Sunday, January 31, 2010

Oatmeal Pecan Pancakes

Is there anything better than a Sunday morning? Right now I can't think of anything.

I'm hot and cold about breakfast. I'm usually happy with yogurt and granola but there was something about today that made me want to make Sunday breakfast like my mom does when I visit her. But I didn't want plain old breakfast pancakes (and I didn't have buttermilk on hand) so I found a great oatmeal pancake recipe using my buddy Google.

Health wise, these pancakes are amazing. Oatmeal provides heart healthy whole grains and fiber, pecans give good fats and proteins, and soymilk gives extra protein and calcium. They are incredibly fluffy and light from the egg whites, and there is no oil or butter in the recipe. Another bonus: these pancakes are gluten-free!

I tried them 2 different ways. First, with heated crunchy peanut butter and strawberries. I wanted to use the few strawberries I had been hoarding in my freezer since I picked them from the Jones backyard last summer. I heated them on the stovetop with a couple spoonsful of sugar. It tasted like a great peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

I also had to have one with the classic organic pure maple syrup. The maple syrup came from Lutsen, MN and was amazing! I made the whole batch (got 8 large pancakes) and am looking forward to the leftovers.

Oatmeal Pecan Pancakes
1 cup milk or water (I used vanilla soymilk)
3/4 cup oats
3/4 cup oat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg whites
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Heat milk until very hot, stir in oats and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat egg whites with hand mixer until stiff peaks form.

Mix remaining ingredients with milk and oats and fold in egg whites. Add pecans.

On non-stick skillet or griddle, spray cooking spray or add a tiny bit of butter. Scoop one big ladle of pancake batter and cook over medium-high heat until bubbles form. Flip and cook a few minutes more until golden on the other side.

ONE YEAR AGO: Salmon Cakes

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Caracas-Inspired Grilled Polenta

Oh, how the magical Le Creuset has inspired me! I can't get myself out of the kitchen this week. It could also be due to the absolutely frigid temperatures, but I'm giving the credit to Ma Cherie. Oh yeah, I named it!

I brought Mushroom Bourguignon leftovers to work for lunch with a nice slice of crusty bread and that was great (way better than egg noodles!). And then I saw Cafe Cyan's post about polenta and mushrooms and was so excited to have a new way to enjoy my mushroom leftovers. What a great idea.

I'd never cooked with polenta before! If you're also ignorant, polenta is simply cornmeal boiled with water. You can make it so it's mushy like grits, or you can let it set up in a pan and cut it (almost like jell-o which sounds gross but there's no gelatin in polenta).

I bought a tube of polenta at the grocery store. It's pre-cooked so you can eat it right from the tube. But I think it's better to grill it on a grill pan (or pan fry) to add a nice crispy texture. It goes great with Mushroom Bourguignon.

What I couldn't get out of my head after tasting the grilled polenta was the amazing arepa I had at Caracas Arepa Bar in the East Village, NYC last October. Arepas are a cornmeal based muffin stuffed with a variety of latin ingredients. Mine had roasted red peppers, jalapenos, white cheese, black beans, and plantains.

With my remaining grilled polenta rounds, I tried to recreate the flavors of that arepa with stuff I had lying around my kitchen.

I started with 1/2 yellow onion, 3 carrots, and a poblano pepper, all diced. Then added a can of black beans. I spiced this up with cumin, salt, and pepper.

I scooped this goodness over the grilled polenta, topped with diced fresh mozzarella cheese and homemade roasted tomato salsa.

It was fabulous and actually did taste a lot like my Caracas Arepa! I'm starting to think there are very few restaurant dishes I can't recreate in my own home. Plus when I make them they are cheaper, smaller portions, and much healthier!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mushroom Bourguignon

I bought something today.

It's something very exciting.

I have wanted, no COVETED, this thing for years. It's been taunting me from the Kitchen Window in Calhoun Square. And now that they've renovated and expanded the store, they've put this thing right in the window facing Hennepin Avenue so it mocks me as I drive or walk by. Thanks in part to generous gift cards from Nick and Kim for my bday and xmas, today was the day I was able to take this BEAUTIFUL thing home with me.

It's a Le Creuset, cherry red, 7.25 quart, round casserole/oven. I don't have kids, but I imagine this is what it feels like to want to show off a new baby. I hope that when I do have kids I will like them as much as I like this piece of kitchenware. Isn't it gorgeous?

Want to see inside? Me too.

The saleslady told me this was a belonging that would be loved so much that it will be an important item in my will that my loved ones will fight over.

