Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Green Eggs and Yam



I view breakfast as my chance to start it all off right. A lot rides on this meal, and I take it seriously. I'm only sort of kidding- I find that if I somehow miss breakfast, I tend to over-snack and if I eat something too sweet or full of white flour, sugar cravings plague my day.



There are a few things I aim to include in my morning spread. Not every meal includes them all, but hopefully at least one or two. Here goes:

Greens- preferably hearty (think kale and spinach). Brain food.
Turmeric- for a morning antioxidant boost.
Flax (or hemp/chia)- to get in those pesky little Omega-3's.
Protein- usually in the form of eggs or raw nuts. Thanks chickies!
Fiber- to fill up that fasting belly!

Today's meal has the hearty greens, protein and fiber thang goin' on.




The chickies say "hi" It was a bit grey out for their taste today, but they're troopers and are enjoying a free-range recess.



Fair warning: If your kale is anything like mine right now, it might have some freeloading' caterpillars hanging on tight. Extra protein? (Ew, no. For me, this means quadruple washing those buggers until there is no chance one remains).


I've been trying to take a bit more time composing my visuals lately. It is actually a lot of fun. The downside? My blog meals usually end up a bit cooler than intended by the time I sit down to eat. The upside? They look so pretty on my plate! Other things I have noticed: breakfast posts usually involve a few more cups of coffee than normal. I mean, it has to be steaming right? Today I had four. Oops.

Green Eggs and Yam
Serves 1

Ingredients
1 tbs. butter (or oil), divided
1/2 a small yam, about 1/4 cup sliced
1 large kale leaf
1 tbs. guacamole, or smashed avocado with a pinch of salt, dash of lime and smidge of minced garlic
1 farm fresh egg
1/8-1/4 tsp. salt
favorite hot sauce (I made this Creamy Chipotle Sauce, which I am kind of obsessed with)

Directions

Melt 1/2 tbs. butter over medium heat in a large frying pan. Wash yam and slice into 1/2 inch slices. It is important to keep these slices thin, so they can cook fairly quickly.

When pan is hot enough to sizzle when spritzed with water, add yam circles. Leave to cook for 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown. Flip and cook until tender, another 5-10 minutes. Remove from pan, set aside and sprinkle with salt.

Wash kale well, remove stem, and chop finely. Turn up heat, add kale and stir-fry until wilted. If you spread it out thinly and let it cook for a few minutes untouched, it will begin to crisp on the edges, which is how I like it. Add 1/8 tsp salt and guacamole and stir to incorporate. Push to the side of the pan. Add remaining 1/2 tbs. butter to the clean half of the pan, crack egg and cook as desired (I like mine over medium).

To serve, plate guaca-kale, egg and sweet potato slices, drizzled with your favorite hot sauce and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Relax. Eat Well. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Herb and Ricotta Egg Waffles


I have a new favorite way to prepare my morning eggs. It is super simple, fun and totally versatile.

A few months ago, we adopted a few neighborhood laying hens, and my life has not been the same since. I love them. They are so fun to watch, they love my leftover kitchen scraps, and they give me 2 beautiful eggs a day. LOVE them.



2 eggs a day doesn't seem like a lot, but it adds up quickly! I love farm fresh eggs and have been eagerly finding ways to enjoy them in our everyday meals. Such a wonderful protein source. My chickies love dandelion leaves and flax seeds as well, and their yolks are a rich orange. Don't you dare skip those yolks in favor of the fat-free whites. Sure, they have some calories, but the yolks also contain pretty much ALL of the nutrition that the egg has to offer. Rich in vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and iron, they are the most valuable part, for sure. Plus- we eat food to consume calories (a unit of energy) not avoid it, right?



Anywho, this is simply a fun way to enjoy your morning egg, made completely in a waffle iron. Feel free to play with the herbs used, and replace the ricotta with any cheese you prefer, or leave it out completely. It is certainly a light meal, but could easily be doubled to fill both waffle stamps.



