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!

Qrunch Quinoa Burgers – Hit or Miss?

MISS- the main reason, Texture.

I dislike the name veggie burger because I’ve never eaten them to replace burgers. Before I switched to a plant-based diet I ate veggie burgers, or black bean burgers, simply because I like them. They could never replace a burger. Only a burger is a burger.

So that being said, you may wonder… what is wrong with the texture. They have the texture of quinoa and breadcrumbs, with nothing to bind them together. I found them to be too delicate, and easy to crumble, to stand up tp being eaten on a bun. And the mouth feel was a bit odd. I enjoy a bite of loose quinoa but there is something about a ‘patty’ crumbling in your mouth that lacks appeal.

As far as the flavor, there wasn’t really any flavor. I tried the green chile flavor. I didn’t really expect it to taste like green chile, but I did expect it to have a taste. After living in New Mexico for almost twenty years, I know that nothing produced outside of New Mexico, and sometimes Arizona, actually tastes like green chile. Sorry, but New Mexico has set the standard for green chile.

Were these so bad that I’d throw them away? No. But I will probably crumble them on a salad instead of eating them on a bun. I’m glad they were on sale! I guess quinoa just doesn’t have a texture that lends itself to being eaten on a bun.

Voluptuous Vinegars

If your looking for a great way to add flavor to foods without adding unsavory elements like sodium and fat, try flavored vinegars. It’s even a beautiful way to decorate your kitchen counters.

Vinegar is an ancient food, dating back to at least 3,000 BC in Egypt. Almost anything that ferments can be made into vinegar: apple must, corn, cane sugar, coconut, honey, rice, millet, sorghum, palm fruit, and trebbiano grapes, used in balsamic vinegar. It seems like each culture makes their vinegar from what is readily and regionally available.

So if you’re a Bon Vivant like me, you’ve already wondered if you can make your own vinegars. YES, and they are divine. But be careful, you will no longer be satisfied with the watered down flavors of mass produced vinegar.

To make vinegar you need a mother. The vinegar mother feeds on alcohol and converts it to vinegar. You can purchase it (try home brew suppliers) or use the mother that is in an unfiltered apple cider vinegar, as long as it is unpasterized. Once you make a batch of vinegar you can reuse the mother. It’s a living mass of bacteria so treat it well. If you have trouble finding instructions email me (info@tastefulmuse.com) and I will explain my vinegar making methods. I’ve been making white wine, red wine, and cranberry vinegar for a while now.

OK, back to easy flavors. I use clamp top lemonade bottles that have been cleaned and sterilized. Fill the bottle with the flavor element (cleaned of course), top it with the vinegar of choice (apple cider is my favorite), let it sit long enough for the flavors to infuse, refill as needed. Then use it in salad dressings (including quinoa, rice, and other grain based salads), marinades, or any place else you would use a splash of vinegar. You can do the same thing with vodka too, but that’s a different post!

Here are a few of my favorite flavors…

Cacoa nibs, cinnamon, and red chiles. As you can see, this variety takes on a lot of color from the flavor elements. My favorite use for this one is to toss it with cucumber slices and chopped purple onion for a quick summer side dish.

Jalapeño cilantro. This is a great addition to marinades, especially grilled fish. Although lately I leave out the cilantro and just make jalapeño vinegar.

Kumquat jalapeño. I use less jalapeño for this one to make sure the citrus flavor comes through.

Mango and red chiles. Sweet and hot!

Rosemarry black pepper. This is another staple in my kitchen. I use it in cooking when I want a more complex black pepper flavor, the oils from the pepper will turn it almost black as it sits.

Cherry tomato and basil. A light summery flavor for salads.

If you have any other ideas please share them! Bon Vivants are always on the lookout for new flavor combinations.

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

 

What Do You Do When A Foodie Gives You Vinegar?

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Well if it’s a berry infused balsamic, you drizzle it on goat cheese and eat it with whole wheat baguette and salami! Thank you Whitney. A flavored vinegar easily transforms ordinary into extraordinary!

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

Tuna Miso

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For a mild miso soup I started with a fresh piece of tuna. I placed it in a baking dish, spread white miso on it, gave it a squeeze of fresh lime and baked it until it was just pink in the center. I used slices of the tuna on garden salads and sandwiches, and of course in miso!

In a large saucepan combine two cups of water to two tablespoons of miso, unless you like your miso stronger, then add more. Heat this thoroughly and add vegetables you enjoy. I went with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, and grated carrot. If you are using tuna or shrimp, let it simmer in the broth long enough to heat all the way through.

Serve the miso soup with a condiment bowls of red pepper flakes, fresh chives, and ginger spears. If the dramatic presentation doesn’t interest you then chop your vegetables and tuna when adding them to the miso. It will not be as dramatic when plated but it will be much easier to eat!

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

Black Bean Polenta Stack

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Here’s a dish that you can make entirely from scratch or that you can whip up quickly using packaged products – Black Beans Stacked in Browned Polenta. I served it with a halved tomato and cilantro cumin sour cream.

