No meat, No wheat

Archive for March, 2015

Pesto, two ways

Pesto, two ways

Pesto. I can eat it off the spoon. I can eat pesto on anything. Well, not oatmeal, of course, but you get my drift. It’s kind of like hummus, in that regard. In the photo above, the cilantro pesto is on the right. It’s much lighter in color than it’s cousin opposite: basil pesto. Ah, pesto. Speaking of pesto, what would I do without my food processor? Probably have to forgo the pesto, I guess.

In my mind, the garlic is critical to the flavor of your pesto, and you also need some nice walnuts or almonds. I know I’m a renegade, but I don’t bother with pine nuts anymore. Add a bit of salt and voila. I prefer to add almonds to cilantro pesto and walnuts to basil pesto, but it doesn’t really matter, and both work. In fact, in a blind taste taste, ok, now I’m blabbering…. So this doesn’t require many ingredients, and I tend to make enough to last in my refrigerator a week or two. The only time consuming part comes from thoroughly washing, examining, and checking all of the greens in your sink before using. It takes up a lot of time. Luckily it’s worth it, and I just make a lot at once. Pesto is delicious, and hard to screw up.

A few years ago, my friend Josephine, an avid gardner, shared with me fresh basil from her garden. I began experimenting, adding basil to every salad, soup, and entree. Later that same summer, my sister made me gluten free brown rice pasta with pesto, which has become one of my favorite comfort foods (along with mashed taters and oatmeal, in case you’re wondering). I also love to smear pesto on toasted brown rice tortillas, add a bit of spinach and sliced tomatoes for a fast and fantastic gluten free pizza.

Ingredients

  • Huge bunch of basil or cilantro
  • 4-5 Garlic cloves
  • 1/2 Cup almonds or walnuts                                             Pesto Prep
  • Olive oil, about 1/2 cup
  • Salt, to taste

Supplies

  • Colander
  • Food processor                                                                      Pizza with pesto
  • Spatula
  • Measuring cups and spoon

Instructions

In the bowl of your food processor with the bottom “S” blade in place, add 4-5 cloves of garlic and pulse. Add the nuts, and while they are getting crushed and crunched, feed the cilantro or basil, and pour the olive oil through the lid into the bowl of your food processor. Sometimes the pesto looks too watery, and you should know it will firm up in the refrigerator. Chill and serve with everything. Some of my favorites: gluten free pasta, raw veggies, raw apple slices, spread on crisply toasted brown rice tortillas to make pizza, on rice or quinoa, inside a baked potato, spread on the amazing life changing whole grain delicious gluten free bread I posted last week.   Betayavon!

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I love zoodles

ZUCCHINI NOODLES= ZOODLES

zoodles on the fork

ZOODLES. I love cooking for my daughter Ilana, because she really appreciates the kind of food I prepare. She is also a fabulous and highly creative chef, and I am grateful when she cooks for me. This year, she made me zoodles, and was shocked I’d never eaten or even heard about this amazing dish. I recall it was love at first bite, and now I make them often. This recipe requires multiple steps, but it’s worth it. I find I’m more inclined to make extra, especially when I have plenty of firm zucchini on hand, because the leftovers, if you have any, will keep well in the fridge for several days. I use a wonderful Swiss Made hand held device that I keep in my silverware drawer. I love it so much I just bought one exactly like mine for Susan, who encouraged me to share my recipes on a blog. Since Ilana had recently said the same thing, it seemed to be just a question of time.

  • Ingredientszoodles and zoodler
  • Zucchini
    Sea Salt
    Olive Oil
    Garlic
  • Supplies
    Zoodler-  which is really called a “julienner”
    Colander
    Large Bowl
    Wok
    Large Slotted Spoon
  • Instuctions

