Monday, July 22, 2013

Raw Chile Rellenos with Spicy Cashew Cheese

I know it's the middle of Summer and there's plenty of heat to go around, but I can't seem to get enough of fiery hot food. Jalapenos in particular are one of my favorites and now that stores are selling them at great prices and the specimens are so plump and juicy looking, I can't resist buying them by the handful. Luckily, this recipe popped into my head and now it's a staple that everyone in my house loves!

If you have a dehydrator, it helps to soften up the raw chilies a bit to dehydrate them for 2 hours after marinating them, but it's not essential. The creamy cashew cheese is such a soothing comfort food that perfectly compliments the crunch of the jalapeno. I will admit to having them for breakfast more than once, just because I love them so!

This blog will be going on hiatus for a while. I'm still getting my business up and running and the blog has become a back burner priority. I have no idea when I will return to it, but thanks for reading folks, I've enjoyed writing to you all so much!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spicy Corn and Cucumber Salad

Wow! The dog days of summer have hit! Time for some cooling summer salad to accompany whatever you're putting on the grill to stay out of the kitchen.

Cucumber is a super cooling vegetable that makes your body feel good and just seems to cool off my melting brain, even if I've been hiding out in AC all day. Add in some fresh corn and herbs and a bit of chili powder for some zing, and you may forget about your grilled stuff!

When sweet corn is in season you can eat it raw right off the cob, no need to mess with boiling water. Just cut the cob in half and place the flat side down on the cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice off the kernels. Tossing it with lime juice is a traditional Mexican preparation and the citrus I used here since I love it with cucumber as well.

Feel free to add in some bell pepper - colored ones would be pretty - or even some fresh chili peppers. This salad was whipped up with what was in the fridge and I decided it was worth sharing since it was so good!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Apricot Jam and Canning 101

Fruit season is upon us! If you are lucky enough to be blessed by easy access to fruit trees or berry bushes, get out there and start picking! After you've had your fill of eating fresh fruit, channel your inner pioneer woman and make some jam!

Jam or preserves is the easiest of the preserved fruits, at least in my book. It usually does not require dealing with packaged pectin and involves very few ingredients. The basic premise is heating fruit to bring out its natural juices, adding sugar (to aid in the natural jelling process) and cooking until jelling will occur. If canning using a hot water bath canning method makes you nervous, you can skip that part and simply store your preserves in the back of your refrigerator. But honestly, canning is less scary than you think. The key is sterilizing your jars before filling them; if you have a dishwasher, one wash cycle is all you need. Check out this site for more information.

Canning does require some extra equipment, including specific tongs for lifting jars in and out of the hot water bath as well as a metal funnel for filling the jars, and the pot with the canning rack. If you decide to make these investments, your best bet for finding them is your local Ace Hardware store - much more economical than high end cooking stores.

While it seems a bit extravagant to buy new equipment for such a short time of year, trust me when I tell you that once you get the canning bug, you'll be hooked! Since becoming a canning fanatic years ago, I use my canning funnel every day and store all my foods - dry goods, leftovers, prepared lunches - in canning jars large and small. It's a great way to eliminate plastic from your life and know exactly what's in your pantry!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

White Pizza with Marinated Portabellos and Parsley Drizzle - Raw

Pizza really is my favorite food - it is comfort, it is sustenance, it is versatility, it is life. So when I realized that gluten really wasn't my friend, I started trying gluten free crusts, and while there are plenty to try, soooo few taste any better than sawdust. Once I started experimenting with raw foods, I knew raw pizza would be one of the first things I made.

I won't mislead you and tell you that raw pizza is better than cooked - for me, that is simply not true. However, the substantial crust along with really tasty toppings did sooth my pizza cravings in a way that gluten free crusts left me wanting. Since the crust is so different, it is more like a flatbread rather than a pizza crust, which seemed to make my inner-pizza lover happier.

As with any raw foods that require dehydration, this is not a 30 minute, throw-together meal. But I found it worth the effort! If you like eating cold pizza, you'll really enjoy raw style pizzas. I plan on doing lots more experimenting so stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Raw Chick Pea Parmesan

I did it! Finally, here's a raw entree, and it's my own recipe (pats on back!)

