Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Black Bean and Plantain Patties with Peach Salsa

We consume beans often in our home, they're so versatile and of course, are a pantry staple for most people. Even though I can get a can of organic beans at Whole Foods for $1, buying a bag and cooking them myself is much cheaper... we're talking pennies! At least every other weekend I try to buy a bag of organic (and Fair Trade, if possible) beans and cook them in the crock-pot for a few hours. Then I store them in little zip-lock freezer bags (which I re-use when I cycle them in and out!) and have little bags of cooked beans at my disposal. Not only does this cost less, but it also means my waste is one plastic bag rather than 4-5 aluminum cans per week. 

Usually I under cook my beans just a bit because when I use them later on, they are re-cooked and I don't like mushy beans. The only time this plan backfires on me is when I make bean patties or burgers. When I made these patties, the beans were a bit al dente, and were probably the reason they didn't stick together quite as well as I had hoped. 

I changed the recipe a bit from the original, which I found on Two Blue Lemons. It is suggested you use a ripe plantain, but I recommend using overly ripe plantains. I took half of my large plantain and mashed it to help work as a binder in this vegan recipe. Then I diced the rest so there would still be nice chunks of plantain strewn through the patties. I dredged the patties in a tiny bit of cornmeal to add a crunchy crust. Finally, because peaches and on their way out of season, I made a fresh peach salsa rather than an avocado one as the recipe is written. 

Though the patties did hold together, I would make one change for the future, and I do plan to make these again! As I do with many bean patties, I would puree half the beans completely and mix them with the mashed plantain, then fold in the diced plantain chunks and whole beans. 

VBS Tips and Trades:
-One of the additional reasons I do not buy canned beans is because of the BPA threat, a toxic chemical in plastics #7 and some canned foods. BPA keeps the can's lining from breaking down. Many companies are making an effort to get rid of BPA, including Eden Organic. The most common canned item containing BPA is tomatoes. It's best to choose glass or tetra-pack (these, for example)  
-When choosing your plantains, look for ripe ones that have many black spots and look overly-ripe. If they're green at all, the plantains will be hard to peel, and won't be mash-able. 

Plantain and Black Bean Patties
adapted from Two Blue Lemons

2 c. black beans or 1 15. oz can drained and rinsed
1 plantain, 1/2 c. mashed, 1/2 c. finely diced
1/4 c. minced red onion
1/4 c. minced cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. corriander
Salt and pepper
1/4 c. cornmeal

Peach Salsa:
1 large peach, washed, pitted and finely diced
2 tbsp. minced red onion
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
1/2 c. finely diced tomato
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeño, finely minced
Salt and pepper

Add half of the beans and half of the plantain to a food processor, puree.
Pour into a mixing bowl, add remaining black beans, plantain, red onion, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cumin, cayenne, coriander, salt and pepper. 
Chill for 10 minutes.

In a small mixing bowl, toss together salsa ingredients, place in the refrigerator.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Spray a small, round, flat dish (or a burger patty maker) with nonstick spray, dust with cornmeal, spoon 3/4 c. of mixture in and form into a patty. 
Place on the skillet, repeat to form about 4 patties.
Cook for 5 minutes, check for a deep golden crust, carefully flip and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
Plate, serve with peach salsa and plain Greek yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Caprese Fried Egg Sandwich with Shasha Sauce

There aren't many sandwiches I'm willing to put on a pedestal. Chef Symon really hit the nail on the head with this one. The balance of flavor is perfect, and it really is appropriate for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can be difficult to find wholesome proteins for vegetarian sandwiches, I rarely think to use egg! 
The flavor combination is not uncommon, I did leave off the soppressata and opted to use tomatoes, completing the caprese trio. The fresh mozzarella melts perfectly and is so smooth and stretchy. However, what really makes this sandwich come to life is his Shasha Sauce.

When I was growing up, we moved into a newly constructed house on a culdesac in the quaint town of St. James, NY. Our address was 2 Tusa Court... so simple! I don't understand why houses have to have so many digits these days... but I digress.

