Monday, February 9, 2015

Red Lentil-Veggie Burgers

Chock full of goodness these burgers are! I am a sucker for a good veggie burger and unlike in the States where you can buy pre-packaged good quality veggie burgers to keep on hand for lazy meal emergencies, I have yet to find good ones here. I wanted to make a big batch of veggie burgers to keep in the freezer and pull out on a whim but had a hard time committing to what kind of veggie burger to make. There are so many options, so many delicious combinations, but I settled on using red lentils and chickpeas as my base and then adding lots of yummy and healthy additions- carrot, zucchini, kale, herbs, onion, oats for texture and sunflower seeds for crunch. The truth is though, you can customize these burgers however you want- use black or white beans instead of chickpeas, green or brown lentils instead of red and though I used cumin here because I love the earthiness of cumin with lentils you could go a different route and use oregano or basil etc. Have other veggies lying around? Throw those in as well! Though these burgers are super healthy, they are also really really tasty- I served them on toasted buns slathered with some Sriracha Garlic Mayo, lettuce and tomato and was in veggie burger heaven! Enjoy!

3 cups cooked red lentils ( 1 1/2 cups raw should make 3 cups cooked), divided.
2 Tbl oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
2 cups chopped kale or your favorite green
1 15 oz can (about 1 1/2 cups) chickpeas
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup of your favorite chopped herbs, I used a mix of parsley and cilantro
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 medium carrot, grated
1 medium zucchini, grated
3 eggs
1/2- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (depending on how moist the mixture is)
1 1/2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon granulated garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Canola or light olive oil for frying

In a saute pan, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until the onions start to be translucent. Add the kale until it starts to wilt. To your food processor add half of the cooked lentils, the onion, garlic and kale mixture, the chickpeas, oats, herbs and sunflower seeds. Pulse 2-3 times just to start breaking up the chickpeas and oats, you don't want the mixture to be mushy. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the rest of the lentils, carrot, zucchini,eggs and spices, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add bread crumbs, enough for the mixture to come together well but not be dry. Form into traditional bun size patties that are about 1/2 an inch thick. Heat oil in a frying pan and fry on each side until crisp, about 3 minutes on each side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad

Who doesn't love a great potato salad? I find myself gravitating often to the basic kind that I grew up with, white potato, mayo, pickles and onions but every once and a while it is fun to change it up, ditch the mayo and try something new and this sweet potato salad hit the spot. Roasted sweet potatoes are my go to addition to salads. I like to roast a bunch of them at a time and then add them to different salads throughout the week. They add sweetness, texture, heartiness and make you feel like you are really eating something substantial. The best thing about sweet potatoes is that they are great with lots of different flavors- you can make them sweet and cinnamony, or go totally savory and they hold up just as well. This is a savory salad which makes a great and colorful side dish to any meal and is great cold, warm or room temperature.The natural sweetness of the sweet potatoes is contrasted beautifully by the warmth of the cumin and is perked up by the lime juice while the black beans add color, texture and earthiness.  Enjoy!

4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks
1 large red onion, cut into medium chunks
2 Tbl oil
1 tsp granulated garlic
1/2  tsp cumin
1 red pepper, diced
3 scallions, sliced
1 15 oz (425 gram) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. On a sheet tray place the chunked sweet potatoes and red onion. Drizzle on the oil, season with the garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and roast until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about half an hour. Remove from the oven and let them cool. Once cool, place the sweet potatoes into a bowl and add the diced red pepper, scallions, black beans and cilantro or parsley. Dress with the vinaigrette and toss gently so as not to crush the potatoes and beans.

For the dressing:
1/3 cup lime juice
1/2- 2/3 cup light olive or canola oil (depending on your preference-less oil will make it more acidic)
1 tsp cumin
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together and pour over salad.

recipe adapted from Mark Bittman

Monday, January 19, 2015

Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Last week the weather forecasts predicted a massive blizzard of epic proportions. Immediately, my thoughts went to last year's blizzard where we were stranded for almost a week and ran out of all basic food (not to mention had no heat or running water for a while.) Apparently, I and most of the country were still traumatized because everyone attacked the supermarkets and stocked up on food, anticipating feeding their families 3 meals a day for weeks as if the Apocalypse was coming. I freely (and sheepishly)  admit that I bought enough to keep us stranded for a good two weeks. Of course, as Murphy's law has it, our blizzard turned out to be just a giant money making conspiracy by the supermarkets and we only got a measly few inches. Needless to say, I and I'm sure lots of other people were left with tons of leftover groceries. Most of what I had left could be used for a while afterwards but I had lots of peppers that were going downhill quickly and this is what became of them.
This is a vegetarian Tex-Mex take on stuffed peppers and they are truly delicious. I used quinoa instead of the traditional rice to make it healthier and added lots of black beans and spices for flavor. Instead of the spices, to make things easier you can substitute your favorite Taco seasoning blend- I personally love the one Trader Joe's makes that has no MSG and I imported a few packets with me last time I was in America. You can also add soy crumbles or your fake chopped meat of choice to this and it would be delicious as well. This recipe makes a lot but is yummy as leftovers the next day. I ate mine topped with sour cream, chopped cilantro and more sriracha and was in healthy Tex-Mex heaven. Enjoy!

