Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Truth About Stovetop Grill Pans - Grilled Veggies with Herb Balsamic Vinaigrette

  The truth about stovetop grill pans is...they're awesome. For anyone who loves to spend time in their kitchen, its a must. Its not just that the heavy pans themselves are kinda beautiful - I find they look fantastic on a stovetop - they've also got so much personality for a cooking aparatus, always begging to be used. Although yesterday was the official inauguration of my new cherry Le Creuset square grill pan, I imagine we will have a very long and happy life together. I see things like grilled garliky tempeh or tofu, mushroom and roasted tomato bruschetta and Tex-Mex fajitas in our future.
  It's certainly a creative practice and process running a veg-ified kitchen when both your dog and husband are omnivorous.  But it just happens to be a bonus that they are both very easy to please...
  Last night for dinner we shared a platter of every possible grilled veggie I had on hand with a roasted red pepper and onion bulgur wheat pilaf [inspired by Itamar's Bulgur Pilaf from Ottolenghis' Plenty]. About 2 minutes into the meal, my old man exclaimed "you know babe, it almost feels like I'm having a steak alongside these veggies and bulgur." Now it's certainly that charred, backyard-BBQ-poolside kinda tastebud feeling he had that prompted such a comment, but I'll take it..."To your health, babe," I replied.
  So, lets be honest...grilled veggies definitely need some jazz and zing to amp up the intrinsic flavors of the vegetables themselves, which can be bland in vegetables like eggplant and zucchini. So for this recipe, I put together a Herb Balsamic vinaigrette to drizzle on top of the warm veggies, each of which have different grilling times - so the veggies need to be grilled in batches:

For the vinaigrette:

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1.5 tbsp, chopped rosemary
1.5 tbsp, chopped italian parsley
1.5 tbsp, chopped fresh basil
2-3 cloves crushed garlic
4 tbsp. olive oil
Salt + Pepper to taste

Whisk olive oil with the other ingredients and set aside.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Snow Day Stuffed Acorn Squash

I'm just not one of those New Yorkers who enjoys the snow...even from indoors. Its beautiful, agreed. And don't get me wrong, that pristine few inches that just perch on the branches outside the window or on the ledge of the balcony, the flakes that accumulate on our dachshunds' long snout and tail on a quiet snowy walk...there's something fulfilling and elegant about it. But that Robert Frost warm n' fuzzy feeling inside doesn't really happen for me. Unless...I am behind my kitchen counter, over the stove, on top of the cutting board and in front of the oven...

Growing up, acorn squash was normally relegated to late fall/early winter during the autumnal holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Thanksgiving; when my mother invites family and friends for a Moroccan Feast - une fete marocaine - the aperitifs of oil cured black olives and fried ful (fava beans) greet the the dinner table the first course of harira, a traditional tomato-based soup of chickpeas, onions, cilantro, and saffron is served with warm bread or egg-less challah...the soup is always followed by a spread of the classic salads: carrot, beet, aubergine, and swiss chard and then of course the piece de resistance: an enormous platter of twice-steamed couscous tossed with crispy sweet onions is adorned by sliced, cinnamon-roasted acorn squash and sweet potatoes and served alongside crispy cayenne baked chickpeas and shallots. Eventually, everyone retreats to the living room for nana tea (fresh mint and gunpowder tea sweetened with sugar) served in my great grandmothers' original tea glasses from Meknes (the kind that ABC carpet knocks off and charges an arm and a leg for). 
With all that being said, this post is not a throwback to the food of my childhood that is so heavily influenced and fueled by my families' Moroccan origin...

Enter Roasted & Stuffed Acorn Squash

Although this acorn squash recipe has almost nothing to do with a moroccan feast, it is quite festive and a lovely winter dish. Depending on the size of the squash one could be enough for a cozy dinner for two. Served alongside a bitter greens salad just hits the spot. 

