Tag Archive: grain


Herbivorous Hรธstfest

In Danish, hรธstfest literally means “harvest party” which is the perfect word for this season with Fall having made an entrance and the air already a bit chillier. As a species that was probably once accustomed to hibernation :D, like most mammals, I suppose an increased appetite can be expected. As for me, the sooner it gets colder I’m craving more filling meals. I’ve always loved eating meat, probably because I am a carnivore by nature ๐Ÿ™‚ but after some reflection, I’ve noticed that most of my posts have meat in them. Having noticed this perhaps natural popularity of meat dishes, it’s true that vegetarian food is just as good and often healthier, so I decided to devote this post to vegetarian food everywhere. Here are three of my latest recipes that happen to be completely meat-free.

The melon-cucumber salad is a recipe idea of mine, including the honey mustard vinaigrette, which turned out to be the best part ๐Ÿ™‚ The roasted tomato and pepper soup recipe is from the legendary Soup Bible (which can be found on Amazon) and is full of brilliant, if not slightly time-consuming, soup ideas ๐Ÿ˜‰ The bulgur recipe is also a creation of mine and makes use of pretty much exactly what was left in our fridge and cupboards after a week or so of kitchen chaos. The fruity/peppery and honey/salty combinations of flavors seemed to get better after every bite, or maybe that was just me ๐Ÿ™‚

The star ingredient in all of these recipes is the miso, which I was finally able to procure at the Chinese grocer. Miso is basically fermented soybeans and as unappetizing as that may sound, it comes in a few different colors and has a pleasant salty taste. It’s a Japanese staple that is full of protein and high in vitamins and minerals. I was able to do some experimentation with the saltish stuff, which helps when you have a chunk since they only sell it in bulk ๐Ÿ˜€ I think it adds a rich and almost roasted flavor to all sorts of things, including dressings. If you can’t find miso, no worries there, just season as wisely as you wish with salt.

Roasted Pepper & Tomato Soup with Tortellini

Ingredients

8 – 10 tomatoes, on the vine

3 bell peppers, any color

3 sweet peppers, any color

1 Thai chili

3 yellow onions

4 cups vegetable broth

1 box of dried tortellini (with cheese and/or veggie filling)

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbs. garlic powder

1 Tbs. red or yellow miso (optional)

sea salt & cracked pepper

sunflower oil

(1) Preheat the oven to 230 degrees Celsius (or 450 Fahrenheit). Line a large oven pan with baking paper. Half the onions, tomatoes, and all of the peppers, removing the seeds from the peppers (but not the tomatoes!) (2) Add 2 Tbs. of oil to the pan and then all of the halved veggies, stirring to coat. (3) When the oven is preheated, put the pan on the top rack and let roast until the skins of the peppers have browned and are beginning to peel, about 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. (4) In a large pot, stir together the sugar, miso, garlic powder, and broth, warming over medium heat. (5) Remove the peels from the onions and the browned skins from the peppers (it’s okay to leave the tomato skins on). Using a blender, puree the roasted vegetables before adding to the soup pot. (6) Bring the soup to a boil and add tortellini, cooking until pasta is al dente, 10-15 minutes. Serve topped with a dollop of creme fraiche, dried herbs, or scrambled eggs ๐Ÿ™‚

Serves 6

Spiced Bulgur with Mango, Miso & Pickledย  Ginger

Ingredients

(for bulgur)

2 cups bulgur wheat (coarse or finely ground)

4 cups onion (or vegetable) broth

1/2 cup pickled ginger, chopped

1/2 cucumber, peeled & chopped

1 bunch green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup dried green mango, chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded & sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded & sliced

(for dressing)

3 Tbs. yellow miso

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. apricot jam (or other jam)

3 Tbs. lemon juice

2 – 3 dried chilies (like Pequin or African Bird’s Eye), crushed

1 Tbs. brown sugar

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Cook bulgur uncovered in salted broth according to package instructions; this usually involves 1 part bulgur to 2 parts broth, for 10-14 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with fork. (2) In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing, miso through garlic powder and stir well; set aside. (3) Next add all of the peppers, green onions, mango, cucumber, and ginger to the bulgur and mix. (4) When ready to serve, add the dressing and stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Can be served warm or cold.

