Sweet Summer Corn Salad

The first corn of the season has hit our local market! Grilled corn is one of my favorites, it’s easy and very versatile. Here’s a great corn salad that’s easy to make and sure to impress your guests!

Layered Corn Salad
8-10 ears of corn
1 bunch cilantro
1 bunch radishes
1 container frozen New Mexico green chilies, defrosted
1/2 purple onion
1/2 small sized jicama

Shuck the corn and drizzle olive oil on it, season it with freshly ground black pepper. Repeat this on all sides to get good coverage. Grill the corn over medium high heat, turning it as needed. I stay at the grill with the corn, it cooks quickly. Remove the corn and let it cool while you clean and chop the onion, radishes, and cilantro. When you can handle to corn, cut it off of the ears. Layer your ingredients in a clear serving bowl, or simply toss them together. Don’t drain too much of the liquid from the chilies, it makes a great sauce in the salad. Peel and grate the jicama, toss it with olive oil, black pepper, and ground cumin, then use it to top the salad.

You can easily make this salad into a meal by adding layers of black beans. Other great additions to consider: salsa, tomatoes, green onions, grated cheddar cheese, crumbled feta, quinoa, or farro.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

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Stuffed Rainbow

Stuffed Rainbow Peppers
This is one of those recipes that you throw together, based more on what you have, instead of specific measurements. Since all colors of bell peppers were on sale, I decided to stuff them. I cut the tops off of each pepper and scooped out the ribs and seeds. Then I layered (starting at the bottom):
Cooked spaghetti squash
Pasta sauce
A sauteed mixture of tofu sausage, farro, onions, and smoked jalaepños
more Pasta sauce.

I grated a little mozzarella cheese on each one, replaced the top, added a little more cheese and baked them in a glass dish with a little pasta sauce in the bottom.

They were almost to pretty to eat, but they didn’t last long. The farro and tofu sausage made them very filling and super flavorful! So when bell peppers go on sale, don’t be afraid to stuff ’em with whatever you have in the refrigerator!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Eggplant Lasagna Fan

Here is an easy, impressive vegetarian dinner, Eggplant Lasagna Fan.

Eggplant Lasagna Fan
1 eggplant
1 container ricotta cheese
8 oz mozzarella cheese, grated,
4-8 oz grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1 jar tomato pasta sauce

Combine the grated cheeses. Slice the eggplant into thin strips without cutting through the top of the stem end, set it aside. Add some freshly ground black pepper, and about a third of the grated cheese to the ricotta and set it aside. Spoon some of the pasta sauce into the bottom of a baking pan. If you want to make your sauce from scratch, check out this great red sauce recipe from Chef Ray. Place the eggplant on top of the sauce and push it down to push the slices apart a bit. Spoon the ricotta mixture between all of the slices. Spoon a little sauce between each layer, then sprinkle grated cheese between each layer. Top the eggplant with the remaining sauce and grated cheese, and s sprinkle of fresh herbs (rosemary, basil, parsley, etc) for color. I like to run my finger down the edge of each slice to make sure the eggplant skin will show. Bake it at 350 degrees until it’s heated through and the cheese begins to brown. The duration will depend on the size of your eggplant, mine took about 35 minutes.

To serve the eggplant cut the top off of it to release the layers.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

Garden Chive Hummus

Here’s a great springtime hummus recipe, especially if you have chives in your garden. Spinach could be substituted for the chives if you’d like a milder version.

Garden Chive Hummus
2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (or the equivalent quantity of home cooked)
1 cup fresh chives, snipped into 1″ pieces
3-4 Tbs lemon juice
4-8 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin, ground
freshly ground black pepper
salt

Put everything but the olive oil and salt in a food processor. With the processor running drizzle the olive oil into the mixture. Stop the processor, scrape down the sides and check the seasoning, add salt and adjust seasoning as desired. Continue processing the hummus until it reaches the desired consistency. Tahini is not a must, if you don’t like it leave it out. You can also reduce the olive oil and increase the lemon or use a little water in its place. If you find raw garlic to pungent, try granulated (dry) garlic or oven roasted garlic cloves for a more mellow flavor.

Serve the hummus room temperate or cold, with a variety of crackers and vegetables. I like to drizzle a little Tenisian olive oil on it and top it with a little freshly ground black pepper and pumpkin seeds. This recipe also makes an excellent sandwich spread! Slather it on bread and try topping it with sliced tomatoes and avocados.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Rooted Mac & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese, or mac and cheese has been around for quite some time. According Wikipedia it’s been around since the fourteenth century. And of course there are numerous versions. I’ve never been a fan of the boxed version that is often served to children, but I’ve had some pretty good ‘from scratch’ versions. Mac and cheese seems to be comfort food for many in this country, some people are just crazy for the stuff. Refined wheat pasta and cheese sauce are not high on my list of healthy foods, so I’ve been experimenting with a more plant-based version. Since I’m crazy about root vegetables (beets, turnips, carrots, etc.), I decided to incorporate them into the recipe without changing the overall structure of the mac and cheese. Rather than traditional pastas, made from refined wheat, I stock my pantry with pasta made from beans, and/or whole grains.

