Stir Fry w/ Mizuna Greens and Glass Noodles

Happy Friday! Today is a cause for a little celebration- it’s my 50th post! Woo Hoo! This is an easy, fast recipe that is very flexible. If you don’t have the specific ingredients I used on hand, use what you have. Give yourself permission to experiment and play in your kitchen!

I learned about a new green last week called Mizuna. One of the many things I love about participating in a CSA is the exposure to new vegetables! Mizuna is an asian green, with a very mustardy flavor. Perfect for a stir-fry. And, since I have so many noodles left from my Japchae post, it was only fitting that I serve the greens over noodles. Of course, I couldn’t just cook mizuna, so I raided the CSA bag and came up with a delicious, farm-fresh meal that’s Japchae-ish. Thank you Farmer Jill! This year my CSA is offering a winter subscription, so I’ll be in cool weather greens and root heaven for some time to come. Thanks for sharing this gluten-free culinary journey with me- I’m looking forward to sharing many, many more recipes! And, if you’re lucky enough to have good weather this weekend, get outside and collect some lovely fall leaves!!

Stir Fry with Mizuna Greens and Glass Noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients

Glass Noodles- depending on the brand you have, you will need 1 1/2-2 individual packages of noodles

1 lb chicken (this could be fresh or left over)

2 carrots, thinly cut

2 white peppers, sliced lengthwise (you could use a differently colored pepper)

1 red onion, cut into thin strips

1 cup reconstituted wood ear mushrooms

1/2 lb of mizuna, or other green of your choice, cut into chunks

4 cloves garlic, finely diced

6 tbs sesame oil

6 tbs soy sauce (I use gluten-free Tamari- same thing but with no wheat)

1/4 cup sesame seeds

Directions

Place glass noodles in a pot of boiling water and cook until they are soft- about 5-6- minutes. Drain, do not rinse. Move noodles to a large serving bowl and add 3 tbs of sesame oil. Toss, mixing until noodles are thoroughly coated with the oil- this will prevent them from sticking together. Add 2 tbs of soy sauce to noodles and toss again.

In a large pan, or wok if you have one, heat remaining sesame oil. When you can smell the oil, add the chicken, garlic and onion and cook, stirring as needed so that the chicken and garlic don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Cook about 4 minutes. Next, add the carrots and peppers, and continue to stir. Add the remaining soy sauce, and if necessary, add a tiny bit more sesame oil. When the carrots have just softened, add the mushrooms. When the chicken is done- about 10 minutes total cooking time (a thermometer should read 170) pull the pan from the stove. Stir in the mizuna. The heat from the rest of the ingredients will wilt the mizuna without overcooking it. To serve, you can mix the veg with the noodles, or you can plate the noodles and place the veg on top. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy! This would also taste great with fresh ginger. If you have fresh ginger, add it at the beginning with the garlic and onions and chicken- it will help flavor the chicken.



 

 

Baked Zucchini (gluten free)

When I was a little girl, I always looked forward to August. Not for the obvious return to school, but for the zucchini harvest. In my house that meant days of shredding and freezing zucchini, treats like zucchini cookies (mmm- I may have to work on a gf version of those!) zucchini bread, and of course, baked zucchini.

Baked stuffed zucchini was a favorite meal only reserved for those ‘clunkers’ which invariably hid under a large leaf and got away from us. In fact, I actually made baked zucchini the night my husband proposed to me…. I think it was the zucchini that put him over the top! Or maybe the opera music we had playing…

This recipe takes the idea of stuffed baked zucchini and simplifies it- you get all the delicious flavors, but it takes 1/2 as long. My kind of cooking. It’s also good with eggplant. Next time you’re at your local farmer’s market or CSA pick-up, grab some of those great summer veggies and enjoy!

Baked Zucchini & Tomato Cilantro Quinoa

serves 4- depending on the size of the zucchini

Ingredients

1 medium zucchini

1 small jar of tomato sauce- your choice of flavor

1 cup shredded parmesan (any cheese will do if you’re in a pinch)

1 cup dry quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 red onion

1-2 chopped tomatoes

4 tbs freshly chopped cilantro

1 lime

1 tsp sugar

olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the zucchini in 1/2 lengthwise, then widthwise so that you have 4 long sections that are flat on one side and rounded (skin side) on the other. Lightly brush with olive oil and place in an oven proof dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and place in a small bowl. Add the sugar and juice from 1/2 the lime. Stir and let sit. The onion should be mostly covered by the lime juice. Use the rest of the lime if you need. The combination of sugar and acid is working to ‘pickle’ the onion.

Place quinoa and water in a pan on the stove. Turn heat to medium and cover. When the lid jiggles- just as the water starts to boil- turn the heat down to low and leave covered. Quinoa will be ready in about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave covered.

After the zucchini has cooked for 30 minutes, remove from the oven. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Pour tomato sauce over the zucchini pieces and cover with cheese. Return to the oven and bake until cheese is bubbly- about another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop tomatoes and cilantro and add to the quinoa. Toss, then add the onion. Toss again. Serve next to the zucchini. For a complete vegetarian meal, serve with 6 1/2 minute kale.

