Monthly Archives: September 2013

Autumn Pizza With Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Kale & Mozzarella

Featured on Mind Body Green

Featured on Mind Body Green

This pizza hits all the high notes of fall cooking, with very little hassle. Savory sweet potatoes, caramelized red onions, crispy kale and creamy mozzarella all combine to make a seasonal, bright and balanced pizza. With little more than good-quality olive oil and some fresh garlic, the ingredients really shine.

You can make your own pizza crust (gluten free or otherwise), or look for store-bought varieties in your supermarket. Whole wheat or regular both work beautifully. Consider roasting up all the toppings and setting them out along with individual portions of pizza dough, to cook either in the oven or on the grill, for a fun and personalized dinner party dish. For vegan diners, just omit the mozzarella and replace it with some vegan cheese, sliced avocado (post-oven) or nothing at all — still delicious!

For the recipe, visit Mind Body Green. 

South Africa & Botswana: A Culinary Journey {With Recipes}

Visiting Africa changes your perspective on pretty much everything. It brings your life into sharp relief, highlighting the important parts (family, friends, shared experiences, togetherness) and diminishing parts formerly considered important (happy hour, Drybar, Instagram, constant connectivity). Food and cooking remained a constant during my eye-opening travels, and brought commonality with people who live their lives so differently than I live mine. Even with next-to-nothing in common, people the world over can appreciate the rich deliciousness of a warm brownie drizzled with caramel sauce, the comfort of a big warming bowl of leek and potato soup on a cold night, and the welcoming family feel brought about by a shared meal served around the fire out of huge cast iron pots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two of my favorite meals in Africa and Botswana were served as big family meals. At an old WWII family friend of my grandmother’s house outside Cape Town, about ten of us sat around a big table and enjoyed Bobotie, a traditional South African dish with Cape Malay influences from the local Indian population.  Made with beef or lamb, and spiced with curry, turmeric, lemon leaves, and sweet dried fruits, and served along with fragrant yellow rice, Bobotie tasted both foreign and comforting at the same time, probably comforting due to our lovely company. At our last safari wilderness camp, Chitabe, we enjoyed our final dinner in the boma, a traditional African enclosure built with massive wooden logs in a circular grouping. With a fire and hot coals in the center, the camp chefs worked their magic on a traditional feast, tending to a dozen heavy cast iron pots by the fire.  I remember juicy chicken kabobs, corn on the cob, and an array of side dishes, but mostly I remember the African groundnut sauce, which I wanted to swathe over my entire plate.

A culinary account of my trip to Africa would be incomplete without note of the copious amounts of cocktails we imbibed. G&T sundowners served as a daily sunset break on our game drives, and the addictive African liquor Amarula made an appearance at most of our dinners. Think melted alcoholic vanilla ice cream – yum! The South African wine from the wineries we toured in Stellenbosch ranks second to none; the lush landscape made the visit all the more memorable.

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Bobotie (Serves about 8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 slice day-old white or brown bread
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • juice and zest of one large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mango chutney
  • 12 blanched almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 3 lemon leaves (if available)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
  • 2 pounds minced lamb or beef.
  1. Brown the onions and garlic lightly in the oil and add the curry powder. Cook gently for about two minutes.
  2. Soak the bread in the milk and squeeze dry, saving the milk. In a large mixing bowl, add the onion mixture to the bread plus all the remaining ingredients except one egg. Mix well to combine.
  3. Pack tightly into an ovenproof flat dish that has been rubbed with butter or olive oil.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.
  5. Beat the remaining egg with a little of the saved milk and pour over the top of the bobotie.
  6. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the custard is set and golden brown. Serve with rice studded with raisins, and more mango chutney to top if desired.

Recipe inspired by Boschendal wineries, and Errol, the chef for our lovely lunch.

African Groundnut Sauce (Serves 8-10)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white onion, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 1 chicken stock bullion cube
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh green chili
  • 1/2 cup toasted chopped cashews
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, chopped finely
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat. Cook the onions until soft, then add the garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the ginger, cashews, coriander, and lemon juice.
  2. Simmer until thickened. Add the cashews, ginger, and lemon juice and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. When ready to serve, add the coriander and mix to combine.

