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Archive for September, 2010

 

Because we are whole food vegans,  our pantry closet looks like a Bob’s Red Mill outlet since that is where we buy most of our bulk grains, legumes and flours.  We always hit up the Portland, Oregon store whenever we venture down that way and slowly cruise the aisles looking at all the amazing organic products they offer.  If there is a grain, seed, legume, flour mixture [such as vital wheat gluten or 10-grain mix] that you’ve been hunting for but can’t find locally, check out their web site because they’ll probably have it in stock.  I’m really looking forward to ravaging my own pantry as the weather cools and the season turns.  I’ll find plenty of uses for dried legumes and grains that’ll help to fend off the cold.  This soup is my first autumnal offering.

I used two varieties of lentils for this soup for textural reasons.  The brown lentils are larger and softer and shall break down with freezing, cooking time or even due to a voracious simmer.  The Puy lentils are heartier and will retain their shape through nearly anything.   It’s for this reason that I use these little French green lentils most often in recipes unless I specifically want a creamy texture such as in an Indian dal dish.  If you don’t have Puy lentils at hand, you may certainly use brown lentils in their place for this recipe. 

 

Lentil Soup

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

1½ cup brown lentils, rinsed

½ cup Puy lentils, rinsed

1 leek, sliced lengthwise into quarters and then across into a dice

1 onion, diced

2 cups thinly sliced dinosaur kale

3 carrots with tops, if possible, diced

1 zucchini squash, medium dice

3 inner stalks of celery with leaves, diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 quarts vegetable stock [You could use a faux chicken or beef broth if you wanted a more savory soup]

olive oil

sea salt

freshly-cracked black pepper

Directions:

Drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a soup pot.  Add leek, onion, celery, carrot and garlic.  Sauté until the vegetables begin to soften.  Add the zucchini and lentils and mix well.  Add the stock and bring to a slow simmer.  Cook for about half an hour to 45 minutes, until the lentils are tender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with chopped carrot tops or parsley if no carrot tops were available. 

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Roasted Papritots

 

Paprika is one of those spices that seemingly carries history upon it’s scent.  At least it does for me.  Whenever I breathe in the smokiness of the dried pepper blend, I immediately imagine bazaars teeming with clamourous commerce in exotic eastern locales or dusty dry mediterranean towns sitting within the watchful shadow of boxy castles set upon distant hillsides.  Paprika is a spice that has stories to tell. 

There really isn’t anything simpler or more comforting than a dish of roasted potatoes.  Thing is, simply by adding some spicy hot paprika prior to roasting and a light dusting of lemon zest afterward, this very simple dish is elegantly transformed into the exotically sublime. 

 

Roasted Papritots

Ingredients:

1 lb small red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces [I used a variety of young bell peppers including red, orange and yellow and cut them into slices.  You could use whichever color you prefer.]

12 garlic cloves

1 tsp finely-grated lemon zest

1 tsp hot paprika

olive oil

sea salt

freshly-cracked black pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Cut potatoes into bite-sized pieces and place into a bowl.  Add the garlic, bell peppers and paprika.  Add a drizzle of olive oil.  Mix well to evenly distribute the paprika.

Transfer to a Silpat-covered or non-stick baking sheet and roast for 40-45  minutes until the potatoes are browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with lemon zest.

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A couple of weeks ago, Jasmin Singer of Our Hen House, and her partner Mariann Sullivan, shared on Facebook that they were going to begin a 10-day juice cleanse because they felt the need to “reboot” their systems.  Jasmin welcomed any and all to join them in the venture.  Over the course of the following few days, the idea intrigued me more and more because I’d never experienced such a thing.  Having always been somewhat curious about fasting/cleansing, I decided that I’d jump in with both feet and commit to the experience.   

It wasn’t as difficult as I’d imagined it would be.  Yes, I missed hot food and the textural quality of meals, but when I reminded myself that I was treating my body to a rich source of exceptionally digestible phytonutrients, thereby giving my digestive system a breather, things just didn’t seem quite so austere.  It also helped my will-power tremendously to know that I wasn’t alone in the undertaking.  The interesting results were that aside from losing five pounds, there were no physical manifestations that I could detect.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that there weren’t any, I just didn’t experience any of the usual detoxification symptoms such as crankiness, headaches, nausea, dizziness, fatigue or skin blemishes.   I suppose that it could be a testament to just how cleanly we have eaten this past year since we cut out all processed foods and animal products.  I know that I certainly feel better since we embarked upon our own food revolution, and I’m quite sure that Heather does as well.