The second family to move in (yes, at 4 Tusa Court) and had a daughter and son who were a bit older than my older sister and me. Our families got along really well, and we spent many nights playing together. Kristine (my sister) looked up to Kelly, and would do whatever she told her to. She also had a little crush on Matt, who was her age. The three of them would often leave me out, or give me the bad jobs when we were playing. For example, when they played hospital, Kelly would be doctor, Matt would be patient, Kristine would be nurse, and I was the toilet bowl cleaner. And my mom wonders why it's my least favorite chore... I've been doing it since I was 5! 

One of our favorite things (which I'm sure our parents loved) was a game called "mix random condiments in a glass and make Ashlee drink it." It would always start with pickles or pickle juice, and then go as far as toothpaste or paper towel bits.... but I drank it! 

As I was making the Shasha Sauce, I was reminded of those drinks I was forced to drink. Banana peppers, vinegar, sugar, garlic, mustard.... what?! It's definitely something I would never, ever think to create. It's essentially a tangy, sweet, spicy banana pepper spread, but the layers of flavor are so much deeper than a smear of mustard and a few picked peppers. 

He says it has a month long shelf life in the fridge, so mine is in a jar in there. And every time I see it, I can't help but laugh and remember my poor, 6 year old self drinking toothpaste and pickle shakes...

Caprese Fried Egg Sandwich with Shasha Sauce
from Live to Cook by Michael Symon

2 slices sourdough bread (I used Kalamata Olive Sourdough from Whole Foods Bakery)
2 eggs
2 slices fresh mozzarella
1 slice of paper thin red onion
2 small tomatoes, sliced
10 basil leaves

Shasha Sauce:
1 1/2 c. banana pepper rings in vinegar
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 c. yellow mustard
1/4 c. pure cane sugar
1/4 c. AP flour
1/2 c. water

First, make Shasha Sauce.
Add banana peppers, garlic and mustard to a blender, puree.
Add to a small stock pot, heat over high.
Add sugar, stir to dissolve.
Whisk flour and water in a small dish, pour into sauce pot, stir to combine.
Turn heat to low, cook for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Cool, pour into a jar and keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Heat a frying pan over medium heat, butter and crack in eggs.
Fry to desired doneness, flip, top with mozzarella, cover and turn heat off.
Toast bread, slather with Shasha sauce, eggs, tomatoes, basil and onions.
Serve warm.

Thank you to my fellow Symon Sundays participants:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spicy Cilantro Baked Lemon Tofu Sticks

Earlier this week, I was having a discussion with my co-worker about vegetarianism and my marriage. See, he feels that poor JJ must be suffering miserably in a vegetarian home. This brought up two major issues with me. First, he automatically assumed JJ doesn't like tofu, and that how could anyone possibly be satiated by tofu in a meal. Second, he inferred that I am the only one who can cook, and what I put on the table is the only option. See, JJ is fully capable of purchasing some chicken or a steak, bringing it home, cooking it, and eating it without my assistance.  
But he doesn't.

I see two possible reasons for this. First, he doesn't really mind eating tofu, or any of the other dinners I prepare. Second, he's too busy (read: lazy, he was off the better part of the summer and made no effort to cook meat). But I think it's secret option three: a mixture of both. He's too lazy to fend for himself, he doesn't mind tofu when it's prepared to his liking, AND he's appreciative of his wife who slaves over a hot stove preparing dinner for us each night, and would not dream of insulting her culinary masterpieces. What? It could be true... 

JJ really has come a long way with tofu. I no longer only prepare it for myself and automatically make him chicken. Instead, I give him the option, and for the past few months he's chosen tofu. Another ingredient he's come a long way with is cilantro. I think credit should be split here between Chipotle and myself. He didn't mind a pinch here and there in salsas and as a garnish on Mexican dishes, but he can't dictate how much cilantro goes in his beloved Chipotle Corn Salsa. So slowly but surely, he's built up his cilantro love (ok, tolerance) to where he actually enjoyed this cilantro-marinated and then crusted tofu. 
This marinade and resulting crust on the tofu was flavorful and spicy, bright and fresh. I definitely would double or triple this in the future, and keep the leftovers in the fridge for topping big summer salads for a no-cook meal. 

Oh, and I did bring in some tofu for Mr. Coworker to try, and he loved it. 
This is what a victory is in my life! 