Serves 4

Melon-Cucumber Saladย  with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredients

(for salad)

1 small honeydew melon, skinned, seeded & cut into chunks

1 cucumber, cut into chunks

6 cups mixed greens (like baby spinach, arugula, & red-leaf)

4 sweet peppers, seeded & thinly sliced

1 red onion, peeled & thinly sliced

(for vinaigrette)

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 Tbs. paprika

1 Tbs. yellow miso

3 Tbs. honey

3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. milk (or cream)

1/2 Tbs. mustard seeds

1/2 Tbs. onion powder

1/2 Tbs. ground black pepper

1 lemon, juiced

(1) Make sure all the greens are washed and dried before tossing with the peppers, onion, melon, and cucumber. Cover and chill until ready to serve. (2) To make the honey mustard, combine all of the ingredients – white wine through lemon juice- in a sealable jar or tupperwareย and shake until blended. Can be kept chilled in the fridge for up to 2 months ๐Ÿ™‚ (3) When ready to eat, toss the salad again with the dressing and serve immediately.

Serves 4

So those are my offerings to the harvest gods and vegetarians everywhere ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s amazing how the earth just grows all sorts of differently delicious plants and countless other things for us to eat. I think being human has never been better ๐Ÿ˜›

My question:

What is your favorite vegetarian dish to eat?

10.8.12

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Menu for A Cool Summer Day

Hello and happy summer ๐Ÿ™‚ The sun has proven worth waiting all these months and as I’m getting to enjoy the cool summer breezes I’ve also been making lots of different dishes too numerous to post. I have however, combined three of my latest edibles into a summertime menu with plenty of homemade flair and the sublime simplicity of fresh summer produce.

The crunchy, briny pickles are from a recipe I found in last month’s Cooking Network magazine and are a genius idea because first, it’s so easy to make, second, the veggies stay crispy and fresh without sitting in boiling water for forty minutes, and third, they last 3 months in the fridge and only become more marinated with time. Pickles are a pretty versatile ingredient too, I recommend having them with cheese & crackers for breakfast, with garlic bread for Lunch, or coarsely chopped and served as a salad alongside grilled meat ๐Ÿ˜€ The peppercorns and other seeds soften significantly enough to be chewable, granted you love the robust flavors involved in the pickling brine.

The Quinoa Recipe is from an old Cooking Light and well worth the 15 minutes it takes to cook the grain to fluffy completion. There are different types of quinoa and while we ordinarily eat the white, quinoa also can be black and red; I used the red version here which was a much warmer color among the sticky peach pieces. The sandwiches are very Danish (at least that’s what I’m going to claim;)) with a savory spread, and both crunchy and smooth veggies. This particular recipe I saw in Gourmet, adding some of my own embellishments in the form of full flavors. Everything in this menu can be served chilled (and only gets better with the cold). I think the sandwiches make for a perfect picnic dish, if the weather is sunny enough ๐Ÿ˜€

The star ingredient in this menu is black pepper. Now I may be an overzealous fan of this spicy staple, but it’s cheap, potent, and in every kitchen ๐Ÿ™‚ Pepper goes with sweet and salty tastes alike and is apparently full of anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals. At one point in time I’d assumed pepper was a seed like coriander or cumin, but it’s actually the fruit of a tropical evergreen tree, which is far more interesting. Cracked pepper will remain the unsung hero in most of my dishes, partly due to the fact that I often double (or okay, triple..) my pepper seasoning – which seems to bestow the right degree of tasteful spiciness every time.

Carrot-Cucumber-Cauliflower Pickles with Fennel, Mustard Seeds, & Coriander

Ingredients

4 carrots, peeled & thickly sliced

3 red onions, thickly sliced

1/2 head cauliflower, divided into florets

10 green beans, trimmed

5 small cucumbers, quartered

1 bunch fresh Dill

2 Tbs. coriander seeds

2 Tbs. fennel seeds

1 Tbs. mustard seeds

1 Tbs. black peppercorns

1/2 Tbs. salt

2 cups white wine vinegar

4 cups water

5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

5-6 glass jars with seal-able lids

(1) Put 2-3 dill sprigs in each jar and pack (as tightly as possible) a mixture among all the jars. Stir together the peppercorns, fennel, coriander, and mustard seeds and divide evenly among the jars, spooning atop the veggies. (2) Put the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the vinegar, garlic, and salt; reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. (3) Carefully pour the hot brine into each of the jars, filling to the top. Seal the jars tightly with lids and let cool before refrigerating. Keeps chilled 3 months, ready to eat 3 hours after refrigerating.

Serves 6-8

Red Quinoa with Peaches, Black Pepper, & Honey

Ingredients

1 bag of red quinoa, rinsed

8 peaches, thickly sliced

4 lemons, juiced

6 Tbs. honey

2 Tbs. olive oil

2 Tbs. cracked pepper

(1) Cook the quinoa according to package instructions (usually 1 part water to 3 parts quinoa), until the grain has absorbed all water and can be fluffed with a fork. Uncover and set aside, letting cool 10 minutes. (2) Stir in the honey, cracked pepper, and lemon juice. Serve at room temperature or chilled, as dessert or side dish.

