Monday, June 29, 2009

My Favorite Wontons

Makes about 50 wontons

This recipe began when I made a mistake in the won ton recipe from Moosewood's Daily Special. I thought the cornstarch was supposed to go in the filling and since I omitted the egg from the recipe, the cornstarch helped hold the filling together for a vegan version.

I usually double this recipe and have DH sit down and help me assemble the won tons. Then I flash freeze the won tons and keep them in the freezer for a fast soup. I use my homemade vegetable broth, a package of Trader Joe's or Whole Foods frozen stir-fry vegetables with edamame, and soy sauce for a simple but delicious soup. If I have more time I saute some onion, garlic, and ginger and add a small amount of dried wakame and dried shiitake mushroms to the soup as well.

1 lb. organic firm tofu
10-16 oz. leafy greens (fresh or frozen spinach, collards, chard, kale) If using frozen, thaw and drain well.
2" piece of peeled gingerroot, coarsely chopped
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. coarsely chopped scallions
1 tsp. sriracha/rooster sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 package (12 oz) wonton wrappers (about 50 wrappers), Peking Noodle House wrappers are pretty low in sodium

Puree all ingredients but wonton wrappers in food processor. For each wonton, put 1 heaping tsp of filling in the center of a wonton wrapper. Fold in half diagonally, using a bit of water to seal. take both ends and fold to center as shown above. Seal with extra water. Place on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornstarch.

To cook the wontons right away, put in boiling water or broth and cook several minutes until just tender.

To freeze the wontons, flash freeze the baking sheet of wontons for several hours. Remove (if they stick the the sheet, just let them thaw a few minutes and they'll come right off) and put in plastic freezer bags to store.

Here they are cooked with vegetable broth and frozen stir-fry veggies and topped with dots of sriracha.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Going Organic

I've been experimenting lately to see how easy it would be to eat almost all organic foods. Oddly enough I really notice a difference in how healthy I feel although DH is less enthused about the extra expense.

Here's what $100 gets you at whole Foods - not everything is organic but I'm doing my best. The best bargains are their organic canned beans (that have much less sodium) for 99 cents and their organic whole wheat pastas for $1.69 a lb. The least budget-friendly item are those cherries - they cost over $8. They are not organic but are local (from Tony's Fruit Farm in Albuquerque) and the basil is also from NM.

Much of my time lately involves going outside in the garden and impatiently checking on these:

And these:

I planted a pizza garden with all sorts of vegetables and herbs I'd like for pizza. I also threw in some peas despite being almost positive that our ground squirrels would eat the plants (they love pumpkin plants) but so far the peas are intact. I also still have five huge collard green plants in the coldframe that have produced since last fall and still haven't bolted.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Soupe au Pistou

Summer is by far my least favorite season but these CSA boxes are seriously making me rethink that opinion. As usual I ordered extra strawberries this week. Farmer Monte promises we'll have tomatoes starting in 2 weeks and we'll have them in every subsequent box lasting until the first frost.

Soupe au Pistou

This simple Provencal summer vegetable soup can vary widely but it usually always contains green beans, tomatoes, and potatoes with a fresh basil topping. I leave out the salt in the soup itself but if you use tomatoes or broth or beans with salt, you might want to reduce the salt in the pistou.

Serves 6

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1" lengths
1 bay leaf
14. 5 oz can no-salt-added tomatoes
15 oz. can no-salt-added navy beans such as Eden brand
4 c. homemade vegetable stock

In a large soup or stock pot, saute onions in oil for 4 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and carrots and continue to saute for 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Basil-Parsley Pistou

1 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 c. packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp. sea salt

In a food process or blender, puree the pistou ingredients briefly. (I leave the pistou coarser than regular pesto so I get little pieces of herb leaves in the soup.) Swirl about 1 1/2 Tbsp. pistou on top of each serving of soup. If desired you can also drizzle some additional extra-virgin olive oil on top of each serving.

Nutritional Analysis Provided by MasterCook 9

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 343 Calories; 15g Fat (38.1% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 8g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 199mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 3 Fat.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Obscure Cooking Shows

I have a fondness for unknown and hard-to-find cooking shows. Back in February we switched from Dish Network to Direct TV so DH could get more baseball games. I was sad because we were losing a wonderful natural health channel Veria Tv. They are on their second season of an almost vegan cooking show, Naturally Delicious, with Real Food Daily's Ann Gentry. You can find most of her recipes HERE. There's also a gluten-free, sugar-free baking show that was often vegan, an interesting show on brewing, and a show on Asian cuisine - all the recipes are on that same page.

