Rosemary Radishes

The market is full of beautiful radishes this week, I wanted to do something other than just add them to a salad. Rinsed and quartered I tossed them with extra virgin olive oil, rosemary black pepper infused cider vinegar, and garnished with a little fresh rosemary and black pepper. It turned out to be an excellent side dish! What do you do with your radishes?

Release your Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

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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!

Snappy Quinoa

This week I was in the mood for the crisp, refreshing texture of sugar snap peas. My grocer only had a very large bag available so I had to come up with a few ways to enjoy them. Before I switched to a plant based diet, I used to enjoy fresh green beans with a sprinkle of bacon. Here’s a vegetarian version of something similar,  but served over quinoa it becomes a complete meal.

Snappy Quinoa
For the Quinoa
1 cup quinoa, cooked according to the package instructions
1/4 cup chopped New Mexico green chilies
5-6 roasted garlic cloves, chopped
After the quinoa is cooked, add freshly ground black pepper, garlic and the chilies, stir well.

For the sugar snap peas
4 cups of sugar snap peas
1/2 cup onion, chopped
4-5 Tbsp salad dressing (blue cheese, vinaigrette, ranch, etc)
2 slices smokey tempeh, cut into small pieces

Rinse the snap peas and remove the stems. Cut them in halves or thirds, depending on their size. Drop them into a pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Let them dry in a strainer or on a towel. I like them with a very short blanch, they remain crispy but they don’t quite taste raw. If you prefer them raw then skip this stop. Toss the sugar snap peas with everything else and serve them over the quinoa.

You can serve this as a complete meal at lunch, or serve a smaller portion as a side dish. Both the sugar snap peas and the Quinoa are great on their own, so if you run out of one before the other you won’t be at a loss.

Release YOUR Bonus Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Fresh Sauerkraut – Hit or Miss?

It’s another Hit!

The Coatimundi in Costa Rica may not like it but I do! There are several brands and several flavors available. This is a spicy flavor with carrots and jalapeños. We have enjoyed it on rubens with Swiss cheese, smokey tempeh, and homemade 1,000 Island dressing, but it also makes a great addition to packed lunches!

Lacto fermented foods are thought to be a great addition for our diets. They contain probiotics and several vitamins, with a high fiber, low calorie delivery.

Read your labels carefully. Foods fermented this way can be very high in sodium. Also, watch for flavorings, there’s just no reason to add ‘flavor’, natural, or unnatural, to a food that is so perfect in its raw state. Look for theme in the refrigerator section of delis and produce departments. Most food markets have one or two varieties available. We enjoy the Saverne brand, their website contains some information about the farmers and recipes.

Be daring, try some Saverne raw kaut and Release YOUR Bonus Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

*no coatimundi were actually exposed to sauerkraut for this posting.

Kale Sesame!

One of my favorite lunch spots serves a great kale salad. But sometimes I don’t want to wait for the next time I go out to lunch to get my kale fix. Here’s my version of this light and delicious kale salad.

Kale Sesame!
One bunch of kale rinsed and roughly chopped. My favorite is the dino kale or lacianto, but any variety of kale will work. I often mix in other greens like collards or rainbow chard.
Several garlic cloves, minced
Toasted sesame oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sesame seeds
Red pepper flake

Bring a large pot of water to boil, toss the kale and garlic in when it boils and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Drain the kale and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking process. Continue to drain it until it’s is dry – you can speed this process by draining it on paper towels or squeezing it. Put it in a large bowl, and drizzle the kale with a combination of toasted sesame oil and olive oil. You can use all sesame oil if the flavor isn’t to strong for you. Serve the salad with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and red pepper flake.

Because of kale’s nutritional content, this super light salad will fill you up! Serve it as a side dish to just about anything, or make a meal of it!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Skinny Pop – Hit or Miss?

HIT!

Skinny Pop Black Pepper and Sea Salt is our #1 go to snack for munching. A packaged popcorn can’t get much cleaner than (non-gmo) popcorn, sunflower oil, sea salt and black pepper. It’s truly a guilt free snack. Black Pepper is our favorite but the other flavors are very tasty too especially, White Cheddar and Jalapeño (not hot). Earlier this year there was a limited edition with Hatch New Mexico Green Chiles, which was pretty good. The Dusted Dark Chocolate flavor is really satisfying sometimes. It has a great chocolate flavor without being very sweet.

