Dorayaki, simple and sweet, best enjoyed with a cup of green tea
Lately, I've been exploring various Japanese foods. Looking for breakfast, one recipe in particular one stood out: Dorayaki. It's appeared in cooking shows, and recently featured in Tasting Table, so I began to grow curious: What was all the hype about? It is just a pancake, after all. Right?
Dorayaki is not just any pancake. It's one of the most popular Japanese confections, filled with anko, a sweet adzuki red bean paste, sandwiched between two pancakes.
You heard me. Two pancakes! But they're small.
Typically, the pancakes are quite sweet, so I cut out a lot of the sugar; I don't do well with things that are overly-sweet, especially at breakfast. But if you're looking for the full-on, sweeter pancake made as intended, add the full amount (using 1/2 cup sugar instead) from the recipe below.
To make things interesting, I chose to make three different fillings. It was too difficult to choose just one: I was initially interested in trying the traditional bean paste version, but couldn't say no to a matcha green tea variation as well. It was around this time that I also noticed the abundance of ripe squash sitting on my kitchen counter, and decided to make a butternut squash filling for a third option.
Before you get off your seat to make some tasty sweet cakes, check out this clip from the popular manga-turned-anime-series Doraemon to get the full sense of what it's like to love dorayaki, below.
... and now the recipe: Dorayaki
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
3/4 cup milk*
1-2 tablespoons butter
8 oz filling
*Can use animal or plant-based milk
1. Mix dry all-purpose flour and baking soda in one bowl with a whisk. In a second bowl, whisk together eggs, honey, and milk.
2. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry.
3. In a nonstick pan, apply a small amount of butter. Ladle in a some of the batter into a circle and repeat. Flip after 2 minutes, or until golden brown, and cook the remaining side for 1-2 minutes. The idea is to make them snack worthy and be consistent in shape and size.
4. Work in batches until the batter is finished.
5. In the middle of one pancake place a dollop of filling in the center. Place another pancake on top and press along the edges to create a seal, enclosing the filling. It's OK if some of the filling seeps out, messy can be good sometimes.
Dorayaki filling recipes
Adzuki bean paste filling:
1 cup adzuki beans
1/8 cup sugar
1. Soak beans overnight or for 8 hours.
2. Drain, rinse, and cover with water. Cook for about 45 minutes or until softened.
3. Puree beans in a food processor.
4. Heat a frying pan and add bean puree with sugar. Cook until all it's dry and there's very little to no moisture.
Matcha cream cheese filling:
1/8 cup honey
2 tbsp matcha green tea
8 oz softened cream cheese
1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients until well-mixed.
Miso pumpkin filling:
2 cups squash, skinned, seeds and guts removed, roughly chopped
1 tbsp yellow miso
1. In a pot, combine squash with enough water to cover. Cook for about 10-15 minutes until soft.
2. Puree squash and add miso.
Still hungry? Check out the miso carrot spread (within the napa cabbage wrap recipe) for another alternative filling.
Three days after Thanksgiving.
There wasn’t a morning farmers market like most Saturdays, so we gradually, naturally awoke to the peppermint-infused air from the humidifier. I moved slowly, much like a sloth, without worry from bed. In the kitchen, I turned on the kettle for French pressed coffee on the stovetop. As I waited for the water to boil, I ground Sumatra beans to a coarse grind and prepared the press. Within minutes I had a fresh cup of coffee steaming in hand. I moved to the living room to relax on the dark velvet couch, wrapped in a blanket, yellow light from the lamp in the corner, cozy and warm.
As I softened into my space, sipping coffee and stretching out my arms and legs, I heard noise from the back door of the kitchen. It sounded like Adi was searching for root vegetables: I caught the faintest sound of rustling plastic bags that contained them in our back door “pantry.” Breakfast, I suspected. What will it be? Potatoes? Parsnips? Beets, I hoped…
Soon enough, I was called to the dining table, beckoned by the smell of garlic and butter. There sat mini Greek yogurt parfaits garnished with walnut and Haarlson apple slivers, and a dish of cow’s-milk cheese and a dollop of Dijon on the side. I eagerly took my seat, placed the pink floral print napkin across my lap, and waited for the main course.
“Bon Appetit,” Adi said as he placed my breakfast in front of me. It was a plate of pink and red-shaded vegetables with a poached egg draped over the hash. The eggs were a nice touch, with silky soft yolks seeping through the beets, turnips, carrots, and apple. But wait – an unexpected sweetness? Adi looked at me, puzzled, and said, “It almost tastes like chocolate. What do you think?”
I took a bite, then another, and another. I said, “I don’t get a strong cocoa flavor, but there is something familiar and sweet.” I took another bite and suddenly discovered what the mystery sweetness was: “You’re right,” I said, “It is chocolate. You’re tasting M&M’s!” That’s when I realized he must have used the raisin/M&M mix from Halloween still sitting on our octagon-shaped shelves by the sink.
Adi admitted to using the mix - thinking there were all raisins, with no candy leftover. We had quite the laugh and continued to enjoy our (chocolate) breakfast hash with a different sort of appreciation..
In honor of our somewhat unconventional morning feast, I present to you: My version of a simple, delicious root vegetable hash:
1 large turnip
1 large beet
2 scallions, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 brown m&m's (optional) ?
2 tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper
Use a food processor to shred the turnip, beet, carrots, and apple. Or, use a cheese grater to shred the vegetables. Combine scallions, garlic, and raisins (m&m's too, if you dare) with shredded produce and season with pinch of salt and pepper.
Heat a frying pan and add butter. When hot, add shredded vegetables into the frying pan and fry 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large pot with enough water to reach depth of 3 inches. Add coarse salt and a tablespoon of 1 tsp vinegar; bring to a simmer. Gently create a vortex with a fork in the water and crack eggs into the pot gently. Cook just until whites are set, about 3 minutes depending on desired runniness of the yolk. Remove with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel and proceed with the remaining eggs. You can do both eggs at once or do them one by one.
On each plate, assemble hash with poached egg over top.
Kimchi. Sauerkraut. Kefir. Tempeh. Yogurt.
What do these foods all have in common? They are fermented foods that may promote good gut health and weight loss, improve immunity and even allergies. In it's most basic sense, As Sandor Katz explains, "Fermentation is the transformation of food by various bacteria, fungi, and the enzymes they produce." Katz is the expert if you didn't know - He's the author of The Art of Fermentation, and should be on every food enthusiasts bookshelves. It's more informative than recipe-based, designed to introduce and educate one on the variety of fermented foods and beverages.
Coupling Katz with Rene Redzepi and David Zilber's new book, The Noma Guide to Fermentation, will set you up to make a plethora of delicious, nutritious, fermented foods. In Redzepi's book, there's even a how-to guide on building an incubation chamber. I'm still putting together the supplies so that I can make koji. How nerdy is that? Ha! Watch the video below to learn more about koji:
Koji aside, many fermentations do not require you to create or purchase your very own chamber to ferment at home. In fact, you can make the most basic recipes with just about any vegetable -some fruits too- without any special equipment: All you need is a vessel, scale, salt, and the produce of your choice. Simple.
And there's no need to be afraid of getting started for fear of the wrong bacteria growing: Any microbiologist will tell you that "risky" is not a word used to describe the process of a simple vegetable fermentation. The lactic acid bacteria that is found on all plants develops quite quickly when fermenting, and can out-compete the incidental pathogenic bacteria.
Fear not: When you preserve in brine, things like botulism need not be of concern.