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

Well, there it is folks….my one tomato…. I fancy myself a gardener, but in reality- at least at this point in my life- I’m a fantasy farmer. Thank God for Farmer Jill and my local farmer’s market. At one point in my life, I was a fairly successful vegetable gardener. I could routinely grow bumper crops of all those summer favorites: cucumbers, tomatoes, beans, zucchini- you name it- I could grow it. Of course, that was when I was young, single, and living in a temperate climate. Not this midwest craziness where you have 6 weeks of cool, followed by 8 weeks of unbearable….Maybe that’s my problem- I am simply a fair weather gardener.

I still plant a few tomatoes every year- so my children understand and respect the effort it takes to produce food. And this lovely- if you can even call it that- was my one success. I planted 2 bushes, watered faithfully, watched the blooms….and then no fruit. It’s not the first time it’s happened. Chalk it up to soil, blight, I don’t know…. I did however, enjoy my one luscious orb with a little fresh pesto and mozzarella. Delicious. Keep it simple- let the flavors of those beautiful tomatoes- wherever they come from- shine through. Mine was an heirloom brandywine. While I may not have success with tomatoes- I can still cultivate a mean basil plant. It’s almost basil harvest time, which means lots of pesto making and freezing for a little taste of summer all winter… Enjoy your summer harvest- more harvest recipes to come!

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Beets with Honey and Orange

Beets scream for honey, citrus and mint. They work well with fennel, with potatoes, in salads in the summer. And they love, love, love being paired with carrots. My favorite combination, beets with honey and orange, makes for a zesty, sweet side dish that’s ready in less than 20 minutes.

With the right care and preparation the natural sweetness of beets and their gorgeous color can eclipse any poor feelings about their taste. And, isn’t that just the most beautiful color nature has ever created?  I personally, am in love with the color of beets, and their earthy taste has grown on me over time. My husband and children still cringe when they see beets on the table, mostly because they associate beets with dirt.

But this simple preparation is sure to be a hit at your table- it will do away with any idea that beets taste like dirt and therefore need to be overlooked.

And, if you’re feeling a little bit sassy- add a tablespoon of cider vinegar or lemon juice to the leftover liquid and color your next batch of hard-boiled eggs hot-pink! It’s OK- it doesn’t have to be Easter to enjoy pretty colored eggs- do it for the pure whimsy and fun of it- we could all use an extra smile these days!

Easy Beets with Honey and Orange

4 servings as a side dish

Ingredients

2 cups beets, scrubbed & chopped into small sections

juice from 1/2 an orange

2 tbs honey

4 tbs fresh mint, finely diced

Directions

Scrubb and chop beets into bite-sized pieces. Place in a small pan and add the honey and orange juice. Cook on low heat until beets are soft- about 20 minutes. Add chopped mint and stir, combining thoroughly. Serve.

For coloring eggs: reserve the cooking juice, add 1 tbs cider vinegar or lemon juice. Add hardboiled eggs and leave in to desired color- the longer the egg rests in the color the darker it will be.

Traditional Gazpacho (gluten free)

Twenty years ago this summer I lived in Madrid, Spain. While the actual event in and of itself is fairly significant, what’s even more so, for me, is that Spain was where I learned to cook and truly fell in love with cuisine. I was nineteen, and had come to Madrid from a small suburban Colorado town, where everyone knew each other. The kids in the apartment I was staying in were slightly younger than me and still in school. So for the first few weeks of my stay I was largely on my own during the day.

You can only imagine the shock and horror I experienced  my first day exploring the city when I was propositioned by someone my grandfather’s age! After a few episodes like this, and in an effort to avoid the constant cat calls that young women walking alone can receive in Latin countries, I did what any self-respecting teenaged girl did- I hid!

Enter Marisol the housekeeper. To this day I can still see Marisol’s short, wiry, frizzy, curly hair, cigarette tinged fingers, large round glasses and the light blue striped housecoat she wore when working at our apartment. Milagros, my mother for the duration of my stay, was a single parent, and Marisol helped keep the house working smoothly. She’d clean, hang the wash, prepare dinner, and while I was hiding out, sitting on a stool in the tiny galley kitchen, make me practice my spanish by recounting my previous day’s adventures and memorizing the dinner recipes. By the end of my stay I could make many of the traditional spanish dishes, all without measuring. I learned to taste and add seasonings along the way, I learned what spices worked together, and I learned that I loved to cook! Not bad for a girl who’d set the grilled-cheese sandwiches on fire a few months previously!

So Milagros, Marisol and all my dear friends from Madrid who I remember with love and fondness, this recipe’s for you: Gazpacho y Tortilla de Patata.

