Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring Roasted Vegetables with Tahini Dressing, Poached egg, and Crispy Sesame Panko

I was extremely excited yesterday when I got my hands on local asparagus, radishes, snow peas and sunchokes!  I have been waiting for what seems like far too long to buy these veggies, as I didn't want to buy some shipped from another part of the country. 

So I thought for tonight what better than to create a salad showcasing them?  I decided to roast the asparagus and sunchokes to bring out the flavor but leave the radishes and peas raw and crunchy!  I was in the mood for something with a little middle eastern flavor, so a tahini dressing was to accompany them, as well as some toasted sesame seeds.  I am a bit textural person when it comes to food, so I thought the crunch of some nice garlicy panko breadcrumbs would be perfect with the veggies and silky dressing!  Lastly, wanting this to be a complete meal, a poached egg topped off the lovely pile of veg! 

It was satisfying and delicious, plus quick to throw together!  Here is the recipe if you wish to try it for yourself! 

Spring Roasted Vegetables with Tahini Dressing, Poached egg, and Crispy Sesame Panko
Serves 2

2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp water
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
a pinch cayenne
1 garlic clove, minced

Sesame panko:
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
sea salt
 a large pinch red pepper flakes

Olive oil
2 cups sliced sunchokes
2 cups asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces

Poached eggs:
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
3 cups water
2 organic eggs

1 cup snow peas
1 cup radishes

In a small bowl, whisk dressing together, and set aside.  For sesame panko, in a small nonstick skillet, combine breadcrumbs, sesame seeds, garlic clove, olive oil, about 1/4 tsp sea salt, and red pepper flakes.  Saute until crumbs, seeds and garlic are toasted.  Remove from heat and set aside.  To prepare veggies, preheat oven to 475 degrees, line a sheet pan with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Toss asparagus and artichokes with just enough olive oil to coat and spread out on pan.  Roast until browned at the edges and crispy, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, and let cool to room temperature. 
To poach eggs, heat water to a simmer in a medium saucepan with the vinegar and salt. Crack an egg into a ramakin. Stir water with a spoon to swirl, and carefully pour egg into it. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or preferred doneness, and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with other egg.  To plate between 2 plates, scatter roasted veggies, snow peas, and radishes about the plate, drizzle with dressing, top each with a poached egg and the toasted sesame panko.  Serve!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Caramelized Fennel and Walnut Chevre Crepes with Fennel Beet Slaw

When I was in highschool, I remember being in French class, and making crepes.  We filled them with sweet things like jam, whipped cream and chocolate, and they were delicious.  They are simple to make, and I love the fact that they can be filled with whatever you wish!  Sadly as an adult I think I have made crepes only about 4 times.  I decided that tonight they would be on my menu because it had been far too long.  These crepes however were not to be filled with sweet things, but savory.  I had a couple of beautiful fennel bulbs in my fridge, and decided they would be perfect to showcase in the crepes. 

For the filling I caramelized them along with some shallots, and added a bit of fresh rosemary, garlic, and lemon, as well as some toasted walnuts and chevre for protein and a bit of richness.  The filling was delicious, and was even more so when wrapped in the eggy delicate crepes!  It had everything, smooth chevre, crunchy walnuts, caramelly fennel!  I decided to throw together a fennel beet slaw to go with it as well, not being one to skimp on the veggies at any meal, and it provided a nice acidity to balance out the rich savory crepes.   It all came together in less than an hour, but if I were only eating it and not preparing it I would have expected that it took much longer.  I felt like I was enjoying something from an upscale restaurant without leaving my home.  I think it is always more satisfying to enjoy delicious food when you have prepared it yourself!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try it!

Caramelized Fennel, Walnut, and Chevre Crepes with Fennel Beet Slaw
Serves 3

3 large organic eggs
1 cup goat milk
1 Tbsp melted Earth Balance butter, or organic butter
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
Additional Earth balance for cooking crepes

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large fennel bulbs, sliced
2 large shallots, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp lemon zest
juice of one lemon
8 oz chevre
1 cup toasted walnuts
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

