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the underwear diet

Another one of those just-an-idea posts, inspired by an al fresco lunch at Pentimento on Long Island: season and sear fresh tuna; remove from pan and dice; sweat minced garlic and shallots in evoo in same pan; add baby kale (or spinach or other baby greens) and cook until just begins to wilt; add cooked pappardelle pasta, some pasta water, lemon juice, grated parmesan cheese, and more evoo; stir to emulsify and create a sauce; toss in diced tuna at the very last minute just to warm; garnish with sliced scallions and more grated parmesan.

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I am most certainly not taking any credit for this laughingly simple technique that impresses both in flavor, texture, and looks. My version coats a whole head of cauliflower in canola oil, and seasons it with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until crispy and dark brown on the outside, and tender inside. Serve a wedge over a smooth squash puree* (in this instance, kabocha) and garnish with a bright, fresh gremolata.

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*I went all indulgent with butter and cream, but feel free to omit for a vegan version.

Another baked good that I brought on our trip to the woods. I was in search of something that represented fall, and what better than warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice. For a subtle kick and mild heat, I added ground cayenne pepper, though for this round I substituted with freshly ground black pepper.

1 cup / 141 g whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup / 73 g all-purpose flour
1/2 cup / 55 g ground flax meal
1 tsp / 4 g baking soda
1 1/4 tsp / 2 g ground cardamom
1 1/4 tsp / 2 g ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp / 1 g ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper or 15 turns freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp / 2 g kosher salt
4 / 520 g over-ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup / 80 g low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup / 60 g canola oil
2 large / 100 g eggs
1/2 cup / 90 g brown sugar
1 teaspoon / 5 g vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flours, flax meal, baking soda, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, oil, buttermilk, bananas, and vanilla.
3. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Stir until just combined.
4. Pour into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour, turning halfway, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Notes: This is the third time I’ve tested this recipe, and though I make minor changes each time, it winds up being a success. (The weight measurements, however, were only done once, so they should be re-tested.) I started with a base recipe and do not know where I found it, but I made so many changes that I can safely say this is an original recipe.

1 T (7 g) chili powder
1 1/4 T (10 g) smoked paprika
3 t (3 g) chili flakes
1/4 t (1 g) cayenne pepper
2 t (4 g) cumin
1/4 t (1 g) cinnamon
1 1/2 T (22 g) brown sugar
1 T (10 g) kosher salt
1 T (4 g) whole coriander seeds

1. Combine all ingredients in spice grinder and grind (I use a small coffee grinder). Sprinkle over meat and massage to evenly distribute. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning halfway.
2. Lay the strips of beef in a dehydrator, being sure not to overlap the meat.
3. Adjust the dehydrator to the highest setting (mine was about 160 degrees F) and let it dehydrate for about 4-6 hours.

Man-O-Meter: 8

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Notes: I think it needs more salt, but I do enjoy the spice. Dried up much differently than the teriyaki version–wasn’t as smooth. Perhaps next time I’ll experiment with marinating time, and will rotate the dehydrator halfway through the process. Worth re-testing!

(Part 1 of 2)

If you’ve read my post about meatless meat sauce, and if you’ve actually made this or something like it, chances are you are in need of redemption. In preparation for our vacation to Maine, I was been busy baking and freezing quick breads and cookies. Searching for something savory that would hold up during the drive up, I turned to jerky. Beef jerky. Beef. It’s what my S.S. deserves after eating meatless meat with a smile without murdering me.

I purchased 4 pounds of top round, and my S.S. requested that I make two versions to keep things interesting. Since this was made with him in mind, I did just that. Here we have version number one, my take on Teriyaki:

2 pounds (908 g) top round (bottom round, flank, or anything used to make London Broil will work just fine)
1/4 cup (75 g) soy sauce
2 T (25 g) fish sauce
1/4 cup (70 g) Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup (60 g) water
1/2 cup (125 g) brown sugar, packed
5 cloves (25 g) garlic, crushed
15 turns (1 g) freshly ground black pepper

1. Slice top round against the grain into 1/4-inch slices.
2. In a large dish, whisk together the rest of the ingredients. Add meat to the marinade and refrigerate for 24 hours, turning halfway.
3. Lay the strips of beef in a dehydrator, being sure not to overlap the meat.
4. Adjust the dehydrator to the highest setting (mine was about 160 degrees F) and let it dehydrate for about 4-6 hours.

Man-O-Meter: 9

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Notes: absolutely fabulous flavor, which could use a little more garlic, if preferred (which I do). Otherwise, salt was spot-on, and the balance between sweet and savory was just what you’d expect from a teriyaki sauce. A definite keeper.

Now, I take pride in featuring vegetables as the stars in a vegetarian/vegan meal. Once in a while, however, I do use meat substitutes in traditional meat-based dishes. Perhaps it is out of sadism, as my S.S. is a hardcore meat-eater (or perhaps it is masochism, because, well, so am I). But every so often, I enjoy experimenting with different non-meat meats to see if they are actually tolerable (take this recipe for vegan chili, which is actually very good). This recipe for meatless “bolognese” is, suprisingly, delicious, hearty, and satisfying.

What’s the Man-O-Meter on this one? 7. I’ll take it.

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, fine dice
3 medium carrots, fine dice (or pulsed in food processor)
3 stalks celery, fine dice (or pulsed in food processor)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz ground beef alternative (made from soy, wheat protein, or both)
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
1 5.5-oz can vegetable juice (or tomato sauce; I happened to have v8 on hand, one of the more random donations that my mother sent me home with the last time I visited)
1/2 tsp chili flakes, or more or less to taste
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water

1. In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery, season with salt and epper, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and meatless ground beef and cook for another minute.
3. Add tomatoes, vegetable juice, chili flakes, vinegar, sugar, and water. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, and cook to desired consistency, about 30-40 minutes.
4. Adjust seasoning and serve over pasta.

Makes enough for 1 pound of pasta.

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It’s still warm(ish) outside, and sweet corn and colorful tomatoes persist at farmers’ markets. Let’s make the most of it:

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corn cobs, kernels removed
cherry or grape tomatoes, halved/quartered/left whole, depending on size
kalamata olives, diced
red onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water and then drained
evoo
s&p
burrata, torn

Again, no recipe, just an idea. Make a simple salad with all ingredients, minus the burrata, which is served on top.