Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Couscous Salad

I got home late last night and did not have time to prepare one of those elaborated meals I like to cook for my family so, I checked the pantry and the fridge and decided to make a couscous salad with what I had.  

A short story about couscous for those who are are not familiar with it.  Couscous is originally from North Africa, more specifically from Morocco. Couscous is a grain product made from semolina.  It cooks really fast and it is very light.  There will be no guilt when you finish your meal. 

This recipe is all mine. 


Ingredients:
  • One cup of whole wheat couscous
  • One cup of water
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup black olives, roughly shopped
  • 1/4 cup peas
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly shopped
  • 3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Organic Blue Agave
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher Sea salt (if desire)
Directions:
  1. In a saucepan bring water to boil with the salt, once boiling add the couscous, stir and remove from heat.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  I removed it from the pan to a serving bowl and put it in the freezer for a faster cooling. 
  2. Meanwhile in a bowl make the dressing by whisking the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and agave until completely mixed. Then add to the dressing the tomatoes, cilantro, peas, black olives and combine well.  
  3. Once the couscous is cold, add to the salad mixture and combine well.  The reason I wait for the couscous to be as cool as possible is to prevent the cilantro from wilting.        
It is that simple.  There are many variations to this salad, all of them delicious.  Please, try this at home and don't forget to share your experience.   

Buon Appetito!

                                                                                                                      

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Slow-Cooked Curried Brown Rice Green Lentil Soup





During the week we are eating light without sacrificing flavor.  I refuse to eat tasteless meals just because I need to lose weight.

Among my kitchen prized possessions I have a crock pot.  It can also be called a slow cooker.  If you do not have one, I recommend you to buy one.  For us working women is very convenient, we put everything in it before we go to work and come  home to a meal ready to be served.  In any event, I purchased mine in 1995 so they last, because I use mine frequently.


A few nights ago we were in the mood for something hearty.  This time I went to India for that.  This is a delicious recipe, low in calories and very satisfying.


Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth 
  • 4 cups of water
  • 12 oz pack of Green Lentils
  • 1 1/2 cups of brown rice
  • Curry powder (I make mine at home)
Ingredients for the Curry Powder:
  • 3 pods Cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1 Bay leave


Roast Fennel and cardamom until fragrant. Ground them and mix with the other spices to obtain the Curry Powder.

Directions:

  1. Place lentil, brown rice, onion, vegetable broth, water, bay leave, spices into the crock pot, stir and cook on low for about eight hours. 
  2. Toss the Bay leave before serving*.                                                         

When you come home the aroma of this delicious soup will make you smile and you will know that dinner is ready.  Please make this soup, you will not regret it.  

*I don't remember how this came to me but always, before I am going to toss the bay leave, I close my eyes, suck on it and I ask for a wish.  It is supposed to be for good luck.  

Please let me know your thoughts. 

Buon Appetitto!

  

Last Weekend at Valia's

Last weekend we had a dinner party at my friend's house.  It was unbelievable!  Her husband, Leo, was craving foods from the South and we fulfilled his desired.  We prepared such a feast that I am still savoring it a week later.

In this post, I will showcase all the dishes and I promise you that I will come back with all the recipes individually because each of them is a star.  Here we go:
Photo by Laura
Photo by Laura


Photo by Laura


Photo by Laura

My mouth waters just by watching these pictures.  I know yours will too.  It was a  wonderful night among wonderful friends and plenty of great food.  

Buon Appetito!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bolinho de Bacalhau

A few nights ago I was craving this delicious treat, but I am cutting down on the calories and the original recipe is fried.  Fortunately, thanks to the recommendation of our friend, Alfredo Pong, we purchased a Nuwave oven and cooked this delicious little balls in it.

Bolinho de Bacalhau is nothing more than codfish balls. Delicious codfish balls.  They are Portuguese in origin but Brazilians have made them famous.

I am always researching for ways to perfect the dishes I cook and this time I was very happy to find that one of my favorite chefs, Julia Child, also liked to make Bolinho de Bacalhau, she called them "Aunt Priscilla's Codfish Balls" and this time and every time from now on, I will repeat her trick.

Without further ado I present you Bolinho de Bacalhau.

Photo by Laura

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound fresh cod
  • 1 1/4 cups of mashed potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp of finely chopped flat leave parsley
  • 1 large egg
Directions:
  1. Simmer a small onion, thinly sliced, with a bay leave and two pepper corns in two cups of water.  After 5 minutes, add the cod and an additional cup of water.  When it simmers, cover the pan and remove from heat, that way the cod stays soft.  You can keep the cod in this liquid in the refrigerator until ready to use.  And this is Julia Child's trick, let me tell you it made all the difference, she was a genius and I love her.  Thank you Julia!
  2. Drain the fish, place in a bowl and flake it thoroughly.  Add the mashed potatoes, beat the egg with a pinch of kosher sea salt and add them to the fish and potatoes.  Add parsley and taste, if you think is necessary add kosher sea salt and pepper.  
  3. Wait a good half hour to form the balls. 
  4. Place the balls on the lower rack of the Nuwave oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until golden.
  5. This recipe gave me about 25 codfish balls.
These were delicious.  Please make them at home and share your thoughts. 