For ease of direction I have included measures for 4 people. Usually when I make this I make a lot more, and I confess I still don’t measure, I taste. But this will be a good starting off point for you, and then you can add or subtract flavors to your heart’s content. I have also included a chipotle mayonnaise recipe. I didn’t learn to make this in Spain, but it’s really tasty with the tortilla, so I included it. Lastly, and my apologies to Marisol who would probably be horrified that I do this, I did not call for peeling the tomatoes. When I learned to make this, I had to peel the tomatoes (no food processor). If you have a food processor, then there’s no need to peel the tomatoes. If you only have a wand mixer, then you’ll want to peel the tomatoes. It’s time consuming, but worth it. Also, if you can find them, try and use an acidic tomato, like a good beefsteak variety. The more acid types tend to impart better flavor to this dish. I always peel the cucumber, because the skin imparts a bitterness that I don’t care for. The amount of garlic you use is purely up to your taste. I toned the garlic down slightly for this recipe, usually I add more. The pique from the garlic is one of the key parts of this recipe. It’s not tomato soup- the garlic is very important. However, recognizing that raw garlic doesn’t sit well with many, I did tone it down slightly. So if you’re like me, bring on the extra cloves! Enjoy and feel free to post your own favorite food memories!

Gazpacho – Gluten Free

serves 6 as an appetizer, or 4 as a main course

Ingredients

4 very ripe, medium sized tomatoes (about 2 cups)

1 medium cucumber (about 1 cup)

3 large garlic cloves (for this proportion I would use 4 or 5- it’s up to you)

1 small onion or 1/2 a medium onion (about 1/3-1/2 cup)

1 slice of bread (I prefer Udi’s Gluten Free) soaked in ice water

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbs red wine vinegar

salt to taste

Directions.

Peel the cucumber, garlic (smashing it with the side of your knife then peeling skin away is easiest) and onion. Divide cucumber and onion into large chunks and place in the food processor. Add the peeled garlic and the tomatoes. Process for about 2 minutes. Gently squeeze the water from the bread and add to the food processor, along with the olive oil and red wine vinegar. Process another 2 minutes or until soup is smooth and a little shiny. Depending on your taste you can add a little more olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt, and process for another 30 seconds.

Pour into a pitcher or mason jar and refrigerate, or serve immediately. Soup will keep a few days in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, give it a shake or a stir and pour into bowls.

* for a sea-food flare, add a large spoonful of lump crab that has been squirted with lemon to the center of your bowl.

Tortilla de Patata with chipotle mayonnaise  

Makes 8 2-inch slices

Ingredients

1 3/4-2 lbs potatos (wax or starch- whatever you have on hand)

1 large or 2 medium onions

2 tbs + 1/4 cup olive oil (if using stainless steel, you may need more)

2 tsp salt- more to taste

6-8 eggs

For Mayonnaise

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle seasoning or powder to taste. (you will use less powder than seasoning- mix & serve)

Directions

A note about your cooking pan: The cooking pan you use is very important to the success of the tortilla. I learned how to make this using a large non-stick pan- about 10-12 inches wide. This is best because keeping the potatoes from sticking to the bottom is very important. Since I don’t use teflon, and I haven’t yet purchased a fancy enameled non-stick pan, I tend to use my cast-iron fryer. It’s not ideal- the sides are really to high- but I’ve managed to compensate. If you have stainless that you like, use it, but you will end up using more oil. I will include directions for the non-stick pans, as well as the short-cut I use with my cast-iron fryer.

 

Slice the potatoes and set aside. On medium, heat approximately 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom of your pan. Add the potatoes, onion, and salt. Allow everything to cook down until the potatoes are thoroughly softened and can be broken with the edge of the spatula, about 20 minutes. Keep adding oil as you go so that the potatoes do not stick to the bottom of the pan. (The potatoes will absorb oil as they cook, so you will need to add more as you go- it helps soften and flavor them) Taste for seasoning. The salt should enhance the flavor of the potatoes and onion, and depending on the variety of potatoes, you may want to use a little more salt. It’s entirely up to you. Mix the eggs in a separate bowl and set aside. The first time you do this use 6 eggs. It makes for a dryer tortilla and is slightly easier to flip. This is really a potato dish, not an egg dish. When the potatoes have softened, pour the egg mixture on top and smash the potatoes down with the back of your spatula. As the eggs cook, run your spatula along the side of the pan, loosening the mixture and allowing for more of the liquid to run off to the sides. Do this several times until the mixture begins to dry out, and the sides are looking cooked. The center will still be wet. At this point run the spatula along the sides and if possible, the bottom of the pan to help loosen the tortilla.

For non-stick pans: If you’re using a non-stick pan, give the pan a brisk shake to help disengage the tortilla from the sides and bottom. Grab a large plate and set it next to the stove. Very carefully, tip the pan up and encourage the tortilla to slide off the pan and onto the plate. Do Not move the tortilla if the bottom hasn’t set up- it will break. Next, put the palm of your hand underneath the plate, and with your other hand, turn the skillet upside down over the plate. Make sure the skillet is fully touching the plate. Very quickly, flip the whole thing over so that the plate is now on top and upside down. The tortilla should have flipped back into the pan. Give the pan a few more brisk shakes to help the tortilla settle, and cook for another 6-7 minutes, or until the egg is cooked all the way through. You can check this by placing a knife in the center of the tortilla and taking a peek. Once it’s cooked. Gently slide it back onto the plate and allow to cool. This dish is meant to be served chilled or at room temperature. Garnish with a little chipotle mayonnaise.

