Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cashew Carrot Meatballs with Silky Coconut Curry Sauce

I was going to make veggie burgers the other day, but then decided that burgers were boring, and I decided to make veggie meatballs instead!  Afterall, who can resist little vegetarian meatballs...certianly not me!  I normally make a walnut mushroom meatball in a red sauce, very Italian, but went a little different direction with these.  I already had the burger mixture made, and it was a carrot cashew mixture that was just begging to be put into some sort of curry sauce, not a traditional red sauce that would be served with classic meatballs.  I decided that silky coconut milk would be perfect with the savory meatballs, so that is what I made. 

The sunny little orange meatballs went perfectly with the silky sauce.  They were filled with the goodness of cashews and sweet carrots enhanced of course with onions and garlic as well as some miso and tamari for that something special!  I think I may just like these better than the Italian style meatballs, they are deliciously exotic, and perfectly spiced!  I served them with rice, and they made for a delicious dinner!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try some for yourself!

Cashew Carrot Meatballs with Silky Coconut Curry Sauce
Serves 4

"Meat" balls:
1 Tbsp coconut oil
3 cups shredded carrot
3 large shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup toasted cashews
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp flax seeds
1/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup white miso
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp dried basil
2 cups whole wheat panko

1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 1/2 Tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
1 tsp agave nectar
sea salt to taste
2 Tbsp arrowroot dissolved in 2 Tbsp water
juice of one small lime
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro, optional
cooked rice for serving, optional

To make meatballs, heat coconut oil in a large non-stick skillet, and add carrots, and shallots.  Saute until soft, about 5-7 minutes, then add garlic and saute another minute until fragrant.  Remove from heat.  In a food processor, combine cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and process until very finely ground and almost turning into nut butter.  Add tamari, miso, sea salt, basil and carrot mixture and process until well combined.  Remove to a large bowl, and stir in panko.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Form the carrot nut mixture into 12 balls, and place on the baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees until just starting to brown, about 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, to make the sauce, heat coconut oil in a small saucepan, and add ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes.  Saute for a minute until fragrant, and add curry powder and tumeric and saute another 30 seconds, then add coconut milk and agave nectar and bring to a low simmer.  Add sea salt to taste, and let simmer about 5 minutes, then add arrowroot mixture, lime juice and cilantro and cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat, and keep warm.  Serve meatballs with sauce and some rice if desired.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Allium Chevre Filo Rolls

Some people are afraid of onions and garlic...I am definately not one of them, and have never been onionphobic!  Yes, they may be quite...aromatic, but that is part of the beauty of them!  I don't care if I have onion or garlic breath...it is well worth it for the deliciousness I enjoy while alliums! I love the wide variety you can get of alliums in the spring...leeks, ramps, spring onions, shallots, I love them all! 

So I was thinking it would be wonderful to make a delicious appetizer on Easter using them! I decided that they would be delicious wrapped in crispy filo dough along with something creamy.  I had a bit of chevre that I thought would be perfect with the alliums.  So I sauteed some leeks, shallots and ramps, along with some garlic a quadruple whammy of alliums, and added a bit of lemon for freshness.  I combined them with pecorino romano for a bit of saltiness, and the creamy chevre. 

It was a very tasty filling, but even tastier when wrapped in crispy filo brushed with olive oil!  They were delicious warm, the filling gooey and oozy, filled with the savory deliciousness of alliums!  They were a wonderful accompaniment to my Easter spread! 

If you love onions and garlic as well you should definately try these while the spring alliums are at their most abundant!  If you don't, well don't let  the fact that these have onions and garlic detract you, as they are cooked and therefore much more mild.  The filo is actually not difficult to work with either as long as you are gentle!  Hope you all had a wonderful Easter, and here is the recipe for the delicious rolls if you would like to try them!

