Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 113: Sweet and Sour

Anyway, I know some people gravitate towards sweet foods and others crave sour or salty foods, but as an equal opportunist, I don't really have a preference, although when I do cheat on my healthy diet, I do tend to go for the chocolate over the chips. Fortunately for you, I've created some sweet and sour recipes that address each person's preference that will tantalize your taste-buds and give you virtually no guilt as you chow down on this tasty, salubrious food. My mother made some delicious butternut squash kugel for Passover recently, so I made my own twist on that dish as well as creating a new dish inspired by the Mediterranean. 

Vegan Triple Squash Kugel
Makes 6 cups or 10-12 servings

2 c. butternut squash
2 c. spaghetti squash
2 c. canned pumpkin
1 ¼ c. silken tofu
6 tbsp unsalted margarine, melted
1/3 c. stevia/sugar blend
1 c. light coconut milk
1 c. unsweetened almond milk (Almond Breeze vanilla flavored—yes, they make it unsweetened now in other flavors besides the original)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp lemon zest

Crumble Topping:
¼ c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. ground sunflower seeds
¼ c. ground walnuts
¼ c. Chex rice cereal
1 packet raw stevia
2 tbsp unsalted magarine

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a medium casserole dish lightly with Pam Buttery spray.
If you bought a whole squash, you can puncture the shell with a fork and cook it like you would for a baked potato in the microwave on high for about 10-15 minutes, until it is soft when you insert a fork into it. 

3) Let the squash cool down for about five minutes before cutting it because it will be steaming hot and can burn your hands (trust me, I was impatient once and learned my lesson). Once you cut it open, discard the gooey part in the center, using a fork to separate the seeds. *Note: Many people don't realize that you can toast any squash seed like you would for pumpkin seeds, so for an additional topping, save the seeds!

4) If you bought the squash peeled and pre-cut like I did, you can bake it in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until it feels soft when inserting a fork into one of the pieces.  
5) Once both squashes are baked, gradually puree them with the rest of the ingredients in a food processor until it becomes smooth. *Note: Since the spaghetti squash looks like strands of spaghetti, like a noodle kugel, you can set it aside and then stir it into the puree like you would for actual noodles for a different texture. I pureed it with the rest of the squash for a smooth, pudding-like consistency, but I think I'm going to try it the other way without pureeing the spaghetti squash next time. 
6) Spoon out the puree into the casserole dish and spread evenly with a spatula. 
7) Melt the margarine in a glass bowl the microwave on high for 30-45 seconds, making sure to cover the top of your bowl with a plate or some sort of cover so it doesn't splatter all over the microwave.
8). Combine the rest of the topping ingredients into another small bowl and pour in the melted margarine to form thick crumbs.
9) Spoon out the crumb topping evenly over the kugel and bake in the oven for 35-45 minutes, or until it looks crispy. 
10) I found the best consistency is after you let the kugel sit in the refrigerator for about an hour or two to set before serving, or even overnight as this can be made the day before serving.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Mediterranean Chicken with Olive-Artichoke Tapenade and Garlicky Swiss Chard and Collard Greens
Makes 6 servings

6 small frozen chicken breasts
3 cups Swiss chard
3 cups frozen collard greens
10 Spanish olives + 4 capers and 3 tbsp roasted pimentos (all from the jar)
3 artichoke hearts
1 small onion or 3 shallots
3 stalks cilantro
6 Kalamata olives
4 slices sun-dried tomatoes
1 palm heart
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive juice (from Spanish olive jar)
4 tbsp white Balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar (I used pinot-grigio vinegar)
6 tbsp minced garlic

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Chop Swiss chard into big pieces and set aside with the collard greens.
3) For the tapenade, chop up the olives, cilantro, onion, palm heart and artichoke hearts and set aside.
4) Combine olive juice and lemon juice with the balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp garlic in a small bowl.
5) Make a foil packet, and place the chicken breasts inside, surrounding it with the collard greens and swiss chard.
6) Pour the sauce over the chicken, topping it with the tapenade.
7) Spoon the rest of the minced garlic over the collard greens and Swiss chard.
8) Close foil packet and bake chicken in the oven for 45 minutes.
9) Take chicken out of the oven and open the packet to serve immediately. It can be served over rice or just by itself for a low-carb option.