For cast-iron skillets or fryers: Once the bottom and sides of the tortilla have been cooked and loosened, turn the oven on to broil. Keep the oven rack at the second highest level- if it’s too high the dish will burn. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, or until the top of the tortilla is nice and golden brown. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the tortilla- eggs should be thoroughly cooked. Allow the pan to cool- the dish will shrink slightly, and this will help you remove the tortilla in once piece. With a flexible spatula loosen completely around the sides and bottom, and gently slide onto a plate. Serve at room temperature or chill. Garnish with chipotle mayonnaise.

When I lived in Spain, we would make bocadillos de tortilla (tortillas de patata on poorboy buns) and take them with us for lunch on our day trips. (yes, this was prior to the gf days) No mayonnaise needed. They keep very well in the heat and are very filling as a sandwich. We would use the spanish equivalent of bbq sauce with them this way. Delicious!


Beef Burgers w/ Kale & Feta

We took our first family vacation (as in we didn’t have to work while away) to the ocean only to have major life events interfere. My husband had to cut his trip short to rush to the bedside of his dying brother. It doesn’t get any more real life than that. Suffice it to say that while sitting in paradise pondering life’s major questions and realities, I realized that while I love writing and blogging,  I just needed to be present- present to the sound of breaking waves and sand between my toes,  present to the realities of grief and love, joy and laughter, present to the good company we had, and yes- present to the incredible bounty of fresh seafood we experienced.  So while it’s belated- here is the best burger recipe ever (that is, until I come up with something even more scrumptious!) If you’re in the Kansas City area- sign up for the gluten-free cooking class I’ll be teaching on August 26th at my local Whole Foods. Be well, and enjoy a meal with your loved ones today!

The Best Burger Ever

I recognize that’s quite a claim, but in my subjective opinion, this was certainly the best burger I’ve had in quite some time. In large part because the meat I was using was so delicious. I can’t encourage you enough to seek out a local source of grass-fed and finished beef. If you’ve never had beef like this, it really does taste different than the .99/lb meat you get from your mega-market. Sure it may cost a few dollars more, but the meat is leaner, richer, and free from antibiotics, hormones, and other yucky stuff. For me, that is worth the extra cost. Happy cows=happy beef=happy body. You really are what you eat.

These burgers also have a healthy dose of kale added. I’ve posted about kale previously, and this is just another way to sneak all that goodness into a food  my kids happily gobble down. They like kale anyways, but they will tell you it’s fun to have green stuff in your burger. While I have yet to perfect a gluten-free hamburger bun- I’m working on it- I did discover that the Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread divided and cooked like drop biscuits works nicely. It’s flexible enough not to fall apart when you bite into the burger. Follow the directions, but once the oven is turned down to 350, shorten the cooking time to about 20 minutes. If you watch the tops of the biscuits, you’ll be able to tell when to pull them from the oven. As always, if you’re not a kale fan, or if you don’t like an added ingredient, experiment with adding something that’s tasty to you. Here are some other ingredients I’ve used in the past: sun-dried tomato, bacon, bleu cheese, spinach, green chiles.. you get the idea. Enjoy!

Beef Burgers with kale and feta, and chipotle mayonnaise

makes 8 small patties

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread– cooked like  drop biscuits and sliced in 1/2

1 lb ground beef, preferably locally grown grass-fed/finished

1 small onion, diced

2 cups kale, julienned and chopped into pieces

1 cup feta crumbles

1/3 cup mayonnaise

chipotle powder to taste

Directions

For Buns: Follow directions for Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread, but instead of cooking in one large loaf, drop by large spoonfuls into 8 sections (think drop biscuits). Make the X shape on each one to facilitate rising, cook at the high temp for the allotted time, and then reduce the lower temp cooking time by 5-10 minutes. When they’re golden on top, they’re done.

For Burgers: Place beef in a bowl and with your hands work in the chopped onion. Next work in the kale, and lastly the cheese crumbles. Form into patties and grill or pan-fry to your desired level of done-ness. In a separate bowl place mayonnaise, and add chipotle seasoning to taste. Stirring until the powder is thoroughly mixed in. Cut one of the gluten-free Irish Soda-Bread biscuits in half, place a burger on the bottom, add a dollop of the mayonnaise and top with the other half of the bun. Serve with popcorn okra!

Gluten Free Popcorn Okra

Gluten free popcorn okra is a great crunchy summer snack, and a great way to use up all the okra you may get in a summer CSA bag. These cute little disks remind me of popcorn shrimp, and they’re just as addictive.

The first time I ever cooked okra was last summer when I received a bag in my CSA share from Farmer Jill. I knew they appeared in gumbo, but since I grew up out west where we don’t eat food like okra, I wasn’t sure what to do with them. Enter my friend Georgeann, who is a great cook, and a native of these parts. She said that gluten free popcorn okra  is her husband’s favorite, and it has certainly become one of ours. Seriously, you can’t eat just one. Besides, they just look cute!

