Saturday, February 27, 2010

Karina Makes Vegan Thai Pizza!

I was cleaning out my kitchen cabinet as I was pondering what I could make for dinner, and found some peanuts, polenta and coconut milk. I have been craving pizza, so I decided to make a spicy coconut thai pizza sauce with a cornmeal crust and go from there.

In a food processor I pureed peanuts, a 1/2 can coconut milk, a cup or two of fresh cilantro, 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, 2 tbls chopped fresh ginger, a can of organic garbanzo beans, fresh lime juice, 1-2 tbl tahini, cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, salt, agave, and water until I got a slightly sweet, smoothly spicy sauce I could eat by the spoonful.

I took my polenta (or yellow cornmeal- a little over 1/2 cup), 2 tbls baking soda, 2 tbl olive oil, 1 cup of unbleached flour, a pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup of water and made my dough. I put all of my ingredients in my food processor until it formed a large, smooth, shiny dough ball, but you can absolutely hand knead in for about 10 minutes to get the same outcome.

I draped a damp kitchen towel over my dough and let sit on the counter for several hours until I was ready for it.

30 minutes before my dinner guests arrived, I coated my cookie sheet with olive oil and a light dusting of flour. I patted my hands in flour to keep it from sticking, and spread out the dough (with and aid of a glass jar) to cover it completely.

I spread out my sauce evenly so it was not too thick and heavy, and sprinkled vegan almond cheese that I shredded on top of that.

I cut up fresh, organic crimini mushrooms, red bell peppers, yellow squash, red onion, cilantro, strips of eggplant (rubbed in olive oil and salt), peanuts and small orange segments. I sprinkled with salt and pepper and put into the oven at 500* for about 12-14 minutes.

The only downfall was that it was gone too soon!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ariel's making ... parmesan crackers

i love snacking. and snack foods. crackers are awesome and i'd never made them, so a few nights ago i made my first batch of parmesan crackers and they came out great!

you'll need:

1 c. organic non-bleached white flour
4 T. melted organic butter
1 t. sea salt
1/2 organic parmesan cheese
1/3 c. organic milk
black pepper
fun toppings!

mix everything together. work it with your hands 'til the dough stays together but is not too wet. you don't want it to be sticky at all.

roll out about 1/2 inch thick. place on an un-greased cookie sheet and score -- you can break them apart later. add toppings -- i used sesame seeds and a little bit of smoky chili salt.

bake at 500* for about 5 minutes -- or until golden around the edges.

warning: these are super addictive ... and amazing!!!!!




Monday, February 22, 2010

ariel's making ... winter citrus salad with fennel

my friend jenny brought an amazing salad to brunch a few weeks ago with fennel in it and it inspired me to make my own salad using this much unappreciated and tasty vegetable. my mom had given us a pomelo (to celebrate chinese new year) and i also had some amazingly sweet oranges from the farmers' market, so i thought i'd try making a citrus salad with some fennel in it.

for this salad you'll need:

2 or 3 types of organic citrus fruit (oranges, pomelo, tangerines, blood oranges, etc. etc.)
fresh organic fennel

for the dressing you'll need:

2 T. minced organic red onion
1 T. organic mustard
1 T. organic extra virgin olive oil
1 t. organic maple syrup
the juice of 1 organic lemon
pepper and salt to taste

if you do use pomelo, i suggest peeling off the translucent skin around the juicy flesh. this takes a bit of time, but it removes the bitterness and makes the salad that much better.

chop the fennel very thinly and mix with the citrus fruits and dressing.

delish -- and a very exotic flavor with the mix of mustard, fennel and citrus!

the salad was part of our lunch, which also included a cold soba salad with a soft boiled egg and some freshly chopped romaine lettuce. wowo -- it was a great lunch.

have fun with fennel darlings!!



Friday, February 19, 2010

ariel's ... ogling over chef sam's bread

i seriously can't tell you how lucky i am to have an amazing baker in the house. we haven't gotten bread at the store in months because chef sam's bread just can't be beat! it's amazing! learn how to make it here ... and try being creative with it -- like using different kinds of seeds and flours, and maybe even nuts and fruits inside.

ohhh -- they are so beautiful!

happy friday loves!



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Karina makes garden dogs!

I took a little trip down to Santa Cruz last weekend to visit my big sis, Alia. One of my favorite parts of my SC visits with her, besides the obvious proximity to the beach and her lovely company, is her luscious garden out front...

I was informed right away that my job was to prepare dinner that night, so I immediately went to see what I had to work with. CHARD. Lots and lots of chard. (I'm still so amazed that California offers such beautiful produce even in February!)

I thought of all the ways I've used chard in the past and realized I haven't been incredibly creative besides steaming or sauteing it with other veggies or in soups. I wanted to find a way to keep the fullness of the leaf, almost using it as a wrap, but didn't want the toughness or bitterness that would have dominated the dish if I had left them raw. So I decided to marinate them with a mixture of olive oil, brags, lemon, salt and pepper and set them aside to bake in hopes of reaching a crispy, almost nori-like wrap or "taco-shell."

I have experimented with veggie burgers before, but with the long slender shape of my chard wraps, I decided to try "veggie dogs" to fill the dish.

I bought some delicious, fresh organic beets and boiled them until soft.

I put my beets, a boiled sweet potato, sauteed crimini mushrooms, shallots, and a handful of dates in a blender.

I then added in black beans and gluten-free rice bread.

I continued to experiment and add ingredients to thicken the texture and perfect the taste. I added corn flake crumbs, peanuts, quinoa, corn, salt, pepper, cayenne, avocado, and lemon. When the mixture stopped falling apart and sticking to my fingers completely, I formed four hot dog shapes.