To begin, scrub the zucchini and remove the ends.Use the hand held zoodler to create thin strands (much thinner than julienned), and will resemble cooked spaghetti in texture and thickness. Place the zucchini strands in a large colander, sprinkle with sea salt, and place the colander over a large pot to capture the liquid that is released. Let sit for 30-40 minutes, until all liquid is released. Rinse zucchini to remove the salt, and place strands on paper towels to dry. This is an important step as you want the zoodles to release as much moisture as possible and wind up as dry as possible. Once dry, I heat up my wok, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and a finely minced garlic clove. As the garlic becomes fragrant and begins to soften in the oil, I add the zoodles, just until they get hot. Options: combine the zucchini noodles with your favorite red sauce, or combine with your favorite pesto. I’ll post two fabulous pesto recipes soon. Another option is to sauté mushrooms in the wok with more garlic and combine with the zoodles.                                              Zoodles, Zucchini Noodles

DEFINITELY SERVING QUINOA FOR YUNTIF THIS PASSOVER

quinoa, yummy for yuntifQuinoa. Some people love it. Some don’t. I can understand why, no matter where you fall out on the quinoa spectrum. I know I’m biased, but it’s hard to resist loving quinoa is the recipe I’m posting today. It has a delicious and exotic taste: slightly smoky, funky (in a good way) texture, fills me up without being heavy in my stomach; it’s got a satisfying slight crunch.  I grew up in Wynnefield, PA, eating all traditional foods on this holidays: brisket, g. fish, c. soup, kugel, the 12-egg sponge cake, macaroons, and all the rest….and I can assure you, we never thought of quinoa.  We never even heard of it! The food I eat now does not have to compete with those old standards, nor do I need a “meat substitute” to make me happy and my meal complete. I rarely use any of the popular commercially prepared “vegan items”, unless of course I want one!

Quinoa is an ancient grain, that is really not a grain at all. It’s a seed in the beet/spinach family.  And although my children view me as ancient (or so they say), I never heard of nor ate quinoa until five years ago. When I first tried it, I had high hopes and expectations, but unfortunatly took an instant dislike to it.  There was a slightly soapy lingering aftertaste… not the best indicator of a “new favorite”, “can’t live without it” kind of reaction.

Eventually, I got around to working up some new ways to enjoy quinoa, and now it is a staple in my kitchen. I make a pot one way during the week, and another way for Shabbos. One of my favorite Shabbos or Yuntif vegan main entrees is quinoa and mushroom stuffed peppers, which I posted previously, and is entirely suitable for Pesach. Now I’ve created a new recipe that is amazing, and I am so grateful that quinoa is kosher for Passover, and I can share this with you in my attempt to share EVERYTHING PASSOVER. When I shop for Pesach at my local supermarket,  I buy several packages in advance of the holiday, knowing that if I don’t use it all up (which I will), I can happily use it in the following week or two.

I almost hate to boast about how healthy quinoa is, for fear of turning off as many people as I interest with this.  Incorporating quinoa has harnessed my creativity to find ways to utilize this incredible superfood.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups quinoa
  • 4 Cups water
  • 1/2 Cup onions, finely diced, or 1 bunch scallions, whites sliced, and 1/4 cup of the greens (closest to the white area) which will add some beautiful color
  • 5 Sun-dried tomatoes, either plain or soaked in olive oil, sliced in ribbons
  • 1/2 Cup cooked sliced mushrooms, your favorite variety or a combination of different types
  • Salt/pepper, to taste

Supplies

  • Cast iron pot with tight fitting lid
  • Wooden spoon
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Measuring cups
  • quinoa, cooking with vegetables
  • Instructions

Measure quinoa into strainer and rinse for several minutes under clear running water. This helps remove that soapy flavor I mentioned above. Put into pot with the measured water and bring to a boil. When the water starts boiling, stir through with a fork, reduce the heat to low/simmer, cover, and set the timer for 15 minutes. Chop the scallions or onions and throw them into the cooking quinoa in the first five minutes of simmer. Make ribbons out of the sun dried tomatoes and put them into the pot in the next five minutes of cooking.  Add the cooked mushroom slices and the ribbons of scallion greens in the last couple minutes of cooking. The quinoa is done when the liquid is absorbed, and you see white curly q’s have sprouted from the quinoa kernels. Remove from heat. Stir.  Add salt. It will achieve it’s full bloom of flavor with salt, if you can handle it, but otherwise, tweak it with black pepper.  I’m too embarrassed to say how much salt I use (too much), so I always leave it as an item to be self regulated. Fortunately, high blood pressure is not one of the issues I have, but I am sympathetic to anyone who needs to eliminate or regulate their intake of this, as I have to regulate so many other ingredients because of my particular food related issues.  Just so you know:  I am very interested in creating recipes that make food accessible for everyone’s dietary needs.