Georgeann recommends pan-frying, but I deep-fried these- really it’s up to you. The recipe is very simple, and doesn’t even require a binder- the gooey insides (mucilage in botany lingo) hold the cornmeal just fine. If you’re feeling ambitious, try stirring the disks in a few eggs and see how it goes. This works well as a snack, or as an accompaniment to a burger. Enjoy!

Gluten Free Popcorn Okra

serves 4 as a small side, or 1 person on a snacking rampage

Ingredients

1/2 lb okra

2 cups cornmeal, cornflour, or masa harina

1/2-1 lb vegetable shortening

salt (to taste)

chipotle seasoning or cayenne pepper (to taste)

Directions

Scrub the okra and remove the tops. Chop into disks about 1/3 inch wide. Set aside. Place cornmeal in a wide shallow bowl or large plate with a little lip. Place shortening in saute pan or cast iron fryer, and turn burner to medium.

If you’re pan frying, use 3-4 tbs to start and add more as you need it. The okra does absorb a lot of shortening, so you will have to add more as you cook. If you’re deep-frying, add enough shortening to make 1 1/2-2 inches in the pan, and heat until oil is 350 degrees.

When the pan is ready, take a large spoonful of the okra and place it in the cornmeal. Stir the pieces around until they are evenly coated. You could also use the paper-bag-shakey-bakey trick here by placing the cornmeal in a bag, placing all the okra in the bag, shaking vigorously, and then pouring everything out onto a wire cooling rack- allowing the extra cornmeal to fall between the wires.

Fry until golden brown- about 3-4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel and drain. Season with a little salt, and a little spice. We like chipotle seasoning or a little bit of cayenne to give them an extra ‘pop’. Experiment with your own seasoning, and see what excites you! Happy Eating!

Sautéed Kale – only 6 1/2 minutes!

Seriously, this sautéed kale only takes 6 1/2 minutes!! Kale is one of my favorite greens, packed with more calcium than broccoli, rich in iron, fiber, vitamins A,C, & K, not to mention those amazing anti-cancer agents, it’s considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense veggies on the planet. And it tastes good too!

While kale is typically a cool-weather plant, newer varieties make it possible to grow virtually year-round. In the winter, I buy kale and put it fresh in the bottom of my soup bowl as a way to sneak in a little fresh greens. This time of year when it shows up in my CSA bag, I add it to burgers or sauté it as in this easy recipe that literally only takes 6 1/2 minutes. The thing to remember when sautéing kale is to turn off the heat as soon as it turns brilliant green. It may seem too soon, but the heat of the pan will continue cooking it. If you wait until it’s done, then you will have cooked the best nutrients and taste right out of it. And, heaven forbid you don’t like kale, this preparation would work with any green- mustard, spinach, collards, even that funky hon-tsai-tai. Super-quick, super-delicious!

6 1/2 Minute Kale

serves 4 as a side dish- if you like kale and want seconds, then double the recipe! We do.

Ingredients

3 tbs bacon fat (extra-virgin olive oil or butter will work too)

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch of Kale (4-5 leaves) diced- this should equal about 4 cups uncooked

1 small tomato, or 1/2 large tomato diced

2 tbs champagne vinegar (red wine vinegar would also work- just don’t use a heavy vinegar like balsamic)

pinch of fleur de sel (regular sea salt will also work)

Directions

In a large sauté pan, place the bacon fat and turn the burner to medium. While the fat is warming, quickly peel and dice garlic. When the pan is warm, add the garlic and quickly chop the kale. When the garlic has softened and become fragrant, about 1 minute (do not let the garlic turn brown- this will make it bitter), add the kale. Stir gently, moving the pieces around the sauté pan so that the pieces heat evenly. As soon as the kale turns bright green, about 2 minutes, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner. Add the chopped tomato and vinegar and gently combine. Sprinkle the salt to taste and serve. See- told you it didn’t take long!

3 Ways to Prepare Napa Cabbage

This gorgeous specimen was sitting on the table at my CSA pickup this last week. It was so beautiful I just had to grab it. At first glance it looks like romaine lettuce, but it’s actually chinese cabbage. Once you peel away the outer layers the stalks get whiter, leaving a ruffled edge of brilliant green at the top. It has a faintly cabbage-y taste, but in my estimation, it’s far too delicate and lovely to be resigned to coleslaw. This green needs to be lifted up and its slightly bitter flavor complimented by fruits, acid, mint and aromatics. We enjoyed three distinctive and delicious salads from this one head. Each version serves 4-6 people and makes for a refreshing meal on a hot day. Bring on the summer!

Cabbage Salad: Version 1, Raspberries, Goat cheese & Toasted Pecans

 

Ingredients

4 cups julienned cabbage (about 7 large leaves)

2 pts fresh organic raspberries, about 3 cups

1 cup crushed pecans, toasted

4 oz goat cheese

Dressing

1/3 cup mint, chopped finely

1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice

2 tsp agave nectar

3 tbs olive oil (optional)

Directions

Place crushed pecans on a cookie sheet and lightly toast at 350 for 10 minutes, or until you start to smell the nuts. We did this in our toaster oven and it worked beautifully.