Serves 4

Bacon, Avocado, & Sprout Sandwiches with Dill-Chive Spread

Ingredients

(for sandwiches)

3 ripe avocados, thinly sliced

1 loaf of sourdough bread, sliced

8 bacon strips

1 cup fresh bean sprouts

3-5 slices of Havarti cheese

(for spread)

3 Tbs. mayonnaise

4 Tbs. yogurt

1 orange, juiced

4 Tbs. fresh Dill, minced

4 Tbs. fresh Chives, minced

salt & cracked pepper

(1) To make the spread, combine all ingredients from the mayonnaise through fresh chives in a small tupperware. Season to taste with salt and cracked pepper. Can be chilled up to a week ahead. (2) Sprinkle cracked pepper over the bacon before cooking in a skillet at medium-high heat. Remove when crispy but not burnt, 6-8 minutes and let cool. (3) Layer both sides of bread thickly with the herb spread. On one piece put the bacon and then sliced avocado. On the other, layer sprouts and cheese, putting atop the bottom layer. Cut in half before serving. Best with light beer or chilled white wine ๐Ÿ˜€

Serves 4

So as the weather continues to warm up a bit I’ll probably keep thinking of cold food in all its refreshing versions. Salsa, salad, sandwiches, sangria – it sure seems like I have a lot of options – if only Summer was forever ๐Ÿ˜‰

My question: What spice do you think is underrated in the kitchen?

6.30.12

Simply Lamb

Well, having access to the large and bustling foreign supermarket (it’s called the bazaar, now that’s cool…) has inspired me to make this meal and includes the one ingredient I’ve been craving for weeks–lamb!! This post comprises the menu I served for dinner, two very simple recipes of a salad and meat entrรฉe. The tabbouleh is a pretty standard dish in Middle Eastern cuisine and is often served in or alongside pita bread (it works real good for lunch, too). I had to do a little bit of research on how to cook lamb properly on the stove but I must emphasize that this turned out to be a very simple, incredibly easy, and amazingly delicious operation. I would recommend searing lamb to anyone, it’s far faster than having to watch it roast for hours on end and it still fills the house (ahem, apartment) with the mouth-watering aroma of this preciously delectable meat ๐Ÿ™‚

The tabbouleh recipe is very green with plenty of fresh parsley and mint to call it “herbed”. I supplemented the salad with chickpeas, another one of my favorites, and petit peas (you know, because it wasn’t green enough) to ante up on the protein. My version includes using tomato juice to moisten the salad, but more olive oil, vinegar, or lemon juice would work just as well. For the grain, I used coarse bulgur which is just another form of wheat and the cheapest I found at the market; this dish is very versatile and grains are simple enough that you can easily substitute bulgur with quinoa, couscous, or brown rice. Tabbouleh salad is so popular for a reason, it lasts long, it’s healthy, and can come in various forms so I encourage anyone replicating this to have fun and substitute where you like at will, it’s hard to mess up with simple herbs, vegetables, and grains!

As for the lamb, I procured two fillets at the butchers, not your usual cut but thick and lean enough to satisfy me in all respects. Fillets also prove to be very juicy when cooked, which is where the whole process of “searing” really comes in handy because it seals in all the moisture, allowing for maximum flavor (heh, don’t I sound like a chef…) The star ingredient, simply speaking, is none other than the lamb. I was impressed with just how well this turned out and how easy! Lamb has this amazing effect of turning any dish into something special and it’s simple to prepare, especially when your using only four ingredients to cook it, two of them being salt and pepper :] As far as searing goes, my recommendations would be to use plenty of butter to avoid sticking and don’t be surprised at how quickly the meat cooks, the stove top gets dinner done.

Seared Lamb Fillet and Chilled Tabbouleh with Mint, Cucumber, and Chickpeas

Ingredients

(for the lamb)

1 lb. lamb fillet

1 Tbs. dried oregano

sea salt & cracked pepper

1 Tbs. butter

(for the salad)

1 lb. coarse bulgur (sub quinoa, couscous)

1 medium cucumber, chopped

1 bunch fresh mint, minced

1 bunch fresh Parsley, minced

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 large can chickpeas, drained