1 large fennel bulb, thinly shaved
1 cooked beet, diced very small
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp riesling vinegar
1 tsp honey
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make crepes, buzz together all ingredients in a food processor (or whisk), cover and set aside in the fridge for an hour.  When ready to make crepes, re-whisk batter, and it should be about the consistency of heavy cream (if not, thin with a little milk).  Heat crepe pan, or medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Wipe pan with Earth balance to grease, and pour about 2 1/2 Tbsp batter into the pan.  Swirl to create a thin crepe, and let cook for about 1 minute, and flip crepe over to cook other side.  Place finished crepes on a plate, separating with parchment while you cook the remaining crepes (you should have 9).  When crepes have finished cooking, wipe out pan (if saute pan) and add 1 Tbsp olive oil, fennel, shallots, and saute until starting to caramelize about 8 minutes.  Add garlic, fresh rosemary, and saute another minute until fragrant.  Add lemon juice, zest, chevre and walnuts, and continue to cook until chevre melts and coats filling.  Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and set aside.  To make slaw, combine all ingredients in a bowl, and toss to coat.  To plate, fill each crepe with about 2 heaping Tbsp filling in the bottom left corner.  Fold in half, then again to form a triangle.  Place on plate, and repeat with another so you have 3 on each plate.  Repeat with remaining crepes, and spoon a bit of slaw onto each plate. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Spring Beet and Potato Salad

Potato salad is something that people start craving this time of the year.  My Grandma always made it for our family when I was young, and it was always the same, bright yellow, topped with the hardboiled eggs, and red paprika!  It was tasty, but full of mayonnaise in large amounts of course, so not the most healthy.  We make a similar version at the deli I work in, and we always top it with hardboiled eggs as of my cowoerkers Gabrielle lovingly refers to it as the "many eyed beast", and the customers love it!  I have to admit I do love classic potato salad, there is a comforting element to it.  But what I don't love is the unhealthy dressing that comes with it.  So the other day when I was enjoying some Greek yogurt and its creaminess, I thought it would be perfect for a healthy potato salad dressing!  So I created my own potato salad featuring spring ingredients.  Beets, ramps, and radishes were a must!  Maybe Grandma would have thought my shocking pink potato salad odd looking, but it was damn delicious!  It was the perfect meal, filling but light with a tangy dressing just as good as the classic, but kind to the waistline.  I loved the beets in there, they give it a nice sweetness that you don't get from just potatoes.  I think if my Grandma tasted it she would approve of course!  Here is the recipe if you would wish to try it! 

Spring Beet and Potato Salad
Serves 2

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp dried chervil
2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups cooked beets, diced large
2 cups baby potatoes, halved, or quartered
4 radishes, thinly sliced
2 ramps, thinly sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
mixed greens of your choice (such as arugula, mizuno, dandilion, spinach, watercress)

Whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth.  Combine beets, potatoes, radishes, ramps, shallot, eggs in a bowl, and toss with dressing until well combined.  Place greens on a plate, and top with salad. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Miso Dressed Spring Radish and Carrot Salad with Toasted Almonds

I was recently at a Japanese fusion restaurant, and I had a salad with the most delicious miso dressing.  I had no idea what it was composed of besides the miso, but it was the perfect balance of salty and sweet lightly and coated the greens perfectly.  It was so good that I have been wanting to recreate it ever since then, and finally decided to do so.   I am a big miso lover, I use it in everything from the obvious, such as soups, and marinades, to the not so obvious such as in desserts, to which it gives a lovely salted caramel like flavor.  It is one ingredient that I always have to have on hand.  Although there are many varieties of it, I prefer the white miso.  It was no wonder that dressing at the restaurant was delicious, miso makes everything more tasty!  When I tried to recreate the dressing, I kept with the Asian theme and added some peanut oil, because I love its nutty quality, some rice wine vinegar for acidity, and agave nectar for a bit of sweetness.  Tamari was needed for a bit of salt in addition to the saltiness of the miso, so no sea salt was needed in this dressing.  Lastly, garlic was important, I  love its flavor in salads, especially Asian ones.  What to pair with this delicious miso dressing?  Well I thought the veggies of spring would be appropriate, so the radishes, carrots and ramps in addition to the greens I had on hand were perfect!  Lastly I topped it off with almonds for crunch!  It was very simple, but so good!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try some for yourself!

Miso Dressed Spring Radish and Carrot Salad with Toasted Almonds
Serves 2

1 Tbsp white miso
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
1 clove garlic
2 tsp tamari

4 cups mixed greens, such as arugula, spinach, dandelion, mizuna
1 carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal
6 radishes, thinly sliced
4 ramps, thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds

In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together.  In a large bowl, combine greens, carrots, radishes, and ramps.  Pour dressing over and toss well to coat.  Place mixture on a serving plate, and top with toasted almonds. 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Roquefort and Toasted Walnut Rolls

Roquefort cheese and toasted almonds are a heavenly that I often use in salads, but this weekend I used it in a little different way, in a bread!  I wanted to make special rolls for Mother's Day to go with the meal.  There is nothing like fresh baked bread to accompany a meal for a special occasion, and rolls containing melty savory cheese and crunchy toasty nuts are even better! 

