Archive for February, 2012

February 28, 2012

Warm Red Cabbage and Corn Salad

In the past 7 days I:

  • Ate a silly amount of movie theater popcorn.
  • Ditto to mini Cadbury eggs. (Not the classic Cream Eggs, the milk chocolate ones with the crispy pastel-colored shell. Love.)
  • Wore workout clothes to run errands even though I wasn’t on the way to, nor coming back from working out. Sneakers paired with sweatpants make you look like a go-getter. Sweatpants with flip-flops make you look like a lazy college student. Fact.
  • Watched The Bachelor, Bring It On and Glee. (Not all on the same day. There would be no excuse for that.)

…I should also tell you that while I was watching that episode of Glee I was hula hooping pretty much the entire time. I don’t even like musicals. And I pretend hula hooping is exercise. I don’t know…

I am not particularly proud of these things, but I just felt like I should be completely… honest. About life.

Have I done anything redeeming this week?

  • I went to a Picasso exhibit (Culcha!)
  • We tried a new restaurant in Bondi.
  • I saw The Artist. (Silent movie! More culcha!)
  • I toasted a lot of coconut flakes and found various uses for them.

I also made this salad.

A good warm salad some how makes me feel better about my other, slightly shameful indulgences.

Balance. I think that’s what it’s all about. Get a dose of terrible reality television with a side of cubism. Wear your comfy clothes out in public when you’re grocery shopping, but put on a little pretty when you head out to dinner. Be 26 and buy yourself a hula hoop.

And leave a little room for some Easter-themed chocolate after the vibrant, crunchy, paprika-spiced salad.

Warm Red Cabbage and Corn Salad
(serves 4)
- 2 ears of corn, corn removed from the cob
- 1/2 red cabbage, shredded very thin
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove of garlic thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
- a handful of chopped coriander

In a large pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over a medium high heat. Add corn kernels and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until slightly golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat remaining tablespoon of olive oil over a medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in paprika and cayenne.

Add cabbage and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring for about 2 minutes until the cabbage is just beginning to soften.

Combine cabbage with corn and let cool for 5 minutes.

Top with feta, pepitas and coriander and serve.

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February 27, 2012

Miso-Curry Roasted Squash

I have probably mentioned my love for Heidi Swanson’s blog 101 Cookbooks before. It was one of the first food blogs I started reading and has been a constant inspiration to my cooking. This will come as no surprise to fellow food bloggers, as Heidi has been blogging since 2003 and earning well-deserved recognition and awards ever since.

Her photos and creative whole food recipes never fail to excite me and get me thinking. The way Heidi combines flavors and presents quality produce makes vegetarian cooking look gorgeous, easy and fun.

I’ve been flagging my new copy of Super Natural Everyday for a couple of weeks now and it’s gone straight out of control. I can see myself cooking everything and can’t wait to do so.

The first recipe I tried was miso-curry roasted squash. I love the idea of blending these different Asian flavors to generously coat squash, potatoes and tofu in. Roasted vegetables combined with bold red curry and miso pastes make this dish a rich and complex combination of bright, warming flavors.

I stuck to her original recipe pretty closely, but I am eager to try this spice paste on carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes and even fish. I served this as a main, but I think it would work as a side without the tofu.

Miso-Curry Squash
Adapted slightly from Super Natural Everyday
(serves 2-4)

- 1/4 cup white miso paste
- 1 heaping tablespoon red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 medium butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4-5 small chat potatoes, quartered
- 1/2 cup tofu, cut into small cubes
- 1 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 cups kale, finely shredded
- 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas
- a big handful of chopped cilantro and Thai basil, combined.

Preheat oven to 400F/200c

In a small bowl, combine the miso paste, red curry paste and olive oil.

In a large bowl toss the squash, potatoes and tofu with 2/3 of the miso paste mixture until everything is covered well. Spread this out onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until squash, potatoes and tofu are golden – tossing a couple of times to make sure everything gets evenly browned.