One of my favorite cooking shows is Culinary Creations with Mary Crafts on BYU TV (available on both Dish Network and Direct TV). She's a caterer in Utah and she absolutely cracks me up. At the end of each episode she shows a themed centerpiece done by a florist - the one above shows a topiary/gingham effort for a pizza buffet. Her Julia Child impersonation is the best I've ever seen. I know she's done at least one vegetarian show. The best tip I've learned from her is that you can make a fast and delicious pizza sauce by mixing equal parts tomato paste and olive oil with some fresh garlic.

I just started watching Cooking Vegetarian on Hope TV (Channel 368 on Direct TV). I've only seen a few episodes but the chef is Sualua Tupolo and he says he is with the Atlantic Union College Vegetarian Culinary Arts Dept. This show is sponsored by Worthington Foods and most of the recipes use the Seventh Day Adventist canned meat substitutes. I've always been afraid to try them but maybe this show will change my mind. I do find the names of the "meats" humorous like tender bits, wham, and chichen. There might be a scheduling issue because for some reason my DVR tapes other shows instead of the cooking show about 50% of the time. It looks like you can watch some of the shows online at their web site.

Paul James the host of Gardening by the Yard also had a brief cooking show called Home Grown Cooking that is aired on DIY Network in the middle of the night. It includes a lot of the little vignettes he used to do in the gardening show and most of the recipes are vegetable-based to help gardeners.

I also occasionally watch the cooking shows on the Spanish-language public broadcasting channel VME. I don't speak Spanish so I go to their web site and translate it via Google Translate to try to follow along on each recipe. I keep another window open with to look up words. The culinary abilities of the hosts is much higher than you often see on American tv - for instance, whenever they need pasta they make their own from scratch and you rarely see them open a package or can. I think you have to register first in order to see the recipes. There is an excellent Mexican pastry show, a lowfat cooking show, a guy who does great Italian food, and a very interesting Venezuelan cooking show.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Microwave Beet Chips

I can't say these are photogenic at all but they are really tasty - kind of crunchy and chewy at the same time with a roasted flavor. You have to cook one beet at a time though. If I ever have any left over, I think they'd be great to toss in a salad.

Microwave Beet Chips

Makes about 1 cup

1 lg beet, peeled as thinly as you can - about 1/8" slices
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Pinch of sea salt

Spray a dinner plate with the cooking spray and lay beet slices on the plate without overlapping. Sprinkle with salt. Microwave on HIGH for 8-9 minutes or until beets are just starting to get crunchy. They will continue to cook a bit after you take them out of the microwave. Do check the beets while they are cooking to make sure you don't burn them - don't be alarmed if you see them covered with a white foam. I also do potatoes this way for potato chips although those do need to be turned mid-way during the cooking.

I think this may be the absolute perfect way to spend Sunday morning. These are Isa's Blueberry Corn Muffins from Vegan with a Vengeance and the Kindle 2 is an early birthday gift from my husband. I had been saving up to buy one since last winter and he took pity on me. There wasn't a huge choice of non-leather covers but this synthetic leather one from M-Edge is really nice because it stands so I can more easily read while knitting.

I'm working on a grilled flatbread recipe so I don't have to turn the oven on very often this summer. I'm not quite there yet but I'll post the recipe when I am happy with the results. This is a fennel and black pepper grilled flatbread topped with a white bean pesto puree, basil and garlic chives from my garden, with cucumbers, tomatoes and olives.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Cookware Collection

I was lucky enough to test cookware for a few magazine articles and Consumer Guide in the past and I thought I'd show you my current collection. I currently do not have a dishwasher - sigh - but even if I did only the stainless pots and pans would go in there. Still I'm pretty hard on cookware but am learning to baby it more. The
skillets get hung up on my island and a couple of the pieces live on top of the cabinets or the fridge so they don't get banged up in storage.

Starting from left, top to bottom then right, top to bottom:

1. All Clad LTD Paella pan - I rarely use it but I keep it around for when I'm cooking for a crowd. I do like it for large quantities of lasagna.

2. Le Creuset Reversible Grill/Griddle pan - I love this! Yes, it is a pain to clean but there's nothing like it when I'm making corn tortillas or pancakes. I do grill on it but I think I prefer my George Foreman grill for that.

3. All Clad Stainless Saute Pan - I've had this pan forever and it will certainly last a lifetime but I've never been a fan of All Clad's handles. It is something about the way they are weighted but I always have to hold the pans right near the bottom of the handle. Perhaps I just have wimpy arms.