I used my whole wheat baguette dough for the base, because I wanted the outside to be crispy and hearty.  It made for delicious rolls with the add ins!  They smelled wonderful while baking, and of course tasted even better than they smelled.  The rolls were soft on the inside, filled with sweet and salty creamy roquefort and toasty crunchy walnuts, and crispy on the outside as well as a little salty due to the sea salt. 

They needed no accompaniment...butter would have been inappropriate, they were so good as they were!  Mom approved saying they were the best savory rolls I had ever made!  They were perfect for Mother's Day along with a fritatta and salad I had made!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try some of the deliciousness for yourself!  

Whole Wheat Roquefort and Toasted Walnut Rolls
Makes 16 rolls

1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 3/4 cups warm water, divided
1 pkg (1/4 oz) rapid rise yeast
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup toasted walnuts
4 oz crumbled roquefort cheese
olive oil for brushing
Coarse sea salt

Combine flours and  sea salt in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center and add all the water but 1/2 cup.  Add yeast and stir in just enough of the flour a little at a time to make a sponge (a wet dough mass, but there will still be plenty of flour around it), then cover with plastic wrap and let sit until the sponge starts to get bubbles, about 20 minutes.   Stir in the rest of the flour and enough additional water to make a soft but not sticky dough.  Turn out onto a board and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 8-10 minutes).  Knead in walnuts, then shape into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm area to rise.  When doubled in bulk, punch down, and let rise again.  When doubled in bulk again, punch down, and place on a lightly floured surface.  Stretch dough out into about a 15x18 inch rectangle, and scatter roquefort over it.  Roll up the long side, and cut into 16 rolls.  Place cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in a warm area to rise, and turn on the oven to 400 degrees, with the rack set at the center position.  When the rolls have almost doubled in bulk, brush them with olive oil, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and done in the center.  Cool on a rack until warm and serve!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vegan Kitchen Sink Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Almond Mole Sauce

Cinco de Mayo REQUIRES 2 things, margaritas, and enchiladas at least for me!  I love enchiladas...they have to be my favorite Mexican dish!  Especially when filled with vegetables and when made with a delicious flavorful mole sauce!  My friend Gabrielle, who I also work with makes THE BEST enchiladas that I have ever eaten.  And I have sampled quite a few.  They have the most wonderful rich deeply red sauce that is the perfect balance of spicy, savory and slightly sweet, and they are filled chalk full of vegetables and beans between crisp tortillas that she layers stacked style!  Although I know I can never recreate hers, and she will never divulge the recipe, which I respect her for...I have created my own, which I enjoy almost as much.  I made a variation of them recently which turned out wonderful...vegan kitchen sink enchiladas! 

I used the veggies I had on hand at the time which happened to be a mix of local Minnesota produce (rutabagas, carrots, ramps, mushrooms and shallots), and an eggplant I had gotten at work for free.  Hence the "kitchen sink".  It may sound like an odd mix, but I roasted the veggies and they were delicious!  I know...rutabagas in enchiladas?  Yes, they were good in there!  If you decided to make these you could use whatever you happened to have on hand, keeping in mind some things take longer to roast than others.  I also included chicken style seitan and threw in some almonds with my veggies for protein.  I like my enchiladas stacked as well, between crispy corn tortillas! 

These contained no cheese, because I actually don't require it in my enchiladas, and don't even miss it the sauce is so flavorful and rich!  For my sauce I included a blend of the usual mexican spices as well as a few not so common add ins, almond butter and cocoa powder for richness, golden raisins and cinnamon for sweetness (this I picked up from Gabrielle), and chipotles for a pow of flavor!  As a whole the dish is delicious, loads of flavors and textures, maybe not classic mexican, but it is awfully good!  A beautiful tower of tortillas and confetti like veggies in a lovely deep red sauce!  Here is the recipe if you are interested, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Vegan Kitchen Sink Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas with Almond Mole Sauce
Serves 2 very generously

6 cups assorted vegetables, cubed, or thinly sliced
(I used cubed eggplant, sliced carrots, sliced rutabagas, and sliced mushrooms)
Peannut oil
cooking spray
sea salt

2 tsp peanut oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots (or red onions)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp dried ground chipotle pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 Tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 cup shallots (or red onion), chopped
1 bunch ramps, (or scallions) sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pkg chicken style seitan cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