VBS Tips and Trades:
-If you haven't planned ahead and frozen the tofu overnight, it's no problem to just press it once and then marinade and cook. My husband actually told me he likes the one-press preparation better than the press, freeze, press method.
-This recipe can be made with other herbs, if you're not on Team Cilantro. Or, for less cilantro bite, try using half flat leaf parsley, half cilantro.
-I like to buy extra firm tofu cakes, they stand up best to pressing, cutting, marinading and tossing, but firm will work as well, just be careful! 

Spicy Cilantro Baked Lemon Tofu Sticks
adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics

1 extra firm tofu cake
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 c. packed cilantro
1 scallion stalk, chopped
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Press tofu cake for 10 minutes, drain water.
Place in a small freezer safe bag, freeze overnight.
Thaw (either in the fridge for 8 hours or in the microwave on defrost for 2 minutes) and press again for another 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400*
Add all marinade ingredients to a blender, puree until smooth.
Add water 1 tbsp. at a time to thin, if necessary.
Slice tofu cake into matchsticks, place in a bowl and pour in marinade.
Set aside for 10 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with nonstick spray.
Lay tofu pieces on foil, drizzle with remaining marinade.
Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove and eat immediately or chill and eat cool.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Quinoa, Garbanzo and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing

As much as I hate to admit it, some of the cheapest organic produce I can find comes from Sam's Club. The reason I feel so much shame is because I've developed a relationship with the farmers at the market, and believe they deserve my business. I would have to research more, but I assume Sam's Club has a greater carbon footprint with their produce. However, they have giant tubs of organic spinach for about $4, 5 lbs. of organic baby carrots for $5, and occasionally I'll spot some other organic goods, like apples and pears. I've read that when given the choice between organic and local, it's best to choose local. Spinach is #6 on the dirty dozen list, so I feel that choosing organic is more important than local in this case. But do you ever feel like the more you learn, the more torn you are? I'm so happy there's a wealth of information available, but it leaves me wondering if I'm making the best choice. 
I haven't yet read the Omnivore's dilemma, but have you? Does it touch on these issues? 

I found this recipe in the July issue of bon apetit magazine, and added it to my "to-make" list right away. Not only is it vegetarian, full of protein, cool and easy, it had a very interesting twist - smoked paprika! I absolutely love the smoky, sweet and interesting flavor of smoked paprika. It's definitely one of those spices that adds so much character and depth to a dish. I especially like to sneak it in any cumin/chili powder combination recipe. I had a hard time finding it a few years ago, so I bought a pound from Penzey's. Needless to say, I try to find recipes that use it up. A pound of Smoked Paprika goes a very, very long way! 

Keeping up with the in-season produce can be pretty obvious, it's what's available at the farmer's market, and what's at rock-bottom prices in the grocery store. However, if you're interested in learning more, I added a widget on the left side of the blog that shows you seasonal produce. You can use the drop down arrows to choose the state you live in, and the month you're looking for. Right now, avocados are in season here, so I added them to this dish, but kept everything else as written. 

This dish was fantastic when I had it for dinner, but I have to say the leftovers were possibly better! The ingredients had time to marinade together, the spinach wilted a bit more, and the feta softened a bit and melted right into the dish. 

VBS Tips and Trades:
-If you're interested in learning about the "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean 15", go to this website, enter your email address and you can print off a small guide to take with you on your food shopping trips. I have it taped on the inside of my coupon carrier! 
-If you don't have sherry vinegar on hand, try using a squeeze of lemon juice to freshen up the dish a bit more.

Quinoa, Garbanzo and Spinach Salad with Smoked Paprika Dressing
slightly adapted from bon appetit, July 2010

1 c. quinoa, rinsed well
2 c. water
4 c. baby spinach leaves
1 15 oz. can chick peas
1 c. cubed English cucumber
2 heirloom tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/4 c. mint leaves, torn
1/2 c. crumbled feta 
3 tbsp. sherry vinegar
2 tbsp. EVOO
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 avocado, diced

