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April is Time for…Mustard Greens!!!

4 Apr

Mustard GreensMustard greens are one my favorite seasonal greens; too bad I only find them in April, if lucky May. I just had my first encounter with them last Saturday at the Alemany Farmer’s Market. They’re like lovers who only come around in Spring time… and are always welcomed. And at $1 a bunch, they are one hell of a cheap date. And since each bunch is enough for roughly four portions, that means a quarter each time I enjoy these babies in a meal! Excellent. They are great either cooked or raw; either way you want to shred and slice them up. For salads, you can just mix them with other greens – goes great with arugula or red leafed lettuce – and use a lime based vinaigrette or something Asian oriented like roasted sesame oil and soy sauce. These choices of dressing will counterbalance the greens’ pungent flavor very nicely. As far as cooking goes, the simplest way is also my favorite: using sesame or peanut oil and one chopped garlic clove for each cup of cut up greens, sautee the garlic and fry the greens very quickly. If you want to get more complex, just add leeks, shallots and even mushrooms to the sautteing move beforehand. Add a dash of soy sauce and enjoy!

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Pistachio Pomegranate Crunch

15 Nov

This beautiful and powerful combination says hello Autumn like no other. It’s the perfect snack/dessert for the transition into the colder weather. Do you get that sweets craving in the mid afternoon? Me too. This is a very low calorie, protein rich antioxidant packed solution for that uncomfortable hunger that tends to turn on the sign for candy bar at the first moment you have it. But then, you come back to our senses and try to do something nicer to yourself. Like this crunchy snack.

Ayurvedic medicine considers pistachios an excellent tonic for the whole body.  I prefer using unsalted pistachios for this. And according still to the same ancient healing science from India, the pomegranate’s bitter and astringent flavors are beneficial for a congested liver – and a heart tonic and blood purifier on top of that. If you are too lazy to get the seeds out of the pomegranate, think of it as a Zen opportunity to practice patience and persistence.

I find that this crunch combo works wonders in a cheese plate, specially sided with a triple cream Brie or a petit Basque. Throw in some goat cheese and those little juicy rubies will really shine. But then forget about all that low calorie pep talk above. But hey, what’s life without some yummy cheese every once in a while? Just make sure the crunch over a cheese plate is reserved for special occasions.

Persimmon Papaya Salad

5 Nov

The hachiya persimmon is pretty much my favorite fruit of all – and coming from a fruit lover like I am, that means a lot. But that’s not a fruit for amateurs: you have to know when it’s ripe – about exactly when it looks like it’s almost going bad. Then it’s all juice and creamy and so messy it’s almost hard to eat. I usually cut it in quarters and scoop the meat out with a spoon. It’s sweet, flavorful and has got that life giving power in it, oozes with prana. And then there’s papaya – I grew up eating it in Brazil, it’s good for you, I like it but it’s kind of bland. So I came up with this fruit salad which has a nice ton sur ton visual to it and it’s simple yet full of surprises.

2 ripe hachiya ripe persimmons, cut in slices

2 cups cubed ripe papaya

Just mix the fruit and serve it in bowls.

But if you want to kick it up a notch, let’s say, in a dinner party, try sprinkling some cinnamon on it. Or the grainy contents of a vanilla bean (sooo good!). And to enrich it, you could serve it a la mode, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Or if you want to go richer but vegan, try doing it a la mode tropicale, with dairy free coconut ice cream. My favorite brand is Coconut Bliss, in particular their Naked Coconut flavor.

Goat Cheese and Pomegranate

21 Oct

Don’t you love fall? The crispness in the air, the magical light in sunsets and sunrises, Halloween and…plump pomegranates! I’ve been experimenting with pomegranate seeds and goat cheese, and came up with this beautiful appetizer. The best combination so far was with Capricho de Cabra (a fresh goat cheese from Spain, similar to the French chevre). The version in the photo was set over roasted sweet potato chips and sprinkled with mustard seeds. Pretty yummy and nutritious, but I must say I enjoyed more when I did it the first time, over gluten free crackers and sprinkled with poppy seeds. And please, make sure you save the pomegranate rind and dry it for later – it makes wonderful tea, rich with antioxidant properties and also known as a home remedy for nausea and coughing.

Coconut Turmeric Rice with Goji Berries and Cilantro

18 Oct

Came up with this last night trying to cook something to bring to Feast of Words.

2 tablespooon coconut oil

1 onion grated

1 chopped garlic clove

turmeric

cinnamon

paprika

cayenne

salt

1 cup washed jasmine rice (but next time I’m trying it with basmati, got too clumpy)

1 cup goji berries

chopped cilantro

Saute the onions and garlic in the oil, when they are golden add the spices and cook the spices until they make a paste. Add the rice and stir it until rice is all covered with yellow paste. Add water to cook rice and when rice is almost cooked add berries and stir. Add chopped cilantro to the mix only when is about to be served. Note to self: next time I might add coconut flakes.

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