Meanwhile, julienne (slice in thin strips) cabbage leaves until you have approximately 4 cups. Place leaves in the serving bowl.

Place lime juice (preferably squeezed fresh) in a small bowl or 2 cup liquid measuring cup. Finely chop the mint, add to the lime juice and whisk vigorously. Add agave nectar and keep whisking. If you want to make a thicker dressing, drizzle 3 tbs of olive oil into the mixture while whisking vigorously. This is optional- we enjoyed the dressing both ways this past week.

Pour the dressing over the cabbage leaves and toss. Add the toasted pecans to the bowl, crumble the goat cheese into the bowl and top with fresh raspberries. I recommend organic because raspberries, like strawberries, tend to be a fruit that contains numerous traces of pesticides. I personally don’t want that yucky stuff in my body, so I always get organic. For a prettier presentation, plate individually or toss at the table.

Cabbage Salad: Version 2, Raspberries, Blueberries and Mint Dressing

 

Ingredients

4 cups julienned cabbage leaves

1 pt fresh organic raspberries

1 pt fresh organic blueberries

Dressing (Compliments of Auntie Alex!)

1/2 cup finely chopped mint

4 tbs fresh lime juice

2 tbs red wine vinegar

2 tbs scallions (green parts only)

1 tbs finely chopped basil

3 tbs olive oil

Directions

Julienne cabbage and place in a bowl with the raspberries and blueberries. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients vigorously until thoroughly emulsified. Pour over the cabbage and toss until all the leaves are coated.

Cabbage Salad: Version 3, Shrimp, Mango and Jalapeño

Ingredients          

4-6 cups julienned cabbage (figure on 1 cup per person)

1 lb cooked, peeled and deveined shrimp

1 mango, chopped

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 jalapeño, chopped (seeded if you want it milder- the seeds have the heat)

8 oz tomato, chopped (about 2 cups)

1/4 lime (for squeezing)

sprinkle of lemon pepper seasoning

Dressing

1/2 cup mint, finely chopped

1/2 cup lime juice

1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

 

Julienne the cabbage leaves and place in a serving bowl. Make the dressing by adding freshly chopped mint to lime juice and whisking. While still whisking, drizzle in olive oil until mixture has thickened slightly. Pour half of the mixture over the cabbage. Toss the cabbage to coat with the dressing and set aside.

In a separate bowl add the shrimp, garlic, jalapeño and toss gently. Squeeze the lime over the mixture and gently toss again. Add chopped tomato and give another gentle stir. Peel and chop the mango. I learned to peel and eat mangoes from my grandparents who lived in southeast asia for 20 years. If you’ve never peeled a mango, follow this link for a quick how-to: http://www.mango.org/en/about-mangos/how-to-cut-a-mango.aspx

Add the diced mango and toss gently. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes so that the flavors have a chance to marry. When you’re ready to serve, make a circle (like a donut hole) in the center of your cabbage and place the shrimp mixture in the center. Pour the remaining dressing over the shrimp mixture, sprinkle a little lemon pepper over the bowl, and serve.

May these flavor combinations inspire you to experiment with what’s in your kitchen! Happy Adventuring!

 

Gluten Free Pizza & Strawberry Spinach Salad.

Sometimes it’s just gotta be quick and easy. Delicious dinner doesn’t have to mean a two hour cooking extravaganza. Of course it’s fun to cook your heart out, but on those days when you find yourself bone tired and you still have to make dinner, give yourself permission to create something simple and flavorful. Even if it means getting a little help from the freezer. I have yet to perfect a ‘from scratch’ gluten free pizza crust. It’s coming, but when you need something fast- a high quality gluten free frozen crust that can be decorated according to your taste is a huge help! Pair it with a fresh salad from your local CSA, and you’re good to go. The girls and I were on our own for a few days and we came up with this together.  A little pizza, and a delightful farm-fresh strawberry spinach salad (Thanks for the awesome ingredients Farmer Jill!). It took about 35 minutes total and was deeply satisfying. Enjoy!

If you’re not ‘gluten free’ and you stumbled upon our blog- simply use a crust of your choice and follow the rest of the recipe! Remember, that we’re about Good Food First, here at The Adventuresome Kitchen!

Easy Gluten Free Pizza (or bruschetta for the non-dairy folks)

serves 3-4

Ingredients

1 8-inch frozen gluten free pizza crust (Udi’s is my favorite- I keep these on hand in the freezer for quick creative meals)

1 large clove garlic, finely chopped

1 ripe tomato, chopped

4 large basil leaves, julienned (this is a fancy word for finely chopping in thin strips- place the leaves on top of each other, roll them up lengthwise and start slicing thinly. The result will be little thin strips!)