4. Le Creuset skillet - I bought this last year after I gave up my nonstick pans. I watched America's Test Kitchen and they recommended this in lieu of nonstick pans. Is this nonstick? Not at all - I've ruined many a sauteed tofu slice in it. Is this better than a cast iron skillet? No - my well-seasoned cast iron skillet is more nonstick. It is pretty though and the heaviness is nice.

5. Lodge Cast Iron Skillet - Also called a spider, this is one of my least expensive and most adored pans in my kitchen. It browns everything beautifully and has gained a beautiful patina over the years.

6.Carbon Steel Omelette Pan - I can't remember where I bought this but I've had a devil of a time getting a good coating on this pan. I only use it for toasting nuts because I like the smaller size.

Also from left, top to bottom then right, top to bottom:

1. Carbon Steel wok - I purchased this at an Asian market and I'm careful only to use hot water and a brush to clean it.

2. Hoffritz 5.5 quart Stainless Pot - This was an inexpensive pot but I am really happy with it. I bought it because of the shape so I could use it for corn on the cob and asparagus but I also use it as my tamale steamer. I'm pretty fond of the glass cover.

3. Cuisinart Stainless 4 Quart Pan - I love Cuisinart's Stainless Cookware - the weight, the handles, everything. I also have a Cuisinart Stainless 8 quart stockpot that is in the fridge holding some pasta and beans.

4. Cuisinart 8-quart Pressure Cooker - This is really really old and we still use it often for dried beans and risottos. They don't make the gasket for it anymore and I can't find a good replacement so I will probably replace this in fall.

5. Cuisinart Stainless 1 Quart Saucier - I was surprised to find how very helpful a pan with a pour spout can be. I use it for warming liquids, sauces, and melting margarine.

6. All Clad Cop-R-Chef 2 Quart Saucepan - I've kind of given up on keeping this pan looking its best as we have very hard water. The cover has a ding in it because of the softness of coppper and the brass handle gets quite hot. I use it for sauces.

7. Le Creuset 1.75 Qt Round Dutch Oven - Believe it or not, this is my third Le Creuset Dutch oven. I gave a smaller one away and I ruined an old 2.5 qt oven by burning some brown rice and flaking off the enamel coating. I have also tried a less expensive version, Staub, and that pot's enamel flaked off as well in the first year. I am babying this one because I do enjoy using them for soups and stews.

I call this week's CSA offering an easy box. Everything in it will be easy to incorporate in our meals without any special planning. I am getting antsy for our first tomatoes - Farmer Monte reports in the newsletter that our wet spring has delayed the tomatoes.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hibiscus-Lime Sun Tea

My favorite hot weather iced drink is the colorful Hibiscus-Lime Sun Tea.

This photo shows my hibiscus houseplant, some dried hibiscus flowers or jamaica (pronounced huh-MY-ka), and some jamaica soda I found at Pro's Ranch Market in Albuquerque. Even if you've never heard of jamaica, chances are you've had it as it is used in most of the Celestial Seasonings "zinger" herb teas. Here in NM jamaica is sold in bulk in the produce section of some supermarkets and is also sold at most herb and some health food stores. Jamaica is extremely high in vitamin C and once you've made the tea you can eat the rehydrated flowers, use them as garnish, or use them to top non-dairy ice cream.

Hibiscus-Lime Sun Tea

Serves 4

1/4 c. dried hibiscus flowers/jamaica
4 c. water
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
2 limes, sliced
Ice cubes

In a large glass pitcher, mix hibiscus and water. Cover and let sit outside or in a sunny spot for 6 hours or until bright red. Strain and stir in agave nectar until dissolved. Add sliced limes to pitcher. Serve tea over ice.

Copyright Nanette Blanchard, 2009.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cookbook for Charity and Chimichanga Night

Our little group of pet rabbit rescuers here in Albuquerque has been dealing with a monumental crisis of over 336 (and counting) pet rabbits found in someone's yard. So far they've shipped out 170 to various other rescues throughout the country but unfortunately this is costing them thousands of dollars. Details of this situation are HERE (including a photo) if you scroll down.

I'm working on a cookbooklet of vegan mostly traditional New Mexican recipes which will be available in .PDF or print form - the booklet will have about 40-50 recipes with color photos and nutritional analyses and a list of mail-order sources. I hope to be finished next week and through the end of July 2009, 100% of the sales will go to the New Mexico House Rabbit Society to help them through this situation. (After July, 20% will go to them.)