Here's how it works: When a plant is harvested, it contains many microorganisms that continue to multiply and diversify. Aerobic bacteria get replaced by anaerobes, which includes many different types of lactic acid bacteria. After the plant becomes submerged, fermentation then begins. Carbon dioxide, alcohol, and acetic acid are also produced.
Enough with the science, let's get to the kitchen and ferment something.
fermentation: getting started
Fermenting foods and beverages is not something new. It's been around for centuries, playing an instrumental role in human evolution.
Fermentation can be summed up with four words: "chop, salt, pack, wait." (Katz).
*salt* means the amount salt = 2% of the total weight of vegetable and liquid.
As you can see from my pictures above, I chose the brine method. Next time, I'll try grating my vegetables. The objective is to expose as much surface area as possible to pull out the juice from within the vegetable. Clearly, if you take a look at the picture, I couldn't help but ferment the carrot in it's original shape, so I kept it whole. Yes, it will take longer to ferment, but the shape was too gnarly to mess with... The beets were sliced into small quarters, and the remaining carrots were cut into large matchsticks.
My advice? Keep it simple the first go around. Taste what happens to the food every few days, and when you think it has reached its ideal taste, refrigerate. You can always make another batch and play with spice and aromatics to add to the flavor.
The point is to get you in your kitchen cooking and experimenting.
The verdict is still out on all the positive health benefits of fermented foods, but it's certainly a hot topic in the nutrition world, and it continues to be studied. If you live in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, you too could participate in a gut study involving fermented vegetables. Simply contact Ky from GYST Fermentation Bar to learn more about how to join.
Looking for more inspiration? Check out my Mac 'n' Chi post for more a different way to play with home fermentations.
banana meets sourdough
A coworker recently gave me a sourdough starter, so every week for the past month I've been experimenting with new foods. Every Tuesday, the day we work together, she comes into my office first thing and asks me, "What did you make this week? You should try..."
But these banana muffins have been by far my favorite.
The soft pretzels and cookies I tried turned out Okay: I would have liked to boil the pretzels before baking, but wasn't sure how the sourdough would react. Something to try for the next batch of pretzels, I suppose. And the cookies? Well, they had a softer texture and resembled something more like a scone. Still good, but tasted too, well, healthy. There are times when I want a hearty, grainy cookie, but other times, I want a classic, buttery, sweet cookie that melts in my mouth. This was not that cookie.
This ultimately led to the muffin recipe you'll find below. It is a healthier version of a muffin - one that doesn't weigh you down or add to the 'muffin top' (pun intended). Its soft center and banana goodness are just what your body needs to provide you with proper fuel. Plus, it's loaded with fiber to satiate your hunger, and isn't sweet or oily like many muffins. While it's a healthy version, however, I didn't run into the same problem as with the cookies: This was, in a word, delicious.
Don't take my word for it. Bake them yourself and try one or all. You won't want to share these banana beauties.
Serves 12 medium sized muffins
1 1/4 cup sourdough starter
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats, 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. five spice powder
1/4 cup raw sugar*
1 cup mashed bananas (about 3 if frozen, then thawed)
1/4 cup safflower oil
*it doesn't have to be raw; use your favorite sugar here
1. At least 12 hours before you with to bake, mix the starter with the flour and allow to rest covered in a warm spot.
2. Preheat oven to 375F. Combine starter blend with oats (except 2 tablespoons), salt, baking soda, baking powder, and five spice.
3. In another small bowl, combine the sugar, bananas, egg, and safflower oil.
4. Gradually add the liquid ingredients into the dry (plus starter) stirring just until combined.
5. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans (I like to spray oil into the paper cups to allow for easy muffin removal) about 3/4 full. Top with remaining oats and a light sprinkle of salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
for the love of tomatoes
Conditions are finally perfect. Not only because the tomatoes are abundantly in season, but also because the weather has turned cool and comfortable - ideal for canning/preserving. Long hours spent over a hot stove in the kitchen is a much more enticing, and bearable, proposition after the sweltering heat of summer has been tamed by the first days of September.
Another pro? This time of year is also when you'll find the the best deals, Your local farmers market should be the first place you visit to purchase tomatoes in bulk. Quarter and half bushels ($15 on average for a quarter) are going to be most affordable and freshest, with a higher nutrient content than what you'll find at the average grocery store.
Each year, I make around a half bushel of tomato preserves in various forms: whole tomatoes, quartered tomatoes, peeled tomatoes. Hot pepper tomato jelly, and tomapple (tomato, apple) jam. And, of course, a few eaten fresh. It can take several hours to process tomatoes, but more than worth your time. Something new I tried this year: dehydrate the tomato skins and, then grind them into a powder. A dash of flaked lycopene (aka tomato skin) is a great addition to garnish soups, stews, grain bowls, even popcorn, or anything else that could use that little extra something.
And, while time-consuming, peeling tomatoes is super easy. It can be somewhat dangerous, however, if you're impatient like myself. The heat from the tomatoes after blanching is boiling hot. Wear gloves, tough it out, or wait until they cool down (can put in an ice bath)
How to peel tomatoes
1. Score the tomatoes by marking an 'x' using a knife on the butt of the tomato.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanche the tomatoes for 30-60 seconds.
3. Remove tomatoes from water, allow to rest and cool (optional).
4. Peel tomatoes from scored end towards the crown.
5. Dehydrate skins or toss
6. Process tomatoes
Once you've got those tomatoes peeled, you're ready for canning. It's super easy, but, as I mentioned before, is time consuming. The more often you do it, the quicker and more efficient you will become. There are two methods you can follow: One uses a boiling water method, and the second utilizes pressure canning.
Prepares 2 each 3/4 lb glass jars. Double, triple, multiply accordingly
what you need
This recipe is a modification of an original Ball® Fresh Preserving recipe.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Share pictures and all your stories here. Or have your own favorite way to use tomatoes during this perfect time of year? I'd love to hear about it as well.
And, if you're looking for ideas, check out my pickled watermelon rinds for another unique preservation recipe.
Juicing was all the rage last year. I still have clients who ask about juicing.
What are the benefits? Should I juice? Is it healthy?
My response? When in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet, especially when you juice at home. It's not as nutritious as eating whole fruits or vegetables, though, as you don't benefit from consuming the pulp (fiber, vitamins, minerals) of the fruit and/or vegetable your turning into liquid. However, you can use the pulp, or produce scraps that separate from the juice. You can bake with them by incorporating into crackers (e.g. as I did in the recipe below), breads (e.g. in a banana or zucchini loaf), or pancakes. Making soup stock from your produce scraps is another great idea, and especially useful come cold weather.
One of my favorite homemade juicing recipes is made with carrot, turmeric root, orange, and ginger. It's not something I prepare often, but when I have the craving (and a refrigerator full of carrots), I dust off my juicer to quench my carrot juice thirst.
Note: You can swap out the carrots for just about any vegetable. Beets, zucchini, and squash are some of my favorite substitutes.
recipe: carrot pulp crackers
Makes about 50 thin crackers
2 cups carrot pulp
1/4 cup ground chia seed
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoon black peppercorn
2 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoon sesame seed
Directions: Preheat oven to 325F
In a pan, toast black peppercorn, fennel and sesame until it begins to brown and becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I use a dedicated coffee grinder) until it becomes a powder consistency. Mix with carrot pulp, chia, and buckwheat.
Using parchment or two silpats, brush one side of a sheet with coconut oil using a pastry brush. Working in batches, about 3, roll between parchment (or silpat) using a wine bottle or rolling pin. Roll as thin as possible so that it still holds together, brush with more coconut oil, sprinkle lightly with maldon salt, and bake until golden brown and cooked thoroughly, about 20 minutes.
