Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Curried Coconut Borscht

Yesterday, I had a large amount of beets and cabbage in my fridge that needed to be eaten, and was in the mood for some soup!  So of course the first thing that came to mind was borscht, but I was not in the mood for the typical flavors of borscht.  Something more exotic however sounded good!  What I really wanted was some really good Indian curry with tofu.  So I decided to make a hybrid of the curried tofu I normally make with borscht!  Of course all of the usual borscht suspects were involved...beets, cabbage, carrots, and potatoes. 

But instead of the usual red onions I would normally use, I used shallots and scallions.  I also added some jalapeno and ginger for a kick, some mild curry, tumeric, and a good amount of garlic!  I made the soup silky with coconut milk, and added lime and cilantro to finish it off.  But not to forget the tofu, which I crisped up in the oven before adding it to the soup!  It was delicious!  Very warming, and all of the good qualities of both dishes!  It was as well beautiful due to the beets, and their ability to dye anything deep magenta!  For some reason spring makes me think of borscht, and this was the perfect warming dish for a cool spring day!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try some!

Curried Coconut Borscht with Tofu 
Serves 3

1 10 oz block firm tofu, diced
coconut oil, warmed to liquid

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 large shallot, sliced
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 cups red beets, cut into large dice
2 cups carrots, sliced on the diagonal
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
2 cups potatoes, diced, or sliced if very small
2 cups red cabbage, chopped
1 15 oz can lite coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
1 Tbsp agave nectar
juice of one large lime
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp arrowroot, dissolved in 2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and toss tofu with just enough coconut oil to coat.  Place on baking sheet, and bake until starting to brown at edges.  Remove from oven.  Meanwhile, Add coconut oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add scallions, shallot, beets, carrots, and saute until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, jalapeno, ginger, curry powder, tumeric, and saute until spices are fragrant, about 2 minute.  Add potatoes, cabbage, coconut milk, stock, sea salt, and agave nectar, and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add tofu, lime juice, cilantro, and arrowroot, and cook until soup thickens slightly.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.  Serve hot! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Beet and Celeriac Hashbrowns with Fried Egg and Garlicy Mustard Greens

Minnesota woke up to a blanket of white powdered sugar frosting outside it decided to dump snow after being nice and finally up to 50 degrees last week.  Kind of an evil tease on the weather's part if you ask me!  I was a bit bummed about it being cold and all, wanting to run outside today, but opting for the treadmill instead since they did a horrible job of plowing around my neighborhood.  Just looking at the snow makes me feel chilly!  The deli where I work sold gallons of soup and tons of hot food today to the brave souls that felt like venturing out.  I needed some warmth as well and maybe that is why I thought a bit of warming breakfast for dinner tonight might be just the thing!  I was sittting on my lunchbreak trying to figure out what I could make from the ingredients I had at home.  Not something sweet like pancakes, which I always have the makings for.  Something savory and a little salty like hash browns sounded perfect!  But there was one problem.  I didn't have any potatoes.  I did however have celeriac and beets! 

A beet and celeriac hash, how beautiful would that be with the bright red color?!  So that is what I made.  I topped it off with a fried egg, and some garlicy mustard greens, which are my favorite green right now, so I had bought a bunch of them last weekend.  It was beautiful, with the red and green, but most importantly it was delicious!  Salty hash browns crisped at the edges full of veggie goodness and spicy mustard greens with the richness of the egg...yummy!  Made me forget about the icky snow for a bit!  If you think potatoes are the only way to go with hashed browns you should try some other veggies, you just might like them!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try mine! 

Beet and Celeriac Hashbrowns with Fried Egg and Garlicy Mustard Greens
Serves 2

1 large shallot, minced
1 large beet, peeled and grated
1 medium celeriac (celery root), peeled and grated
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Earth Balance butter
1 Tbsp olive oil, or more if needed

2 large organic eggs

1 medium bunch mustard greens
1 clove garlic, minced

In a bowl, mix together the shallot, beet, and celeriac along with pepper.  Preheat oven to 250 degrees.   In a medium non-stick skillet, melt the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Place the beet mixture into the pan and press down with a spatula.  Let cook a few minutes, then break up, flip over the pieces and press back together to brown other side.  Do this a few times until the veggies are starting to get browned.  When browned, remove from pan, sprinkle liberally with sea salt, and keep warm in the oven.  Wipe out the chunks from the pan, and either spray with non-stick spray or add a little more olive oil.  Place back on heat, and when hot, add eggs.  Cover pan, and reduce heat to medium low until eggs reach desired doneness (or you could do over-easy and flip them to cook the other side, in which case don't reduce the heat or cover with the pan).  When eggs are done cooking, remove from pan, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and keep warm.  Place pan back on the heat, return heat to medium, and add a little more olive oil to the pan, along with garlic and mustard greens.  Saute greens until they are just wilted, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper and remove from heat.  To plate, place a half the hash browns on each plate.  Top each with an egg and half of the mustard greens.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Moroccan Salad with Crispy Jerusalem Artickokes and Sesame Yogurt

