Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Quick and Easy Fennel Grapefruit Salad

I don't feel that Fennel gets the attention it deserves!  Although it is technically an herb, it can be used as a vegetable as well. Raw or cooked, there are many ways to enjoy this fragrant, crunchy bulb. This salad is really easy to prepare and super simple.  Don't be alarmed by the ingredients..  the grapefruit pairs nicely with the crunchy fennel, olives and creates a tangy vinaigrette when mixed with the olive oil.  

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced into half moons
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced into half moons 
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives sliced
  • 1 grapefruit, sectioned, reserve juice
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup or honey 
  • tiny pinch cardamom
  • Kosher salt/freshly ground pepper to taste
Method: Toss everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning. Chill for 1 hour before serving, then taste and adjust seasoning again. 

Fennel is also DELICIOUS roasted...  especially with cherry tomatoes.  Toss with olive oil, lots of black pepper, smoked sea salt and fresh garlic.  Roast for 20 minutes or so at 400.  This is delicious tossed with pasta... or as a pizza topping.  My Nutty Goat Cheese would be the perfect finishing touch for both the pasta and pizza.  If you're looking for a simple gluten free pizza dough recipe, click here.
Roasted Fennel with Cherry Tomatoes and Garlic

Monday, August 27, 2012

Restaurant Review: N&H Saigon Subs, Randolph, MA

The Boyfriend introduced me to his favorite little Vietnamese hole in the wall sub shop and OH MY GOD... the food is so good!  N&H Saigon Subs in Randolph, MA makes my current favorite sandwich, a vegetarian Banh Mi.  It is prepared with homemade spicy sauce (no fish sauce), marinated tofu, shredded carrot/daikon, cilantro and fresh jalapenos.  The bread is super fresh, crusty and soft all at the same time and the perfect size and amount for the filling.  

The couple who run this place put so much care into their food.  I had the pleasure of watching the man prepare an iced coffee and you could tell how much attention and dare I say, love he put into the simple act.  I can't really describe it.. but I know it when I see it.   It's wonderful to watch someone who loves and takes pride in what they do.  

I took these pics with my phone while waiting for our subs the other day.  
You can't see, but the prices are amazing, $3.50 per sandwich! Unheard of, right?
They also have prepared foods to go and they make noodle bowls, Pho, specials and soups.
Hard at work. :-)
They have been written up in the Globe! 

One of these days, I am going to attempt my hand at my own Banh Mi...  there is a market up the street from the restaurant that sells the bread ... so look for that post in the near future; maybe next week.  There's so much cooking I want to do, yet so little time to do it .. since The Boyfriend and I only see each other on the weekends.  We have a running list of dishes and ideas to make...  

mmmm... drenched in Siracha! 

If you're on the South Shore, plan a trip to N&H Saigon Subs

Have you ever made a Banh Mi?  I'd love to hear what you put in yours and how you made it! 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pantry Green Olive Tapanade

I'm at The Boyfriend's and am attempting to use up the ingredients we have in the house. Since he travels all week , it is hard to find the balance between buying food to cook and wasting food, so using what we have on hand is a fun way to expand my creativity in the kitchen.  I had some leftover pizza dough in the freezer (I'll be blogging about how to create amazing pizza dough without using a pizza stone this week!) and some garden tomatoes and I wanted to do something a little different for dinner, so I decided on a Green Olive Tapanade to use as the sauce. 

Normally, I suggest using high quality olives for tapanade, but I just used a jar or regular Spanish Green Olives with Pimento and it came out really well. 

Green Olive Tapanade
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Pinch salt
  • Juice 1 large lemon
  • Zest ½ lemon (save the rest of the zest for another use!)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like heat)
  • 1 ½ cups green olives, drained
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme  (please make sure you dried thyme of good quality.. it makes a difference) or better yet, 3 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • ½ tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Process garlic and a with the pinch of salt in a food processor
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, except olive oil, process
  • Scrape bowl, stir in olive oil and pepper

You can top pizza with it, stir it into some pasta, soups, mix with tofu or sour cream and  use as a dip with chips/veggies or on top of crostini.. It would be delicious mixed with cashews cheese... and spread on a bagel with sprouts, avocado!