Crunchy Cabbage

This snack requires very few ingredients, takes very little time to prepare, and is best made a day in advance and kept in the refrigerator until you serve it.

 Ingredients

  • Sliced green cabbage, remember that it will wilt and shrinkcrunchy cabbage
  • Sliced carrots and orange pepper strips
  • Vinegar to cover bottom of jar or container up to an inch
  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Crystals or 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar

Supplies

  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Mason Jars

Instructions

Slice cabbage, carrots, and pepper. Add vinegar to bottom of each mason jar or container and added shredded vegetables. Sprinkle sugar on top. Close jar and shake. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.

Perfect for Passover: Mock Chopped Liver

GREAT ANYTIME; PERFECT FOR PASSOVER AS A MEAL OR SNACK;  CREAMY AND DELICIOUSmock chopped 3

When my guests arrive before the Sedar, they’ll be hungry. With dinner hours away, I have to serve something. I’m thinking of something light but filling. The following two posts are what I’ve decided are perfect for Passover. Enough to fill them up, but nothing heavy; so everyone can enjoy the meal.

The following recipe can be doubled or tripled, depending on the amount of people you want to serve. It keeps for two days in the refrigerator, and is great on gluten free matzo or stuffed inside baked potatoes. Enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium, orange pepper,chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup scant walnuts

Supplies

  • Wok or cast iron frying pan
  • Food Processor
  • Spatula

Instructions

Cut the eggplant into cubes, 2-3″. Place in colander and sprinkle with salt, to draw out the bitterness. Meanwhile, add 1 Tablespoon oil to the hot wok and add the chopped garlic, onion, and pepper. Stir, and cook til soft. Rinse the eggplant cubes and pat them dry. Add 2 more Tablespoons oil to the pan and add the eggplant, stirring frequently. Eggplant soaks up oil, so add it slowly, about 2 Tablespoons at a time, when necessary. Keep cooking the vegetable mixture, and don’t worry if it gets mushy; you’re going to put it all into the food processor later.

Place the walnuts into the bowl of your food processor with the bottom blade in place. Pulse, but don’t grind the nuts too fine. Just want the big pieces to be small. You’ll be chopping them again with the vegetables soon.

When the vegetable mixture is completely cooled, add them to the food processor and mix it all together. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with cut up vegetables.

CAPONATA

CAPONATA

Caponata 3

This sweet, spicy, mildly fiery eggplant dish is fabulous because it both delicious and versatile.  Made from fresh ingredients like eggplant, garlic, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and spices, Caponata is a crowd pleaser that can be enjoyed either hot or cold, and therefore natural for Passover gatherings. I make this dish year round; it’s a favorite at barbecues, on Shabbos, and for snacks, and I always make a lot because if I’m lucky, we’ll have leftovers. People seem to love this one. This caponata is so good; you can spread onto gluten free matzo or gluten free crackers;  enjoy with cut up veggies; it’s great warm with a salad or as an appetizer course.  Because eggplant chunks are usually bursting with flavor,  Caponata is a wonderful choice as a main course or can serve as a side dish on your holiday table.  This always goes over well in my house.  Ingredients

  • One large, or two small eggplants, (peeled, if desired) cut into two-three inch chunks and salted
  • One large onion
  • One large pepper or two small peppers
  • Four-six garlic cloves, depending on your preference for garlic
  • Olive oil to sauté vegetables, 6 Tablespoons
  • One cup Pomi strained tomatoes (or any brand of strained tomatoes or small can of tomatato paste will do)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Vinegar, 2 Tablespoons
  • Oregano, 2 Tablespoons
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, pinch
  • Brown Sugar, 2 Tablespoons
  • Olives, black or green ( optional )
  • Capers (optional)