Spring Allium Chevre Filo Rolls
Makes 10

1 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1cup ramps, leaves and bottom part, thinly sliced
1cup shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp lemon zest
16 oz chevre (soft goat cheese)
2 oz shredded pecorino romano cheese

about 3/4 cup olive oil (for brushing
10 sheets filo dough
sea salt

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil, and add leeks, ramps, and shallots.  Saute until tender, about 5 minutes, then add garlic and saute about a minute more until fragrant.  Let cool slightly, then add to a bowl with sea salt, pepper, lemon zest, chevre and pecorino romano.  Mix until well combined.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Lay out sheets of filo dough, and cover with plastic wrap (so it doesn't dry out, since you will be using a sheet at a time.  Place olive oil in a bowl.  Lay out one sheet of filo, and brush it with olive oil.  fold in half like a book.  Brush with olive oil and place 2 Tbsp filling about 1 inch from the bottom, in the shape of a log about 3 inches wide.  Fold in each side over the filling, and brush the top with olive oil.  Roll up egg roll style, and brush with olive oil.  Place on baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining 9 rolls.  Sprinkle with sea salt, and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden and heated through.  Keep a close eye because they brown quickly!  Let cool slightly before serving. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Golden Beet Chevre Gnocchi

Better to try something and fail than to never have tried at all...afterall I can always try again, I don't give up!  This has been something that I have been saying to myself reguarding the making of gnocchi!  I had attempted making gnocchi quite a few times in the last month and almost given up, because my gnocchi always turned out like dumplings, too sticky to be shaped, or too full of flour.  But I don't give up.  So last weekend I attempted to make them again...and succeeded!  Ok, so part of the problem was I wasn't following recipes, because I never do.  Also I wasn't making the traditional potato gnocchi, so that might have been why the dough was more sticky.  But whatever the case this time I made them with golden beets and chevre and they turned out delcious!  Pillowy and soft as gnocchi should be!  Not tough and heavy like my failed attempts. 

I had thought that chevre would have less moisture than the traditional ricotta, therefore needing less flour...and I was right!  The gnocchi dough itself only had 4 ingredients, chevre, golden beets, eggs and flour, and proved to be easy to shape!  The only thing I was disappointed about was the fact that the lovely yellow color of the beets was lost in the gnocchi.  But I got over it when I tasted how delicious they were!  I could be sneaky and serve them to beet haters and they would love them not even knowing they contained beets!  I decided to serve them with a caramelized shallot and fennel mixture laced with garlic and lemon and topped off with crunchy walnuts.  It was all delicious once it was plated, and quite beautiful, especially to me since it was a sucess!  The gnocchi were like little delicious pillows, toasty on the outside, soft in the middle, and the fennel and shallots were almost jam like, deliciously savory with the garlic and tart lemon.  It was the perfect dish for a chilly spring day!  Here is the recipe if you would like to try some for yourself! 

Golden Beet Chevre Gnocchi with Caramelized Fennel and Toasted Walnuts
Serves 3

4 oz organic local chevre (soft goat cheese)
1/2 cup roasted organic golden beat puree*
2 cups all purpose flour (sifted), plus additional for flouring work surface
1 large organic egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 large organic fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
4 large shallots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme (or 2 tsp dried)
2 large organic lemons
1/2 cup toasted walnuts

In a large bowl, beat together the goat cheese beet puree and mix until evenly combined.  Add the eggs, followed by the salt, and pepper.  Slowly add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time until it is all incorporated into the dough. If your dough seems a bit too wet, feel free to add an extra 1/4 cup of flour. Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface and knead for a few minutes. The dough will still be fairly wet, but you should be able to handle it.  Working with about a handful of dough at a time, roll out a long snake about an inch thick. Use a floured knife to cut out the gnocchi every inch and a half or so. Roll each gnocchi along the tines of a fork (or simply indent by gently pressing the back of the fork into the side of each nugget). Place the formed gnocchi on a floured baking sheet.  When ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and add the gnocchi in batches. Let cook until they bob to the surface and then cook for an additional 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to pull out of the pot and set aside on a plate.  Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet.  Add fennel, shallots, and saute until caramelized and soft, about 8-10 minutes.  Add garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Remove fennel and shallots from pan and set aside.  Add additional 2 Tbsp olive oil to the pan, and add gnocchi.  Cook until golden on each side, about 4-5 minutes total.  Add shallots back to the pan along with 1 Tbsp zest, juice of 2 lemons, a little more olive oil if desired, walnuts, and sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Cook until heated through, and serve warm  with a salad!

