Tag Archives: herbs

Old & New World foods for June & July

Oh, the wonders of the internet!  I’ve ordered some speciality food items online to play with. From the New World, native blue corn hominy and New Mexico Green Chile powder. From the Old World, heirloom dried beans, most of which originated in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Big, dappled Spanish Tolosna beans (pic from Purcellmountainfarm.com).

Big, dappled Spanish Tolosna beans (pic from Purcellmountainfarm.com).

I’m particularly excited to try patterned  beans that hold their color & shape when cooked, and that apparently have distinctive flavors.  Hefty bags of dark fat Scarlet Runner, purple-brown-white Appaloosa, dappled Spanish Tolosna and inky Black Beluga Lentils are in transport this very minute. We’ll see how they cook up! 

California’s Rancho Gordo restaurant & celeb chef is the leading US gourmet heirloom bean proselytizer. Its retail site has very useful detailed descriptions of each bean’s taste. North Bay Trading Co in Wisconsin — yay, a local regional source! — sells organic beans, dried fruit & veg in bulk as does Purcell Mountain Farms in Idaho, which also carries lots of other products.

So here are the DDoW dishes for the next few weeks. It’s your turn to shop online — order DDoW right here. 

[GUIDE:   V= vegan, GF= gluten-free, and P = paleo. 99% dishes have no soy or added sugar.]

June 17 – 21

Roast Parsnip Carrots w/ Rosemary ready to be delivered to DDoW clients (my pic).

Roast Parsnip Carrots w/ Rosemary ready to be delivered to DDoW clients (my pic).

1) Roast Parsnips & Carrots w/ Rosemary (V, GF, P).  Enjoy hot, warm, or cold. Great for breakfast (why not?), on salad greens, mixed with a grain, topped with a fried/poached egg. Extend by adding to a soup or stuffing into burritos & quesadillas.
2) Quinoa & Spring Veg Soup w/ Fennel Pistou (V, GF, P).  A light lemony soup made with whatever’s avail at the Farmers Market such as peas, asparagus, spinach. Pistou is herb garlic paste.

June 24 – 28

An heirloom bean ordered from Purcell Mountain Farms.com  (their pic).

Appaloosa heirloom bean from Purcell Mountain Farms.com (their pic).

1) Heirloom Bean Salad (V, GF). Mottled Appaloosa and other colorful legumes plus purple cabbage in a Dijon Tarragon vinaigrette.
2)  Chermoula Potato Salad (V, GF). My favorite Moroccan paste transforms bland potatoes. It’s not hot-spicy but has such an in-your-face intensity you can’t call it mild, either.  See recipe (scroll down a few recipes).


July 1 – 5  INDEPENDENCE DAY HOLIDAY

Imagine blue hominy & white beans swimming in a deep red stew!  (photo from web.)

Imagine blue hominy & white beans swimming in a deep red stew! (photo from web.)

1) Red White & Blue Posole (V, GF).  Medium-spicy pepper & tomato-based stew with blue corn hominy and white beans! 

2) Firecracker Slaw w/ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette (V, GF, P).  Same as my regular Firecracker Slaw except w/ a different vinaigrette. Lots of shredded crunchy veg & apples makes the perfect picnic side. No dairy means it can sit out for hours, and, it’s low-fat.


July 8 – 12

1) Sesame Barley & Veg Salad (V, contains gluten.)Barley is wonderfully chewy and nutty. Sesame dressing may contain a little peanut butter, too.
2) Minted Daikon & Edamame Salad (V, GF, P, contains soy).  Fresh mint, garlic and rice vinegar make a terrific vinaigrette for refrigerator pickles and green salads. Maybe Kohlrabi if it’s avail.

July 15 – 19

Arroz con gandules, a Puerto Rican staple.

Arroz con gandules, a Puerto Rican staple (pic from Wikipedia).

1) Arroz Con Gandules (V, GF). Puerto Rican national dish of rice & beans punched up by capers & olives. I may substitute another legume for the traditional pigeon peas.
2) Market Surprise.  Green Beans? Cukes? Cold Cucumber Soup? With this late onset of summer, it’s hard to tell what will be at market.