While this is baking, add vinegar and a teaspoon of warm water to the remaining miso paste mixture. Toss with kale to coat well.

Combine warm squash mixture with kale. Garnish with toasted pepitas, cilantro and basil. Serve warm

To toast pepitas: Place pepitas in a dry pan over a medium-low heat for about 3-5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to distribute the heat. Take off the heat once golden.

February 24, 2012

Tropical Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Guess what? I live in Australia.

If you know me in real life or have taken the time to read my About Me page, you’re probably all, “well duh.”

But I have to remind myself of this fact all. the. time. Walking down my street is the best time for this.

For months it has smelled like vacation on my street. Ok, that sounds weird. But someone is always barbequing, I swear. And the scent of foreign plants and flowers reminds me of my first visit to this country. So sometimes when I’m walking home I like to take a deep breath and say gently to myself (in my head), “hey girl, you live here. That’s kind of cool.”

But despite people saying ‘mate’ all the time and other obvious and personal reminders, I still can’t seem to fully internalize my location.

I know I’m to blame.  My, ahem, voracious consumption of food blogs is a major factor. Many of my favorites are based in the US, or else in the Northern Hemisphere. I inevitably end up reading about a slow-braised meat dish here, and a roasted root vegetable there, and before I know it I am aching to turn on the oven for hours on a hot summer afternoon. Like a crazy person.

I must tell myself to wait…be patient…put these recipes on the list – or PIN them (btw, thank you Pinterest for making me a less frenzied recipe collector.)

One warming, cold-weather food I refuse to put on hold is hot cereal. I love the blank canvas that oatmeal or a multi-grain cereal gives me.  Sweet, savory, seed-studded, cream-laced, peanut butter-topped, or with a big pile of fruit – I find it hard to tire of.

One of the many great things about Australia is the fresh fruits and vegetables. We have access to tropical-type produce that normally has to travel a long way to reach me in New York. But now, things like bananas grow only a state away. And passion fruit? If ever there were a nectar of the gods! For serious.

To keep me in check but satiate my need for a warm breakfast, I made a tropical version of my normal oats. I used light coconut milk, swapped oats for the more exotic-sounding quinoa, and topped it with kiwi, banana, toasted coconut and almonds.

The real key to making this “tropical” is the coconut milk with a little vanilla – it’s just dreamy. The rest of the components can be negotiated based on where ever you happen to be in the world.

I like to combine a mixed-grain cereal (I like Bob’s Red Mill 6-Grain Hot Cereal with flaxseed) with something more structured like traditional rolled oats or quinoa to add extra creaminess but still maintain a good texture. But you could make this using just one type of cereal or grain.

Tropical Breakfast Quinoa
Serves 2

- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1/4 cup mixed grain cereal
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- pinch of salt

Put quinoa, cereal, coconut milk, water and pinch of salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

Stir in vanilla, honey, cinnamon and cover. Bring down to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add a little more coconut milk towards the end, if desired. Serve with the toppings of your choice. (Toasted coconut is highly recommended.)

To toast coconut: sprinkle a layer of coconut in a dry pan over a low heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until golden and fragrant.

Garnish options:
- toasted coconut
- toasted almonds
- toasted cashews
- banana
- kiwi
- pineapple
- mango
- passion fruit  pulp
- papaya

BOOM! Tropical up in here.

February 23, 2012

Salt & Vinegar Fingerling Potatoes

All potatoes have a certain comfort factor for me. I’m a life-long fan of the mashed, baked and fried varieties – I’m really not discriminating, as long as there’s enough salt and/or butter to go around.

But I found myself hesitating with a little bag of fingerlings I had – waiting for some genius idea to come my way. Maybe it’s because they look like fat, stubby, gnarly little fingers in the best possible way? I don’t know, something about these little extremity-shaped tubers seemed to demand special treatment.

I found myself googling “fingerling potatoes” and before I could finish typing, the auto-prompt thingy suggested “salt and vinegar fingerling potatoes.” Oh yes, of course! Click on that.

