Archive for March, 2009

Yakisoba

I am anxiously awaiting the opening of our Farmers’ Market in just a few short days.  In honor of the vast amount of Asian greens we got last year at the beginning of the season, I offer this recipe as an easy, quick, and delicious way to use them up!  Bok choy is used here, but cabbage and/or any leafy green would work just fine, as would broccoli.  Feel free to add more than the recipe calls for too if your veggie drawer is overstuffed, or to use noodles, rice, or quinoa.  Or any other grain you want.  And, it’s a bit of a misnomer in this case, as soba noodles have gluten in them, but any long rice noodle (I highly recommend Tinkyada brand, it does make a difference) will be great.   

  • 1 package noodles (We also love this with mochi rice flakes, which are a bit hard to come by, but a nice change)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, cut in half moons or chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1  carrot, cut in matchsticks
  • 5 shitakes, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups water, or a little more
  • ½ cup tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • ½ pound tofu (omit or replace if you aren’t into tofu)
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cups chopped bok choy
  • Scallions for garnish (2-3, sliced)

Cook noodles; I like to boil them for 2 minutes, then cover and turn off the heat for 20 minutes, or whatever the appropriate time is for your noodles.  In the meantime, sauté onion and garlic.  Add carrot and mushrooms and sauté a few minutes longer, then add the bok choy or greens.  Cover and cook for about 5 more minutes.  Add water, tamari, sesame oil, tofu, and ginger and bring heat up to a boil.  Turn heat down and simmer about 10 minutes, or until ready to serve.  Serve over noodles and garnish with chopped scallions. 

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French Lentil Pâté

Ah, it’s here…Spring.  A time of rejuvenation and rebirth, and a time to transition our bodies and our minds from Winter to Summer.  Food is, of course, one of the primary markers of this transition.  For me, Winter is all about soups and other warm, nurturing meals.  As the days get longer and the weather gets warmer, I anxiously await fresh veggies and fruits from my local farms and soon-to-be garden, rather than my trusy local grocery store.  And, of course, meals get lighter and often more portable for things like potlucks, picnics and last minute trips to the park with friends. 

I’m no fool, though.  Despite the fact that it was too warm for long pants on our 9am hike this morning, I know that Winter weather will make a comeback or two or three (it’ll be back tomorrow, in fact).  This recipe is, to me, a nice combination of Winter and Summer.  It offers the warmth of ginger and hearty French lentils, along with the portability of a Summer picnic lunch.  Ginger and shiitakes are great for immunity too, and parsley is cleansing.  Plus, here in Colorado, we seem to have local shiitake mushrooms available for most of the year.   

  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped shallot (or scallion)
  • 3 large shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon mirin
  • 1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 cups French lentils
  • 2 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • optional – a splash of fresh lemon juice for seasoning

Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, then saute the shallot and shiitakes until the shallot is slightly browned.  Deglaze the pan with mirin, then turn off the heat and stir in the toasted sesame oil.  Put the cooked vegetables and remaining ingredients and a food processor and process until well combined and desired consistency is reached.  Enjoy as a sandwich spread, a dip for crackers and crudites, or as a light meal served on top of a mixed green salad.   

P.S. this dip freezes well and it’s always nice to have some on the ready for last minute lunches and outings.

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Roasted Leeks

Busy weeks seem to be the norm these days for me and just about everyone I know.  So, of course we all need to find ways to eat well and to find the space to stop and enjoy our food, both the preparation and the eating.  Simplicity is, of course, the key.  And, yay for us, because simple food is good! 

This is so easy that I can barely call it a recipe, but I can see it adding an extra dimension to so many dishes.  And that’s what we need – foods that give us the biggest payback for the smallest effort.  And, sometimes having even a delicious garnish or condiment as a starting point is enough to open up a whole new world of ideas.   