Herbed Egg Waffles

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 large egg
1 tbs chives
1 tbs. ricotta
1 tsp water
1/8 tsp sea salt
a crank of black pepper

Directions

Preheat waffle iron. Beat all ingredients together in a small bowl. When iron is hot and ready to go, pour in egg batter. I have a small belgium waffle iron, and this mixture filled one side perfectly. Set timer for 4 minutes. Lift top and make sure you are beginning to see a slight brown  color developing. You are good to go! Of course, the topping options are endless, but I enjoy them with extra minced herbs and a dash of hot sauce.



And now for your bonus recipe. I had so much fun playing with the waffle iron, that I have to share my other creation: Hashbrown Waffles with a Fried Egg. This recipe is a bit more involved, with a few extra steps, but perfect for a weekend morning. Plus, this is my new favorite way to cook hashbrowns- they are so much crispier than any other method!




Hashbrown Waffles with a Fried Egg

Makes 2 small portions or 1 large

Ingredients
1/2 cup shredded potato- 1 small/medium potato
1/8 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp salt
crank of black pepper
2 tsp. olive oil
2 eggs

Directions

Preheat waffle iron.

Shred potato using a grater. Place shredded potato in a bowl of ice cold water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and spread out on a clean kitchen towel. Fold towel over and press dry. Like, really dry.

Mix dried potato with the chipotle powder, salt, pepper and oil in a small bowl. When waffle iron is ready, spread mixture out in a thin layer, avoiding gaps. This will depend on your waffle iron, but mine covered both stamps. Cook for 14 minutes, or until very crisp along all edges.

In the meantime, heat a small pan over medium heat with a dash of oil. Crack both eggs into a small bowl. When pan sizzles when spritzed with water, add both eggs and fry for a few minutes, until whites are almost set. Flip, and continue to cooke for 30 seconds.

Serve hash brown waffles topped with the fried eggs, and a sprinkle of your favorite herb garnish.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Fresh Herb Sea Salt and a Basil-rose-ita


Its my favorite time of the year. By far. The farmers markets are exploding with every fresh ingredient on my list, garlic is out of the ground and curing on my deck and the kitchen gardens are pumping out basil and culinary herbs galore. Ooo la la.


Last weekend I harvested tulsi (holy), purple, Thai and Italian basil and put up over 8 pounds of pesto. I keep it simple- fresh garlic, good quality extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, sea salt, ground pepper, toasted sunflower seeds and a dash of nutritional yeast. Not only does this avoid the cost of pine nuts and parmesan, it also make my pesto very low-allergen, so that I can use it year round, no matter who I am feeding. 


I freeze mine in ice cube trays, so it is easy to thaw in small amounts in the coming months.


But I digress- this post offers another way to preserve your herbs. Herb-infused sea salts. So simple, and SO tasty.

This is a great way to preserve the fresh herbs that don't dry so well, or at least lose all of their personality when they do (I am looking at you, parsley and basil). 


Grab a bunch of your favorite herb- try basil, thyme, parsley, dill etc. - and 1 cup of your favorite sea salt (something a bit coarse) and you are ready to roll. I had some garlic scapes hanging on when I first tried this recipe, and threw a few in. I would highly recommend it, if you are in that glorious season.

So far, I have been enjoying this salt sprinkled on roasted potato wedges, on morning eggs, on Montreal-style bagels smeared with butter…. you get the picture. Oh wait- and in Basil-rose-itas (don't worry, I'll share the recipe below).

Herb Sea Salt

Makes roughly 1 1/4 cup

Ingredients 

1 bunch herb of choice (I used about 1 cup of Italian basil)
1 cup good quality coarse sea salt
Optional- a few tablespoons of a second herb (examples: rosemary, thyme, oregano, or a few garlic scapes)

Directions

In a food processor, pulse herbs (and scapes if using) until finely minced, but not pureed. If using a hardier second herb, you may need to mince these by hand, as the blade of the food processor doesn't always catch them. Add sea salt and continue to pulse until well incorporated and very green. By this time, the salt will be much finer as well.

Spread entire mixture out into a thin layer on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean towel and let sit out at room temperature for 24 hours, so that the moisture in the herbs has enough time to be absorbed by the salt.

