Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Roasted Tomatillo Chipolte Salsa

I love chipolte peppers, especially the ones that come in adobo sauce. They've got such a wonderful smokiness to them, and bring a lovely complex flavor to whatever you add them to. (Try the Chipolte Cilantro Hummus or Chipolte Black Bean Cakes)

The chipolte peppers in this salsa bring the heat, while the roasted tomatillos and vegetables give it a great smoked flavor. On the heat scale of 1-5, this ranks in at about a 4.5, so if you're heat-sensitive, decrease the amount of chipoltes.

Roasted Tomatillo Chipolte Salsa

Roasted Tomatillo Chipolte Salsa
6 tomatillos, husks removed
4 plum tomatoes
5 cloves garlic
1 small vidalia onion
3 canned chipolte peppers
2 tsp of adobo sauce (from the chipolte peppers)
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh cilantro

In a large heavy pan over high heat, place tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, and onion. Roast 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until there are roasted spots on veggies. Remove from heat, place on a plate, and cool for a few minutes. Place in food processor with chipolte peppers and sugar, and process until still chunky. Add cilantro, and pulse a few times until desired consistency. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours for flavors to mix well.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Chilled Peach Soup

If I had to pick my top 5 recipes of all times, this would definitely be included in that category. And when I introduce this soup to some, it's met with a "Wha...??" I have to admit, when I was served this in a restaurant years ago, I was somewhat skeptical of it. But as soon as I tasted it, I knew it needed to be recreated in my own kitchen.

It's the perfect blend of everything - sweet, a touch of tang from the wine, and touched off with freshly-cracked black pepper. And while you might think the combination of everything in it might be a touch odd, I promise you'll love the flavors of it.

This recipe is perfect for summer breakfasts and brunches, and also is a lovely appetizer for a light summer meal.

Chilled Peach Soup 2

Chilled Peach Soup
1 (16oz) bag frozen peach slices, thawed
3/4 c pineapple juice
1/2 c orange juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 c white wine
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 c sour cream (or yogurt)
1/2 c half and half (or soymilk)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
A few shakes of nutmeg
freshly cracked pepper

Thaw peaches, and reserve 1/4 c. Place the rest of the peaches and the ingredients in a blender. Blend well until pureed. Dice remaining peaches and stir into soup. Chill for a few hours. Serve in bowls, and top with freshly cracked pepper.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Banana Oatmeal Snack Cake

Everyone has their own recipe for banana bread - the one their mother used to make, or the one they found in their favorite cookbook. But most banana breads are full of oil, and usually include a good-sized amount of sugar.

This one is a good-for-you version. The whole wheat flour and flax meal give you a nice hit of fiber, the olive oil is the "good kind of fat," and the amount of sugar is relatively low. However, despite all of the fairly healthy ingredients, it's got a lovely flavor.

Banana Oatmeal Snack Cake

Banana Oatmeal Snack Cake
1 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c flax meal
1/2 c brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c oats
1 c mashed banana
1/3 c plain yogurt
1/4 c olive oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, beaten (or egg substitute)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 square pan, or a regular loaf pan. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine banana, yogurt, oil, vanilla, and egg, and stir well. Add wet ingredients to dry, stirring gently just until fully moistened. Spread batter into prepared pan, and bake 30-35 minutes (50-55 if using loaf pan), until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool thoroughly and slice.
Bueno Fresh Salsa

I think one of the best things about going to a Mexican restaurant is the little basket of chips and salsa they bring you before you eat. You could make a whole meal from it, especially if it's good housemade stuff.

Someone recently asked if I had a good fresh salsa recipe. Despite my love for it, I rarely ever make it at home. I decided today was as good as any to try a batch, and I'm glad I did. This recipe will definitely be making its appearance multiple times this summer.

Since fresh perfectly ripe tomatoes are hard to find sometimes round these parts, I added a can of crushed tomatoes, which add a lovely base and flavor to the salsa.

Bueno Salsa

Bueno Fresh Salsa
1 (28oz) can plain crushed tomatoes
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 c vidalia onion, finely minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/4 c white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Allow to hang out in the fridge for a few hours, to allow flavors to combine.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Orange Flax Cake

If you haven't noticed, I love to slip flax into things. I especially love slipping flax seed meal in, which is more digestible by your body. Usually in most recipes, you can substitute a nice portion of the flours with flax meal.

This cake is amazingly delicious, and fairly low in calories. Also, it's got a nice amount of protein and fiber in it, and the addition of the orange juice and orange zest really add a lovely tone to the entire cake.