This fine piece of French cookware deserved to be inaugurated with a proper French meal and Cassandra has been after me to try a vegetarian Boeuf Bourguignon ever since she saw Julie & Julia. Hey Cass, now I've tested it and I'm ready to cook it for you in your new kitchen next time I come to NYC!

I found the recipe (once again - no surprise!) on my favorite website, the Smitten Kitchen. I followed the instructions exactly so I won't post them here. A tiny exception - I didn't have sour cream for the finishing touch but I did have creme fraiche instead - which was even better.

The final dish tasted amazing - I'm convinced that's due to the pot it was cooked in! My meals are going to be SO MUCH better from now on!!! Only difference I will make when eating the leftovers - nix the egg noodles and just serve the yummy mushrooms and reduced wine-y tomato-y sauce over a hunk of ridiculous Rustica bakery bread.


ONE YEAR AGO: Split Pea Soup

Monday, January 18, 2010

Crunchy Fennel Tangelo Salad

I love working for the government! Bonus holidays are the best. My great friend Marney and I have had a tradition for the past few years to go out for breakfast on government holidays and then take a nice walk around one the fabulous Minneapolis lakes. It's a wholly appropriate way to honor Dr. King, I believe.

After a greasy diner breakfast though, I needed a very light and healthy late lunch. I had a half fennel bulb in the fridge leftover from another batch of Winter White Salad*, and some wonderfully ripe and sweet tangelos from the co-op. Clementines, oranges, or even grapefruit would probably be good substitutions though if that's your thing.

*if you haven't tried the White Salad yet, what are you waiting for?? I promise you won't regret it.

Fennel has a very crunchy texture and a very mild licorice flavor. When you pair it with something sweet (like apples in the White Salad, or tangelos here), the delicate flavors marry together perfectly. I just sort of dumped the rest of the ingredients together and was so happy with the way it turned out. I'm definitely making this again someday. It looks really elegant so I think it would be a lovely salad for entertaining.

Crunchy Fennel Tangelo Salad (makes 1 serving)
1/2 bulb fennel, sliced very thin
1 ripe tangelo, all the skin and white pith removed and segmented (save the juice)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
handful toasted hazelnuts
handful dried cranberries (or pomegranate seeds!)
something green (chopped flat leaf parsley or chopped fennel fronds, I didn't have either of these on hand but it would have been really pretty)

Zest your citrus into a bowl. Then remove all the skin and cut the fruit into segments. Squeeze the carcass of the fruit so the juice is all added to the bowl with the zest and segments. Add the rest of the ingredients and toss.

This salad is a great accompaniment to fish or seafood entrees. Or a perfect light lunch all by itself on MLK Day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Orange Glazed Tempeh Cutlets

Do you have one of those favorite entrees from a restaurant that you love so much that you can't bring yourself to even consider trying anything else from the menu? I do. It's the tempeh cutlet from the French Meadow in Uptown. They put some kind of yummy crust on the tempeh and I don't know if it's deep fried or what...but it's seriously delicious. It comes with a sweet and tangy orange sauce on top with braised greens and beans and rice on the side.

Well, after I tried (successfully, I might add) to re-create the French Meadow's BBQ Wrap, I decided I might as well try to copy the tempeh cutlet as well. My approach was ridiculously easy, and the results were very tasty. I thought beans were overkill on the protein side so I did quinoa instead. And, of course my ever-present sauteed lacinato (or Tuscan, or dinosaur) kale makes another appearance on Green and Lean - I can't help it, I love the stuff so much!

This dish was fabulous! It was not, however, quite up to the French Meadow standard. I am OK with that. There are just a few things that are best when left to the experts and next time I want the real deal, I'll haul my cookies over to Lyndale for the good stuff. In the meantime, this is a super simple, quick, and mega healthy substitute.

Orange Glazed Tempeh Cutlets with Kale and Quinoa
1 package tempeh
1 cup orange juice (I had ripe tangelos and juiced a couple of them)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper to taste

Cut the tempeh into smaller pieces (I did triangles). Heat some olive oil in a non-stick skillet and add tempeh to pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until tempeh is browned on bottom. Add a bit more oil to the dry side of the tempeh and turn each piece over to cook the other side.

Meanwhile, juice your oranges (or tangelos or clementines) and whisk together with the balsamic vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper. Add this mixture to your tempeh pan. Cook for 2 minutes or so and flip your tempeh again so it's all coated in the orange glaze. The glaze should thicken a bit.

Serve on top of sauteed kale and quinoa (or rice). Pour the rest of your orange glaze over your tempeh and top the whole plate with some orange zest.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes

Sometimes I'm inspired to make new recipes from watching the Food Network, other times it's from reading my favorite blogs, and occasionally I'll just find a new or unusual ingredient that I simply have to try. Combine all three of those reasons and you get this fantastic winter dish I made tonight.

