Monday, February 22, 2010

Grapefruit Cabbage Salad

This past weekend we had friends over. There were 15 of us, so I decided tacos might be an easy and fun way to please both kids (all 7 of them!) and adults. I had some grapefruits from my friends farm share and thought it would add a bright dimension to an otherwise flimsy cabbage flavor component. I also had purple carrots and lemon crush olive oil to add, which made a great taco filling while being dairy, gluten and guilt free. 

Grapefruit Cabbage Salad

3/4 head cabbage thinly sliced (3-4 cups)
3 large carrots grated (about 1 cup)
1 med. grapefruit diced
1 tbls lemon olive oil
juice of a lime
2 tsp. vinegar of your choosing (I used sherry vinegar)

Trim the skin and white off the grapefruit and cut into slices. Remove any seeds and dice into 1/2 inch size pieces. Mix with carrots, cabbage, olive oil, vinegar, salt and lime juice.
If you don't have lemon olive oil, then regular olive oil with a bit of lemon zest works too. I made this salad two hours before serving it, stirring occasionally and keeping it in the fridge until serving it.  Cilantro, mint, tarragon, parsley, basil would all compliment this dish wonderfully, and give it a great color.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Why do I cook?

Michael Ruhlman had a post on his blog today suggesting that fellow bloggers talk about why they cook. Here is my take, and I would love to hear yours!

I cook because:

It is my creative outlet

It grounds me when I am feeling stressed or unhappy

Eating great food is a wonderful, increasingly rare thing
I have a high standard of food quality, and hold myself to that standard

I get bored of food easily, so am constantly trying to reinvent the wheel (recipes)

Eating meals with friends is one of my favorite ways to spend time with people

I love the challenge

I think it develops integrity and mental skills I might not otherwise have

Preparing food from scratch is become more obsolete and I see it as a way of nourishing my soul, body and the world

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Flying a Kite

The pain and joy of watching a little person grow up.
It is almost too much some days.
I wish for little five year old laughter forever.

This was our visit to Pt. Reyes. It was a beautiful day.
The waves were so large it was scary. We stayed far back from the water.
She learned how to fly a kite. We made sand castles with moats and decorated them with seaweed.
I felt sad she will not always be five.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The five year old cooks!

Little M made mini-ricotta cheesecakes the other day. She has been inventing her own recipes for cakes and cupcakes for a while now. Baking soda is the hardest part to get right, but she is a quick study. This recipe she dug out of a recipe book Miss Bettye gave her. She absolutely loves this recipe book and counts on it for all her cooking inspiration. I am going to have to give her another kids cookbook for her birthday because she needs to widen her range to things other than sweet treats.  I say that in the most loving way. I just cannot look at the peanut butter cupcake recipe another time.
This last week her mini-cheesecakes turned out just fine for a five year old talent. I made her do the dishes after she was finished, and her butt was so cute, I had to take photos.
The first day of kindergarten she told me..."mama, kindergarten is so great! I get to wash dishes there!" Three big cheers for waldorf kindgerten.
Monday I will post the great photos I took from our beach adventure today.

Famous Blogger Incident

So M and I went shopping today. We are in SF, it is raining, and we both are mall deprived, so I was totally game. Across the street from the mall is a my favorite shopping universe; Anthropologie. You all already know this about me. Five minutes into the Anthropologie shopping adventure we sit down so I can dig a piece of M's new Hello Kitty gum out of my purse. I happily oblige, since it will most likely buy me more time to look around. I look up from my task and recognize a famous blogger also shopping right in front of me. I say something or not? I figure she must get recognized all the time. I have seen "famous" people so often in all the restaurants I have worked in, that I value their privacy over any need to bother them. Michael Jordan for example, could not even get through a meal without an interuption every 30 seconds from an adoring fan. That always bothered me. So, I have never approached a famous person. Today I broke my rule. I think it is because I am also a blogger, a recipe inventor and love food photography. I have a lot in common with this person, they just didn't know it! I also have M with me, so I figured that could make me appear less stalkerish.
In case you are wondering, it was Heidi Swanson from 101 Cookbooks. I have a link to her site on the right hand side of my blog page.
To make a long story short...she was incredibly articulate, pretty, friendly and just plain cool. She really was gracious with a stranger recognizing and approaching her. We talked about farmers markets, coffee, heirloom beans and the Ferry Builiding. I told her I was a nutritionist and  I really appreciate how much she is adding to the world by getting people excited to cook in a creative, healthy way. The only downfall to the conversation was of course, me being nervous. When I get nervous, I tend to talk to fill up any awkward moments. So, I spent the rest of yesterday worried that I talked to much, not letting her get a word in. Oh, that is painful to think about!
It was a highlight of my month. A kindred blogger, foodie, anthropologie loving soul. If we had talked for 5 more minutes I would have forced her to be my friend. But that would have been stalkerish, and I am not stalkerish...right? At least I did not whip out my camera phone and ask an Anthropologie employee to take our picture....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Garbanzo Bean Cakes with Caper Yogurt

Today is Meatless Monday. I decided to try something with Garbanzo bean flour. It is grain free, and is high in fiber. Staying seasonal, I caramelized fennel, and then mixed in some carrots and onions to mix with the flour. I topped it with a special caper yogurt sauce. I recently tried some artisian yogurt from Sonoma called Saint Benoit. I was drawn to it because it is organic (of course!), artisan instead of commercially made, and it is sold in glass jars instead of plastic. There is a $1.50 deposit for the jar, but that is refunded when I return it to the store. I have always thought that "flavored" yogurt is too sweet. I prefer buying plain yogurt and adding maple syrup to it so it is medium sweetness. Luckily, I have a 5 year old that generally prefers things that are not overly sweet. I used this yogurt to make the caper sauce I put on top of the garbanzo bean cakes.  I was happy with how it turned out. I will say that these cakes would be best served right off the pan, not re-heated. And, like crepes, the longer the batter sits the better, so you could keep something like this in the fridge and whip some up in no time flat! Just add a bit more milk if it gets thick.
I used soy milk in the batter, but only because I had no buttermilk or milk. I would use almond, rice or nut milk interchangeably too. Coconut milk would be fantastic! Add some curry powder and mango chutney...well you get the idea. There are infinite possibilities with pancakes.