One of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities, La Belle vie serves up a wonderful Moroccan Salad with Crispy Artichokes and Sesame Yogurt.  I have ordered it the last 3 times I have been there I love it so much!  They spoon a bit of creamy sesame cumin laced yogurt onto the plate, top it off with mache, kalamata olives and artichokes so crispy they are almost like a chip!  The plate is dusted with Moroccan spices that give just the right amount of seasoning to the salad.  Since I can't go to La Belle Vie every weekend, or every time I am craving this salad, I thought this would be the perfect weekend to try and recreate it!  I put my own spin on it however, and not wanting to deal with frying artichokes, or cleaning one of them (since it is quite the process), I opted for some crispy roasted jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) instead!    I wasn't able to get my hands on any mache, so I used baby arugula, wartercress and a bit of spinach for my greens, and dressed it lightly in a lemon juice vinaigrette.  I am not exactly sure what all goes into the sesame yogurt at La Belle Vie, but it is so creamy that I guessed it was a Greek yogurt and that is what I used.  I whisked in tahini to make it even more creamy, a bit of cumin, garlic, and lemon juice for flavor, and it was the same delicious flavor as theirs!  My salad also contained kalamata olives, and i decided that smoked Spanish paprika would be perfect for dusting the plate!  My salad was just as wonderful as theirs, and now I am happy that I can recreate it at home for a lot cheaper.  That said, I still think the food at La Belle Vie is amazing and I am sure I will still order their verison of the salad as long as it is on the menu.  If you would like to try my version of this delicious salad for yourself, here is the recipe!

Moroccan Salad with Crispy Jerusalem Artickokes and Sesame Yogurt
Serves 2

4 large jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) thinly sliced on the diagonal
oilve oil
sea salt

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 Tbsp sesame tahini
1/2 tsp ground cumin seed
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 large bunch of baby arugula (about 1.5 oz)
1 large bunch of watercress or baby spinach (about 1.5 oz)

To plate:
smoked spanish paprika
toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil, spray with non-stick spray.  Toss artichokes with enough olive oil to coat and spread out on sheet pan.  Roast until crispy and starting to brown at edges.  Remove from oven and let cool.  To make yogurt, whisk together yogurt, tahini, cumin, lemon juice, sea salt and garlic and set aside.  In a large bowl, place 1 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice and sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Add greens and roasted artickokes toss well to coat.  To plate salads, dallop a large spoonfull of the yogurt onto each plate, and smooth out with a spoon.  Sprinkle the yogurt and the plate with a little spanish paprika, then top with the dressed greens and artichokes.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and top with kalamata olives.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Mac and Cheese with Mustard Greens

Irish cheddar was on sale last weekend at the store, so I decided to buy a nice hunk of it thinking I could come up with some creative way to use it this week, being that it is St. Patty's.  I am not a big cheese person, and only eat it about once a week or on special occasions, but I figured since it was a holiday...I could splurge.  I had visions of some sort of vegetable pot pies, or a creamy potato cabbage cheese soup in my head, but then life happened and I had far less time this week to make anything that took any large amount of time.  But that cheese was still in my fridge begging to be used, and mac and cheese came to mind.  Now, I know most people when they make mac and cheese simply make a cheese sauce, and toss it with pasta, maybe a bit of breadcrumbs on top.  It is my firm belief however that it must contain lots of veggies along with all of that decadence. 

Yesterday's meal was no exception!  I was talking to my friend Gabrielle recently who is also a vegetarian and a wonderful cook who I often swap recipe and ingredient ideas with, and she gave me the brilliant idea to add mustard greens to my mac and cheese!  I knew I loved them in dal, or a salad with a creamy dressing, but she told me that they went wonderfully with the cheese cutting the richness.  So last night I decided to give the combination a try.  I also added some peas, sticking to the green veggie theme.  I used whole wheat fusili, which made for a beautiful mac and cheese as well as a delicious one!  It was so rich and creamy, full of flavor from the Irish cheddar, and the mustard greens were wonderful with a slight spicy flavor!  It was delicious!  Maybe not traditional Irish, but would be perfect for St. Patty's Day, especially if you are feeling decadent!  Here is the recipe if you would like some comfort food for a rainy spring day (since the snow is finally melting here in Minnesota)! 

Irish Mac and Cheese with Mustard Greens
Serves 4

8 oz whole wheat fusili or penne pasta

3 Tbsp organic butter or Earth Balance
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 cups organic milk or soymilk
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1/2 tsp dill seeds
1 Tbsp dried dill
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tsp dijon mustard
8 oz Irish Cheddar, grated
1 cup fresh or frozen baby peas
1 bunch mustard greens or kale, washed, dried and torn into small pieces

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan.  Add flour and whisk into butter.  Cook a few minutes, then slowly add milk while whisking to prevent lumps from forming.  When all milk has been added and is incorporated, add caraway, dill seeds, dill, sea salt, and pepper and dijon.  Cook until thickened, about 2-3 minutes, then add cheddar and whisk to melt until well incorporated.  Add the peas and mustard greens, and cook until greens have wilted, then add pasta and toss well to coat with cheese sauce.  Serve hot! 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Squash and Red Lentil Dal Hummus

I have been in love with a red lentil dish that I make as of lately.  It is dal with roasted squash, and the flavors are so warming and perfect for a cool evening with rice!  I decided to make some hummus today and was thinking that my squash dal's flavors and ingredients would be perfect in the spread!  So I cooked off some lentils, combined them with some squash puree I had on hand, and some ginger, garlic, tumeric, and cumin, as well as a little chipotle for heat!  The hummus was delicious!  Such a warming and exotic flavor compared to the usual hummus I have made in the past!  It is wonderful with veggies, but even better with toasted pita chips!  I spread some on a veggie wrap I was having for dinner nd it was wonderful!  If you are a hummus lover, but don't like how long beans take to cook for it you should try this! 

Squash and Red Lentil Dal Hummus
Makes 6 cups

1 cup red lentils
2 1/2 cups water
4 cups buttercup squash puree
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp dried ginger
2 tsp ground tumeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper or cayenne (depending on how spicy you like it)
3 garlic cloves, minced

Combine lentils and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook until lentils are soft and almost mushy.  Remove from heat and cool slightly, then pour into a food processor, along with all other ingredients and process until smooth. Serve with chips or veggies for dipping!