As luck would have it, one of the first recipes was posted by Umami Girl, whose blog I happen to love. Done deal!

I remember my first encounter with salt and vinegar flavored potato chips (approx. age 9, Wise brand, magenta bag, in mom’s car.) At first I recoiled from the abrasive vinegar flavor but then realized it was nicely balanced by a healthy hit of salt. Perfection. Tangy, salty perfection. I went back for another, and then another…and so on, until the end of time.

Let’s make these on a cloudy Sunday afternoon during that looong stretch between lunch and dinner. You can even plate them up Master Chef-style with an artful smear or two of smoky BBQ  sauce, if you want. But straight up, right off the baking tray works too.

Salt & Vinegar Fingerling Potatoes
Recipe from Umami Girl, where it was adapted from Martha Stewart Living

- 1 lb./ 1/2 kg fingerling potatoes, sliced thinly lengthwise (about 1/4 and inch, or 2/3 cm)
- 2 cups white vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & fresh-ground pepper

In a small pot, combine the potato slices and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until fork-tender, about 8-10 minutes. Let cool in liquid for 30 minutes. Then drain well and blot the potatoes with paper towels to dry.

Preheat the broiler/grill on high with the rack about 6 inches below the heat source.

Toss the potatoes with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Spread potato slices onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Broil/grill until lightly browned on top, about 7-10 minutes. Flip the slices and broil until the other side is lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes more. Serve immediately.

February 22, 2012

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty sold me with the cover. The rustic roasted eggplants with creamy buttermilk sauce, studded with pomegranate jewels. Exotic and gorgeous, yet familiar…

I was stoked when I received it in my much-anticipated Amazon delivery a couple of weeks ago – I couldn’t wait to dive into the beautiful photography and get some creative new ideas.

This dish from Plenty struck me as soon as I saw it in the eggplant chapter (yes, an entire chapter devoted to eggplant. How can you not love this book?) I am always looking for a good soba noodle dish  – I love their slightly nutty flavor and silky texture. This recipe called for the quirky combination of eggplant and mango. The bright yellow of the mango and browned eggplant woven through the sandy-colored noodles just looked like fun. I had to make this.

The sweet, ripe mango and velvety, savory eggplant pair really well together. I added some shelled edamame to give another bright pop of color to this already surprising dish.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi – I decided not to shallow fry my eggplant and adjusted the measurements to serve 4 instead of 6.
Serves 4

- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 fresh chili, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- zest and juice from half a lime
- 2-3 tablespoons oil
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into even bite-sized chunks
- 6 ounces/170 grams of soba noodles
- 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
- 1 large mango, cut into even bite-sized chunks
- 1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced into half-moons
- 1 cup basil leaves, finely chopped
- 1 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped

In a small saucepan heat vinegar, honey and salt for 1 minute, making sure the honey is combined with the vinegar. Remove from heat and add garlic, chili and sesame oil. Allow to cool and then add the lime zest and juice. Set aside.

Heat oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes. By this time the eggplant should have absorbed most of the olive oil in the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cover the pan with a lid. Let the eggplant cook for this way for about 10 minutes, checking on it and stirring once or twice. If the pan dries out add another tablespoon of water. Cook until the eggplant and its skin are soft but still retaining their shape. Remove from heat and set aside.

Cook the soba noodles according to the package in salted water. When cooked through, drain and run cold water over them. Make sure the noodles are as dry as possible, blotting them on paper towels.

In a large bowl combine noodles, eggplant, edamame, mango, onion, dressing and half of the herbs. Mix well to combine. Let this sit for 1 to 2 hours before serving. Serve with the rest of the herbs.

February 21, 2012

Two Tomato Roma Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

This salad is inspired by a sandwich from one of my favorite cafes near my hometown on Long Island.

Tiger Lilly Cafe was and is something pretty foreign to suburban Long Island – it combines of a full vegetarian menu with non-vegetarian options to create a fresh produce-focused selection of sandwiches, salads and other lunch fare.

