A few days ago, I got a text from our friend, Natalia. Natalia is a dear friend of ours who has a voice like honey, is sharp as an icicle (the sharpest thing my mid-winter brain could come up with), and has a knack for coming up with great food combinations, which she photographs, as you do, and sends to her foodie friend, as you do. She also likes to say, “as you do”, as I just did. This most recent text was an image of a citrus salad, built around grapefruit from her recent trip to Arizona. She added watercress, avocado, goat cheese, a lemon vinaigrette, and spicy salted pepitas. The text was a great reminder that citrus is in season, even if my brain has a difficult time wrapping around the idea that there is anywhere on this earth that isn’t covered in several feet of snow and a blanket of clouds.
December is right around the corner and we’ve had our first taste of snow. Mornings are covered in frost crystals and I know Jack Frost will make a visit to us soon. My little herb garden has seen better days so today I decided to harvest all of the parsley and put it to good use. This salad was the perfect way to use it up. Cooking Light aptly calls this salad “the perfect antidote to the winter blues.” And served with Cooking Light’s Ribollita, it was a perfect meal on a cold wintry night.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of raw mushrooms. I normally encounter raw mushrooms as afterthoughts in lackluster side salads with cheddar cheese, croutons, and a cherry tomato or two. They just don’t do anything for me. But the image of this salad was so pretty that my eyes convinced me to try it out. I love when food surprises me and this salad did just that.
I used my mandoline slicer to make the very thin cuts of white button and cremini (baby bella) mushrooms. You can use a knife if you don’t have a mandoline slicer but have a sharp knife and good knife skills. Use a vegetable peeler, cheese shaver, or mandoline slicer to make the wispy thin parmesan cheese shavings.
Cozy up, and enjoy!
- 3 large button mushrooms, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter (sometimes called "stuffers")
- 3 cremini mushrooms, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground white pepper, plus more for garnish
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- Gently wash and dry mushrooms. Trim the very bottom ends of mushrooms, leaving stems intact. Cut mushrooms vertically into very thin slices; arrange on a platter so they overlap slightly.
- Combine parsley, rind, and garlic in a bowl.
- Combine juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl.
- Gradually add oil to juice mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.
- Drizzle juice mixture evenly over mushrooms; sprinkle with parsley mixture and cheese.
- Let stand at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before serving.
I’ve been making collard burritos for some time now. They have never made it to my blog. Maybe it’s because I think of them as my go-to quick meal that I eat when I don’t have time to play around with making things pretty. They are usually filled with a hodgepodge of quinoa, beans, and some random veggies. Nothing fancy. Maybe it’s because if I’m eating a collard burrito it means it is late and I don’t have daylight to photograph my creation for the blog. Winters are hard for food bloggers. There are nights that I prep my dish the night before, then race home, fly into the kitchen, and make a mess of everything, just so I can get the last ten minutes of daylight to capture my creation.
Ever since my big brother sent a gigantic Pickl-it jar to me for my birthday (with a card that said, “From the best brother in the world”) I’ve been in the mood to make and eat fermented foods. I’ve always been a little nervous about fermenting things myself but this gadget takes the mystery (and fear) out. I’ve got a big jar of sauerkraut going right now…can’t wait to try it out!
The only bummers about this jar are that a) it is huge so I have to make A LOT of one thing at one time and b) I want others so I can pickle other foods simultaneously. Recently, while lacto-fermenting a batch of mixed veggies (cauliflower, carrots, celery, and radishes, which turned the batch a nasty pink color…lesson learned) I had a hankering for Kimchi. Much to my delight, I found a recipe that didn’t require any elaborate process, unless you call hanging out in the fridge for a week elaborate.
This recipe, from Serious Eats, was exactly what I had in mind. I wanted an authentic recipe and I wanted to know how to make it without shrimp paste, which I find to be a bit much for me. This recipe shows you not only how to make it without shrimp paste, but how to make it vegetarian! I’m fine with fish sauce so made my version with it but it was great to find out that you can use miso as a fine substitution, which I will surely try for next time.
