Sunday, April 22, 2012

Challenge #75 - Brussel Sprouts with Almonds and Cherries

I am very excited to share this recipe with you because it is something my husband and I both came up with together and the best's super simple.  I mentioned we haven't had brussel sprouts in awhile and we started brainstorming and came up with the recipe below.  A special thanks is in order to one of my friends who gave me the most incredible dried sour cherries I have ever had!  I don't think I will ever find store bought ones that will even be half way as good as these are.

Brussel sprouts
1/2 Red onion (or 1 small one)
2 garlic cloves
sea salt to taste
Couple handfuls of almonds (I went with a handful per person)
Handful of dried sour cherries (no sulfate, no sugar added)
1/2 Lemon

Step #1 - Wash and half brussel sprouts. Discard any outer leaves that are bad. Cut onion into thin slices.
Step #2 - Saute onion and zested garlic until tender.  Add brussel sprouts and salt to taste.  I only saute mine for a couple of minutes because we like them very crispy.

Step #3 - While sauteing, pulse almonds in food processor to crush into little almond pieces.  Note: I use raw almonds, so they need to be soaked in water for at least 20 minutes then rinsed before eating.
 Step #4 - Remove brussel sprouts and onions from heat and add to bowl.  Add in ground almonds & dried cherries.  Squeeze lemon over and mix all ingredients together. Enjoy!
This was a really delicious dish and I think it only took me about 10 mins to make start to finish.  Even though it's not the season, I think this would be great at Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Challenge #74 - Purple Yams - Something new

When I took a cooking class a couple of months ago, we made a pudding using purple (Korean) yams.  Last month a new Asian Market opened near me that stocks these deliciously colorful yams.  It's purple, what could be better.  This recipe is super simple, the yam is really the star of the show.

Purple yams (might be called Korean yam)
Ginger Powder
Shredded coconut

Step #1 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Poke a few holes in yams with a fork.  Bake until fork tender, about 40-60 minutes depending on the size of the yams. (Photo below is after I took them out of the oven)
Step #2 - Cut open and sprinkle with ginger, cinnamon, and shredded coconut to taste. I only used a small amount of each (very little ginger powder).  Of course you can omit any topping you don't like. Isn't the color amazing?  Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Challenge #73 - Japanese Eggplant with Garlic Ginger Teriyaki Sauce

A couple of years ago I had this ridiculously delicious dish at a Japanese restaurant.  It must have been amazing since I remember having so long ago.  Anyway it was baked eggplant in a garlic teriyaki sauce.  Although the flavors were fabulous, the eggplant was drowning a bit in too much sauce for my personal taste.  So I recreated a similar version adding ginger and scallions and making it a much lighter glaze.  When I made this the other night, I made half the amount of sauce indicated.  I was ok with the amount, but my husband would have liked more or at least some on the side for extra dipping.  My recommendation is to make the amount of sauce below, use half or a little more to start.  Add the rest half way through cooking or reserve to use as dipping sauce on the side.  Also, if you want a thicker sauce, feel free to add more maple syrup.  I try to keep the amount of sugar I have as low as possible, so I used only a small amount.
My husband and I both tried this  before it went on the eggplant as I was tweaking the quantities as I went (all reflected below).  He loved the flavor and thought it would be great on chicken.  I am a vegetarian, but he is not.  So if you do eat meat or poultry, perhaps give this sauce a try on it.

2 Japanese eggplants (or 4 small eggplants) 
4-6 scallions
1/4 cup nama shoyu (raw soy sauce, or you can use regular)
2 tbsp maple syrup (pure)
3-4 gloves garlic
2 tbsp Mirin (rice wine, this does have some sugar so small amount here)
1/2" - 1" ginger

Step #1 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Add nama shoyu, mirin, and maple syrup to small bowl.  Zest both ginger and garlic into the bowl.  Stir well. Feel free to adjust ginger and garlic depending on your preference (add some, taste, then add more if desired).  I like a lot of garlic. 
Step # 2 -  Cut up Japanese eggplant into similar sized rounds and quarters.  Pour sauce over (I recommend starting with half and using the rest later or for dipping, but it's a matter of preference) and mix well. Add 2 diced scallions. Bake in parchment lines dish for about 40-50 mins or until eggplant is tender.