Rooted Mac & Cheese

1 package short pasta noodles made from beans or whole grains – I used penne made from red lentils
Cook the pasta almost according to package directions, leave it al dente, so it doesn’t overcook in the oven. Drain the pasta and toss it under cool water to keep it from sticking to itself, set it aside to continue draining.

For the cheese sauce, begin with a béchamel sauce.
4 Tbs butter or oil based spread
4 Tbs flour
2-4 cups milk
dash white pepper

4-6 cups grated cheese

Melt the butter and then cook the flour in the butter for a few minutes, but don’t let it brown. You can preheat your milk (microwave/stove), or go with a more nontraditional approach and add it a bit at a time to the flour mixture, whisking to fully incorporate the addition each time. Let the sauce return to a simmer before adding more milk each time. You won’t see how thick your sauce is until it’s fully heated, so don’t just dump all of the milk in at once. Add your freshly ground white pepper, and a pinch of finely ground nutmeg if you like. I don’t add salt to this when it’s going to be a cheese sauce.

Add several cups of grated cheese, like sharp cheddar, a cup at a time. Continue whisking and let the cheese melt completely after each addition. Taste and add more cheese or seasoning if needed. Combinations of cheese varieties are fine!

Prepare your root vegetables
1 large beet, peeled, thinly sliced, slices cut into half circles
1 large turnip, peeled, thinly sliced, slices cut into half circles
1 sweet potato, peeled, thinly sliced, slices cut into half circles
Substitute any other vegetables you like – quartered mushrooms, kohlrabi, fennel, hot peppers, etc.

Now it’s time to assemble!
Put the pasta in an large casserole dish, or several small ones. Put the root vegetable slices up on end, in a decorative fashion, around the edges, or along one side. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and vegetables. Grate a little Parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle the top with freshly ground black pepper and smoked paprika. Bake the dish in a preheated 350 F oven until it is bubbly and beginning to brown. Remove it from the oven, let it cool and consume! No one needs to know it’s got a little more nutrition that the traditional mac and cheese!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Southwest Quinoa

Quinoa, like rice, is a great base for other flavors and an important component for a plant-based diet. I prefer the texture of quinoa for most things, it has more fiber and protein than brown rice, and it cooks much faster! This recipe would work fine with farro, or rice too! I serve this dish as a main course for lunch, with a side of salsas, or as a side dish to a dinner. It’s also a great candidate for the lunch box.

Southwest Quinoa

1 cup quinoa
1 can black beans
1/2-1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2-3 chopped garlic cloves
3-4 TBS vinegar (apple cider, jalapeño)
2 cans chopped green chiles, or frozen green chiles

Cook about a cup of quinoa according to the package directions. For a more flavorful dish you can cook it in vegetable broth. Once all the water is absorbed toss the quinoa with all of the ingredients and sever it hot or cold. The measurements aren’t really important, if you like corn add more. Pinto beans are an easy substitution. Cilantro makes a nice addition if you want to give it a fresher taste. I keep jalapeño infused apple cider vinegar in a recycled lemonade bottle on the counter. Just add apple cider vinegar to glass jar with a lid. Then add jalapeños that have been scrubbed and quartered. Since the heat of the peppers can vary, you might want to make sure you’re using hot ones. Let it sit for a few weeks to infuse. Just top it off with more vinegar when it gets low. It’s a great addition to salad dressings and marinades too!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant, and Savor Your Life!

Irish Spice and All That’s Nice!


I have yet to visit Ireland, the trip is one of the top three on my bucket list. Between reading about my family’s history and preparing for this trip of a life time, I spend much time reading about Ireland, it’s history, and it’s culture.

Of course a large part of all cultures involves food. I’ve seen three dishes mentioned frequently: Coddle, Cabbage, and Apple Cake. Coddle is a ‘stew’ of sorts, serious comfort food. It’s made with potatoes, sausage, ‘rashers’ (bacon), and onions. Being that it’s true comfort food there is no specific recipe, each family and every chef has their own version. I’ve adjusted mine to fit the ingredients that are available where I live.

The baked cabbage is not only beautiful it has an amazing flavor when baked with chopped apples, brown sugar, nutmeg, and a little white wine vinegar. I had never thought of baking cabbage before… but the resulting dish is superb.

For the apple cake I had to substitute Granny Smith apples for the more traditonal Irish Bramly apples. But as they are both tart apples it probably didn’t make too much of a difference.

Combined these dishes will make a complete Irish Inspired meal, but each is enjoyable enough to stand on it’s own. Make adjustments as needed, as this is comfort food at it’s finest, amending it to fit your palate is surely in order!

Irish Coddle

5 – 6 oz thick sliced bacon, chopped
1.5 lbs flavorful sausage, typically pork
8 oz leg of lamb, cubed
2 leeks, sliced and cleaned
2-3 lbs small new potatoes or cubed large potatoes
5 – 6 oz Guinness

In a large Dutch oven brown the bacon and leeks, add the sausage and lamb and continue to brown. Once the meats are sufficently browned add the Guinness and potatoes. Add stock or water to the pot to bring the liquid up about half way.