5 large green or red bell peppers, either halved with half stem on or whole with tops removed
2 Tbl olive or canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno or small hot pepper, finely diced (optional)
1 small zucchini, diced
1 1/3 cups quinoa, rinsed very, very well
1 cup water
1 800 gram (28oz) can crushed tomato, divided
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin (alternatively, instead of the spices you can substitute 2 Tbl of your favorite Taco seasoning mix)
1/2 Tablespoon chili powder
pinch of oregano
1 Tablespoon sriracha (optional)
salt and pepper
3 cups grated cheddar cheese (or your favorite Mexican cheese blend), divided in half
1 1/2 cups crushed tomato (the rest of the can)
1/2 cup water
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp salt

Heat a pot of lightly salted water to boiling and add the halves or whole peppers. Let cook for 4 -5 minutes until softened but still crisp. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute until the onions start to get translucent and then add the zucchini. Saute another minute until the zucchini starts to cook and then add the quinoa stirring it around with the vegetable to let it toast a little. Add the 1 cup of water,  1 1/2 cups of crushed tomato, black beans, cumin, chili powder, oregano and sriracha and season well with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is al dente. Close the flame and let the quinoa sit another 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Cool the mixture. Once cool mix in 11/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese.

Preheat the oven to 375.
In a bowl mixed the remainder of the crushed tomato with the water and spices. Spread at the bottom of a baking dish. Nestle the peppers in the sauce and fill each with quinoa mixture. Sprinkle the remaining cup of  cheddar cheese on top of each pepper,  cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is nice and melted.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Orange, Cranberry, White Chocolate Chunk Cookies

OK, the title is a mouthful, but let me tell you, these cookies hands down win the best cookie contest (the imaginary one in my mind that is.) Forget about chocolate chip cookies- these buttery, orange-y, chocolate-y cookies will soon be your new favorite. It's not often that I make cookies. I find them tedious and usually un-enjoyable to bake and prefer to make bars or cakes if I have to bake at all, but these were worth every minute in the kitchen. For every Shabbat I make a new and different cake/cookie/pastry for our special family breakfast-some are huge successes and find themselves made again down the line, some are less so. This will be a first for me, but I will be making these cookies again for the second week in a row, that is how delicious they were. Enjoy!

For the orange sugar:
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp fresh orange zest

Mix together and set aside.

For the cookies:
1 cup of sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh orange zest
3/4 cup (150 grams) butter at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips or white chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix the sugar and orange zest together. This will help to better incorporate the orange flavor into the cookie. Add the butter, egg and vanilla and mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat until well mixed and then mix in the cranberries and white chocolate.
Shape the dough into about one inch balls ( I used the smallest size cookie scoop) and roll each ball into the sugar and orange zest mixture and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Press down each cookie with the bottom of a glass to flatten them. Bake for about 7-9 minutes until the edges are light golden brown, don't over bake!

Recipe adapted from Land O' Lakes

Sunday, December 28, 2014

DD Kale Salad (featuring Crunchy Quinoa, Sweet Potatoes and Pomegranate)

That stands for Detox and Delicious if you were wondering. My body still feels fried from all the oil I consumed over Chanukah. After all the doughnuts and the latkes I feel some detox is now in order. I literally dreamed of this salad the night Chanukah was over and then ran to the supermarket the next day to buy all the ingredients. Between the kale, quinoa, sweet potatoes and pomegranate this salad is a super food extravaganza! My favorite part is the crunchy quinoa, a little technique I picked up when I was blessed to be at the Carmel Spa this year. You don't have to make it crunchy but it adds incredible texture to the salad. For this salad I only toasted half of the quinoa and put both the toasted and non toasted quinoa in for a contrast of textures. For the kale, Baby kale would have been my kale of choice but I only had the curly variety so I sliced it into thin ribbons and it was great. A light orange vinaigrette rounds off the salad and compliments the pomegranate, kale and sweet potatoes beautifully. Enjoy!