When traveling, I have a habit of structuring my days around restaurants, meals, and local markets. Food clearly features at the center of my priorities, whether traveling or not. My trip to South Africa was no different, and even months and years later, the smells, tastes, and feels from all those meals shine clearly in my memory. And until I’m next able to return, I can recreate some of those memories in my own kitchen, minus the bomba bonfire and killer African sunsets.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake {Raw & Vegan}

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From seemingly humble ingredients you probably have stashed in your kitchen cupboard right now, you can make this creamy, dreamy, chocolaty, over-the-top delicious cake. If you’ve got raw- or vegan-food-adverse friends and family, this recipe will convert them in one bite. It’s “sneak-down-to-the-fridge-in-the-dark-and-steal-a-bite” delicious, but made entirely of wholesome ingredients. And if you’re under-confident in your baking skills, this no-bake dessert lets your freezer do the work, and the measurements and techniques are very forgiving. Share this treat with lots of lucky friends and family, and keep a bit in the freezer for yourself.

DSC_0828For the recipe, visit Mind Body Green.

 

Healthy International Recipe: Australian Fish and Chips

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If you’re dining out in Australia, chances are you won’t have to look very hard to find a freshly fried platter of fish and chips. Given that Australia boasts over 11 million square kilometers of clean, clear fishing waters, it comes as no surprise that fish features prominently in its national cuisine. Deep-fried white fish, battered and served with deep-fried French fries or potatoes, with a creamy mayonnaise based dipping sauce to serve, while delicious, will leave you tired and with a bellyache from all that grease and fat. This reinterpretation on that classic dish swaps vitamin rich sweet potatoes for nutritionally lacking white potatoes, and uses the oven and a few tricks to replace the deep-fryer. The resulting fish and chips will please even the most stubborn diners, and comes out crispy, golden brown, and delicious. Enjoy this protein and fiber packed dish with a simple green salad, and you’ve got a balanced and healthy meal you can feel proud to eat and serve.

For the recipe, and more healthy travel tips, visit GeoBlue’s Healthy Travel Blog.

Vegan Taco Salad Bowls With Smokey Cashew Cream {Featured on Mind Body Green}

Mind Body Green.

Mind Body Green.

My recipe was recently featured on the fantastic website Mind Body Green. They are a reliable source for advice on healthy eating, wellness, and living a balanced lifestyle. Visit their website for this recipe and many more great pieces.

After a summer filled with lobster rolls, G&Ts, cheeseburgers, and ice cream, its time for a little culinary restraint. But don’t worry, shifting towards healthier ingredients and cooking methods doesn’t require sacrificing flavor or satisfaction!

These build-your-own vegan taco bowls come together quickly and can easily serve a large or small group. This recipe packs so much flavor that you won’t even miss the usual greasy taco beef and fatty sour cream. The chickpeas pack lots of high-quality protein, the guacamole is full of heart-healthy fats, and the cashew cream is so creamy and dreamy you won’t believe it’s good for you. Enjoy this outside and soak up the last few weeks of Indian summer sunshine.

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor

Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma.

Photo Credit: Williams Sonoma.

As the weather cools off, cravings for richer, more complex flavors supplant summer’s light and simple tastes. Smoke brings both complexity and depth of flavor to whatever ingredient it touches, and without a lot of fuss or extra fat. Consider culinary smoking the healthiest smoking you’ll ever take part in. Smoking food fast tracks the flavors and brings an intensity hard to duplicate with any other method or ingredient. All these culinary achievements don’t have to come with extensive effort or a heavy price tag. You can easily (though for a pretty penny- usually around $300 for a cheaper model) purchase a home smoker that will do most of the work for you, but there are ways around this expense. You can purchase the Camerons Products Stovetop Smoker for around $55, and imbue everything from salmon to pork shoulder to zucchini with that sought after authentic smokey flavor. It doubles as both a hot smoker and a steamer.

Another less involved option is a smoking gun. Not nearly as nefarious as you’d imagine, Williams Sonoma’s smoking gun puts the power of a smoker into a hand-held device about the size of a blow dryer, and for just under $100. You can customize the flavor of your wood chips (they’ve got a pack of applewood, cherrywood, hickory, and mesquite for $30), matching them to whatever dish you have at hand. The device comes with a long, thin hose attached, to direct the smoke exactly where you want it. Aim in into a tinfoil-tented container of roasted chicken, some caramelized onions for burgers, or even at your cheese plate or cocktail. The smoking gun omits no heat, so you can blast your Manchego or your gin & tonic without fear of a meltdown.

