Monthly Archives: November 2013

Soup + Salad

IMG_2976We just returned from an eating extravaganza throughout New Orleans (attended a conference) and we decided that we really need to take “stock” (pun intended) on our burgeoning waistlines; hence, the soup and salad for dinner. Because a lot of our food consumption in NOLA was done in mixed company, I didn’t feel it appropriate to be pulling out the cell phone to produce food porn during our feed sessions, as much as it pained me. Oh, well, just another great excuse to hurry back to The Big Easy.

Here are some of our favorites:

  • MiLa, 871 Common St.: French Quarter – Owned/operated by a married couple who have an intense passion for food. The wife, Alison Vines-Rushing, won the 2004 James Beard Rising Chef Award. They source their seasonal produce from a local farm and their food reflects their commitment to sustainable living. Fantastic.
  • Cafe Amelie, 912 Royal St.: French Quarter – Beautiful outdoor garden perfect for al fresco dining. It’s so peaceful that you forget you’re in the bustling French Quarter.
  • Coquette, 2800 Magazine St.: Garden District – The butternut squash cavatelli is sublime.
  • Bei Tempi, 901 Convention Center Drive – An unassuming new Italian restaurant serving spectacular food! It’s located next to a Subway and at first glance you’re tempted to turn on your heals and leave…don’t! The pizza is fantastic and the garlic rolls are habit-forming. No joke!

Beets are a staple around here….when the boys aren’t home (beets are WAY too healthy for them at their stage in the game). Monica would eat beets morning, noon, and night. Yes, she’s a strange child who is passionate about nutrition. I digress. Anyway, since it was just the three of us, I decided on a roasted beet, yogurt, and pomegranate molasses salad served alongside a cauliflower and celeriac soup.

Here’s what you’ll need (serves 4):

Salad

  • 2 medium sized beets (red or golden)
  • Pomegranate molasses (can be found online, or in a Middle Eastern market. We have an area referred to as Little Arabia not far from me so I can access a ton of interesting stuff there).
  • 1/4 cup 0% Fage yogurt (or any Greek style yogurt will do)
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • Arugula (or any green you prefer)
  • Toasted pecans to scatter on top

Soup

  • 1 medium sized shallot, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. curry powder (I used Muchi)
  • 1 head of cauliflower (greens removed)
  • 1 celeriac root, peeled
  • Chicken stock
  • 1 green apple, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 small parmesan rind
Wrap your beets in aluminum foil and roast @ 400 for at least an hour. Or until a knife sinks in easily.

Wrap your beets in aluminum foil and roast @ 400 for at least an hour. Or until a knife sinks in easily.

Peel the skin off of your beets once they have cooled enough to handle.

Peel the skin off of your beets once they have cooled enough to handle.

Cut your beets into large coins.

Cut your beets vertically into 1 inch coins.

Cut the coins into julienned strips.

Cut the coins into julienned strips.

The cut the strips into cubes.

The cut the strips into cubes.

Pomegranate molasses.

Pomegranate molasses.

Add your molasses, yogurt, and salt and pepper.

Add your molasses, yogurt, and salt and pepper.

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Mix ingredients and set aside.

Mix ingredients and set aside.

Peel the round celeriac root and apple. Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower and rough chop all of the above. Do not use the core of the apple.

Peel the round celeriac root and apple. Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower and rough chop all of the above. Do not use the core of the apple.

This is what a peeled celeriac root looks like. Not a thing of beauty, but tasty nonetheless. It has a mild celery flavor.

This is what a peeled celeriac root looks like. Not a thing of beauty, but tasty nonetheless. It has a mild celery flavor.

Bloom your curry powder in your soup pot with the apples and shallot.

Bloom your curry powder in your soup pot with the apples and shallot. Add the other ingredients once the curry becomes very fragrant and the shallots look soft.

Add all of your ingredients to your pot. Add enough stock until everything floats freely.

Add all of your ingredients to your pot. Add enough stock until everything floats freely.

Simmer until everything pierces easily with a knife.

Simmer until everything pierces easily with a knife. I used my hand-held to puree. You can also use a Vita Mix, but I found this easiest as I wanted some texture in my soup. You can puree it as much as you’d like.

I puree the soup with my hand held emulsifier until it's smooth with just a little texture. You can take it as far as you'd like.

The finished product! Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Lay your beets over salad greens and you're good to go. The dressing on the beets will negate the need for a vinaigrette.

Lay your beets over salad greens and you’re good to go. The dressing on the beets will negate the need for a vinaigrette.

Eat well!

April

Roasted Bell Pepper Sauce

IMG_2914I needed a quick sauce to serve alongside some scallops that I picked up yesterday. It needed to marry well with the Farmer’s Market potatoes and the baby broccoli that I purchased last Saturday. The veggies were running out of shelf life and needed to be used up before they needed to be tossed out. There was one lonely bell pepper left in the fridge and I decided that it would serve my purpose well.

I LOVE roasted bell peppers. They’re just great in so many things and their flavor becomes very complex when you roast them. Sweet and smoky. I roasted a bell pepper in an earlier post for soup, but just in case you missed it, here’s the rundown again.