I had some kimchi yesterday with my special grain blend for a snack. To make my grain blend, cook wild rice and brown rice with water to cover for 25 minutes. Add farro, black and/or white quinoa, and radish seeds. Cook another 15-20 minutes covered on low heat. Turn off and let sit for 10 minutes before fluffing. The radish seeds are my favorite part. they pop in your mouth and are so fun to eat!
Homemade Kimchi; from Serious Eats
- 1 large head napa cabbage, cored and separated into individual leaves, about 1 pound total
- 1 small daikon radish (about 4 ounces)
- 8 scallions, greens roughly chopped, whites reserved separately
- Kosher salt
- 8 cloves garlic
- One 2-inch knob ginger, peeled
- 1/2 cup Korean chili powder (kochukaru)
- 2 tablespoons white or red miso paste
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Place cabbage leaves, daikon, and scallion greens in a large bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Toss to combine, cover, then let sit at room temperature until cabbage is wilted, at least 1 hour and up to 12. It should release about 1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid.
Meanwhile, combine scallion whites, garlic, ginger, chili powder, miso paste or fish sauce, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until rough paste is formed, about 30 seconds total, scraping down sides as necessary.
Once cabbage is wilted, add chili mixture and turn to coat. Add 1 cup water to mixture. Taste liquid and add more salt as necessary (it should have the saltiness of sea water). Pack kimchi into mason jars, pressing down firmly to pack tightly and using a chopstick to release any air bubbles trapped in the bottom of the jar. Cover the kimchi with its liquid.
Seal the jars tightly and allow them to sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours, then transfer to the refrigerator. Allow to ferment at least 1 week before eating (see note). Kimchi will last for up to 1 month after opening. Alternatively, place directly in fridge and taste daily starting after the first week until it’s as sour as you like it. Consume within 1 month.
Notes: This kimchi will get more and more sour as it ages. It can be eaten immediately, but is optimal at around 3 weeks. For a more traditional kimchi, replace the miso paste with 1/4 cup fish sauce or 2 tablespoons jarred brined tiny shrimp. It’s normal for the kimchi to produce lots of gas as it’s fermenting. Your jar’s lids may pop open when you open them and bubbles may appear in the liquid. Do not be alarmed.
As for the kochukaru—Korean dried chili powder, this is perhaps the only ingredient that can be a little tough to track down, but it’s absolutely essential. Korean chilis are a lot more about flavor than heat. You can pack a whole load of chili powder into your kimchi before you end up with a significant amount of heat. I haven’t found any other pepper with a similar flavor profile and heat/aroma ratio.
Hold the phones, people. I just got a Benriner Japanese Mandolin Slicer and no vegetable in this house is safe. Here is how things have been going the last few days…hmmm…I wonder what carrots look like sliced paper thin…I wonder what potatoes look like…I wonder what beets look like…..radishes, zucchini, green beans (seriously), cucumber, even garlic scapes have all faced the merciless mandolin. So effortless! Such beautiful results! Every dish has become a masterpiece since this tool entered my home. In my fictional future interview with Bon Appetit magazine, they will ask me what my favorite kitchen tool is and I will reply that it is a tie between my beloved immersion blender and my Benriner mandolin. I will tell them how a vegetable has never been so beautiful until you can see the intricacies at a nearly paper-thin level. I will tell them that I use it nearly every day. Call me, Bon Appetit! I am waiting….
So, I’m not really going to give a recipe per se…just going to kind of tell you what I did.
- Slice any vegetable that can be eaten raw as thin as you can get it (adjust mandolin to the highest setting). A food processor will work great but you won’t get the slices as thin as with a mandolin. Suggestions: zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, bell pepper, carrot, and radish.
- Arrange on their own or atop a bed of greens (arugula, mizuna, mixed greens).
- Drizzle with a light homemade vinaigrette. Here is how I made mine: whisk a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Put into a pour-bottle with a top (you’ll want to shake this later). Add 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/3-1/2 cup vinegar (I used cherry balsamic but I also love pear infused white balsamic, rice wine vinegar, cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar) and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Screw the lid on and shake it to the east, shake it to the west, shake it to the one that you love the best! If you have time on your hands, I recommend finely dicing a shallot and sauteing it lightly in some olive oil until fragrant and adding it to the dressing. Delicious! For a sweeter dressing, I like to add a tablespoon of maple syrup or honey.