When it's cooled to room temperature, break into pieces and serve with meats and cheese, jam, mustard, pickles, or anything else your heart desires.
Love carrots? Then you MUST try thecarrot, parsnip cake. It's absolutely delicious.
purple, yellow, or green: all snap beans are welcome
This side dish is a fantastic way to use up your green beans, and those spicy, sweet nasturtiums that grow without care for other plants. I used yellow wax beans here, but I've also experimented with young scarlet runner beans, and green string beans as well. No two bean varieties taste the same, but they are quite similar and can easily be substituted here, and in like recipes. And, as long as we are on the subject of substitutions, other edible flowers can take the place of nasturtiums in the same way: I recently discovered the lovely taste of pole bean flowers from turtle beans (soft violet) and scarlet runners (crimson red), and they are amazing. They lack the spicy, peppery punch that nasturtiums have, however, so add a few spicy greens (like arugula or mizuna) to round out the flavor.
Let's brush up on your bean-age, starting with the basics: All beans are legumes, and are further classified according to whether you eat the entire pod (called snap or green beans) or remove the shell to eat the seeds inside (called shell or dried beans). Only when the beans have a fibrous string running down the bean is it called a string bean. Dozens of green bean varieties exist, but the headliners include: green (or multicolored, snap) beans, haricot vert, scarlet runner, and yard-long beans. To be even more confusing, the yellow snap bean variety is also called a wax bean.
Nutrition-wise, all types of beans are good sources of protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron. Try to get in 3 cups a week for optimum health.
Read more about a bean nutrition overview here.
snap bean & nasturtium salad
4 cups, string beans cleaned
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1 cup packed nasturtium, flowers and greens removed from stem
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a pinch of kosher salt. Add the string beans and cook (blanche) for 3 minutes. Immediately, remove from heat, drain, and cool down the beans under running water. You can add ice to help lower the temperature faster. When it's cool, add the remaining ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy.
If you like this salad, then check out the salad niçoise. It's a game changer.
cabbage ins and outs
Cabbage varieties: bok choy, cannonball, choy sum, Chinese/Napa, green, Portugal, red, & savoy -to name a few
Season: summer - autumn - winter
Taste: bitter/sweet, pungent and peppery notes with crunchy flavor
Nutrition: 85% CHO, 12% protein, 3% fat
Volume: quiet to moderate
Technique: bake, broil, braise, grate, pickle, raw, steam, stuff [overcooking brings out pungent, sulphuric notes]
cabbage + apple
cabbage + carrots + ginger + mint + rice wine vinegar
cabbage + ginger + lime
cabbage + potatoes + turnips
Cabbage Pairings: build your own recipes by using complimentary flavors from these foods
APPLES, including JUICE & CIDER
OIL, especially OLIVE, sesame, vegetable, walnut
how I cook & eat cabbage
How do antioxidant properties of raw and processed [i.e. fermented] cabbage compare?
The answer to this question is not simple nor clear, and like most nutrition recommendations, results may vary. Factors that influence the nutritional value of cabbage are based on season of harvest, cabbage variety [red vs. green], amount of salt and time spent in brine, & cooking methodology (Martinez et al., 2009; Chun et al., 2004). However, if one were to compare raw cabbage and sauerkraut using nutrition analysis, one would discover that raw has slightly higher, nonsignificant levels of antioxidants.
So, how does this all make sense? The key to understanding why the analysis shows a discrepancy is because they are not considering all the factors mentioned above, which can be time consuming, tedious, and maybe impractical.
Let me sort this out for you.
After a short review of articles, I can say a few things with certainty:
Food trucks trending
Food trucks are all the rage right now: Even in Minnesota, where the we spend half the year covered in snow, we’ve seen an incredible influx of new trucks hitting the streets.
This has not only created a convenient dining experience for consumers, it has also offered a new business opportunity for entrepreneurs (and particularly for those with a more plant-based mindset).
When it comes to ease of opening a food truck, Minneapolis ranks 16th out of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas (according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce): The study ranks cities according to scores based on ease or difficulty of obtaining permits and licenses, compliance to restrictions, and operating a food truck. In other words, it’s a ranking of the favorability of food truck regulations to food truck operators (288 owners in the most recent report). As each city has it’s own regulations, so it should come as no surprise that food trucks often find it difficult to operate in different cities.
MN was in the top five least-friendly food truck cities. This is not to say Minnesota food truckers are unfriendly; the report is saying that it’s more of hurdle and cumbersome for the entrepreneurs to do business and own a food truck. On average, in the city of Minneapolis, a food truck owner must complete four separate government procedures over the course of 37 business days and spend $28,276 on licenses, permits, and ongoing legal requirements within one year. That said, Minneapolis is unique amongst other cities in that there are one-stop-shops to obtain both licenses and permits, which makes it more convenient than other cities.
Click here to see the full report by city
Know where to go
Choosing from one of 116 MN’s food trucks (with more in the works) can be overwhelming, so how does one decide? Well, to make things easier, you can search by neighborhood, specific food truck, or by what you crave. Luckily, the internet offers an easy solution to plan or be spontaneous. Since I’m all about that veg, here are a few of my favorites around the metro offering plenty of delicious, plant-based food options:
Reverie favorites include:
Foxy Falafel favorites include:
Falafels (foxy, beet, & curry)
-you choose entree style, meat/falafel, & sauce-
Hot Indian favorites include:
Hi Flight (you choose 3 fillings, roti or brown basmati)
Spinach Paneer (filling)
Vegan Channa (filling)
Creamy Green (chutney)
Hi Heat (chutney)
-you choose filling, base, & chutney-
a friend's Mexican fiesta
Inspired by Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen, this month's cookbook from my club held at SubText, I gathered some friends for a fiesta of our own. The morning of, I awoke with a taste for smothered chiles and spiced beans between sliced bolillo (Mexican bread), avocado, with that undeniably-satisfying crunch of cabbage. Images of dancing tortas appeared between my eyes as I tried recalling my dreams. That's when I knew what I was going to prepare for the feast. Others told me they would bring Mexican rice, guacamole, cheese dip, homemade hot sauces (including a new method of clarified hot sauce, more on that coming soon), mango salad, and a tomato black bean salad to accompany. Conditions were perfect.
....and, purely for fun because it crossed my mind, and because I'm a fan, I couldn't help but include this Flight of the Concords clip where conditions were also perfect:
Sorry for the random video. It just felt right.
Anyway, back to tortas. Rather than make individual tortas, I prepared all the components separately. Everyone chose their own salsas, protein, and stuffings to build individual, customizable sandwiches.
Here's a look into the creation of my vegetarian version of a torta. It's loaded with fiber, lean protein, and has a wonderful smoky flavor from the homemade adobo sauce with just a touch of brightness from the tomatillo & jalapeño salsa. A nutritious take on a classic Mexican sandwich that will have you begging for seconds. Diner tested, dietitian approved.
vegetarian adobo black bean tortas
Serves 4 large tortas, or 8 (more manageable) halves
1 cup adobo sauce (recipe below or store bought)
2 cups black beans cooked
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 tsp salt
1 cup cotjia cheese (optional)
salsa jalapeño (see recipe below)
1/2 cup crema*
1 avocado, sliced
4 bolillo (Mexican sandwich rolls) cut in half lengthwise and widthwise
*can substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream
Heat the beans in the adobo sauce and keep warm until ready to use. In a small bowl, combine the cabbage with salt. When ready for assembly, in the following order, layer your sandwich in this order: bread bottom, beans, cotjia cheese, salsa, crema, avocado, bread top.
