Salmon on the grill

Look for my recipe for a grilled salmon fillet with an orange, ginger, soy glaze with fingerling potatoes and spinach.  All of it can be prepared on the grill, and I will post the recipe tomorrow for the salmon, the glaze and potatoes.  For those of us who don’t want to turn on our ovens in the middle of summer, this is the way to go!  Recipe tomorrow!

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Vegan Lentil Soup

 

Here’s a delicious, hearty and meatless soup….this version is all about bold flavors!

VEGAN LENTIL SOUP

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

3 carrots, quartered and chopped crosswise into 1/4 inch slices

3 cloves of garlic crushed

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, run through the blender or food mill

2 bay leaves

4 cups of water

1/2 pound lentils, (1/2 a bag), picked over and then rinsed

Cayenne pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, place 1/4 of olive oil and heat.  Add onions, celery, carrot and garlic and sautee until limp and beginning to color, about 5-8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the turmeric and watch it turn deep amber color!  Then add the lentils, the bay leaf, the tomatoes and the water.  Begin to simmer the soup, over medium heat and taste for seasoning about 5 minutes later as it begins to simmer nicely.  Add the cayenne and more salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer over low heat until the lentils are completely soft, about 90 minutes, on low heat, tasting all the way through for seasoning.  Remember, you never want to season at the table. Why? It will just taste salty.  Season throughout the cooking process.  Remove bay leaf and serve. 

Note: To turn this into a Curried lentil soup, just add about 2 teaspoons of curry powder or garam masala in addition to the tumeric and also add 1 tablespoon of chopped ginger while sauteeing the vegetables. 

Soy Fruit Smoothie

 

Being on the vegan cleanse I have to get protein from a source other than meat, so, I have perfected the art of the smoothie.  First, soy milk.  On its own, it doesn’t thrill me with its flavor, but whirled into a fruit smoothie, it’s a perfect base for frozen fruits and cold juices–and a great source for protein.  Second, fruit.  You simply must freeze your fruit first so that when combined with the cold milk, it will form an icy mass without the addition of ice cubes (which ultimately waters down your smoothie). In today’s case, I froze fresh blueberries and chunked banana–solid.  Finally, the addition of cold juices, in this case pineapple and pomegranite.  Adding another dimension of flavor, these juices also assist in the creation of a smooth mass that is easily pourable.  If you like, a tablespoon or two of protein powder will make for a low fat, protein packed treat.

3/4 cup cold low fat soy milk

3/4 cup frozen fruit of your choice (blueberries, bananas, strawberries, apple, melon)

1/2  cup cold juice of your choice (pineapple, acai, V8 Splash, pomegranite)

1 tablespoon protein powder

 

Whirl all ingredients in a blender and serve immediately. 

Blondies

So last night, I finished reading Quantum Wellness by Kathy Freston.  She’s the one behind my vegan cleanse.  Her recommendation for feeling better instantly?  Do something nice for someone.  So here is my contribution. Brownies. Originally from Gourmet Magazine, I had to make two changes.  First, the addition of 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (trust me). And second, almonds instead of pecans.  Oh and one more thing.  To make it taste like a chocolate chip cookie, 4 ounces of bitter chocolate, chopped.  I packaged them up this morning and drove 5 bags to our local post office here in Erwinna, PA.  Our postmaster Nancy beamed with excitement as I took out the bags.  Savoring one of the brownies (which I could not eat due to the vegan cleanse), she said that I could bring over anything else I thought was off limits! I left there with a huge smile on my face.  Enjoy!

                                                 Coconut Chocolate Blondies

2 sticks unsalted butter

2 cups packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon red cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups toasted and chopped almonds (toasted in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, cooled and then chopped coarsely in a food processor)

2 cups sweeetened flaked coconut, divided.

4 ounces bitter chocolate, chopped somewhere between coarse and fine

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place rack in the middle and butter and flour a 13×9 pan. If you like you can cut a piece of parchment as well to fit the bottom.

Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan. Take off heat and cool to lukewarm. Add brown sugar and vanilla and whisk well. Add eggs, one at a time, and whisk until creamy and smooth. Add cayenne pepper so that it releases its essence.

Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda and stir (wooden spoon please) into butter mixture.  Add 1 and 1/2 cups coconut, all of the almonds and half the chocolate.  Stir.  Turn into prepared pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate and coconut over the top.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until browned and a cake tester comes out clean. Cover with foil if your oven runs hot so as to prevent the coconut from browning too much. Let cool on wire rack for 30-45 minutes and then remove by inverting the pan onto a flat surface such as a jelly roll pan (removing parchment if you chose to use it).  Then reinvert the entire brownie onto another sheet pan so that the top is upright. 

Allow to cool to room temperature. Place in refrigerator if necessary to firm up the butter fat. Cut into squares. I like cutting them into 1.5 inch squares and the placing them into cellophane bags for delivery and presentation. 

Arugula and potato salad

 

 

This arugula and potato salad is so easy and it came up in the most serendipitous of ways. My friend Rick Patt and I attended an early meeting yesterday and he casually asked me if I wanted some fresh chard from his garden. Well being on the cleanse I of course said yes.  Fresh vegetables are in season and given that I’ve gone vegan for three weeks, I was thrilled to get vegetables that are completely organic. Much to my surprise, Rick supplied me with swiss chard, fresh baby carrots, bibb lettuce and fresh arugula.  I went home with a white metal bowl (you know the kind) brimming with fresh vegetables, almost giddy with excitement. The only thing missing as I walked through the front door was the wide brimmed hat, and a knife, and perhaps a few sweat beads from being in the garden.  But since the garden wasn’t mine, I was spared the accesories and simply enjoyed the bounty!