Orange Flax Cake

Orange Flax Cake
1 c dried cranberries
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c fresh orange juice
1 c flax seed meal
2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp grated orange zest
1 egg, beaten
1/4 c oil
1 1/4 c fresh orange juice

Preheat oven to 375. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients, including the zest. In a smaller bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, and add them to the dry ingredients. Once well-mixed, stir in the cranberry mixture. Place in a greased 8x8 pan, or a bundt cake pan, and place in preheated oven. Bake 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in cake comes out dry.
Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. Slice when cool, and serve with drizzled honey.
Spanish Rice & Beans

Spanish rice is everywhere, and everyone has their own way of making it. There's the kind you get at a Mexican restaurant, or the type you get from a Tex-mex restaurant. If you go to Guatemala, they make theirs completely different than they do in Puerto Rico. And even among Puerto Ricans, they have different ways to make it, depending on what part of Puerto Rico you came from, or if you are a New-Urican. And of course, the best rice recipes are the ones where there is no recipe, but simply "add this until it looks good, and then add that."

When I lived in Guatemala, I fell in love with their version, and learned how to make it there. Then when I moved back here to the East Coast, I discovered the Puerto Rican version. I finally asked a woman at work who had brought some in for lunch if she would share her recipe. Although she didn't give me measurements, or anything other than a list of ingredients, after a few trial-and-errors, I was finally able to come up with a version that is tastefully wonderful. The following is the result. Any decent grocery store with Goya products should have the ingredients.

Spanish Rice and Beans

*If you are unable to locate any proper fresh Sofrito in your area, I've linked to an authentic recipe. It is definitely worth having some of this on hand, and not only to make this rice.

Spanish Rice & Beans
3 tbsp Sofrito
1 pkt Goya Sazon seasoning
1 tsp Goya Adobo seasoning
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
30 oz water
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained (or whatever beans you prefer)
2 cups long grain rice

Combine sofrito, sazon, and adobo in a large saucepan. Add sauce and water, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, add beans, and bring back to a boil. Add rice, bring to a boil, cover and lower heat. Cook for an additional 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Microtato Chips

You might want to prepare yourselves for this, folks. Because I'm about to introduce something revolutionary to you. And I'm sure everyone and their mother have been making these for years, but it's new to me. Fat-free potato chips. And I'm not talking those little potato-eque wafers you get at the grocery store. I'm talking straight up potato chips, just as good as the full fat ones, just as crispy, and definitely just as tasty.

Follow me on this - potatoes, made in the microwave, with just a smidgen of cooking spray. Flavored with whatever spice combination floats your boat. I'm talking Old Bay, I'm talking chili powder with fresh lime, I'm talking freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt.

*This is also my entry in Sweetnick's Tuesday Anti-Oxidant Rich Food Roundup*

Microtato Chips

Microtato Chips
2 large potatoes, freshly scrubbed
cooking spray
parchment paper or wax paper
desired seasoning
a microwave

Thinly slice potatoes, using either a mandolin, or a regular vegetable peeler. Spray a sheet of parchment paper (or wax paper) lightly with cooking spray, and lay potatoes out in a single layer. Season with desired seasoning, and place in the microwave. Microwave on high, 5-7 minutes, until chips start to brown. Remove from the oven, and cool for a few seconds. Enjoy!

*And if you do make these, I'd love to know some more seasonings that worked for you

Monday, May 15, 2006

Indian Rice and Potatoes

Obviously, if you dig through my archives, you'll find that I am a huge fan of Indian food. I love the combination of spices, and the whole "comfort food" aspect of it. I've loved it since I was a little girl, and had my first Indian meal at a restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya. Since then, I've been in love.

This is a fabulous dish, whether it's your main dish or your side dish. It combines two of my most favorite things to cook with, rice and potatoes, and is so amazingly spiced. Although the ingredient list seems long and fiddly, the entire recipe takes about 45 minutes from start to finish. Serve with fresh lime wedges, and enjoy the flavors.

Indian Rice and Potatoes

Indian Rice and Potatoes
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sticks
3 tbsp yogurt
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
1 tsp ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 c dried coconut*
6 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 tbsp oil
1 cup rice
3/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp lime juice
2 cups water
1/2 c frozen peas
1 tbsp butter

Combine yogurt, cilantro, ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, and coconut. Add potatoes, stir well, and allow to marinate for a few minutes. Heat oil in large pan, and add cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and cumin seeds. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until cumin turns brown. Add potato and yogurt mixture, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once potatoes are nicely browned, add rice, and cook for another minute or two. Add turmeric, brown sugar, salt, lime juice, and water. Bring to a boil, cover with lid, and lower heat to a simmer. Cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Add peas to pot, and do not stir in. Cover with lid and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove lid, and fluff with fork. Remove from heat, and stir in butter. Serve and enjoy!