“Every beautiful thing has a natural pride in its own beauty, and today the world is allowing its pride to seep from every pore.” Albert Camus
This weekend was everything it needed to be for me. I hung out at the beach with old friends, took long walks downtown, did yoga, did lots and lots (and lots) of yard work and ended the weekend with an incredible vegan (and mostly raw) dinner with Carrie and Abby. Weekends like this make me feel that I have everything I need and more. Maybe it is the weather or maybe I have just recently come out of a bit of a funk and feel like someone who wakes up feeling good after days of being sick. For some reason I am bubbling over with gratitude for the life I have today. At 30, I may not have everything I want but I have everything I need. As I was walking up the beach on Saturday, it struck me that everything was perfect in that moment. Of course there are always life’s difficulties and to-do lists (like the porch needing to be fixed, vacuuming to be done, a store I have been meaning to visit for 3 months, a report that needs writing, and trying to balance work-work, house-work, exercise, and fun). But quite simply, what matters most was just right. The weather was beautiful, I was walking at the edge of Lake Michigan with my feet being lapped by waves and I realized that I have a damned good life. I live in a beautiful state where we are surrounded by water, dunes, woods, wildlife, and cool cities. I have my health. I have two arms and two legs, and everything else I need to experience the world fully. I have a family I love and friends to share life with. I have a house I am proud of, a yard full of flowers, and a job that supports me and allows me to be creative. Nothing worth complaining about today.
And not to be forgotten (as this is a cooking blog, you know), I get to enjoy amazing food. This week was no exception. My friend, Carrie, is starting a one week detox plan so our Sunday Dinner theme focused on raw, vegan, and vegetarian foods so she could enjoy the meal. My contribution was fresh spring rolls with two dipping sauces (one vegan, one not). Abby made a raw and vegan vegetable curry and a raw and vegan strawberry shortcake inspired dessert. Hearing the words “raw” and “vegan” usually scares people off. But take it from this non-vegetarian–raw and vegan can be delicious. I left dinner feeling refreshed and grateful for good friends and good food. Looking forward to many more summer weekends and many more Sunday Dinners…
Fresh Spring Rolls–Adapted From Epicurious.com
- 4 oz bean thread noodles
- 2 large carrots, shredded
- 2 tsp sugar
- 16 rounds of rice paper (8-10 inches in diameter)
- 8 Boston lettuce leaves, thick stem ends removed and cut in half
- 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- 4 scallions, green parts chopped, white parts saved for the seasoned tofu
- 1 cup cucumber, julienned
- 1/2 cup radishes, julienned
- 2 cups seasoned tofu (see recipe below)
Seasoned Tofu–Adapted From the Food Network
- 1 Tbsp bottled chili-garlic sauce
- 1 and 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 16 ounces extra firm tofu
- 2 tsp canola oil
- 2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
- 4 scallions, whites and about 1 inch of the greens, thinly sliced
- Drain tofu: Place a towel on a plate and set your block of tofu onto the towel. Wrap towel ends over the top of the tofu and set another plate on top of the tofu. Let drain for at least 1/2 hour and up to 2 hours. When drained, crumble tofu and set aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together chili-garlic sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar and sherry vinegar.
- Heat oil in a wok or extra-large skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and scallion whites and cook until scallion whites are translucent and ginger is fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add tofu and cook, stirring about 5 minutes. Add reserved sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring, an additional 3 to 4 minutes to allow juices to be soaked up by tofu.
Spring Roll Assembly:
- Combine the carrot with the sugar and let stand for 10 minutes to soften. In a medium saucepan, bring several cups of water to boil. Add bean thread noodles and cook until just softened, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- Lay out the spring roll ingredients before beginning to assemble the rolls.
- Fill a shallow pie pan with very warm water. Immerse a sheet of rice paper into the water and let soften, about 30 seconds. Remove and lie flat on a plate or countertop.
- Lay your ingredients at the bottom of the rice paper, nearest to you. Roll the paper halfway. Fold both sides of the paper over the filling. Keep rolling until the other edge of the rice paper is sealed and you have formed a roll. Place the rolls, seam side down, on a plate and cover with a damp towel so they stay moist. Slice each roll in half on a bias.
