Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Vegetable-Mushroom-Tarragon Frittata Bites

When my work started recruiting for a "Top Chef"- style competition at the office, I might have gotten a little too excited. Especially when they announced that the "secret ingredient" was leafy greens!

I'd already decided to do an appetizer just because they're so easy to share, and since the goal was to encourage people to eat more vegetarian foods, I decided to make my dish vegetarian and dairy-free.

That was a hard decision to stick with after I decided to make the below Frittata Bites, because I knew I could kill it if I added prosciutto and goat cheese. Instead I included those in the end as optional add-ins, making this dish not only vegetarian, but also GF and DF! Pretentious? Perhaps ... but also inclusive while still being tasty!

Spring Vegetable-Mushroom-Tarragon Frittata Bites with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Coulis
Makes about 40 Frittata Bites (Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)


For the Coulis:
2 red bell peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the Frittata:
1 bunch Tuscan kale or other leafy green, tough stems removed
3 teaspoon sea salt, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for muffin tin
1 leek, white and light green parts thoroughly rinsed and chopped
1 pound mushrooms, diced
¼ teaspoon pepper
8 eggs
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped and separated


For the Coulis:
Roast peppers (I cut them in half, discard seeds and stem, then broil skin-side up until the skin is completely black – or turn until charred all over on a grill or gas stove), then place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until cool enough to handle, at least 15 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium high. Add olive oil, then cook shallots until soft, about 5 minutes. Transfer to food processor. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, peel and discard skin. Add to food processor, along with sherry vinegar. Blend until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Set aside or refrigerate while you prepare the Frittata.

For the Frittata:
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease mini muffin tin with olive oil.

Heat a large pot with 1 inch of water to boiling; add 2 teaspoons sea salt and stir in kale until just slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove to bowl of cold water to stop cooking. Squeeze kale dry, then chop.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high (I used the same one that I cooked the shallots in for the Coulis). Add olive oil, then cook leeks until wilted but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms have lost their liquid and begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, stir in kale, then transfer to a bowl to cool.

Once vegetable mixture has cooled for at least 10 minutes, stir in eggs and 2 tablespoons tarragon. Spoon mixture into muffin tin, filling almost to the brim. (If you only have one muffin tin, refrigerate Frittata mixture while first batch is cooking. If you use two muffin tins, rotate racks halfway through baking time.)

Bake for 20 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to rest for 5 minutes. Gently lift frittata bites to cooling rack, then serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Coulis and remaining 1 tablespoon tarragon.

Optional non-vegetarian and dairyful add-ins:

2 oz. prosciutto, chopped
Before cooking leeks, saute prosciutto in olive oil until crispy, about 2 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Fold in with eggs and tarragon before cooking frittata.

½ cup goat cheese, crumbled
Fold in with eggs and tarragon before cooking frittata.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Savory Oat Risotto with Bacon, Kale and Delicata Squash

A three-day weekend with record-cold temperatures is a breeding ground for comfort foods full of stick-to-your-bones goodness.

That's exactly what I spent the weekend doing, starting with a Savory Oat Risotto with Bacon, Kale and Delicata Squash topped with a ramen-style egg care of one of my favorite new toys, the Joule sous vide machine.

Savory Oat Risotto with Bacon, Kale and Delicata Squash
1 small delicata squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 cups chicken broth
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cups steel-cut oats
4 cups baby kale, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Roast squash until tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Heat broth in a medium pot. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, cook bacon until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Saute shallot in remaining bacon grease until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add oats and stir until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Begin adding broth in increments, about 1/2 cup at a time until liquid is absorbed.

When all but about 1 cup of broth has been added to oats, stir in kale with second-to-last ladle of broth. Add bacon with final ladle; season with salt and pepper, then serve.

(So what was out stick-to-your-bones dinner, you ask? A delicious Porchetta-Spiced Pork Roast that I slogged through the snow for to gather fresh sage and rosemary. Well, technically, there was no slogging involved since the snow wasn't actually sticking, but I sure do like that image!)

Monday, January 1, 2018

Red Curry Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Pork and Roasted Garbanzos

I've been on a ground pork kick the last couple of weeks after experimenting with substituting half of the ground beef with ground pork in my current go-to chili, Smoky Beef-and-Bacon Chili. The result? Moist and flavorful with a much better mouth-feel.

With that in mind, I planned to make another favorite, Red Curry Sloppy Joes, by substituting the ground beef with ground pork. But on a whim I decided to turn the whole idea into a pasta recipe that also utilized a delicata squash that I'd been holding onto along with a go-to appetizer, Pimenton Roasted Garbanzos.