What would you do with  this tapanade?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Indian Spiced Eggplant

This eggplant dish is super easy to make and delicious.  You can serve it hot like an Indian Ratatouille (and throw in some white beans, chickpeas or thawed frozen tofu for some protein) or room temperature as more of a relish.  It would be excellent served with pita chips

I think people are sometimes intimidated by eggplant; feeling they need to salt and drain it or use a lot of oil in the cooking process.  I find that MOST of the time, it is not necessary to do either.
This is a great started eggplant recipe.

Indian Spiced Eggplant
Yield, 3 cups

·        ·         1 large (around 1.25 pounds) eggplant, cut into 2 inch chunks
·         1 large red onion, chopped
·         10 cloves garlic, pressed
·         1 teaspoon ground cumin
·         1 teaspoon ground coriander
·         ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
·         1 tablespoon curry powder
·         6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
·         ½ teaspoon kosher salt
·         1 Serrano chili, seeded if desired and minced
·         ½ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds*
·         1 pint cherry tomatoes cut in half
·         1 cup cilantro, chopped well
·         3 tablespoons minced red onion
·         1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar for a vegan option
·         Juice of 2 limes (around ¼ cup)
·         2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
·         Pinch lime zest
·         Salt/Pepper to taste
1.       Pre-heat oven to 400
2.       Toss eggplant, onion and garlic with ground cumin, coriander, cinnamon, curry powder, 3 tablespoons olive oil and salt.
3.       Roast Eggplant mixture for 20 minutes, then let it cool
4.       Meanwhile prep the rest of your ingredients and set aside
5.       Toss the eggplant with the rest of the ingredients.
6.       Let sit for at least an hour, then taste and adjust seasonings to taste
*To toast cumin seeds, place in dry a non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. When you start to smell the seeds, immediately take off of heat. I like to toast several ounces at a time to have on hand.

Easy Pita Chips:  Cut 4 whole wheat pita breads into 8ths for a total of 32 pieces. Place in a single layer on a sheet pan, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 400 for 5-7 minutes.

What are your favorite ways to prepare Eggplant?  I am going to share a few more recipes over the next couple weeks

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

30 Minute Curried Okra, Tomatoes and Chickpeas

I had a mad craving yesterday for this dish, so I wrote up a recipe and tested it.  It more than lived up to my expectations, which is good since I have a huge pot of food.  It will freeze well I'm sure.  I wanted to make Roti and Mint Chutney as well, but didn't have the ingredients for that.. so I'll do that another time. 

This came together in 30 minutes.  I used frozen okra, but you could use fresh of course.  I think the cooking time would remain the same.  

Curried Okra, Tomatoes and Chickpeas
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon hot Indian chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 large onion, cut into half moons
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced into slivers
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh ginger
  • Hefty pinch salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound frozen okra
  • 1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes and their liquid
  • 15 oz can drained chickpeas or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup water
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos, Soy Sauce or Tamari to taste
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 large lime 
  1. In a heavy bottom skillet over medium heat add the oil and spices. Toast spices for a minute or so.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and ginger along with a good pinch of salt and pepper
  3. Coat onion mixture with spices and cook for 5 minutes or until onions are soft
  4. Add the okra, tomatoes, chickpeas and water. 
  5. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so.
  6. Taste and add Braggs and more pepper to taste along with the cilantro and lime juice.
  7. Let sit for 5 minutes, taste again and adjust seasoning if necessary

Do you like okra?  I love it in stews and soups..  I remember eating steamed okra as a kid and it was horrible.  The slime factor grossed me out to such a degree, but this is a great way to use the "slime" to your advantage.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Restaurant Review: Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant

Back in June, The BF and went to Fasika Ethiopian Restaurant.  It is located at145- 147 Broadway Street in Somerville, MA.

We share a love of well prepared, spicy food and Fasika did not disappoint.  One of our favorite things to do when we go out to eat is to deconstruct the food;  figure out exactly what is in it and then try our hand at replicating some of the dishes at home.  Since I have an intense NEED for super HOT food, they brought us some of the spicy dried spice mixture they use... and boy oh boy did we have fun figuring out what was in it!  They were so nice, even sending some home with us!

We ordered a combo plate to share.  Now, The BF eats meat..  and yes, there is a big old pile of raw beef in the pic and don't you worry a bit, I did not nor would I ever partake in that!  I did eat the Ayeb Be-Gomen (collards with cottage cheese), but the rest of the food is vegan.  We got the Tegabino, Ye-Miser Wot, Ye-Gomen Wot, Ye-Kik Alicha.  I believe his beef dish was called Kitfo.

