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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring Soups

The calendar says "Spring" and yet there is still snow on the deck. Expecting another 3 inches tonight than WHAM! up into the 50's next week. A person can get a bit unsettled from these weather changes. Now, having some warm soup with lots of vegetables to keep you warm on the inside and nutritionally satisfied, brings a bright moment to an overcast day and the rich flavors can put a smile back on your face.

Two soups for you here. One I created for the Cleanse session and it was so good I had to retest it with the Organic Gardening group this past Sunday. It was still delicious, so I offer you the recipe here. I know you will want to make it from canned chickpeas, but trust me when I say cooking with the dried chickpeas is the best way to go when reaching for full flavor. Try it and you will see. (Also, because I was cooking for groups of 12-16 the recipes are large, so cut in half or freeze the extras).

Then I made a batch of dashi (Japanese style broth) and added to it until this incredible soup emerged. Luckily I made enough for a few days because I looked forward to each lunch knowing this was waiting for me. All I had to do was bring to a simmer and add my favorite butternut ravioli, turn off the heat and let it sit.  Made with wheat, but no dairy this lovely ravioli pasta even works well on its own tossed with a olive oil, garlic and anchovy sauce, mmmm mmm. Ah, but I digress. I will now let the recipes speak for themselves.

Coconut Green Curry Vegetable Soup
Serves 10-12

2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 cups celery hearts, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 inch piece kombu
8 cups water

3 tablespoons sesame or coconut oil
½ onion, minced
3 clove garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, peeled, minced
2 tablespoons Taste of Thailand Green Curry Paste

Sea salt
1 15 ounce can coconut milk

1. Drain the soaked chickpeas and in a large, heavy saucepan combine chickpeas with the water, celery, carrots, sweet potato and kombu. Bring to a low boil and allow to cook for 40 minutes or until chickpeas are tender.
2. In a small food processor or bullet puree the oil, onion, garlic, ginger, and curry paste until well chopped and almost a paste. Actually, as much as a paste as you can get it.
3. Heat a small heavy skillet and add the curry paste mixture, stirring well. Reduce heat, cover and simmer, stirring often, until done, about 3 minutes.
4. Add the curry paste mixture to the chickpeas and vegetables. Add some of the soup water to the skillet and wash any residue into the soup.
5. Continue to simmer the soup another 10 minutes, then salt to taste and stir in the coconut milk. Heat through, turn off the heat, cover and allow to sit until ready to serve.
5. Top each individual bowl with ground sesame seeds, minced fresh cilantro or chopped peanuts and minced parsley.

Butternut Ravioli Vegetable Soup
Serves 6

6 cups water
1 4-inch piece of kombu
¼ cup bonito flakes

½ cup sliced dried shitake mushrooms
½ cup dried daikon, soaked and drained (optional, but so good for you)
1 carrot, chopped
½ onion, chopped
2 tablespoons wakame, small dried pieces
½ sweet potato peeled, chopped
Rising Moon Organic Butternut ravioli (or something similar)
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
3 teaspoons tamari soy sauce

1 teaspoon Garlic Red Pepper miso (South River)
1 teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)

Toasted sesame oil
Minced green onion

 1. Make the dashi (broth) in a large saucepan by combining the water, kombu and bonito flakes. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain dashi and set aside the kombu and bonito flakes to reuse for another batch of dashi.
2. In a large saucepan combine the strained dashi, shitake mushrooms, soaked daikon, carrot, onion, wakame, and sweet potato. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are just tender. You can now take from this basic soup the amount you need and freeze or refrigerate the rest.
3. Ladle a serving or two into a smaller saucepan and add 4 ravioli per serving. Return to a simmer and add the chopped kale. Cook until ravioli is tender.
4. Meanwhile, add the miso and anchovy paste to each bowl and ladle enough broth to dissolve. Continue to add the soup with vegetables. Finish with a few drops of toasted sesame oil, minced green onion and ground toasted sesame seeds (gomasio).

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mochi with Egg and Nori

 So, this is half a package of plain mochi.

 Not real appetizing to look at, I admit, but what it becomes, with a little imagination, can be quite tasty and delicious. Mochi is a Japanese product made from cooked then pounded sweet brown rice. It is dried into a flat solid block and when baked, pan fried, grated or placed in a waffle iron, mochi transforms itself into something very different. Scroll through the archives to find several recipes using mochi, obviously a favorite of mine, especially during these long winter months.

