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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Beetroot Gravlax with Horseradish Sauce

Ok I can't believe I have never done this before.  I've been fantasizing over this for an entire year.. why did I wait this long?  It's so easy!

Inspired by Jamie Oliver
750g Salmon
200g beets, peeled
100g sea salt
50g sugar
50g horseradish
5 cL vodka
1 bunch fresh dill
zest from 1 lemon
3 Tbsp yogurt
2 Tbsp freshly chopped dill
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp mayonaise
3 Tbsp horseradish
black pepper

1.  Make the cure by blending everything but the salmon and 1/2 bunch dill together.
2.  Rub the cure all over the salmon, then cover with plastic wrap and weight it in the fridge for 48 hours.
3.  Carefully scrape the cure off the salmon and rinse.  Pat dry and lay the rest of the dill over the salmon with some nice and heavy grinds of pepper.  Re-wrap tightly and let sit one more day.  It will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge.. but it seriously won't last that long.
4.  Make the sauce and stir.
Just look at that color!  It looks like steak!

To serve, thinly slice the salmon and arrange on a plate alongside the sauce.
You just won the holidays.

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Saturday, December 22, 2018

Celery Soup with Tempered Nigella Seeds

Serves 2
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 small bunches or 1 large bunch celery with leaves, chopped
1/2 celery root (celeriac), chopped
1 yellow onion + 1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
vegetable stock (didn't measure, sorry)
lots of cracked black pepper
sea salt, to taste
for tempering:
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp nigella seeds
few leaves off celery stalks
1.  Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the chopped onions, reserving some of the red onion for the topping.  Cook on medium with a pinch of sea salt until onions have sweat, about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the chopped garlic, celery stalks and root with the leaves, reserving a few of the leaves for tempering.  Cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.
3.  Add the stock to just cover the celery.  I like my soup thick, so this is how much stock I use.  If you like thinner soup, add more stock.  Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the celery is tender.
4.  Blend.  I suppose it is easiest to do with a hand blender, since there is less clean-up than with a normal blender, but you will get a smoother texture with a normal blender.  Just be careful not to burn yourself.
5.  Back in the pot, add lots of black pepper and taste to adjust the salt if needed.
6.  Prepare the tempering.  Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add some of the reserved celery leaves.  Fry until crispy and set aside.
In that same hot oil, add the nigella seeds and cook on high until they crackle.. then remove them from heat.

To serve, spoon some of the nigella tempering on top of your soup bowl and add some chopped red onions and crispy celery leaves.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Faumon Fumé - Carrot Lox

Here is a predicament:

You promise your pregnant bestie that if she has any unusual cravings, you will provide her with relief.
Then she tells you she hasn't really been having any cravings except for one thing.. Smoked Salmon.
This is one of the things on the list of NO's during her pregnancy because she's not immune to toxoplasmosis so can't have any raw animal products.
What do you do?

Well, I did promise her craving relief, and I do love a challenge, so I hunted down a few vegetarian versions of smoked salmon and mixed and matched until I was pleased with the result.
But it didn't matter if I was pleased.. I was only hoping it would pass her test.

So here I bring to you.. Faumon Fumé made with carrots steamed in smoky Chinese tea.

6 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
2 Tbsp Lapsang Souchong tea
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp whole black pepper
1 Tbsp nori seaweed flakes
1/2 bouquet fresh dill
1.  Place the carrots in steamer basket and the Lapsang Souchong tea in the water to steam.  Steam for 7 minutes.  Do not discard the water.
2.  In an oven safe dish, place the steamed carrots and add the olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, soy sauce, paprika, black pepper, and seaweed.  Add some of the steam water (without the tea chunks) until just covered and cook at 180°C 355°F for 15 minutes.
3.  Remove and let marinate with the dill for at least 48 hours.

Your vegetarian lox are now ready to be served!
I served on toast with cream cheese, capers, and a touch of fresh dill.