Bring water to a boil in a small stock pot, add quinoa.
Bring to a boil, turn heat to low. 
Cook for 12-16 minutes, until tender, set aside to cool.
Add spinach to a large bowl, top with quinoa, toss a bit and set aside to allow warm quinoa to wilt spinach.
In a small dish, whisk together vinegar, EVOO, salt, pepper and paprika.
Add chick peas, cucumber, tomatoes and mint to salad, toss well to combine.
Add crumbled feta and avocado, drizzle with dressing and gently toss.
Serve at room temperature immediately, or refrigerate until serving. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bulgur and Peach Salad with Almonds

You'd think that living in Florida I would have access to some amazing peaches. While that's been true lately, I jumped the gun on them this year, and was pretty disappointed. We had a strange winter here, there were frosts in the late part of February, very uncommon. This resulted in the berry crop being all but destroyed, and the rest of the produce has been a bit behind.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I went to Charlotte, NC for a weekend trip. On the way home, I stopped at a small road-side farm stand outside Savannah, GA, for some peaches. I was shocked when I heard the prices, $30 for a small basket of about 18 peaches. But, I desperately wanted to feel the sweet, fuzzy bite of a peach, and have the juices run down my arm. The peaches were hard, tart, and pulpy. Talk about disappointment! 

So for the rest of summer, when I saw peaches, I assumed it was just a bad season and they were all that way. However, when I was in Cincinnati and had some of the peaches my sister brought from a farm-stand in Cleveland, my faith in the juicy peach was restored. Since then, I've had a peach daily. They hit rock bottom prices last week, but are on their way out of season... so I had to get one more recipe in. I've seen hundreds of delicious looking baked goods with peaches, but I wanted to incorporate them into a savory dinner. 

I found this recipe in the June issue of Cooking Light, tore it out and put it in my "to-make" binder. Since it was a last minute decision to make it, I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand. The original is made with nectarines, but I had peaches on hand. I also have just about hit my dill quota for the year thanks to Chef Symon's recipes, so I opted out. Finally, I had slivered almonds to use up, so no pistachios in here... though I think it would be great with pistachios. I served this salad warm/room temperature, but it can be refrigerated and served cold as well. 

VBS Tips and Trades:
-Bulgur is cracked wheat, and takes about 25-35 minutes to cook. If you're pressed for time, try using cous cous, which cooks in 5 minutes.
-While each vinegar has it's distinct taste, white balsamic vinegar may not be an easy find. Try substituting Rice Wine vinegar, which has a similar sweet taste.
-As previously mentioned, Peaches are on the dirty dozen list, heavily treated with pesticides and chemicals. Purchase your peaches organic, or from a farm-stand where you can ask the sellers what they use to treat their peaches. Be sure to wash peaches very well.

Bulgur and Peach Salad with Almonds
adapted from Cooking Light, June 2010

1 c. bulgur 
1 c. water
2 peaches, sliced very thin
2 tbsp. slivered almonds 
1/4 c. white balsamic or rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp. EVOO
Pinch of salt
Cracked black pepper
2 scallions, finely sliced

Heat a small stockpot over high, add water and bring to a boil.
Add bulgur, whisk and turn heat to low.
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed and bulgur is tender.
In a serving bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, EVOO, salt, pepper and scallions.
Add bulgur, toss to combine well.
Add half of the sliced peaches, gently toss.
Top with the remaining peaches, sprinkle with almonds.
Serve warm, at room temperature, or refrigerate and serve chilled. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bitter Greens with Cherries

When I created my new blog name and decided what direction it was going to go, I didn't really take into account Florida's growing seasons and the rest of the country. When I was harvesting pumpkins in July, many of you were shocked! I also noticed that many people who are part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) are getting their boxes now, and have been for several months. Here in Florida, the CSA's run from November thru April. 
So my in-season produce may not exactly be the same as the majority of the readers of this blog. However, many in-season items aren't exactly local, so no matter where you live, cherries are at their peak in the summer. They're generally harvested and shipped from Michigan or the Pacific Northwest. Not exactly the smallest carbon footprint, but because their season is so short, I can't help but buy as much as possible in the small amount of time they're available. 
So back to the CSA boxes. My sister lives in Washington, DC, and uses a CSA delivery service. Last week she received a bunch of swiss chard, and asked me what she should do with it. I think the dark, and sometimes bitter greens, tend to stump many people who get CSA boxes. While you may feel like it's a filler, and not very exciting, I would disagree! Many CSA's aren't certified organic, but use organic practices and don't have the time and money to spend on becoming certified. So your one bunch of organic swiss chard runs for $4 at Whole Foods. 
I looked through several cookbooks to find a swiss chard recipe, and found this one in Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven. Though we're at the very tail end of cherry season, I had to use them one more time, and this recipe was perfect for that. It hits so many flavor notes, the bitter greens are cut with the sweet onion, and the cherries bring a tart, but sweet flavor as well. This dish has few ingredients, is so simple to make, but will leave you hoping to a bunch of swiss chard in your next CSA box! 