 Step #3 - Remove from oven.  Place in serving dish and add additional dices scallions. Oh and I am also a big fan of scallions, so feel free to use less if desired.  Enjoy!  I had a beautiful salad with carrot miso ginger dressing along side the eggplant.  As you can see from the picture, the eggplant soaks up a lot of the sauce, perfect for me, maybe not enough for others. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Challenge #72 - Acorn Squash stuffed with Quinoa

Acorn squash is a natural bowl just waiting to be filled with something!  I love quinoa so that's what I am going to uses to stuff my squash.  I choose to use red quinoa so I would have a nice color combo of the yellow acorn squash and the red quinoa, but any quinoa you have is fine.  Some stores don't carry the red or black quinoa.

1 acorn squash
1 cup cooked red quinoa
2 cloves garlic
1 orange pepper (or any color you like)
1/2 tsp cumin
Sea Salt to taste

Step #1 - Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut acorn squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Place both halves on parchment lined tray or dish flesh side down. (I am showing on up and one down in the photos so you see the scooped out shell.

Step #2: Place in oven and cook for about 40 minutes until squash is fork tender.  Dice pepper and sautee with zested garlic until slightly tender (I like my peppers with a bit more crunch, but you can cook to your desired consistency).
Step #3 - Add quinoa, cumin, and sea salt. (I cooked the quinoa ahead of time, see Challenge #36 for directions of cooking quinoa). Mix well to integrate quinoa, garlic, and diced pepper.
Step #4 - Remove acorn squash from oven when done and stuff with quinoa filling.  You can sprinkle a pinch of sea salt to acorn if desired.

Step #5 - Serve and enjoy.  I added a side salad to my squash.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Challenge #71 - Whipped parsnips with chives

Simple but delicious...a different take on mashed potatoes with chives.

4 parsnips
4 cloves garlic
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Handful of chives

Step #1: Peel and cube parsnips. Make sure the cubes are even sizes so they cook at the same rate.  Steam parsnips and garlic cloves until fork tender.

Step #2:  Add to blender.  Start by pulsing and continue to bled until smooth and creamy.  Add chopped chives, sea salt, and pepper.  Add additional chives for garnish.
Yummy side!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Challenge #70 - Baked eggplant

I went to a Greek restaurant near me a couple of months ago and got this amazing baked eggplant.  So I thought it would be fun to create my own version.

1 large eggplant (or 2 medium eggplants)
2 small onions or 1 large (I had a red onion and a yellow one handy, so that's what I used)
2 gloves garlic
Handful of basil
1 can diced tomatoes (I used 3/4 of a large can)
1 heaping teaspoon tomato paste
raw sheep cheese for grating (or you favorite kind)
Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Step #1 - Saute onions and garlic.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  While that is cooking, half the eggplant and make diagonal slits across the open face.  This will allow the tomato sauce to soak into the eggplant. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Step #2 - Add diced tomato and tomato paste to onions and garlic.  Cook for about 5-8 minutes.
 Step #3 - Chop up or break basil into pieces and add to sauce at end.  Let cook another few minutes.
Step #4 - Eggplant halves should be placed on a parchment lined baking tray.  Spoon sauce onto eggplant halves allowing some to get into slits.  Baked for 40-50 minutes until eggplant is tender.  Cooking time with vary depending on how thick the eggplant halves are.
Step #5 - Remove from oven.  Grate your favorite cheese on top.  Add additional fresh chopped basil for vibrant green color.
Step #6 - Enjoy.  I added sauteed broccoli rabe to the side.  
Below is a photo when you cut the eggplant so you can see what it looks like.