You can draw culinary inspiration from the growing league of chefs employing smoke in their cooking repertoires.The venerable Chef Dan Barber, of Blue Hill (both in the city and in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.), cooks on a custom 12-foot-wide grill set on the restaurant’s patio, using smoke in innovative and creative ways, on a full range of unexpected ingredients. He chars some ingredients past the point of recognition, only to peel away the blackened layers, revealing a gorgeously flavored, smokey and tender interior. He even makes coals out of the carcasses he butchers from, multiplying and amplifying the flavors in the process. Herbs, grape vines, and hay mix in with the charcoal, wood, and bones, creating a custom smoke for each ingredient at hand.

Ideas for Using Smoke in Your Own Kitchen

  • Smoke your cheese plate: Just tent it with foil and use your smoking gun to add another layer of flavor. This works especially deliciously on nutty cheeses like Manchego, and creamy, mild cheeses like Brie or Camenbert.
  • Smoke your cocktails: Smoke adds an unexpected twist on classic cocktails. Try a smokey version of a gin & tonic or old-fashioned. You can smoke individual components of the drink, or the finished cocktail.
  • Smoke your pork shoulder. Fire up your grill and smoke your pork shoulder, using the indirect heat of your charcoal, topped with wood chips, to render that meltingly delicious, smokey pulled pork. Perfect for tailgating recipes.
  • Smoke your vegetables: Add sturdy herbs to your wood chips (try thyme, rosemary, or sage) to give a more floral element to your smokey vegetables. Dress them simply with olive oil and garlic to highlight the flavors of your smoke.
  • Smoke your olive oil: Add a whole new level of flavor to your grilled romaine salad with a smoked olive oil. Just use the hose of your smoking gun to direct the smoke into your container.
  • Smoke your salmon: make this favorite easily at home with any of the methods suggested above. For a cold smoke, use the smoking gun.

For more ideas and the full post, visit Devil Gourmet.

Shrimp and Scallion Steam-Fried Dumplings with Ginger Soy Dipping Sauce

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Dumplings are served and eaten as a mainstay all over China. Eaten at any meal, any time of day, as a starter or as the main event, dumplings in China come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Whether for a fancy holiday celebration dinner, or a casual roadside breakfast, dumplings always fit the occasion. Many families have specific, fancy ways to fold and seal their dumplings, but don’t let that intimidate you. Start with a simple and easy seal in the recipe below, and work your way up from there. Dumplings can be prepared as steamed, pan-fried, or boiled, but the recipe below marries steamed and pan-fried with delicious results. By using a mix of oil and water, rather than frying the dumplings in straight oil, the resulting dumpling comes out crispy on the bottom and tender throughout. You get the best of both, without all the unnecessary fat and oil. The shrimp filling here offers high quality protein that’s very low in fat, and the garlic, scallions, and ginger in both the filling and the dipping sauce give a boost to your immune system. Feel free to alter the filling and sauce to suit your preferences, both recipes are flexible and forgiving.

For the recipe, visit GeoBlu’s Healthy Travel Blog.

Roasted Sweet Potato & Broccoli Salad with Miso Dressing

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This salad makes the transition from summer into fall seamlessly. The sweet potatoes make  the dish a little more hearty and seasonal, and roasting the broccoli gives it a sweet, caramelized flavor that even broccoli haters will enjoy. Those flavors paired with the creamy avocado, crunchy cashews, and the sweet and savory miso dressing make for a winning early fall combination. Serve with a piece of roasted fish or chicken to round out a flavorful and healthy meal.

For the Salad:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, stems included, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 cups leafy green salad mix
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup unsalted cashews
  • Handful of mixed herbs, chopped (try basil, parsley, chives, whatever you like)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
  2. On two separate baking sheets, toss the broccoli and the sweet potatoes separately with the olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast your sweet potatoes first, for about 20 minutes total. Add the broccoli to the oven 5 minutes after the potatoes, letting them roast for about 15 minutes total, or until tender and just starting to get crispy.
  4. Toss the broccoli and sweet potatoes together and allow to cool.
  5. On a large platter, arrange the salad mix in an even layer, top with the cooled sweet potatoes, broccoli, avocado, cashews, and chopped herbs. Serve with the accompanying miso dressing.