Last night I made chimichangas to photograph for the booklet. I served them with an avocado sauce, lime-pickled red onions, a green salad, and fruit from our CSA.

I was thrilled when I figured out that chimichangas don't have to be deep-fried. I filled flour tortillas (I like Trader Joe's organic flour tortillas because they're much lower in sodium) with mashed pinto beans, caramelized onions, and some diced chipotle in adobo sauce. I secured the chimichangas with a toothpick and kept the toothpick in when sauteing them on both sides in oil.

Remove the toothpick and serve with any sauce you like - a homemade pico de gallo is good or any of your favorite commercial salsas. I had some avocados that needed to be used so I pureed them with lime, garlic, and Vegenaise for the sauce.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Roasted Green Beans w/Shallot Vinaigrette

Despite eating a vegetable-based diet with me for years, DH still intensely hates green beans and even complains if I try to grow some in our garden. I tried all sorts of recipes to show him the light but was unsuccessful. Then one day I read about the virtues of roasting green beans and tested them on him. He loved them - roasted green beans are deliciously smoky and sweet. They aren't quite as photogenic after the roasting process but I'm thrilled to have found a recipe DH likes.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallot Vinaigrette

Serves 4

1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2" lengths
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 large shallots, minced
1/2 tsp. agave nectar

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss green beans with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil and the salt on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, stir the beans, and roast another 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

In a serving dish, mix remaining olive oil, vinegar, shallots, and agave nectar. Add green beans and mix thoroughly. I like these served at room temperature.

Here are my other two favorite green bean recipes:

Penne, Crispy Tofu, and Green Bean Salad - I simply cannot stop eating this delicious salad from Cooking Light. I make it all the time when we're getting fresh tomatoes from Los Poblanos Organics.

Healthy Green Bean Salad - Don't omit the bay leaf - this really makes the salad. This recipe was from one of Dr. Andrew Weil's books and one I've made many times over the years.

No green beans in this week's CSA box but I did add extra strawberries and mushrooms and Valencia peanuts. Bubbles the house rabbit has already devoured the chard. I really have to find some new and interesting things to do with beets. I generally either bake them whole in foil or boil them and slice and add to salads.

Green Bean Salad on Foodista

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cooking in Color Recipes

Here are all the recipes from my blog so far - I'll link to this page on the top right hand side of the blog and keep it updated as I add recipes.

White Spelt Waffles with Lemon

Mango-Cucumber Salsa
Easy Chipotle Salsa
Pinto Bean Puree with Jalapeno and Lime
Spicy Snack Mix
Hummus Topped with Vegetables

Mixed Salad with Cashew Dressing
Whole Wheat Pasta Salad with Basil
Rice Stick Noodle Salad
Green Garbanzo, Radish, and Chayote Salad
Cranberry Waldorf Salad
Marinated Artichoke Heart and Garbanzo Salad
Broccoli Tomato Salad
Green Goddess Dressing

Spicy Peanut Sauce

Homemade Vegetable Stock
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Mixed Greens
Soupe au Pistou
Chipotle Black Bean Soup
Hatch Green Chile Stew
Zucchini and Hominy Soup

Rosemary-Garlic Pan Rolls
Whole Wheat Bolillos
Whole Wheat Sourdough Crackers
No-Knead English Muffins with Oats and Cornmeal
Salted Rosemary Garlic Braid
Homemade Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas
Bread Machine Cinnamon Raisin Bread
Sourdough White Wheat Sandwich Bread
Soft Whole Wheat Pretzels

Semolina Pasta in the Bread Machine
Tamales Using Fresh Masa
Garbanzo Veggie Burgers
My Favorite Wontons
Tomato and Olive Tart
Spaghetti with Salsa Cruda
Deep Dish Spinach Pizza
Vegetable Stew w/Puff Pastry Crust
Whole Wheat Penne w/Garbanzos and Toasted Garlic
Barbecue Sloppy Joes
Tempeh Reuben Panini

Papas Con Chile Colorado
Microwave Beet Chips
Roasted Green Beans with Shallot Vinaigrette
Shredded Collard Greens with Chipotle and Garlic
Broiled Eggplant Slices with Garlic, Basil, and Lemon
Herbed-Roasted Tri-Color Potatoes
Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Chives

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Cookies with Craisins
Vegan Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
Banana-Raspberry Ice Milk
Almost a Banana Split
Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookie Bites

Hibiscus-Lime Sun Tea
Lavender Lemonade

Peppermint Spray Cleaner
No-Cook Triple-Berry Freezer Jam

Monday, June 8, 2009

Papas Con Chile Colorado

This dish is often more of a braised potato dish at restaurants here in the southwest but once I tried a crispy version I really fell in love. Papas are often served with (or even inside) breakfast burritos.

