Sunday, September 22, 2013

Roasted Grape & Asparagus Pizza

I made this several months back when my father-in-law was visiting, and I guess I forgot to post it.   Not for lack of yumminess - I loved the little bursts of flavor from the grapes.  The pre-cooking is important for them to get soft and sugary, so don't skip it!

Brush your pizza crust with an emulsion of lemon olive oil, white balsamic, honey, a touch of mustard and salt. (Salad dressing, basically).  Spoon a few tablespoons of pizza sauce on top of that and spread thinly.

Slice half a bunch of thin asparagus spears into small (1/2 inch or so) pieces. Halve a handful of small red grapes.  Sear first the asparagus, then the grape halves, in just a bit of olive oil on the stovetop.  Top the pizza with asparagus, grapes, dollops of goat cheese, and very finely grated parmesan.  Resist the urge to over-top.

Google the baking time & temp depending on the thickness of your crust, whether you are using a stone, your oven, etc.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Mediterranean Stuffed Peppers with Yogurt Sauce

Let's be clear:  I have stuffed a pepper or two.  My mom's basic recipe was my favorite in college until I stopped eating ground beef, and in the winter, I think there is hardly a nicer dinner.

I promise I really try not to post every single variation, since you can basically stuff anything delicious in a pepper and bam, dinner success! - but I like the yogurt sauce (in lieu of cheese) and flavor-packed, protein-laden filling of tonight's attempt, so here we are.


1 white onion
1 can white beans or chickpeas
1 16-oz can whole tomatoes
1 bunch torn kale
If you have some slow-roasted tomatoes, 1 cup of those (I slow-roasted grape tomatoes today and they are to die for so I threw a handful of them in).
1 tsp each paprika and cayenne (more cayenne if needed)
1/2 TB each mint and basil
olive oil
2 TB lemon juice
1 cup (uncooked) quinoa
1/2 TB cumin

Start quinoa cooking with the cumin in the water (on stove or in rice cooker).

Clean the peppers and set them upright in a deep, square baking dish.  (mine fits 4-5 peppers depending on size).  Splash a bit of water in, put lid on, and microwave for 5 minutes to begin steaming them and removing crunch.

In one frying pan, cut the onion into 8ths and cook it in olive oil on low heat to caramelize or at least soften.

Meanwhile, in another (larger) one, heat up a TB of olive oil, add drained and rinsed beans/chickpeas, add paprika, cayenne, and a few pinches of salt, and cook on high heat.  Taste and add more cayenne until there's as much fire as you like.  When the beans start to darken, scoop 2/3 of the whole tomatoes from the can and crush them with your fingers, and add them (but not their juice yet).  When the onions are ready, add them too.

Add basil, dill, and lemon juice and let this all cook together for a bit, then toss the kale in.  When the kale is cooked, add the (cooked and drained) quinoa.

Spoon filling into pepper and tuck any excess around them in the dish.  Crush the remaining whole tomatoes and pour them and their juice over the top.  Bake without lid at 425 for at least an hour - the longer the better, really (I don't think there is such a thing as too long!)

Yogurt Sauce:

Mix up the following:

Plain yogurt (trying to use up my last batch = reason for this meal)
1 small cucumber (lemon, persian, baby), chopped into very small dice
2 TB finely chopped fresh mint
1 tsp ground cumin
Optional: squirt of lemon juice

Beet & Arugula Lunch Salad

Before going off on vacation, I'm trying to preserve veggies from CSA and garden however I can.  I had a few weeks worth of beautiful, multicolored CSA beets (about a dozen total!), so I roasted them in their skins with oil and salt, then peeled and chopped them.  Most, I threw in a tupperware with some oil and vinegar in the fridge for future use, but I took out about a cup and a half for this lunch.

Simple:  Just the chopped beets, some chopped mild white cheese (mine was basket cheese but whatever, really - mozzarella, goat, you name it), a few handfuls of roughly chopped arugula (CSA again!), lemon olive oil, white balsamic, and---this is key---plenty of salt .

Kimchi Soup

More adventures with kimchi!

I looked at a bunch of different recipes and then mostly worked off of this one, because it struck me that the addition of a little miso and mirin might help compensate for the lack of pork in my (vegetarian) version.