So did it pass the test? 
You can tell it's not real salmon, obviously, but it replicates the smoky flavor and the texture is not too far off.  This is a great alternative if you can't have the real thing.
This passed with flying colors.  She was absolutely thrilled with the result!  Surprisingly, so was everyone else at the baby shower.. even those who wouldn't even touch smoked salmon with a 5 ft pole.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Brèdes Mafane - Electric Daisies

Every once in a while, I talk about food.
Actually, I talk about food all the time, but every once in a while, I have food conversations with people whose culinary specialties I know nothing about.
Those are the conversations I seek the most because those are the ones that turn me into a human radar for unusual vegetables.
This time, it was a Malagasy conversation about a vegetable called Brèdes Mafane.  The leaves and flowers of this plant are edible and leave a nice tingly feeling in the mouth after eating.  
Not like chile pepper spicy, but like sichuan pepper numbing, or like your mouth vibrating.
OOooOooh!  I like that!
In English, they can be called a variety of things, but my favorite is Electric Daisies.  
These also have excellent anti-inflammatory properties to boot.
Seriously, this vegetable gives EDC a whole new meaning!

Serves 4
1 bunch Brèdes Mafane (approximately 700g or 1.5lb)
2 Tbsp oil
1 large onion, sliced into moons
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 inch piece ginger, grated
2 tomatoes, diced
few pinches fleur de sel
1/4 cup water
1.  Remove the leaves and flowers from the hard stems, rip the leaves, rinse, and dry well.
2.  Heat the oil in a sautée pan and add the onions.
3.  When the onions are soft, add the garlic, ginger, and tomatoes and cook for a few minutes.
4.  Add the brèdes and a few pinches fleur de sel.  Stir to mix evenly, then add the water and lower the heat and cook until the leaves are tender.  It should take about 10 minutes.
5.  Taste and adjust the seasoning and then you are ready to serve.

I served mine with rice and some grilled fish filets.  Perfection.

The broth has such a deep flavor that it doesn't need much more doctoring.  Maybe a bit of chile if you insist.. of course.
As you eat,  let your eyes roll back and listen to the thumping music...

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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Russian Cabbage Pie

Most people have no idea what to do with cabbage.  Actually, let me correct that.  Most people know exactly one thing to do with cabbage and that's about it.
In France, it goes into Soup.
In the Mexico, it goes on Tacos.
In the US, it is for Slaw.
In India, it goes as a Sabzi with mustard seeds and turmeric.
In Korea, it goes into Kimchi.
What I meant to say is that most people are unaware of the many different ways to work with cabbage.  It is anything but boring.  1 head can give many meals.  It's nutritious, and most importantly.. it tastes like a gift from the ground.  It can be eaten raw, boiled, sautéed, roasted, stuffed, cored, or as a topping.
Let me introduce you to one of the Russian ways to make cabbage the main attraction (other than Borscht).  This "pie" is very filling and the combination with hard-boiled eggs may seem surprising, but it really does the trick.

Serves 6-8
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 large onion, sliced into moons
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 large cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
lots of cracked black pepper
salt to taste
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

3 large eggs
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
3 Tbsp yogurt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup flour
black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped dill

1.  Heat the oil in a large wok and add the caraway seeds.  Cook until they crackle, then add the onion slices with a few pinches of salt.
2.  Add 1 Tbsp butter and most of the shredded cabbage.  Cook, stirring to coat, then add the rest of the butter and cabbage with a hefty hand of black cracked pepper.  Do this until the cabbage is tender (about 5-7 minutes).
3.  Remove from heat and let cool.  While this is happening, preheat the oven to 180°C 350 °F.
4.  Make the batter.  Beat the eggs well with the mayonnaise and yogurt, then stir in the flour and baking powder until the mixture is even.  Stir in the pepper and chopped dill.
5.  Butter a pie or cake mould and pour 1/3 of the batter in.  Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
6.  While this is happening, go back to your cabbage.  Stir in the fresh dill.  It should have cooled down a bit.
7.  Remove the batter from the oven and start assembling.  Place 1/2 of the cabbage mixture into the mould over the partially cooked batter.  Sprinkle the chopped hard-boiled eggs in 1 layer.  Add the rest of the cabbage mixture on top of the eggs.  Pour the rest of the batter over the cabbage.  You will doubt that a crust will form.
8.  Place the assembled pie into the oven and cook for about 35 minutes.  The top crust should be golden.  Let cool for at least 15 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature as an appetizer or as a meal.  I served mine alongside some roasted roots.

