Monthly Archives: February 2011

Green Tea Panna Cotta

This year I was emphatic that our Valentine’s dinner would not be complete without the perfect final course!  Days before, Andy and I had decided to go with one of our favorites–a simple, but intensely flavored Thai dish as the main course.  I was left to decide on the ever-so-important final course and I couldn’t think of anything more perfectly suited to end this meal than a creamy panna cotta–which I, of course, had never made before.  But I did remember sitting at my doctor’s office years earlier (7, to be exact), nauseously browsing the pages of some cooking magazine while waiting for my impending and much anticipated diagnosis of ‘the flu’, when I found this recipe.  Maybe it was my sore throat or low-grade fever that made me rip this puppy out of the magazine just as I was being called by the enthusiastic receiving nurse–I don’t really know, but I am sure glad that I did!    Isn’t it funny how the mind works–I can’t remember what I did yesterday, but I can remember the details of finding this recipe years earlier…and so it goes.  Since then, this delicious recipe has patiently been waiting amongst many others for my culinary attention.  Valentine’s 2011 was it’s big debut and let me tell you it was nothing short of perfection.  In fact, I am confident that our Valentine’s dinner would have received top reviews even from the likes of the Andy Haylers of the world–at least that is what MY sweet Andy believes!  This dessert is simple to make, beautiful on the plate, and silky soft and sweet on the tongue!  I encourage you to give this a try on your next special evening at home with your sweetie or with friends!  Don’t be intimidated by the matcha–it is easily sourced from your local asian grocer and can be used for many different creations (green tea coconut latte sound good about now???)!

Green Tea Panna Cotta

Servings:  3

  • 1 t unflavored gelatin
  • 1 T cold water
  • 1 c + 2 T heavy cream or coconut milk (Silk)
  • 3 T vanilla sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 t Matcha

Place the cold water in a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin on top to dissolve and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1 c heavy cream (or the coconut milk*) with the sugar on low until the sugar is dissolved–about 3 minutes.  Whisk in the gelatin mix well until smooth.  *If using more or mostly coconut milk (vs cream), you may want to add a little more gelatin to be sure the panna cotta thickens enough to remove from the ramekin for serving.  I usually end up using a minimum of 1/2 cream for the best mouth feel and texture.

In a small bowl, whisk 1 t matcha with 2 T cream (or coconut milk) until smooth.  Mix this with the remaining cream mixture and divide among three ramekins or custard cups.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate for about 2 hours or until the gelatin has set.

To serve, fill a lasagna pan with very hot water.  Dip the ramekins in the water for 30 seconds to loosen the sides; invert the cup and shake gently until the custard is released onto your serving dish.  Garnish with whatever you like–small bits of dark chocolate, fresh raspberries or strawberries, toasted coconut or NOTHING!

Serve this dessert with your favorite beverage and lots of LOVE!


Eastern Lentil Stew

Last night I was not feeling hugely motivated to make dinner.  I knew we were going to have a simple arugula salad, but I just couldn’t think of anything to pair with it.  I finally decided since nothing was jumping out at me, I was just going to use some healthful ingredients already in the pantry and refrigerator.  So I went searching and made the bold decision to do something with lentils.  My heart started beating a little faster and I quickly searched for a recipe online to accelerate the rate even more.  I finally found it!  A wonderful recipe from allrecipes that had glowing user reviews.  I tweaked it as I normally do and this is what ended up in my stew pot.  Let me forewarn you of a couple of things:  1.  my mouth is watering just thinking about how savory, warm, and exotically spicy this stew is  2.  you will want to make a double batch so you can quickly pull it out of the freezer to get your new lentil fix and 3.  you will need a full dose of BEANO to keep the fumes down in your home!!