1/2 cup shredded parmesan- (optional)

1/2 cup shredded romano (optional)

olive oil for brushing

Directions  

Pull the frozen crust out of the freezer and allow to thaw on a cutting board.

Take a pizza stone, other stoneware, or a stainless steel cookie sheet and place it on the top rack of the oven. Turn oven to 425 and allow to heat. This will heat the stone and allow the crust to cook from the top and the bottom, creating a crispy, bistro-style crust.

While the oven is heating, chop the garlic and tomato, shred whatever cheese you’d like to use, and julienne the basil.

When the crust is thawed- about 10-15 minutes- brush with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic, tomato and basil over the crust. If you are going non-dairy, I recommend combining the garlic, tomato and basil in a little bowl and drizzling a tiny bit of olive oil over the ingredients and gently blending. This will ensure that the ingredients don’t dry out in the oven.

Sprinkle the cheese on top. When the oven is ready, take the pizza- either on the cutting board or by hand- and gently slide it onto the hot pizza stone. Pull the pizza from the oven when the cheese is bubbly and is just starting to turn golden- about 15 minutes. If you’re cooking without cheese, look to see if the tomatoes are bubbling and the edge of the crust is turning golden- about 10-15 minutes.

While you’re waiting for the pizza to cook, make this colorful and delicious salad.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

serves 3-4

Ingredients    

4 cups fresh spinach, washed and stemmed (meaning the stems have been removed)

1 lb fresh strawberries, cleaned and diced

1/3 cup fresh goat cheese- crumbled

2-3 tbs olive oil

2-3 tbs balsamic vinegar

Directions

Once spinach has been washed and stemmed, rip into bite-sized pieces and place in a serving bowl. Drizzle olive oil over leaves and toss until leaves are evenly and lightly coated. I confess I eyeball this. The leaves should glisten, and if you pop one in your mouth you should just be able to taste the olive oil flavor, but the leaves should not feel oily, nor should there be a pool of oil in the bottom of the serving bowl. If you do this enough, you’ll be able to eyeball it too.

For a lovely presentation, add chopped strawberries to the top of the spinach and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar. Crumble goat cheese on top of the strawberries. Again, if you’re non-dairy, leave out the goat-cheese and add a little pepper. I’m a cheese head and put cheese on just about everything, but that doesn’t mean you have to!

Serve with pizza and voilà- easy, beautiful, delicious dinner!

Remember, use whatever ingredients you have on hand- out of tomatoes? Use olives or peppers. Don’t have strawberries? Use citrus, other berries, pears or apples!


Creamy Polenta & Bok Choy

An unlikely yet delicious marriage, bok choy and polenta. The weather was still foul here late last week and out of necessity I reverted to hearty, warming, cool weather dishes. Of course spring veggies and the CSA pick-up wait for no one, so the challenge was pairing hearty winter food with vibrant spring produce. The result was a culture clash of new and beautiful flavor combinations. I’ll be making this again, but this time for sheer pleasure.

Creamy Polenta

serves 6

Ingredients

1/2 onion, diced

2 tbs olive oil

3 cups water

2 cups chicken stock or bouillon

2 cups of corn flour (corn meal is thicker, but will also work)

1 bag of frozen, diced butternut squash, about 4 cups

1 cup half-n-half (if you’re feeling really decadent use heavy cream)

2 cups parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. In a 4 quart pan, saute the onion in the olive oil. When the onion is translucent, add water and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine stock and corn flour and allow to stand. When the water begins to boil, add corn mixture and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. Pour half the mixture into a large oven proof dish. (I use my trusty deep-sided cast iron skillet, but a large casserole will also work)

Sprinkle half the cheese over the mixture and add all of the frozen butternut on top. Cover with remaining corn mixture and sprinkle remaining parmesan on the top. Drizzle the half-n-half over the entire mixture and place in the oven for approximately 35 minutes, or until the top is brown and bubbly and most of the cream has been absorbed.

Note: There are other ways to cook polenta, this is just my favorite way. You can make it much more quickly on the stove top by bringing to boil 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 cup of milk or half-n-half. When it boils, quickly stir in 1 cup of cornmeal or corn flour. Whisk quickly until it’s all mixed in, stir in 4 tbs butter and 1 cup of shredded cheese. Put the lid on and take off the heat. It will be ready in 10-15 minutes. You could stir it constantly until it thickens, but why when the heat from the pan will thicken it for you with a lid on? Then again, if you like stirring…..and sometimes I do!

Sauteed Bok Choy

This method could be used with any spring green from spinach, to kale, to hon tsai tai. Even dandelion greens would taste great this way.

Ingredients

1 large head of bok choy- approximately 4 cups

1/2 onion, diced

3 tbs olive oil

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes- more if you like it hot!

Directions

Separate leaves and wash. Cut stems from the leaves and slice thinly.  Chop leaves into small pieces and set aside. Add olive oil to a warm pan and immediately add red pepper flakes. Saute for about 1 minute.

