Sunday, September 12, 2010

Light and Spicy

I recently embarked on an adventure in Austin to find this business that makes and sells their own flavored pasta. They're called Texas Gourmet Pasta and I read about them in Edible Austin Magazine. Their store front was a "25 minute drive" from where I'm staying, but it took me over an hour to find the place. I need a GPS.

Anyway, their pasta is great! I am not sure HOW they pack so much flavor into the noodles, but am willing to learn. They offer free classes! The idea, is not to pack on the sauce, keep it light so you can taste the noodles.
This dish is made with spicy and smoky chipotle linguine.

olive oil
zucchini (cut into thin strips)
yellow bell pepper (thin strips)
salt & pepper

So simple.. start by sauteeing the onion in the olive oil, once its tender add the zucchini and yellow bell. If these are thin enough, they should cook pretty quickly. Add the garlic, and after about 2min, toss in your herbs and season with salt and pepper. before turning off the heat, add about a 1/4c pasta water and simmer for a minute or two. This would also be nice with some lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

Late Summer Salad

Have you tried arugala? Its a spicy green gaining popularity. I love it! My farmer friend, Walker, grows lots of arugala in Columbia, MO.
I think mixed green salads are so much better when you add herbs. If you like flavorful greens, try adding a variety of your favorite herbs next time, it will be way more exciting.

toasted walnuts

I made a simple dressing with a few ingredients I had on hand. Just olive oil and balsamic vinegar would have been great though. I whisked balsamic, with a little strawberry rhubarb jam and stone ground mustard, then added the olive oil to the mix. plus salt and pepper.
If you do cheese, some fresh creamy goat cheese would go nicely with this as well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Vegan Kickstart

Alright.. so I read this article in the Dallas newspaper talking about a local program that people were signing up for. A 21 day vegan diet starting september 6th. The idea was to introduce folks to a healthy and different way to eat.
Everyday they send emails with recipes and encouragement. I think its a great idea. People will learn to introduce way more fresh produce into their diets, protein alternatives, and cheese-free meals. Cheese-free?? Crazy, I know.

So I signed up. And failed on Day 3. Farm fresh eggs were what got me. 4 different colors, laid that morning.. I just couldn't say NO.

Why did I sign up? A lot of the meals I prepare are vegan. I love vegan food. I thought I could do it. In fact, several years ago I really cut back on my cheese consumption. I felt better and dropped a few pounds. Then.. THEN.. I met local cheese. Wonderful, fresh, creamy local cheese. And I met the farmers who produced it! Bam, back on the cheese train. At one point 2 years ago, I had 8 different local cheeses in my fridge. And I was happy. But over time, I realized I was depending on it too heavily for meal preparation. I know, you may be asking... what's wrong with that?!
Bottom line, cheese is great. I love it. In fact, I'm planning on making it myself by early 2011 (one of many food goals I've set for myself). Few things in life are greater than sustainably made cheese from happy animals. In comparison few things are more frightening than highly processed factory farmed cheese (yes, you can taste the difference.) However, culturally we've become far too dependent on it.

So the new challenge to myself if to go cheese-less for a month. I also wont be indulging in any dairy based desserts. So far, so good. Its been 4 days.
Think that sounds difficult? Two friends of mine just committed to only eating Local foods for a year. The majority of their diet with consist of foods grown/raised around Austin, but anything from Texas is allowed. Their only exceptions are vacations, coffee, and alcohol (they're only drinking booze from Mexico and Texas.)

Egg in the Grass

So good, so healthy, I'm going to make this dish again and again.

I actually made twice this much.. and ate all of it.

1/4c brown rice
1/2c water
-bring to boil, then lower to simmer until the rice is fluffy and the water is all soaked in. Keep a tight fitting lid on your pot the whole time.

Now for the fun part
1/2 small yellow onion
1 very small yellow bell pepper
2 cloves garlic
4 sun dried tomatoes
1/2 bunch of spinach (use a lot, because it will cook down)
4 crimini mushrooms
2 eggs

The sun dried tomatoes I used were heavily salted, so I didn't have to add any salt to this recipe. Actually.. I am really excited about these sun dried toms! Central Market, the amazing store that Anna and I work/shop at has them in bulk! A jar of them usually costs at least 7$! I paid 38cents for 4 of them. YES!

Start with a little oil in your pan, and saute the onion and yellow bell until soft. Turn down the heat and add the garlic, so it doesnt burn. After about a minute, add the sun dried toms (dice em up) and 1/2 c water to hydrate them. Once the water heats up, toss in all your spinach, and cover the pan. After a minute, stir as needed until all the spinach wilts. Add your chopped mushrooms (they'll cook quickly) and use a spoon to make 2 "wells" into the greens. This is where you'll drop the eggs. Make sure the walls around your "well" are high enough so that the egg doesnt spill over. Re-cover the pan. This should baste your egg. If it isnt cooking in a few minutes, start basting the egg with the hot liquid in the pan. This should speed up the process.

That's it!! I loooveed it mmmm!! Enjoy