6 six inch corn tortillas
vegan sour cream for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil, and spray with non-stick spray. Toss vegetables with peanut oil (keeping in mind that they need to be roasted on separate sheets if you are doing quick cooking vegetables as well as hard ones, generally things like eggplant and mushrooms take less time than rutabagas or carrots so roast them on separate sheets), spread veggies out on sheets, and roast until they are tender but not squishy and starting to brown at the edges, about 10 minutes for soft veggies and 15-20 for hard. Set aside and lower the oven temp to 375. To make sauce, heat 2 tsp peanut oil over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Add shallots or onion, and saute until soft, then add the chili powder, cumin seeds, cinnamon, chipotle, and garlic, and saute about a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, salt, vinegar, agave nectar, cocoa powder and bring to a boil. Add almond butter and golden raisins and lower to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes on low heat and add the cilantro. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and add the shallots (or onions) and ramps (or scallions), saute until softened and add the roasted veggies, garlic, seitan and toasted almonds.  Saute until heated through, then spoon about 3/4 cup of the sauce over to coat the mixture. Remove from heat. To assemble the enchiladas, spoon a bit of sauce onto 2 large shallow bowls, then top each with a tortilla. Spoon half the filling onto the tortillas, dividing evenly between the two bowls, then spoon a little more sauce over each.  Top each with a tortilla, then the rest of the filling, and a little more sauce. Top with another tortilla, and the rest of the sauce.  Place in the oven and bake until heated through, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and serve with vegan sour cream!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Pecorino Romano Waffles with Sauteed Ramps, Mushrooms and Poached Eggs

Yesterday morning I was thinking about how long it had been since I had made belgian waffles and I was getting pretty hungry for them!  There is nothing like a hot, fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside large belgian waffle to make your day more delicious...I used to always make them with strawberries when I was younger and have plenty of butter to melt over the hot waffle!  Although most people usually have them for breakfast or brunch, I often times end up making them for dinner when I am the most hungry.  Afterall, nothing wrong with having breakfast for dinner, or "Brinner" as my friend Matt likes to call it...I love that word!  So last night I decided that brinner was in order, and belgian waffles were it! However I did not feel like the usual sweet waffles, as I was a bit sweeted out from eating a large amount of chocolate cake the day savory seemed like the perfect option! 

I had seen a recent episode of Martha Stewart, where she made savory cheese waffles topped with sauteed veggies and a poached egg.  I loved the concept, so I went with my own version of it!  I had some pecorino romano that I thought would be perfect in the waffles, since it has such a delicious nutty salty flavor, and I had some ramps and local crimini mushrooms that I could sautee and top the waffle with!  I am so excited to finally be able to use ramps again, since they are available in stores for the season, so I use them quite a bit!  Lastly I topped the waffle and veggies off with a perfectly poached egg, which is my favorite way to cook them!  It was a delicious meal...the crispy cheese enhanced  waffle topped off with the savory flavorful veggies and delicious egg with a nice runny yolk to add to the deliciousness, almost like a flavorful built in sauce!  It all had me thinking I should make stuff like this more often!  My waffle maker doesn't get used nearly enough and I need to change that!  It is quick to make, and the waffles are wonderfully fluffy due to the whipping of the egg whites before adding them to the batter!  You should try it is the recipe! 

Pecorino Romano Waffles with Sauteed Ramps, Mushrooms and Poached Eggs
Serves 4

1 cup goat milk
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, divided
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups shredded pecorino romano cheese

Poached eggs:
2 tsp vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
6 cups water
4 organic eggs

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 bunches ramps, ends sliced and leaves kept in tact
about 16 crimini mushrooms, or whatever is locally available
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

To make waffles, preheat belgian waffle maker, and preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Whisk together goat milk, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and egg yolks in a large bowl.  Place egg whites in a medium bowl, and with an electric mixer and clean beaters, whip to stiff peaks and set aside.  Whisk baking soda, baking powder, whole wheat pastry flour, and cornstarch into the milk mixture.  Add about 1/4 of the egg whites and whisk to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites and pecorino romano until just blended.  When waffle maker is heated, Drop batter by the 3/4 cup onto the iron and cook according to package directions.  When waffle has finished, remove to the oven to stay warm while you prepare the other 3 waffles and toppings.  Repeat with remaining waffle batter. 
To poach eggs, heat water to a simmer in a medium saucepan with the vinegar and salt. Crack an egg into a ramakin. Stir water with a spoon to swirl, and carefully pour egg into it. Let cook for 3-4 minutes or preferred doneness, and remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with other 3 eggs.
To make veggies, heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large non-stick pan, and add mushrooms and bottom part of ramps.  Saute until softened, about 5 minutes, then add tops of ramps, and cook until just wilted.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste. 
To plate, top each waffle with the veggies, then a poached egg, and serve!