*To roast beets, preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Wrap 2 large beets in foil and roast in the oven for about an hour or until tender when pierced with a knife.  Let cool, peel, and puree in a blender. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Asian Root Vegetable Tofu Stew

It was fabulous at the start of this week in Minnesota, gorgeous, sunny and up to 70 degrees, but not so much at the end.  Today it is a bit windy and there are a few sprinkles starting to fall...snow is possibly in the forecast for overnight tomorrow.  Yuck!  I thought spring was supposed to be here?  I was making salads and wraps on Monday and Tuesday, but now I want something warming and substantial to take the chill away.  I can tell the weather is affecting other people as well because our customers in the deli I work in are buying lots more soup today!  I don't blame them.  We have a soup at work called "Spring Chicken"  and it is funny because people request it year round, no matter what season it is.  I have never tried it being a vegetarian, but it always smells amazing!  Tonight I decided to create a stew using some of the same veggies that are found in that soup.  Most importantly rutabagas and carrots in a delicious broth.  But I have swapped out the onions for leeks and shallots and the cabbage for kale, because that is what I happened to have in my fridge. 
I also gave mine a little bit of an Asian flair with some miso, mirin and tamari.  I love these three ingredients in a broth, they give it so much flavor!  Since my soup had no chicken I added some baked tofu for a protein source.  The stew was delicious!  Delicious just tender veggies in a rich vegetable stock with meaty tofu...it definately warmed me up!  I am bummed that I won't be hot soup again because it is going to be too warm outside after this week... just kidding.  I want it to be warm and can live without hot food, I will be happy to be outside!  On the off day though when it rains, and the wind is blowing  and I want something warm, I can make this again!  Using whatever is in season at the time of course!  Here is the recipe if you are in a cool part of the country and need a little warm up!   

Asian Root Vegetable Tofu Stew
Serves 3

1 10 oz block firm tofu, diced
peanut oil
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 large shallots, sliced
1 large leek, sliced
2 cups carrots, sliced on the diagonal
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup mirin
2 Tbsp tamari
2 cups potatoes, cut into medium cubes, or sliced if very small
2 cups rutabagas, cut into medium cubes
4 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
freshly ground pepper
1 small bunch kale, torn into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp white miso
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 peanut oil to coat.  Place on baking sheet, and bake until starting to brown at edges.  Remove from oven.  Meanwhile, Add peanut oil to a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add shallots, leeks, and carrots, and saute until they are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add mirin, tamari, potatoes, rutabagas, stock, sea salt, freshly ground pepper to taste and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add tofu, and kale, and cook until kale has just wilted, then add miso and arrowroot mixture, and cook until soup thickens slightly.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.  Serve hot! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Roasted Potato and Celeriac Salad with White Truffle Oil

Celeriac is like the ugly stepsister of the veggies...it looks like a tangled mess of roots and I have to admit the first time I came across it I had no idea what it was and was rather intimidated.  I now know that it is delicious when peeled and thinly sliced to go raw into a salad or roasted and pureed eaten like mashed potatoes. 

It was funny, the other week I was picking some up, and a cute guy who happened to be standing next to me in the produce department picking up some beets said to me, "What the heck is THAT?"  I explained to him what it was but he still seemed skeptical about how tasty it could be.  However he still asked for my advice on how best to prepare the beets, as he was buying them for the first time.  I should have gotten his number...oh well.  Back to the celeriac, I thought it would be wonderful roasted with some potatoes in a warm salad along with some leeks.  I figured all of the earthy flavors  would be friendly  and delicious with one another. 


The veggies would have been delicious simply roasted with olive oil and seasoned with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper, but I tossed them in a truffle oil vinaigrette, further adding to the earthiness, and deliciousness of the salad.  I still thought it needed something to finish it off so I shaved some pecorino romano over the top and sprinkled a few toasted pine nuts.  It was amazing!  The crisp on the outside tender on the inside veggies were full of flavor, and the truffle oil set them off.  The salty pecorino romano was a perfect match for the earthy vegetables, and the pine nuts added a nice toasty crunch!  So much for the celeriac being an ugly stepsister, it is awefully delicious!  Here is the salad recipe if you would like to try some!

Roasted Potato and Celeriac Salad with White Truffle Oil
Serves 4

1 large celeriac, cut into large cubes
3 cups baby potatoes, cut into 3rds
2 large leeks, thickly sliced
olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme, or 1 Tbsp fresh
1 Tbsp white truffle oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 oz shaved pecorino romano cheese

Preheat oven to 475 degrees, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss celeriac, potatoes, and leeks with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on sheet.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until tender and browned at the edges.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature.  In a small bowl, whisk together thyme, truffle oil, 1 Tbsp olive oil,  lemon juice, garlic, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Place veggies in a large bowl, pour dressing over, and toss to coat.  Place on a serving plate, and sprinkle with pine nuts and pecorino romano. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Spring Fiesta Salad

It is above 60 degrees today in Minnesota and I am loving it!  It is nice to be able to get out for my post work stress relief walks and enjoy the sun again!  The fact that it is so nice calls for a celebration!  Well, celebration in the form of a pretty salad at least.  So, I raided my fridge to find the most colorful veggies I could and got to work composing one!  What I found was a golden beet, some red (purple) cabbage, and some orange carrots.  But let's not forget the green, I added a bit of cilantro as well.  With the cilantro the salad was taking on a southwestern or mexican theme so I decided to go with it and give it an agave lime vinaigrette laced with garlic, cumin and chipotle. 

