Monday, April 28, 2014

Quinoa, Corn, and Jalapeno Salad

Fads of any sort just don't register with me. Maybe it's the cynical attitude my mom raised me on - decoding and demystifying advertizing and commericals - but I just don't buy the hype for anything. So while so many folks are coocoo for quinoa, it's still just another grain (or rather seed) that is fun to cook up. No effusive, gushing from me on this supergrain, just a fun recipe that seems exotic but is just plain tasty.

This is Moroccan in style to the extent that the heat of the jalapeno is tamed with pomegranate molasses, one of my favorite secret ingredients. Mint and cilantro are herbs frequently sprinkled in North African cuisine.

Even if you are just inching your way into Moroccan cuisine, this is a great dish to use to introduce this fascinating cuisine to your family!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pan Seared Cabbage with Honey Mustard Dressing

Ahh, cabbage, truly one of my favorite vegetables...not yours? Or your kids? It gets a bad rep, just like eggplant, which I usually attribute to the lack of artful presentation and preparation. But just like the girl next door who suddenly wows you when you see her dolled up or wearing a pretty dress, here's a recipe that will win hearts and palates.

Searing cabbage - yeah, you read that right. Searing cabbage will bring out the sweetness that is always lurking if treated right (the girl metaphor still seems to apply, strangely enough, treating her right that is). Add a luscious honey-mustard dressing to warm cabbage and sprinkle on some toasted seeds and your diners will be incredulous that the vegetable is in fact the lowly cabbage.

Don't over cook the slices; think of it as similar to searing beef or ahi tuna. You just want to brown the edges, not heat it all the way through. And tell your unsuspecting diners that it's a steak...the vegetable kind!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Jackfruit Enchiladas with Cilantro and Avocado

Enchiladas are my second favorite Mexican dish - tied with gorditas, tostadas, and tamales...I guess I have a hard time choosing a favorite among Mexican food!

Wrapping a delicious filling up in a corn tortilla and then smothering it in a tangy sauce and topping it with cheese that is baked until melted. I mean, really, what is better than that? (Well, maybe pizza, but that's because I'm a fanatic, and conceptually, they are similar.)

Jackfruit is a little known fruit that has recently made some inroads in the vegetarian and vegan community because of its versatility as a stand-in for meat in lots of dishes. Similar to tofu it has very little of its own flavor but readily absorbs whatever sauce or seasonings are added to it. It has the added bonus of the look and texture of shredded pork or chicken yet it is actually a fruit. So no soy or wheat here, a bonafide fruit!

While it is most commonly sold canned in syrup for making sweets in Asian, for any savory dish you must buy jackfruit in water. I have only found it canned, not fresh, and only in specialty grocery stores such as Asian or Indian grocers. Drain it and shred it with a fork or your fingers and you are set to make this delicious meal!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Biscuit Fritata with Hollandaise, Feta and Capers

My boyfriend loves breakfast, especially decadent ones I make on the weekends. He also is a classically trained chef in the French style. I am a home cook, self-taught, and overwhelmingly ignorant of most things French other than quiche or aioli. Since he loves Hollandaise sauce, I decided to concoct a special brunch meal and try my hand at this elusive sauce.

I'm happy to report it was delicious!

Happily my beau was able to give me pointers so that the sauce came out beautifully, and it was the first time we cooked together, without anyone getting hurt. You know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen!

This is not something you're going to whip together in a few minutes. However, it was well worth the hour it took from start to finish. We were very happy with our Saturday morning meal!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Chocolate Covered Carrot Cake Balls

Aaahhh, I know that when you saw the title of this post you thought, "complicatedddd!" And then you saw the photo and thought, "whatttt?" Let me set your mind at ease. These are easy, addictive, and healthy!

Yes, healthy.

Really. They're raw, so there's no sugar or flours. And if you have not tasted raw desserts, don't go turning your nose up just yet.

Raw treats are some of the best desserts out there, super decadent tasting but actually healthy for you, like raw vegetable healthy for you! This one is made with grated carrots and apples, held together with a little almond butter and dipped in liquid coconut oil mixed with raw cacao powder. The trick is to freeze the balls before giving them a chocolate bath, which creates the amazing chocolate shell on the outside. Trust me on this one, kids big and small (and over 25!) will love these!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Broccoli Fritters with Aioli

Broccoli is a vegetable much beloved by my family. There was a period when we actually ate it every day and still wanted more! But in the past couple of years shiny new things like kale and brussels sprouts have tempted us away. But the other day I was lured back to my old friend, and boy was it tasty!

Fritters are hard not to love but these broccoli and cheese ones were super delicious! I topped them with some leftover aioli which was the perfect match for my palate, but you could with hot sauce, salsa or sour cream.

A note of caution: don't over cook the broccoli. Do follow the fool-proof method listed below even if you believe that steaming it is better; it invariably gets too mushy because the pieces continue to cook after they are removed from the steam.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fully Loaded Nachos

Nachos - one of those dishes you only get at a restaurant? Think again my friends! Nachos are easy peasy at home, it's just all about the fixin's...and lots of cheese!!!

The trick to great nachos at home is more cheese than you want to admit to putting in a dish, but I believe it is counter balanced by the "salad" on top. So think of this as a once in a while indulgence, not a dish to put in your bi-weekly rotation.

As with any dish, the better your ingredients, the better the end result. Do buy high quality tortilla chips - thin, organic - not rounds that are more salt than corn. Fresh avocados, tomatoes, cilantro and red onions are also on my must list. This is one of the few dishes that I reach for canned black olives and not the more pungent kalamata or briny green olives. If you like spice, get some pickled jalapeno slices and serve them on the side if all your eaters don't want some fire in their mouth. Personalize it, they're your nachos!