Sunday, November 27, 2011

Scenes from Central Market's Produce Dept

My job isn't so bad. I try foods from all over the world, talk to people all day and share my passion for food. So I can't complain tooo much. Everyday when I get to work the first thing I do is take a lap around produce to see whats new, taste a few things and get inspiration for my next meal

Calabaza and Chayote Squash are popular in Mexican cuisine. The Chayote stays pretty firm when cooked, I like to add it to chili. It has a large edible seed in the middle that is nutty and delicious and looks like a big ole pumpkin seed!
In the fall we have up to 7 or 8 varieties of eggplants! Just look at these beauties! Gorgeous
And in true TexMex style we have at least 30 varieties of fresh/dry peppers in produce.
A great view of the peppers
Some funny looking Trumpet mushrooms and colorful yellow chantrelles that we always have on hand.
Kiwano Horned Melons and Passion Fruit are both slimy green on the inside with seeds. The Kiwano has a flavor or cucumber mixed with kiwi. The Passion Fruit is best enjoyed when super wrinkly and shriveled. The inside is sweet-tart and musky.. and tastes somewhat like guava.

All kinds of good things here! From the top left clockwise are Yucca root, Tamarind pods, Horseradish root, Mung bean sprouts, Tumeric root, Rambutan, and Galangal root. I often wander into produce and eat the tamarind like candy. The pods are filled with seeds and an edible paste that is extremely tart and sweet. I also buy the tumeric often and use it in soups, stews and tea.

Dragon Fruit is so beautiful! Its expensive, but so much fun to eat. The flavor is like a cross between kiwi and pear.. and the inside is whitish pink with lots of tiny black seeds that look like poppy seeds. Medlar apples are pretty uncommon these days, they are usually cooked though you can eat them raw. They are soft on the inside with a winey cinnamony depth of flavor. They're great for preserves and chutneys.
The variegated pink lemons have yellow skins with green stripes and are entirely pink on the inside. The kaffir limes have an exotic flavor that are ideal for thai cuisine.. latelyIve been mixing them with pomegranate juice, gin and tonic. Yuzu citrus is highly sought after in the culinary world & is often used in sauces, marinades and dressings. Its flavor is like a mix of grapefruit and mandarin.
Strange citrus fruits start showing up in November and get more and more diverse through the winter. I get most excited about kumquats, finger limes and bergamot!
MMMmmm over a dozen types of pears.. my very favorite are the Taylor Gold.
In the winter and fall we have over 35 varieties of apples!! Some come in for a few hours and we never see them again! Did you know that you could eat a different apple every day for 18 years?!

It's surprise heirloom beauties like this that bring me the most joy. I become excited like a child when strolling through the produce dept and running into something like this.. baby purple brussel sprouts!

Happy Vegan Thanksgiving

Green Bean Casserole

Cashew Bechamel:
2 c water
2 oz dry porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
few sprigs parsley & thyme
several black peppercorns
1 head roasted garlic
2/3 c raw cashews
2T oil (olive)
2T flour (buckweat)

Cook everything in the water for an hour (with a lid or else it will reduce too much) besides the cashews, oil & flour. Strain the liquid from the solids and reserve the broth. Blend the broth with the cashews and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan and stir in the flour to make a roux. Stir the roux, for a couple minutes, until a dark paste forms then whisk in the broth. Continue to whisk until a thick sauce forms. Season to taste.

Butternut Squash
Cashew Bechamel

You want the bulk of the casserole to be greenbeans and mushrooms. I added the butternut for an seasonal twist on the classic, plus I wanted to have some extra to make a butternut gravy.

Roast the greenbeans and squash, lightly covered in oil with salt and pepper until soft. Toss with quartered mushrooms and bechamel and place in casserole dish and bake at 350 until mushrooms are soft. Top with homemade onion rings.

GF whole wheat bread
GF raisin pecan bread
veg broth
salt & pepper

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Miso Soup with Kimchee Dumplings

Cutting carrot flowers!!!... what a joy! It takes somewhat of a zen mind. And by that I mean patience and non judgment. They don't have to be perfect.
To make the carrot flowers, you must make long lengthwise cuts in your carrot.. I usually try to make 6 cuts on the fatter end, and 5 on the thinner end.