Coming Next: Chile Verdura featuring authentic New Mexico Green Chile, Black Beluga Lentil & Beet Salad, another funky heirloom bean dish, Turkish Tomato Wheatberry Soup….

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Hearts & Stomachs

As they say, the way to a person’s heart is thru the stomach.  Forget flowers. Nothing says “I love you” like fragrant, beautiful nutritious food!  [Besides, flowers are overpriced at this time of the year — wait til summer Farmers’ Markets for the best bouquets in town.]

Order freshly made vegan food delivered to your door, online at this website! Boom.

Spice is the Variety of Life

Herbs & spices for sale in Provencal, France. (Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos)

And herbs, too. Basing my weekly offerings on our northern seasonal harvest means, yes, repeatedly using the same seasonal veg  presented in as wide a variety as I can manage. See my blog’s Menu Archive of weekly Delivered Dish of the Week for a list of dishes cooked over past 2 yrs and those dishes coming up. I try hard to keep it interesting and not repeat within 3-4 months.

2 dishes x 10 weeks =30.  Thirty. Different. Vegetarian. Utilitarian. Dishes. And not one pasta among them. (I don’t do pasta or couscous.)

How?

1) By relying on many different spices & herbs versus using many ingredients, which is expensive. I include condiments in this spice category.

2) By relying on the 40-some kinds of whole grains and beans that I have ready access to here.

(Thank you large chain, co-op and ethnic grocery stores in our fair Twin Cities!)

After all, what’s the difference between Cajun dirty rice, Mexican arrozo, Spanish paella, Chinese fried rice, Indian biryani or pulao, Middle Eastern rice pilafs, and Southeast Asian nasi goreng? The spices. Otherwise, they’re all technically the same: gluten-free, dairy-free rice dishes.

So, along with dried herbs & spices, I stock my pantry/refrigerator with interesting, intense condiments from around the world. In particular, sauces, pastes and spice mixes that I can’t or don’t want to make the effort to replicate. These make it very easy to add much variety to your repertoire. (Think curry powder and meat rubs). I don’t use them on top of finished dish, like ketchup atop a plain hotdog. I use them to flavor sauces & marinades for grains, beans, vegetables and meats. More like cooking the hotdog in ketchup & relish.

Romesco Beans ‘n Rice. Romesco is a nut and red pepper-based sauce from Catalan, Spain. (my photo). 

Jamaican Jerk-spiced Millet & Beans  (my photo).

Case in point, I have jerk seasoning mix. Therefore, a dish this week is Jamaican Jerk Beans & Rice.  Counting those examples above, that’s 8 different, cheap rice dishes I can whip together with stuff in my pantry. That’s not even including meals with plain rice, which I do actually make now and then for Chinese/Japanese/Korean entrees.

Then, substitute different whole grains or noodles for rice. Add different kinds of beans and various vegetables — we’re still talking about just the one dish, not even the whole meal. We’re still talking cheap ingredients. We’re not even yet factoring in meats! Now, DO THE MATH. 

You know you know this. I’m just reminding you.  And, since you may be free to use dairy, meat & seafood, you can make an even greater variety  than DDoW offers!

 

This week, make a trip to a co-op and get tiny bags of spices and herbs from the bulk aisle. This is much cheaper than buying bottles especially if you just want to test-drive a new one. Next, pick up 3 bottles of  sauces/pastes. Besides your local big box, Trader Joe’s and Asian grocery shops are good places for inexpensive and interesting condiments and sauces. Pastes are concentrated and therefore are a better value.

Swad brand Mint Chutney, a tangy mildly spicy Indian condiment. Try this in a sandwich or mix into plain pasta!

In my pantry: 

  • bottled Dijon and grainy mustards
  • tahini and peanut butter (yes, nut butters are a condiment)
  • orange marmalade (also a condiment)
  • bottled lemon and lime juice (must-haves)
  • black molasses (great in marinades, sauces)
  • mixed peppercorns
  • mushroom, veggie, beef & chicken bouillon
  • herb pastes /pestos (see recipe for Cilantro pistou)
  • miso paste
  • pureed ginger paste
  • tomato paste
  • Korean red pepper paste  (sweeter than you’d think)
  • Moroccan Chermoula paste (see recipe)
  • Mint or cilantro chutney sauce