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                                           The Preparation:

                                                           The Results:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 104: Salubrious Sister Edition: Gluten-Free Goodies!

I come from a culinary family, so obviously, I'm not the only one who cooks in my kitchen (okay, so I tend to hog it a lot, but my sister loves me for that...I hope). She's wonderful though and will sometimes act as my sous chef and prepare the ingredients for my recipes while I'm at night class or working late on my thesis, which is due quite soon (hence the delay in posts--often, I'm too exhausted to blog after coming home at night lately). So I decided to thank her by posting some of her recipes (plus one I made for her to break the fast of Passover last weekend)! Please enjoy reading:

Spiced Kale Chips
kale (you decide how much you want to make)
A few shakes of:
onion powder
garlic powder
parmesan cheese

a pinch of red pepper flakes

Pam Olive Oil

1) Preheat the oven to 350*F. 
2) Wash kale and squeeze it dry. Break leaves into pieces, cutting off the stems and saving those for later use. 
3) Spread evenly spaced over baking sheet.
4)  Lightly spray olive oil spray over them.
5) Shake spices over them, and the pinch of red pepper flakes.
6) Place baking sheet in oven and bake for 25 minutes, depending on the strength of your oven. Check after 15 minutes to see if kale is crispy. Try not to burn the kale chips. 
7) Take out of oven, place in bowl and let cool before storing in an airtight container. 

Vegan Gluten-Free Pasta Scramble
Makes 1 serving

1 cup brown rice rigatoni or gluten-free noodle of choice (soba noodles, quinoa noodles, etc.)
3 baby Portobello mushrooms
4 cooked brussels sprouts, sliced thinly
1 cup frozen spinach
1 teaspoon spiced vegan chorizo
handful peeled garlic cloves
1-2 tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
handful of Pine nuts or sunflower seeds
Parmesan cheese or shredded vegan cheese 

1) Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for several minutes until they are al dente (meaning not too soft). 
2) Sauté garlic cloves with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small frying pan (enough to coat the pan), a shake of salt and pepper until tender. Set aside.
3) Sauté spinach and mushrooms in a large frying pan with tablespoon with a tablespoon of olive oil (enough to coat the pan and the mushrooms) until the mushrooms are tender and soft.
4) Add the garlic cloves and chorizo to the large frying pan and stir-fry everything together for ten seconds.
5) Put the pasta in a bowl and arrange the brussels sprouts around the edges.
6) Pour the contents of the frying pan over the pasta. 
7) Sprinkle Pine nuts or sunflower seeds over everything. 
8) Sprinkle parmesan cheese or crumbled vegan cheese over everything and enjoy. 

Gluten-Free Veggie Pizza with Vegan Mushroom-Tomato Sauce

Makes 1 large rectangular pizza

2 c. gluten-free flour mix
¼ c. flax powder
¼ c. almond meal
2 eggs
2 c. organic vegetable broth
¼ c. water
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Vegan Mushroom Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 cups

2 tbsp soy chorizo (Trader Joe’s brand)
6 mini Portobello mushrooms
3 stalks fresh cilantro
3 tbsp EVOO (olive oil)
½ c. roasted sunflower seeds, unsalted
2 tsp ground oregano
2 tsp ground basil (or 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped)
2 slices sun-dried tomatoes
6 mini green or yellow heirloom tomatoes, chopped
6 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic

Additional Toppings:
2 c grated lactose-free reduced-fat cheddar (Cabot brand)
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
3 Brussel sprouts
½ red bell pepper
2 c. arugula 