In gearing up to be more comfortable in making some raw food entrees I have been reading lots of cookbooks and blogs, and honestly was getting frustrated by the lack of creativity. Other than creative procedures for making wraps, breads or crackers, the food itself was not that inspiring. So I decided to look at my own food and rawify it and presto! Chick pea parmesan! This debuted at a recent dinner party and it was the star of the show

After reading lots of blogs, I realize that not everyone has a dehydrator and if you want the food to be live and full of the natural enzymes, you really need to prepare these patties using a dehydrator. So apologies in advance, but it's a necessary appliance for this meal. Of course, you could make the Vegan Version or the Meat Version. However you do it, make something parmesan, it's delicious!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Would you believe me if I told you that the best chocolate ganache cake I have ever eaten was made with...avocado?

No, really. It's true.

And if you're a connoisseur of raw desserts this is old hat to you. But still being a newbie I was bowled over - the creaminess, the mouthfeel, the chocolatey goodness. Really? No cream, no melted chocolate. The world is upside down!

Or perhaps right side up. This is undoubtedly the healthiest chocolate cake I ever ate or made. But that's raw desserts for you. Avocados, cacao powder, coconut oil, vanilla bean paste, and your liquid sweetener of choice, and Presto, Ganache!

I'm sure you're thinking, how is this healthy? Well, avocados and coconut oil are the "good" fats for you, which means they bring vitamins and minerals and do not stick to your ribs! Cacao, when raw, is a superfood, and with less than 1/2 cup of honey (which makes each slice have anywhere from 64-34 calories from honey depending on the size of your slice) this IS a healthy treat! So, go ahead, make this now and don't tell your diners and see if they can tell the difference!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Chick Pea Flatbread with Fava Puree and Kale

Once you discover the deliciousness and simplicity of this flatbread, you'll understand why its is used all over Mediterranean cuisines - Italy, France, Gibraltar, Morocco - as well as India, where I first ate it as a pancake. It's quick, easy and so tasty plain or topped with your favorite vegetables, spreads, or simply olive oil and dried herbs.

Known as farinata in Italy, it is often topped with whatever leftover cooked vegetables are sitting in the refrigerator from the last meal. Since that is always the case in my kitchen, this presents the ideal way to use up those odds and ends for a perfect lunch or light dinner.

For this version I took advantage of the bumper crop of fava beans at my local farmers market to make a simple rosemary fava bean puree. But sweet peas would be equally good as a substitute. In keeping with the pantry nature of this dish, I've eaten it with sauteed onions and steamed broccoli as the topping as well.

Another great upside to this flatbread is that it is of course gluten-free and packed with protein. While I have yet to test-drive it with children, the creamy mouthfeel of the bread will probably be a winner if you can get the vegetables past their lips!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kung Pao Seitan

Do you Kung Pao? I do, whenever possible, and with whatever protein I'm eating at the time. Tofu is my favorite but seitan is fantastic and even tempeh will work in a pinch as well.

You may have believed that this delicious dish was only obtainable in an authentic Chinese restaurant, but think again. With a few key ingredients, you too can Kung Pao with the best of them!

Kung Pao is the reason that I keep Szchewan peppercorns and dark soy sauce in my pantry. You'll find them in an Asian or Chinese market. Don't fret if you can't find the peppercorns, it's not the end of the world. But they do add a nice authenticity.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Raw Strawberry Cheesecake

Strawberry Cheesecake...raw. Yes, no cooking involved, and vegan, dairy, and gluten free. That's the beauty of raw products. Most of the traditional allergens are gone!

This cheesecake is a product of the magic of soaked cashews plus farm fresh strawberries. Blending them all together with a few other key ingredients and letting your refrigerator do the work and in presto! In a few hours you have a gorgeous cheese cake that is guaranteed to please.

Don't let the "rawness" of this scare you off. You can easily substitute non-raw cashews or coconut oil and vanilla extract instead of pure vanilla. Making it all raw is necessary is that's your audience. I have made it both ways, and it's delicious no matter the ingredients!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cauliflower Enchiladas with Spicy Cream Sauce

Soooooo who knew that cauliflower would make an incredible enchilada filling? Not me, that's for darn sure. but when Joanne of Eats Well With Others likes it, there is no doubt about its supreme deliciousness. That woman does not mess around!

But when you think about it, what's not to love - roasted cauliflower, cream sauce, and a little heat and spice. Sounds like a perfect match to me.

