Archive for the ‘recipes’ Category

Herbs and other flavor boosters

The University Club was the happening place to eat on Tuesday. Culinary Cooking and Concepts was going on and featured a tasty gourmet meal and yours truly as the speaker. The topic was “Marinades and sauces and rubs, oh my!” Here’s what one participant e-mailed to her friend who wasn’t able to attend this month:

You missed a very delicious lunch today.  The salad could have been the meal as far as I’m concerned.  Sort of like a VERY fancy BLT.  HAHA, I’m not doing it justice.  And I WANT that dressing which was basil leaves, olive oil, vinegar and salt & pepper but I have never had anything like it.  They should bottle it and sell it!  Looked like a green goddess.  Chix breast was nice and moist, but the mushroom risotto was the star, along with fresh green beans and carrots, and the dessert was a simple vanilla ice cream with fresh berries and a Cabernet sauce. 

Next month is BERRIES!!!

That salad was a work of art–the way they wrapped the thin slice of cucumber around the baby lettuce leaves along side the stack of tomato slices alternating with fresh mozzarella. You can find the recipes on the Health4U website–unfortunately, not the “green goddess” salad dressing yet. Still trying to wrestle it out of the Chef! We’ll post it as soon as we have it.

I always learn so much when I’m preparing for one of these programs. For instance, to get the most “life” out of your herbs, trim the stems, place them in a container of water, cover loosely with plastic and set it in the frig. To make a sturdy, tip-resistant containter, cut down a half gallon (plastic) milk jug, leaving the handle intact. Those complementary shower caps you get in your hotel room make a really great plastic cover for your new herb vase.

The time to wash your herbs is just before you’re ready to use them. If you have a lettuce spinner, give it double duty. Leave the basket inside it, place your herbs and cool water in it, swish the herbs well, then lift out the basket, dump the water and spin the herbs dry.

I’ve been making a really delicious salad this summer using the produce from my garden. This salad will work with whatever vegetables you have–cucumbers, tomatoes, sweet peppers, hot peppers, red onion, green onion, zucchini, green beans, carrots, cauliflower–did I miss anything? Peel, chop and mince until you like the looks of it. Make a dressing by whisking together 1 to 2 Tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 5 Tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped herbs–parsley, cilantro, basil or mint in whatever combination you like. The tomatoes, and the other vegetables to some extent, release their juices and make that simple dressing really tasty! I love to add a few olives and a sprinkle of feta just before serving.

Did you know that tomatoes have their best flavor if you never refrigerate them? Well, not until you cut or cook them, that is. Even after you cut them, you can let tomatoes “rest” at room temperature for a couple of hours.

I walked down to the MSU Student Organic Farm Stand just after they opened today. I made a list and Julie posted their offerings on the Health4U website: During the height of the harvest, we’ll try to update our website each week to let you know what you can find there. If you need herbs to make some of our new recipes, the SOF Stand has them!


Saucing up your grains

We had a great turn-out for the cooking session of Vegetarianism 101. I gave the participants the chance to test their knowledge of some unusual grains. Can you tell the difference between millet and quinoa, or kasha and bulgur?

One of the participants suggested spending an evening or weekend day making several sauces then freezing them for easy family meals. She said this is a great way of assuring great taste and variety for quick weeknight dinners. Simply add the sauce to the grain or legume and voilá–dinner!

This got me to thinking–what sauces would be good to make for the freezer? Aside from a traditional tomato sauce or pestoRomesco sauce would be delicious. Deborah Madison has an entire section on sauces in her classic book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. She suggests serving sesame sauce over grains or grilled vegies, peanut sauce with tofu and curry sauce with rice or as a base for curried vegetable soup.

Here’s a great marinara sauce recipe to get you started:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4-28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
  • salt and sugar to taste

Heat oil in large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and cook unti golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, oregano and pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and wine; cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and water; simmer over low heat until the sauce is thickened, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in cheese and basil. Taste, then season with salt and sugar as needed.

How easy is that? You may want to give these recipes a trial run then double or triple them to store in your freezer. Once your sauce has cooled, ladle it into plastic freezer bags or containers in 1- or 2-cup portions, label with recipe name and date, then lay the bags flat on a sheet tray to freeze. Once they’re frozen solid, you can remove them from the tray and stack them to save on freezer space.

When you come home hungry, you’ll be glad your dinner is nearly done.

Extreme Meal Makeovers

Today’s Culinary Cooking and Concepts program was about “makeovers” rather than “leftovers.” Just in time for Thanksgiving, Continue reading

Curried Chickpeas on a Bed of Greens

How To Cook Vegetarian: Legumes was attended by a large group of interactive women. Sharing ideas amongst ourselves is a great way of becoming inspired.


asofoetida--use a pinch as a flavor enhancer

Kiran shared a suggestion for a flavor enhancer, asafoetida. This spice is popular in vegetarian dishes, especially those with beans or lentils, as it is known as a digestive aid.  When uncooked, it has a pungent odor. Add it to hot oil or ghee and it gives off an aroma of strong onions and garlic. It develops the flavors more deeply in the recipe. Add it cautiously! Begin with just a pinch.

The first recipe I prepared today was not in your handout.  Here’s the recipe as I prepared it. You can add a pinch of asafoetida powder with the other spices if desired.

Curried Chickpeas on a Bed of Greens

  • 1/2 cup onions, diced
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more to taste
  • 2 (14- or 15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice, more to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • baby greens or other lettuce

In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until the onion is deep golden and crispy, stirring frequently, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the spices and cook; stir constantly, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add chickpeas, cilantro and lemon juice and continue to cook, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat. Taste; add salt if desired beginning with 1/4 teaspoon. Cool. Transfer to container or serving dish, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or more to allow the flavors to meld. Taste; add salt, lemon juice and pepper as desired. Serve on a bed of baby greens. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

THE Pumpkin Dessert

pumpkin dessertFind this fine pumpkin dessert at The Finer Things in Life