What you'll need:

1 medium acorn squash - halved and seeded 
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper

For stuffing:

1 cup cooked short grain brown rice [1 cup brown rice boiled toasted with olive oil and a few saffron threads and then boiled with 2 cups of [homemade] vegetable broth for 35-40minutes]
12-14 cremini or button mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 trimmed leek, sliced
1 small yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, removed from stem
a few tablespoons of olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper\
nutritional yeast, optional

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil on the acorn squash and season with salt and pepper. 
Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and cover with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes until crispy and the flesh softened.

In a large pan, heat olive oil and add onions. Once the onions become fragrant add the thyme, leeks and mushrooms. Allow for the mushrooms to break down a bit and release some liquid, about 5 minutes and then add garlic, salt and pepper. Continue to stir until all the ingredients have become incorporated and cooked down, about 8-10 minutes. Add prepared brown rice and stir to mix. Adjust seasoning as needed.

Remove squash from the oven and turn on the broiler. Carefully scoop out 2-3 tablespoons of flesh from each half and stir into the mushroom rice mixture. Again, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. 

Divide the rice mixture among the squash halves and don't be afraid to pile it in (the stuffing with keep its mound shape) and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.

Broil until crispy and mmmm! enjoy!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cabbage Palm Cakes New Year Comeback

So...I am fully aware that it has been almost a YEAR since my last post. The truth is, I have no idea how this happened. 2013 was a great year. A full year. Lots of teaching and practicing yoga, plenty of travel; my little family moved out to Long Island City and planted a small herb garden on the balcony [basil, mint, oregano, rosemary]; we spent many afternoons and weekends down by the river at the dog run [where the Pepsi Cola sign lives]; the new ceramic mandolin and stainless steel slow cooker have both inexpressively influenced the culinary happenings of my warm lovely kitchen; I've fallen deeply in love with gastronomy goddesses like Ina and Martha (i mean, how great are they?), and vegan-izing their farm-to-table, simple-is-better, less-is-more East Hamptonesque style...(a nod to my talented and beautiful friend Chef Alexa Weitzman - And I must mention, thanks to the Weitzmans', we made it to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for our anniversary. There are no words.
And London-based Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, although on the other side of the spectrum and the world for that matter, has also very much inspired me - warm zesty tangy spicy hearty tart sweet piquant pungent smokey clean Mediterranean food. Reminds me of family's roots being in North Africa and Israel.
And all the while, I've been cooking, instagram-ing and not blogging. Well, here's to a new years resolution in action: more blog posts, many many more posts...
cabbage palm cakes served with sriracha veganaise sauce, bitter greens and cashew pesto penne
bottom right, homemade babaganoush - recipe to come!

Cabbage Palm Cakes

Hearts of palm are the edible inner part of the stem of the cabbage palm tree...their flavor is a cross between an artichoke and asparagus yet they have this miraculous texture similar to lump crab meat and they are common in central American cuisine.

What you'll need:

1 [glass] jar of hearts of palm
1.5 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1-2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup frozen organic roasted corn kernels
1/2 roasted red, yellow or green pepper [prepared pepper from a jar works too], minced and squeezed of liquid

1/2 cup of corn flour
canola oil for pan frying

Pulse the hearts of palm just a couple of times so they break up and resemble lump crab.
Toss with Old Bar, salt and pepper in a bowl.
Add the dill, panko, scallions, corn, red pepper and dijon.
Cover and let set in fridge for at least an hour.
After an hour, remove mixture and form into little cake patties and place on a cutting board...larger or smaller...this part is personal.
Cover and put back into the fridge for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile place the corn flour on a rimmed plate and heat your oil in a cast iron pan, preferably.
Coat each cake with the corn oil and pan fry 2-3minutes on each side.

Garnish with chives and serve with lemon or lime quarters, cholua or sriracha...Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the Green Juice

What I love most about a homemade green juice is that it's so unapologetically to the point. There's a little fuss with preparing the veggies + fruit and a bit of muss to clean up afterwards but a green juice and its flavor never try to be anything other than what it is - a 'Living' alkaline elixir of blended greens and roots and citrus...