While at Bill's last week picking up some necessities (ha ha) like wasabi peas, nuts, dried mango and papaya, feta, and kalamata olives, I came across a bag of dried Chilean mushrooms. I've never used dried mushrooms before - sounded challenging!

Then I saw an episode of 30-minute meals where Rachael made a broken spaghetti risotto with dried mushrooms, reconstituting the mushrooms in water to create a mushroom stock.

Finally, my favorite food blog the Smitten Kitchen posted this week about a risotto substituting barley for the rice or pasta. And I just so happened to have about 1 cup of barley left (I like to keep it on hand to add to vegetable soups).

It seemed that the universe was telling me to make this dish! I started by heating up 6 cups of water and adding 1/2 of the bag of dried mushrooms in a medium pot. Dried mushrooms can have a lot of grit on them so it's a good idea to use a strainer before ladling up the liquid into your risotto (a Rachael Ray tip that was very useful!).

Risotto making is a method that is quite a process. It usually involves toasting your rice or barley or pasta in some oil and/or butter then stirring in one ladle-full of liquid at a time while stirring constantly to create a creamy texture to the dish.

I started with some oil and butter, 1/2 a yellow onion, red wine, thyme, and the barley. Then add your mushroom stock one spoonful at a time. To find out if the risotto is ready for more liquid, I scrape my wooden spoon across the bottom of the skillet...if you can see the dry bottom of the skillet for more than 1 or 2 seconds then you can add more liquid. If not, keep stirring until more liquid absorbs into the barley.

After 30 minutes or so, you should have nice soft barley and a flavorful creamy sauce with it. You can mix in anything you like at this point. I fished out the reconstituted mushrooms, chopped them, and added them to the risotto. Then I also added chopped kale and some diced sweet potato that I had roasted a day ago.

This risotto was fricking incredible. Clearly, I loved it!

Mostly because I was proud of my made-up recipe and also because it was so delicious. The mushrooms give it such a depth of flavor - a really meaty/beefy taste. And the sweet potatoes give that sweetness and lightness to balance it out. And, mushrooms are a perfect marriage with red wine. So there is red wine in the risotto and I had a big glass on the side - it tasted fabulous together. Finally, I love the barley! More texture than rice and better tasting than pasta. And the recipe made enough to feed an army. It will make a tasty and hearty lunch at work this week.

Barley Risotto with Mushrooms, Kale, and Sweet Potatoes
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup pearled barley (or rice, or broken spaghetti)
1 tsp fresh thyme (1/2 tsp dried)
1 cup dried mushrooms
6 cups water
1 cup red wine
1 bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled, diced, and roasted

Heat the water in a medium pot and add the dried mushrooms. Have strainer and ladle handy.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large skillet and add the onion, some salt and pepper, and thyme. Cook 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the barley and cook another 2-3 minutes or until liquid has evaporated and you can smell the barley toasting. Add the wine and stir until liquid is absorbed.

Add one ladle of the mushroom stock to the barley and stir until liquid has absorbed. Repeat this step until most of the liquid is used up and the barley has softened (may take up to 30-40 minutes). Fish mushrooms out of the remaining stock with the strainer. Chop and add to barley. Add kale and sweet potatoes to barley. Stir some more. Add one big handful of grated parmesan cheese and stir again.

Serve with more freshly grated parmesan on top and a big glass of red wine.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wasabi Pea Encrusted Tuna Steaks

I don't have a whole lot to say about this except that I think it was the best salad I've ever made. And I have made a LOT of salads, many of them showcased right here on this blog. This one is so pretty and fancy that you'd have to pay close to $20 to get this in a restaurant. The sad thing is, most restaurants just don't make salads up to my standards (exception: Nicoise at Barbette), so I'm stuck inventing new ones at home! Not that much of a hardship, though!

If you are one of those people freaked out by raw tuna, that's OK. I won't judge you for your food dislikes (I have my own!). The great part is that this wasabi pea crust would probably work just as well on chicken cutlets or even tofu. Have you tried wasabi peas? They're dried green peas with a coating of spicy Japanese horseradish (wasabi). They are available in big inexpensive bags at Bill's Imported Foods in Uptown Minneapolis.

So, all you do is coat some sushi-grade tuna steaks in the ground peas and pan fry them for about 2-3 minutes on each side in a non-stick skillet with a tiny bit of olive oil. The crust gets perfectly crunchy and the inside of the tuna was still perfectly pink and rare, just the way I like it! I thought the wasabi peas would make the tuna spicy, but after cooking the heat was totally mellowed out.