I heated up olive oil on the stove and grilled each side until thick and dark brown on all sides.

I prepared a salsa of my leftover chopped chard stems, avocado, carrots, peanuts, and apples and flavored with lemon, olive oil, agave, chili powder, curry, salt and pepper.

I turned the oven on at 400* and baked the chard leafs for 5-10 minutes on each side until crispy and sturdy but not burnt. They turned out exactly as I hoped, almost like nori, and were incredibly delicious. I prepared a quinoa on the stove and added sweet corn, green chili, salt and cayenne to it once it was cooked.

I put together our garden dogs and we feasted away...The wraps weren't necessarily able to "wrap" around the heavy dogs with out cracking into smaller pieces but they were so amazing we didn't care.

I think I would definitely go to more baseball games if these were the dogs they were offering up! Yum!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

ariel's making ... maple butter squash

friends were on their way over for a potluck last night and chef sam and i were cooking up a storm. we had a lovely squash from the farmers' market and i've been on this maple syrup kick -- so i decided to roast them with maple syrup and butter.

after i cut and de-seeded the squash, i melted some butter (about 1 T.) and mixed in some maple syrup (about 2 T.) and cinnamon (about 1/2 t.).

then i brushed them with my sweet n' sticky concoction and threw them in the oven at 350* for about 30 minutes.

ooohh -- they were so naughty! yum yum!

happy lovers day to ya'll!



Tuesday, February 9, 2010

ariel's making ... chef sam a birthday cake!!

today is chef sam's birthday -- so that means there's much to celebrate and a cake to be made!! he requested chocolate and walnuts ... and the rest was left to me.

for this cake you'll need:

1 stick of organic butter
3/4 c. organic sugar
1 organic egg
1 1/2 c. organic unbleached pastry flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. organic milk
1/2 c. organic fair trade cocoa powder
1/2 c. organic walnuts

start by melting the butter in a small cast-iron pan. i used the same pan to bake the cake in, so it was already buttered and ready to go!

mix the butter and sugar together and beat in the egg.

add the coco powder to the wet mixture.

add the rest of the dry ingredients and then mix in the nuts.

pour into the buttered frying pan and bake at 350* for about 45 minutes or 'til a knife comes out clean when you poke it.

now it's time to make the frosting! yum!

you'll need:

8 oz (one package) organic neufchatel cheese
2 T. organic blackberry jam (i used one from swanton berry farm)
1 T. organic milk (i used straus milk -- the best!)
4 T. organic maple syrup (i used some from native harvest ... a great organization)

mix them all together 'til pink and creamy!

once the cake is done, remove from pan and let cool at least one hour.

for a decadent garnish, i found some organic local raspberries to top the cake with (oh i just love living in california!).

this cake would also be perfect for valentine's day! hopefully chef sam doesn't think it's too girly ;)

let's celebrate!!



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

ariel's making ... ugly shitake stir fry

the mushroom vendor at the farmers' market this morning had some lovely looking organic shitakes ... that were being called ugly. they didn't look so ugly to me, so i bought a big bag of them. as lunch time rolled around, chef sam and i needed something fast before heading to work. there was a leftover pot of brown rice in our fridge from last night's dinner, so i thought i'd throw together a quick stir fry to go along with it. whenever i make a meal, it has to have three components: veggies, carb and protein ... otherwise, it's just not a balanced meal.

first i chopped the mushrooms and added them to a pan with about a teaspoon of olive oil. then i added organic tofu, organic baby bok choy and let them cook at high heat for about ten minutes. while they were cooking, i made the sauce -- 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon brewers yeast, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. when the veggies and tofu were done, i turned them off and added the sauce, mixing it into the stir fry.

i topped the rice with the veggies and then sprinkled on some fresh green scallions and a few flax seeds. a perfect lunch ... done in about ten minutes!

yum yum!



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Karina and Alma "amuse" their "bouche"....

We've all been in the state where we are by no means hungry or even capable of eating a full meal, but crave something unique and delicious to satiate the taste buds. Some may call these mini-meals munchies (or simply snacks), but this particular evening Alma and I were in need of something extra special; so we used the french term "Amuse- Bouche".
Amuse Bouche actually translates to "mouth amuser" and it is often sent out to VIP tables from the chef in restaurant before their meal. Wikipedia told me that "it is distinguished from other kinds of hors d'œuvres by three characteristics. It is small, usually just one or two bites. It is the same for all of the guests at the table. And finally, it is not ordered by anyone; rather it is offered free of charge."

We had a few ingredients at my house and ran to the market and picked a few more to improvise with. We got garlic, of course, an avocado, a prepared tube of organic polenta, Quorn vegetarian Chicken nuggets, and a pomegranate to garnish with.

First we turned the oven on 400* and put the whole bulb of garlic in to roast for about 45 minutes. We sliced the cooked polenta into 1/4 inch thick circles, and spread them out on a cookie sheet with the faux chicken nuggets. We added these to the oven when the garlic had about 15 minutes left. We sprinkled them with salt, pepper, lemon and cayenne before popping them in to turn golden brown and slightly crunchy.

We mashed the avocado up with some vegan sour cream I had, lemon, salt and pepper for a delicious and creamy sauce. We took our baked ingredients and stacked them together with the sauce and roasted garlic and sprinkled them with pomegranate seeds and fresh cayenne pepper.

Only problem with these "amuse bouche".... Although they did indeed make us feel like ultra VIPs, there was no way to stop after just one! (I'm not sure if they qualify for the term after eating the entire tray between two of us!)