For the miso soup.. there are endless ways to do this. I've read many miso recipes and its one of my favorite ingredients, but this is the first time I've made a soup. First time for everything!

1 t Sesame oil
1 carrot cut into flowers
2 dozen shiitake mushrooms
2 scallions
1 med. size piece kombu
8-10 c water
5 T miso or to taste
ume vinegar
1 T dulse flakes
red pepper flakes
kimchee dumplings!

Heat the oil in a pot. Add the carrots and 1/4c water and put a lid on it to cook the carrots a bit. After a couple minutes add the kombu, shiitakes and scallions. Once the mushrooms are soft, add the water dulse, ume and red pepper flakes (to taste.) Bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Add the miso. You do not want the water to be boiling when you add the miso! It will kill all of the glorious living enzymes that were produced from years of fermentation. What a waste. So... dont boil the miso :)
Once your miso is incorporated & you are happy with the balance of flavors, add some chopped cilantro, and a couple of dumplings.. Once the dumplings are heated through enjoy!

Kombu- a sea vegetable (seaweed) that adds minerals, flavor and salt to soups, beans and grains. Most people dont actually eat it, its just something that you throw in the pot to make the other ingredients happy. I always add a piece to a pot of beans or rice.. and it actually helps with the digestion of beans. Wonderful. AND! get this... MSG was designed to act like kombu! its a flavor enhancer! cool. So, instead of keeping a jar of white powdery MSG on hand, I have kombu. works for meee!

Dulse- also a sea vegeatable. for the purpose of this recipe I used Dulse granules. They add a touch of salt and sea essence and add tons of minerals to a dish. You can sprinkle them on anything and hardly notice they're there. Sounds good. Also check out Dulse strips, which look a bit more like dried leaves. You can toss these in oil, toast em and put em on a sandwich in place of bacon.. a DLT!

Ume- One of the best ingredients. Ever. Umeboshi Plums are pickled (fermented) fruits which you can find whole, in paste form, or as ume vinegar. Ume plums have many homeopathic and culinary uses. I use them in many recipes, in place of other vinegars or citrus, to round out and heighten the flavors in the dish.

Kimchee Dumplings- also known as "Mandu", come in many varieties, and are a staple in Korean cuisine. You can pan fry them in oil, steam them, or drop them into soup. They remind me of Totinos Pizza Rolls only way better, and cheese-free. You can find them in the freezer department of Asian grocery stores, and they are available at Central Market, the store that I work at.

Blubanana Steel Cut Oats

I just moved into my new place this past weekend, and this has been breakfast every morning since!

1/3 c Steel Cut Oats
1/2 c water
1/2 c almond milk
pinch salt
baby bananas
raw organic butter

We've got two balconies in the new place. This one overlooks one of the Austin Greenbelts. It makes me so happy. So does this breakfast.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Apple Cran Banana Oats

For 2 Servings

3/4 Apple grated
1/4 c water
handful raisins
handful cranberries
1/4- 1/2 in grated ginger
drizzle maple syrup
1 banana
1/4 orange juiced

1/2 c SteelCut Oats
2c liquid (I did 1/2 almond milk, 1/2 water)
pinch salt

Bring the oats to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer and cover. Stir frequently and add more liquid if necessary. Cook until they reach your desired consistency. I cooked mine for over 1/2 an hour.

Meanwhile... In a pan, heat the water and add apples and all the ingredients except the orange juice & banana. Simmer on low until it is bubbling and the water begins to reduce. Dice up the banana and stir it in, cook for an additional minute, then deglaze the pan by squeezing the juice of 1/4 of an orange.

Finally, stir the fruit fixins into the oatmeal and serve. You could also stir in a pat of butter just before digging in or top with yogurt... yes!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Breaded Artichokes with Lemon Herb Aioli

This is going on the menu. Rarely do I post something cooked in so much oil... but damn. These puppies are freaking delicious. And vegan unless you garnish with Parmesan cheese. Eat your heart out.