    ground Indian curry and garam masala mixes

    Chinese Black bean sauce

    Chinese hoisin sauce

    • teriyaki sauce
  • Cajun spice mix
  • Jamaican Jerk spice mix (bottled sauce also)Chinese black bean sauce
  • Thai curry pastes (Mae-ploy brand is good-value and has more varieties, while Thai Kitchen brand’s 2 kinds are gluten-free.)
  • mango chutney (a jam, really)
  • Indian mint and cilantro ‘chutneys’ (those tangy green sauces served with samosas)
  • peanut sauce (the one served with Vietnamese egg & spring rolls)
  • sweet chilli sauce (ditto)
  • Tabasco (red & green)
  • Sriracha “Rooster” hot sauce
  • Plus basics to make sauce or soup like veggie broth, chicken broth and coconut milk.

Now, GO FORTH and Multiply … your meals.

“I have my mother who is an Irish-Italian, and my father who is African, so I have the taste buds of an Italian and the spice of an African.” ~ musician Alicia Keys (explains why I like her)

Pretty in Pink

Assembled salad of seasonal veg & albacore tuna. (My photo.)

Here in the Twin Cities, we are still in the first phase of summer vegetables, where most veg are green, white or red-pink. Although, yellow zucchini are now out.

Albeit not the ‘riot’ of color of late August, these veggies still make for beautiful dishes. And the neat thing about white — cauliflower, kohlrabi, daikon & radish, potato — is that they turn a brilliant pink when marinated with beets or purple cabbage. Plus (I’m stretching it a little but) you’re benefiting from the purple veggies’ antioxidants that have literally rubbed off.

The fuschia rectangles in the center of this pretty salad are chopped kohlrabi marinated with mint vinaigrette & a bit of raw beet. Starting from top are sliced cauliflower, cooked beets, kohlrabi, thin slices of red onion and chunks of albacore tuna, on a bed of romaine & spinach. The pink vinaigrette was then drizzled on top.

Any vinaigrette will do. Just drop a bit of raw beet in the jar and a couple hours later, it’s pink. I like fresh mint vinaigrettes. Mint goes with everything and is an especially nice counterpoint to big bold tomatoey BBQ summer flavors. It’s avail, grows like a weed and is cheap — so use it!

Kohlrabi is from the cabbage family and therefore contains particularly beneficial antioxidants. Best when 3″ in diameter. Unfort, the purple ones are not purple inside!

About Kohlrabi:
A versatile white cruciferous vegetable that has made a recent comeback after decades. When I’m at the Farmers Markets doing demos, as I’ll do tomorrow, Sun July 15th at Kingfield FM (see previous posting), it’s the Minnesotans over the age of 50 who recognize this strange orb.

They say, “oh, we used to eat those straight out of the garden when we were kids!”, or “my dad loves them”. Those under age 50 say, “I wondered what those were? how do you eat it?”

Why? Because kohlrabi were never in grocery stores, the only place where many of us Minneapolitans encountered vegetables in their natural state.

So now we can get acquainted with this mild-mannered, kid-friendly vegetable. It’s part of the cabbage family and grows on top of the ground, with stalks and leaves above it, the reverse of broccoli. Apparently you can eat the leaves but I haven’t tried that yet (the ones available at markets are de-stemmed).

I say it’s like apples but not apple-flavored. Its texture is just like medium-crunchy apples while the taste is like very mild broccoli stalks, neither sweet nor bitter. Very neutral. Which lends itself to snacking as is (peeled) and being combined with sharper flavors.

Why then bother, you might say? Because kohlrabi is — surprise — good for you.  High in fiber, low in calories, and filling. Great munchy texture. Doesn’t get caught in your throat like raw carrots, either.

Nutrition Info: As a member of the cruciferous family, Kohlrabi is high in immune-boosting antioxidants. Cruciferous veg are often called “cancer-killers”.  For instance, kohlrabi packs 140 percent of your daily need of vitamin C into a one-cup, 40-calorie serving. In addition, kohlrabi provides more than 4 percent of your daily requirement of several B vitamins in a standard one-cup serving.

We all know Vitamin C is important, but, did you know, your body cannot store it, so you must replenish your body’s supply continually. And, iron absorption is improved in the presence of vitamin C.