Tiger Lilly has a terrifically funky vibe, with mis-matched used furniture and local artists’ work adorning the brightly painted walls. The cafe has the feel of both California and the East Village – with good coffee and wheat grass shots readily available. Again, unusual to Long Island, but completely welcome.

I haven’t been there in a few years, but I have found myself thinking about it a lot lately. I seem to manifest my homesickness in the form of cravings for dishes, sauces and sugar-free pudding products. Luckily, I like a challenge in the kitchen.

One of my favorite sandwiches from Tiger Lilly is called the Roma, it’s made on a light french bread roll with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, mixed greens, and basil pesto mayo. Very simple, but the pesto mayo really brings a zing that ties it all together.

I’ve never been a mayo person, but can often be persuaded when it’s mixed with something fancy like ‘herbs’! or ‘garlic’! And pesto, well, pesto gets me nearly every time.

I decided to give our pesto mayo a makeover. I used Greek yogurt in the place of mayo and thinned out the mixture with some olive oil and a little lemon juice to create a creamy pesto salad dressing. (If you want to use this as a sandwich spread, you can probably reduce or omit the amounts of olive oil and lemon juice, depending on the consistency you would like.)

The result is a salad reminiscent of a Roma, without the uncomfortable presence of mayo. Hooray!

Creamy Pesto Dressing:
- 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons pre-made basil pesto
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon water
- salt & pepper, to taste

Salad (Serves 2)
- 1 truss tomato, chopped
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
- 2 big handfuls of arugula, or any desired green
- 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Assemble salad in a large bowl. Pour dressing on and toss vigorously to make sure all the arugula leaves are coated.

I would make this a meal with some white beans or some good-quality tinned tuna on top.

February 20, 2012

30 Days of Breakfast

Breakfast should be about being nice to yourself.  Fueling up for the day ahead. Treating yourself. Taking time to pause in the morning and enjoy something – however simple or elaborate.

I’m not going to lie, every meal of the day excites me.

But breakfast is special. It feels like the most intimate of the meals. Maybe because it’s often eaten and prepared alone or with our partner and eaten while we are still waking up.

It’s a gentle meal. Eaten consciously slow… in between sips of tea and paragraphs in the paper.

…I like to make it last.

Setting time aside in the mornings to enjoy my breakfast and feel totally un-rushed has been an important addition to my life. It’s probably not something I can carry on with forever. (I imagine things like children get in the way of such calm moments…) But for now, I’m all about relishing it.

I took a picture of my breakfast, or part of it, every day for 30 days as a little shout-out to one of my favorite meals. I don’t post many breakfast recipes here, but I’m hoping to change that.

I look forward to sharing many more breakfasts with you…

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February 17, 2012

Sriracha Roasted Chickpeas

If you haven’t gotten on the Sriracha bandwagon yet, it’s not too late!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about – Sriracha is a Thai chili sauce, most popularly sold in bottles with a bright green cap and a rooster on the label. If you like all things chili and spicy, you might totally fall in love with this stuff.

If I’m preaching to the choir, please join me and make some Sriracha roasted chickpeas. These babies are the new wasabi peas! (Yes, I’m for real with that statement.)

They’re an addictive snack and great garnish for salads, soups and pretty much anything else you can think of that might want a little extra awesome.

ALSO! I came across this Bon Appetit list that got me all fired up about going through another putting-Sriracha-on-everything-phase.

Get involved!

Sriracha Roasted Chickpeas
- 2 cans or 3 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and patted dry with a paper towel. (Make sure they’re very dry!)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha
- 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F.

Spread chickpeas out on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes. Check on them once or twice during this time, and shake the pan a little to make sure they cook evenly.

Remove chickpeas from the oven and place them in a mixing bowl. Pour olive oil, Sriracha, paprika and salt into the bowl and mix well to combine.

Spread the chickpeas out onto the baking tray again and bake for another 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve either warm or at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container.

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