Friday, September 26, 2008

Seasonal Lentil Stew

Good news -- I recently found the farmer's market in my new city. Even better, it's a block from my house! Last Thursday I decided to check it out to get some ingredients for a veggie stew; I had a few pounds of lentils chillin' around my kitchen and figured that was a good use for them. This stew was a product of things I had lying around and what I thought might taste nice, so ingredients are estimated. For the broth I used diluted some very smooth marinara sauce but it's very close to tomato broth with garlic added, so that would be the easiest method. One of the great things about lentils is that they get better the more they're reheated so this is ideal for leftovers!

You will need:

1 large onion, diced
2 1/2 quarts tomato broth
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
2c green beans chopped into 1-inch sections
~2c dried green lentils
2c fresh cut sweet corn
1c diced carrot
1/2c diced celery
1/2tsp chili powder

Bring the broth to a boil and add the lentils. Cook for 20-30 minutes over medium heat, then add your veggies and spices. Cook for at least another half hour. Serve hot or keep refridgerated for up to a week.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vanilla Chiffon Cake

Aside from my love-hate relationship with Anthony Bourdain, Alton Brown is the TV cook of my heart. I make it a point to take breaks in my homework to catch his show, Good Eats, every weeknight -- it gives me ideas of how to better my already existing recipes, even if he's making something I'd never eat like pork BBQ. But I digress. As soon as I saw it was the cupcake episode, I was completely fascinated.

The recipe he uses for cupcakes is a chiffon cake batter, which is exquisitely light and very different from a traditional cake. It uses oil instead of butter and lots of eggs. You could compare this cake to angel food but it just wouldn't do it justice. The only problem I had was that mine tasted a *wee* bit salty, so I've cut the salt in half for this recipe. Try this next time you feel like making a cake, I guarantee it will be a pleasant surprise!

You will need:

3/4c cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2tsp kosher salt
5 large eggs, separated
3/4 c sugar with 3 tbsp separated
1/4c water
1/4c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
5/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/2c heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp confectioners sugar

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a 9 x 11 pan and set aside. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg yolks, sugar, and oil until it is smooth and forms "ribbons". Add the vanilla and water. Add your dry ingredients and set aside.

Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a separate bowl. Whisk with an electric mixer until it becomes foamy, then add the 3 tbsp of sugar gradually. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Very gently fold the egg white mixture into the yellow batter 1/3 at a time. Pour into the pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Remember not to take this cake out early or open the oven door for the first 30 minutes or it will fall -- a chiffon cake is characterized by a very light, fluffy texture. Once removed, allow to cool completely.

While this cools whip your cream and confectioners sugar together. Be sure not to overwhip so you don't wind up with sweet butter! Coat the top of the cake with this as if it were icing and serve. Keep any leftovers refridgerated so the cream doesn't go funky :)

Real Fruit Smoothie

Fruit smoothies have gotten a bad rap with all of the syrupy, chunky gunky drinks being churned out by chain restaurants and smoothie stands. Or they've been labeled as tasteless and bland by those who have been browbeaten into drinking the watery slush handed to them. I was looking at a load of seasonal fruits my mom sent me home with and decided to do something different and this creation was born. It is positively delicious and takes about 15 minutes to throw together.

You will need:

3 small or 2 medium apples, cored and chopped but not peeled
2 medium pears, chopped into chunks but again, not peeled
1 asian pear, chopped and not peeled
1/3c grape juice
1/4c agave nectar

The first step is to refridgerate your fruit and juice, this way you don't have to use ice and don't wind up with a watery smoothie. Put everything in a blender and pulse until the chunks of fruit have been broken up, then puree until smooth. It's important to keep the skins on the fruit so you get all that nutrition and fiber, make sure you blend well. Pour into a glass and enjoy :)

The Complete Salad

I've had one heck of a time figuring out some healthy lunch options since the new semester started. I must admit -- my brain and body function much better when I've filled up on a nutritious meal than when I'm gulping down frappucinos for 8 hours :) One night last week I made the decision to create something organic, healthy and that could fill almost every one of my food groups for half the day. A daunting task indeed! But I have succeeded and am here to share my creation with all of you. This salad packs everything -- taste, nutrition, portability and ease. Stock up on a few of these quality ingredients at your local health food store and break out the tupperware, because this just might ease its way into your lunchtime rotation.

You will need:

2-3c fresh baby spinach greens
1/4c dried cranberries
3 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds
apx 1/4c crumbled feta cheese
1/3 c steamed edamame beans (no shells)
1/4c sweet peas
greek vinagrette dressing of your choice (recipes to come soon)
1/2c cooked whole wheat pasta shells

Assembling a salad doesn't require too much of an instruction manual but I like to use the dressing with the pasta, cheese, seeds, cranberries and peas and use that to top the spinach and edamame.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Swedish Caramelized Pears

This is a recipe I used in a fall banquet last year. We won, heehee! Pears are beginning to come into season, so for the more fortunate farmers out there we have to find new and interesting ways to use them. This is a really versatile dish; it can go as a side dish or dessert depending on what you serve it with. It can be made savory or sweet. Keep in mind that these are slightly spicy, but the flavor works perfectly! Look for juniper berries in the bulk section of your local healthfood store..or on the bushes in your backyard.

4-6 pears, sliced lengthwise and cored
1/2c honey
1/4tsp chili powder
6-10 juniper berries
1 tbsp cinnamon
dash of clove powder
sour cream or whipped cream
1/2 c water

Heat the honey and spices over medium heat in a large skillet. Once the honey begins to bubble, place the pears face-down and cover. Allow to brown for around 7 minutes. Flip them over and add the water, then cover. If the honey starts to burn add a bit more water or just shift the pears around in the pan; a little bit of burning is critical to the flavor. Remove pears and separate the sauce, add the sour cream or whipped cream and drizzle the remaining sauce over the dish.