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
2) For the crust, mix dry ingredients including the spices and Parmesan cheese in a large mixing bowl.
3) Add vegetable broth and mix in with a large wooden spoon (can be done in a food processor as well). 
4) Whisk eggs in a small bowl before pouring them into the dough and stir thoroughly, until dough reaches a liquidity state.
5) Generously grease a large baking pan with Pam olive oil and pour dough, spreading with a rubber spatula to fill the pan.
6) Bake crust in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until it looks golden and bounces back to the touch.
7) Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients into a food processor. **Make sure you chop the mushrooms so they don't clog up the processor.
8) Take out the crust momentarily from the oven once it's done and spread the mushroom-tomato sauce over the pizza dough, topping it with the additional toppings or any toppings of your choice really!
9) Place pizza back into the oven and bake for about another 20-25 minutes, sprinkling the cheese on top about halfway through.
10) Remove from oven and let it cool down--I actually found that the dough became more chewy and less soft once eaten the next day and for the first time, I actually almost got a real pizza dough chewy consistency! Three times is the charm I suppose! I think it was the eggs, which acted as a binder, and which also made this pizza vegetarian and not vegan, but oh well. I'm not a vegan anyway--I just like eating vegan food from time to time.
11) Reheat a pizza slice and serve! **Note: to clean the pan, because I had a hard time removing the pizza due to not greasing the pan well enough, you should leave it to soak in the sink overnight to get the remnants of the dough off the pan for a less messy and frustrating clean-up situation!

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                          Hannah's Spiced Kale Chips

                                            Hannah's Vegan Gluten-Free Pasta Scramble

                                            My gluten-free pizza! Take 3:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 97: Happy Belated Passover!

I know there are some fellow Jews out there would think that I'm crazy for saying that Passover is indeed my favorite holiday, but as a foodie, how can one not love this holiday? Sure, there are some restrictions and despite my Eastern-European background (or Ashkenazi as we call it), that doesn't deter me of experimenting in the kitchen (and pretending that I have a Middle-Eastern/Spanish background, or a Sephardic, because they have different and somewhat less restrictive dietary rules during the holiday, so I can eat beans and rice if I want to, something that Ashkenazi Jews don't eat during the holiday, which I'll explain more in depth when I make a mixed bean cake later this week or weekend). For the two main Passover meals, or seders, I'm responsible in the family for making the haroset, which is a sweet mixture representing the mortar between the bricks that the slaves used to build the pyramids in Egypt. It's a culinary contrast to the bitter and quite spicy maror, or horseradish, which represent the tears that many slaves shed during their hardships. The normal Ashkenazi haroset is made with apples, nuts and sweet red wine, however, I am not that simple. I decided to be a bit more creative and came up with a tropical fruit haroset (not really Ashkenazi or Sephardic) and then a date-based Sephardic haroset, as well as the traditional Ashkenazi apple one because my grandfather cherishes our traditions. I also made a dairy-free coconut ice cream to compliment my mother's famous frozen strawberry torte that she makes every year. So with that, as the holiday is actually about to be over, this is going to sound ironic, but Happy Passover or Pesach as it's called in Hebrew and feast your eyes on these untraditional recipes from my family's seder (and then be ready for our breaking of the Passover fast, which ironically, for my sister and I, doesn't really mean anything because we don't eat wheat/gluten (so no beer and pizza for us!), but then again, we're technically Ashkenazi, so TECHNICALLY, we weren't supposed to consume beans and rice during Passover! But I am thinking of making a gluten-free pizza tomorrow night...

Tropical Citrus Ginger Charoset
Makes about 2 cups

½ c. golden raisins
½ c. Craisins
½ c. candied ginger
2 tbsp kumquat zest
1 ½ c. dried apricots
½ c. dried mango or pineapple slices
1 c. white Passover wine
¼ c. pineapple juice
½ blood orange
½ c. toasted coconut flakes
1/3 c. toasted pine nuts

Sephardic Date-Fig Charoset
Makes about 2 cups

½ c. dried figs
½ c. dried plums (prunes)
1 c. dried dates
1 dried banana
¼ c. toasted almonds
¼ c. toasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp chrystallized ginger
½ c. Craisins
¼ c. Red Passover wine

Ashkenazi Apple Charoset with a Twist
Makes 2 cups

2-3 red apples (I used Gala), peeled and cored
2 tbsp kosher red wine 
2 tbsp kosher white wine
1 c. toasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Directions for Charoset: Combine ingredients in a food processor and blend! Enjoy on matzah (if you're not gluten-intolerant, although they do sell some gluten-free matzah, but it's really expensive, so we just put some in lettuce cups and then stuffed some bell peppers with some! Yummy! :)

