Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mid-Summer Slaw with Roquefort

One salad that is often seen on a picnic buffet in the summer is coleslaw.  I can see why so many people love it due to its creamy dressing and cooling effect on the body.  However, when I was younger I didn't have a taste for it.  Even now as an adult, it has to be really good coleslaw in order for me to eat it, or at least the creamy homestyle kind.  I am all about the ones made with light Asian dressing.  It is the heavyness of the loads of mayonnaise in most classic recipes I don't care for.  Which is exactly why when my Mom said I should make some classic coleslaw for her, and I agreed, I tweaked the recipe quite a bit. 

First off, I figured if it was going to have richness it wasn't going to come from the mayonnaise so I added some local roquefort style cheese to it.  I love how it adds so much flavor without having to add a large amount.  Second, I made a vegannaise based dressing and laced it with lemon nstead of the usual vinegar to keep it summery and added some honey for sweetness instead of the large amount of sugar in most recipes.  Fresh herbs were a must as well, so I picked some basil and chervil from my patio and added them for freshness.  I thought it was delicious, the best creamy slaw I have ever tasted!  The roquefort giving it that something special that other slaws do not have.  The big test however was if my Mom would approve...and she did!  She told me that I would need to make this a few more times before summer is over.  I have included the recipe if you would like to try my version of creamy coleslaw.

Mid-Summer Slaw with Roquefort
Serves 4-6

1/2 1 small red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 1 small green cabbage, thinly sliced
 3 medium carrots, cut julienne
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chervil, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled roquefort cheese

1/4 cup vegannaise
juice of one lemon
1 Tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrots, shallot, basil, chervil, and roquefort.  In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until smooth, then pour over the slaw and toss well to coat.  Serve chilled.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Black Raspberry Ginger Lemonade with Mint

It feels like 105 degrees today and yet I still managed to spend some time outside.  I was only out for an hour, and when I got back inside I felt as if someone had dumped a bucket of water over my head from sweating so much, as the dewpoint is at 79%.  Why do I live in Minnesota again? Despite the humidity, my time outdoors was worth it.  I went berry picking.  Beautiful wild black raspberries to be specific! 

They are like little delicious deep purple jewels of goodness!  I actually prefer the flavor of the black ones to the red, they are sweeter and the flavor is more concentrated.  I wish I could have a large bush of them growing in my back yard, but I have to settle for going elsewere to find them.  That is ok though, it is more interesting that way. 

So today when I came home all hot and sweaty, full of bug bites and scratches from the raspberry bushes and I needed something cold and refreshing to drink to cool off.  I decided a black raspberry ginger lemonade with mint.  I figured I might as well make something featuring the delicious harvest I had just gathered.  It hit the spot and cooled me off.  The drink was sweet and tart, refreshing and cooling, perfect for curing the effects of the nasty humidity!  Hope it is cooler where you are, but if not, make one for yourself and enjoy!
Black Raspberry Ginger Lemonade with Mint
Makes 1

6 fresh mint leaves
about 6 ice cubes
1/3 cup black raspberries
2 Tbsp ginger syrup* or to taste
1/3 cup lemon juice
ice cubes
ice water

In a large glass, muddle mint with ice until mint is crushed up, then add berries and mush a bit to release juices.  Add ginger syrup, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and a few ice cubes, along with enough cold water to fill the glass and stir until blended. 
*Ginger Syrup
1 inch piece of ginger
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup agave nectar
Combine all ingredients in a clean jar and stir to dissolve agave nectar.  Place in the fridge and let sit overnight, or a few days before using.  Remove ginger and use to sweeten drinks with a kick!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken Style Seitan

I always have to have a large industrial sized jar of peanut butter in my fridge.  It is a staple, used for everything from on toast, to creating delicious desserts, to snacking on celery with.  One of my favorite applications for peanut butter however, is in a dressing, especially one with thai flavors!  It is great on a tossed salad with veggies, but I especially love it when paired with noodles!  When I used to be a pescatarian, I made one with shrimp and veggies, and it was always something that I loved so much I licked the plate clean.  I hadn't made it since becoming a vegetarian, but decided to this week with sauteed chicken style seitan in place of the shrimp. I was going over to my boyfriend Scott's house for dinner and wanted something that could be made a day ahead of time and taste delicious, since I didn't want to cook after work.  It was a risk, as he is not a vegetarian and seitan is something that was new to him.  But I had confidence that it would be good, afterall, how could anyone resist a silky peanut butter sauce on noodles!  I added lots of crunchy local veggies, radishes, snap peas and carrots, with cilantro and scallions.  I wanted to add red pepper, but local and organic ones weren't available and I wasn't about to buy an expensive pepper shipped half way around the world that wasn't even organic.  I didn't miss the pepper, and there was plenty of veg as was.  I laced the dressing with lots of ginger and spicy pepper, and it had a nice kick, spicy enough to warm you up, but not so much that you burn your face off.  The salad was satisfying and just as I had remembered it...I even liked the seitan better than the shrimp!  Best yet, I got Scott to try seitan.  He may not be a vegetarian, but that's alright, at least he eats my food, and in his own words the thai peanut noodles were yummy! Try it for yourself if you are a peanut butter lover like me! 