And in keeping to the point, our little family has been juicing daily/every other day and it's about time I give ya the juicy juice blend:

3 collard leaves
3-4 kale leaves (lacinto or curly kale)
3 celery stalks
1/2-1 bunch parsley
1/2 fennel + stem
1 large cucumber
1 green apple or anjou pear 
1 red or golden beet
1 lemon
ginger root, peeled and to taste

Friday, November 2, 2012

les petits pois + Patti Smith

   I just love to say, type, write and read the words 'les petits pois' [trans. english peas] Talk about onomonopia - the single syllables, the crispy 'T' and soft '-OIS' really embody the tenderness, sweetness and liveliness that is a pea.
  *Want to give a quick shout out to my mama Josiane, who noted in my baby book of eating habits at 9 months: "you absolutely love peas, baby girl and dont seem to like any meat."*
Patti + Robert in the kitchen
   My husband, pup Pax and I have been evacuated from our home on Roosevelt Island, in lieu of Sandy's arrival and her fury, and have been camping out at my parents' place in Forest Hills. This has meant a lot of reading [Patti Smith's Just Kids has struck the core of me and I long to be transported to the days of Jimi Hendrix at the Chelsea Hotel and feather boas, The Factory and Jack Kerouac...I yearn to sit on the floor of Patti's 23rd street flat, along with Robert Mapplethorpe deconstructing the meaning of Art], a daily makeshift mat-less yoga practice in the living room, and a substantial amount of eating...savoring...indulging...oh and eating - many scrumptious vegan delights have sprung from the last week so keep checking in, family...
  However, I wanted to start avec les petits pois with a very simple, filling, delicieux recipe, of which the young baby peas bring all the love to...perfect for fall and winter and a fantastic Thanksgiving side dish...and with the leftovers, can be made into some seriously rad quinoa cakes...

'la sauce'
Magic Mushroom* and English Pea Quinoa Pilaf
*nod to Patti and Robert

2 cups organic quinoa, 3x rinsed
4 cups organic vegetable broth
Pinch of saffron
1 large leek, sliced
1-2 small shallots, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1-1.5 cup sliced mushrooms (crimini, button, or shitake or all three)
3/4 cup of frozen baby peas (or more, depending on how much of a pea-lover you are; you just want there to be an equal ratio of all components)

olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  Heat olive oil in cast iron or aluminum pan. Add leeks and shallots and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cook until fragrant and then add the 'shrooms. Allow the mushrooms to cook down a bit and then add les petits pois. In essence, you are creating a sauce for your quinoa.
  In a separate pot, mix quinoa with vegetable broth and add a pinch of saffron as well as a substantial sprinkle of salt. Bring to a boil. Once rolling, cover and lower to simmer to cook for about 12 minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa is al dente. Set aside.
  Fold cooked quinoa into la sauce, add salt and plenty of pepper. Serve, baby serve...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pudding

All vegan and raw food chefs know, the way to a carnivore's and dairy-ofiles' heart is dessert. Most of the time it involves an avocado, raw cacao powder, maple syrup, a vitamix, berries and some good old fashioned love - bubby style. In this case, its even more simple: mix a couple of ingredients in a bowl, chill overnight, and dress with any and all classic sweet-veeg toppings.

1 cup organic almond [hazelnut, coconut, or flaxseed] milk 
4 tablespoons organic chia seeds
3/4 - 1 tbsp. maple syrup (honey works too)
*may stir in a tablespoon of raw cacao powder to make chocolate pudding*

pick some toppings: unsweetened shredded coconut, goji berries, thompson raisins, walnuts, chopped dates, unsweetened dried cranberries, almond slivers, etc. 