VBS Tips and Trades:
-If swiss chard is a little much for you, try substituting baby spinach leaves. Alternately, if you have kale, collared greens, or another hearty dark green, try using that instead.
-If fresh cherries are unavailable, grab a bag of frozen cherries. I love Cascadian Farm's organic frozen sour cherries.
-If you're interested in CSA's, check out this link! And others found on my "Favorite Products" page.  

Bitter Greens with Sweet Onions and Sour Cherries
slightly adapted from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven

1/4 c. fresh sour cherries, pitted and halved
1 tsp. olive oil
1 c. sliced onion (vidalia, maui)
1 tsp. salt
1 large bunch of fresh greens (4 c.), stemmed and coarsely chopped - I used Rainbow Chard 
Splash of red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet.
Add the onions and salt, sauté over high heat for 5 minutes, turn heat to medium, cover and cook until very tender.
Add greens, wilt down, cook for 2-3 minutes.
Stir in the cherries and cook 5 minutes longer.
Add a splash of red wine vinegar, spoon into a dish.
Serve warm.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta

This recipe comes from Chef Symon's cookbook, Live to Cook, and is my selection for next week's round up. When I was at the Farmer's Market, I found these adorable heirloom tomatoes, which the recipe calls for. I love the colors, odd shapes and charm each tomato has.

On Sunday afternoon, I had some down time and decided to read through Live to Cook. I finally learned why almost every Symon recipe has dill - it's his favorite soft herb. He also is a big coriander fan, his favorite spice. Well, I like dill, but in this Greek style salad, the mint and parsley combo seemed to suit me better. For the vinaigrette Symon calls for, I invert the olive oil to vinegar ratio because I don't like oily dressings, and love the light pink hue of the vinaigrette.

VBS Trades and Tips: 
-Heirloom varieties of produce are beneficial to the environment for many reasons, most notably preservation of the crops natural diversity. 
-Heirloom tomato seeds are widely available, try growing your own if you can't find them at the market! 
-Store tomatoes on the counter at room temperature, and eat within a day or two. Refrigerating them will make them grainy and less sweet.

Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Dill and Feta
slightly adapted from Chef Symon's Live to Cook

1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. EVOO
1/4 red onion, shaved thin
1/3 medium English cucumber, sliced thinly
10 olives, halved
2 tbsp. fresh torn mint
2 tbsp. fresh torn parsley
1 lb. heirloom tomatoes, cut into slices and chunks
1/2 c. crumbled feta

Combine garlic, a pinch of salt, black pepper and vinegar in a dish, whisk to combine.
Stream in EVOO, whisk to combine well.
Arrange salad ingredients on a plate, top with fresh torn herbs, drizzle with vinaigrette.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Peach Shortcakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream

I honestly couldn't have chosen a better recipe for my first post on the new Veggie by Season blog. These peach shortcakes are the epitome of summer! 
Let me start by saying that not only have I taken a week off of blogging to redesign, but also because I have been in Cincinnati for some very special events. First, my parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary on August 10, so we had a big party for them and my younger sister's graduation from University of Maryland. Then I hosted a baby shower for my older sister, who is due with a baby boy on November 1. It was a wonderful trip home, full of family, friends and great food. 
I was actually lucky to have three very willing kitchen helpers, my tween cousins Jeanette, Marc and Edy. Jeanette and Edy were great sous chefs, we made an apple crumb pie (with apples picked from my dad's tree in the yard!), a mocha cheesecake, buttercream icing, chocolate and vanilla cupcakes and finally, these shortcakes. Marc was very helpful by going food shopping with me 3 times (my mom's baking pantry was not well stocked this time around!), and helping me come up with recipes. Honestly, cooking with kids is awesome! They're very happy to do the tasks that I sometimes dread (peeling a few pounds of apples, stirring food coloring into icing, cracking eggs, etc.) But the best part is we had so much fun creating amazing dishes together, and many memories to share! 