Eastern Lentil Stew

Servings:  5-6

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 t fresh grated ginger
  • 6 c veggie broth
  • 1 c red lentils
  • 1 (15 oz) can chick peas
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 c grated or chopped carrots
  • 1 c celery, chopped
  • 1 T + garam masala
  • 1/2 t + cayenne pepper
  • 2 T toasted cumin seeds
  • 1-2 T EVOO
  • 1 t smoked paprika
  • 1-2 t chipotle pepper flakes
  • handful of golden raisins (optional)
  • garnish:  chopped green onion

Heat EVOO with the cumin seeds and chipotle pepper flakes over medium low.  When the cumin seeds are lightly toasted add the onion and cook for 5 minutes.  Next, add the carrots and celery and cook for 5 minutes or until the celery is starting to soften.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 3 minutes.  Add the remainder of the ingredients (pour off the top 1/3 of the liquid from the canned beans, but use the rest), stir well and turn the heat down to low.  Cook for 1-1 1/2 hours, stirring the pot every 10-15 minutes.  Use a food processor or blender to very lightly puree the stew before serving.

Helpful hint–when the stew is at your desired consistency, place a lid on the pot to cover about 75% of the top to keep the moisture in the pot. Continue to cook the stew for the suggested time to maximize the flavor profile of the dish.

Serve this stew with a healthy handful of green onions on top and a big piece of warm, crusty french or sourdough bread.  Enjoy a nice glass of brown beer or dry, fruity white wine with this flavorful dinner!

Bon Appetit!

ZaZING Turkey Loaf

As you already know, we do not eat a lot of meat here at 488.  We have a couple of exceptions and this super flavorful turkey loaf is one of them!  I found this delight on The Food Network and have tweaked it to better suit our palates.  This is wonderfully hearty and has just the right amount of ZING to keep you coming back for more!  Serve this with a big side salad and some crusty french bread to make a simple meal pretty flipping amazing.  Oh, and try to save some for ‘day-after’ meatloaf sandwiches–no condiments necessary!

ZaZING Turkey Loaf

Servings:  About 10

  • 2# lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 c chopped marinated sun dried tomatoes + 2 t oil from the jar
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c panko bread crumbs
  • 1 c feta cheese crumbles
  • 2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 t chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1 t kosher salt
  • vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl place all ingredients.  Gently mix to combine all ingredients.  Pack the mixture into a lasagna pan that has been lightly coated with PAM cooking spray.  Bake for about 45 minutes covered.  Remove cover and bake another 15-20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Bon Appetit!!!

Toasted cumin and saffron Basmati

This is a great rice base for your Indian/Asian dishes.

Toasted Cumin and Saffron Basmati

1 c basmati rice

2 c water, vegetable, or chicken stock

1 T butter

1 T cumin seeds

1 large pinch saffron, crumbled

1 t salt (only if you aren’t using stock)

In a small stock pan melt butter over medium low.  Add the cumin seeds and let cook until the cumin toasts to a darker brown and the aroma is toasted and smoky.

While the cumin is toasting, add the saffron to the warm water or stock to rehydrate.

Add the rice to the pan with the melted butter and stir to coat rice the the flavored butter.  Add the water/stock/saffron and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to very low and cover.  Turn off the heat after 5 minutes and let sit covered for 15 minutes or enough time to hydrate the rice to your preferred texture.

Broccoli Slaw and Thai Pasta Salad

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to post this recipe.  I LOVE this Thai vegan pasta salad so much that one can usually find a batch made up in my fridge!  This is soooo simple to make and will stay ‘fresh’ in the fridge for up to a week–but trust me, it will never last that long!  It is really two different recipes, but we almost always top a big scoop of the pasta with the Broccoli Slaw.  Serve this dish at room temperature to maximize the flavors.

I wish I had a picture of this dish to post right now…it is so green and beautiful!

Bon Appetit!

Edamame Broccoli Slaw

Servings:  5-6

1 bag broccoli slaw

1/4 c white miso paste ( I usually go a little heavier on the miso=addl 1 T)

1 1/2 T sugar

1/4 c brown rice vinegar

1 t (or more) grated ginger

1 1/2 T sesame oil

1 T low sodium soy sauce

1 bag shelled edamame

3/4 c blanched, toasted almond slices or slivers

Combine miso, sugar, vinegar, ginger and whisk.  Add oil and soy sauce and whisk.  Toss with all other ingredients.