The crust is surprising as it packs an interesting mix of flavors and pairs perfectly with the cabbage and hard-boiled eggs.
I'm not going to lie.. almost anything made with cabbage is a win for me, and this dish is no exception to the rule...

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Thanksgiving Nut Roast with Oyster Mushroom Gravy

Thanksgiving is the holiday I miss the most since moving away from my family. It's not about the turkey.. It's really about sharing traditions, learning new ones, being open to other cultures, and feeling all the love and gratitude all around. This is mostly how I live my life anyways, so it's not a surprise. I've experienced it small scale, full on traditional, Mexican style, Southern style, Indian style, and Air-style. Each time has been enriching. Although I haven't "celebrated" this holiday in over 10 years, this year will be MY style... Inventing my own tradition. I'm so lucky to have so many peeps to love all around the world. 
Thank you, family and friends, near and far, for making life so beautiful and my heart swell.

This year is the very first year I've done anything special for Thanksgiving since living in France.  
I decided to go all-veg with a rich Nut Loaf, mashed potatoes & gravy, hasselback sweet potatoes, and green bean cheddar casserole.

Nut Loaf
Serves 8
1Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 pack button or cremini mushrooms, chopped (about 2 cups)
some red wine or sherry to deglaze
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 tsp fresh marjoram
2 tsp fresh tarragon
4 tsp fresh sage
2 tsp fresh oregano
lots of cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked amaranth
1 1/2 cups cooked and peeled chestnuts, mashed
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup cashews, blitzed
1/2 cup almonds, blitzed
2 large handfuls shredded gruyère or swiss
4 eggs
2 Tbsp yogurt
chopped parsley for garnish

1.  In a large wok or sautée pan, heat the oil and add the chopped onion.  Cook until the onion sweats a bit, then add the chopped mushrooms and a pinch of each of the fresh herbs.  Season well with black pepper and add a few pinches salt.  When the juices have been released and starts drying out, deglaze with the red wine, and cook for 2 more minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
2.  While this is happening, get your nuts ready.  Aside from the chestnuts which are mashed, the rest should be blitzed.. not into a powder, but well broken down.
3.  In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mushroom onion mix, the amaranth, the nuts, and the rest of the herbs.  If it's a bit dry, don't worry.  Preheat the oven to 180°C 350°F.
4.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and yogurt together until frothy.  Then stir in the gruyère
5.  Pour the egg mixture into the rest and mix well.  It should be pretty wet.  You should be having doubts that this is even going to work.
6.  Butter a loaf pan/mould or line it with parchment paper.  Pour the mixture into your mould.  Smooth the top of any air bubbles and if you want to get fancy, decorate it with a few mushroom slices.  My mould was a silicone 24x10x6 cm.  I stupidly cut through it with a knife and had to toss it.. so I have to buy another one because it's the perfect size.
7.  Bake at 180°C 350°F for 1 hour and10 minutes or until it is firm.  Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes.
8.  Remove from the mould and add some chopped parsley to the serving dish (my serving dish is pitiful, I know).  this roast can be sliced and served as is, but it is much more enjoyable with its Oyster mushroom gravy!

Oyster Mushroom Gravy
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
250g oyster mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp fresh thym
1/4 cup red wine
3 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp butter

1.  In a medium sauce pot, heat the oil and add the chopped onion.  Cook until the onion sweats a bit, then add the sliced oyster mushrooms with the thyme.
2.  Cook until it starts drying out a bit, then deglaze with the wine and add the stock and simmer for about 20 minutes while it reduces and the flavors concentrate.
3.  In a separate bowl, stir the cornstarch into a few tbsp cold water (to make sure it doesn't get lumpy), then add this to the sauce pan.  It should thicken.  Once it is desired thickness, remove from heat.
4.  Stir in the butter.  This is the most crucial step!

Serve over the Nut Roast.. and over some mashed potatoes.  This gravy is KILLER on mashed potatoes!

