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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Slightly Sweet – Lemon and Matcha Pudding

Here’s another dessert that is not over the top sweet. In fact this one contains silken tofu so not only does it satisfy a sweet craving, it will satisfy appetite!

Lemon and Matcha Tofu Pudding
(makes 4 servings)
1 package silken tofu
3-4 Tbs powdered sugar, divided
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 Tbs almond milk
2-3 tsp matcha tea powder
2-3 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla
honey to taste

Drain the tofu and place half of it in a blender. Dissolve the matcha and one tablespoon of the powdered sugar in the almond milk. Once both are dissolved add the mixture to the blender. Blend until it smooth, scraping down the sides. Once the mixture is smooth either put it in your serving dishes or place it aside. Rinse the blender parts. Place the other half of the tofu in the blender. Combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the lemon juice. Add this mixture, the vanilla, and the lemon zest to the blender. Blend until smooth.

With one tablespoon of sugar in the matcha batch it is not going to be very sweet. Since I like the flavors of honey and matcha together, I like to drizzle a little honey over each matcha layer. The two colors make for a great presentation, layer them into clear serving dishes and garnish. They are ready to eat right away, or refrigerate for later. I think they are a little better if they sit for an hour. Not all silken tofu is the same consistency. This is a very forgiving recipe. If you want it sweeter, and more sugar or honey, if you don’t like a thick pudding add a little more almond milk. Then sit back and enjoy this dessert that isn’t overwhelming you with sugar!

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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!

 

Slightly Sweet- Sad Apple Cookies

Have you ever abused an apple? You know, carried it around in your lunch bag or backpack for a few days. Well luckily apples have much flavor and nutrition to give, even after taking such abuse! Here’s a simple cookie recipe to use those ugly apples. This will make a batch of 5-6 slightly sweet cookies. They will satisfy your craving for a fresh baked dessert without going over the top with sugar.

Slightly Sweet- Sad Apple Cookies
1 apple grated, any variety
4-6 Tbs almond milk, divided (or your preferred milk product)
1 Tbs melted margarine or coconut oil
1 Tbs coconut sugar (or your preferred sweetener)
1 tsp flax egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ground ginger
Stir the above ingredients together in a medium bowl. Start with just 4 tablespoons of the milk.

Once it’s all combined, stir in:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Continue to stir. If you can’t stir the flour in, add a little more milk until you have a wet cookie dough consistency. Using a spoon, plop the dough into 5 or 6 globs on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

I like to use flax eggs for binding in these small batch recipes because it’s easy to divide. To make a flax egg, stir 1 tablespoon of ground flax into 3 tablespoons of water and stir. Let it sit until it get’s gooey.

Since there are no eggs in the recipe you can pull the cookies while they are still a little gooey in the center. If they really aren’t sweet enough for you try a little sprinkle of sugar, that way the sweet will hit your taste buds on the first bite.

To learn more about my struggles with sugar, or to share your own sugar stories, visit the ‘Sugar Addiction‘ page.

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!

Pass the Ketchup, hold the Sugar

 

Rye bread, krout, Emmentaler Swiss cheese, pastrami, and 1,000 Island dressing. Is there a better sandwich on the planet? Today there was not, but a few changes needed to be made to this classic. First pastrami doesn’t fit into my plant-based diet, substitution: smoky tempeh slices. Second 1,000 Island dressing is just too sweet for me these days. Solution: make a batch of Spicy 1,000 Island Dressing.

Spicy 1,000 Island Dressing
1 part mayonnaise (I prefer a vegan canola mayo)
1/2 part homemade ketchup (recipe follows)
1/4 part dill relish or finely chopped dill pickle
1/4 part finely chopped onion
2 Tbs sugar (if needed)
1 tsp smoked paprika

Combine, taste, adjust, refrigerate, enjoy. You can also adjust the flavor by adding lemon juice, cayenne, or sweet relish.

When I committed to reading food labels I was disgusted to see just how much sugar is in ketchup, no wonder it just tasted like ‘sweetness’ without any distinction. Originally ketchup was made from fish sauce and didn’t even contain tomatoes! But I didn’t want to give it up completely. There are somethings that just ‘need’ ketchup. So, I starting making my own. And yes, it does have some sugar, but it’s not just a sugar sauce in disguise. I make this in a large batch and freeze it in small jars. Sometimes I add finely chopped rosemary and freshly ground black pepper.

Classic Ketchup
26.5 oz tomatoes – strained/crushed/chopped
6 oz tomato paste
1/4 cup minced onion
3-6 minced garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp hot chili powder
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar – divided
Sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened. Add the tomato products and spices, cook while stirring for a few minutes. Add the brown sugar and half of the cider vinegar. Stir well, cover and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes. Transfer to a blender after it cools slightly and blend to your desired consistency, adding the remaining vinegar if needed. Store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator or freeze it.

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Chimichurri

 

 

 

 

Chimichurri is wonderful pungent salsa/sauce that is really nothing like salsa. There are no tomatoes in chimichurri and the green is not from tomatillos, like green salsa. Instead Chimichurri get’s it green color from fresh herbs, like cilantro and oregano. It’s said to have originated in Argentina. Like most foods, I’m sure that every household has their own way of making this condiment. Mine never turns out exactly the same, but it IS always delicious and versatile. I don’t spend time measuring for this, I simply adjust contents as needed to get the consistency I want. Chimichurri can be stored in the refrigerator. If my pantry is low on red wine vinegar then I add a touch of red wine and a touch of apple cider vinegar. We like our chimichurri hot so I add a few slice of pickled habaneros.

Chimichurri

1 bunch cilantro, stems removed
1 small clump fresh oregano
several sprigs of curly leave parsley
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or a splash of red wine and apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp ground cumin
hot chilies (optional: hapanero, red pepper flake, etc.)

Put every thing in a blender and puree until it’s smooth. You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times to make sure it’s mixed well. Taste and adjust as needed. I prefer a little more vinegar than oil. Some recipes call for mostly parsley with just a touch of cilantro but since I eat a lot of Southwestern foods I enjoy a cilantro base. Use it as  a condiment for eggs, burritos, tacos, steak, chicken, tofu, grilled vegetables, or purple rice as pictured above.

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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!

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.