I sliced up the tuna steaks and layered them on top of greens, avocado, edamame beans, red peppers, and carrots. Lots of beautiful colors!

The dressing was perfect. Not too spicy, tangy, or sweet, it had the right balance of asian flavors to complement the tuna without overpowering it. I have a bunch of this dressing left over that I'm excited to use with some cabbage to make a little asian coleslaw. I also think this dressing would be an awesome marinade for chicken before grilling.

Wasabi Pea Encrusted Tuna Steaks with Asian Vinaigrette
1 cup wasabi peas
Sushi grade tuna steaks, about 1 inch thick
olive oil
mixed salad greens
avocado, diced
red pepper, diced
carrots, shredded or diced
edamame beans, shelled and defrosted

Blitz wasabi peas in food processor until they form a nice sandy texture. Pour mixture on to a plate and coat tuna steaks in it. Drizzle steaks with a little olive oil and sear in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes on each side, or until it reaches your desired doneness.

Slice tuna steaks and layer on top of greens and veggies. Top with vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste.

Asian Vinaigrette
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk all ingredients in bowl or shake in mason jar.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baked Meatballs and Oven Woes

Oh hi, I couldn't stay away for long! I guess I like this little ol' blog!

Hope you all had a great New Year's Eve! I attended a fabulous fondue party. For my cheese fondue dip-ables, I brought roasted broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, whole button mushrooms, and fresh zucchini and cherry tomatoes.

Also, I brought teeny little turkey/stuffing meatballs - my mom's foolproof appetizer. It is a crowd pleaser and it's almost like a meal with carbs and protein all in one! And truly, not horribly bad for you - lean ground turkey, stuffing, and aromatic veggies baked together with heart healthy extra virgin olive oil. Kept warm in a crock pot...hard to go wrong! Honestly, I thought they ended up a tiny bit on the dry side, but still a nice accompaniment to a cold beer.

However, while I was making my roasted veggies and meatballs the night before New Year's Eve, tragedy struck. My beautiful, gorgeous, vintage oven - the sole reason I bought my tiny house in South Minneapolis - broke. The door made a horrible noise as I was opening it and it no longer would stay closed. I had to wedge a towel in the top to keep the door from flopping open. Clearly, the spring or some mechanism inside the 50-60 year old oven had broken. It's an Ultramatic Caloric for those of you who are interested.

I was SICK over this. I was literally willing to pay any amount of cash to repair my beloved oven. They really don't make them like this anymore! And, what is a young-ish single woman to do when in need of a repair person? It's overwhelming! So, this is the reason I'm going to do a little commercial right now...maybe one or more of you guys will someday need an appliance repair and this will help!

I made an appointment with some random local person I found via google and was not encouraged by our phone conversations. I was a little nervous and didn't trust him at all with my awesome oven. He showed up today for my appointment and started taking pieces off the front of the oven and I thought he was going to break it more. A few minutes later he asked for a vacuum cleaner. I got it for him and he kept working away. Less than 30 minutes later, he was DONE - oven cleaned and fixed. He even cleaned my vacuum cleaner. Total cost for parts and labor?????? $69.95!! No lie. I was amazed and elated.

Nobody else would even come to give me an estimate without charging me a $70 service fee.

So, bottom line...any readers out there who need ANY appliance repair in the Twin Cities (furnace, washer, dryer, dishwasher, oven, refrigerator, etc) please call this guy. He's CHEAP and TRUSTWORTHY!

Ed's Appliance Repair
(Eddie Nagle, Owner)

Commercial over.

Baked Turkey/Stuffing Meatballs
1 package ground turkey
1/2 yellow onion, super finely diced
2 ribs celery, super finely diced
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup (?) seasoned stuffing/dressing mix
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion and celery in some olive oil until softened. Add to a bowl with turkey, parsley, salt/pepper, and egg. Add dry stuffing mix 1/2 cup at a time and mix with clean hands until you get a good consistency (I didn't measure so I'm not sure how much stuffing mix I used). Let mixture sit for 5 minutes so croutons soften in turkey mixture.

Form into tiny meatballs, brush with olive oil, and bake for 10-12 minutes in a 375 degree oven, or until nicely browned. I lined my baking sheet with parchment first so they wouldn't stick.

Add to crock pot to keep warm. Some people like to add gravy or cream of something soup at this point but I find it unnecessary. I would maybe consider adding a tiny bit of vegetable or chicken broth to keep the meatballs from drying out in the covered crock pot.