So what does any of that have to do with these peach shortcakes? As it goes with the majority of pregnancies, Kristine has had many cravings and aversions. I worked with her to create a shower menu that reflected almost everything she mentioned, except for the peaches. She picked up a peck of peaches at a roadside farm stand in Cleveland on her way down to Cincinnati, so ran through some peachy ideas. We decided that for breakfast, peach shortcakes sounded like a clear winner. I didn't plan to make the whipped cream, but when I mentioned I could if she wanted, I saw a twinkle in her eyes and knew it had to be done! I didn't follow any recipe for this dish, I just made a standard biscuit with a thickened peach filling and fresh whipped cream. These were slightly sweet, buttery, tender, fresh and so juicy! 

*VBS Trades and Tips:
-I invite you to try using organic whipping cream. In my opinion it tastes sweeter naturally! I prefer Organic Valley brands of dairy, available in most grocery stores.
-Try using fair trade pure vanilla extract. Worried about the price? Sam's Club sells it for only $8.99/8 oz. bottle. It's so flavorful, and supports farmers by paying them what they deserve.
-Peaches are on the dirty dozen, a list that compiles the produce you should try to buy organic because they're prone to heavy pesticide applications. When possible, buy organic peaches, or from a local farmer who can tell you what chemical(s) they use on their peaches.

*One of the new features of the blog will be VBS (Veggie by Season) Trades and Tips, a short note following each recipe or meal about some easy ways you can make your dishes organic, fair trade, local or seasonal and/or some information about products and ingredients. I invite you to share your personal Trades and Tips in the comment section! 

Peach Shortcakes with Vanilla Whipped Cream
by Ashlee, Veggies by Season

2 c. unbleached All Purpose Flour
2 tbsp. unbleached organic sugar 
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, diced in 1cm. chunks and frozen
1 egg 
scant 1/2 c. very chilled buttermilk
1 tbsp. Milk for brushing
1 tbsp. coarse sugar for topping

8 peaches, washed, pitted and sliced (skin removed, if desired)
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cornstarch
Pinch of salt

Whipped Cream:
1 c. organic whipping cream
1 tsp. fair trade, pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. powdered sugar

Fit a food processor with the blade attachment.
Add flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add diced butter, pulse mixture 5 times to coarsely grind butter.
Beat egg and buttermilk in a dish, stream into food processor and pulse to bring dough together.
When it just comes together, pour out onto a floured surface. 
Form into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400*
Generously flour rolling surface, line a baking sheet with a silpat.
Roll biscuit dough out to 1/2" thick, cut with a 3" biscuit cutter (do not twist when you cut the biscuits).
Place on the cookie sheet about 1" apart. 
After all dough is cut out, brush tops with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Place in the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.
Yield about 8 biscuits.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
Add butter, brown sugar and peaches.
Sauté for 5 minutes.
In a small dish, whisk together water and cornstarch, add slurry to peaches.
Add a pinch of salt, stir mixture well while it thickens.
Turn heat off and let peaches sit.

Pour cream into a metal mixing bowl, place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Remove, beat on low speed for a minute, add vanilla and sugar, continue to beat.
Turn speed to medium and beat until peaks form, about 2 more minutes.
Refrigerate while assembling shortcakes.

Remove biscuits from oven, cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Split biscuits, top with a scoop of peach mixture, place tops on.
Dollop with whipped cream.
Yield 8 shortcakes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Slash and Burn Tofu, Zucchini Crudo

This week's Symon Sundays recipes come from Tasha of The Brick Kitchen. 
She could not have made a better selection at this point in the season because zucchini and summer squash are plentiful in the garden and at the Farmer's Market! 

