we set aside our routines, and just enjoy trying something new.

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

1 Small Spaghetti Squash, precooked and removed from skin

1/2 C red onion, sliced thin

1 large garlic clove, diced

1 tsp fresh Sage, chopped

1/2 tsp dried, or 1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley

2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp Olive oil, salt & pepper

To cook the squash, cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pulp. Poke a few holes through the skin with a fork or skewer. Place in a shallow glass baking dish, cut side up, and add about 1/2 C water to the dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 10 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before removing plastic wrap – the squash should be pliable and darker yellow. Remove flesh by scraping with the tines of a fork.

Sauté onions in olive oil and butter over medium heat for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic. Sauté for another 3 minutes and add the sage for another 2 minutes. Stir in the squash and season with salt, pepper, and parsley. Stir to coat, cooking about 5 minutes, and add the basil and Parmesan.
Serve under sausages, such as Trader Joe's Italian Sausage-less Sausages.

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