Slice some cooled and firm polenta, brown it on both sides in a non-stick pan. Set them aside. Heat your favorite beans. To make an nice presentation plate a slice of polenta, top it with beans and repeat. My black beans were flavored with the traditional New Mexican flavors of cumin an jalapeño. And my polenta was flavored with garlic and cilantro. You can easily alter these flavors to suit your tastes. Lima beans with ham and tomatoes pair well with cheese polenta. Red beans with a cajun seasoning pair well with chive polenta. Navy or white beans seasoned with oregano and chopped prosciutto or pancetta pair well with garlic basil polenta.  The themes are endless.

If you want to prepare the entire thing from scratch prepare your beans like your normally would. Sort, clean, and soak them overnight. Then simmer them with your desired seasonings until they are tender.

For the polenta try to find a polenta grade corn. If you can’t then you can substitute cornmeal. Polenta is actually a dish in Italy, not really a type of corn. But the corn that is used tends to be much courser than our traditional cornmeal. Follow the instructions on your polenta package, but if there aren’t any try simmering 1 cup of polenta/cornmeal in 4 cups of water for 30-40 minutes. You need to stir it almost continuously. Add seasonings toward the end, if your adding cheese add it at the very end. When all of the water is absorbed and the corn is soft you’ll have a creamy polenta. By the way, you can also replace some of the water with milk for a really creamy polenta.

The polenta is great served just like this with a variety of toppings. To me it resembles grits. But when it cools, it will become firm. Prepare a pan with the desired shape by spraying it with non-stick pray and spoon the polenta in, pressing it down and smoothing the top. Let it cool completely and then refrigerate. I used a small bread pan. Once it’s cold you’ll be able to slice it. Use a butter knife to loosen the polenta from the sides and carefully remove it from the pan. You can use a muffin pan to get perfect little polenta rounds, fill the cups half way. However you decide to shape it, there are endless options for what to do with it next. Try grilling slices of polenta topped with a meat based pasta sauce!

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

 

Miso Poached Salmon

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I love poached salmon. But it has to be flavorful, in other words, not poached in plain water. I’ve make a miso glaze for grilled salmon so I decided to try poaching the salmon in miso. It was a great success and it would work with any fish.

Cover the bottom of a shallow pan with an half inch of water. Spoon some miso into the pan, anywhere from a few tablespoons to a quarter cup, based on your miso preferences. Whisk the miso over low heat until it’s fully incorporated. Bring the pan to a simmer, be careful not to get to a full out boil as this will make the miso separate.

Place your salmon fillets in the pan, skin side down, and begin spooning the miso over them every few minutes. Continue until they are cooked through. The time will depend on how thick they are. If you are unsure cut one in half to check for doneness. Remove them to a serving platter and keep them warm. Add some chopped vegetables to the pan, I used baby bok choy and carrots. Using tongs, toss them until they just begin to wilt. You want them to retain some crunch.

When the vegetables are done place a spoonful on each plate, place a portion of salmon, and drizzle both with miso from the pan.

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

Baked Beets With Jalapeño

beet gold bakedHere’s a naturally sweet, slight spicy side dish. Although, I have been known to serve these at the end of a meal, a dessert of sorts.

Select a variety of small beets, I like to use some golden, some red. If you cannot find small ones, cut large ones in half. Peel the beets and place each one on a square of aluminum foil. Bring the sides of the foil up just enough to keep in moisture and drizzle each beet with balsamic vinegar. Top each one with a few slices of fresh jalapeño, and seal the foil around the beet. Place the foil wrapped beets in a baking pan just in case they leak.

Bake them a 350 degree oven until they feel tender, usually 30-50 minutes but it depends on the size. You can check them by squeezing them or taking one of the larger ones and piercing it with a fork.

Serve immediately! Although… chopping them the following day turns them into a great beet salad!

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

 

Monte Cristo Visits Cuba

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When a grilled cheese just won’t do, it’s got to be a Monte Cristo. Like most comfort foods the variations are endless. I learned to make Monte Cristos by dipping a ham and Swiss sandwich in egg and frying it. I learned to make Cubans by pressing and grilling a sandwich of ham, Swiss, dill pickle, and pulled pork. So if I’ve left of the pulled pork but dipped the sandwich in egg do I have a Monte Cristo with dill pickles or a Cuban with egg instead of pork?

Perhaps the answer will be clear after I eat them. I enjoy them dipped in homemade ketchup. This doubles the comfort of this comfort food! How do you enjoy your Monte Cristo Cubans?

 

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

Grilled Salad – as easy as 1, 2, 3

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1. Select summer vegetables like summer squash, eggplant, and red bell pepper, slice them in half and drizzle with olive oil and a seasoning (tandoori mix, curry powder, fresh cracked pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, or smoked paprika).

2. Grill, turn, and grill.

3. Slice, toss, and serve.

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