This leads me to Beets + Kohlrabi combinations, besides the fact they’re pretty together. Beets contain about the same amount of Vitamin A as carrots, the main reason carrots are considered so nutritious. However, beets offer — drum roll, please — 6 TIMES MORE IRON than carrots. Yoo hoo women & girls!

Therefore, eating Beets & Kohlrabi together enhances absorption of iron so important to those of us of the female persuasion. So, Power up the Pink!

See my Recipe page for a very easy Minted Asian Kohlrabi Salad, which make great ‘refrigerator pickles’. By the way, this dressing has no oil.

Enjoy kohlrabi in any dish you would use cucumber, celery or apples:

  • obviously, chopped into any and all salads. Try tuna/egg salad.
  • raw snack sticks
  • grated raw, in salads, slaw, or on top of noodle soups like Japanese radish.
  • pickled with ginger or dill
  • stir-frys
  • steamed with butter. Herb butter. Mmmm.
  • roasted
  • stews and soups

    Baked kohlrabi chips! Shredded kohlrabi in muffins!  I’m sure you can think of fun variations, too.

 

 

One-Bowl Meals for Too Fast Lives

The Hearty Mexican Posole Soup with Radish Cabbage Arugula Salad Garnish (choice of vegan bean or pork version) that is featured for this week’s Delivered Dishes of the Week is an excellent one-bowl meal. See pithy descriptions for the next 2 weeks’ menus on the Menu Archive.

One-bowl meals are a way of life for many of us. They’re quick to eat, easy to make and more portable. When made of whole foods,  they’re also more ‘nutrient-dense’. A cup of nutrient-dense food like beans & greens gives you more nutrition than a comparable serving of something starchy and/or processed.  Looking at it another way, if you’re going to eat a 600-calorie meal, you could eat a 3-4 course meal of nutrient-dense foods instead of one bowl of mac ‘n cheese.

[Of course, there are times when that mac ‘n cheese or ice cream is completely appropriate. For instance, driving past Izzy’s Ice Cream on a 76 F evening last week.]

Anybody who’s followed a weight-loss program knows this. So the challenge is to surround ourselves with more nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods, which is hard when nutrient-poor processed foods are everywhere and simply more convenient.

I’ll be teaching to this question on Thu to residents at Next Step Housing, an independent living facility run by Ascension Place, a transitional housing program for women based in North Mpls.  I’ll assess their cooking skills, teach basic knife techniques, and focus on easy, cheap, healthful dishes that you can ‘build’ on for an endless variety of meals.

Tuscan white beans, swiss chard and broccoli.

We’re going to make a couple variations of Beans & Greens (see prior posts). Next Step’s apartment building is near the Cub Grocery on Broadway Ave & Lyndale Ave North, so these women can easily get dried/canned beans and frozen/ fresh greens such as kale, collards, turnip greens and spinach, all year round. On summer weekends, they can go to a satellite Farmers’ Market run by Mpls Farmers’ Market and West Broadway Business & Area Coalition. These women may have never visited a farmers’ market before, so I’m looking forward to introducing them come summer.

We’ll cook large batches as usual. In the end it’s cheaper and more efficient to cook a large batch than a small batch of most dishes. If you’re going to chop 1 onion and 3 carrots, you may as well chop twice as many while you’re at it.

Furthermore, I’m going to suggest that, since they live in the same apartment building, they do a couple things that will make cooking more fun and save money, too:

1) Monthly Soup Swap. Say you have a group of 6 people. Each participant brings a 6-quart pot of home-made soup and 5 quart-size ziploc bags or tupperware. Divide all the soups. Everybody gets 6 quarts of different soups! If you freeze the ziplocs flat, they can be stacked vertically or horizontally in the freezer and will take up less room.

Gorgeous local veg!

2) Buy favorite veggies in bulk at the Farmers’ Market and divide. You can buy 5-10 lb tubs of green beans, tomatoes, et al at a cheaper rate than the little 1-lb trays. The farmers often have blemished ‘seconds’ in large tubs for even lower prices. And, if you go near closing time, they will practically give stuff away rather than pack it up in their trucks.

3) Cook together occasionally. It makes a solitary chore more of a social event, especially for singles, and besides, two cooks are faster than one.

