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!

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!

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!

 

Beckoning Broccoli Salad

Beckoning Broccoli Salad

4 cups chopped broccoli
1/4 cup chopped purple onion
2 diced carrots
1/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or other dried fruits
1/4-1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise, ranch, or other creamy dressing you like
juice of one lemon
cayenne to taste

Toss, stir, devour!

Release YOUR Bon Vivant and Savor Your Life!

Steam, Toss, Enjoy

broc_7781For a quick, light side dish, steam cubed sweet potato and broccoli. Steam them separately so that the broccoli doesn’t overcook, you want it to have a little crunch. While they vegetables are still warm, put them in a large mixing bowl and add chopped bell pepper or a little chopped onion. Drizzle with a sesame vinaigrette (or any vinaigrette you like) and toss. The sweet potatoes will absorb the flavors better if you toss them while warm. Serve the dish warm or at room temperature. Try serving it with a wedge of blue cheese for added flavor!

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

Summer Salad, Miso Style

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For a quick refreshing summer salad mix shelled edamame beans with chopped purple onion and chopped peach or nectarine. Mix a tablespoon of light miso with water and thoroughly combine. Drizzle the miso sauce over the salad and toss to distribute evenly. Serve the salad with a sprinkle of red pepper flake if you like heat and a few sheets of seaweed.

The sweet edamame and salty miso are an excellent balance for this refreshing summer salad.

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

Miso Sweet Potatoes on the Side

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A three ingredient side dish! Cube a sweet potato and slice half of a purple onion. Toss both with a few spoonfuls of a light miso. Once the miso is evenly incorporated spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast them in a 400 degree oven until they soften and begin to turn brown. Mine took about 20 minutes but the time will vary with the size of the cubesm

Another delicious miso dish and an excellent savory, sweet, and salty side!

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

New Mexico Quinoa

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Here’s another summer dish that uses those delicious New Mexico Chiles.

Cook quinoa according to the package directions (or substitute rice, pasta, or potatoes). After it’s cooked and cooled toss it with chopped tomatoes, grilled corn that’s been cut off the cob, and of course chopped New Mexico Chiles. Whisk together some olive oil, vinegar (I used a jalapeño kumquat vinegar today), and ground cumin. Drizzle this over the salad and toss until everything is evenly incorporated.

To make a salad that is hearty enough to be a meal, add cooked pinto or black beans to the mix. You’ll have a one dish meal that didn’t heat the house!

To prepare the chiles I prefer an outdoor grill. Roast them over medium high heat, turning constantly. The skins will begin to blister as they heat. Take care not to burn them all the way through, your goal is to char the outside only. As you pull them from the grill, place them in a large lidded container. Let them steam in the container until they cool. This step is critical for easy skin removal. Once the chiles are cool, peel the skin, and remove the stems and seeds. Chop them into chunks and use them in salads, eggs, sauces, etc. Once the chiles are peeled they can also be frozen in zip top bags, freeze them whole or chopped.

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