Monday, July 28, 2014

Black Bean and Lentil Cakes


I have been making these lentil cakes for years now, never writing anything down. As a private chef I tend to just work and try to get everything done on schedule, and there just isn't extra time for making notes. When you have been cooking awhile, especially in commercial kitchens, you go in knowing the basics of the recipes you need to make and then you just season and tweak until its perfect. How much salt did I just put in there? I don't know... enough to make it taste just right. 


I recently spent some time in Hood River, Oregon, cooking for two First Descents retreats.  They provide outdoor adventure experiences for young adult cancer fighters and survivors designed to empower them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same.It was a life changing two weeks and I will write more about them later.

I made these lentil cakes for the vegetarians on Burger Night, but I saw them on the plates of the meat eaters too. I was asked for the recipe, so it was time to sit down and finally iron out the details. 



Black Bean and Lentil Cakes
Makes 8 cakes

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
½ medium onion, chopped small
1 medium carrot, chopped small
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 can black beans, 15oz
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp parsley leaves, chopped
1 ½ cups cooked French green lentils, or Beluga lentils
1 tsp rice flour (optional)
1 tsp tapioca flour  (optional)


Procedure:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat small saute pan over medium heat, once hot, add olive oil and onion and saute until onion softens, about 1 minute,  then add carrot and cook 2 more minutes stirring frequently. Then add garlic, stir, and turn off heat. Let cool.

Place black beans in food processor with cumin, paprika, thyme, salt and parsley and process until smooth.  Add the onion mixture and lentils and pulse until incorporated.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and spray with oil to give a light coating.


Using an ice cream scoop, form into balls and place on baking sheet.  (My scoop holds about 1/3 t0 1/2 cup. If you have a smaller scoop that is fine, you will end up with more patties. And if you dont have a scoop at all, then just form the balls with your hands.)


Press down on ball to form patties about ½ inch high, pinching closed any major cracks along the edges. If mixture breaks apart too easily, add the flours, and mix again. Repeat until all of the black bean mix has been used.


Place in lower half of oven, this will help the bottoms to brown, and bake for 25 minutes. 


Remove from oven and carefully flip patties over, place back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.



Serve with a basil crème fraiche or remoulade. Or this would be great with guacamole seasoned with a little hot sauce like Lucky Dog Dia Del Perro.




Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Creamy Rice and Millet Hot Cereal



This warm, breakfast cereal reminds me a lot of the cream of wheat I used to eat as a child.  It is filling and warming in the winter months, or a good carb packed meal in the summer. The sweetness can be adjusted to your preference and topped with your choice of fresh fruit.  

Blending the whole grains is different from using flours.  All of the nutrients are still there and produce a thick, creamy hot cereal.  I enjoy the hot quinoa cereal by Ancient Harvest for breakfast sometimes, but there is something different about making this yourself. It has more life in it, and therefor, more flavor.  

Blend the grains ahead of time and have a container close by for a quick weekday breakfast. 

Makes 6 1-cup servings

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
½ cup millet
¾ cup water
½ cup almond, rice or soy milk
maple syrup (optional)
butter (optional)
sliced bananas, strawberries and/or blueberries

Procedure:

Place brown rice and millet in a high power blender and blend until ground into a fine meal, approximately 2 minutes.  Stop to stir or shake contents of blender if needed to evenly break up the rice.   Place in a covered bowl and store in refrigerator or cupboard for future use. 

For one serving: Place ¼ cup of grain mixture into a small pot.  Add water and choice of milk and stir with a whisk. Turn heat to medium low and whisk occasionally until it starts to bubble, about 4 minutes. 

Reduce heat and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring frequently.  Cereal will continue to thicken and should bubble. Add more water if you like it to be a thinner consistency.

Pour into bowl and top with non-dairy butter, maple syrup or fresh fruit. Serve.


For a little more protein add quinoa to the mix by placing ¼ cup in a blender following the same procedure as with the millet and rice.  Stir quinoa flour into the rice and millet blend before cooking.

Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cooking Time: 12 to 13 minutes
Cooked cereal will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week
Uncooked grain mixture will keep in an airtight container for 2 months.

Reheating Instructions:  Place cooked cereal in a small pot over low heat and stir until heated through.  Add a little water or milk if needed.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Asian Style Tempeh Kabobs



I have some coworkers that have never liked the flavor of tempeh. As soon as I heard this, I was determined to make my version for them and show them how good it could be.

