Monday, November 28, 2016

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Bisque with Gingered Apple "Croutons"

After slaving over my Thanksgiving meal for hours, making an unbelievable amount of turkey, meat, and side dishes, the dish I got the most compliments on was this soup! Go figure! I mean, it was definitely delicious but the fact that it outshone my fresh cranberry braised Osso bucco was quite a feat!
A bisque is really just a thick, creamy soup that is traditionally seafood based but in this case is made with butternut squash, apples, and onions that are roasted to bring out their sweetness and develop their flavor and then combined with lots of fresh ginger, stock, and warm spices and finished off with coconut cream to make the soup especially creamy, velvety, and delicious. For textural contrast and to highlight the apple in the soup while also keeping this soup gluten free and Paleo (our eating style of choice currently) I sauteed apples till they broke down slightly but still retained some crunch in coconut oil and added some ground ginger and cinnamon. You don't have to make the croutons but they were a delicious addition. This soup is perfect for the crisp fall weather we are experiencing. Enjoy!

For the soup:
1 large onion
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled and cut into chunks
2 butternut squash, about 6 pounds in total pre-cutting, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
4 Tablespoons olive oil
14 cups chicken stock (you can use veggie stock or water with bouillon but plain water will yield a flat tasting soup so I highly recommend using stock)
1- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (depending on how heavy of a ginger taste you want- I did 2 inches)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chunked
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tablespoon curry powder
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 cup coconut cream
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the onion, apples and butternut squash on a flat baking sheet, drizzle with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the squash is just fork tender and the onion and apple have started to brown.

Place all the roasted squash, onion and apple into a pot and add the stock, ginger, sweet potato, cinnamon, curry powder and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and let it cook for about 20 minutes just until the sweet potato is softened. Blend the soup with an immersion blender (it should be pretty thick-if you want it a little thinner then add water 1/2 a cup at a time until desired consistency) and then add the coconut cream. Taste and re-season as necessary. Serve with Apple croutons if desired.

For the apple "croutons":
2 granny smith apples, cored, peeled, and cut into cubes
1 tsp coconut oil (you can substitute any other oil if you want)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp maple syrup

Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the coconut oil. When the coconut oil is melted add the rest of the ingredients and saute until the apples start to soften only slightly but still retain some crunch-about 2-3 minutes. Serve a little on each bowl of soup.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tricolor Apple Slaw with Pomegranate Lime Vinaigrette

I've been dreaming about this salad for forever and pushed myself to post it in time for Rosh Hashanah. It is the perfect salad to add to your menu- full of simanim (the symbolic foods of this holiday) like cabbage, carrots, pomegranate, apples, and honey. Pomegranate syrup or molasses is used to give this dressing a delicious and unique tart and sweet flavor. I can find it in my local grocery store but if you cant find it you can also boil down pomegranate juice until thick and syrupy. This salad could use a dose of toasted almonds but I left it out because many people traditionally stay away from nuts on Rosh Hashanah but if that is not your tradition, definitely add them. Shana tova!

For the Salad:
8 cups or about 500 grams shredded cabbage, about half of a medium cabbage (alternatively you can use pre- packaged coleslaw mix and omit the carrots)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup of sliced scallions
1 red apple, sliced into thin strips
1 green apple, sliced into thin strips
1 yellow apple, sliced into thin strips
2 tsp lime or lemon juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 Tbl freshly chopped mint, optional,  but adds great fresh flavor.

Slice the apples and mix with the lime or lemon juice to prevent them from discoloring. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, carrots, scallions, apples and mint. Add the dressing mix well and garnish with the pomegranate seeds. Re-season with salt and pepper before serving.

For the dressing:
1/4 cup pomegranate syrup
3 Tablespoons honey
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons light olive or canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and pour over salad.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Grilled Chicken and Pineapple Quinoa Salad with Pineapple Ginger Vinaigrette

This is the summer of salads! I've been making lots of main dish salads for lunch and dinners this summer because of the heat and because come summer time, I often find myself dreaming up new, interesting, and different salad concoctions that I love to try out. This one came from a craving for grilled pineapple. Grilling pineapple just makes a sweet pineapple that much sweeter, and with the addition of a little smokiness from the grill it adds a great sweet and smokey dimension to a grilled chicken salad. The chicken gets flavor from a delicious pineapple juice marinade and the pineapple ginger vinaigrette is different, delicious, and addictive. I found myself making it again and again and putting it on my plain old salads all week long to perk them up. Don't like chicken breast? you can easily make this with boneless chicken thighs or london broil instead- both would taste great with the marinade and go really well with the other components as well. Some cilantro and scallions for freshness and cashews for crunch and you've got yourself the perfect summer salad. Enjoy!

For the chicken and pineapple:
4 chicken breasts
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tsp fresh chopped ginger
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 a fresh pineapple, cut into slices

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a ziplock bag and add the chicken breasts. Let the chicken marinate for 3-4 hours. Grill the chicken for 5-6 minutes per side until done. Grill the pineapple along side the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side.

For the salad:
1 1/2 cups quinoa (any color or a mix of colors is fine)
2 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
3 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup salted and roasted cashews

Rinse the quinoa well under running water. Place in a pot with some salt and pepper and the water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook about 15 minutes until the water is absorbed. Keep pot covered for 5 minutes then uncover and fluff the quinoa as you would with rice. Let the quinoa cool slightly.

Cut the grilled pineapple, and chicken and mix into quinoa. Add the cilantro and scallions and drizzle the vinaigrette over it all. Top with cashews and serve.