Cover the pot tightly and bake at 325 degrees for a few hours, until the potatoes are tender and the sausaes are cooked through. I find it convenient to bake the Coddle and Cabbage at the same time.

 

 

 

Irish Baked Cabbage

1 small head purple cabbage shredded
1 tart apple cored and chopped
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
(substitute with any vinegar you like)
freshly snipped chives
freshly ground nutmeg
freshly cracked black peper
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

Place about a third of the cabbage in the bottom of a baking dish, top it with a third of the chopped apple, a third of the chives, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar. Grate nutmeg over the layer, and then grind pepper over the layer. Repeat this process for the remaining two layers.

Top the dish with small pieces of the butter if you’re using it and drizzle the vinegar over the dish. Cover the dish tightly and bake at 325 degrees for two hours. Remove it from the oven and stir it at least twice while it’s baking.

Irish Inspired Apple Cakes

1 tart apple
3/4 oats ground into flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons butter
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons milk

First prepare your pan(s). I used two 4” spring form pans. Prepare them by greasing them. Then thinly slice some of the apple and lay the slices in a decorative way in the baking pans. Add pomegranate seeds or nuts to create a presentation. Chop the remaining apple.

Stir the flour, oats and baking powder together. Using your hands, combine the butter and flour mixture until you have course crumbly mixture. Combine them in the bowl of a stand mixer if possible.

Once your flours and butter are combined add the egg, brown sugar, and milk. Mix until it becomes a smooth batter, add more milk if needed.

Stir in the chopped apples. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pans.

Bake at 375 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan to fascilitate an easy removal, serve the cakes while they are still warm. Add a dollop of whipped cream or marscapone on the side.

Chorizo Chili with Cornbread Puffs

chili_8079

If you love chili and you love cornbread why not combine them for a one dish delight this winter?

Make your favorite chili, I made a chorizo and black bean version. Then, make a standard cornbread recipe. I made two batches, one with yellow corn and one with blue corn. To make it even more interesting add chopped jalapeño and or grated cheddar cheese to your cornbread batter.chili_8087

When the chili is done put it in an casserole pan and spoon globs of the cornbread batter on top. Bake the casserole following your cornbread instructions. Serve with a little fresh pico de gallo and you’ve got a great one dish delight!

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Stuffed with Comfort

Black rice stuffed sweet potato with chipotle goat cheese, and a side of steamed kale.

stuffed-sweet_8050

Baked potatoes are comfort food. I grew up eating them ‘loaded’ as they say, absolute cholesterol bombs with no redeeming qualities. Sometimes I still long to dive into a fluffy hot potato that has been piled high with comfort. So here’s a healthier swap.

I started by baking a sweet potato rather than a traditional russet. When it was done I filled it with a few spoonfuls of heavenly, chewy, black rice that I had cooked with herbs. Then I topped it with chipotle crusted goat cheese. I put it under the broiler just long enough to warm the cheese, and sprinkled it with freshly chopped cilantro. I served it with a side of steamed kale, I added some rosemary black pepper infused vinegar to the steaming water to make it more flavorful. A true comfort meal.

What stuffs your potato?

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Don’t Fear Eggplant… Master It!

eggplant_8033

Eggplant is like so many other delicious foods, it has a bad wrap because many don’t take the time to learn how to prepare it. But being low in calories and incredibly versatile, this nightshade deserves to be dealt with! I use eggplant in so many different ways it’s difficult to keep track of them. Recently I’ve been enjoying stuffed eggplant rolls. Today I filled them with red quinoa. eggplant_8035

Prepare your quinoa as per the package instructions. I like the toasting method as it adds a little more flavor. Also, I like to add some hot madras curry powder and freshly cracked black pepper to mine while it’s cooking.

For the eggplant, cut the top off and slice it thinly lengthwise, using a mandoline or sharp knife. Lay the slices on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil, sprinkle them with freshly ground black pepper. Feel free to add any other spices – rosemary, oregano, paprika, cumin, etc. Turn them over and drizzle and spice the other side. Roast them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning once. The time will depend on how thin your slices are. The thinner the slice the easier they are to roll.

When the quinoa is done, remove it from the heat and let it set. When the eggplant is done remove it from the oven and chop up the side pieces. Add these to the quinoa with some finely chopped onion and a drizzle of olive oil. When the eggplant slices are cool enough to handle place a spoonful of the quinoa mixture toward the wide end and roll them up. Place the rolls on a serving platter, drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle them with crumbled feta (preferable a sheep’s milk feta), and chopped mint. Serve them while they’re still warm. These are so delicious that you won’t believe you’re eating something healthy!

This is one of those dishes that is easy to alter. Change the spices to more of an Italian theme by adding freshly chopped basil or pesto to the quinoa, then top with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Or go with a Mexican theme, flavor the quinoa with cumin and tomatoes and top it with grated cheddar and chopped cilantro. So many possibilities!

If you need a heartier dish add some cooked beans to the quinoa. For me this is easily a main dish, but if your hesitant to rely on it it fill you up introduce it to your table as a side dish. For a faster version I sometimes stack the ingredients instead of rolling them.

Until next time… Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!