Buon Appetito! 


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

This is such a hearty dish that I suggest, if you have children and they don't want to eat their veggies, make this dish for them and I guarantee they will scrape their plate clean.  This is a recipe I took from one of my vegetarian cookbooks and change it a little bit to my taste.  This is a family favorite at my home.

Photo by Laura
Ingredients:

  • Four boxes of frozen broccoli florets, 10 oz each, coarsely chopped and thawed
  • 1/3 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups fat free milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup Kraft extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Kraft Italian five cheeses, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of roasted pimientos, diced
  • Kosher sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Canola cooking spray
  • Panko 

Photo by Laura
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
  2. Spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, level with a knife.  Place flour and  dry mustard in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Gradually add milk, broth and whisk until blended.  Cook until thick, about 8 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, add cheeses and Dijon mustard, stir until cheeses are melted.  Add roasted pimiento peppers and broccoli tossing to coat.  
  3. Coat a baking dish with the canola cooking spray and spoon in the broccoli and cheese mixture.
  4. Mix together the Panko and Cheeses and sprinkle evenly over the mixture.  Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the mixture.
  5. Bake until bubbly about 20 minutes, depending on your oven.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 
Photo by Laura
All I can say is YUM!  My friends were really impressed with this delicious dish.  Please do make this at home.  Share your thoughts.  

Buon Appetito! 









Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Basil Avocado Cups

Last Sunday we had friends over.  I invited them to a  vegetarian feast.  This recipe was part of the menu and a total success.  It is my version of a recipe I saw a while ago.   I know you will like it as much as we did.

Basil Avocado Cups - Photo by Laura

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup Basil Pesto*
  • Grapeseed oil
  • 24 Wonton wraps
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 3 ripe avocados, diced -I used the Mexican ones
  • 1/2 cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Chives
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
Basil Avocado Cups - Photo by Laura
Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Lightly coat both sides of the Wonton wrap with the oil, put two wraps  together and press them into a 12 muffin cups.  Make sure that the bottom are as flat as possible.  
  2. Bake the Wonton wrappers until golden and crispy for about 10 minutes.  Let cool completely.
  3. In a bowl, stir together the softened cream cheese, goat cheese, basil pesto, garlic, salt and pepper.  Carefully, fold the diced avocado into the cheese mixture.  Scoop the Basil Avocado among the Wonton cups.  Garnish with the Chives.  
Basil Avocado Cups - Photo by Laura

*The Basil Pesto can be made ahead of time.  You can use the herb of your liking.  

Please do make this recipe at home.  Be creative and enjoy.  Don't forget to let me know.

Buon Appetito!



Sunday, October 20, 2013

My very own Spanish Vegizo

One of the things I miss the most from my carnivore days are the sausages, especially chorizo.  However, I realized that what I really liked was the flavor and not so much the texture of the meat. A few months ago, I prepared a dish with soy veggie crumbles and one of the ingredients I used was "Pimentón de la Vera", which is nothing more than smoked paprika.  Oh boy, I thought I had hit the jackpot.  Instantly, I realized that the flavor was no other than the flavor I much loved of the Spanish chorizo.  I thought, "If only I could make vegetarian chorizo (vegizo)".  I know we can find vegetarian sausages in the market, but their sodium content is very high, and not to mention the artificial flavors and ingredients one cannot pronounce that makers use in order to preserve these particular items. No no, I want to make my own vegetarian sausages at home.

My quest began right there.  After a few tries I finally found a recipe online that could take me to where I wanted to go, and it did.  This is my first try, and it was a success.  The best part of this is that now, at home, I can make my own Italian, German, Mexican or Spanish vegetarian sausages.  I am very excited about this. 

This recipe gave me eight.


Ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup red beans
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbsps. Tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsps. water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup yeast
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsps. Hungarian paprika
  • 3Tbsps. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:

     1.  In a bowl, mash the beans until they look like a puree. Add the broth, tomato paste, vinegar, olive oil, water, garlic and whisk well. 
     2.  With the help of a fork, stir in the gluten and blend it in well until a dough forms.  Add the yeast and combine it well.  Add now the herbs and spices and mix them in, knead the mixture like you do a pizza dough to blend everything together.  Give the dough a round shape and set aside.


 3. Cut eight pieces of foil paper and have them ready.  Section the dough until you get the amount of vegizos you desire.  Roll each section into a log and wrap into a piece of foil paper, twisting the ends like you would a hard candy.


     4.   Have a steamer basket with boiling water ready and add the foiled up vegizos to the basket.  Steam for 40 minutes.


  5.   Let it cool and voila, you have your wonderful vegizos. 

I will be making this very often.  Of course we will continue to buy chorizos because my hubby is not a vegetarian, buy I finally found what I had been looking for.

If you aren't a vegetarian but are looking to cut down on red meat, please make this recipe, you won't regret it.  And for my fellow vegetarians out there, we have hit the jackpot! 

Let me know what you think.

Buon Appetito!