8 cups baby kale or thinly sliced kale of another variety
1 cup crunchy quinoa (see below),
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Roasted Sweet potato wedges (see below)
1/2 cup cubed Feta cheese (optional)

Assemble the salad by placing the kale at the bottom of a bowl. Top with the quinoa, sweet potatoes, quinoa and pomegranate seeds. Pour the dressing on top, mix and then top with some Feta cheese.

For the Quinoa:
To get one cup of cooked  red and white quinoa, place 1/2 cup white quinoa and 1/2 cup of red quinoa in a strainer and rinse well. Place in a sauce pan and cover with 1 1/2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and let the quinoa cook until the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off the flame and let the quinoa steam covered for another 5 minutes. Open the pan and fluff the quinoa. Set aside to cool and dry.
Once the quinoa is cool, heat two tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and add half of the quinoa to the pan. Mix constantly over medium high flame until the quinoa is toasted and crunchy.Drain on a paper towel and cool. Add the toasted and and non toasted quinoa to the salad.

For the Sweet Potatoes:
Preheat your oven to 350.
Cut 2 medium sweet potatoes into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Toss with 1 Tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 35-40 minutes until the wedges are tender and slightly crispy.

For the vinaigrette:
5 Tbl orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
1 Tbl rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup light olive oil or canola oil.
2 Tbl agave or honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all together until emulsified.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Broccoli Potato and Cheese Latkes

These latkes are my take on a broccoli potato knish, one of my favorite knishes to eat. The bonus here is that in latke form they are super crispy rather than doughy and the cheese flavor is enhanced. With all the oil and fried food we are consuming over the next few days, I  feel somewhat better about eating a latke that though fried at least has a vegetable and protein element to it as well. I often add cheese to latkes (see Mexican Latkes) because they help the latkes crisp beautifully, and the taste of toasted crispy cheese is divine (think Frico, or Parmesan crisps.) Served with sour cream (no apple sauce with these) the latkes were out of this world! Oh, and Happy 4 year Blogaversary to me!

1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked broccoli
2 1/2 cups grated potato (about 2 medium potatoes, grated)
1/3 cup flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil for frying

In a bowl mix the broccoli with the potato and then stir in the flour which will also help absorb some of the moisture of the potato. Add the eggs, cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a frying pan and put about quarter cup fulls of latke mixture into the pan, press down with the back of a spoon and fry about three minutes on each side or until crispy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Red Kubbe Soup

I am a sucker for any kind of dumpling. Name the culture, if they have a version of a dumpling, I love it. From kreplach to dim sum, from ravioli to pierogi, fill some dough and serve it to me and I'll be in heaven. So it's actually surprising that it has taken me so long to make these Middle Eastern dumplings called kubbe. Different countries across the Middle East make their own versions but the basic premise is the same- a semolina dough filled with a seasoned ground meat mixture boiled in a vegetable soup. The soup itself varies, some serve their kubbe in a hot beet soup, some in a clear vegetable soup and some in a tomato based soup. After reading numerous recipes I came up with my own combination. Beets may sound strange to add but they add a delicious earthiness. You can change the vegetables to your liking and use chicken, beef or vegetable stock- I used beef stock to add richness and to compliment the beef filled dumplings. The soup was rich ,delicious, and hearty from the chunks of vegetables and dumplings, practically a meal unto itself. I served it with some Moroccan bread and it hit the spot.  Enjoy!

For the Kubbe:
1 1/2 cups semolina flour (solet in Hebrew)
1 cup water
2 tsp oil
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 pound ground beef or chicken
one small onion, finely diced
2 Tbl finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Mix the semolina, water, oil and salt together in a bowl and let it sit for 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and pliable but not too wet and sticky. Mix the ground beef with the onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Take small portions of the dough and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Put a small amount of filling in the center and pinch the dough closed around the filling. Refrigerate until ready to cook in the soup.

2 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
1 large sweet potato, cut into chunks
1 large zucchini, cut into large slices
2 medium beets, peeled and cut into chunks
1 small piece of pumpkin, cut into chunks
10 cups of beef, chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup of 22x tomato paste (in America you can use a small can of tomato paste)
2 cups roughly chopped kale or swiss chard or beet greens
2 tsp sugar
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the sweet potatoes, zucchini, pumpkin, beets, and kale and saute another two minutes and then add the stock and tomato paste, sugar, lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a boil and then simmer for half an hour. Add the kubbe to the simmering soup and cook for another half an hour.