For the Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha (or to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 small piece fresh ginger, grated (or to taste)
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients, and season to taste with salt and pepper if needed. Leftover dressing keeps well in the fridge for a week, and pairs deliciously with roasted salmon or grilled shrimp.

 

Summer May Be Over, But Fall Has Plenty to Offer {and a Spiced Pumpkin Popper Recipe}

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Though summer sadly has come and gone, in all its sun-soaked, farmer’s market produce laden glory, fall does offer some culinary gems of its own to help ease your post-Labor Day pain. Pumpkin usually ushers in the new season, and once you’ve gotten your fix of pumpkin spice lattes, give these other pumpkin flavored treats a try. They’re sure to take the edge off your end of summer malaise and get you excited for everything fall has to offer. Colorful leaves, football, mulled cider, sweaters, tailgating, and pumpkin spiced poppers? It won’t be so bad- promise!

If you’re in NYC and looking for a pumpkin fix, try one of these delicious options.

  1. Fat Witch’s Pumpkin Brownie: Though their regular brownies already pack a serious punch, the addition of a layer of  pumpkin and cinnamon flavored cakey goodness on top of the chocolate layer makes these treats all the more irresistible. These are so rich, they’ll make you thankful it’s not bikini season anymore.
  2. Spiga’s Pumpkin Ravioli: Savory, creamy, subtly sweet, and pillowy, these delicate ravioli taste like autumn on a plate. Parmesan cheese and a balsamic drizzle balance the sweetness of the pumpkin perfectly.
  3. Brooklyn Farmacy & Soda Fountain’s The Great Pumpkin: Find someone who likes to share, and order up this massive sunday of creamy and lightly spiced pumpkin ice cream, topped with a deluge of maple syrup soaked walnuts, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a dollop of whipped cream.
  4. Boulud Sud’s Ras el hanout Pumpkin Soup: With a spicy Moroccan flair and a creamy texture from Greek yogurt, this innovative twist on classic pumpkin soup will leave you feeling warm and toasty regardless of the windchill outside.

If you’re in the mood to work some pumpkin magic in your own kitchen, try these Pumpkin Spiced Poppers. They’re like mini doughnut holes, without the hassle of heating up a big pot of spattering oil. As they bake, they’ll wrap your kitchen in cinnamon and pumpkin laced wafts of deliciousness. Feel free to swap out the butter for coconut oil, the egg for an equal portion of Vegenaise, and the milk for almond milk to make these vegan friendly.

For the recipe, visit Devil Gourmet. 

Build Your Own: Vegan Taco Salad Bowls

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After a summer filled with lobster rolls, G&Ts, cheese burgers, and ice cream, its time for a little culinary restraint. But don’t worry, shifting towards healthier ingredients and cooking methods doesn’t require sacrificing flavor or satisfaction. These build your own vegan taco bowls come together quickly and can easily serve a large or small group. This recipe packs so much flavor that you won’t even miss the usual greasy taco beef and fatty sour cream. Enjoy this outside and soak up the last few weeks of Indian summer sunshine.

Chickpea Sauté   

  • 1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  1. Over medium heat, warm the oil and sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers until softened and golden brown, add the chickpeas, cumin, and lime zest and juice, and toss to combine.
  2. Heat everything through, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • Cilantro, minced, to taste
  • Juice and zest of one lime
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  1. Mash up all of the ingredients, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Smokey Cashew Cream

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the cashews, cumin, and the garlic clove, and toast until the cashews are a nice golden brown. (Careful not to burn them!). Add the cashews to a blender, and add the remaining ingredients. Blend everything on high until completely smooth, adding more water as needed to reach your desired texture.

Salad Ingredients (Feel free to improvise!)

  1. 4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
  2. 2 tomatoes, chopped
  3. Salsa
  4. Tortilla chips
  5. Lime wedges
  6. Chopped cucumbers
  7. Shredded cabbage

Set out all your components in bowls, and allow everyone to build their own taco bowl. This recipe serves roughly four people, but add more or less depending on what you think you’ll need.