I made a lot more than the quantity in the recipe (as usual) and added a bunch of CSA veggies (also as usual!) that just needed to get eaten.  I think this would be lovely as a simple brothy soup, so I'm not necesarily exhorting anyone to do the veggie-packing thing, but my fridge has a truly intimidating stockpile in it and CSA day is coming around again soon!  (That said, this tasted very nice with the additions.)

So I know that all of my soups basically look the same in photos (warm-colored broth with veggies and tofu floating in it?  Again?).  But this taste is completely new for me and just amazing.  The kimchi mellows in the soup, and although I added plenty of Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce (not having any Korean chili powder on hand), the flavor was bright and tangy and not too burn-y for my timid (but improving!) tastebuds.

There, I think that is a record use of parens even from me.  So!  The Soup!

8 cups water
2 cups kimchi
1 onion, chopped
5 tsp chopped garlic
1 bell pepper or large, mild hot pepper, chopped

1 small eggplant, cut into dice
1 package extra firm tofu, cut into dice
Whatever other veggies you need to use up, if any, chopped - zucchini, mushrooms, any greens...
3 TB butter
3 TB miso paste
3 TB mirin
1 TB soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Ginger paste
Chili sauce or powder, or Sriracha, or what-have-you
4 sliced green onions

1.  Start by sauteeing onion, garlic, and green pepper in 2 TB butter.  When they soften, add kimchi (leaving behind its juice for now), eggplant, and other firm veggies.  Sautee a few more minutes, then add water, kimchi juice, miso paste, mirin, and soy sauce.

2.  Once broth gets to boiling, taste, and add ginger paste and chili sauce to taste, plus more miso/mirin/soy sauce (and/or salt) if needed.  You'll probably want one 1 TB or more of chili sauce.

3.  Boil until eggplant is nearly translucent, then add (1) any leafy greens that just need a little cook time, and finally (2) tofu, green onions, last TB butter, and lime juice.   Taste and adjust flavors again, and serve with rice.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Caramelized Kimchi Scrambled Eggs

For about a week now, as everyone has probably heard, it has rained like I've never seen in Denver.  It's like the summer of 2005 in New York when the subways kept flooding and the whole city was just streaming with water.  (Needless to say, things are a lot worse than just rainy in a lot of the communities surrounding us, and I'm grateful that the rain has stayed out of our basement, our roof has held up, and we've been home safe and dry throughout.)

The extra moisture has apparently led to some oversized veggies from our CSA, like last week's giant cabbage, which I took as my cue to finally make kimchi (I also included cucumbers, peppers, young leeks, and easter egg radishes from the CSA).  

When it was ready to eat, I wanted to do something a little more special than just rice (even though I'm sure that will be a frequent meal till we eat it all).  This was just the ticket - flavorful comfort food on a rainy night:

1-1.5 cups kimchi, plus more on the side 
Black rice 
4 eggs
1 TB milk
4 TB sugar
2 TB white vinegar
1 TB soy sauce

All you do is:  Mix the kimchi (1 to 1.5 cups - eyeball it; it depends how tightly packed they are and how much you like), sugar, vinegar and soy sauce.  In another bowl, whisk up 3 eggs and the yolk of the fork, plus the milk.  

Heat a frying pan up to high heat, add the kimchi mixture, cover with a lid, and watch it carefully for the liquid to caramelize - about 5 minutes (don't let it burn!).  

Once sticky, pour the egg mixture in, and scramble, stirring constantly until the eggs seem just a little bit runny.  (My brother-in-law, who makes the most amazing scrambled eggs, taught me the trick is to stop then, because they'll keep cooking once you turn off the heat.)  

Eat with rice and more kimchi.  Amazing.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tomato Cucumber Salad with Middle Eastern Yogurt Dressing

Chop up 2 cups each cucumbers and tomatoes.   Dress with:

2 finely chopped chiles 
skin of 1/2 preserved lemon, finely chopped
chopped parsley and mint
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup good plain yogurt
plenty of salt
dash of olive oil

Frozen Yogurt

I've been experimenting with making yogurt and as a result we had a big container of Fage that wasn't getting eaten.  That led me to Heidi's frozen yogurt recipe.  I can't say that I've ever had better!