You can read more about Skinny Pop (including ingredients for every flavor) on their website, www.skinnypop.com

Crunchies Beets – Hit or Miss?

HIT – For Several Reasons

Freeze dried beets area available in several brands. I have enjoyed all that I have sampled. Some are lightly salted, which does play nicely off of the natural sweetness of the beet, and some are plain. I prefer the plain ones. They are seriously crunchy and satisfying. At about 100 calories a bag, I don’t even have to share!

A great food is something you eat because you enjoy it, but at the same time you reap nutritional benefits like: fiber, potassium, vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron, and Magnesium. If beets don’t appeal to you then try them with hummus or salsa. These natural ‘chips’ will hold up to even the thickest dips!

I like to keep a bag with me when I have to run errands – they won’t spoil in the car and they don’t crush easily.

Whenever you’re selecting a freeze dried snack, check you label to make sure the only ingredient is beets (there’s no need for preservatives or additions), and to make sure you know how much sodium there is in the salted variety.

Crunchies Freeze Dried Beets a definite HIT!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

Muse Style Madras Curry

How do you feel about eggplant? I love it, but I’m starting to think that it’s a a love it or hate type of food. For me, it doesn’t matter if it’s baked, grilled, mashed, cubed, sliced, or pureed, I’ll eat and love it. Long ago a vegetarian friend of mine described it as ‘comfort food’. Even if you aren’t as crazy about it as we are, you may still find it enjoyable. This is a simple method for making a spicy dinner of miniature eggplants and tofu. You can easily adjust the recipe to accommodate full size eggplants. If your Madras is hot add a side salad, or sliced cucumbers, to help balance the heat.

Curried Eggplants with Tofu

Slit the ends of mini eggplants, going both directions, up to the stem but leaving the stem in tact, and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with Hot Madras Curry Powder (recipe follows). Toss to evenly distribute the spices. As you place them on a baking sheet, or tray to take them to the grill, stuff each one of them with a dried red chili, a cherry tomato, or anything else to help keep them slightly open. If any of them look dry on the inside then drizzle a little more olive oil into the opening. Save the bowl you tossed them in, you’ll use the drippings for the tofu. Smoke, roast, or grill them, at a medium low temperature until they soften to your preference.

For the curried tofu, start with a brick of extra firm tofu. Drain and dry it, and then slice it into 1/2″ slices. Rub each slice around in the bottom of the eggplant tossing bowl until it’s covered on all sides with the olive oil and madras curry powder mixture. Add more of both to the bowl if you need more. At this point you can heat the tofu and serve it, or let it set for a while to incorporate more flavor. Heat the tofu on a grill or bake in in the oven to heat it. If you heat it on the stove in a hot skillet, you would probably end up with a lovely golden crust. I was afraid that the hot chilies would release too much capsicum into the air.

For a smokey version of this dinner, both the eggplant and tofu can be cooked in a smoker. Slice the leftovers for a great addition to garden salads.

 

Tasteful Muse Madras Curry is a hot curry, cut back on the chilies if you want a milder batch. Make sure you have good ventilation while making this recipe. The spices will become very fragrant as they toast, and the chilies can be very strong. The recipe can be easily doubled, or tripled and it can be stored for a long time.Visit an ethnic market for the best availability and prices on whole spices.

Tasteful Muse Hot Madras Curry Powder

4 tbsp Coriander Seeds
2 tsp Cardamom Seeds
1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Fenugreek Seeds
1 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
4 inch Cinnamon Stick
6 Dried Red Chilies
10 Fresh or Dried Curry Leaves
1 tsp Ground Ginger
2 tbsp Ground Turmeric

Heat a heavy cast iron pan over medium low heat. Toast everything but the turmeric, ginger and curry leaves, for a few minutes, just until it begins to brown. Add the curry leaves and stir, letting it brown for just a little longer. Remove the spices from the pan to let them cool. After it cools, grind small batches in a a clean coffee grinder to grind everything into a fine mix.  Place the finished batches in a larger mixing bowl. Once everything is finely ground and add the ground turmeric and ginger and stir until it’s well blended. Store the curry in an airtight container in your spice cupboard.

 

 

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.