Ingredients for Aioli

1/3 c veganaise (vegan mayo or use whatever)
1 lemon juice plus zest
Italian Herbs (pick your faves or use a blend)
garlic 1-2 cloves minced

Ingredients for Artichokes:

1 can quartered artichoke hearts
3/4 c flour
seasoned Italian bread crumbs (I just bought panko & seasoned them myself)
2 T ground flax seeds (or use 2 eggs)
1/2 c water

high heat oil (safflower, grapeseed, sunflower)

set up your station:
1 bowl flour
1 bowl flax seed whisked with water
1 bowl bread crumbs

dredge the artichoke hearts in that order, flour-flax-crumb, then gently drop them into the hot oil. Flip them half way through..
You may need to do a test artichoke until you get your oil temp right.
When you remove the artichokes from the oil, place them on a brown paper bag to remove excess oil..
Then get down on some delicious grub

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jerk Shrimp Tacos w Canteloupe Salsa & Slaw

Our Appetizer.. Stoneground Crackers, Caramelized Onions, Roquefort, Sliced Apples & Smoked Salmon

Slawred cabbage sliced super thin
onion sliced super thin
Slaw Dressing
1/2c carrot juice
1.5T ginger juice
2T rice wine vingear
1.5 T white miso paste
1T sesame oil
1t maple syrup

1 lb shrimp
2 1/2 t dry thyme
2 t paprika
3/4 t allspice
1 1/2 t sugar
1/2 t garlic
1/2 t cayenne
2 T olive oil


1/2 cantaloupe diced small
1 small tomato
red onion
lime juice

French Toast stuffed w Banana Cashew Creme

Banana Cashew Cream

1 c cashews
2 baked bananas
1/4 vanilla bean pod scraped
water to desired creaminess
maple syrup to desired sweetness, a little goes a long way

Bake the bananas in their peel until the peel is completely black and juice is beginning to ooze out

Puree above ingredients in blender until Smooth

Berry Syrup
blueberries, raspberries, whatever you want
1 meyer lemon juiced
dash of balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt

Heat in saucepan, and simmer on low until the juicy sugars in the fruit release and get all syrupy beautiful.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

4 Courses

Fresh Figs, Arugula, Roquefort, toasted Pecans & a Balsamic glaze

Homemade Focaccia topped with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic & fresh herbs

Zuchinni Noodles with a black olive medley, roasted tomatoes, roasted peppers, fresh basil, toasted pinenuts & parmesan
Berries, Cherries, baked Banana & Cashew Cream

Tiger Stripe Figs (best Ive ever tasted, as if they were filled w strawberry jam)
Roquefort cheese
Toasted Pecans
Balsamic Reduction

adapted from Tal Ronnen's Conscious Cook

1 T sugar
3c warm water
1 packet active dry yeast6 c all purpose unbleached flour
sea salt
1/3 c extra virg olive oil

Following the recipe from this book really stressed me out. I had to change his 1 1/2 c warm water to 3c.. because the dough was incredibly dry and never would have worked. Thankfully we just completed our breads courses at school & I am familiar with how the dough should feel. Also, he set the oven temp for 400 degrees, which I thought was way too low for the bread to cook thoroughly w a golden top. ugh. So basically, I am using a different recipe next time & you should too. But don't let this discourage you from baking your own focaccia! Its so good. Even though I wasn't thrilled with it I ate the whole thing, and my dinner guest loved it!

2 onions
vegan Butter (Earth Balance)
1 head roasted garlic
thyme rosemary sage

Thinly slice 2 onions, and throw them in a pot with the butter & cover. Stir them often. Once they are golden brown and super soft add 1T Balsamic Vinegar and sea salt. Allow to cool, then stir in roasted garlic, fresh sage rosemary & thyme.

Zucchini Pasta
1 large zucchini
1/4 red onion diced
1-2 cloves garlic minced
olive medley
roasted tomatoes (or sundried)
roasted bell pepper
fresh tomato
fresh basil
toasted pine nuts

First of all, for this dish you need a Spiralizer to cut your squash into noodle strands. I love this tool. I works on most hard fruits and vegetables like potatoes, apples, pears, winter squash, radishes...