I know eating raw zucchini and squash can be a bit much, but I think you get the most flavor and texture when preparing it this way. Also, since you salt the squash and slice it so thinly, it wilts a bit. 
The lemon and dill are the perfect combination in the salad, bringing a bright fresh flavor to the zucchini, and the almonds add delicious crunch. This salad was so simple, but so flavorful! 

Zucchini Crudo
slightly adapted from Michael Symon

2 zucchini, thinly sliced
2 summer squash, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. plus about 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 minced garlic clove
1/4 c. red onion, thinly sliced
Zest and Juice of 2 large lemons
1/4 c. EVOO
1/3 c. slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 c. fresh chopped dill

Place zucchini and summer squash in a colander, toss with 1 tbsp. kosher salt, sweat out veggies for about 30 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together garlic, red onion, lemon juice, EVOO and dill.
Add zucchini and squash, season with salt, if desired.
Toast almonds, toss in salad, serve immediately. 

The second selection was Slash and Burn Grouper. I had to adapt it somehow to vegetarian, so I decided to slash and burn twice pressed tofu. Once again, I pressed it, froze it, thawed, and pressed it again. The texture of this tofu is almost bread like, and not nearly as delicate as regular, unpressed firm tofu. The vegetables and sauce was bright and flavorful! I sliced up the tofu block and served this over rice to soak up the extra pan sauce. This meal perfectly captured summer's best flavors. 

Slash and Burn Tofu with Pepper and Lime Pan Sauce
slightly adapted from Michael Symon

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed
1 tbsp. Penzey's Jerk Seasoning
1 tbsp. EVOO
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 limes
1/2 c. vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400*
Make 1/4" deep slices across tofu block, dust with jerk seasoning and rub in.
Heat a dry skillet over high, place tofu in skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly charred.
Place on an oven safe plate and put tofu in the oven.
Turn the burner to low, add EVOO, onion and bell pepper.
Season with salt and pepper, sauté' for 5-7 minutes, until softened.
Turn burner and oven heat off, place tofu on a serving plate.
Squeeze limes into pan with onions and peppers, add vegetable stock.
Stir to combine, bring liquids to heat, then pour over tofu and serve.

Thanks to the other Symon Sundays participants:
Joanne of Eats Well with Others: Zucchini and Fish
Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies: Zucchini and Fish
and new member, Kim or Stirring the Pot: Zucchini and Fish

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tofu Tacos al Pastor

Slowly, my husband has been coming around to tofu. When I told him I was going to make this dish and I could sub chicken for him, he surprised me by saying he'd eat the tofu. I think what put him over the edge was the fact that it would be marinated, grilled, and served in a taco with avocado and grilled pineapple, two of his favorites. I decided to finally take the extra step in draining and pressing the tofu, freezing it overnight, thawing it and pressing it again. Though it was a few more steps, the end product was well worth it. It had a much different texture, and it really soaked up the marinade well. 
I got the idea for these tacos from Bridget's Tacos al Pastor, made the traditional way with pork. Since well pressed tofu tends to soak up liquid faster than meat marinades, I cut the time to 30 minutes. I also made a simple cabbage slaw and served these with hot sauce and greek yogurt rather than the two chile salsa Bridget made. I do plan to make these again and try the salsa, but to keep this a quicker, weeknight meal, I went without it. 
The flavor in the tofu was deep, and the sweetness of the pineapple paired with the creamy avocado was perfectly balanced. You really can't go wrong with this combination! 

Tofu Tacos al Pastor

1 14 oz. package Extra Firm Tofu
6 corn tortillas
1 pineapple, peeled and sliced (less 2 slices)
1 avocado
1/4 small red cabbage, shredded
1/4 c. cilantro, minced
1 lime, juiced

marinade (as written, I halved this):
2 slices of pineapple, cored and chopped
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. distilled white vinegar
1/4 c. guajillo chile powder 
3 garlic cloves, halved
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 large chipotle chilie and 2 tsp. adobo sauce from canned chipotles in adobo