Place in small mason jars and store in a cool dark place. Although this has not been verified yet, it is rumored this salt could last upwards of a year. 


Annnd….. now on to the fun stuff- a garden inspired cocktail for your summer happy hour: Basil-rose-ita

Basil-rose-ita

Makes 1 drink

Ingredients

3 tbs (1.5 oz) silver tequila
1 tbs. rose water
2 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tbs. raw honey 
4 ice cubes
Basil Herb Sea Salt

Directions

Pour basil herb sea salt on a small plate. Prepare your glass by wetting the rim and twirling it upside down in the salt. If your don't enjoy a salted rim, I highly recommend at least throwing a pinch of salt into the mix as you make the drink- it really does amp up the flavors. 

In a shaker, combine tequila, rose water, lime juice and simple syrup with 2 ice cubes. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into prepared glass and serve with 2 additional ice cubes. 


Relax. Eat Well.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Grab and Go Polenta Quiche


 I want chickens more than anything. It will be a reality soon, but I have to wait until some other areas of my life cool off first. In the meantime, I am enjoying farm fresh eggs from my neighbors as often as possible, and creating an arsenal of egg recipes for when my time of surplus arrives.


Breakfast is a tricky meal for many people. Often times, especially for kids, it ends up being a very quick grab-and-go situation, often laden with sugar and empty carbohydrates. In reality, most of us do better with some protein in the morning- and hey, why not throw in some vegetables as well?

These mini quiches can be prepared ahead in big batches, and stored in the fridge for the week. They make a perfect grab-and-go breakfast or lunch. Like most of my recipes- the ingredients are very flexible. Feel free to work with what you have in the kitchen that week, and according to your individual preferences. If red onion, mushrooms and bell peppers aren't your thing, other vegetables that pop into mind are scallions, potatoes, fresh herbs, spinach or broccoli. Just make sure to cook any vegetables you are using appropriately before the final assembly of the quiche. Chèvre or cheddar would also be great substations for the feta, if you lean that way.


The turmeric is optional- I love the extra orange hue it lends, on top of it's superfood antioxidant load. I try to sneak it into my routine whenever possible.

I tried these guys with parchment paper lined muffin tins, and as well as well-oiled tins. Either way worked, but I would honestly forgo the parchment paper - it wasn't entirely necessary and the results were "more aesthetically pleasing" without.

Polenta Quiche
Makes 12 mini quiches

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups water
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup polenta, or corn grits
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbs. olive oil
1 egg
a few cranks of black pepper

1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, medium chop
1 portabella mushroom, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 large (or 2 small) garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup crumbled feta

4 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
ground black pepper

Extra parmesan or grated cheese to garnish (optional)

Directions

Preheat to 400 degrees.

Bring water and salt to a boil in a small pot. Stream polenta into boiling water, using a whisk to stir constantly for 5-10 minutes, until thick. Turn off heat, add parmesan, olive oil, egg and black pepper.

Line muffin tins with parchment paper or spray thoroughly with oil. Divide polenta and spoon into muffin tins. Let cool for 5 minutes. With wet fingers (to avoid sticking), press polenta into the bottom of the cups and spread up the sides, to create a nice indent for as much filling as possible. Thinner is better. Place in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until dry to the touch, checking and rotating after 10 minutes. Set aside.

In the meantime, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add chopped red onion and sauté until translucent. Add sliced mushrooms and continue to cook until broken down, about 5 more minutes, stirring often. Add chopped red pepper, cook for another 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, stir and turn off heat.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs, salt, pepper and turmeric.

To assemble quiches, spoon a tablespoon of mushroom vegetable mixture into each crust. Divide and sprinkle evenly with feta. Finish by pouring egg custard on top. Use a fork to jostle the center a bit to make sure the egg seeps down into the vegis. If using, sprinkle with grated cheese.

Return quiches to the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes, or until fork inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying. Can be stored in the fridge for several days.

Relax. Eat Well.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Ramp Butter

At the risk of sounding cliche, spring is just so refreshing.


It is. It was not that long ago (maybe a month?) that I would look outside and feel as though there was absolutely no way this bitter, hostile weather could lead to brighter days, that the temperatures could climb above freezing for 24 hours at a time, or that growth could actually spring from this ground. 