*I only had the sweetened flaked coconut in my pantry, and it worked just fine.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hummus Hall of Fame

I was going through my archives, trying to figure out just how many different hummus recipes I've posted. For those of you who may have missed them, I decided to share them all again with you in my "Hummus Hall of Fame."

Green Chili Hummus
Green Chile Hummus
Moroccan Carrot Hummus
Moroccan Carrot Hummus
Thai Basil Hummus
Thai Hummus
Sundried Tomato Hummus
Sundried Tom Hummus
Lemon Ginger Hummus
Lemon Ginger Hummus
Cilantro Jalapeno Hummus

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Chipolte Cilantro Hummus

I'm addicted to hummus. No, seriously. I start to get twitchy if I don't have any in the house, and if I haven't tried a new combination in a few weeks, I get nervous.

Actually, it's not that bad. But if you've been reading any food blogs lately, you'll know that hummus has become the new thing. Everyone is making hummus, and seriously, if you're still buying it? Please, I beg you to try it at home. You'll never look back. Not only is it easy, quick, and delicious, it's extremely economical and most of the ingredients are already stocked in your pantry.

This is my new favorite hummus. I've been tossing this idea around for the past few days, wondering how the flavors would be together, and finally decided to try it today. Let me tell you - I'm rather glad I did. I love chipolte chilis, especially in adobo sauce, and the smokiness of it adds such a lovely flavor to it.

*This is on the spicy side, so if you like things more mild, then decrease the amount of chiles*

Chipolte Hummus

Chipolte Cilantro Hummus
2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 canned chipolte chiles, and
1 tbsp adobo sauce
1 clove garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp cilantro

Puree chipolte chiles and adobo sauce in a food processor until well minced. Add chickpeas, and garlic, and process until smooth. (As a note, I prefer texture in my hummus, so I minced the adobo, handmashed the chickpeas to desired texture, and then added the rest of the ingredients by hand). Slowly drizzle in olive oil until well mixed. Add cumin and pulse a few times. Add cilantro and pulse twice more. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so for flavors to bloom. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, or wrapped in a tortilla with fresh veggies and sprouts.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fennel Salad with Cumin Citrus Dressing

Every few weeks or so, I'll randomly pick something, usually produce, that I've either never cooked with, or haven't used in a long time. This week, it was fennel. I've used it before in my marinated olives recipe, but that's the extent of my fennel knowledge. I do love the fresh flavor of it, and wanted to use it in its raw state.

I wanted to do a salad and contrast some interesting flavors, and this salad was born. The cumin citrus dressing is lovely with the fennel, but would be great on just about any salad. The arugula and watercress add a nice bitter flavor, and contrast well with the sweetness of the dressing.

Fennel Salad

Fennel Salad with Cumin Citrus Dressing
Grated zest of one orange
3 tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 tbsp freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cumin
Freshly ground pepper
1 large bulb fennel, white part only, sliced thinly
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced or diced
6 radishes, thinly sliced

Combine juices, zest, oil, cumin, and pepper, and whisk well. Set aside. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl, toss with dressing, and serve.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sesame Nut Cookies

For those faithful readers of 28 Cooks, you know that I'm not a huge dessert person. I'm not a big fan of pies, cakes, or pastries. If I were to be tempted by something, it would definitely be freshly baked cookies. My 2 favorite cookies are Snickerdoodles and Oatmeal Raisin, and I think I just found my third.

This recipe is based on one that came from Dr. Weil's email newsletters. It's a perfect cookie, with enough flavor and sweetness where you feel like you're eating dessert, yet is still loaded with plenty of healthy things, like heart-healthy olive oil, some silken tofu, flax seed meal, and raw nuts. (And for those tofu-phobes, I promise you can't eve taste it and will forget it's even there) I also love this recipe because it doesn't make 47 dozen cookies, and will literally take 10 minutes to make the dough, and 10 minutes to bake.

These would be the perfect cookie for an afternoon tea party, or when you get that sweet craving about 2:00pm at work. Either way, enjoy these!

Sesame Nut Cookies

Sesame Nut Cookies
Yield - 2 dozen cookies

3/4 c unbleached white flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c flax seed meal
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 c toasted sesame seeds
3/4 c raw cashews, diced (or any nut)
4 oz silken tofu
1/2 c olive oil
3/4 c light brown sugar
2 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. Combine all dry ingredients, from flour to cashews, in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mash tofu with remaining ingredients. With a spatula, add the wet ingredients into dry, and combine well. Roll dough into 1" balls, and flatten with hands. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. (Cookies do not spread much during baking, so feel free to place fairly close together) Place into preheated oven, and bake 10 minutes, until edges and bottom start to brown. Remove from oven, and cool on a wire cooling rack.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Cumin Pastries

Since I'm such a huge fan of dips and spreads, I often need something other than crackers and pita chips to dip into them. Like my polenta crackers, these are super quick to make, and have a different flavor than the normal crispies you are used to.