The original recipe uses butter, queso fresco, and yogurt to make a super creamy sauce; veganizing it with cashews and nutritional yeast was my take on it, and even my omnivore, cream loving roommate thought it was pretty spectacular.

A note on the proportions: the recipe below reflects a doubling of what I originally made since my cauliflower was really small and there could have easily been more sauce. In addition, the original recipe involved roasting poblano chilies and peeling them, and adding them to the cream sauce, which sounds delicious but I only had a single jalapeno so that's what I made. As always, freestyle as you like and with what you've got in your pantry. That's the best way to suit your own tastes! 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Cucumber, Mint and Beet Salad

I love salads, particularly what are known as "chopped" salads, which of course involves a lot of chopping. I find chopping vegetables very soothing and zen. Not everyone shares my affinity so I try and limit my chopped salad postings to only the really good ones.

And this one is a doozy.

On a whim I combined cucumber, fennel, and mint and tossed in some leftover beets and what an amazing combination! Adding the balasmic vinegar created a beautiful balance of earthy sweetness and the mint just brought it all together!

So without further ado, here's the recipe!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Barley Pancakes with Cardamom and Dates

Mark Bittman is a God and if he'd have me, I'd be his first "Bitthead", following him around with that dazed look in my eyes as followers are apt to have, just savoring the bon mots and delicious morsels he produced. Mark, if you're reading this, please don't be shy, just reach out and let me know!

Why the latest gush? His brilliant Cardamom-Scented Oatmeal Pancakes. I made them early one morning with some leftover cooked barley and fell deeply, truly, madly in love with them. These are an addiction in the making, so don't say I didn't forewarn you!

While this addition included an egg, the recipe could have easily been veganized with either egg replacer or 2 teaspoons of ground flax seed combined with 2 teaspoons of water left to soak for a few minutes. And along the vegan lines, Mark's next cookbook, VB6 (that's Vegan Before 6 for those of you who are less of a devote than me), will be released at the end of April.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rice Pudding with Cardamom and Coconut Milk

Exasperation, frustration, vexation, you name it, that has been how I've been feeling about my inability to blog about food lately... I know, how hard is it to make a dish, photograph it and write about it? For me for the past few weeks, undoable.

This particular post has automatically posted three times (the amount of times I keep putting it off). I did make Rice Pudding with Cardamom and Coconut Milk about 6 weeks ago. It was so good I ate it before daylight, before I could photograph it. But I just haven't been able to do it again since. Life happens!

So, here it is. The recipe I used, my inspiration, and a picture of screaming oranges (and Kumquats, to be truthful).  Because that's my truth!

Rice Pudding with Cardamom and Coconut Milk (inspired by Sassy Radish)

1/2 cup arborio rice
2 cups almond milk
2 cups full fat coconut milk
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cloves
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and bring to boil and simmer for 50 minutes until creamy. Serve immediately.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tempeh Stuffed Greens with Tomato Sauce

Poor cabbage - it really is the ugly duckling of the food world. Especially green cabbage or even worse, a traditional, Old World European dish like stuffed cabbage leaves. Just that phrase conjures large, older men and women eating stinky cabbage, in the cold dark winter. Truly, not what you are fantasizing about while searching for sexy dinner and luscious looking meal ideas for this week of cupids and valentines.

Until you taste it...then the creamy filling mixes with the greens and sweet tomato sauce into one of the most delicious mouthfuls of bliss.

So just blindfold your love and feed them their first bite. Blindfolds are so sexy!

For the sharp-eyed readers you'll notice that my greens were not cabbage. In this version I used collard greens because of their abundance in my winter garden, but cabbage leaves would have worked just as well. Since my greens were so tender and fresh, I didn't blanch them before using them, but simply allowed the sauce to soften them. If you use large collard greens from the store or green cabbage, simply place a leaf in a pot of boiling water for 10 seconds and remove and drain. Cut out the stem after blanching, not before.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

New Year, New Chapter

Hello dear readers! In case you hadn't noticed, my posts on this blog are fewer and farther between because I am otherwise occupied...starting my new business!

From Kirsten's Kitchen to Yours, Catering and Personal Chef Services is officially launched!

The website is now live, orders are being taken, and I am so excited about my new chapter of working for myself, creating light filled food for people!