We went to a potluck at my son’s school last night and I had to throw something together at the last minute with what I had in the house.  I just made a really simple dish, not unlike the lentil dish I posted several weeks ago, but I wanted to add a bit of variety, so I decided to roast some leeks and stir them into the dish at the end.  I already had the oven on anyway, because I was baking something else for a friend.  When I tasted a little handful hot off the tray, I suddenly had inspiration for so many dishes that would benefit from the addition of these deliciously mild, crunchy and tasty leeks.  Check out some of my ideas, but I’m sure you’ll come up with some great ones on your own, as well! 

Roasted Leeks

  • leeks
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees or, better yet, just throw these in when you are baking or roasting something else.  Trim the leeks at stem end and where the green part begins.  Cut in half lengthwise and rinse each layer to remove the large amount of dirt that is usually sandwiched between the first several layers.  Slice the leeks crosswise.  Put them on a tray and drizzle with olive oil; you want them to be coated, but not swimming in the oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they are browned, but not burned.   

I stirred them into some French lentils that had been cooked with garlic, kale, and parsley then drizzed some lemon juice over the whole thing.  I can also see them being delicious when used in any of the following ways:

  • topping a roasted vegetable salad, or, really, any salad
  • topping sauteed green beans with sliced almonds
  • stirred into any pasta or grain dish
  • on pizza; you could roast them right on top of the pizza while it bakes
  • stirred into any bean dish or bean salad, especially great for those who don’t like the crunch or the bite of onions in beans
  • with roasted chickpeas; stir them in when the chickpeas are just starting to brown
  • In an omelette or fritatta
  • In bean or veggie burgers

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Carrot Cake

You really can’t go wrong with coconut oil, as far as I’m concerned.  Here is just another example of a recipe in which the use of coconut oil adds an extra layer of richness and deliciousness.  You will want to use unrefined coconut here for the full coconut flavor, as opposed to refined coconut oil, which has less coconut taste and can handle higher temperatures, such as for greasing pans or sautéing….This carrot cake is good on its own, but if you are looking for a little more decadence, you can certainly frost it.  Of course, you can use the standard cream cheese frosting, but you could also try a nut cream made from soaked cashews and dates, blended until smooth with some coconut butter and agave, adding water for consistency as necessary…

This recipe is easily doubled.  As is, it will make a good-sized 9×9 pan of carrot cake.  You can also bake it in 2-3 loaf pans, depending on size, or it will make 18 cupcakes.

It’s one of my sweeter recipes; though quite likely less sweet than the average carrot cake from Safeway.  It will be fine to add or subtract 1/4 cup of agave, depending on your preference.  Just adjust consistency with water, or don’t, as necessary.   

  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup agave
  • ½ cup unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 cup sweet rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon (or ginger)
  • ½ cup applesauce (you could use pineapple instead…)
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded carrots (can replace some with raisins)
  • 3/4 cup dried shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease your baking pan.  In a large bowl, cream eggs, agave, and melted coconut oil.  Add vanilla and vinegar and stir to combine.  Stir dry ingredients together and sift into wet; mix until combined.  Fold in applesauce (or pineapple), carrots, coconut, and pecans, if using. Add water as necessary for proper consistency.  The batter is fairly thick, but should be pourable; give the pan a shake and, if the batter doesn’t flatten out, you need a bit more water.  Pour into baking pans and bake at 350 for 15 minutes*, then turn heat down to 325 degrees and bake an additional 15-25 minutes, or until center is springy and/or toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting or slicing.  

* You want the heat a little higher to help the cake rise and “set”, then the heat goes a little lower so it doesn’t overbrown before it’s done.  Agave browns more quickly than other sweeteners…

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Socca

I have given this recipe to several people, but I am not sure that I’ve ever heard anyone say they actually made it.  It’s worth offering again, though, because it is simple, quick, versatile, and I think it’s really tasty.  Some version of this crispy flatbread is available as a street food in many different countries, so you can imagine that you could spice it up in any way that you like.  Beyond that, you can make it into a pizza, eat it along with soup or salad, or fill it with chopped greens and enjoy it as a snack.   It’s good for a quick breakfast too!  