Revamp your Grilling Repertoire with these Grilling Recipes

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Smoking Revolver Gin & Tonic – Give this classic cocktail standby a smoky new twist. Just cut your lime into four quarters and grill on each side until slightly charred. This gives the limes a subtle smoky flavor that permeates your cocktail. A word of caution – be sure to throw your limes on a clean grill- you don’t want undertones from your grilled salmon ending up in your Bombay Sapphire. Mix up your drink as usual, and let the accolades wash over you. You can also grill up lemons for your martini, or grapefruits and limes for your Salty Dogs (grapefruit juice, gin, and lime over ice).

Charred Greens in a Tangy Dressing – Chose hearty, robust greens like romaine and radicchio, wash and dry them, and toss them with a bit of olive oil. Char briefly over high heat (I’m talking a minute on each side, tops) just until they get some grill marks. Toss the greens immediately with some minced scallions, sea salt, black pepper, and a big squeeze of lemon. Drizzle with more olive oil and some toasted cashews or pine nuts to finish. This would also pair well with this Mexican Green Goddess Dressing, or this healthy Carrot Ginger Dressing.

Seared Watermelon & Red Onions with Feta – Cut your watermelon into slabs and grill them briefly on each side. The heat lends a more savory sweetness, pairing perfectly with grilled caramelized red onions. Just cut your onion into disks (like you’re making onion rings) and grill until softened and slightly charred on each side. Plate up the watermelon and red onions, and crumble over some feta cheese- the perfect salty counterpoint. Drizzle over some balsamic vinegar and a hit of salt and pepper.

Grilled Corn on the Cob – Okay, so I’m sure you’ve grilled corn before, but try this new twist on the classic – Mexican-style street corn. Coat each cob with olive oil, then shake over chili powder and salt and pepper. Wrap each cob in foil and cook on the grill, rotating, until tender. Remove the cobs from the foil, spread a little mayo over each cob (bear with me) then roll in crumbled cotija cheese (use parmesan if you can’t find cotija). Serve with lime wedges and margaritas.

Grilled Pizzas – Pick up some premade pizza dough at your supermarket (or make your own if you’re feeling ambitious and have time to burn), portion the dough out into individual pies, and lay them right on the grill.  Brush with olive oil and close the lid, cooking for 3-4 minutes. Flip the pies, and layer on your cheese, sauce, and toppings (if you use vegetables, cook them first). Close the lid and cook for another 3-4 minutes until done. Try fresh ricotta cheese with basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil, heirloom tomatoes tossed in balsamic with buratta mozzarella, or slivered red onions, corn sliced off the cob, and crumbled goat cheese. Get creative!

Smoky Oysters on the Half Shell – If the idea of totally raw oysters skeeves you, try throwing them on the grill for a few minutes to warm them through and firm them up a bit. Shuck the oysters but keep them in the bottom shell, and place on the grill with a squeeze of lemon or a spoonful of your favorite mignonette sauce over each. Close the lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes until warmed but not totally cooked. Knock them back just like you would their raw counterpoints. You can also top each raw oyster with a bit of your favorite BBQ sauce for a Labor Day twist.

Grilled Pineapple with Nutella Drizzle – Dessert on the grill? Definitely. Remove the rind and core of the pineapple, then slice it into ½ inch thick rounds. Crumble over a little brown sugar, then grill on each side until you’ve got nice grill marks. Heat some Nutella in a pan on your grill, and drizzle over the warmed, caramelized pineapple. Top with a bit of chopped hazelnuts, cashews, almonds, whatever nuts you like, for a little crunch.

Grilled Avocado Guacamole – Give your favorite guacamole recipe a new smoky twist by grilling your avocado slices on each side until slightly charred. The grilled avocado becomes smoky, buttery, and over-the-top delicious. Mash up the avocado with diced red onion, garlic, salt, pepper, lime juice, a drizzle of honey or agave, and minced jalapenos for the best guacamole you’ve ever had. The grilled avocado slices also make a perfect burger topping, and add another layer of flavor to California BLT’s with avocado.

For more recipes and the full article, visit Devil Gourmet.