Monday, August 26, 2013

Breakfast of Champions....or at least of kids who don't like to eat ANYTHING.

This one is for my very best friend from high school, Hilaire, and her picky kids.  I'm pretty sure Hilaire's kids are better eaters than mine, based on the simple fact that they are vegetarian.  But veg-heads or not, kids can be a real bitch to cook for.  Their tastes seem to change every minute, every day....and what was once beloved, is now HATED.  Not disliked, I'm talking pure hate.  Plus, in addition to wanting them to enjoy food on sheer love alone, you have to actually nourish them.  I mean really!

My kids do NOT like hot cereal, I try oatmeal like every winter.  These two dishes might help me this year.  I've made both of these for years in my cooking classes and they are always a hit.  This is most likely because they taste like dessert. And that's the beauty of them.  Tell the kids they can have pudding for breakfast, and everyone wins.  First up, coconut quinoa pudding.  Gluten free, vegan, high in protein.  Slightly sweet, and fresh fruit to boot.

Coconut Quinoa Pudding

2 cans (4 cups) unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup sugar or honey to taste
2 tsp vanilla
zest from one lime
1 cup quinoa
6 cardamom pods
1 tsp dried ginger

Stir together all of the ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer, put a lid on the pan and cook until the quinoa is tender and most of the coconut milk is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  You want it to be a little bit soupy.  Turn off the heat and let rest for five minutes.  Remove the cardamom pods.  You can serve this plain, with a drizzle of chocolate sauce or with any fruit.  I like to eat it with mango.

1 ripe mango
juice of half a lime
1/4 cup coconut, shredded

In a dry skillet, toast the coconut until golden brown.  Dice the mango and toss with the lime juice.  Top the pudding with the mango and coconut.

Round two, quinoa with dried fruit and nuts.  You could even make this in a low temp crock pot over night.  Full of protein, you can doctor it up however your family likes it.

Breakfast Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

For serving:  chopped walnuts, pure maple syrup or honey, milk, dried cherries  or fresh blueberries and sea salt

Wash quinoa until water is clear.  Drain washed quinoa well in a large fine-mesh sieve. Combine all ingredients in a heavy medium saucepan and bring to a boil, covered. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and keep covered to keep warm.

Divide quinoa among bowls and top with walnuts, maple syrup or honey, milk, cherries or blueberries and sea salt. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Eat More Kale

(so you can drink more beer)

Everybody talks about how great kale is...but for most of you out there, it's not REALLY that appealing.  I'm being honest!  After years of working as the chef at a local CSA, the one thing I had to teach EVERY year was how to cook and learn to love kale.  This is one of the easiest recipes you will ever make.  In fact, I make it almost every day for lunch.  Healthy and easy, it helps me keep this sweet TV body running.  Just kidding.  What it does do is offset the effects of drinking way to much beer all the time.  Which makes it a winner in my book.

Super Easy Sauteed Kale

This is about as easy as it can get, and incredibly healthy too!  You can change the cheese, seasoning, add toppings.  This is my (almost) daily lunch...sometimes I'll add an egg, or some white beans.  Kale will keep your hair, skin and nails glowing, and make you feel better about drinking so much beer.

extra virgin olive oil
about 6 cups cleaned, sliced kale
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon McCormick Moroccan Seasoning Blend
3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese

Heat some of the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet.  Add the garlic clove, then top with the kale.  Let sit for a minute then stir.  Be careful to not let the garlic burn.  The kale will wilt in about a minute or so, then add the tomatoes and the spice.  Stir and cook another minute or so, until the kale is bright green and the tomatoes are warmed through.  Season with salt and pepper and top with the feta.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

One of my favorite recipes for summer, I think I found this on Epicurious.  When I teach a cooking class, I always throw in a "whammy" recipe....meaning something that I have NEVER made before.  I know, that sounds a little bit crazy, but it certainly brings an air of unpredictability to the class, which I find exciting.  So, last year, this was my whammy recipe.  It ended up being my favorite of the whole class.   

Normally cold soups don't excite me, they even sometimes (don't tell anyone) disgust me!  Cold pureed junk, underseasoned, blah.....but this one has an amazing texture, great flavor and hits all sorts of seasonal notes.  Pretty easy to make too, so give it a try.  Your normally hating cold soup self will thank me...or thank Epicurious.

Charred Corn Soup
For soup
4 ears of corn, shucked
4 cups water
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups chopped white onion
1 fresh poblano chile, stemmed and coarsely chopped (including seeds)
3 firm-ripe California avocados (1 to 1 1/4 lb total)
1 roma tomato
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup crema or sour cream

For cilantro oil
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Make soup:
Roast corn on rack of gas burner over high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, until kernels are charred in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a dry well-seasoned cast-iron skillet and roast corn over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes.) Transfer corn to a cutting board and, when cool enough to handle, cut kernels from cob with a sharp knife, then cut cob into thirds.
Bring kernels, cob pieces, 4 cups water, garlic, salt, and onion to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan and boil until liquid is reduced to about 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, uncovered. Discard cob pieces.
Purée corn mixture along with chile with an immersion blender until very very smooth.  
Quarter, pit, and peel 2 avocados then add to the soup with 2 tablespoons lime juice and purée until smooth. Transfer soup to a bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill soup at least 1 hour.

Prepare cilantro oil while soup chills:
Purée cilantro, oil, and salt in cleaned blender, scraping down sides of blender several times. Pour oil into cleaned fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl and let drain 15 minutes (do not press on solids). Discard solids.

Assemble soup:
Halve and pit remaining avocado, and cut into a small dice.  Cut the tomato into a small dice.
Whisk together crema and remaining 1 tablespoon of lime juice in a small bowl until smooth.
Season soup with salt and ladle into 6 shallow soup bowls. Divide avocado and tomatoes among bowls, then drizzle with crema and cilantro oil.