Spicy Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken Style Seitan
Serves 2

1 Tbsp peanut oil
16 oz chicken style seitan, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp tamari

4 oz linguini or other long noodles, cooked and cooled to room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
1 cup carrots, cut julienne
1/2 cup radishes, sliced
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh organic cilantro, minced

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp tamari
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
sea salt (to taste)

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

In a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat, heat peanut oil and add seitan, ginger and garlic, and saute until ginger and garlic are fragrant and cooked, about 3-4 minutes.  Add tamari and cook a minute more.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl, combine seitan, noodles and veggies.  In a medium bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients until smooth, then pour over veggies in the larger bowl.  Toss to coat, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Moroccan Potato Salad

I went the entire 4th of July weekend without eating potato salad.  Pasta salad I did enjoy, but potato salad was something I failed to make.  It may sound like a sin to some to not eat it on the day of the summer when it seems the most common.  I bet it is the most common summer picnic salad because have been selling so much of it at my work in the deli lately it is crazy!   So yesterday after not having it on the 4th I was hungry for it, so I decided to make myself some.  It is the peak of potato salad season afterall.  No classic potato  salad for me however, I decided I needed something a little exotic.  So I decided to use a Greek yogurt based dressing and add some moroccan elements to it.  I laced the dressing with tahini and lemon with a bit of cumin and garlic, and sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds and smoked paprika.  For veggies I roasted some garlic scapes and asparagus I had in my fridge and added it to the potatoes along with some kalamata olives.  It was delicious!  I think I might even like this version better than the classic!  So...who cares if I didn't eat potato salad 4th of July weekend.  This more than made up for it! 

Moroccan Potato Salad
Serves 2

1/2 cup Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

2 cups asparagus cut into 2 inch pieces
1 cup garlic scapes cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups baby potatoes, halved, or quartered
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 cup halved kalamata olives
1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into chiffonade
4 hardboiled eggs, sliced
mixed greens of your choice (such as arugula, mizuno, dandilion, spinach, watercress)
2 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
smoked Spanish paprika

Whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth, and place in the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 475 and line a sheet pan with foil.  Toss asparagus and scapes with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on pan.  Roast for about 15-20 minutes until tender then remove from oven and let cool.  In a medium pot, cover potatoes with water and add about 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, and cook until tender, about 20-25 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  In a large bowl, combine roasted veggies, potatoes, shallot, olives, mint, and eggs in a bowl, and toss with dressing until well combined.  Place greens on a plate, and top with salad, and sprinkle with sesame seeds and a little smokey paprika. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wild Iris Martini

Sometimes I just need to go for a walk by myself to unwind.  My favorite place to go for a stroll and get lost in my thoughts is through the woods, or on a path filled with lots of lovely vegetation.  It is a time when I don't have to do anything but think and walk, just enjoying my surroundings and forget about the cares and demands of the day.  I was on such a walk when I came across some irises.  I am sure at some point they had been planted by someone, as they are not a wild flower, but these appeared to be the way they were randomly among the other plants in the woods.  I guess even irises need a little freedom sometimes and not be confined to fenced in landscaped yards...sort of the way I like to be alone on my walks and get away from noise, distractions and demands of any sort. 

The wild irises inspired a cocktail that I made tonight, a refreshing gin base with fresh blueberries, a hint of lemon and floral lavander.  It's color was every bit as lovely as the iris itself, and the flavor was refreshingly floral with a hint of tartness from the lemon and sweetness from the berries.  The gin itself had a nice herbal note, which reminded me of nature and my walks through the woods. Here is the recipe if you would like to enjoy something wonderfully refreshing!

Wild Iris Martini (gin with blueberry, lemon and lavander)Serves 1

1/3 cup fresh organic blueberries
4-6 large ice cubes
1 1/2 oz lavander agave syrup*
4 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz fresh organic lemon juice
fresh blueberries
lemon slice

In a martini shaker, muddle the berries with the ice, crushing them until they are in small pieces. Add the lavander syrup, gin, and lemon juice, place top on shaker, and shake until well blended. Pour through a strainer into a chilled martini glass, adding a few fresh berries to your glass and a lemon slice for garnish and serve!
*Lavander Syrup:
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp dried lavander flowers
Combine all ingredients in a clean jar, and mix well.  Cover and let sit for at least a day in the fridge to infuse, or up to a month.