The key to really good tempeh is all in the marinade. Frying the tempeh first creates a crunchier texture plus adds some fat, and the marinade gives it a rich meaty flavor. Make extra of the marinade and save it in the refrigerator for quick meal prep later, or use it to marinate beef for a stir fry. 


Serve this over a bed of rice with the Pressed Salad and Carrot Ginger Soup. Having a barbecue? Make the skewers up to 2 days ahead of time and then put them on the grill for about 5 minutes to reheat.

Ingredients

Marinade:
¼ cup tamari or soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons rice syrup, maple syrup or agave syrup
1 teaspoon ginger juice, or small piece of ginger peeled and grated
1 tablespoon garlic (2-3 cloves in a garlic press or minced)

Kabobs
1 package tempeh
3 tablespoon olive oil or high heat safflower oil
6 6-inch skewers

Procedure:
In a small bowl, mix tamari, vinegar, rice syrup, ginger juice, and garlic until rice syrup has dissolved. Set aside.

Cut tempeh into 1 inch cubes. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add tempeh and cook until browned on each side, about 2 minutes per side, turning over with tongs.

Pour marinade into frying pan and simmer, about 8 minutes, turning tempeh occasionally so that they soak up the marinade evenly. Remove from heat. Place tempeh cubes onto skewers, 4 to 5 cubes on each, and place on serving dish. Drizzle remaining liquid from the pan over the skewers and serve.

Variations:
Add 2 teaspoons chopped lemongrass to marinade for a thai influence
Add ¼ cup pineapple or orange juice to marinade along with ½ tsp lemon zest
For a richer bacon-like flavor add a little Worcestershire sauce and smoky paprika powder


Will stay in the refrigerator for 1 ½ weeks
Reheat: Place skewers in a medium frying pan with a little oil over medium heat turning once until evenly heated through, about 5 minutes. If tempeh is too dry, sprinkle with some tamari or soy sauce.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Zucchini Bread


This is another one of the very first recipes I wrote for this blog back in 2008. I converted it from a regular wheat flour zucchini bread because back then, there were not a lot of gluten free recipes and I had to make my own. The recipe was not a home run the first time out and needed a few revisions. I am happy to say that now, this many years later, I don't even remember it being anything but amazing. 

Zucchini is a great summer vegetable and so versatile. I grate it into my marinara which adds more vegetable power without anyone knowing it is in there. The zucchini below is still attached to its flower, which many restaurants showcase on their menus during the squash growing season. 
Zucchini Squash Blossom
These squash blossoms can be stuffed, battered and fried, and are oh, so delicious. 





I make this zucchini bread for everyone, gluten free and not. They all enjoy it because it is so moist, and the little chocolate chips probably help too. I have made the bread without the chocolate and it just isnt as good in my opinion. Something about the zucchini, cinnamon and chocolate that are just perfect together.  And so here is the recipe for my gluten free zucchini bread. 


Gluten Free Zucchini Bread


Yield: 2 loaves or 16 mini loaves or 24 muffins

Dry

3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup millet or quinoa flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Wet

3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar 
         (I used 1/2 cup natural white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 
          1/2 cup maple crystals or coconut sugar)
1 cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 cups grated zucchini (large grate) 2 medium, about 11oz
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Procedure:


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl combine all the dry ingredients and stir with a fork or whisk.

3. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add eggs, sugar and oil and beat on medium speed until creamy. Add zucchini and vanilla and beat again until well mixed, about 30 seconds.

4. Using a rubber spatula fold in chocolate chips. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

The pans below are mini loaves, which you can find here.



Bake according to the times below, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Rotate pans half way through baking time.

Bake large loaves 60 minutes

Bake muffins approximately 20 to 25 minutes

Bake mini loaves 24 minutes





Below is a small loaf pan from BB&Beyond, this is a great size for this bread too. These take 42 mins baking time.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Basil Pesto



Until two weeks ago, I thought pesto was out of my life forever.  Since going dairy free, I had sadly said goodbye to pesto and mourned the loss of its deliciousness.  Every pesto in the store and in most restaurants are full of Parmesan cheese. This is a challenge when you are trying to avoid dairy. But what took me so long to just make it myself?