Since the recipe is so basic, it's open to literally any translation you can come up with. You can substitute poppy seeds or flax seeds for the cumin seeds or add in some fresh garlic or other seasonings. No matter how you make them, you can have these on the table in under 20 minutes.

Cumin Pastries

Cumin Pastries
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cumin seed, toasted
1/3 c water (or more if needed)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, and combine to form an elastic dough. Be careful not to overmix!
Roll out dough to 1/4" thick, and cut into 1" diamonds or squares. Place on ungreased baking sheet or preheated baking stone. Place in oven, and bake 15 minutes, until slightly brown. If desired, brush with melted butter upon removing from the oven.
Allow to cool slightly and serve.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Indian Spinach Dip

This recipe is based on the Indian Spinach Dip recipe that was featured in this month's edition of Vegetarian Times. When I read the recipe, I knew right away I wanted to try it, since it features a few of my favorite things. I absolutely adore avocados and fresh spinach, and of course anything with curry and ginger intrigues me. It's a lovely full flavored dip for fresh veggies, or serve it as a dressing over a fresh salad. It's also tasty with pita chips or tortilla chips.

Avocado Paneer

Indian Spinach Dip
4 cups fresh spinach (about 6 oz)
1 large avocado
1/2 c plain yogurt
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp fresh ginger, minced
dash chili powder
dash cayenne pepper
dash cumin

Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Chill for an hour, and then serve.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Spinach Salad with Cinnamon Dressing

Nothing says "spring is here" like a tasty summer salad topped with fresh fruit. One of my favorites has always been the traditional spinach salad, which typically comes with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, red onion, and mandarin oranges.

When I was gifted with some lovely strawberries earlier in the week by my mother, I knew I wanted to use them on a salad. Here's my take on the traditional spinach salad, except accented with fresh strawberries, shaved parmesan, and a lovely cinnamon vinaigrette.

Spinach Strawberry

Spinach Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette
1 bag fresh spinach leaves
1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
1 pint strawberries, washed, stemmed, and sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
Parmesan cheese

1/3 c olive oil
1/3 c balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk well. Drizzle over salad, and toss to coat. Shave fresh parmesan over salad. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Cheese Bites

While I normally prefer to cook items that take some work in the kitchen, building complex flavors with multiple ingredients, I'm also a fan of something I can whip together and throw out on the table in a few minutes. But even more than that, I love recipes that can be changed 1,000 different ways, depending on what I have on hand, or what I want it to accompany.

This is one of those recipes. It literally takes 15 minutes from start to finish, tastes amazingly delicious, and can be changed to suit your needs. I've made these with a Mexican slant, in honor of Cinco De Mayo, but that's just the beginning. Throw in scallions, ginger, and soy for an Asian flair, throw in some fresh asiago or fontina cheese with some herbes de provence for a Parisian snack, or just add garlic, cracked black pepper, and aged cheddar. No matter how you make them, you'll be delighted.

Cheesy Poofs

Cheese Bites
1 cup flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 cups shredded cheese
1 egg, beaten (or egg substitute)
1/2 c soymilk (or cow milk)
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilies

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, cheese, and chilies in a bowl. In a small bowl, beat egg and milk together. Add to bowl with dry ingredients, and combine well. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Place in preheated oven, and bake 10-15 minutes, until done.
Allow to cool on a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving.
3 Bean Dip

I was just talking to a coworker this week about how much I adore beans. I could eat them any time of day for days on end. I especially love cold bean dishes, and am always trying new variations of bean dips.

Thankfully, AJ, who is a contributor to one of the vegetarian lists I belong to, shared her delicious recipe for her Hot and Spicy 3-Bean Dip. I switched it up just a tad based on what I had on hand, and ended up with the most delicious bean dip I've ever had.

With summer coming, you'll want to have plenty of quick recipes just like this to take to cookouts and get-togethers. This would be fantastic with chips, crackers, or even rolled up in tortillas or large lettuce leaves.

3-Bean Dip

3-Bean Dip
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic
1/2 c minced onion
1/2 c minced green or red bell pepper
1/4 c fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp cumin
3 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

You can either place all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth. I personally like more texture, so I simply mashed the beans with a potato masher, and then added the rest of the ingredients.
Allow to chill in the refrigerator for an hour or so for flavors to make friends.