Look at this awesome plate of food!  They make their Injera from 100% Teff Flour.  Did you know that teff has naturally occurring yeast and that's what allows it to ferment? I have been having an issue finding Teff flour in Boston...  Can any Boston peeps point me in the right direction?

mmmmmm... Injera! 

The food was so fresh and delicious.  I wish I could eat there tonight! If you're a drinker, try their Honey Wine.. 

I love little hole in the wall places.  The neighborhood was full of character..  there was an awesome barber shop across the street..  and it was easy to find on the street parking.

Don't they look like they're having a grand old time?  Yeah... I can be a bit RUDE sometimes with my camera.

Here's a Taco place that looks like it would be good.  (OMG, speaking of good Taco Places.... I have a review coming up of an AMAZING place in Jamaica Plain! the sauces were to die for.. yum!)..

So many restaurants to try.. so little time to try them all.  The BF works out of town all week, so we only see each other on weekends.

Sometimes, I still can't believe I live in Boston!  I am always a little shocked when we drive through the city at night.  Summer has been challenging for me here... due to the heat, walking all the time and lately, a lot of violence in my neighborhood.  I am definitely looking forward to Fall!

I digress...  back to Fasika.  If you like authentic Ethiopian food, I highly recommend them.  I also loved Lucy Ethiopian on Mass Ave.

BTW, the other night, I created a dish inspired by the Ayeb Be-Gomen..  and it was delicious!  I saved half of the spiced collards in The BF's freezer ready for another meal!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roasted Carrot Ginger Soup

Roasting your veggies before pureeing them for soup adds a depth of flavor that is just amazing.  This soup is super simple, healthy and delicious.  I know it's summer.. and you could probably serve this soup at room temperature or a little cool... but I love hot soup no matter time of year it is...  and since I have been bitten by The Sick... hot soup is where it's at.

If you don't have organic carrots, peel them.  If you do have organic carrots, please, by all means, leave the peels on!  Don't be deterred by the amount of onion and garlic in this dish.. the roasting mellows them and give an amazing depth of flavor to the soup.

Roasted Carrot Ginger soup
  • 2 lbs. carrots chopped (use organic carrots please and do not peel.. just scrub well)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin, coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon 5 spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 15 oz. can cannellini beans
  • 1 quart veggie stock
  • 2 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • Juice of 1 orange and 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ¼ cup coconut milk for drizzling (or ¼ cup toasted coconut)
  • Salt/pepper (preferably white pepper) to taste

  1. Chop carrots and onions. On a sheet pan, toss with garlic, coconut oil, spices, salt and pepper.
  2. Roast in a single layer for 20 minutes at 400
  3. Blend the veggies, beans and stock and ginger in a blender. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes; add the juice of 1 orange and lime, maple syrup and cilantro. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon coconut milk per bowl
  4. Serves 4
I hope you make this and enjoy the lovely depth of flavor and sweetness from the spiced roasted carrots... sooo good!  This is making me want to do a yummy roasted mushroom soup soon too! 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Japanese Style Spicy Rice and Eggs

My boyfriend makes the BEST eggs ever.  I have always despised eggs with a passion, so imagine my shock and surprise when I started CRAVING them earlier this year.  My roommate had eggs every morning and they started smelling so good to me, so I decided to try them.  I ate them every morning for a week, then got really disgusted with them again.  I figured I must have needed some nutrient they provided and got it when they started tasting bad again.   

Fast forward a couple months..  it was a lazy Sunday morning and we were going to have breakfast.  He told me about this Spicy Egg and Rice dish he makes and I was skeptical, but decided to give them a try... and what do you know, they were the BEST EGGS EVER!  I loved every bite.  They are a little sweet, a little spicy and very savory.  He uses leftover rice, but you could use any leftover grain I suppose.  We like leftover rice from Indian restaurants the most because it usually has cumin seeds in it which give a lovely little burst of deliciousness every now and then. You can even use left over fried rice, just use less oil and soy sauce.

He says that this dish was originally inspired by the "Egg Omelet" scene in the Japanese movie Tampopo, and it took him some tinkering to get it just how he likes it. He is a bit obsessive about texture, and this dish is about combining two separate sets of textures and flavors right before serving: the soft, fluffy, sweet eggs with the chewy, spicy, salty rice.   

