A delicious company called The Ginger People makes this amazing ginger spread that has two simple ingredients: ginger and cane sugar syrup. Seemed to me like I could make it myself...until I tried it and realized there was something magical about the proportions, texture and flavor that I could not recreate myself. So I did what any ginger freak would do. I bought 8 jars.
My recommendations for use:
* marinades & sauces
* add to soups
* use on muffins, toast, or carrot bread!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Soup can be a big time saver for me--I like to make soup in big batches and keep several different soup options in my freezer for when I don't have time to cook...This is a very flavorful soup that freezes well.
* 2 Tbsp. butter
* 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
* 1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped (red or yellow)
* 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
* 2.5 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
* 1 cup fat-free half & half
* 1 orange: juice, pulp and zest
* 1/4 tsp. white pepper
* 1/2 tsp. salt (kosher or sea salt)
* dash of nutmeg (optional)
* Melt butter in pot, add onions and white pepper.
* Cook over low heat until tender and almost transluscent, about 25 minutes.
* Add carrots and stock and bring a boil.
* Reduce heat, cover and simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20 minutes.
* Transfer solids and liquid in managable portions to a food processor and puree until smooth.
* Return puree to pot.
* Add the nutmeg, salt, fat-free half & half, orange juice, zest and pulp and stir.
* Add additional stock if needed for desired consistency.
Serve with a small dollop of sour cream and fresh chives. I also like to add a few parsnip chips...
This puree can also be used as a bed for grilled fish or vegetables as it is smooth, flavorful, and delicious...
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
One night, Curiosity led me and 4 others to an Eritrean restaurant called Assab to try some East African cuisine (located in the Sunset district at Geary & Collins Street). It is a family-owned restaurant that had been getting rave reviews...
Eritrean food is very unique--the dishes are similar to stews where things are cooked down to a flavorful mess and then poured over Injera which is a flat, chewy bread made from a fermented wheat or teff dough. Eritrean dishes commonly use a lot of lentils, onion, bell pepper, and spices such as Berbere (a dried chili pepper). The dishes all come out on one big platter and, instead of utensils, you use the Injera to scoop up the food.
I am generally not a big fan of spicy food, but this place was delicious and a unique experience that is well suited for a larger group of people. I really enjoyed the red and brown lentils with a little bit of yogurt...and the okra was really good. I also tried Tej (honey wine), which was very sweet and similar to reisling...
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The Bay Area is *such* a trendy spot. One trend that has really grown rapidly is local organic products--supporting local organic farmers and sustainable living. The smaller the "carbon footprint" the better. (See highlights on the Bay Area's hot spots for organic and sustainable living)
Today I discovered the best vegan donuts I have ever had: Peoples Donuts, which are locally made in Berkeley, organic and vegan! Now, I am not vegan (but I do use many vegan products and recipes), and my honest opinion is that these little suckers were so tasty that I am ashamed to admit I shoveled two of them into my mouth and had to restrain myself from gobbling a third one. De-LISH!
So, whats in these little gems?!
* organic Unbleached Pastry Flour
* organic Soya flour
* organic canola oil
* organic palm oil
* baking powder
* baking soda
Friday, November 9, 2007
I like to use this dressing with baby spinach!
* 1.5 Tbsp. olive oil
* 1.5 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
* 1/4 cup ginger ale (yes! secret ingredient!)
* juice and zest from one lemon
* 1 tsp. dijon mustard
* 1 Tbsp. honey
* splash of apple cider vinegar (optional)
* whisk all ingredients in a bowl and toss with baby spinach.
Note: this recipe can easily be made vegan by omitting the honey.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Organic spring mix, dried wild bluerries, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts and chevre...
Note: Salad dressing is usually what makes a salad "unhealthy" so I recommend low-fat versions or try making your own using olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice as a base...
also, what are your thoughts on salad spinners?
Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Cranberry beans (the white ones shown above) are popular in Italy and well liked for their creamy, nutty flavor. The pod is usually white with pink/magenta streaks in it...and the beans are similarly colored. Unfortunately, this beautiful coloring fades when you boil them. In Northern Italy, Cranberry beans are called Borlotti and they are usually boiled until soft and served with a simple mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, fresh chopped parsley and salt and pepper. This is a delicious and easy preparation to showcase the flavor of the beans.
Heirloom beans (shown below) have a darker coloring--almost pink beans with dark streaks, but this coloring also fades with boiling...
I discovered cranberry and heirloom beans at my local farmers market. They were so pretty I just had to buy them and find something to do with them--I made them as described above and it was delicious...Beans are really low in fat and high in nutrients so I try to incorporate them into my diet as much as possible..
