Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thanks goodness for spring!

I'm afraid I tend to get the winter doldrums, and this was a particularly bad winter. Winter is really not a season of inspired cooking for me. As much as enjoy the hearty foods, I get a little tired of kale and beets. So, welcome spring! I am looking forward to some fresh produce and more diversity! Nothing that I have cooked recently comes to mind as anything exciting to post, but I did try a delicious dish that I want to share. Standard Tap (in the Northern Liberties area) has a delicious fiddlehead ferns and fava beans dish right now. Fiddlehead ferns are a short-lived spring item, so get them while you can! I had been wanting to try them for some time, and this was the year! Unique and wonderful. Try them out before they're gone! And I promise I will post some more recipes soon. :0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Healthy Veg Comfort food!

On this very, very snowy day, I thought some comfort food was called for! And so:

Herbed "Chicken" and Dumplings

Fluffy herb-flecked dumplings, tender vegetables, and Butler Soy curls subbed for chicken combine in this soul-satisfying classic. If you cannot find Soy Curls, try any other chicken substitute, like Morningstar Farms Mealstarters Chik'n Strips (in the freezer section).  I've also used the "chicken" strips that are by the tofu in the local Asian market.  I like to have leftovers for lunches, so I doubled this recipe. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Serves: 2

1/2 cup Soy Curls
3/4 cup Celery, diced (~1/4")
1/2 cup Carrots, sliced (1/4")
1/2 cup Chopped Onion
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
3 parsley sprigs
1 bay leaf
3 cups vegetable broth, or broth from chicken-flavored bouillon
2.25 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk or milk alternative

1. Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add celery and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Follow directions to rehydrate Soy Curls using vegetable or chicken-flavored bouillon mix. Add to pan with broth; bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, chopped parsley, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk, stirring just until moist. Spoon by heaping teaspoonfuls into broth mixture; cover and simmer 10 minutes or until dumplings are done. (The best way to do this is to dip your spoon into the broth, scoop up some dumpling dough, and drop it into the broth; repeat. Make sure to leave some space between the dumplings and keep your broth at a nice simmer, not boiling, but don't let it get too low.) Discard parsley sprigs and bay leaf.

You can get the nutritional information here, if you're interested:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

I've been slacking on posting, but that doesn't mean I have not been cooking. So to make up for my lack of posts, and in honor of the New Year, I'm going to give you two recipes! 
One I cannot take any credit for, but a friend requested the recipe, so I will pass it on with my minor tweak. The other is a child of neccessity; we undertook an elimination diet which cuts out 80% of the food we would normally eat. Okay, 80% is probably a bit of an overstatement. Regardless, no eggs/dairy, no wheat, barley, or other gluten-containing grains, no sugar and a few other restrictions. So when it came time to make something to share for a NYE party (i.e. that would still be palatable to other folks and that we could eat) I had to be a little creative. After some online recipe searching for inspiration, I cobbled together a Poached Pear Pie.

Grandmother's Buttermilk Cornbread
From, submitted by Bethany Weathersby

1/4 lb butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs*
1 c. buttermilk*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
My addition: 1 c. frozen corn, defrosted OR 1 can creamed corn *(see note)

Preheat oven to 375 degress F. Grease an 8" square pan.
Melt butter and allow to cool slightly. Whisk together sugar, baking soda, cornmeal, flour and salt (all dry ingredients). Add liquids, including melted butter.* Stir until everything is incorporated. Fold in corn, if using; do not overmix.

Pour into prepared pan, and bake 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

* A few notes: if you use creamed corn, I recommend decreasing the buttermilk to 1/2-3/4 cup. Otherwise you will end up with something more like pudding in the center. Also, if you do not have commercial buttermilk, you can substitute as follows.

To each cup of warm milk - add either
1-1/2 Tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1-1/3 tablespoons of cider vinegar
2/3 cup plain yogurt plus 1/3 cup milk
1-3/4 tablespoons cream of tartar

Stir Well - Allow this mixture to set while putting the rest of the ingredients for the recipe together. Allowing the milk to set will give it time to thicken. The soured milk should have the consistency of buttermilk or yogurt.

Lastly, if you happen to find yourself without eggs, or simply wish not to use them for whatever reason, you can substitute 1 T. ground flax seed + 3 T. water for each egg. Mix them together and let it sit for a minute before use, you'll find it thickens to something similar in consistency to an egg. And flax seeds have lots of great nutritional benefits!

Poached Pear Pie

Nut  Crust:

2.5 cups ground pecans (or mix of pecans, hazelnuts, walnuts or whatever you like)
5 dates, pitted
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (I find mine tends to be solid at room temperature)

Mix nuts, cinnamon and dates together in a food processor until the dates are completely chopped up and mixed with the nuts. Drizzle in the coconut oil and pulse until mixed in. Pat evenly into a 9" pie pan. 
Chill in the fridge for 30-45 minutes, or freezer for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake chilled crust for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Watch carefully, nuts will burn quickly and do not have to be black to taste burnt

Cool completely before filling.

Poached Pear filling:

2 c. red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
4 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
1 T. coconut oil

1/4 c. agave nectar
1-2 T. arrowroot starch (or cornstarch, or potato starch)

Simmer red wine and cinnamon sticks until reduced to ~ 1/2 cup.

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a saute pan. Add agave nectar and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Let it simmer and approach a golden brown. Add the red wine and pears in a single layer. Cook the pears, covered, for 10-15 minutes, or until they reach the desired tenderness. Stir occasionally and turn them about halfway through. Mix the arrowroot starch with a small amount of water (just enough to dissolve), and stir into the red wine/pears. It will thicken quickly, make sure it is mixed well to avoid lumps. As soon as it is thickened and no longer tastes raw spoon the pear mixture into the cooled nut crust.
Cover and chill until ready to serve.

I'm sure this would be delicious with some whipped cream on top, if you eat dairy.