I hope everyone is having safe and happy holidays

Note:  This recipe is very versatile and can work in many different ways.  The different nuts can be subbed for others with varying proportions, the amaranth can be subbed for quinoa or rice.  I'm sure there can be a reasonable substitute for mushrooms if one does not like them as well....

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Monday, November 13, 2017

Turmeric Chickpea "Burgers" with Tahini Garlic Sauce

Finding a good veggie burger is not as simple as one may think.  There are thousands out there.. it's not the veggie burger that is hard to find.. it's the really good one that is.  It's a texture thing.  I like my burger to hold together when I eat it.  Otherwise I would just plate it and stop trying to call it a burger.
There are the countless processed veggie burgers out there mostly using grains and soy.. but for me, those ones are really unappetizing.
I did have some luck with my black bean and beet burgers.  They were really good and had lots of flavor, but I think I did better with texture this time around.  These turmeric chickpea burgers have a whole different flavor profile, and the chickpeas are not all the way cooked through, which completely changes the texture issue.
These do hold together.  I was flipping them with no problems.. and when you bite into it.. you are definitely biting into something that holds a little resistance.  That is exactly what I wanted.
Vive la Résistance!!

Yield 6 patties

1 1/4 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
3 cloves garlic, grated
1 knob fresh turmeric, grated (about 2 Tbsp)
2 small red onions, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 cup chickpea flour + more if needed
Olive oil for cooking

Tahini garlic sauce:
3 Tbsp tahini
1 clove garlic, grated
juice from 2 limes
2-3 Tbsp water, depending on how thick you want the sauce
freshly cracked pepper

1.  Cook the drained chickpeas until almost done.  You don't want them to be mushy when you smash them between your fingers.  I did mine in a crock pot for 4 hours (instead of 7).
2.  Drain but reserve some of the cooking water just in case.  Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor. Don't puree them, but make sure none are still whole.
3.  Add all the rest of the patty ingredients except the oil and stir well.  If the mixture is too dry, add some of the chickpea cooking water.  If the mixture is too we, add some more chickpea flour.  You want the mixture to hold together if you make a ball with your hands.
4.  Make the sauce by stirring everything together.  You don't want it to be too watery, so add the water 1 Tbsp at a time until it gets to the saucy thickness you desire.
5.  Make and shape the patties.  I used a burger press.  I placed some parchment paper into the bottom of the press, then scooped in the mixture, pressed, removed, and repeat.
6.  Heat some olive oil in a flat skillet or frying pan.  Carefully place each patty down and cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side. 
7.  Place onto a toasted burger bun with the sauce and whatever fixins you desire!

I had red onion, tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce.

This was the most satisfying veg burger I've had so far!  That Tahini garlic sauce is its perfect match.  Do not consider skipping it.
I've been requested to make it again for a crowd.. which obviously means it's a big hit!

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

5-Ingredient Salted Peanut Butter Cookies

I have my go-to peanut butter cookie recipe that I make interchangeably with tahini depending on what I have on hand.  I think everyone has their classic recipe that they are happy with.  The thing is.. sometimes, another one just jumps at you and begs you to be tried.
This is what happened with this one.  It seemed too good to be true, but too intriguing not to try.  I've never done a flourless cookie before.  Nor a butterless.  Come on.. we're not on a diet here!
But this cookie is not a diet cookie.  It is just peanut butter greatness in its perfect form.
It is the way peanut butter cookies were meant to be made.

Yield 33 Tbsp sized cookies
240g (8.5oz) cassonade or light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 packet vanilla sugar or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
450g (1 lb or 1 3/4 cups) natural smooth peanut butter
fleur de sel to finish
1.  Beat the eggs, then beat the sugar into the eggs.  Go for it.  Beat it good.
2.  Add the vanilla, then peanut butter.  Mix very well, then put in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes or while the oven heats.
3.  Preheat the oven to 180°C (356°F).
4.  Line a baking tray with a cookie sheet.  Mine was silicone.  Scoop Tbsp sized balls onto the sheet.  Sprinkle with fleur de sel, and bake for 18-20 minutes.
5.  Remove and wait for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
6.  Very important.  Let cool completely before eating.
These cookies are crunchy on the outside and in the center, depending on the cooking time, you get a nice melty chewy center.
Plus, they are beautifully domed and oh so sexy!