Take a pepper, any pepper, and put it over an open flame. No, it will not burst into flames….unless you walk away and leave it there for hours on end. Since I was serving scallops, which have a delicate flavor, I used an orange bell pepper and not an anaheim, or stronger flavored pepper (those would be great with red meat or pork). Using a pair of tongs, turn the pepper as soon as you see that the side facing the flame has charred.

Nice and charred.

Nice and charred.

Now take your charred pepper and place it in a large sealable bag. This will sweat the pepper and make it easier to peel the skin off, with your hands, once it’s cooled down.

Leave the pepper sealed in the bag until it's cool enough to be handled.

Leave the pepper sealed in the bag until it’s cool enough to be handled.

Begin gathering the rest of your ingredients while you wait for your pepper to cool down:

  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 1/2 medium shallot
  • 9 medium sized basil leaves
  • 1/2 small lemon
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup good EVOO

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I used my mini-chopper for this sauce.

I used my mini-chopper for this sauce.

Remove seeds from the inside of your pepper and use your fingers to peel as much of the charred skin as you can.

Remove the seeds from the inside of your pepper and use your fingers to peel off as much of the charred skin as you can.

Add all of the ingredients to your processor.

Add all of the ingredients to your processor.

Pulse away until it liquifies.

Pulse away until it liquifies.

The sauce should be looser than a pesto and still retain a bit of texture.

The sauce should be looser than a pesto and still retain a bit of texture.

Ready for reheating. You can add more salt at this point, too, if you so desire.

Ready for reheating. You can add more salt at this point, too, if you so desire.

I slow roasted my baby potatoes for 2 hours at 350, wrapped in foil, with a generous amount of EVOO, chives, and salt and pepper. They were super tender…almost confit like. I periodically opened the foil package and shook them around and checked for moistness.

I slow roasted my baby potatoes for 2 hours at 350, wrapped in foil, with a generous amount of EVOO, chives, and salt and pepper. They were super tender…almost confit like. I periodically opened the foil package and shook them around and checked for moistness.

I blanched the broccoli and tossed it with the remaining half of the shallot. I put the broccoli in the oven to roast about 10 minutes prior to searing the scallops.

I blanched the broccoli and tossed it with the remaining half of the shallot and some EVOO. I put the broccoli in the oven to roast about 10 minutes prior to searing the scallops.

I warmed the sauce, and the plates, as the scallops were cooking. I added the sauce in a semi-circle and then cradled the food inside the open area. I also added a few dollops of sauce to a few scallops.

IMG_2941We have some Buddhist monks in town and they’re creating a medicine mandala in a local church. I know a great gal who owns a meditation studio and the monks came to bless her studio the other evening, too. They chanted and held a group meditation prior to the blessing and their chanting was incredible. It filled every nook and cranny of the studio. It was big and powerful.

I stopped by the church this morning to see how their mandala is coming along (it will take them many days to complete it) and it’s absolutely amazing to see them put this intricate design together with just colored sand particles. They use metal looking wands, vaguely conical in shape, that are open at both ends. They fill them with the sand and they rub them slowly, or quickly, depending upon how much sand they wish to deposit, with another metal wand. You’ll see in the photos that they’re all wearing surgical masks so that they don’t sneeze, or cough, and blow all of that hard work into oblivion.   If you’re interested, you can log onto http://www.gomang.org/medicinebuddha.html where you can read a description of a medicine mandala.

We had the special opportunity, while visiting Thailand several years ago, to visit a Buddhist monkdom where they house young boys training to carry on the traditions of monkhood. Everyone is all smiles and they look tremendously happy with their life’s calling. Very cool to see.

IMG_2945 IMG_2946 IMG_2947

.IMG_2946IMG_2945Here are some interesting facts (copied off of www.buddhanet.net) pertaining to Buddhist Monks and their food rituals/restrictions:

Food

“A monk is allowed to collect, receive and consume food between dawn and midday (taken to be 12 noon). He is not allowed to consume food outside of this time and he is not allowed to store food overnight. Plain water can be taken at any time without having to be offered. Although a monk lives on whatever is offered, vegetarianism is encouraged.

A monk must have all eatables and drinkables, except plain water, formally offered into his hands or placed on something in direct contact with his hands. In the Thai tradition, in order to prevent contact with a woman, he will generally set down a cloth to receive things offered by women. He is not allowed to cure or cook food except in particular circumstances.

In accordance with the discipline, a monk is prohibited from eating fruit or vegetables containing fertile seeds. So, when offering such things, a layperson can either remove the seeds or make the fruit allowable slightly damaging it with a knife. This is done by piercing the fruit and saying at the same time ‘Kappiyam bhante’ or ‘I am making this allowable, Venerable Sir’ (the English translation). It is instructive to note that, rather than limiting what can be offered, the Vinaya lays emphasis on the mode of offering. Offering should be done in a respectful manner, making the act of offering a mindful and reflective one, irrespective of what one is giving.”

Namaste!

April