Friday, March 20, 2020

Roasted and Marinated Beets with Charred Kale and Hazelnut Vinaigrette

First, I hope anyone stopping by to read this is doing well. All is well in my home, and we’ve been staying in other than going for walks and runs since the weekend. I apologize for the irony here, but the terrific new book I want to tell you about today is Cooking for Good Times: Super Delicious, Super Simple [A Cookbook] by Paul Kahan. These are most certainly not good times, but we are all cooking more at home right now. Here’s my suggestion: rather than thinking about this book in terms of cooking for guests and parties and family get-togethers as it’s intended, instead maybe the dishes I mention below will inspire some new ideas to try for yourself and your family at home in the coming days. All the great suggestions from the book for entertaining can be kept in mind for future gatherings. I had the pleasure of visiting one of Kahan’s restaurants in Chicago, Avec, a few years ago. This book is inspired by the kind of conviviality and sharing of dishes that restaurant has always nurtured. So, the dishes in this book are more straightforward than chefy. I especially loved that the first chapter is called Make Some Food to Eat While You Cook. That implies the fun begins during the cooking, and maybe everyone is helping or at least hanging out while the cooking happens. The suggestions include marinated olives, things to spread on bread or crackers like beet and walnut dip, a charred summer squash-sesame dip that I can’t wait to try, two versions of hummus, and recipes for homemade bread and crackers. Each chapter begins with ideas for what drinks to pair with the following recipes. And, the chapters go through categories like cured meats as appetizers or parts of a meal, greens for all seasons, root vegetables, one devoted to versions of panzanella, and one just for grains, raclette, pizza, fish, chicken, pork, steak, and a few simple desserts. The Buy Some Greens chapter drew me in with the cold salads and warm dishes. The concept of charring greens in a ripping-hot cast iron skillet or on a hot grill was intriguing because you’re not fulling cooking the leaves. The goal is to just get the edges browned here and there while leaving the rest in a raw state. The charred kale with beefsteak tomatoes and pine nuts with a lemony vinaigrette sounds delicious. One of the salads on my list to try is the greens with tzatziki vinaigrette, potatoes, and green beans. The very next chapter, Roast Some Roots, also held me captive. The beet dish shown here today is from this chapter, and the roasted and marinated root vegetables with oranges, black olives, and feta as well as the roasted and marinated root vegetables with strawberries, ricotta, and pistachios caught my eye. In Toss Together Some Old Bread, you’ll find panzanella with Brussels sprouts, grilled onion, and crumbly cheese and Nicoise-style panzanella with tomatoes, green beans, olives, and anchovies. In the pizza chapter, I loved the suggestion for resting the dough in the refrigerator for up to three days. When you have the time, mix up a big batch of dough, divide into pizza-size pieces, shape the pieces into rounds, let them rest at room temperature for an hour, and then refrigerate to use any time in the next few days. The smoked whitefish, garlic cream, and marinated kale pizza recipe sounds especially good. I just realized I’ve mentioned charred and/or marinated kale in a few dishes, and I want to tell you more about it. 

To start the dish shown here, roasted and marinated beets are needed. At the beginning of the chapter with this recipe, there are instructions for roasting and marinating all kinds of root vegetables. My beets were very large, and I roasted them the day before making this dish. On the day I planned to serve it, I peeled the beets and cut them into wedges and marinated them in a mix of olive oil, orange juice, and crushed red chile flakes. The kale was washed, dried, and marinated in a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, crushed red chile flakes, and black pepper. Grated parmigiana reggiano was to be added, but I skipped it to keep the recipe vegan. The beets and kale were marinated at room temperature for two hours, but they could have been refrigerated overnight instead. For the plated dish, a hazelnut vinaigrette was made with toasted and finely ground hazelnuts, walnut oil, red wine vinegar, minced shallot, salt, and pepper. I didn’t find hazelnut oil while shopping that day, and I used walnut oil instead. Next, a large cast iron skillet was heated for five minutes over high heat. Yes, it gets very hot. The marinated beets were added and cooked on one side for just one minute before being removed. Then, the marinated kale was added to the hot pan to char for one minute before being removed. In the book, burrata is recommended, and it would go on the plate first. I used a cashew yogurt mixed with a little minced garlic and salt and pepper and made a schmear on the plate. The kale and beets were scattered over top, everything was drizzled with the hazelnut vinaigrette, and chopped, toasted hazelnuts were sprinkled on for garnish and crunch. 