I use pequin chile peppers for this recipe. They are small dried chiles, about the size of a pea, and I've read that tepin chiles or chiltepin are similar (although whole they look more rounded). They are both hot; a great substitute is hot crushed red pepper flakes.

Serves 4

3 large russet potatoes (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 to 4 tsp. crushed dried pequin chile peppers
1/4 tsp. sea salt or to taste

Rinse potatoes and pierce each several times with a sharp knife. Place in microwave and cook on HIGH for 7 minutes. Let cool slightly and peel and cut into thick slices.

In a cast iron skillet, saute potatoes on one side in oil over medium heat until crispy and brown. Turn the potato slices and add garlic, 2 to 4 tsp. pequin chiles depending on how hot you like your food, and salt to taste. Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Serve hot.

NOTE: To make Papas Con Chile Verde, substitute 1/4 c. chopped roasted peeled green chiles for the pequin chiles.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pro's Ranch Market

We went to Pro's Ranch Market yesterday - they are a massive market specializing in Mexican foods and they have a few locations across the southwest. Because it isn't near our house I decided to stock up.

Chiles in all their forms.

The best thing about Pro's is their corn products. Their tender homemade corn tortillas still warm from the grill are the best I've ever eaten. They sell yellow, white, red, blue, and even green chile flavored corn tortillas. They also have many types of masa - dried masa harina either specifically for tamales or tortillas and fresh masa. I bought fresh masa para tortillas and masa sin preparar for making my own tamales. They also have some prepared masas that contain lard - one is even colored pink for dessert tamales. They also sell many forms of hominy - fresh nixtamal, frozen posole, and canned. I even found some canned red hominy.

I love to try new things and I found some fun ancho chile puree, jamaica/hibiscus soda, fresh green garbanzos (in the bag on the bottom right below), a guava roll, and roasted garbanzos with lime and chile, etc. The green herb is epazote which can be hard to find so I always buy it when I see it. I think when fresh it tastes like turpentine smells but I enjoy adding it to dried beans for cooking. The only non-success so far was a frozen puree of mamey fruit which had the taste and texture of bananas and tomatoes combined. I did read in Kippy Nigh's A Taste of Mexico that Oaxacan women use mamey fruit for a hair treatment so maybe I'll do that instead.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mixed Salad w/Cashew Dressing

I 've been experimenting with nut-based salad dressings lately. This one is based on a recipe from an out-of-print book I love called Better Homes and Gardens Fresh and Simple Vegetable Dinners.

Mixed Salad w/Cashew Dressing

Serves 4


6 Tbsp cashew butter (I think this would work with peanut or almond butter as well)
6 Tbsp water
1 small clove garlic, minced
pinch of sea salt or to taste
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl. This process will be much easier if the cashew butter is at room temperature first. If the dressing is too thick, add more water to desired consistency.

5 cups mixed baby greens (I used mesclun and baby spinach from our CSA)
1 large beefsteak tomato sliced into wedges
1 cup thawed frozen peas
4 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup raisins (If you omit these, add some sweetener to the dressing)

Toss salad ingredients in a large serving bowl.

Also I just read in a book that the stickers on your produce actually mean something. I just thought they were there to annoy me when I was making a big salad in a hurry.

If the number is 4 digits and starts with a 3 or a 4 it is conventionally grown like the banana shown below. If it is a 5 digit number and starts with a 9 it is organic like the kiwi. If it is a 5 digit number and starts with 8 it is genetically engineered.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My new favorite bread cookbook

The best $3 I spent this month was to buy a used copy of Flavored Breads: Recipes from Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe. It is out-of-print but is still quite inexpensive on Amazon. I've taken it out from the library but I hadn't used it until I bought my own copy. Below is the pepita-sage-sourdough harvest bread.

My favorite recipe from the book so far is the Caramelized Onion Flatbread - it is a two day bread and the caramelized onions are mixed in the dough rather than put on top.

Although not from the above book here's a basic partial whole wheat bread I make in the food processor.

Lots of fruit this week in our CSA box - DH has already requested a fruit salad with chiles. Farmer Monte says the green below the cantaloupe is tat soi but it looks more like a bok choy to me. Either way it will be delicious in won ton soup.

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