Serving suggestion: Both types of beans are also great for bean dips, soups and stews, on toasted crostini, or with a tomato-based sauce.
When readingrecipes from around the world, I am sometimes unfamiliar with certain spices and their uses and flavors. Fortunately, I found a good Spice Index, which explains what the spices are, what they look like, where they come from, what they are commonly used in and common substitutes!
I also recommend Urban Spices.
Monday, November 5, 2007
This Soyaki sauce may very well be my favorite product of Trader Joe's...and I am amused that they change their name to reflect an ethnic background (ie: Trader Ming's for Soyaki, Trader Jose for enchiladas, Trader Giotto's for italian items...). If you live in a place where there is no Trader Joe's (gasp!), a company called Soy Vay makes a similar product called Veri Veri Teriyaki (which I would guess TJ's copied but I prefer the Trader Joe's version anyway).
This sauce is a *huge* time saver because it has everything you would want in a stir-fry sauce, ready to use: soy sauce, garlic, sesame seeds, ginger, sesame oil, onions, and onion powder. It claims to be a great marinade for meat, poultry, fish, tofu and vegetables. Personally, I use it with tofu.
One of my easiest, healthiest and quickest meals: Tofu Steaks with Soyaki glaze over steamed brown rice with steamed green beans or broccoli.
* Press the excess water out of the tofu and cut block into smaller pieces.
* Grill tofu in pan over medium heat until lightly browned.
* Pour Soyaki sauce over tofu.
* Lower heat and let simmer till sauce thickens to a glaze.
* Serve with steamed brown rice and steamed vegetables.
Salad: spring mix, alfalfa sprouts, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, goat cheese and croutons with a lemon tahini dressing (recipe below).
Tahini is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern food and the essential ingredient in hummus. It is made from ground hulled sesame seeds and has a unique flavor that I crave more often than I will admit. I recommend buying tahini from an ethnic grocery as it is likely to be more authentic and better quality, but tahini can be found in almost any grocery store. Make sure that you are buying one with no preservatives, no additives, and no salt because pure tahini is so delicious that any of that stuff would ruin it!
As soon as I found the perfect jar of tahini, i rushed home and created this salad dressing! I hope you like it as much as I do...
1/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic, minced or crushed
2 Tbsp. honey
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
juice from one lemon (meyer lemons are the best!)
1/2 tsp salt (I use kosher or sea salt)
* Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.
* Store in air-tight jar and refrigerate.
* Best when used within one week.
Serving suggestion: In addition to being a versatile salad dressing, this dressing is also really great drizzled on grilled vegetables, in pita wraps and sandwiches, and as a dip for raw vegetables!
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I really like weekend breakfasts...during the week I usually stick with granola or oatmeal, but the weekend is usually my opportunity to make breakfast treats like muffin, waffles, and scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes...I made this waffle recipe because I wanted a healthier version of pancakes...these pancakes do not have the restaurant style fluffiness, but rather they are dense and heavy because of the oats. Yum!
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. wheat germ
1 tsp. milled flax seed (its like a powder)
1 tsp. buttermilk powder (optional)
1 egg and 2 egg whites, whipped till partially stiff
3 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups soy milk
* mix dry ingredients.
* blend together wet ingredients in separate bowl.
* slowly stir in the dry mix.
* cook about 1/2 cup of batter on hot griddle (I use an organic cooking spray rather than butter to keep it low fat).
Serving suggestion: I like to lay sliced bananas and blackberries or blueberries onto the batter after I have poured it into the pan rather than mixing it into the batter...When the pancakes are done cooking, you can also serve with whipped cream and/or toasted pecans or walnuts.
Saturday, November 3, 2007
This is one of my favorite creations, which I am especially proud of because I stumbled upon it by accident while wanting something to go with my sunday morning pancakes...it is similar to the consistency of jam, easy to make and absolutely delicious...
2 cups figs (dark mission figs are best), diced
2/3 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tblsp. Muscat
* Heat the water in a small pot
* Bring water to small boil and add sugar and stir on medium heat.
* This will cook down to a simple syrup with a thicker consistency than just sugary water...takes about 10-12 minutes.
* Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for about 8-10 minutes.
* Stir in the Muscat and let simmer down for another 10 minutes or so.
* Allow to cook down to desired consistency (I prefer it thick like jam).
* Cool before serving.
Store the compote in an air-tight jar and use within one week.
Serving Suggestions: I like to put a small amount of the compote on a crostini with goat cheese...or with thick, greek style yogurt with walnuts. It is also a good on toast or muffins!