That afternoon, after I finished washing the vegetables and greens my Food and Wine arrived.  And in it, a recipe for potato and arugula salad!  The idea is that the hot potatoes wilt the greens. No mayo here.  Just a simple vinegraitte dressing. A few tweaks from me, and the above resulted. In that this recipe is so easy, here it is in narrative form!

Toss about 2 pounds of potatoes cut into 1 inch chunks with olive oil, salt, pepper, turmeric and some curry powder. Roast in a 400 degree oven until crispy (45 min).  Do this in a large non stick skillet for super fast clean up.  In the meanwhile, place about 4 cups of cut arugula (cut the bunches in half) in a large bowl. 

Then, make up your favorite vinegraitte.  Given that I used turmeric and curry in the potatoes I made a simple mustard vinegraitte (the mustard playing off the curry powder and turmeric).  To the mustard, I added sherry vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also added a splash of soy to the dressing for another dimension of sweet and salty.

When the potatoes are ready (after about 45 min in the oven), pour them over the greens (right out of the oven hot as they are) and add the dressing.  Toss. You’ll see that theat of the potatoes will slowly wilt the greens. Season with salt and pepper and serve.  So delicious.  I could have eaten the entire plateful! Enjoy!

My vegan entry

Get it? I am on day 4 of the “cleanse.” Oprah’s doing it, and recently featured the author of a new book called Quantum Wellness on her show. This author’s approach, Kathy Freston, is to take a holistic approach to healing, and not ignore one area of your life despite impovements in others.  So for her it’s not only about living beyond our fears and ego (ala Mr. Tolle), it’s about exercize, service to others, meditation, fun and eating such that you do not cause harm to any living thing on the planet.  The cleanse, which she advocates doing at least once a year, is essentially going vegan for 21 days. No alcohol, no dairy, no smoking, no meats, no white flour, and no white sugar. Oh, and no caffeine. You ask what’s left?  A lot.  Especially now that the summer’s bounty is upon us.  Here’s a recipe that I came up with that begs for experimentation.  Add as many fresh herbs as you like for maximum flavor!

                               Basmatic Rice Pilaf with Cannelini beans

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil and more for drizzling later

1 Medium onion, chopped finely

4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped

1 bay leaf

1 1/2 cups basmati rice

1 16 ounce can cannelini beans, rinsed

3 cups of water or vegetarian broth

Salt and pepper

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Add  the rice. and sautee over medium low heat until the basmati rice begins to toast, about 2 more minutes.  Add the cannellini beans, the bay leaf and the water (or broth), season with salt and pepper and bring to boil. Stir once. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes until water is evaporated.  Take off heat and let sit for an additional 15 minutes to steam and complete cooking.  Taste for seasoning. Adjust if necessary (remembering that rice and water both absorb a trememdous amount of salt so you will need to adjust).  Remove bay leaf. Add pine nuts, and chopped basil and toss with a fork. Drizzle a little fresh extra virgin olive oil on top before serving.  Serve warm.

NOTE: To turn this into a faux “risotto,” follow the recipe until you add the pine nuts and basil.  Do that and then add 1/2 stick of softened butter and 1/2 cup light cream. Stir thoroughly and then stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese and some more freshly ground black pepper.  Finish with 1/4 cup of finely chopped parsley. (This addition of dairy takes it out of vegan however and makes it vegetarian–but it is so good!). Serve immediately.

Philly burbs

Here is the text of my column for Philly burbs this month along with the below recipe! Enjoy!

 

Hurry!  To your local farmer’s market, that is. Strawberries, which make an early arrival every year (Mothers Day to Fathers Day) are only in season for another two weeks.  At this very moment, farm stands everywhere should be brimming with these incredibly sweet berries whose flavor trumps anything flown or trucked in from California.

 

When it comes to ripeness, local produce always wins because the produce in question can be picked from the vine at the height of its maturity. In Michigan (“up north” as the locals refer to it), where I spent Memorial Day weekend, it was Asparagus—everywhere.  Strawberry season has yet to hit given their 20 degree daily difference (downward) in temperature. 

 

But here in Bucks County, until June 15th, strawberries are the star player.  And soon, when summer is in full swing, our local farm stands will be brimming with locally grown fruits and vegetables, rotating as the season progresses. This month’s recipe: Strawberries with Balsamic syrup and Mascarpone whipped cream.  I picked up the Strawberries at Hellerick’s Family Farm, which is truly a throw back to another time. A family run business, every member of the family seemed to be on hand to assist in my sale.  Every berry was a deep garnet red, with no white tips, and so fragrant that they beckoned for a taste.  (http://www.hellericksfarm.com/index.html). The Strawberries were so sweet, they almost didn’t make it home.

 

If truth be told, I never thought that Strawberries with Balsamic Syrup as appealing. To me, there was a disconnect between the sweet and the savory. But legend has it that Marcella Hazan, the high priestess of Italian cooking, brought this concept to American shores and it has been gaining steam every since.  After tasting a version that I came up with, I can see why. The balsamic syrup is sweet, but has the undertones of the pungent vinegar which, when mixed with the berries, creates a fusion of incredible flavor.

 

To serve I scoop the whipped mascarpone cheese into martini glasses, top with a spoon full of the strawberries and garnish with some crushed Amaretti cookies. This recipe will dazzle anyone who dips their spoon into the mellow cream and that oh so difficult to describe sauce which tops these berries.  The perfect start to summer! Enjoy! 

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/105-06022008-1542783.html