This recipe makes 1-2 cups, which ultimately depends on your desired consistency.
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
2 dried mulato chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 cloves garlic
1 white onion, cut into thick wedges
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup parsley with stems
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
In a 2 quarts boiling water, add the chiles, garlic, and onion. Cook for 30 minutes and puree in a blender with the remaining ingredients. Adjust with chile water until you reach desired consistency.
2 jalapeños, stemmed
8 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 bunch cilantro
1/4 cup white onion
In a blender, combine all ingredients and allow to chill until ready to serve. Sometimes the end result may be bitter. Feel free to experiment here and adjust the flavor using agave or a pinch of sugar to offset the bitter notes.
And be sure to check out my recipe for black beans and burdock for more plant-based protein goodness.
swapping out foods
As a dietitian, I counsel people through food substitutions with every patient. Nearly everyone has foods they either need to avoid, or have foods they should limit in their diet. It's helpful to be guided through options, but sometimes having a list you can periodically check can be handy. You'll see a basic list of suggestions here on TCAgenda to make necessary food substitutions. Comment below if you have any addition suggestions of food swaps or questions you'd like ask.
Let it also be known, I am all about flavor. Never would I tell you OR anyone to get rid of something in their diet...unless it's regular soda :-P. The key is moderation and to have variety in your diet.
Eat the rainbow and in moderation
....and sometimes, if you're like me, you may just not have all the ingredients on hand to make a meal you crave. Perhaps I can inspire you to start creating your own meals, like I did with this new recipe: Pea Pesto & Kale Pasta. I don't often plan my meals, so I'm constantly making food substitutions. In this particular dish, I used brown rice pasta (instead of a wheat-based pasta), pepita seeds for walnuts (I'm allergic), cilantro and mint for basil, and kale from my garden to boost the dish with extra nutrition.
vegetarian & gluten-free: pea pesto & kale pasta
Pea Pesto Ingredients
1 cup shelled peas*
1/2 cup pepita seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup packed cilantro and mint
1 lime, freshly juiced
pinch salt and pepper
2 tablespoons dukkah (optional)
*you can substitute frozen peas as well
Blanch the peas in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain, cool, and pulse in a food processor with remaining ingredients until you reach desired consistency.
Kale Pasta Ingredients:
4 oz brown rice pasta (or pasta of your choosing)
1 bunch lacinato kale, cut into thin strips
pea pesto (see above for recipe)
1 oz Parmesan, grated
Prepare pasta according to package. Drain, add back to pan with kale, and as much pea pesto as you desire. Stir until combined and serve with Parmesan cheese.
things are growing...
Seeds are sown, the seedlings are planted, and every morning I rise to look at my plot of greens growing outside my window as I sip my morning coffee. It's easy to tend. The hardest part is waiting for my prized produce to finally appear.
As for my other garden plot one mile away, well, that's another story. That's where they feast. That's where I fight daily for the crop: Me vs the rabbits.
There's a fence around the perimeter, but that doesn't always keep them out. Can I blame them for wanting to taste the bounty? Truthfully, no, If I tasted those buttery soft leaves of tennis ball greens (lettuce varietal) once, of course I'd keep coming back for more.
And, luckily, I had the forethought to plant the majority of leafy greens at the plot growing outside my window, where less rabbits reside (at least that I know of). This week, I harvested, and indulged in, French breakfast radish and fresh arugula.
No evidence of tampering from neighboring animals noted. Woot woot!
In an earlier newsletter, I highlighted radish and the varietals subtle differences from one another, French breakfast being my favorite: It's got a perfect spicy balance from the first to last bite, and a watery crunch to wash your palate. I enjoy them most on their own with a couple granules of salt crystals and other times over an artisan slice of bread with whipped European butter. Curious? Try it for yourself, recipe as follows:
baguette aux radis
4 tablespoons European butter, unsalted at room temperature (see below)
1 tsp flaky sea salt
10 radish, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 cup arugula
1 tablespoons herbs like tarragon, chives, basil *optional
Slice baguette lengthwise and then into quarters. Spread the butter on one side of the bread, layer on the radish, sprinkle salt over radish, and then the arugula (option to add herbs at this point). Finish with top slice of baguette. Serve.
I'm a dietitian and diabetic educator, but that doesn't mean I don't like OR don't eat the good stuff. European style butter is made from cultured cream and slight fermentation. This results in a unique flavor with a higher fat content than what you find from most American dairy farmers. There are many to choose from including, Kerrygold, Plugra, President, and Beurre de Baratte. You can order them online or find them at specialty grocers. The object of my desire from these is the Beurre de Baratte. It's made by a young cheese master, Rodolphe Le Meunier, a genuineMeilleur Ouvrier de France making butter the old-fashioned from churning. Everyone raves about this French Normandy butter because of it's unique nutty, umami flavor. It's even wrapped in a gold foil to give you that extra posh at a fancy dinner party. Better yet, it makes an excellent gift to that ultimate foodie friend of yours.
m is for mango
Is anyone else loving this year's mountain of mango bounty? The peak of their season, typically in May, is the perfect time of year to get your fill on mangoes. While there are hundreds of varieties, here in Minnesota we typically only are exposed to maybe three or four.
When selecting mangoes, you'll want to pick by smell and feel. The fruit should smell pleasant and fragrant, with a bit of give to the skin. Ideal firmness will resemble that of a peach.
The possibilities for Mangoes are endless: Whether served over fish, or alongside other seafood, cheese, chicken, ice cream, or soup -OR- added to salsas, chutneys, or smoothies, you won't quickly run out of ways to use your mangoes.
They also offer an incredible snack just eaten plain.
I've come up with a simple mango topping/dip recipe to try below. I've been eating it over salad greens, crackers, porridge, just about anything I can find...
fresh mango mélange
1 mango, diced
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon smoked, ground almonds*
3 tablespoons cotija, crumbled
1/2 cup cucumber, seeds removed, small dice
*omit or replace with plain almonds or another type of nut
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and salt/pepper to taste. You also have the option of drizzling in olive oil.
If you look back to the first picture, I chose to use this recipe over a salad of mixed greens with thinly sliced cauliflower. But more importantly, what will you use this recipe over? I'd love to hear from you. Share a comment below, or maybe you're favorite mango recipe that makes May such a special month for you as well.
And for a few other ideas this spring/summer, don't forget to check out the other recipes in my recipe vault.
my gardening journey
My love of food started at a young age, but I didn't start gardening until middle school when my mother felt I needed to take up a new hobby. She said having a garden to tend to daily would keep me busy and distract me from reading too many novels - I had become something of a book nerd spending much of my down time reading every book I could get my hands on, which were mostly romance novels.
Every year was the same: Grandma Dots instructed where to plant each seed while mum measured each row to precision using measuring tape and two wooden steaks. I would break up the soil and plant each seed and seedling as instructed. Together, the three of us planted each year, rows of corn, tomatoes, strawberries, green beans, peas, onions, potatoes, and cucumbers. The garden continued to expand in size until I decided there wouldn't be a garden worth tending. You see, for two years straight, the cows got out of the pasture and trampled through my garden, stomping on my lovely, ruby red tomatoes while eating all the corn. Each time it happened at the end of summer when I was ready for harvest. But instead, I watch it being devoured and abused by cattle.