While cooking for a First Descents retreat, in Hood River, OR, we had pasta night and while I made the marinara, my sous chef threw together the pesto. I asked her to first make a non-dairy batch for me and for a few other non-dairy folks. It was so good that she didn't bother adding any cheese to it. After tasting it I realized I had forgotten just how much I love pesto and was impressed by how much flavor it had. In traditional pesto, the Parmesan cheese adds texture, fat and saltiness. I think if you have a good quality olive oil and freshly toasted pine nuts, they make up for the missing cheese flavor.  As soon as I got home, I immediately bought a bunch of basil and created this recipe.  


Basil Pesto

Makes 2 cups
Ingredients
3/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 bunches basil, about 4 oz each
1 tbsp lemon juice, about 1/2 a lemon
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, plus 2 tbsp


Place everything in the food processor, starting with only 1/2 cup of the oil and 2 tsp of the lemon juice. You might like a thicker pesto, so it is better to start with a little less liquid, you can always add more. And the flavor of citrus can vary with the age of the fruit, so start with a little less, taste and then see if you want to add more. 

Process until smooth. Taste, add more oil, lemon and/or salt to taste.  


Place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Basil will stay green longer if you cover the surface with plastic wrap, which limits the amount of air contact, (let the plastic wrap rest on the surface of the pesto). 


Same principle goes for avocados, it is the contact with oxygen that starts them to brown, so wrap them up good once cut.


This will keep in the fridge about a week. It still might be ok after a week, after all, there isn't any meat or dairy in it to go "bad", but the color will look less appetizing the more time that goes by. 

This recipe makes 2 cups which is a lot if you are eating alone, or just want a small amount. Go ahead of cut the recipe in half if you want to make less. You may have to stop the food processor more often to scrape down the sides as there wont be as much in the bowl of the processor and it will take a little longer to get chopped down. 


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Barbecued Teriyaki Tri Tip with Lucky Dog Hot Sauce

Tri Tip is my favorite meat to throw on the grill especially when trying to feed a bunch of people. It is relatively inexpensive, easy to cook, and packs a lot of flavor if you marinate it early enough.  I usually do a teriyaki style marinade on a tri tip, something like Soy Vay's, Veri Veri. After figuring out I had a gluten allergy, I worked on making my own teriyaki combination to avoid the wheat in most soy based sauces. 

This summer I have been thinking a lot about how to incorporate Lucky Dog, my new favorite hot sauce, into this marinade. Grilled tri tip is really good with a teriyaki crust, but it can also benefit from a little heat. Lucky Dog currently has 6 flavors/heat levels: (from mild to extra hot) Purple, Green, Red, Orange, Pink and Black.



I am a wimp when it comes to hot sauce, so I tend to stick around the milds: the purple (extra mild) and green (mild). I was never a hot sauce user until I met Scott a couple years ago and tasted his homemade batches. Back then it was just a backyard hobby and he roasted all the peppers on his grill. I loved his tasty creations from the first hello. It was just so different than any other hot sauce I had every tried before, it had FLAVOR, not just heat.  My husband and I liked his sauces so much that we requested our own personal batch and used them as wedding favors two years ago. (Scott's LD bottle is in the orange tissue paper).


So back to my tri tip.....I tried out this recipe a couple times using the different Lucky Dog sauces and the Black Label really shined. It has incredible flavor, with hints of fig, onion and garlic, and the heat is well matched with my salty and sweet marinade.

Now on to the recipe......

Barbecued Teriyaki Tri Tip with Lucky Dog Hot Sauce Black 

Ingredients
3 to 4 pound tri tip
1/2 cup Tamari (or regular soy sauce if you are not gluten intolerant)
1 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
5 large garlic cloves, smashed with the side of your knife
2 tbsp maple syrup, grade b
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp Lucky Dog Sauce, Black Label

Procedure
Combine Tamari, lime juice, garlic, maple syrup, Worcestershire and hot sauce in a small bowl. 

Place tri tip in a gallon size ziploc bag and then pour in the marinade.  Fold the bag in half keeping all the marinade snug in bottom with the meat. Then place on a baking sheet or dish (just in case you have any drips) and place in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours.   Turn bag over 2 to 3 times over the 48 hours to make sure the entire tri tip soaks in the marinade. 
** Note: 48 hours is ideal, but you can go 24 if you have to. The best flavor happens at the 2 day mark. 


One hour before you are ready to grill, remove tri tip from fridge and place on the counter to allow the meat to come to room temperature. 

Heat grill to high heat. Remove tri tip from ziploc and place on a small baking sheet. Discard marinade. Once grill is hot, sear tri tip by placing on hottest part of grill for 5 minutes, turn over and sear another 5 minutes. 