One of my favorite ways to eat socca right now is alongside a hearty salad of lettuce, roasted beets, diced roasted winter squash or sweet potatoes, steam-sauteed broccoli, and tahini-balsalmic dressing.  It’s especially good with tamari-pumpkin seeds and a few roasted chickpeas thrown on top…

Note:  I like to make the socca batter the night before and allow it to sit overnight.  I think this makes it a little more digestible.  In general, it’s good to let it sit for at least 30 minutes if you have the time to let the flavors come together.  However, if you think of it and want it right away, that’s ok too.  FYI – if you make it and let it sit overnight, but still aren’t ready to use it, just keep it tightly covered in the fridge.  It will last at least 3 days.  You will probably need to thin it out a bit with some warmed water when you are ready to use it.  

The size of skillet you use will depend on what you have and also how thin you like it.  I like it thin and crispy and my husband likes it a little thicker and soft on the inside.  I have used a 14-inch cast iron pizza pan, but I actually prefer to use my smaller cast iron skillets – I have a small, medium, and large sized 5-inch, 7-inch, and 10-inch.  This way, we can all have it how we like it best.  I often have a little batter leftover, which I happily use in the next day or two.         

Socca

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)
  • 1 cup water (or more if needed)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus more for oiling the pans
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Optional Embellishments:

  • chopped spinach, or other leafy greens
  • herbs
  • reconstituted sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • chopped olives
  • grated or shredded cheese
  • pizza toppings, added after the socca is partially cooked

Sift the flour into a medium-sized bowl, or whisk any lumps out while it’s in the bowl.  Add the water and whisk until smooth.  Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste.  The batter should be about the consistency of a crepe batter; thin, but not watery.  Add more water, a little at a time, if necessary.  Fold in any optional ingredients.  Pour olive oil into skillet (see discussion above recipe regarding skillet sizes).  Be generous with the oil, it should easily cover the bottom of the skillet with some to spare.   Pour batter into the skillet and let it spread to fill the bottom of the pan, adding more if necessary.  Bake at 450 degrees until the socca is lightly browned around the edges and will slide easily when you give the skillet a shake.  Flip it, sprinkle some salt and/or pepper on, and brown the other side.  Depending on the size of the pan and how crispy you like it, it takes 5-10 minutes on each side.  Flipping is optional, you can also leave it as is on the top.  Or, if you are making pizzas, flip it, add the pizza toppings and continue to cook until toppings are done.

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Spring Cleaning Vegetable Soup

This post is inspired by a couple things…first, I just went through my kitchen and pantry got rid of what I don’t need and reorganized everything.  The kitchen was not the first of my household simplification tasks, nor will it be the last.  It seems to me that even after my Spring cleaning, we still have an abundance of “stuff” and anything that isn’t used regularly and appreciated should go to someone who will make use of it.  The second inspiration is a cooking class I taught last weekend that was basically about simplifying cooking so that it’s manageable for even the busiest among us.  The point of the class is that a little organization and prep work can make cooking much more accessible and much more fun, especially on weeknights when everyone wants food the second they walk in the door and the consequence of not having it isn’t pretty.  Plus, simple, clean food tastes, and feels, really, really good. 

One thing I encourage everyone to do is to use up every last bit of fresh food before heading back to the store.  There are a few ways I like to do this and one of them is to make a hearty, healthy vegetable soup.  Throughout the week, I save clean, mild vegetable trimmings (the unused ends of onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, etc.) in a bag in the freezer.  When I have a full bag, I throw it all in a big ovenproof pot with some olive oil, sea salt, and maybe some spices and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 to 45 minutes.  then I add water to cover and simmer for another 30 minutes to several hours (or, just throw it in the crockpot on low for the day).  I strain out the liquid, being sure to squeeze the excess out of the cooked veggies, and, voila, I have the broth for my soup.   If you don’t have homemade broth available, bouillon cubes will be just fine. 