If you want more regular updates, please like us on Facebook where you'll hear about the fun things I'm making, as well as view photos of the weekly Farmers' Market shopping sprees that will now be part of my regular routine, lucky me!

The blog will not go away but the posts will be less frequent than the every four days that was my routine for more than 3 years. The business website includes a link to the blog, so the connection will continue.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Veggie Grain Bowl with Shitake Sesame Dressing

Some people claim that salads are boring. Sure, that's true if you make them with the same ingredients and glop on the same dressing day in and day out. This dressing is as far from boring as the sun from the moon!

I had an inkling to recreate one of my favorite salad dressings in a bottle - Shitake Sesame Vinaigrette. There wasn't much thought that went into it, just a hunch and I struck gold! Saute some garlic and fresh shitake mushrooms, add the usual suspects and Presto, fantastic dressing that you will want to drown, I mean drizzle, over salads from now until July!

Pictured above was my take on a grain n' veggie bowl: place some cooked grains in the bottom of a bowl and pile on lots of vegetables cut into bite size pieces, and then add your favorite dressing. As you can see, nothing that out of the ordinary besides the dressing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cucumber, Pepper and Red Cabbage Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing

This was one of those gorgeous delicious salads that came together quite by accident. Accidental in that I had no plan for it to taste so good nor to be so easy to put together. It is what happens when you have red cabbage, cucumber, and a bell pepper (green in this case) hanging out in the vegetable bin and you're starving. And you want something "gourmet" but you don't want to leave the house or pay for delivery.

And then I saw the carrots and remembered I had ginger. So carrot ginger dressing was made in a flash. Pulling out my Christmas gift of an awesome red mandoline, I made quick work of the cabbage and diced up the cucumber and green pepper. Noticing some fresh mint and basil, that was added to the mix and tossed with the carrot ginger dressing. Topping it all off were a small handful of pan roasted cashews and some lime juice. Heaven in a bowl!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Faux'roni Stromboli - DIY Vegan Pepperoni

Stom-bol-i. Just saying it makes my heart sing! Pizza dough wrapped around some cheese and meaty deliciousness is what makes something a Stomboli. Here it's vegan pepperoni and some mozzarella (dairy or vegan, your choice).

This is one of those recipes that is almost not a recipe, unless you're making the dough from scratch (yeah, I did, but don't feel pressured - this is comfort food at the best, so buy the dough if that makes it easier for you).

If you grew up in the Northeast, specifically the Tri-State area (NY, NJ, CT) then you'll remember stromboli along with pizza and calzones usually displayed at your local mom-n-pop Italian diner place. It's sad to think that Sbarro has mostly taken over those places, but I hope there are still some locally owned places making stromboli!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Vegan Pepperoni - DIY Pantry

Homemade, vegan, pepperoni.

Really, need I say more?

This is a recipe that combines various versions found around the web. It does rely on vital wheat gluten, but unlike some of the recipes I found, it is not a hard and rubbery version. With about three times the tomato paste and my own addition of chili oil because the first versions I tried lacked both fire and the tomatoey flavor that pork pepperoni has, I feel justified calling it my own recipe.

Happily this version freezes well because I ate nearly one third of the batch in one sitting, and my digestive system was screaming at me for that! It's great on pizza, sliced for snacking or tucked into your favorite pizza dough with cheese and baked in the oven (stromboli style, watch for it soon in this space!)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Raw Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Day five of your New Year's Resolutions - How's it going?

For me, I want to eat as much raw fruits and vegetables as possible, which includes raw entrees as well. Those recipes will be coming soon, but for now, here is a mainly raw dip that will blow your mind!

A few nights after the Christmas debauchery had ended, I whipped up this dip based on a vague idea of making a raw (and unprocessed) version of this recipe, which translated into no vegan mayo. My new version was even better than the last, since it was made of lots of spinach, artichokes, walnuts that had not been soaked, a little miso and lots of jalapeno. Super delicious and almost entirely raw, except for my homemade marinated artichoke hearts

Pair this with raw vegetables for dipping - sturdy ones like carrots and celery or cauliflower and jicama.  It would go equally well on crackers, tucked in a pita along with other veggie sandwich fixins, swirled into cooked grains or tossed with pasta. Whatever you fancy!