- Serve rolls with the dipping sauces.
Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce (Not Vegetarian)–From Epicurious.com
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- 1 small chili pepper, sliced
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup nuoc mam (fish sauce)
- 1/4 cup water
- Combine garlic, sugar, lime juice, water, vinegar, and fish sauce. Stir to blend. Add chili rounds to taste.
Peanut Sauce–Adapted From Epicurious.com
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp Sriracha chili paste
- 1 Tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 Tbsp chunky peanut butter
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- Heat oil in a medium saucepan on low-medium. Be careful not to overheat or the ingredients you add next will splatter everywhere! Add the garlic, chili and tomato pastes, and fry for about 30 seconds until the garlic is golden. Add the water, sugar, peanut butter and hoisin sauce and whisk to dissolve. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and serve at room temperature.
Thank Abby for this light and flavorful dish with just the right amount of spice. I have much to learn from her…much to learn…
- 1 can coconut milk, shaken
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Panang curry paste to taste (start with 1 Tbsp and add as you like)
- Tamari to taste (start with 1 Tbsp and add as you like)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp agave nectar, or to taste
- 3 small summer squash, julienned
- 2 small zucchini squash, julienned
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
- Puree coconut milk, avocado, almonds, lime and lemon juice, curry paste, tamari, agave, and garlic in a food processor, Vitamix, or with an immersion blender.
- Mix squash, zucchini, carrots, and cilantro in a large bowl. Pour sauce onto the vegetables and mix to coat.
Abby’s Vegan and Raw Strawberry Shortcake With Coconut Whipped Cream
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 3/4 cup pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 1/2 hour
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- 1 cup dried flaked unsweetened coconut
- 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated for a couple of hours
- Agave nectar to taste
- 2 cups sliced strawberries
- Puree cashews in blender or food processor and add a little water if too dry. Transfer to mixing bowl.
- Puree dates, leaving slightly chunky. Transfer to mixing bowl with cashews.
- Grind almonds into a coarse flour-like consistency. Add all other ingredients to blender or food processor and blend. Mix with cashews and dates in mixing bowl.
- Make coconut cream: Take can of coconut milk from refrigerator and open. Scoop the thick coconut cream from the top of the can and save the remainder of coconut milk for another use. Mix coconut cream with agave nectar to taste.
- Line loaf pan with plastic wrap and spread half of the nut/date/coconut mixture onto the bottom of the pan. Top with a layer of 1/2 of the coconut whipped cream and half of the sliced strawberries. Top cream and strawberry layer with the remainder of the nut/date/coconut mixture.
- Wrap plastic wrap over the top of the dessert and refrigerate for 1 hour. To speed up setting, place in freezer for 1/2 hour and refrigerator for 1/2 hour instead.
- Remove from refrigerator when ready to serve and unwrap. Slice the dessert into pieces and top with remaining coconut whipped cream and sliced strawberries.
I mentioned in a recent post that I was trying to find new alternatives for sweets that use little or no refined sugar. These little nuggets of goodness will make you feel so much better about snacking! I found and adapted a recipe from the Whole Living Detox Plan. Don’t let that scare you–these are worth a try and are a great pick me up.
These fruit and nut balls take about 10 minutes to whip up and I imagine they would be a great “cooking” project if you have little ones–they can help you to make the crumbles into balls and roll the balls in sesame seeds or coconut.
This recipe is extremely versatile. I used dates, prunes, raisins, and figs for the fruit. For the nuts/seeds I used walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seed, and pumpkin seed. Next time I will try with just dates and walnuts or almonds because I love the combination so much.
- 2 cups mixed dried fruit
- 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds
- 1 TBSP nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew).
- Course Salt
- 1/3 cup raw sesame seeds or unsweetened shredded coconut
- In a food processor, pulse dried fruit; transfer to a bowl.
- Pulse nuts and seeds until finely chopped. Add 1 tablespoon of peanut, cashew, or almond butter to the food processer. Add the chopped fruit, a dash of cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Pulse to combine.
- Grab small handfuls–about 2-3 tablespoons. Form 1-inch balls; roll each ball in sesame seeds or in shredded unsweetened coconut. Refrigerate in an airtight container to harden slightly. Can also be kept on counter.