And after my co-worker was enviously commenting on my leftovers right after he'd finished his own, I figured it was definitely one to share.

Red Curry Pasta with Delicata Squash, Ground Pork and Roasted Garbanzos
Pimenton Roasted Garbanzos
1 can coconut milk
2 T. red curry paste
1-2 T. fish sauce
1-2 T. sugar
1 T. lemon or lime juice
1 small delicata or butternut squash, cut in bite-sized pieces
8 oz. penne or other bite-sized pasta
1 T. coconut oil
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
1/4 chopped fresh basil, divided

Prepare Pimenton Roasted Garbanzos, then lower oven heat to 350 degrees.

Mix coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, sugar and lemon juice in a blender. Combine about 1/2 cup of curry mixture with butternut squash, then roast on a sheet pan until cooked through, about 10-20 minutes depending on size of chunks.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.

Preheat a large saute pan over medium high heat; add coconut oil, then crumble in ground pork and stir until cooked through. Pour remaining curry mixture into sausage and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Once pasta and squash are finished, stir in with sausage and add half of green onions and basil. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with about 1 cup garbanzos and remaining green onions and basil.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Craving Cured Meats for Oktoberfest

With Oktoberfest just around the corner, I find myself craving cured meats even more than usual.

Funny story: When I moved to Germany in 1997, I was actually a vegetarian (or flexitarian, as my in-laws would call it since Mom refused to believe that chicken broth or fish were truly vegetarian). But before I even moved, I decided that in order to fully experience Bavaria, I would have to give up my vegarianism. After dozens of Weisswurst, Bratwurst, Currywurst and Rostbratwurst, not to mention also discovering liverwurst and other creamed meats, I never looked back.

The above photo is not actually from Germany, because, well, it was 1997. But if ever you want two glorious pounds of housemade German sausages in Seattle, Rheinhaus on Capitol Hill will certainly whet your craving (although I would be remiss to not also mention Bavarian Meats at Pike Place Market, I just don't have a picture of their extremely authentic selection).

Despite my love of cured meats, I still haven't taught myself how to make sausages. But I did make a delicious dish with prosciutto last night that calmed my craving for the night.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken with Potatoes and Artichokes
1-1/2 pounds fingerling or new potatoes, cut in 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 chicken thighs
8 slices prosciutto
8-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
2 tablespoons minced fresh sage
2 cloves garlic

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss potatoes with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then roast for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, wrap each chicken thigh in a piece of prosciutto, sealing on the bottom.

Remove potatoes from oven and stir in artichoke hearts, sage, and garlic. Nestle chicken among the vegetables, then roast for about 25 minutes.

Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Note: This recipe is also good with cauliflower, as shown in this Epicurious recipe, but it's even better if you add some fresh figs!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bring on the Vitamin D - An Excuse to Indulge in Mushrooms

Like many residents of the Pacific Northwest, my vitamin D levels tend to skew on the low side. It's just hard at this latitude to get enough vitamin D from the sun since we can only really process it from March to October.

Food isn't the best alternative source, but it's something. And it certainly helps that some of the foods that are high(ish) in vitamin D are also among my favorites: fatty fish, mushrooms, eggs (don't skip the yolk!!!) and beans, yum!

Maybe that's why when the days start shortening, I just can't get enough mushrooms. It doesn't matter what kind, I just want them in my belly. Since it's not quite mushroom season yet, I've been going crazy with the commercially grown portabellas and creminis.

Mushroom-Veggie Curry Pasta
1 cup mushroom (or any other) broth
2 tablespoons lime juice
*4 dates
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
8 ounces bite-size pasta such as penne
2 tablespoons coconut oil, more if needed
4 cloves garlic, minced, separated
**2 portabella mushrooms, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
**8 ounces cremini mushrooms, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch lacinato (or any other) kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 cup soy edamame, defrosted

Make sauce by blending broth, lime juice, dates, ginger, curry, red pepper flakes and basil until smooth. Stir in sesame seeds and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add coconut oil, and stir in 2 cloves minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and stir periodically until mushrooms lose their water and start to brown. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add more oil if needed, then add onion and pepper to the skillet and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add remaining 2 cloves minced garlic near the end, then add kale and stir-fry until kale is wilted.

Stir in mushrooms, pasta, edamame and sauce, and serve.

*The original recipe called for 2 Medjool dates, which I would have done if I had them. It's nice to know the cheaper dates work just as well if you double the amount!