Dairy-Free Coconut-Almond-Vanilla Ice Cream with Chocolate Balsamic Strawberry Sauce
Makes about 6 cups

2 c. light coconut milk
1 ½ c. coconut cream
1 ½ c. unsweetened almond milk
1 ½ tsp raw stevia extract (comes in a small bottle with a dropper)
1 tbsp  vanilla extract
1 tbsp almond extract
1 tbsp ground basil leaves (can use fresh)
4 egg yolks
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
1/4 c. coconut cream + 1/2 c. light coconut milk

Chocolate-Balsamic Strawberry Sauce:
Makes about 3 cups
2 c. Balsamic vinegar (white or black)
1 c. strawberries (can be frozen)
2 squares of unsweetened chocolate (unsweetened chocolate usually comes in bars that you can break up, but if you find some chocolate chips, use about 1/2 cup)
½-3/4 c. raw stevia (depending on how sweet you like it)

1) Combine all but the last three ice cream ingredients in a large pot and set the heat at a medium setting until it starts to boil slightly. Stir throughout occassionally for about 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
2) Whisk the egg yolks in a small boil with a fork and pour into the ice cream mixture along with the xanthan gum. Stir IMMEDIATELY or the yolks will curdle and you will have to strain the cream through a strainer like I had to and trust me, despite my family not being wasteful, we did not like the coconut-scrambled eggs that resulted from my error so we had to throw them away. They were a little weird, even for my somewhat sophisticated palate. 
3) Turn the heat back on to a medium-low setting and stir constantly for about 5-10 minutes until the cream mixture thickens.
4) Turn off the heat again and let the cream cool down for about 5 minutes. 
5) Spoon the cream into some ice cube trays (I filled 4)  and place in the freezer overnight.
6) Meanwhile, combine the stevia with the frozen strawberries and let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight as well.
7) The next day, puree the strawberries in the food processor.
8) Pour the Balsamic vinegar in a medium pot, turning on the heat to a medium setting and let it come to a slight boil, stirring throughout. 
9) Add the strawberry puree and the chocolate until it's melted.
10) Stir the sauce with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of your spoon.
11) Turn down the heat and refrigerate while preparing the ice cream.
12) Take the ice cream cubes out of the freezer and place 1 tray at a time in a food processor, gradually adding the 3/4 coconut cream combined with the coconut milk until the mixture becomes smooth. Now you will have extremely soft ice cream, which you can eat now with some sauce on the top, OR you can refreeze it in a container for several hours. Once it's refrozen, you can heat it up for a minutes in the microwave on a high setting, like you would do after refreezing normal ice cream. 

*Note: Unlike the ricotta ice cream, which was creamier due to the whipped ricotta cheese, the texture of this ice cream is more like a sorbet, and you can add more cream than milk if you don't mind that it's not as healthy to make it creamier. 

Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                                           The Tropical Ginger-Citrus Charoset

                                            The Sephardic Date Charoset

                                            The Ashkenazi Apple Charoset

The Ice Cream: Stage 1: Ice Cream Cubes (lip-shaped because my mom is that cool and has those at home--kisses!)

                                         The Ice Cream: Final Stage with the Sauce!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An Ode to Her Majesty...With Scones!

I have this friend who's a serious Anglophile, so I hope he appreciates this post. As you can see from previous posts, I've been obsessed with raw kombucha fermented tea. GT's brand is my favorite because it's all natural with no sugar and pure ingredients (so the ginger one has fresh pressed ginger juice in it for example--REALLY good for stomach problems as I mentioned before). The other day, I got the citrus one, which had fresh lemon juice. Now you may be wondering what the heck this has to do with my scones, so I digress:

Before I bought the tea, I had been thinking about making gluten-free, high fiber, low-carb, low-fat buttermilk scones. Now, being that the majority of my desserts/baked goods are made without any dairy, I decided to make my own dairy-free buttermilk by combining coconut milk with some of the kombucha tea since lemon juice naturally sours any milk you put it in. To make it even more gourmet (naturally), I also put some lavender leaves in it as well and left it in the refrigerator for a week to let the kombucha really sour the milk (also because I was busy all week so if you do have the time, you can just leave it to sour the milk overnight). These scones were decidedly better tasting the day after they were made and they're not particularly that sweet because a popular condiment to sweeten scones is jam or jelly ( still, I might double the sugar next time though, or stevia, rather, as I only used 1/6th a cup--I put 1/3 a cup in the recipe but if you don't mind them not being that sweet, you can half it like my original recipe called for). Check out the recipe and make a tribute to Her Majesty as well! I forgot my camera in the apartment, and I'm currently on my way to see my parents in Syracuse for Passover, so there won't be photos of these scones unfortunately until later, but stay posted for some delicious recipes from this weekend's seder (for those of you non-Jews, a seder is basically a huge feast similar to Thanksgiving, only it revolves around the telling of the story of Passover, and as you may have guessed, it's a pretty big deal at my house--we make enough food for an army)!

Lemon-Lavender Buttermilk Scones with 'Coconutty' Crumble
Makes about 1 dozen scones

1 c. garbanzo bean flour
1 c. almond flour/meal
1/4 c. flax seed powder
3/4 c. coconut flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 pinches of salt
1/3 c. raw stevia powder
1 1/4 c. coconut buttermilk: 3/4 c. light coconut milk + 3/4 c. GT's raw organic kombucha--citrus flavor
1 1/2 sticks of unsalted margarine (Earth Balance is the best, but Fleishman's is a good alternative, which I used)
1 tbsp almond extract
1/2 c. coconut vinegar (for syrup)
1/2 c. white Balsamic or Pinot Grigio vinegar (for syrup)
2 packets of raw stevia

Crumble Topping (will make a lot more than you need but this topping also goes well in yogurt as well):
1/2 c. ground sunflower seeds (I did this in a coffee grinder, but you can do it in the food processor if you'd like
1/2 c. ground walnuts (again in the coffee grinder)
1/2 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1 packet raw stevia

1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2) Grease a muffin tin with Pam butter spray or olive oil, or you can line the muffin tin with foil liners (I don't have heart-shaped muffin liners to fit my specialty pan, so I just greased it).
3) Mix dry ingredients together with a fork in a large bowl. 
4) Once margarine is a little softer from being in the freezer, you can do one of the following: 
a) The quicker and lazy way is to do these next steps in a food processor, but you don't need one--I just like using my shiny new one that I got as a gift from my mom whenever I have the chance. Anyway, moving on, if you have a food processor, slice the margarine into tablespoons and place the margarine in the processor and pour in about 1 cup of the dry mixture, turning it on. Gradually add in the rest of the dry ingredients until it forms course crumbs.
b) If you do not have a food processor, mix the tablespoons of margarine with a fork or a hand mixer.
5) a) If you're using the food processor, add the coconut buttermilk and almond extract, mixing it until a ball of dough forms.
b) If you're not using a food processor, make a well in the center of the bowl and add the almond extract and coconut buttermilk and blend with a hand mixer or a large wooden spoon until a large ball of dough forms.
6) Spoon out the dough into the muffin tin (I used my heart-shaped one that I've used previously for my celiac pancake recipe and the celiac cupcake recipe). 
7) With a knife, smooth out the tops of the dough.
8) Combine the ingredients for the crumble topping in a small bowl and sprinkle it on top of the muffins.
9) Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the tops look slightly browned and crispy.
10) Meanwhile, heat up the vinegars and stevia in a small saucepan on medium heat until it starts to boil slightly and stir gently with a wooden spoon. *Note: My sister told me to mention that this process is pretty aromatic and will fill the kitchen with the scent of reduced vinegar. If this bothers you, open a 'fricken' door and deal with it--the results will be worth sacrificing one of your senses for the 10 minutes it takes to make this syrup. AND it's healthier than making a simple sugar syrup (as well as more sophisticated if you ask me)!
11) Stir occasionally until a syrup forms on your wooden spoon, for about 10-15 minutes.
12) Remove scones from the oven and drizzle the syrup on top. 
12) Place on cooling rack for a few minutes and serve immediately. I'd suggest cutting them in half horizontally and eating them with sugar-free jam (or regular if you don't care). 

Enjoy and Cheers!