But it did, just like it always does. Now it is mid-may and the earth is gracing us with the first of the season's edibles. Young garlic is sprouting, fiddleheads are quickly unfurling and my favorite, ramps, are "ramp"ant along the river sides. For more information about about ramps (also known as wild leeks) and how to harvest them, check out last year's post on Wild Dandelion and Ramp Pesto.


I was inspired by a new product on the shelves these days, from one of my favorite butter and cheese producer, Vermont Creamery. I love their chèvre and cultured butter and regularly buy them in bulk for the CSK. Recently, they added a cultured Maple and Sea Salt Butter to their line. I am a sucker for the all things "sweet and salty", so it immediately caught my eye. It doesn't come in bulk, so I decided to use a log of their lightly salted cultured butter, along with a touch of VT maple syrup, course sea salt crystals and foraged ramps to make a beautiful butter for my catering spreads this summer. Butter freezes extremely well, so I made a bigger batch and froze it in varying sizes. These will go on cheese boards and in bread baskets throughout the year. 


I also kept some out for our personal use. Right now, it is going in a pan over medium heat until it starts to sizzle, at which point a few fiddleheads are thrown in. Lightly sautéed until the fiddleheads are soft yet still have their structure, this is my absolute favorite way to consume my namesake this spring.  


After a few trials, I have discovered that one of the keys to making a successful compound butter is to start with butter at room temperature in place of melted. The first time I tried to make it by melting the butter, all of my delicious ingredients simply sunk to the bottom of the mason jar by the time it hardened, instead of being evenly distributed throughout. Lesson learned.

Ramp Butter
Makes about 2 1/4 lbs. compound butter

Ingredients

1/4 lb. or 2 cups chopped ramps- bulbs minced and leaves roughly chopped
1 lb. lightly salted butter, room temperature
2 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. coarse sea salt crystals
a few cranks of freshly ground pepper (1/4 tsp?)
zest of half a lemon, about 1 tsp. packed

Directions

In a large pan, melt 1 tbs. of butter over medium heat. Add minced ramp bulbs and chopped leaves. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft.

Put room temperature butter in a medium bowl. Add sautéed ramps, and remaining ingredients. With a rubber spatula, press to mix thoroughly. If butter is soft and starting to melt at this point, place bowl in freezer for 15 minutes. The trick is to find a consistency that is solid, yet still workable.

Remove butter from bowl and place on a large piece of parchment paper. Using a spatula, spread the butter into a rectangle about 10 inches long. At this point, use the parchment paper to roll the butter into a log, taking the time to make sure the wrapping is tight and the log is as round as you can get it. Fold the ends over and place entire log in the fridge for at least an hour. At this point, you can unwrap and cut it into smaller portions, to be used in the next few weeks, or frozen for future use. I cut mine into 4 sections and wrapped each tightly with plastic wrap. Those went into a freezer bag and are waiting in my cooler for future culinary adventures.

Relax. Eat Well. 






Friday, April 11, 2014

Roasted Beet Salad with Maple Miso Balsamic Dressing


It is pretty hard these days to feel inspired by the few local ingredients that are left. Mostly roots, maybe some cabbage. It has been a long hard winter and we are OH SO close to greens popping up for spring, but just not quite there.

Here is the last of my homegrown garlic - scraping the bottom of the bin.


But on to beets- one of the few roots I have yet to satiate on this winter. I'm not going to dive into the nutrition world today- because, well, I just don't feel like it. Instead, let's just drool over some pictures...


Roasty, toasty, cozy…...


Roasted Beet Salad with Maple Miso Balsamic Dressing

Serves 6

Ingredients

4 large beets, ruby red, golden (pictured) or bullseye chioggia
1 tbs. grape seed oil
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb. baby spinach
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced.
1/2 cup raw walnuts

1 garlic clove
½ cup olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. mustard
2 tbs. miso
1 tbs. maple syrup
½ tsp sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Wash beets well and slice of ends. Slice into 1/4 inch thick rounds, unpeeled. Toss with grape seed oil, syrup and salt, and place on baking sheet in a single layer.