Mix chia seeds and non-dairy milk in a bowl and be sure to get all the seeds immersed. Stir in the maple syrup, cover and chill overnight. Wake up to the gelatinous creaminess of your chia seed pudding and throw on your fav toppings...what toppings did you use?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I've gone tamales!

    By the final day of our honeymoon we had befriended a few very cool peeps - most of which were other newlyweds - from LA-ish and Virgina... but there was a particularly special spot in our hearts for some kindred spirits, Martin Flores and Mario Delgado - two gentile gentlemen who shared their vibrations with us every morning at breakfast (the BEST part of the honeymoon, meanwhile). 
   Each morning we would be seated and with all the goodwill and earnestness, Martin would bring over our green tea and of course, my beloved tamales. "Buenos Dias, 'Biiktoria,' SeƱor Matan..." he would smile and we would smile...We immediately shared a love and passion for all things culinary - the ingredients, the satisfaction, the visceral experience of creating goodness to share with loved ones...he too had the same system with his partner - I prepare the food and Matan cleans up lol...that really allows us to get emotional in the kitchen with different utensils...pots and pans and food processors flying about in a frenzy to 'give' to our food. We shared recipes and suggestions and he told me of his grandfathers' huatia tamales...wrapped in banana leaf and baked in an 'earth oven' or 'pit-hearth' [a cooking pit in the ground used to bake or steam food]. Talk about inspiration. This is an homage to Martin, his grandfather, the Mexican gastronomic culture and all foodies out there who just love good eats. Here's a little lovin' for that tomatillo sauce to compliment:

Vegan Pinto Tamales

For the dough
4 cups corn masa [Maseca brand is fab; can be purchased at an Mexican market or Garden of Eden]
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup organic coconut oil, melted
3 cups vegetable broth
1 package of dried corn husks (fresh husks are always a good choice)

Soak 10-12 husks in water for at least 30 minutes while preparing the filling.
Mix all the dry ingredients. Add vegetable broth and mix to start forming a dough. Slowly pour melted coconut oil to create a smooth consistency that is malleable and dough-like. Set aside.
For the filling
4 tbsp. canola or safflower oil
1 container of organic pinto beans
1/2 poblano pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup organic mushrooms, sliced 
1 tomato, diced
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (mild-medium) green chili 
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Dash of chili pepper (+) if you like it hot hot hot
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of cheddar or pepperjack daiya 
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted

Heat the oil in a large pan [I used a cast iron brasier - thank you Harrisons!]; add onions and leeks and cook down on medium heat until a bit soft (about 5 minutes). If using a cast iron pan, no need to make the heat higher than medium-low the whole time. 
Add red and poblano peppers and allow to cook another 5 minutes or so until they soften. 
Add chopped tomato, garlic, mushrooms, can of green chili and cilantro. Mix well and let those ingredients simmer and integrate. 
Add pinto beans and spices, salt and pepper. Simmer covered on a low fire for another 15-20 minutes or so...yet continue to check in. If the ingredients get dry, may add a drop of vegetable broth.  Once all the vegetables have cooked and softened out, mix in the daiya cheeze and continue to simmer and stir for another 5 minutes until cheeze has melted -  creating this this stew-like pot of tamale pinto love. Let cool.
With about 2-3 tablespoons of the corn masa dough (depending on the size of the husk), center the dough on the husk and spread towards the edges, making it about a 1/3 inch in thickness and leaving about an inch frame of husk all around.
Place a heaping tablespoon of the pinto mixture and a sprinkle of the defrosted corn kernels in the center and wrap it up! It is a learned skill and it took me until the 5th or 6th tamale to get the hang of rolling up the tamale. Rip strands of a corn husk, of about a centimeter in width to tie the ends of the tamales.
Steam! In your double-boiler or with a steam basket for 30-40 minutes. Its important to not overcook the masa so give it a little squeeze intermittently to make sure they haven't hardened.
Remove, unwrap and enjoy warm! With above tomatillo sauce...que delicioso!