These eggs are super fluffy due to the mirin, whisking and the slow, folding method he uses when scrambling.  The METHOD here is VERY important, so I took step by step pics.  Please excuse the lighting..  it was really dark in the kitchen.. and my battery was dying in my camera. 

Gather your Egg Ingredients:  mirin, sugar, and eggs. You can substitute sake and a pinch more sugar if you don't have mirin; the alcohol is what allows you to get the eggs so wonderfully fluffy.  Local eggs are a good thing. (not getting into the egg debate here, take it somewhere else.)
add the Mirin, a pinch of salt, and two big pinches of sugar
Whisk whisk whisk until very fluffy.. around 3 minutes
Prepare the pan
Toasted sesame oil, canola oil, soy sauce, leftover rice and siracha
Add the oils, soy sauce and siracha to a cold pan then turn heat to medium until it starts to sizzle!
Add your leftover rice (yum, look at the cumin seeds)
Coat rice evenly with sizzling oil mixture, and fry for about a minute.
Push rice to the side and pour in the fluffy eggs
Very slowly, scrape the eggs from the bottom of the pan, taking care not to break the big, fluffy curds
When the eggs look like this (still wet and a little runny) turn off heat, but keep cooking 
When the eggs are done, gently fold the eggs and rice together.
Plate up , adding some cilantro or scallions and of course, more Siracha
Let the Kitty smell! 
She approves! 

Here's the actual recipe: 
Japanese Style Spicy Rice and Eggs

Serves 2
  • 5 eggs
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • Siracha to taste (we used about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup - 1 cup leftover rice 
  • 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • Optional: Cilantro or Scallions 
  • Salt/Black Pepper to taste
See method above for preparation instructions.

I am going to attempt a vegan version of this with silken tofu, black salt and a bit of turmeric for color.  I'll bet it will be delicious too! 

Simple Saute of Greens

I love greens!  This simple preparation method works with most greens.  Kale, Collards, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Chard, Escarole..
  1. Wash your greens well.  Immerse in a large bowl of water, let the sand fall to the bottom, lift the greens out.  Repeat 3 times.
  2. Do not dry the greens.  Chop into pieces.  You can de-stem if you wish, but I usually don't.  I like the texture the stems bring. 
  3. In a heavy bottomed skillet (I like my cast iron) heat a couple tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat.  Add 3 cloves minced garlic and a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like heat. Brown the garlic. 
  4. Chop and onion, and add to the browned garlic along with a healthy pinch of salt.  Turn heat up and cook the onion for several minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't burn. 
  5. Add the greens and toss to coat with the onion/garlic mixture. Cook for several minutes.
  6. De-glaze pan with a tablespoon of acid of choice.  Vinegar, lemon, lime, or other citrus juices work well.  Orange is delicious! 
  7. Add some salt/pepper and a tiny bit of citrus zest if desired. 
  8. Cover and cook for 5 minutes
  9. You can spice it up with some chipotle or smoked paprika.  
  10. A bit of nutritional yeast is awesome.. sesame seeds, miso... walnuts, raisins..  add whatever you like! 
Enjoy! I like to keep these greens on hand in the fridge or even freeze them for future use. 

What are you favorite ways to prepare greens?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Apple Pear Chutney

I love chutney and making it at home could not be simpler.  It is such a great ingredient to keep around the house as it compliments so many dishes, both sweet and savory.  

It will keep for at least a month in the fridge provided you are meticulous about never double dipping or using a spoon that has been used to dish up other foods.  You can vary the fruits.  This recipe is just a template.  Please adjust the amount of sugar/vinegar to suit your taste. 

Apple Pear Chutney
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • I large apple, chopped
  • 1 large firm pear, chopped
  • Good pinch salt/black pepper
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard (or even better if you can find it, cranberry Dijon mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, optional
  • Salt/Pepper to taste

  1. Sauté the onion and garlic, salt and pepper in the olive oil over medium heat along with the crushed red peppers for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped fruit and a couple more pinches of salt/pepper
  3. Cook for 10 minutes
  4. De-glaze with the wine and vinegar.
  5. Add herbs, sugar and mustard.
  6. Cook over medium heat, covered for 20 minutes
  7. Season with more salt/pepper. Add some more vinegar if you like a tangier chutney
What are your favorite ways to use chutney?

Here are some of mine:
On a Crostada
As a cheesecake topping (recipe for Vegan Blue Cheese Cheesecake coming up soon) 
Chutney mixed with balsamic and olive oil for a salad dressing