Roast for 15 minutes, check and flip if beginning to get golden. Continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender and beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside.

Turn oven down to 325 degrees and toast walnuts on a baking sheet for 5-10 minutes, until fragrant and just beginning to brown. Watch carefully- they have a propensity to burn! Remove and cool.

To make dressing, combine garlic through sea salt in a blender and process until smooth.

Just before serving, toss spinach with dressing and place in a large bowl. Top with minced crystallized ginger, roasted beets and toasted walnuts.

Relax. Eat Well.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Oven-Fried Turmeric Tofu


I have been on a major turmeric kick these days. Mostly because it gives me a mental-boost of immune confidence every time I dash the powdered gold, but also because of the lovely flavor it imparts. It is what I imagine the streets of India to smell like constantly, although I sadly have yet to visit. Earthy, pungent, and slightly bitter, turmeric seems to add a dash of life to each dish it graces.

Just because I have to (no i really, compulsively, I do) I will share some of the amazing nutritional benefits this wonder spice offers. Long revered in Indian and Chinese medicine, turmeric root is a powerful anti-inflammatory, rich in the compound carcumin. As a result, turmeric has been found to be as successful in fighting inflammation as potent drugs such as hydrocortisone and Motrin, without the potential toxic side-effects.


Remember that pattern we have noticed before, where deep, rich colors often indicate the presence of strong antioxidants in our food? Think beets, tomatoes, and spirulina. Turmeric might be the embodiment of that rule- its saturated golden hue is indicative of extremely high antioxidant action, which has the ability to neutralize free radicals in our bodies, protecting against a wide range of cancers.

Found to boost cardiovascular health, lower cholesterol levels, protect against alzheimers, the list goes on and on. If you are interested, hop on over here for some more details.

So hopefully by now you are excited to try out this magical root, and work it into your daily diet as well.

What have I been doing with it, you ask? I seem to be obsessively making the "Love your liver" tea- morning and night, I swear it has saved me from the pulls of the winter flu more than once this season.

It also tends to make it's way into my breakfast skillet on an almost daily basis- a quick stir-fry of onion, garlic, spinach and red pepper seasoned with a dash of nutritional yeast, turmeric and tamari and finished off with a cracked egg fried in the middle. Possibly even a swirl of my favorite hot sauce, a few cubes of avocado and some cilantro leaves if I am feeling fancy. Highly recommended.


But what I want to share with you today is a turmeric version of my Oven-Fried Tofu- a puffy, chewy rendition of the type of tofu you might find at your local Thai restaurant, with significantly less oil involved. This recipe is super flexible and can be flavored in many different directions- just keep the amount of oil, salt and pepper constant. I like it best served with asian inspired dishes, but it is great to have on hand for snacking as well.

Other seasonings I have tried include:

Garlic Ginger: replace the turmeric with 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic and 1/4 tsp. ginger powder, and sprinkle with a light dash of tamari.

Salt and Pepper: Keep it simple- take out the turmeric and amp up the pepper with a few extra cranks of freshly ground peppercorn and you are in business. I love this one paired with "non-asian" sauces, such as honey mustard or garden dill.

Curry: Add an extra 1/2 tsp of your favorite curry powder- one with a little heat is a nice touch

Chipotle: For a smoky version, replace the turmeric with cumin and add an extra 1/4 tsp of chipotle powder.



Oven-Fried Turmeric Tofu
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 14 oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu (this is my favorite, for my VT peeps)
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbs. grapeseed oil

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut tofu into 1.5 inch cubes, toss with turmeric, salt and pepper. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, with some room between each piece.



On the bottom rack, bake for 5 minutes. Rotate pan and continue for another 5 minutes. Flip tofu cubes and continue to bake for 5 minutes, rotate, and continue for the last 5 minutes, until golden and puffy.

*If you have a convection fan in your oven, I highly recommend using it for a puffier result. Some changes need to be made: use a 375 degree oven, position the baking sheet in the middle of the oven and remove after 15 minutes instead of 20.

Relax. Eat Well.