This is just a base recipe; take everything fresh and perishable out of the fridge and see what you can do.  It turns out different each time, so you never get sick of it!  At least I don’t…

  • 2-3 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion, or whatever oniony combo you want (shallots, scallions, leeks)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 cup frozen green beans
  • 1/2 green cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup or more chopped leafy greens
  • 2-3 cups diced, roasted tomatoes, optional
  • 1-2 teaspoons herbs, optional (could go Italian, Mexican, Indian, whatever you like, or keep it simple and leave them out)
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth (or to desired consistency)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • optional – Parmesan, leftover cooked grains, leftover cooked beans, pasta, stale bread cubes to thicken, potatoes, etc, etc.

Saute the onion in oil until soft.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add celery, carrots, green beans, cabbage, and leafy greens and stir to coat in oil.  Cover and cook until they begin to soften.  Add herbs, if using, and cook a few minutes more.  Add water, bring to a boil and either transfer to a crockpot to finish cooking, or simmer until all of the veggies are as soft as you like them.  Add cooked grains or beans, if using, and cook until heated through.  Season to taste and enjoy! 

If you have leftovers that won’t get eaten in a day or two, freeze in individual portions so you’ll have it for a busy week down the road.

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Sprouted Lemon Poppyseed Bread

I’ve been having lots of fun experimenting with sprouting.  I had a few requests last Summer at the Farmers’ Market for sprouted/soaked products.  Since I like to accommodate each and every one of the food preferences that come my way, I wanted to oblige.  In my experiments this Winter, I have been pretty excited to find out that I can convert several of my recipes to soaked, whole grain, rather than flour-based, recipes.  Since I also promised a recipe for that lemon zest you put aside after making the miso-mustard sauce recipe, here you go…and, by the way, if you would like to see a video version, you can watch it here: http://www.minimalistmenu.com/node/51

Before I start the recipe, though, don’t be overwhelmed by the prospect of sprouting quinoa, please.  I am a total sprouting novice and it’s super simple.  Directions are included in the recipe.  Seriously, it’s really simple.  You do have to plan a day in advance if you don’t already have sprouted quinoa, but once you realize how easy it is, you’ll just have it ready all the time:)

You can adjust the amount or type of sweetener to your taste.  You can also fold in berries or other fruit.  I’m sure you could go up, as well, but I have never tried…

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup water, or more as necessary
  • 1 Tablespoon flax seeds or chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 teaspoons grated lemon rind (don’t leave this out – it’s not optional!!  Turn it into a different flavor if you don’t have lemon rind!!!)
  • 1/3 cup sweetener, coconut nectar, maple syrup, honey, agave, etc. (add 2 additional Tablespoons for a slightly sweeter bread)
  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup applesauce

Rinse the quinoa in a strainer until the water no longer looks soapy (that’s the saponin; you want to remove that anytime you make quinoa), then put in a small bowl and cover with filtered water for 2-4 hours.  Pour back into the strainer, rinse, and leave (over a bowl to catch the dripping water) for 12 hours.   Depending on the room temperature, it may be sprouted already!  If it hasn’t sprouted yet, or you like the sprouts longer, rinse with filtered water, drain, and leave for another 12 hours.  When the sprouts have grown to the desired length, rinse again and either use right away or leave to dry out, then store in a covered jar in the fridge.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Grease two loaf pans.  I prefer stainless for this; if you are using glass, you’ll need to turn the temp down to 350 degrees midway through baking.  Place the sprouted quinoa, water, flaxseeds, oil, and sweetener in a blender and process on high until smooth.  Add remaining ingredients, except poppy seeds and applesauce, and mix on low until thoroughly incorporated.  Fold in poppy seeds and applesauce.  Pour into loaf pans.  Optionally, you can cover them with foil and this will create more of a soft, steamed bread.  My kids don’t notice the difference, but I do.   Note: the bread won’t reach the foil and you can reuse it many times.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until center is firm and springy and the edges are browned and pulling away from the sides of the pan.  Enjoy!!

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