2 cups petit peas

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 Tbs. olive oil

3 Tbs. lemon juice

3 Tbs. red wine vinegar

3 Tbs. tomato juice

2 chicken bouillon cubes

butter

sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a pot over medium-high heat. When melted, add the bulgur and stir for about 3 minutes until grains are lightly toasted. Next, add the required amount of water, usually about 1 1/2 liters (if using chicken broth, it’s probably about 6 cups) along with the two chicken bouillon cubes. Let everything come to a boil and then immediately lower the heat, cover, and let simmer until the bulgur is soft, about 20 minutes, adding more liquid if necessary along the way. *Bulgur should cool on the side for twenty minutes and then chill in the fridge for an hour before assembling the salad. (2) In a large bowl, combine all the chopped vegetables and herbs, everything from cucumber through garlic along with the cooked bulgur. Moisten the salad with olive oil, vinegar, lemon and tomato juice, stirring well. Let the salad chill in the fridge until ready to eat. (3) Allow the lamb to come to room temperature before searing, halving the fillets for easier cooking. Sprinkle all sides generously with sea salt, cracked pepper, and dried oregano. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat until hot and add the lamb pieces. Sear both sides of the fillets for 3 minutes until browned and medium-rare. Let the lamb rest, covered, for another 3 minutes before slicing. (4) Serve each plate with one heaping spoonful of the tabbouleh and a warm lamb piece, garnishing with mint sprigs or dollops of mango chutney if desired.

Serves 4

As I often reflect after cooking lamb, the effort’s always worth it and there is something supremely satisfying about the way lamb tastes ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t get me wrong, the salad’s tasty too, and it definitely lasts longer! As the cold, foggy weather sets in here I’ll have to come up with other hot food recipes to bolster my spirit ๐Ÿ˜‰ Not that I’m complaining though, I know it’s not getting any better outside and I’m starting to like being fixed to this new kitchen of mine…

My question: What is your favorite cut of lamb?

I’m looking for ideas (shoulder chops? maybe shanks?) and even some simple recipes too…

10.5.11

Crazy for Couscous

…much like Cocoa puffs, only better ๐Ÿ˜‰ Now, I know that I have been on a shpeal about grains this week, but I’ve decided to post another (grain) side dish I made today and had for lunch, in addition to dinner ๐Ÿ™‚ So to begin with, everyone knows about couscous, it’s light, fluffy, and cooks in like two minutes.

Usually when I’m eating couscous somewhere, it’s ingredients include spicy or rich flavors, but what about the sweeter flavors? That could be just me, always wanting a little more sugar in everything, but the initial thought that came to my mind after my first two bites were: well, that’sย  a new taste. This is to say, I think I’ve created a recipe that is new, unique, and entirely of my own imagination. Initially, I wanted to call it Omega 3 Couscous after I realized just how many of these wonderful fatty acids were included among the ingredients, but I decided to pick a more appropriate title that reflected some of these tasty elements ๐Ÿ˜‰

After some contemplation, I assembled the couscous using some of the remaining ingredients in the kitchen, which are dwindling rapidly in the midst of us moving; these remaining ingredients included: flax seeds, apricot paste, and poppy seeds. Ha. I made an apricot reduction with the paste & some chicken broth; this I only added in minute amounts to the couscous, so I left it out of this recipe (it has plenty of natural sugars anyway:) but everything else came in handy.

Flax seeds are typically sold in large bags that are ready to eat (the blue flowers are what this plant looks like in bloom) but the ingredient itself is usually used in baking. The Romans snacked on flax seeds like they were trail mix, so I wouldn’t hold yourself back in you like taste, as even 2 cups would probably be just as delicious if you wanted to maximize on some of these health benefits. Other than that, I think the best ingredient was the fresh avocados which I added right before serving in a tablespoon of lemon juice to ensure they didn’t brown. Despite some gloomy predictions, the Avocado stayed green and delicious for quite some time following this, and it’d probably be green now, except that we ate all the couscous already ๐Ÿ™‚

And I present ๐Ÿ™‚

Roasted Garlic & Avocado Couscous w/Greens Onions & Dried Currants

Ingredients

1 package whole wheat couscous

2 Tbs. butter

1 1/2 cups dried currants (or golden raisins)

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 ripe avocados

3 Tbs. roasted garlic, chopped (or 1 raw clove, minced)

2 Tbs. rice vinegar

3 Tbs. lemon juice

1 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbs. poppy seeds

2/3 cup flax seeds (optional)

Sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Cook couscous according to package instructions (if available, add 1/2 broth for whatever water the instructions call for if you want the give the couscous a slightly richer flavor ๐Ÿ™‚ Remove from heat and add the butter, let stand covered for 5 minutes (2) Peel, pit, and dice both Avocados, combining with 1 Tbs. lemon juice, and set aside. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well, adding vinegar, salt, & pepper at the end to taste. (3) Right before serving, warm the couscous just slightly over low if it has cooled. Add the avocado with the lemon juice before mixing. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Despite prior apprehensions, I was very glad to have gone with my whims and thrown this little dish together. It’s definitely the best couscous I’ve had and I’m happy to have finally satisfied my Avocado craving ๐Ÿ™‚

And my question, What was the best-tasting dish you’ve ever been inspired to create?

1.31.11