I made a few changes to the recipe from SK.  She uses 335g of sugar and that was just not thinkable, so I reduced to 240g.  They are still sweeter than I prefer, so next time I will go for 200g and they will be perfect.  
She also uses Skippy processed peanut butter with sugar explaining that the processed stuff gives the best results.  I used Dakatine peanut butter without sugar.  The ingredients are 97% peanuts, emulsifier, and salt.
She also chills the dough in the freezer before scooping and after scooping, explaining that it helps the cookies keep their dome shape.  I did not do this because of freezer space, but keeping the dough in the fridge between batches gave me the perfect domes I wanted.
I snuck a few pieces of broken dark chocolate into a few of the cookies to surprise myself later on.. teehee!!

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Saturday, August 26, 2017

Where to use Pesto

If you can't answer that, just rub it all over yourself and have someone lick it off you..

Pesto is Summer
Pesto is Love
Pesto is Indulgence

Pesto is a handful of basil, a few garlic cloves, a handful of pine nuts (or walnuts, or almonds or cashews), a handful of grated parmesan, some freshly cracked pepper, and a good blend with some extra special olive oil.

It is the salsa of the Goddess

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Methi & Chard Gotas with Kadhi

I was finally able to recreate one of my favorite Gujarati recipes after growing my own fenugreek leaves from seeds.
They are actually quite easy to grow, very low maintenance, and quick yield.  They'll grow indoors if it's cold in the winter and replenish the outside soil with nitrogen, so it's nice to grow them in several places one after the other to prepare the soil for something more needy afterwards.
I got garden side-tracked.
I've had these growing up, had them in India, and most recently had them in New Jersey every day for breakfast...which I really looked forward to each morning.
Instead of making me tired of it, it actually sparked my desire to make them myself.
Of course, sourcing the methi (fresh fenugreek leaves) is the hardest part.  You can't just go to the store and buy a "bunch" of methi like you would buy a bunch of cilantro or parsley.  Even cilantro is not always guaranteed here (I just grow that too).
My methi leaves are still a bit too small, but I felt I needed to make this right away because I wanted them RIGHT NOW.
So, I added some finely chopped swiss chard greens (also from the garden).  I have a different thinner Kadhi recipe here as well.  This Kadhi is thick like a dipping sauce.
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as an appetizer

For Gotas:
1/2 cups packed methi leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup packed chard leaves, finely chopped
1 green chile, coarsely chopped (add more if you like it extra spicy)
1/2 inch ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
pinch hing (asafoetida)
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp salt or to taste
1 1/2 cups besan (chickpea flour)
3/4 cups water
1/4 tsp baking soda
Vegetable oil for frying

For Thick Kadhi:
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (half yogurt, half milk)
1 cup water
1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
pinch turmeric
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 slit green chile
1 sprig curry leaves
pinch of salt
cilantro to garnish
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

For Gotas:
1.  Mix all the ingredients together gently until it forms a thick mixture.  It shouldn't be liquidy, but shouldn't be dry either.  You should be able to spoon it and have it slowly drip off.
2.  Heat the oil.  You dont need a deep fryer but you need a deep enough layer so the gotis can be submerged.
3.  Carefully spoon 1 heaping tsp of mixture into the oil at a time, frying until it turns golden, then removing with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel.

For Kadhi:
1.  Heat the oil in a wok or tadka or deep sautée pan.
2.  Add the seeds and cook until they crackle, then add the turmeric and hing.  They should fizz.
3.  Add the slit chile and curry leaves and fry for about 1 minute.
4.  Add the besan and buttermilk and cook, whisking until it thickens.  The buttermilk might separate but it's ok.
5.  Add water until the mixture reaches desired thickness.  Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro.

For eating:
Either pour the kadhi all over the gotas and eat them one by one on your own plate...
keep it communal and use the kadhi as a dip..
Either way, enjoy and wish you had made more..

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