The salad looked like a fiesta, as if someone had tossed a bunch of ribbons and confetti in different colors together.  But it needed something to finish it off.  So I added some golden raisins for sweetness as well as some sweet and spicy pepitas I had on hand and then it was perfect!  Incredibly refreshing and delicious and the perfect accompaniment to some bbq tofu I had also made.  Here is the recipe if you would like to enjoy some for yourself!

Spring Fiesta Salad
(Beet, Carrot, and Cabbage Salad with Sweet and Spicy Pepitas and Golden Raisins)
Serves 1-2

1/2 cup pepitas
1 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp maple sugar
1/4 tsp ground chipotle powder
1 tsp sea salt

2 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt or to taste
1/8 tsp ground chipotle, or to taste
1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup golden beets, very thinly sliced (paper thin)
1 cup carrots, very thinly sliced (paper thin)
1 cup red cabbage, very thinly sliced
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
1/4 cup golden raisins

To make pepitas, preheat oven to 375 degrees line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Toss pepitas together with agave, sugar, chipotle and sea salt, then spread out on the baking sheet and toast until nuts are starting to lightly brown and are fragrant, about 10-15 min.  Remove from oven and let cool.  In a small bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients.  In a large bowl, combine veggies and cilatro and pour over dressing.  Toss well to coat.  Place salad on a serving plate, and sprinkle  with pepitas and golden raisins. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Dumplings with Toasted Walnuts and Roquefort

A couple weekends ago I had attempted making sweet potato gnocchi and failed misreably as they disintegrated in the boiling water.  I could have cried, but instead tossed them and made a salad for dinner.  I decided to give it a go again today, but this time simply make dumplings so I wouldn't have to go through the shaping process...that will be saved for another time.  This time the dumplings made with they simmered in the water and I removed the first few to sample, I could have cheered I was so happy they held together.  Instead I settled for a sip of my red wine and smiled, since nobody would have heard me cheering anyhow. This time I believe the sweet potatoes in the dumplings were a success, due mostly to adding enough binding elements! 

When they they would be delicious in a soup, but tonight I decided to simply saute them with a little olive oil and shallots, and finish them off with toasted walnuts, spinach for color, and some roquefort cheese, which is one of my all time favorite cheeses.  It has such a wonderful salty yet sweet quality, perfect with walnuts and vegetables!  It was all delicious, and I was happy that I decided to stay home and prepare dinner rather than pay a large amount for it tonight.  Here is the recipe if you would like to try them!  Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you wish to make less.

Sweet Potato Dumplings with Toasted Walnuts and Roquefort
Serves 4-6

2 cups roasted sweet potato puree*
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder
3 large organic eggs
3 cups flour

6 Tbsp olive oil, divided
4 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup toasted walnuts
juice of 2 lemons
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups baby spinach
4 oz roquefort cheese, crumbled

To make dumplings, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Beat together eggs, sweet potato puree, garlic, sea salt, and chipotle in a large bowl with an electric mixer until blended. Stir in flour until well combined. Use 2 teaspoons (silverware, not measuring spoons) to form dumplings, scoop up a rounded teaspoon of batter, then use second spoon to scoop mixture off spoon and into boiling water. Make 9 more dumplings. In the boiling water, simmer briskly until dumplings are just firm in center and cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate and cool, covered with damp paper towel. Continue making dumplings in batches of 10.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, then add shallots, and saute until starting to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add dumplings, and cook dumplings, turning gently, until heated through and golden on each side, 5-8 minutes. Add walnuts, lemon juice, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and spinach and cook until spinach is just wilted.  Remove from heat and stir in roquefort.  Serve hot!
*For puree, sweet potatoes that have been pricked with a fork a few times on a baking sheet in the oven at 450 degrees until very soft, about 1 hour and 10 minutes for large potatoes (or less if smaller).  Allow to cool, remove skin and puree until smooth.