**This recipe would taste great with any combination of mushrooms, just be sure to use a lot!

— This recipe was adapted from Portabella Mushrooms and Noodles.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Seaweed, Mac, Mango Salads Star at Mother's Day Luau

This time of year, I get Hawaii on the brain and am always sad when we can't spend an anniversary the same place we got married. Of course, that would be unrealistic, as well as a bit unadventurous, so I do what I can to bring a taste of Hawaii to where ever we may be.

This year, we had the honor of dual Mom visits for Mother's Day, so I planned a big Hawaiian feast that left us all a little nostaligic for the islands.

I'm not sure if I'll ever be brave enough to do a whole pig roast, but Kalua Pig in a slow-cooker whets the craving in a big way and has the added benefit of being about 100 times less difficult than a whole pig roast. Instead of using liquid smoke in this recipe, I now line the bottom of the slow-cooker with three strips of thick-cut bacon.

You can't have Hawaiian food without Macaroni Salad (pictured at right), and I like to make Lomi Lomi, too. OK, I admit this Lomi Lomi is perhaps not the most authentic recipe, but it's much easier to buy smoked salmon in advance than to find and buy fresh tuna for Tuna Poke, which I would much rather have!

And even though most people probably prefer King's Hawaiian Rolls to go with their wannabe luau, I of course choose to make my own bread using this fabulous Hawaiian Bread recipe that always turns out perfectly moist and delicious.

A couple of new additions to the table this time included Arugula Salad with Mango, Bell Peppers, Carrots and Toasted Almonds (pictured below). Check out this fabulous dressing I made to go with the salad:

Mango-Ginger-Mint Vinaigrette
1 mango, peeled and diced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 small shallot, peeled and cut in chunks
1/4-1/2 cup fresh mint
1 inch ginger, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste

Add half the mango to a blender along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until creamy, then toss with the remaining diced mango and serve.

The only other recipe I can truly take credit for is the below Seaweed Salad, which I first created in one of my culinary classes at Bastyr where I learned about the amazing nutritional value of sea vegetables. All this time, I've had the recipe scribbled on a piece of paper, so I figure now is probably a good time to officially transcribe it into foreverdom.

Seaweed Salad
1/4 c. arame
1/4 c. hizike
3 T. brown rice vinegar
2 T. white miso
2 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. natural sugar (i.e. Florida Crystals, Sucanat, etc.)
1 T. ginger, grated
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. carrot, grated
1 T. sesame seeds (optional garnish)

Soak arame and hiziki in warm water for 15 minutes to soften.

Meanwhile, combine vinegar, miso, toasted sesame seed oil, sugar, ginger and garlic.

Drain sea vegetables and mix in carrot, then add in dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Go With the Grain with Porcini Teff

After spending three weeks eating like a single girl, I've been ready to cook up a storm since Bryan returned from his work trip to Beijing.

But this single girl did not do a good job about keeping the pantry stocked, which I discovered when I grabbed the empty jar of polenta that I normally pair so elegantly with our standby Sauteed Chicken Breasts with Balsamic Vinegar Pan Sauce.

Then I remembered the delicious Amaranth "Risotto" With Mushrooms that sustained me numerous times during my elimination diet, and decided I was ready to go with another grain.

I should note here that during that time, I experimented with quite a few grains, including amaranth, teff, millet and buckwheat. Perhaps it has to do with familiarity, but I found I was unable to eat any of them plain like I can with rice and quinoa. They all just needed a little something more. Which was why the Amaranth Risotto recipe ended up on my plate so many times – without a little burst of porcini, the amaranth just didn't grab my attention the way my beloved grains were able to.

I took tonight's experiment one step further on accident when I looked in the pot halfway through cooking and thought it looked pretty dark for amaranth ... then realized it was because I had used teff instead. At first I was worried because the one time I made teff was less than impressive. But since there's nothing like porcinis to add flavor to a dish, I decided there might be hope for it after all.

In the end, it paired even better than polenta with our beloved chicken dish, but was also delicious enough to eat on its own.

Porcini Teff
3-1/2 cups boiling water
1 oz. dried porcini
1 porcini bouillon cube
1 cup teff

Pour boiling water over dried porcini, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

Remove mushrooms from the water and chop.

Slowly pour 3 cups of the porcini water into a medium pan, being careful to strain out any sediment from the bottom. Add the bouillon cube and bring the water back to a boil. Slowly stir in the teff, then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes so the teff doesn't stick on the bottom.

When mixture is as thick as polenta, stir in the chopped porcini mushrooms and serve.