It was years later when, after college, I left the city life to work on Riverbend Farm for Greg Reynolds in Delano, MN. Thirty acres of land needing constant attention was challenging, but certainly rewarding. I learned about food on an even deeper level; not something that can be learned in a classroom. Using my hands and body, I learned about the labour of love with each food grown, from digging potatoes through patches of thorns to moving irrigation lines to quench the thirst of the crops. It wasn't all about the labour either. At the end of each shift, I'd bring home produce and make some of the most amazing meals from the foods I had grown. Rapini pesto, potato dauphinois, beet zucchini bread, panzanella salad, strawberry rhubarb open lattice pie, were just a few.
As all good things, things must come to an end, however, I left Delano and went on a three-month trip to South America, mostly Brazil, and accidentally got an apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago. Well, it wasn't exactly accidental, but I had no intention of moving to Chicago: A big snow storm hit the city the day after I landed from São Paulo and all transportation was shut down, thus planting a seed for what-if-I-lived-here thoughts. Nearly three years went by before I had my first bit of yard space to once again tend to crops. I salvaged pallets to build myself a raised garden bed. It was absolutely brilliant! Simple design that only required me to purchase nails to hold it together (there's a facebook picture out there somewhere...). It was a bountiful year, and I had such joy getting my hands in soil again. Sadly, there was only one year of backyard gardening before I would move to a location without a place to garden...
Fast forward to today, three years later, and I've returned to Minnesota. I once again (finally) have a lovely garden plot to satiate my appetite for freshly-grown foods. This year, I'm growing pansies, nasturtiums, a variety of herbs and lettuce greens, French leeks, and various varietals of radish. Who knows if I'll stop there - it has been so long - but I will for now. Then again, there's always another garden plot nearby.
Yes, we've all been talking about the weather. It's bad. Yes, but why the long face? Instead of daydreaming about what spring should be, how the temperatures should be warmer, how the sun should be shining, maybe do something fun and productive. Maybe a bit of spring cleaning in the kitchen? Maybe a cooking or baking project you've been putting off? I did, and you know what? I now have a fantastically delicious raspberry rhubarb galette to enjoy.
My freezer, pantry (and my man) are all happy as a result. So should you be! Follow my recipe below to get started, but feel free to let those wings fly and change out the ingredients on your own. We might not be able to control the weather, but the kitchen is a whole different story.
Here are a few tips to help:
Raspberry Rhubarb Galette
120 g/1 stick butter, unsalted, cut into cubes and kept cold
1/4 tsp cardamom, ground
185 g all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup greek yogurt
2 tsp cider vinegar
55g/2 oz. biscotti (almond)
45g date sugar (can use granulated sugar)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
230g (1 1/2 cups) rhubarb, cut into chunks, thaw if frozen*
120g (3/4 cup) raspberries, thaw if frozen
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp zest of citrus, (I had to get clever and use 1/2 a lime and 1 cutie)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tsp water
1. Add cold butter to flour, cardamom, salt, and baking powder in a food processor and pulse for 60 seconds, then add the Greek yogurt with cider vinegar, and continue to process until the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Remove pastry from the processor and use your hands and knuckles to press the mixture together in one piece. Cover in plastic warp, flatten into a disk shape, and put in fridge for 45 minutes (up to 2 days).
2. Preheat the oven to 400F.
3. Base: Crush the biscotti in a bowl with sugar and flour into small pieces; set aside.
4. Filling: place all ingredients into a bowl, toss to combine, and set aside.
5. Remove pastry from fridge 10 min before you're ready to roll. Place on a large piece of parchment or silpat that has been lightly dusted. Roll evenly into a large circle, about 15" in diameter. Sprinkle base over the pastry, 4" from the outside towards the middle. Spoon the fruit filling on top of the crumbs and carefully draw the pastry border up and over the fruit with a pleated pattern. You'll leave the center, fruit-filled area exposed (see finished picture for a visual). Place the galette in the fridge for up to 1 hour before baking.
6. Glaze: Combine egg with water in a bowl and brush over the outside of the pastry, then sprinkle the lavender sugar.
7. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool before serving.
I like to serve with Greek yogurt, frozen yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream ... because why not? Remember, it's all about moderation.
*Reserve drained liquid to make yourself a nice simple syrup to use in a cocktail. I made a rose, rhubarb simple syrup and served it with gin, club soda and a large ice cube.
East[er Pass]over eggs
The egg has a bold presence In both Jewish and Christian traditions. During Passover, a Jewish holiday commemorating the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt, a hard-boiled egg is placed on the Passover ceremonial plate. As part of the ceremony, celebrants also eat hard-boiled eggs dipped in salt water. It has also been speculated that eggs on the Passover table might have been used originally as a reference measure for volume, and only later given symbolic meaning.
The Christian custom is, of course, quite different. Compared to Passover, which is observed for 8 days [7 in Israel], the Christians celebrate Easter on the day of Jesus's resurrection on the Sunday of Holy Week. While the two celebrations coincide this year, they don't always overlap for reasons that have to do more with oddities in astronomical calculations than anything else - though they actually share a common history [read more on that here].
The practice surrounding eggs at Easter is also quite different: Christians traditionally avoided eating eggs during Lent, which occurs 40 days before Easter, while chickens continued to lay their eggs. To prevent the eggs from being wasted, they were either boiled/preserved for later eating and/or decorated, often given to the poor, and later to children.
But whether or not you identify as Jewish or Christian, you're probably familiar with the American tradition, and have an abundance of decorated, possibly dyed, hard-boiled eggs leftover from Sunday. If this is the case, and you've been stuck thinking, "What do I do with soooo many hard-boiled eggs besides egg salad?" then try for yourself one (or all) of my favorite, repurposed, hard-boiled egg recipes:
Salmon, Egg Sandwich
2 slices seeded, whole-grain bread
1 tbsp mustard
2 oz cured salmon
1 hard-boiled egg, sliced thin
1/2 cup packed arugula
On each slice of bread, apply the mustard and layer the remaining ingredients between the slices of bread.
Fried Anchovies and Egg
Serves 4 as an appetizer
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4-5 cups vegetable oil
1/4 lb fresh anchovies
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half
1 lemon cut into wedges
1 lb small new potatoes, boiled until tender
10 oz green beans [haricot verts], blanched
14 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup Niçoise olives, roughly chopped
8 small radish, thinly sliced
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved lengthwise
1 cup cucumber, thinly sliced
3 (4 oz.) cans high quality tuna
1/2 cup basil, chopped
8 cups friseé lettuce (or greens of your choosing)
Dressing, Ingredients: Whisk to combine and set aside.
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
Layer the lettuce as a base and arrange all the ingredients on top, then drizzle on the dressing.
Curried Egg Salad
A spin on a classic to be used on everything from bread to crackers to celery sticks, and even topped on salad greens.
6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 green onion, sliced
1/4 cup dried currants (optional)
1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix until well-combined.
Neapolitan savory Easter treat filled with meat, cheese and eggs (get it here).
Still need more hard-boiled egg recipes? Try these:
-Rough chop and top over grilled asparagus
-Chop over cooked fish like halibut or cod
-Put them whole inside meat loaf
-Serve in just about any kind of sandwich or salad
-Mash and add to pasta
-Bake into a casserole
It started out like most Sundays: Woke up, brewed a liter of French press coffee, read, and eventually pulled myself out of bed and into less-casual attire. It was time to 'adult'. You know, do the things you're required to do like laundry, pay bills, send important emails, and, if you're like me, run a business (which translates to always being busy). On this particular day, however, I decided to keep my adulting to a minimum and enjoy the rest of the lovely Sunday sun and do a bit of cooking before going on yet another food adventure.
