22 May 2015

A month of brunches: week 4

This hash can serve as a complete meal, or it can be supplemented by eggs or a meat of your choice.  You can chop it all up in a food processor and make patties out of it or keep it chunky, and you can fry it up in a pan or roast it in the oven.  So, there's plenty of time to make Bloody Marys and visit with your guests.  Oh, and it also keeps and reheats well.  But don't use Chef Mike--he'll just make it all soggy.

Sweet Potato Hash

Serves 4

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz. white mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil
2-3 cups of spinach or kale
1 medium apple, diced
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1 handful of walnuts or pecans
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
hot sauce for serving

Heat a dry, large skillet over medium-high heat and toast the nuts, stirring constantly until they are brown and fragrant.  Set aside.

Lower heat to medium, wipe out the skillet, add the oil, and return to the burner. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften.  Add the sweet potatoes and mushrooms, season with salt, and cook until potato softens, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, greens, apple, and cinnamon and cook until greens are wilted and apple is soft. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the toasted nuts.  Serve warm with organic eggs, chicken, sausage, nitrate-free bacon, or another source of protein if desired..

19 May 2015

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Throw some grilled fish in here for a bigger meal, but this makes a great light lunch or late-night dinner as-is, and nothing says spring like fresh, light meals!

Leftovers work great as spring roll filling.

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad

Serves 3-4

For the dressing:
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 cloves finely minced garlic (about 2 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons finely minced serrano or jalapeno chile
3 tablespoons fish sauce

For the salad:
8 ounces rice noodles (can substitute udon, ramen, or angel hair pasta if you prefer)
6 ounces white mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
4 cups chopped spinach
4 medium carrots, cut into short, thin matchsticks
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons minced green onion (from 2 to 3 stalks)
4 tablespoons chopped peanuts
Lime wedges for serving

To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together. Will keep well covered in the fridge for several days.

Cook the rice noodles according to instructions. Drain, rinse well with cold water, and drain again.
Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and then the mushrooms and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the prepared dressing. Cook for 5 minutes, or just until the mushrooms are soft.
To serve, toss cooked noodles with several tablespoons dressing. Toss the spinach with a tablespoon of dressing, and set atop the noodles. Add carrots, mint, cilantro, and green onion to taste. Top with warm mushrooms, peanuts, another drizzle of dressing, and a squeeze of lime
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15 May 2015

A month of brunches: week 3

I love quiche, but it doesn't always stay with me for very long.  This crustless version is amped up with plenty of protein from the quinoa (and all that cheese!), and is just as good at room temperature as a not-sad desk lunch on Monday.  You can also bake this magical mixture in muffin cups for an easy finger food at parties or a freezer-friendly breakfast on-the-go. 

Crustless Quinoa and Greens Quiche

Serves 6

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch Kale or mustard greens, stems removed and cut into ribbons
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
3 ounces cream cheese, cubed
4 eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9" pie dish with butter. Rinse the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a pan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. This will take about twenty minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, start to caramelize the onions. Heat the olive oil in a large saute on medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions. Slowly cook until the onions are soft and browned.

Remove the onions from the pan, and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the kale or mustard greens into the hot onion pan. On medium heat, cook until wilted and bright green, about two minutes.

Add the greens, quinoa, garlic, cream cheese and cheddar to the mixing bowl. Stir the ingredients so that they are pretty much evenly distributed (it's OK to have some little clumps of cream cheese here and there).

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and mustard with a dash of salt. Pour over the quinoa mixture. Stir until the egg clings to the greens. Add more salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture in the prepared pie dish. Bake uncovered for about 45 minutes, until the top is golden and the pie has started to pull away from the edge of the baking dish. 

12 May 2015

My cheater's guide to risotto

Perhaps you wouldn't call this risotto, as it lacks that extreme creaminess (which I find monotonous after a while, frankly), but this baked casserole is a great way to turn some leftover rice, vegetables, and optional meat product into a satisfying meal.  And as a bonus, you're not stuck standing over the stove, pouring liquids and stirring constantly until it's done.

Italian Rice Casserole

Serves 6-8

Butter for the pan
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 link Italian sausage (vegetarian or meat product), casing removed and chopped or crumbled
½ yellow onion, diced
1’2 red bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cooked rice (white or brown)
2 cups chopped spinach (fresh or frozen)
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese + more for sprinkling on top
2 tablespoons chopped herbs of your choice (fresh, dried, or any combination)
2 tablespoons capers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease an 11 x 7 baking dish liberally with butter and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil.  When it shimmers add the sausage, onion, pepper, and garlic and sauté on medium-high heat until the onion is soft and the sausage (I used Field Roast Italian) is cooked, about 7 minutes.  Turn off the heat, and stir in the rice, spinach, wine, cheese, herbs, and capers.  Season with salt and pepper.  Combine thoroughly.

Pour the rice mixture into the baking dish smooth evenly. Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Remove from oven, sprinkle a thin layer of additional cheese on top, and broil on high until golden brown, about 10 minutes (you may need to rotate halfway through broiling time).

Bonus meal: dump the leftovers into some hot broth, add more vegetables and beans if desired, and call it a soup!