Of course, these are excellent time- & money-savers for everybody, whether you live next door or not!

Greens: variations

My brother Eric in California asks me great questions about cooking. I provide info, as an extension of the cooking coaching I did for them a year ago on a visit (and b/c I’m a nice sister). So, he wrote recently that he was craving sauteed greens and wanted a few more variations than the basic sauteed collards & swiss chard I showed him. This craving comes from having grown up eating Chinese cuisine. He also lived in cuisine capitals San Francisco and Taiwan; while I lived for many years in Hong Kong and ate a big plate of sauteed greens nearly every single day.

Unfortunately, he did not learn to cook leafy greens, and, as a poor & busy student, didn’t cook anything for years. So he & his family are learning now.

The basic dish consists of chopped or trimmed greens (preferably fresh), chopped onions & minced garlic, sauteed in olive oil (or other oil) and spritzed with lemon. The simplest variations would be to change the seasonings but keep everything else the same. Instead of just lemon juice, add dried herbs like sage or rosemary, or, add raisins & nutmeg ala the classic Italian spinach dish. Or, add curry powder & cumin, then lemon juice. Now, try adding to that a little coconut milk. Change it up to sesame oil, ginger & soy /tamari, a spoon of miso paste. Then, try adding to that a little dried red pepper flakes or Korean red pepper paste. Ad infinitum.

Gai lan, aka Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale, has thick stems that taste like broccoli and thick dark leaves.

Yu Choy has long thin stalks and oval leaves.

Choy Sum ("flowering cabbage") has short medium-density stalks, dark green leaves and distinct yellow flowers.

The second set of variations is to change the base green vegetable. Choices include spinach, collards, swiss chard, kale, turnip greens, beet greens, bok choy, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), choy sum or other nice greens found at Asian grocery produce sections. Lighter green napa (Chinese) cabbage and regular green cabbage are also great sauteed. However, those do not satisfy the “dark green leafy Vitamin A” craving for me, personally.

Yu choy is probably my favorite. It’s similar to choy sum, but its stalks are less dense (more like swiss chard or broccoli rabe) and cook faster. Since I like eating leaves, what I like most is yu choy has a bigger leaf to stalk ratio than gai lan and choy sum.

Some of the most common Asian veg. Here in Twin Cities, we have even more varieties thanks to our local Hmong & SE Asian communities.

These Chinese-origin green veggies shown above have a nice firm texture and a flavor that is neither mild/boring nor bitter like some kale, mustard greens, or even spinach. They’re not of the cruciferous cabbage family and do not have that ‘cabbagey” flavor. They taste clean & green!

These are most often cooked with Asian seasonings. There is no reason, however, why you can’t cook them in different ways w/ different seasonings.

A Tip: the thicker the stalk, the better it is to add half a cup of water or broth while sauteeing and cover for a few minutes. This steams the veg. Chinese restaurants use chicken broth, which is one reason theirs taste so good.

Let’s try some variations!  I’ll report back, and I hope you do too!

Farmers Markets on weekends only

I am seriously bumming that the weekday metro Farmers Markets are all done for the season as of this week. And my favorite, St Paul Farmers Market in Lowertown (weekends only), closes Nov 15th! Aiiyeee!  But the Mpls market on North Lyndale is open daily 6am – 1pm til Dec 25th. The variety of produce available is dwindling fast. But for now, there are lots of herbs, hardy greens (kale, collards, brussel sprouts, cabbage), carrots and other root veg, a dizzying variety of hard squash, locally produced meats & eggs, and packaged foods.

Here’s a link to a nice video “Meet the Vendors of Mpls Farmers Market”.

Brussel Sprout plants

So get over there and take advantage of fresh & local produce while you still can! It tastes better and is also less expensive than the grocery store’s. The squash will keep til Thanksgiving. Chop & blanch a big batch of greens, freeze, and pull out for your holiday cooking. If brussel sprouts are a staple at your holiday table, you’ll save a lot of $. Those are so pricey at the grocery store at holiday time and it seems everybody just has to have them.

Speaking of sprouts, my dear friend and fellow caterer Jason made Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/ Shallots and threw in minced fresh mint before serving. The mint was a lovely addition. Try it!