Supplies

  • Colander
  • Cast iron pot with lid
  • Wooden spoon

Instructions Cut eggplant into chunks and peel, if desired. The eggplant will become very soft as it cooks, but some people don’t like the skins left on, so whether or not you’ll peel your eggplant is a matter of personal preference. Begin by placing the cut up eggplant chunks in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. This step helps draw out any bitterness in the seeds. Leave the eggplant and salt for at least 20 minutes, and assemble the rest of your ingredients. Peel and chop your onion and garlic. De-seed and chop your pepper. None of the vegetables have to be minced or even chopped finely. Small chunks are fine. Get the oil hot in your cast iron pot and add the garlic, onion, and pepper and sauté for five minutes.  Rinse the eggplant thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel and add to the pot. Eggplant really soaks up oil, so don’t be surprised if you think you should add oil, just do it slowly, about 1-2 Tablespoons at a time. Stir and cook eggplant along with your other vegetables until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the strained tomatoes or paste, then  1/8 cup hot water and stir that in along with the vinegar, sugar, and oregano. Stir it all together with your wooden spoon.  Keeping the lid on, simmer gently for another 20 minutes, until the eggplant is extremely tender, and all of the flavors are combined. Remove the lid and check that the chunks of eggplant are soft enough to eat, and when they are, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and stir to distribute them evenly through your pot.  If using olives and capers, they can be added in when the rest of the vegetables are fully cooked. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Enjoy and  Please write and tell me what you think!

THE HEART OF THE HOUSE

Passover Items

The Heart of the House

The countdown began weeks ago, while we were getting ready for Purim. Now, with only two weeks to go, the clock is ticking and the tension is building. I hate to sound negative, but every year at this time, I think there isn’t enough time for everything I have to do. I love Passover,  but it is such a deadline driven holiday, and one in which things must follow a specific sequence.  I have found that my yoga practice helps ease the stress, but only while I’m on the mat!

In the moments I’m not actually cleaning, I’m making endless lists.There is a method to my personal cleaning process, and ridding our house of chometz is a long and arduous task. It is the time of year I’m most inclined to feel I know what slavery is like. I long for the freedom the Seder will represent after the work is done. Not all the tasks to be done are necessarily difficult, and there are some that I enjoy:  I find polishing silver to be relaxing. However,  I dislike cleaning the oven and refrigerator. In that first wave that is now far behind me, our drawers and closets were under scrutiny. The house began to breathe easier with the clutter removed, the excess donated or discarded.Though I fall into bed exhausted each night from the work I’ve done, I go to sleep dreaming of what I’ll cook when the work is through.

Soon enough, the actual heart of our home- the kitchen- became the focus. The process that turns my kitchen inside out and upside down, will not only empty it entirely of chometz, but we will emerge cleaned and kashered. When the order has been restored and the goal is reached, the title won: Kosher for Passover, is a wonderful state to achieve! I’ll feel like I’ve left Egypt; and then, and only then, will I have the freedom to begin to cook. As a result, I am not someone who cooks and freezes weeks or even days in advance, I ignore people who talk about this, as I ignored people whose babies slept through the night since birth- I just can’t relate!

I was trained by my mother; therefore, I do not prepare one item of food until the kitchen is turned over. Though I wish it weren’t the case, this happens at most, two days before Pesach, and the fact that several large feasts will be assembled in record time is made possible only because my daughter Emily is herself an excellent cook and a phenomenal baker. Fortunately for me, she is my partner and my cheerleader in this labor intensive endeavor. The two day window gives the two of us just enough time to make all the food for both Seders, the day meals, and in some cases, for Shabbos, when they are conjoined. Somehow, it all gets done.

Shopping has to be completed before I start to cook. The shopping serves as a much needed break from the cleaning, and I divide the shopping into two distinct categories-food market and produce shopping. They are both equally important.

From now until Passover begins, I’m going to give you some of my favorites- delicious and easy recipes that are great year round, but particularly suitable for Passover. No reason to worry what you’ll eat or worry what to serve your company. Check back often for updates. You won’t get bored with these as your food choices. Being a vegan, I tend to rely on flax and chia seeds to act as egg substitutes. I have to be especially creative around Passover when I am even more restricted in what I can use. But we won’t let that stop us!

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