Add onion and saute another 2 minutes. Add bok choy stems and saute for 1 minute. The trick here is to let the stems soften but to not cook them to the point of being mushy. They add a nice crunch if they don’t cook too long. Add leaves and saute another minute before turning off the heat. There should be enough heat in your pan to allow the leaves to fully wilt without overcooking them. Remember, bright green leaves allow for the fullest flavor and nutrient delivery. Besides, nobody likes the look of overcooked, grey-green leaves- it’s why no one likes canned spinach- well except for Popeye- but he wasn’t exactly a food snob.

Serve over polenta and garnish with additional cheese if you like. Remember- use the greens and ingredients you have on hand. Don’t have an onion? Use a shallot, or a leek. Don’t have parmesan? Use cheddar, jack, or what you do have on hand. Give yourself permission to play with the flavors. You’re sure to come up with something delicious!

Crock Pot Chicken Soup

 Crock Pot Chicken Soup, made with a hearty bone broth is perfect for those going gluten free, suffering from diabetes, eating paleo, or healing their gut.

I tend to be a seasonal soup eater. While I may cook soup during the summer vegetable harvest, it gets frozen to be pulled out on those cold, windy, sometimes rainy winter nights- a little ray of sunshine in the dark of winter. If I eat soup during the spring or summer, it’s either gazpacho or some other springy cool soup. Certainly not Chicken Soup. So while my flowers tell me it’s May, it’s behaving like February or March. And the other day as the rain was pounding once again on the window, I found myself ready to freeze the chicken stock I’d simmered all night. I looked at what I had on hand and instead ended up with Chicken Soup. Lovely, toe-warming, comforting Chicken Soup. Perfect for a rainy, cold, March day…..In late May.

I used to enjoy the rain. Really, I did. I used to live in Seattle, where it rains constantly. But after nearly 2 decades (yikes!) away, my skin has grown thin. I’ve always been a daughter of the sun. Growing up in Colorado, where the sun shines more than 300 days a year, I relished brilliant blue sky, wind, and fresh air. Adjusting to the drizzle and grey of the northwest took a season, and a few sessions with a tanning bed. But then something happened. I began to appreciate the grey and soft rain. I felt like I was in a cocoon, all snuggly and enveloped by softness. I wore flannel and wool. And of course, when the sun did shine there, it was heaven on earth. A sparkling array of diamonds and rainbows reflected in every dewdrop.

Fast forward to the midwest, where when it rains, it pours. Actually, that’s an understatement. When it rains, the heavens open up and it comes in sheets. Like Noah’s Ark, or the second coming. The rain is so heavy here, that I can’t even use rain barrels. It’s rained nearly 8 inches in the last two weeks. I feel like the girl from The Cat in the Hat. At least when I lived in Seattle I could do things in the rain, like garden or hike. The other day I had to go fishing for my wool and flannel. I’d already packed it away in anticipation of the hot, humid summer that will invariably beat down upon us.

Note: I made this out of chicken that I’d simmered for stock all night. I will include those instructions, but this can be easily modified by using bouillon or premade stock, and chicken pieces of your choosing. You could get some breasts and thighs and cut them up into small pieces to cook in the stock, or you could use meat from a cooked bird. Either way it will turn out beautifully. Remember, use the ingredients you have on hand and that you enjoy. If you’re feeling adventurous, throw in a new ingredient. Remember less is more. Start with one new ingredient so you can really experience the flavor it’s adding.

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Hon Tsai Tai

Hon Tsai Tai- what’s that you ask? Only my newest favorite asian green! A mild mustardy type of green that can be consumed raw or lightly cooked, stems, leaves, flowers and all! A member of the cruciferae family (meaning the flowers have four petals making a cross shape- thank you college botany!) which includes such luminaries as mustard, kale, broccoli, cabbage,  brussels sprouts, turnips and watercress. In general these lovely dark-green and purple veggies are jam-packed with cancer preventing phytonutrients and should be a mainstay in any diet. Usually, I go for the kale, brussels and broccoli. But, every now and then you’ve just gotta try something new. How did this beauty end up in my kitchen? Well, it was given to me by my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farmer in my bag of produce this week.

Farmer Jill is an adventurous type- something I admire in eating and farming. In addition to the usual favorites, she and her team are always trying something new. And, when you know where your produce comes from, there’s incentive to eat everything in the bag. Nothing like telling your farmer that all her hard work rotted in your refrigerator.

Last night, I whipped this into a lovely little stir-fry and served it over quinoa. In general, celiacs tend to worry about too much rice. Rice flour tends to be a staple in gluten-free cooking, and like me, many celiacs have other food allergies. I have to work to not eat too much of the same thing. Of course this can be a challenge when you’ve had to cut out a major ingredient like wheat and its byproducts.

Quinoa is a member of the amaranth family and packed with calcium, protein (as much as 9 grams in a cup)and fiber. It also tastes great when it’s cooked. I don’t like it so much as a flour as it has a funny taste that has to be carefully masked. We cook it up to use in place of oatmeal, serve it as a rice substitute in many dishes, and use it cold in salads.

So here you are. A lovely stir fry for a lovely green, Hon Tsai Tai….say that 10 times fast!

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