But what to make for breakfast? Biscuits? Soft-boiled eggs? Swirled poppyseed Babka? Wild mushroom frittata? I searched my pantry and refrigerator for ingredients that might grab my attention: "Choose me. No, no me!" They said, "You know you can't resist my fresh, herbaceous charm." And how could I ignore the herbs? They that spoke the loudest of my ingredients, just begging to be used in my next meal. One by one, I reached for them all: one bunch cilantro, two bunches parsley, two limes, and jalapeño and garlic.
Into the blender the ingredients went with a pinch of smoked Hungarian paprika, toasted, ground coriander, just a pinch of citric acid (helps preserve the bright green color), a touch of kosher salt and cracked black Tellicherry peppercorn, and a large handful of toasted almonds. As I pulsed the ingredients to marry them in flavor, slowly streaming in the olive oil, I daydreamed of it's use as a dipping sauce for vegetables, accompaniment with mushroom, elk meatballs, and four bean salad.
I call this creation: Green Romesco
If you're a romesco purist, I know I have you squawking, "This can't be romesco! Where's the tomato and red bell pepper?" True, there aren't any of those ingredients, but I can't help but think of this as it's younger, spicier sister. You can easily swap out one sauce for another, and it's good to challenge your palate. Sometimes, I'll even add mint, or other hot green peppers -poblano, say- to this recipe to further its complex flavor profile. Regardless, you'll end up drizzling, draping, dashing this sauce on just about anything - from meats to fish to vegetables, and everything in between.
Prepares 2 cups.
1 bunch cilantro
2 bunches parsley
1 lime, freshly juiced
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp Hungarian smoked paprika
1 tsp toasted, ground coriander
pinch citric acid
1 whole jalapeño (seeds can be removed)
kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/3 cup almonds, toasted
1/4 cup olive oil
1. Combine all ingredients into a blender and slowly add oil and water until you've reached desired consistency.
A food memory, and recipe, from guest author Adrian Daniel Schramm
...Or, more specifically, learning to love the eggplant.
The eggplant that sat on a porcelain plate in the center of the dinner table; a vegetarian pièce de résistance in all of its terrible glory.
Diversity was the name of that table growing up. My sisters and I out playing in the dirt. My mother was home in the kitchen, and she's still there: Painted yellow with turmeric and red with paprika and chili, smelling of butter and salt from the rolls turning golden brown in the oven, humming along to songs (Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Cher, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John...) that played on old records. My father had kept the record player from when he was a teenager in the 70's. Analog has a different sound. The house smelled of old wood and creaked in noises as you moved through it - but the kitchen, the kitchen was music and spice; sweet and soulful sounds and sweeter pastries, and always something new to smell, see, taste, touch.
My mother was a musician herself. She played the piano. She played the dulcimer. She played the marimba and the flute. She viewed her music in the same way she viewed her food: A way to express herself, and a way to share herself (share that expression) with the people she loved most.
I loved her music, except for Bach and his Sonatas (which I found to be a little dull after a while), and I loved her cooking, too - I loved just about every-and-anything she'd make for the dinner table, the breakfast nook, for my lunchbox I brought with to school.
Except, of course, for that one thing. Everything, except for eggplant.
Not an egg or eggy at all was this eggplant. This aubergine. This purple, spongey, meaty nightshade that still gives me a shiver (an increasingly brief shiver; I am still learning) when I think back to it.
But the problem didn't lie solely with the fact that I disliked eggplant (immensely). No. The problem was also that my mother liked it so very much. She rather loved to cook with eggplant - couldn't resist adding it to pasta sauce, her ragù, and atop her morning quiche. She'd make baba ganoush in the spring. She'd roast it on the grill, skewered on warm summer nights. She'd stew it with chickpeas and tomato come winter cold.
Her most-favorite lunch was an eggplant sandwich from the small neighborhood restaurant, called Muffaletta, on Como Avenue just down the street.
(That restaurant, sadly, is now closed).
And I tried (as much as a child can) to do my best. To chew and swallow dutifully. To quiet down and didn't I know that there are starving children in... As I did with the other things I didn't enjoy (I also didn't understand the beauty of the mushroom until later in life, for example). But eggplant was the one thing that I simply could not, would not stand. Something to do with the texture, maybe, as no other vegetable, no other food for that matter, really has the same texture as an eggplant. Or maybe it was that slightly off, slightly of mold-tasting blandness I perceived as its only offering of flavor.
Perhaps, probably, it was something of a combination of the two.
And my mother tried as well, as a mother does. She'd cook it different ways - How about like so? she'd ask. One week like this, another week like that; one week sliced thin and cooked with rice, another week diced and fried with breakfast potato hash. (I actually did enjoy baba ganoush until I discovered what I was eating. My mother, exasperated, asking me what difference did it make if I knew what it was? I liked it just fine before, for chrissake!). But there was something about just knowing what it was that turned my stomach inside out and left it in completely unappetizing pieces.
Then, one night in (let's say) late May. A Friday night, I remember, and the start of a long weekend. My backpack left and forgotten on my bedroom floor. The sun starting to set, turning the sky a deep red and orange as I came in from playing tag and kicking up sand with the neighborhood kids in the playground across the street.
And for dinner? Pizza! No child can resist.
Pizza, yes. Eggplant pizza. I watched curious at the counter. But not the eggplant pizza you're thinking of. Eggplant not on top, but rather for the crust. You see? It's a normal pizza, just no need for dough. Eggplant will suit just fine as a base, my mother said, to hold up all the other things that make pizza such a wonderful thing.
Curious. Sausage? Okay. Cheese? But of course. Onions? If you like. And... pineapple? She smiled at me and put her hand through my hair. And me, standing there, dubious. Skeptical? That most certainly. But, pizza, oh, mom, what else can I say?
The eggplant sliced into discs about a half-inch thick. Covered in her (incredible) tomato sauce and too much (or, just the right amount of) mozzarella cheese, and any/all other toppings I wanted. Then roasted in the oven. The smell of tomato and basil and cheese and meat all melting together; I could see what looked like an oh-so-perfectly-round personal-pan-pizza cooking hot through the oven door and I was hooked.
Mom, of course, and of course as always, triumphant at last.
The Recipe: Eggplant Crust Pizza
1 eggplant, cut into half-inch thick slices
1⁄4c your favorite red sauce recipe
1⁄2 - 1c shredded mozzarella cheese
4tsp olive oil
Additional toppings (optional):
1 white onion, sliced thin
1/2c pepperoni slices or prepare sausage
1/2 cup mushrooms of your choice
1/4c fresh basil
1c crushed tomatoes
Preheat the oven (a toaster oven works as well) to 425F.
Paint both sides of your eggplant slices with olive oil, and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly.
Place on a baking sheet. Bake until the eggplant is browned, turning tender/creamy in the center, approx. 7min. Turn once.
Spread one tsp of your red sauce on the top of each slice of eggplant.
Cover with mozzarella cheese and whatever toppings you like.
Bake until the cheese melts, approx. 5min.
Serve hot from the oven.
Everyone had their one thing (or sometimes more) that they simply couldn't stomach growing up. Did the thought of spinach or broccoli or liver and onions give you nightmares? Share your own story, and how you learned to love it (that is, if you did - maybe it still makes you shiver?), in the comment section below.
Even though I'm no longer five, I still enjoy my classic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or, even more nostalgic ants on a log as a snack. I'm sure you do it as well, but wouldn't it be nice to jazz it up a bit? After all, food is fun, meant to be enjoyed by you and more importantly, your taste buds.