Flip over to original side, move to middle of grill, lower heat to medium high and close lid, leave for 10 minutes. Turn tri tip over, close lid again, and leave for 10 more minutes. Remove from grill and place on baking sheet or large, sided dish, (not the same one you used before as it had raw meat on it). 
**Note: If you are new to grilling or haven't made tri tip before and want to check the doneness of the meat, it is best to use a meat thermometer. My goal for this tri tip is "medium" which is 140 to 145 degrees. 


Let rest for 10 minutes. Seriously, walk away from the tri tip. It smells really good and I know you want to jump right in, but you will lose all the moistness of the meat if you cut it too soon. 

Once you have gone and opened yourself another beer, come back and thinly slice tri tip against the grain.


We had ours with some smoked pork ribs (that recipe will come later) and grilled asparagus. Pour on some more Lucky Dog if it is not spicy enough for you. I thought mine was just perfect.



Enjoy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Red Lentil and Coconut Soup

This is one of my favorite soups to make, as well as a household favorite. This soup has a slight sweetness that comes from the coconut milk. I end up throwing other items in it like broccoli stalks, carrots and curry powder which give it multiple layers of flavor. Red lentils are low in fat and high in protein and fiber. Before cooking, place the lentils in a bowl and run your hands through to pick out stones and other debris. Adding the lemon juice at the end makes all of the flavors come to life.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
1 medium onion, small dice, about 2 cups
2 medium carrots, chopped, about 1 1/3 cup
4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 can coconut milk, 13.5oz
4 cloves garlic, left whole
1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Alternative seasonings:
- 3 teaspoons grated ginger, or 2 tsp ginger juice
- 2 teaspoons cumin or curry powder

Procedure:

In large soup pot, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion and carrot and sauté until onions are soft, stirring frequently, about 2 to 4 minutes.

Add stock, coconut milk, lentils, garlic and salt to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and let simmer 10 more minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat once lentils are completely soft and let cool 10 minutes before going to blender.

Pour half the soup in a blender, including the garlic cloves. Add the miso paste, and blend until smooth. 

** Be careful, the soup is still hot, so hold the lid on tight when you first turn on the blender and then lift the lid a little, or remove the small piece in the lid to let the steam vent while the soup blends. 

Return soup to the pot.  Add lemon juice, and any additional seasonings desired and stir to mix. If soup gets too thick, add additional stock.

Pour into bowls and serve.


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes

The soup will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. It can be frozen but is best made fresh.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Mexican Cacao Smoothie... aka the best "healthy" chocolate shake ever


I have been meaning to share this amazing smoothie with you for a very long time.  It fits right in with my philosophy of cooking with whole, not fractured or processed foods as it features raw chocolate.  I got this recipe from a friend and colleague who is a Health Practitioner back in DC.  She introduced me to the wonderful world of the cacao bean.

This smoothie is chocolaty and delicious, but also gives me a lot of energy.  If you get an afternoon slump, this could be a fun way to give you a little boost instead of grabbing candy or triple latte.  Cacao beans (or nibs) are the bean that chocolate is made from, but still in its raw and whole nature.  Cacao beans have been called brain food, a mood enhancer and are as old as the Aztecs.

This recipe is dairy and refined sugar free.  It is quite flexible so you can substitute milks and sweeteners with what you have in the house. This recipe serves two, or one really big glass.  It is best made in a Vitamix but another high powered blender will work.


Mexican Cacao Smoothie
(adapted from forkbytes.com, used by permission)

Ingredients:
1 cup plain hazelnut milk (almond, hemp or soy milk are good too)
3 tablespoons cacao nibs
2 tablespoons agave nectar
pinch sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste (1 tsp alcohol free vanilla works great)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 medium frozen banana
10 ice cubes


Combine nut milk, cacao, agave, sea salt, vanilla, cinnamon and banana in a blender and process until completely smooth (I blend for 2 minutes to get the cacao as smooth as possible).

Taste and adjust ingredients if you want it more sweet, or more cinnamon, etc.  You get the idea.  Add ice cubes and blend again until smooth and frosty (about 30 seconds). Pour into glasses and enjoy immediately.

* Tip: if you do not have a Vitamix, soaking the cacao nibs in the milk ahead of time, say for about an hour, could help them break down in your blender. I like this drink to be as smooth as possible and try to get rid of any bits the blender cant break down.