Start by heating oil in the pan, then adding onion. After several minutes, they're soft & delicious add olives & garlic. Let cook another minutes, then add the roasted tomatoes, roasted bell pepper. Let them heat up, then toss in fresh tomato, fresh basil, toasted pine nuts & turn off heat. The olives will make this dish quite salty, so you may not need to salt it. Garnish w fresh parm & cracked pepper.

Cashew Cream
Cashew cream is so easy and its one of my classmates favorite things to make.

1 c cashews
1 T maple syrup
1/4 fresh vanilla bean pod seeded

Soak Cashews for up to 3 hours. They'll fatten and even take on a purplish hue. If you don't have the time to soak this long, boil water and use this hot water to blend them.
Place the cashews in a blender and cover with 1in water. Add fresh vanilla and maple syrup and puree until smooth. Enjoy

I served with blueberries, cherries, strawberries & a baked banana.

to bake a banana, place a banana in its peel on a tray in an oven at 350. Bake until the peel is black and juice is starting to ooze out. Amazing.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brown Rice Pudding with Grilled Pineapple Reduction


Cleanse: Guacamole Quinoa Salad

Cleanse: Garbanzos Italia

Okay.. this was early in the cleanse and I couldnt help but put a litttttle parmesan on it.. I mean c'mon.. this dish really wanted some parm and I was weak for it.

diced potatos
olive oil
Portobello mushrooms
roasted eggplant
homemade marinara sauce (from my freezer)
toasted pinenuts
and parm :)

Cleanse: Stir Fry

I'm on a cleanse. For two weeks. There are literally thousands of ways to do this.. cayenne pepper water, a juice fast, cabbage soup...etc. I have several books that are all about different ways to cleanse your body & mind through healing foods & drinks. Personally, I am not at a point in my life where I can fast on liquid alone for several days, (some people juice fast for over 40 days!) so I eat. This is what I do/don't eat on this cleanse..

My cleanse includes whole grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds.. ya know.. whole foods.

My cleanse does not include wheat, dairy, sugary foods, (basically nothing w sugar as an ingredient or over 6g per serving) alcohol, processed or fried foods, caffeine

NO sugar is the hardest part. I usually don't eat sugary desserts or crave cookies ever. But there is still a lot of sugar in our foods, and whether you realize it or not you probably crave it big time. I know I do. So on this cleanse I reach for berries, peaches, plums, juice.. when the crave hits.

Since I started, I have had 2 jars of sprouts growing on my counter, and every morning or night I cook grains and beans to keep on hand for meals.

Here is an example of a healthy very green stir fry I made.

1T toasted sesame oil
1 head bok choy
couple handfuls broccoli
1 carrot, shredded
sugar snap peas
shiitake mushrooms
brown rice
ume vinegar
brown rice
sprouts & dulse granules (optional garnish)


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

French Onion Sooouuup

Food is so nostalgic for people. It holds memories and emotions, sometimes its obvious, like how pasta reminds me of my family. But sometimes I will smell or taste something that sends me back into a memory that I had completely forgotten, sometimes I am not even sure how the food & the memory are related.. but its a beautiful thing.

This soup reminds me of childhood lunches with my Mom & Grandmother. If French Onion Soup was on the menu, I'd order it. At 17, when I became a vegetarian.. I stopped eating french onion soup :( Everywhere you go it is made with Beef Stock. No bueno.

Eventually, I found this product by Pacific, a french onion soup broth, with no beef. I caramelized some onions, added the broth.. and was in heaven. But I wanted to make my own broth.

So this time I started with a mushroom broth and loads of caramelized onion, a few other ingredients, lots of time & love. But the sweetness of the onions was a little too much for the mushroom broth. So at the end, I cheated & used one of my Better than Bouillon jars, this time the jar called "No Beef." It is a concentration of vegetable paste, yeast & salt that is supposed to mimic the flavor or beef stock. The soup was a hit, but I'm going to keep working on it.. afterall, its my fave!