(Some of you may remember my 2017 experiments with peanut sauce here: Peanut Sauce)
I've put together a list of my favorite recipes that use nut butter spreads made with atypical ingredients (i.e. not only peanuts). Feel free to mix and match: There are endless nut and seed spreads available for purchase now in local grocery stores, and my hope is that these recipes will expand the way you view the application of them. You can, and should, play around and swap out the 'vehicles' as well, i.e. instead of endive leaves as the base, try apple or cucumber slices.
Let's get nutty:
nut butter series
Peanut Butter Bites
½ cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon five spice powder
½ cup apple, small dice
4 celery stalks cut into 4” ‘logs’
1 tablespoon celery leaves minced
1. In a small bowl, mix peanut butter and five spice. If it’s too thick to stir, you can add water to thin it out, adding drop by drop.
2. Assembly: on each celery, spread peanut butter leaving enough room to top with apple and optional minced celery leaves.
Sunflower Butter Bites
½ cup sunflower butter
1 pear, cut thinly into matchsticks
4 radish, pickled or fresh, cut thinly into matchsticks
1 tsp black sesame
25 rice crackers
1. In a bowl, mix pear and radish with black sesame.
2. Assembly: on each rice cracker, apply sunflower butter, then the pear/radish mix.
Almond Butter Bites
½ cup almond butter
½ cup shredded carrot
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons raisins
20 endive leaves
1. Mix almond butter in a bowl with a couple tablespoons of water if too thick and add cinnamon.
2. Assembly: On each endive leaf, spread almond butter and top with shredded carrot and few raisins.
What do you make with nut butter? I'd love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment below with your favorite nut butter variations, and don't forget to share this with your friends so they can add their voice to the conversation as well.
for the love of crumpets
I woke up early this past Saturday morning craving crumpets. Crumpets, the Anglo-Saxon-invented griddle cake made of flour and yeast, are incredibly easy to make. As long as you have patience, anyone can prepare these "curled-up cakes".
A large French pressed coffee and book kept me busy as I waited for the batter to rest. I didn't have the standard shallow rings every recipe requires, so I used my cookie cutters and went crazy with MN state, skull, circle, and various other shapes. Not exactly ideal, but easy enough to handle, and, as it turns out, a lot more fun. In a pinch, one can also use thoroughly cleaned and rinsed tuna cans.
The best part about making these chewy, English-style cakes, is that when left slightly undercooked, they reheat nicely... like in my trumpet crumpet recipe (see below).
Side note: if you want my crumpet recipe, you'll have to subscribe to my newsletter and read about it this week (wink, wink). Otherwise, stick to the store-bought for now.
the king of mushrooms
King trumpet mushrooms, the largest of the oyster mushroom species, are one of many varieties of mushrooms that can be used in this recipe. It was certainly the key mushroom highlighted in this dish. I like to mix many varieties together, as each mushroom has a different texture and flavor that offers your taste buds something unique every time. Try a few different kinds for yourself.
-more on trumpet and other species of mushrooms in the this weeks newsletter as well-
trumpet crumpet recipe
2 crumpets, fresh* cut in half
8 oz mushrooms chopped (any will do: King trumpet, button, crimini, shaitake, mix and match)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp truffle salt (or Kosher)
1/4 onion, half-moon shaped
2 oz gruyere, grated
1 tablespoon butter
side of greens: pictured here is arugula and pear in a fennel vinaigrette
*substitute store bought English muffins if crumpets are not in the cards
1. Caramelize onions by heating a large sauté pan with butter on medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions into the pan and cook until translucent, 1-2 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium low and stir every few minutes. If the onions start to stick too much and brown around the edges, reduce your heat. Continue to stir for 30-40 minutes, depending on how soft you prefer your onions to be. If the pot starts to burn, add a bit of liquid (water will do).
Just before the onions finish cooking, about 5-8 minutes, toss in the mushrooms with truffle salt and garlic. Preheat oven to a broil
3. Allow to cook until mushrooms are tender. At this time, arrange crumpets on a baking sheet. Place onion/mushroom mix on top, then with cheese. Put in the oven and toast until browned, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare your eggs: sunny side up, poached, fried... the choice is yours
5. Arrange the crumpets on a plate, place an egg on top, and serve with side salad.
There you have it, a complete meal: great source of protein from the eggs, vitamins/minerals from the veggies, and fiber from the whole-grains
know the difference
Yes, there are differences between soy sauce and tamari: While both are derived from soy through fermentation, they surprisingly have different taste profiles largely due to the presence of wheat. Soy sauce always contains wheat (beware, you gluten-free folks) and tamari has little-to-no wheat. Yes, you may actually find brands of tamari out there that do contain wheat (ahem, gluten), but the label will indicate if it is gluten-free or wheat-free.
The next key distinction is the country of origin.
Soy Sauce: A Chinese byproduct of soy products now made throughout Asia
Tamari: A Japanese byproduct of miso paste, typically less salty (read your labels), and thicker
production of soy sauce vs. tamari
Soy sauce is made through fermentation or by hydrolysis (chemically engineered), with different methods and durations of fermentation and water, salt content, soy, and other non-specific added ingredients. Therefore, there are remarkable differences in flavor between soy sauce brands. You'll have to test them all, or whatever you can find, and choose the one that makes your personal taste buds scream for more.
Traditionally speaking, soy sauces take months to make. For simplicity's sake, the sauce is made by mixing roasted/cracked grains with cooked soy beans, mold cultures, and yeasts in brine. Here are the steps in case you want more deets:
tamari, the "original" Japanese soy sauce
Tamari, on the other hand, is the liquid run-off from miso paste, fermented soybeans with salt, and koji [a more specific fungus, Aspergillus oryzae], rice barley, or other ingredients. Typically, the ratio of wheat and other grains to soy is much smaller than soy sauce, and often contains NO wheat. Homemade tamari can provide people with celiac disease, wheat sensitivities or an intolerance with an tasty alternative to soy sauce. Be sure to read the label on commercial tamari to be sure it specifically says "gluten-free".
Now, the steps of producing tamari:
battle of the sauces
Time to experiment! Divide this recipe by 2, then make the recipe using soy sauce and make the recipe again using tamari. Compare each recipe after your taste test with friends, family, or just yourself. Do you notice anything different between the two? Which has more depth? Is one noticeably saltier than the other? Leave your comments below to share your opinion.
Asian Grain Bowl (vegan)
8 oz tofu, cubed
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
5 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1” piece grated ginger
1 cup short grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
8 baby bok choy, sliced in half
1/2 cup lotus, bite sized pieces
1/2 cup assorted vegetables (carrot and red cabbage shown)
1 cup assorted pickled vegetables*(optional)
1. In a pot, add 1 ¾ cup water with rice and 1 tablespoon tamari. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, about 40 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, toss the tofu and lotus in the following marinade ingredients: sesame, rice wine vinegar, and grated ginger. Allow to sit until you begin assembling the bowls.
3. Ten minutes before the rice is finished, assemble your steamer and begin heating the water, about ½ “ high in the pan holding the steamer. When ready to steam, place bok choy in steamer and cook for 3-5 minutes.
4. Assemble each bowl, dividing each of the ingredients equally: rice, bok choy, tofu, lotus, carrot, red cabbage, pickled vegetables, and drizzle some of the leftover tofu marinade on top (green onions and sesame seeds make for great garnishes if you want to be showy).
You can choose any kind of pickled vegetables, including: carrot, asparagus, beets, green beans, watermelon, cucumbers (quick pickles), or radish variety.
I recommend keeping both sauces stocked in your kitchen to experiment in your recipes. Swapping out one for another will certainly change the flavour, but it won't affect the overall dish in terms of 'turning out'.