In one of the last video logs of her juice cleanse, Jasmin remarked that she and Mariann would  like to start incorporating more healthy raw foods into their diets.  From my perspective, this was a fabulous thing to hear because it afforded me the opportunity to thank them, in my own particular way, for allowing me to tag along on the journey, and for all the support and community they provided along the way.  Simply because I didn’t manifest any outward symptoms of a cleansing doesn’t mean that I didn’t learn anything from the experience!  And so, Jasmin and Mariann…I raise my fork to you both in gratitude by dedicating the creation of my very first raw entrée to you.  I wish you and yours good health and vast happiness.

 

Raw Asian Mushroom Stroganoff with Blackberries

I purposefully chose the Asian pear, lemon zest and Brussels sprouts to add sweetness, bitterness and a touch of refreshing acidity, respectively, in order to cut through a very rich mushroom sauce which would otherwise become quite monotonous.   [I never could eat an entire plate of Fettuccine Alfredo for this very reason.]   Adding a variety of textures to a dish is also very important to me when considering ingredients.  The Asian pear “noodles” add a softness that is more familiar when thinking of a “noodle” dish than the interestingly crunchy texture of kelp noodles.  I also chose Brussels sprouts because Jasmin mentioned that Mariann was rather fond of them.  If you don’t share this love of the cruciferous, you could easily substitute with thinly sliced endive.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 bag raw kelp noodles [I used Sea Tangle’s ]

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours [I put them into a container with water the night before and placed it in the refrigerator]

1 Asian pear, spirally sliced [Alternatively, you could certainly use a vegetable peeler or box shredder to create shreds]

4 Brussels sprouts, cut into a chiffonade

6 dried shiitake mushrooms

2 T ground mushroom powder [I simply took equal parts dried maitake and shiitake mushrooms and ground them into a fine powder using a spice grinder]

2 oz  enoki mushrooms

1 T freshly-squeezed lemon juice

½ tsp lemon zest, plus some for garnish

2 tsp fresh thyme, plus some for garnish

¼ tsp sea salt

⅛ tsp white pepper

1 cup water

1 cup fresh blackberries

crushed red pepper flakes

Directions:

Place the dried shiitake mushrooms into the water and allow to rehydrate for at least 30 minutes.  [You shall be using this soaking water later, so do not discard]  Squeeze out any residual water and reserve.  Remove the stems and then slice into thin strips. 

Drain the cashews and toss into a blender.  Add ¾ cup of the reserved shiitake soaking liquid, lemon juice, lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Add the mushroom powder.  Continue blending until the mixture is silky smooth and creamy. 

Slice the Asian pear into spirals or shreds and place in a bowl containing acidulated water [A good squeeze of lemon juice will do the trick].  Rinse the kelp noodles under cold water to separate.  Place both “noodles “into a colander together and drain well.

Transfer to a large bowl and add the Brussels sprouts, sliced rehydrated shiitakes and enoki mushrooms.  Add as much of the creamy mushroom sauce as you wish and mix well.  [I ended up using a tablespoon per serving]

Garnish with the blackberries, lemon zest, thyme and crushed red pepper.

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This was another farmer’s market-inspired combination.  Both of our minds boggled at the most gorgeous celery either one of us had ever seen the other day at a local organic farm’s stand.  It wasn’t the usual anemic light green that we’ve become accustomed to, but rather was a vibrant and deep green that begged to be consumed!  [Check out the color of the celery leaves in the photo above.]  We also picked up a couple large handfuls of some beautiful organic green beans from Pigman’s Farm. 

I’ve always loved serving steamed green beans with a sprinkle of celery seed and it occurred to me that I should combine the actual celery stalk with the green beans in a sauté.  To sweeten the combination I added some pan-seared apple and local figs and then added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to perk it all up.  This was delicious!

 

Figgy Green Beans with Celery and Apple

Ingredients:

8 figs, quartered

2 cups green beans, cut into inch-long pieces

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 apple, cut into thin slices

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Celery seed

Sea salt

Directions:

Pan sear the apple slices until slightly caramelized in a drizzle of olive oil.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Add green beans to boiling water and cook for 4 minutes or until just slightly underdone.  While the beans are cooking, add the celery and another small bit of olive oil to the pan and sauté.  After a couple of minutes add in the fig quarters.  When the beans are ready, transfer with a slotted spoon into the pan with the celery and figs.  Return the apple slices and mix well until heated through.  Sprinkle on the celery seeds, salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Serve warm.

 

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