I propose a breakfast meal that provides enough protein, carbohydrate and fat to keep you satisfied until lunchtime, and if you miss lunch it will carry you deep into the afternoon.

Pan-Fried Mochi with Egg and Nori
Serves 1

1 one-inch strip of Grainessence plain mochi
Organic olive oil spray
1 tablespoon organic olive, sesame or coconut oil
1 organic egg, preferably free range with the run of the yard
1/2 sheet nori, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup kim chi or raw cultured vegetables

Place the mochi square on its side and slice a one-inch wide strip from edge to edge.

Cut the strip in half and then cut each half strip lengthwise in half again. Then cut into squares and set aside.

Heat a small iron skillet and spray with olive oil. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and heat the oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
Lay the mochi squares in a circle around the inside of the skillet. Cook until brown on one side, then flip them over, keeping in the circle shape.
 Break the egg into the center. Use the tips of a fork to spread the egg white until it is touching each piece of mochi.
 Salt and pepper to your taste and toss the nori pieces on top the egg. Cover and cook to your liking.
When done remove egg and mochi to a small plate. Spoon the cultured vegetables into a small bowl and  serve on the side.

If you are using the cinnamon-raison mochi try a drizzle of pure maple syrup or dark agave syrup over the pan fried mochi squares.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Cucumber with Garlic Red Pepper Miso

Here is a very simple recipe that won the accolades of my students attending the Japanese Foods cooking class last week. South River is creating the most delicious miso combinations that you can easily spoon out of the jar and into a quick sauce, into soup, or mixed with nut butter to create a fantastic spread. For this recipe I used their Garlic Red Pepper miso and a splash of Mirin rice wine for a subtle sweet taste to balance the pungent/salty taste of the miso. The crisp crunch of the cucumber ties it all together and before I could grab a bite for myself the plate was empty. Guess that tells the story.

Cucumber with Garlic Red Pepper Miso Sauce
Serves 4

1 1/2 tablespoons South River Garlic Red Pepper Miso
1 tablespoon Eden Mirin (rice cooking wine)
1 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon water

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into short sticks

1. Mix together the miso, mirin and water until a medium thick sauce consistency.
2. Lay the cucumber sticks onto a platter and spoon the sauce over.
3. Allow to marinate for 10 minutes before serving.
4. Serve as an appetizer or alongside a green salad.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sweet Vegetable Stew

A long winter and an abundance of delicious recipes brings me back to writing them down for your enjoyment. This past Sunday I fed a large group of Body Rejuvenation Cleanse practitioners as they gathered to begin the Transition Phase of the Cleanse. Something sweet, warm and hearty was called for to help ease the sugar cravings and demonstrate how eating sweet vegetables can be very satisfying.

I served the stew with basmati brown rice, and a topping of creamy silken tofu flavored with lemon juice and enough nutritional yeast to provide a cheese flavor. As a side I served broccoli raab topped with sauteed garlic in olive oil and a fresh green salad tossed with a light vinaigrette dressing. All in all a delightful and educational afternoon spent with a wonderful group of people enjoying a healthy meal and intelligent conversation.

Sweet Vegetable Stew
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 onion, chopped
3 clove garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, peeled, diced

1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon garam masala (combination of Indian herbs and spices)

2 cups sweet potato, peeled, cubed
1 carrot, chopped
1 parsnip, peeled, chopped
2 cups kabucha squash, peeled, cubed

2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup sweet white wine
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 ounce can chunky tomato sauce

1 can black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste

1. In a large dutch oven heat the oil and fry the cumin seeds until aroma is released, about 1 minute.   2. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté until onion is tender about 3 minutes, stirring often.
3. Add the cumin and coriander powder and garam masala and stir well, cooking until aroma is released, about 1 minute.
4. Add the sweet potato, carrot, parsnip and squash to onion herb mixture and stir well. Add the stock, wine and both cans of tomatoes, stir well and bring to a simmer.
5. Add the black beans and sea salt, return to simmer, cover and allow to cook until squash and carrots are tender, about 1 hour. Use a flame deflector under the pot for even distribution of the heat.
Serve over basmati brown rice with a dollop of Tofu Cream.

Tofu Cream
Makes 2 cups

16 ounces organic silken tofu
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon Ume Plum vinegar or sea salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and puree until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.