Thai Pasta

Servings:  5-6

2 T toasted sesame seeds

1 # whole wheat spaghetti (cooked al dente)

2 T chipotle pepper flakes

1/2 c sesame oil

splash of canola oil (1-2 t)

6 T honey

5 T low sodium soy sauce

1 bunch chopped cilantro

3/4 c finely chopped dry roasted peanuts

1/2 c chopped green onion

Combine red pepper, canola oil, sesame oil, honey and soy sauce.  Heat in microwave for 2 minutes.  Toss with warm pasta.  Cool to room temperature.  Add cilantro, peanuts, onions and sesame seeds.

Serve pasta with a healthy scoop of the slaw on top and try to leave yourself leftovers for tomorrow!  🙂  YUM!

Sharp Little ‘Nut’ Curry

So, I had a small dinner party last night and wanted to do something a little different…and VEGAN for the group.  I,  myself, was jonesin for some SPICE but I needed it to be at an acceptable, crowd-pleasing level.  So I tried my hand at curry.  My efforts with indian cooking are really pretty sparse and usually not successful–which made me a bit nervous.  Over the Christmas holiday we tried a Butternut Squash curry at my mother-in-law’s following (pretty closely anyway) a recipe we found through Baker Creek Seeds.  It was good, but it needed a lot more flavor to satisfy our very persnickity palates.  The only other curry that I make (and LOVE) is a Burmese Chicken Curry, but that didn’t pass the VEGAN test and seemed a bit boring.  So, I decided to scrap all of my previous recipes/efforts in lieu of trying something completely on my own.  GREAT PLAN!  Sharp little nut curry is what I am calling it, for now anyway.  It turned out fantastic!  The omnivores in the crowd were LOVING this healthful curry–and so were we!  I served it over a saffron and toasted cumin basmati rice with both a heavy red wine and a nice light Chardonnay.  I hope you enjoy it as much as the birthday crowd did!

Sharp Nut Curry

6 servings

1 large Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed (3-4 cups)

2 large yellow onions, chopped

6 shallots, sliced into very thin coins

2 large bell peppers (we used red and orange), chopped

2 large roma tomatoes

2 large chipotle peppers plus sauce (I like Embasa Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce–found at my local grocery store).  VERY HOT, so be careful!

1 1/2-2 c coconut milk (I use SILK’s Plain-much lighter than traditional canned)

2 T toasted sesame oil

8 garlic cloves

1 big (1×1) chunk of ginger

1 T chopped lemongrass–I get mine at my local asian store.  It comes frozen and chopped for easy use and storage!  YUMMMMM!

3 c veggie or chicken stock (you may need more to achieve your desired consistency)

1-2 T grated Jaggery (indian cane sugar)

1-2 t tumeric

1-2 t coriander

2 t mustard seed

2 T cumin seed

1/4 c red lentils

1 T butter (optional)

1 t salt

Bunch of Cilantro

Heat oil in a large dutch oven or saute pan.  Add the mustard seeds and cook over medium-low until they start to pop. Add 1/2 of the cumin seeds and let toast for a minute or two.

While the mustard seeds are warming and beginning to toast, add the following to your food processor and puree until you achieve a nice and thick consistency:  garlic, 1/2 of the chopped onion, ginger, lemon grass, 1 T cumin seed, chipotle pepper (and sauce), tomato, salt.  Add this to the pan with toasted cumin and mustard seeds.  Saute over low for 10-15 minutes.  Add the rest of the onions, bell peppers, jaggery, lentils, tumeric, butter (optional) and coriander and cook for another 10-15 minutes–until the onions and peppers are nice and soft.  Add the squash cubes and stock and cook over very low heat with a lid for 15-20 minutes.  Add 1 1/2 c coconut milk and place the lid so it is mostly covering the pot, but venting to allow some moisture to be released and the curry to thicken.  Cook for another 15 minutes or so.  Test the curry and make flavor adjustments as needed.  When you are satisfied with the flavor and consistency, serve over toasted cumin and saffron basmati rice.  Garnish with chopped cilantro and caramelized shallots (see instructions in next paragraph).

While the curry is cooking add a small amount of veg oil to a small saute pan and place over med-low heat.  Add the shallots and cook until they are soft and have browned (very important for the best flavor) really nicely.  When brown set aside.  Use the shallots as garnish for the curry.