The mix of the nutty vinaigrette and the creamy yogurt were exactly right with the earthy beets and kale. And, I loved the browned edges resulting from charring. This book gives you lots of great ideas and flavor combinations, and more importantly, it gives you techniques to apply in lots of different ways. The charring step adds flavor and texture and can be used in a variety of dishes, the panzanella chapter opens a door to creativity with bread and vegetables in salad form, and the grains recipes work with any type of cooked grain you’ve got. I’m looking forward to cooking more from this now and in good times to come.

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Golden Cashew Sauce with Chile and Lime Served with Black Rice and Panfried Tempeh

I have a vacation fantasy wherein a personal chef prepares all of my meals with fresh, nutritious ingredients put together just the way I like them. I have all the time in the world to explore whatever surroundings I’m visiting, do lots of yoga, go for long runs, and every lovely locally-sourced, organic snack, beverage, and meal appears perfectly-prepared just when I want it. In this particular fantasy, the food and drinks would look a lot like what you’ll find in the new book from Amy Chaplin, Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar of which I received a review copy. As I read the book, the same thought kept coming to mind: this is what I want to eat every day. The twenty chapters each present a base recipe or two followed by several variations on that main idea. The one exception is the Vegetables: Land and Sea chapter that includes a variety of dishes with different ingredients. The recipes are gluten-free, sometimes grain-free, and mostly vegan, but some options call for eggs and goat cheese is suggested here and there. This book gives you building blocks for putting together nutritionally-dense and variety-rich meals that completely bypass highly refined, processed, and artificial foods. Throughout, there are suggested ways to customize the recipes and ideas for what to pair them with for creating interesting twists and complete meals. The photos showing all the flavor variations in each chapter made me want to try every option. Among the chia bircher bowls and porridges in the first and second chapters alone, there are sweet, savory, simple, elaborately-garnished, spring, summer, fall, and winter directions to try. The gluten-free breads, with toppings options, had me longing to fill my freezer with them. I started with the Black Rice Sesame Bread made after soaking black rice and black sesame seeds overnight before grinding them with the remaining ingredients in the food processor to make the dough. The nutty, toasted slices of bread were delicious with smashed avocado and sliced hakurei turnips. There are nut and seeds milks to try, compotes, soups, bean dishes, dressings, sauces, crackers, bars, cakes, and more. I’ve made nut butter before, but I’d never thought of making coconut butter by grinding dried, unsweetened coconut in the food processor. The dressings, made mostly with vegetables and just a little oil, have inspired me too. The artichoke dressing with meyer lemon and chives is on my list. My second stop in the book was for the Berry Chia Pudding made with frozen strawberries cooked with orange juice to soften before being mixed with cashews, coconut butter, and vanilla. The puree was whisked with chia seeds and left in the refrigerator for serving with cacao nibs and freeze-dried strawberries. I also tried the Matcha Berry Muffins made grain-free with dried coconut, sunflower seeds, almond flour, and coconut flour. They were tender and light with just maple syrup and orange juice for sweetness. I couldn’t pass up the Date-Sweetened Granola made with a puree of softened dates and no other sweeteners. I loved that it included buckwheat groats since that’s become one of my favorite additions to granola. But, the dish I want to tell you all about today is from the Sauces chapter. 

All of the versatile sauces would work well for noodle dishes, paired with vegetables, or as dips. I quickly fell for the photo of the Golden Cashew Sauce with Chile and Lime shown served with black rice, panfried tempeh, and a tangle of sprouts. I set about recreating it. The base recipe for a Creamy Nut Sauce was followed with some additions. Chopped onion was sauteed in olive oil until golden, and then garlic was added along with grated fresh ginger and turmeric and chopped red chile. Mirin and water were added for deglazing and allowed to simmer. The mixture was transferred to a blender along with raw cashews, more water, tamari, and lime juice. The sauce can be made warm by adding boiling water to the blender, or it can be made at room temperature and reheated before serving. I browned some slices of tempeh, steamed some black rice, made a quick pickle of kohlrabi and carrots, and did my best to mimic the presentation shown in the book. 

The thick sauce added great flavor as each bite of tempeh was pulled through it. I’ll make it a bit thinner with more lime juice when I use it for a rice noodle dish with lots of cucumber and chiles. First, there’s so much more I want to try here. The crackers, waffles, bars, and cauliflower bakes all look so good. With all the recipe variations, meal plans, and prep tips, this book makes it easy to eat like this every day.

I am a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program. 
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