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 cup fresh diced pineapple
2 tsp fresh coarsely chopped ginger
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons canola or light olive oil
salt and pepper

Place all ingredients except the oil into a food processor. Once the ingredients are mostly smooth start drizzling in the oil until it emulsifies together. Taste to make sure there is enough salt and pepper and serve over the salad.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Southwestern Cobb Salad With Spicy Avocado Dressing

I get great satisfaction from re-purposing leftovers. Often when planning dinner I already know what I will be making for lunch and dinner the next day with the leftovers. When I was grilling the  chili cilantro lime chicken I made last week I was already dreaming up this yummy and gorgeous salad that would be dinner the next night. I went low carb with this salad (minus the fresh corn) but you could also add black beans to this salad which would be delicious. The best part of course is the dressing- a smooth, creamy, spicy and fresh avocado dressing that gets whipped up in the food processor in no time and is the perfect compliment to this salad.  Enjoy!

1 batch cilantro lime chicken or any other grilled chicken breast
1 large head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 ears grilled corn, kernels removed or 1 can of  corn
1 small red onion, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 can black beans (optional)

Arrange all the ingredients into a big bowl, pour the dressing over, toss and serve.

For the dressing:
1 avocado, pitted and skin removed
1/4 to a whole jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed (depending on how spicy you want it, or omit completely)
3 large cloves of garlic
1/4 cup mayo 
zest and juice of one lime
juice of one lemon
1 loosely packed cup of fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup water
salt and pepper

Add all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Grilled Chili Cilantro Lime Chicken

I'm backkkkkkkkkkkkkkk! 
But don't get too excited- between running after a toddler and running a catering business, finding time to recipe test and post on the blog has been scarce. For the next few weeks, however, I am on vacation (not from the toddler, just the catering) and I will be trying my hardest to fit this blog back in my life. First up is this yummy and juicy grilled chicken. My husband and I joined the no/low carb craze a few months ago (you know, the trend I use to make fun of and NEVER thought I would join) and so there has been lots of protein and veggies in our lives. Finding new and yummy ways to make chicken (our main protein) is often daunting but with the grill up and running I am loving experimenting with different chicken marinades. I know cilantro is controversial, I used to be on the "it tastes like shampoo" side too, but now I just love it- if you hate it you can just use all parsley instead. Lots of great lime flavor, some heat from the chili flakes and a little sweetness from some honey. All leftovers will be used for my southwestern cobb salad tomorrow- can't wait!

For the chicken:

5 boneless chicken breast (skin on or off)
3 cloves garlic
zest of one lime
juice of two limes
1/4 cup loosely packed parsley leaves
1 cup loosely packed cilantro
1/2-1 tsp red chili flakes (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 Tablespoon honey (or maple or agave)
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients except for the chicken into a food processor and pulse a few times until everything comes together and is chopped well.  Place the chicken and marinade into a ziplock bag making sure the marinade is coating the chicken well. Let the chicken marinate 3-4 hours. Grill over medium high heat for 5-6 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of the breast).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Mediterranean Fish Cakes with Avocado-Tahini Sauce

There has been a lot of hullabaloo about the Whole30 program, a "diet" that for 30 days limits all carbs, dairy, and legumes in order to get rid of cravings and "reset" your body. I have never been one for programs like this, but I have been feeling less energetic recently and with some extra baby weight I still need to shed I thought I would give it a try. So far so good considering the longest I've ever lasted without carbs is about 6 hours. The big challenge for me is to make my protein interesting and so I've been doing a lot of experimenting. These fish cakes were a big hit and a nice change from chicken and beef with tons of herbs, some warmth from cumin and turmeric and lots of lemon zest for zing. These cakes were inspired by a few Ottolenghi (read: amazing) recipes that I've come across as well as some fish kofta I had when I was as the Carmel spa last year that blew me away. I used a mixture of grouper and halibut but any good quality white fish like halibut or bass would work well too. The key is to hand chop the fish, not grind it to a paste, so the texture is flaky once cooked and not spongy.
Now for the sauce: Tahini and avocado might not seem like they go together but they work surprisingly well. When I make fish, I often serve it with an avocado crema, but since dairy is a no no here I used tahini in place of the sour cream I would normally use to make the sauce. The sauce definitely complements the fish but you could also use it as a yummy salad dressing or drizzled over some grains. Did I mention gluten free too? Enjoy!

For the fish: (makes 10 nice size cakes)
1 kilo (about 2 pounds) hand chopped grouper, halibut or any other good quality white fish
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint (optional)
zest of one lemon
1 egg yolk
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 ts granulated garlic
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Oil for pan frying

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix very well, almost kneading the mixture so it holds together well. Refrigerate for half an hour. With wet hands make patties from the fish mixture. Heat enough light oil (light olive or canola) to lightly coat the bottom of a frying pan. Place fish patties down and do not touch them until they are ready to be flipped, about 4-5 minutes on one side (depending on the thickness of the patty) and 2 minutes on the other side.

For the sauce:
1/2 of a large ripe avocado or one small avocado
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini 
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 -1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except the water into a food processor. Process to combine everything and puree the avocado. The mixture will be very thick. Add water a little at a time until you get your desired consistency, for a thicker sauce, more like a "crema" you will need about 1/4 of a cup, for more of a wet sauce you will need closet to 1/2 cup. Check for seasoning after adding water, adding salt and pepper as necessary.