Looking for more recipes to experiment with using soy sauce/tamari? No worries, I've got you covered:
lotus root, carrot, & daikon slaw
-or- make your own fried rice: toss soy sauce/tamari in leftover rice sautéed with scrambled egg and veggies (bok choy, mushrooms, carrot, onion).
split pea soup
Split pea soup is amazing. Full stop. And if you think otherwise, then try this recipe: It's loaded with fiber, phosphorous, B6, Vitamin C, and all the naturally-green fun one could hope for in a bowl of warm and delicious soup. Another bonus? This recipe is easy and doesn't take up too much of your time; I'd hate to take away from your reading Michael Wolff's latest, Fire and Fury or Naomi Alderman's fantastic The Power, or from binge-watching new episodes of Netflix's Black Mirror. You can let this recipe stew on your stovetop at low-heat for added complexity and depth while watching, reading, or doing anything else your free time desires. These cold winter nights have us feeling stuck indoors, so we might as well enjoy it, right?
I've made many different varieties of split pea soup over the years, but each-and-every time I favor the addition of fresh or frozen peas to the mix: It brightens up the palate with natural sweetness. You can also take a few handfuls of fresh spinach greens with some of the hot puree and blend with a pinch of citric acid (optional) to make the soup glow green even more. Simply add it to the soup at the end, just before serving, to maintain the bright color and help cool down the soup.
Double the recipe and freeze in small portions to last you through the winter ~ you'll be happy you did when your stomach starts rumbling and it's too cold to go to the grocery store.
Chinese hot pot, the original
With beginnings traced as far back as the Jin dynasty, hot pot remains a culinary favorite throughout Eastern Asia, Japan, and the South Pacific. While it varies drastically from region to region, each variation has the basics: raw ingredients including meats, starch, and vegetables, a hot, flavored broth, and plenty of sauces for dipping. The idea is to cook your raw foodstuffs in the hot broth, and then use the dipping sauces for extra flavor.
Common ingredients & traditions for hot pot based on region:
ordering hot pot
Now that I've got your palates wet for hot pot, we can discuss where should you go to find it, and how it works.
The best place in St. Paul for Chinese hot pot is Little Szechuan in the Little Mekong neighborhood, but I'm sure you could do a search to find what's closest to your own area. Bring your friends and make it a fun social gathering - this meal is always best shared with a group. Although it could be a fun first date, be warned: it does get messy.
First, you select your broth. Sometimes you'll have the option for two at once (a ying yang pot, pictured) which is best for variety; one side spicy, one side mild, for example.
Next, you'll want to choose your meats, starches, and vegetables. While you wait for the pot to arrive at your table with the foodstuffs, get your sauces ready and let the socializing begin. Discuss your plan of attack - there's no wrong way to do it, but you'll find that some things cook differently, longer, or shorter, than others.
When the broth comes to temperature (it will typically come to a rolling boil), add your ingredients one-by-one and wait. Cook times vary for each ingredient, but do be careful: "hot" pot is no misnomer - it does get scalding hot. Let the cooked items cool slightly before dipping and consuming.
DIY hot pot
First things first, you'll need equipment. Before you gather your ingredients, make sure you have the necessary tools:
Broth: Keep it simple and use a chicken, beef, fish or vegetable broth, or purchase a package of ready-to-use hot pot broth. Add other aromatics like jujube, ginger, bamboo, chili, or mushrooms.
Dipping Sauces: just like your broth, this can be as easy or complex as you want. Purchase pre-made sauces -if you like- or decorate your table with chili oil, chili flakes, herbs, onion puree, sesame oil/paste, scallions, soy sauce, sweet & sour sauce, and oyster sauce.
Assembly: gather your tools around the table and heat the broth in the pot using the portable burner. Each person can make their own concoctions of sauces in the small bowls while the broth comes to temperature. Arrange your ingredients on platters combining raw meats on one and raw veggies and starches on another, keeping like ingredients together. When the hot pot is ready, submerge your foodstuffs using your chopsticks and wait until cooked. Use the spoon/strainer to fish out the food that falls from your chopsticks. Dip in your sauce, as needed, and eat.
And there you have it: DIY hot pot.
Ch ch ch ch ch ch CHILI
I love chili. It's incredibly diverse, you can add just about any meat, bean or vegetable, make it spicy (or not...but where's the fun in that?), and it has lots of health benefits.
why I eat chili and why YOU should too!
Texas was the first to 'discover' and take credit for chili, but undeniably it has Mexican roots. You may know this traditionally as chili con carne, which includes beef, pork, chiles, garlic, onion, oregano and cumin. New Mexican chile verde also leaves out the beans. Thick, juicy chunks of pork shoulder is the backbone of this chili with a tart tomatillo sauce. However, you will find that many chili's do incorporate beans and often many varieties of beans like pinto, black, garbanzo, and kidney.
In the 1880's, San Antonio was the first to have chili stands where women, a.k.a 'chili queens', sold bowls o'red for a mere 10 cents, including bread and water as accompaniments. The dish was a hit and eventually made it's way north to Chicago at the World Fair in 1893. Some would even say this dish was responsible for keeping many alive during the Great Depression due to the low cost and free crackers. The times have certainly changed since then, but it still remains true to be a low cost dish for many.
No longer are chili joints and competitions found only in Texas. In fact, we have many competitions fast approaching right here in Minnesota where you can either taste or participate or both.
Chili Cook-off's in 2018 around the state
January 17th: Crosslake Chamber Chili Cook-off, Baxter, MN
January 27th: Owatonna's Chili Cook-off, Owatonna, MN
February 9th & 10th: Chilly Open, Wayzata, MN
February 22nd is National Chili Day
And if you're the adventurous type, check out this website from the World Championship Chili Cook-off to find competitions nationally.
three sister's chili
Throughout the year, I eat and prepare chili. It changes seasonally at my home and varies drastically based on what's in my pantry/fridge. This week, I thought I would continue on the cinnamon trend I started (from the monthly newsletter) and pull ingredients that were around and available. I always have beans on hand, and that with the combination of corn and squash make this the 'three sister's' chili.
-Three sisters, culinarily speaking, are the three main agricultural crops of many Native Americans in North American. They include winter squash, corn, and beans, and are all grown together as companions. Each crop is planted close so that each may benefit from one another.
corn is for structure
beans are for nitrogen fixing
squash is for weed prevention
ok, ok, here's the recipe
Prepares 24 cups
2 lbs butternut squash, cubed
7 cloves garlic, roasted and pureed*
3 tablespoons oil
3 - 32oz jars (96oz total) tomatoes, diced and pureed
3 hot pickled Hungarian peppers, pureed*
2 medium onions, diced
1 lb carrots, sliced into rounds (~9 medium)
5 cups cooked black beans
2 cups corn
1 1/2 tablespoon salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon pepper, more to taste
2 tablespoons coriander, freshly ground
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cumin
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup cilantro to garnish, chopped
*option to puree or chop
1. In a 425F oven, roast butternut with 2 tablespoons oil and cook for 30 minutes or until tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat remaining oil and sauté onion and carrot. After ~6-8 minutes when carrot begins to soften, add remaining ingredients and stir until combined.
3. Add butternut and simmer on stove until it's reached your desired consistency. The longer you let it simmer, the more flavor will develop. Let it stew and grow if you want something magical in your mouth without regret. Garnish with Greek yogurt and cilantro.
Having extra chili on hand is never a bad thing. You can always freeze it and enjoy it weeks or months later when you're lazy. Or give to your guests: they'll love you forever.
an ode to Grandma
baking & pickling