Drain and press tofu for 10 minutes.
Wrap in plastic wrap, freeze until solid, or overnight.
Thaw, drain and press again for 10 minutes.
Slice tofu, place in a bowl.
Add all marinade ingredients to a blender, puree. 
Pour over tofu, stir to coat and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Slice cabbage very thin, add to a bowl, toss in cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.
Heat a grill over medium-high heat.
Place tofu and pineapple on the grill. 
Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until grill marks appear.
Remove from the grill, slice pineapple into matchsticks.
Serve with sliced avocado, slaw, and warmed corn tortillas. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blueberry-Pomegranate Yogurt Ice Pops

I've seen countless ice cream recipes on other blogs that leave me craving the sweet, creamy deliciousness... but when I scan through the ingredient list and see cream, half and half, egg yolks, sugar... I just can't do it.  I know if I have a batch of homemade ice cream, there will be zero self-control. So I like to indulge by getting a scoop when I'm out every now and then... and leave my homemade concoctions on the healthier side. 
I recently received a package of POM Wonderful Pomegranate-Blueberry juice to review. The POM Wonderful people are always so generous, and I am more than happy to enjoy the juice in a mocktail (club soda, splash of juice and a lime). However, I was craving ice cream, and had this juice at my disposal, so I figured I'd make a healthy, icy treat! 
These ice pops were so simple, healthy and delicious. In the future, I might use vanilla yogurt rather than plain because the juice is fairly tart, so the ice pops we sweet, but quite tart. These ice pops come in around 30 calories a pop (they're about the size of a dixie cup). They filled my homemade, cool, sweet treat void without breaking the calorie bank! 

Blueberry-Pomegranate Yogurt Ice Pops

8 oz. POM Wonderful Blueberry-Pomegranate Juice
1 c. plain or vanilla yogurt
1/2 pint blueberries

Whisk together juice and yogurt in a pourable measuring cup. 
Place straws in the center of ice pop molds, place 5-6 blueberries around the stick to hold it up.
Pour about 1/4 c. juice mixture into each mold.
Place in the freezer for 2+ hours, or until solid.
Makes 8 ice pops.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tandoori Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

When I tell people our dinner comes from the grill a few times a week, they are a little perplexed. Most people associate meat with the grill, and have a hard time coming up with vegetables or starches that make for great grilled meals. This side dish is so innovative, taking simple vegetable kebabs to a new level of deliciousness! 
Though my husband isn't a fan of cauliflower, I keep trying to find new ways to prepare it, with the hopes that maybe he'll find something he likes. I don't push it on him, I always mention he can slide his onto my plate, but this time he said he'd try them... and I think it was a success! 
These kebabs were so easy to make and the leftovers were just as delicious the next day. I served them with naan, yogurt, mango chutney and grilled tofu made with the extra marinade from the kebabs. 

Tandoori Grilled Vegetable Kebabs
slightly adapted from Veggie Belly

10 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30+ minutes
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 orange bell pepper, cut in a 1" dice
10 grape or cherry tomatoes

1/2 c. plain greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. corriander
1 tsp. cumin
dash of cayenne
salt and cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt heavily.
Add broccoli and cauliflower florets, boil for 30 seconds.
Drain into a large colander and rinse with cold water until no longer warm.
Dry well, set aside.
Whisk marinade in a large bowl, add cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers, gently mix and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat grill to 400*
Remove vegetables from the fridge, skewer and place on the grill.
Cook for about 2 minutes per side, rotating to char the outside of the vegetables, for 6-8 minutes total.
Remove and serve immediately.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Symon Sundays: Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill

This week's Symon Sunday's recipe was chosen by Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. The fritters were outstanding, full of flavor! I had these at Lolita last May, and still think about them sometimes! Thanks to Natashya for the perfect summery selection.

The fritters are meant to be fried, but I elected to make them pancake style on a griddle. Though they're in the appetizer section, I decided to construct them into a meal. I had the last of my soyrizo from Trader Joe's in the freezer, and decided to include that in the meal. I also have had many green tomatoes in my garden this year that end up being eaten by the caterpillars before they ever have a chance to ripen. And of course, my summer love, fresh, sweet corn paired with red peppers for an easy relish.
In the end, I came up with a layered stack of miscellaneous things that were amazing when married! I don't think this is why Chef Symon had in mind with his fritters, but they make an excellent pancake base for this dish.
My Fritters are the base of this stack! I promise, they're in there...

Natashya's Fritters (visit her blog for the recipe!)