Garbanzo Bean Pancakes

8 tbls. garbanzo bean flour
2 eggs
2-3 tsp.  milk
1 tbls extra virgin olive oil (I used lemon crush olive oil)
pinch salt
beat together with a fork and set aside..this is your base. Add 2 cups of any vegetable combination you like. I used sauteed fennel and carrots.

1 cup heaping fennel sliced thinly
1 medium carrot grated (or about 1 cup)
1/3 cup diced onions
1 tbls stone ground mustard or dijon mustard
1 tbls. olive oil (this is optional if you are trying to cut the fat...)

In a nonstick or cast iron skillet, sautee the fennel until starting to caramelize and tender when tasted. Add water by the tablespoon if it is dry. This will evaporate and steam the fennel so caramelization can continue.
After the fennel is tender, add shredded carrots and onions. Cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions start becoming transparent. Add a pinch of salt and the mustard. Combine well. Add vegetable mixture to the garbanzo bean pancake mix and mix until combined.

On a cast iron skillet, griddle or non-stick pan, put a dab of oil onto your pan if your pan sticks. I use a cast iron griddle and it is so seasoned it is just like a non-stick pan, so sometimes I use oil on the first round, but don't after that. Flame should be medium high heat. Spoon a  tablespoon of the mixture onto the hot skillet, and flip in about 60 seconds. This might vary depending on your flame however and take as long as 90 seconds. But, either way, you are looking for browning on each side.  Once you flip the pancake, flatten slightly with your spatula.

Caper Yogurt Sauce:
1/2 cup plain yogurt (greek yogurt would be great!)
1 tsp. lemon zest
pinch salt
1 heaping teaspoon capers
Combine and spoon on top of the pancakes

A versatile, satisfying dish. The glycemic index of garbanzo bean flour is quite low. Half as low as flour. Beans are also full of fiber. A great way to sneak in fiber to your kids! High fiber means you are satiated for a longer period of time. Low glycemic index means your blood sugar stays steady. Even though I mentioned to eat them straight away, they would travel really well for kids. Make sure they are completely cooled before you store them so they don't condensate and get soggy.

Here are some other ideas to put into the pancakes:

sauteed spinach and mushrooms
cauliflower and peas
fresh corn and roasted red peppers

And lastly, here is my helper. She snuck her way into the shot!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Flageolet Bean Soup for a Winter's Day

The weather forecast here is rain for the next 10 days. I am thrilled! Rain, cold and winter are still here for the next four months. With that, this time of year can be slim pickins in the produce area at your local food store. I find myself thinking about the vine ripe tomatoes, cherries and peaches I miss when the cold weather is here. But the winter vegetables are hearty, satisfying and easy to prepare, so again and again I rethink soup recipes. With my husband preferring a vegetarian diet, we are meatless mondays now. Making a pot of soup on monday sets us up for having food for the first few days of the week when things are hectic. This morning I packed soup leftovers in a thermos for my lunch after yoga class. Easy is good.
So here is a very lovely, easy soup recipe made with flageolet beans. I asked our local fine food store to carry them (along with our coop and neighborhood market!) and what a happy surprise they did. I know I have spoke of flageolets before, but in case you forgot, they are heavily used in french cooking. They are delicate, immature kidney beans, and I find they have a wonderful buttery taste and texture. Very high in fiber and and protein. I use my pressure cooker to soak and cook the beans. Flageolets only take about 10 minutes to cook in a pressure cooker. I do however cook my flageolet bean soup for about 45 minutes. I "soak" them by cooking them for one minute in the pressure cooker and then rinsing them. Of course you can soak them overnight, or boil them for 10 minutes to prepare them for cooking. Their fast cooking times make them a great choice for family dinners.
I have switched over almost completely to dried beans. They are cheaper and I am actively trying to phase out all canned products in our household due to BPA in the linings of canned food. BPA is in the plastic liner that are in most cans of food. Consumer reports even found some BPA in cans not lined with BPA plastic. There is a link to the consumer reports study measuring BPA in common canned food.
Bob's Red Mill carries flageolet beans. And, I will tell you that I have noticed these beans to be a less "gassy" bean. That may be a personal issue however since some of my closest friens tolerate black beans well in their bellies, and I just cannot eat them without some major discomfort!
Well, here is a wonderful tasty, easy recipe. I try to substitute leeks for onions whenever I can. The richness from leeks carries this soup a long way. Along with a crusty piece of toasted sourdough with butter, I am deeply satisfied. If you make it, tell me what you think!

Flageolet bean soup

1 1/2 cups flageolet beans
3 large carrots diced
4 stalks celery diced
3-4 leeks trimmed and cleaned then thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
6 cups veggie stock
7 branches thyme
zest of 1 meyer lemon
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 bunch dino kale washed, dried and chopped fine
3 tbls olive oil

soak beans, then sautee leeks, beans, carrots, celery with olive oil for 10 minutes. Add thyme stalks, bay leaf, and veggie stock. Stir and then add lemon zest, kale and lemon juice. Cook for 1 hour in a normal pot, or 45 minutes in a pressure cooker.  Remove thyme stalks and bay leaf before serving. I love to top with a little pecorino romano or parmesean.
This soup gets better the next day!


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