5 onions
6 sprigs thyme
1-2 Bay leaves
1/2 c Sherry
oil & vegan butter
4 cloves garlic
7-8 c broth (or more as needed)

crusty bread/croutons

Caramelize your onions. This takes time folks! Like, at least an hour. Slice up all your onions, toss them lightly in oil, and turn on the heat, start off at med-high, then bring it on down. I like to keep the lid on, for moisture, to prevent burning/sticking. While they are doing their thing, throw in the bay and thyme. You dont have to pick all the thyme off the twigs, throw em in whole.. the leaves will fall off & you can pick the twigs off later. Once you are confident that your onions are good & caramelized, toss in a couple tablespoons of vegan butter & your minced garlic. After a few minutes add the Sherry. Let it cook for a minute or 2 and then add your broth.
Season with salt & pepper.. and finally serve with the bread & melty cheese. Sticking your soup bowl under the broiler with the bread & cheese helps with the melty part. Enjoy!
Gruyere cheese

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vegan Dogs 3 Ways

left to right #1 Relish Onion & Habanero Ketchup #2 Tangerine Habanero Mustard & Apple Sauerkraut #3 Black Bean Chili, Pickled Jalapenos & Cojita

This is what happened when I got home from vacation and didn't have enough money to buy vegetables. I used fridge and pantry items to create this "Welcome to Austin" meal for Michelle and I.

I know the idea of "veggie dogs" grosses a lot of people out.. but c'mon. Which is worse? Mine made with soy protein & wheat gluten.. or yours made with random animal parts? The difference is worth considering.

I definitely wouldn't recommend anyone largely supplementing their diet with "meat alternative" products. This is the one of the very few times I have ever blogged about one. It is so much more important to get your beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, pickles, fermented foods, fruits, vegetables... basically stick to whole foods! and every once and a while pig out & have fun.. like vegan hot dogs 3 ways!!

Pressed Salad with Mustard Tahini dressing

All kinds of fruit & veg are great for pressed salads. The idea is that you slice them thin, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, gently massage, and set a plate & heavy object atop the salad for at least 1 hour.
In this process, water is released from the vegetables, making them easier to eat raw, and producing a dish high in mineral quality, alkalizing, rich with fiber and digestive enzymes.

This salad contains:
Carrot, Daikon Radish, Red Radishes, Savoy Cabbage, Cucumber & Apple

3 parts Tahini
2 parts Stone Ground Mustard
dash lemon & shoyu (or tamari)
agave nectar (or honey or brown rice syrup)
garlic, minced
water to reach desired consistency

This salad might seem boring, but believe me its exciting! Its one of our favorite things to eat/prepare different versions of at school. Its healthy crisp & delicious. The dressing is actually quite sweet, and if you like mustard you'll love this dressing!

As an alternative you could add fresh herbs, nuts, dried fruits, onion, pear, citrus juice.. Enjoy!

Sweet Summer Veg Soup

It is seriously so. freaking. sweet. It tastes like I added sugar. ITS SO GOOD! definitley perfect for summer. I made it for Michelle & it cured our hang overs.
Corn, leeks, carrot, &garlic cookin down in oil & vegan butter.
Roasting the sweet potatoes and green beans, rather than tossing them in the pot to cook, adds depth to the flavor of the soup.
Making tea with the corn silks. It has a very subtle sweet corn flavor.. and has many healing properties.

3 Leeks, white/light portion cleaned & minced
4 ears fresh corn, cut kernels off the cob (save cobs & silks for use!)
1 sweet potato, cut into small cubes
2 c fresh green beans, break off tough ends & cut into bite-size pieces
oil & 2 T vegan butter (Earth Balance)
1/4 c mirin (rice wine)
garlic, 5 or so cloves
almond milk 8-10 c
3T ume plum vinegar (or other light vinegar/lemon juice)

Heat oven to 350, toss sweet potato & green beans in light oil & salt, spread on sheet pan & roast until soft & yummy.
Add the vinegar/lemon juice to the almond milk & let sit.
Meanwhile, heat 2 T oil in a large pot, then toss in leeks & small amount of salt. Cook until soft, then add the corn & a little more salt.
Scrape all the corny bits & juices remaining on the cob into the pot. Cook for a couple minutes, then add vegan butter & garlic.
Cook an additional minute, add the mirin, let it cook down for a few moments, then add milk/vin & green beans & sweet potatoes from oven.
Salt to taste, and simmer for 10-15min. Toss in a handful or fresh cilantro at the very end.