Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Home Sweet Home...for Lunch

I have every other Friday off and take advantage fully. Starting with breakfast and lunch at home! I love cooking and baking all day, letting the aromas fill up the house. Of course, Fridays off do mean a lot of errands and laundry but there is some relaxing in there.

Fridays are also my last day of veggie supplies. I restock Saturday mornings at the farmers market so lunches are usually scattered with whatever I have left in the crisper. For last week’s meal that was daikon, a large head of broccoli, a small zucchini, half a yellow onion, and Portobello mushrooms. Brown rice in the cupboard. This would be easy and very doable. A little sautéing and soy sauce and a vegan “stir fry” would be in my bowl in no time!

I want to step back briefly though and talk about daikon. Daikon may be a new vegetable for some of you to see and I feel like I need to brag a little on this Japanese radish. I first heard of daikon through Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet” cookbook. She has some wonderful recipes and insight and I enjoy following her blog. Click here to read more about Alicia’s Kind Diet and Kind Life: http://www.thekindlife.com/
There are plenty of pieces of literature on daikon but I thought Mitoku sited some wonderful benefits about this wonder radish:

“Raw daikon is used throughout Japan to complement the taste of oily or raw foods and, more importantly, to aid in their digestion. Laboratory analysis has shown that the juice of raw daikon is abundant in digestive enzymes similar to those found in the human digestive tract. These enzymes - diastase, amylase, and esterase - help transform complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into their readily assimilable components. Traditional Japanese restaurants serve grated daikon (daikon oroshi) in tempura dip to help digest oils, or shredded daikon with raw fish to help digest the protein. Grated daikon is a wonderful aid to people with a weak digestive system. It is important, however, to use grated daikon immediately. In just thirty minutes nearly 50 percent of its enzymes are lost.

The enzymatic action of daikon juice has gained the attention of scientists in Japan. At Tokyo's College of Pharmacy, researchers have discovered that daikon juice actually inhibits the formation of dangerous chemicals in the body. Nitrosamines, a type of carcinogen, can form in the stomach from chemicals present in both natural and processed foods. Daikon juice contains substances identified as "phenolic compounds" that can block this potentially dangerous reaction. Thus, a diet including raw daikon may reduce the risk of cancer.

Daikon has also been shown to be effective as a diuretic and decongestant. As a diuretic, raw daikon promotes the discharge of excess water by the kidneys. The result is increased urination and gradual reduction of the swelling condition known as edema. As a decongestant, the enzymes in daikon juice seem to help dissolve mucus and phlegm in the respiratory system and facilitate their discharge from the body.

Daikon is high in vitamin C and folacin. Like its relatives broccoli, cabbage and kale, daikon is a cruciferous vegetable that offers cancer-protecting potential.

A few drops of soy sauce and a tablespoon of grated daikon is a macrobiotic treatment for helping the body discharge old animal protein and fats. Cooking daikon with a kombu broth is said to help the body eliminate excess dairy products. A tea brewed from daikon, shiitake and kombu has been used as a folk remedy to reduce fever.”

Not only am I interested in any little help to aid with digestion, I am also interested in taste! Daikon can be prepared in so many ways and I find it absolutely delicious. They are very large so don’t be shocked when you put them in your basket at the grocery store!

Back to the big bowl of yummy veggies. I think you will find this recipe so simple to throw together, and feel free to switch out your vegetables!

Sautéed Veggies & Rice
(serves 2 hungry lunchers!)

• 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and steamed
• 1 half yellow onion, cut into moons
• ¾ daikon, sliced
• 1 Portobello mushroom, sliced lengthwise
• 1 small zucchini, half mooned
• 2 tbs tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
• ½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
• 2 tbs canola oil or Earth Balance
• 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
• Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
• 1 cup cooked brown rice

In a large sauce pan heat oil and add garlic. Once you can smell the garlic, add onion and coat in oil. Sauté until translucent and starting to caramelize, about 7-10 minutes. Add daikon, mushroom, zucchini and broccoli and combine. Add spices and soy sauce and sauté for another 7-10 minutes, depending on how soft you like your veggies.

Place half cup of brown rice in 2 bowls. Top with vegetables and serve! You can add tofu or other protein if desired.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The King's Peanut Butter Cookies

“I’ll sing you a story of a silly young king

Who played with the world at the end of a string,
But he only loved one single thing --
And that was just a peanut-butter sandwich.”
Shel Silverstein’s Peanut Butter Sandwich

Better bow down!
There is something quite childlike about peanut butter. I used to eat enough peanut butter sandwiches to rival Shel Silverstein’s king who ate his mouth shut. I could easily devour half a jar in a sitting, heaping creamy ribbons around soup spoons. I digress. Clearly I adored and adore to the stuff. So when I saw Elana from Elana’s Pantry post PB&J thumbprints I giggled in immature delight as the hunger butterflies fluttered in my tummy. I knew what sweet ending would sate my peanut butter fever.

That night after a delicious open faced veggie burger, yes those little patties are flying out of my freezer and flocking to my plate this week, I decided I had to change up our savory palates and pile on some peanut butter. I flipped Elana’s recipe out of my purse and begin to gather the ingredients. Alas, I did not have any decent jam or jelly though. I felt my heart sink into my stomach slightly. Pride and persistence made my eyes leap through the ingredients I did have and what I did have was plenty of peanut butter. No shame in a simple peanut butter cookie…

Maybe I was thwarted by the “chopped” episode in the background but I wanted to give myself an on the spot challenge. A peanut butter cookie that was 5 ingredients, vegan, gluten free, flourless, and could be enjoyed in 10 minutes (not including cooling). Mission. Accomplished.

These PB puppies were plump and decadent, melting into delicious morsels as soon as you popped it into you mouth. I had to show some serious restraint dear readers as I am sure you will too. I dedicate these cookies to the king, whose royal passion for peanut butter held me captive in its verses while I clutched my many childhood peanut butter sandwiches.

The King’s Peanut Butter Cookies

• 1 cup smooth (or crunchy if you wish) Peanut Butter
• ½ organic brown sugar
• 1 tbs organic vanilla
• 1 tsp baking soda
• Flax egg (1 tbs ground flax seed + 2.5 tbs warm water)

Preheat your oven to 350F.Mix your flax egg in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.

Combine all your ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form 12, 1 inch balls of dough and place them on the sheet. Do not flatten! Put that fork down and step away…I did sptinkle a teeny but of kosher salt on the top which yes I know technically makes it "6" ingredients but I am sure you can forgive me hehe.

Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly golden brown and the cookies look “set”. Take them out and let cool for at least 10 minutes. The longer the better. They will continue to slightly cook on the sheet so do not worry if they don’t look done when you pull them out.

Plate and enjoy! I popped half in the freezer and enjoyed them last night. I highly suggest doing this if you have any left to save!
I made one dozen and saved the rest of the dough for future craving (tomorrow).

You can find Elana's Peanut Buttter and Jelly Recipe here: http://www.elanaspantry.com/

“A puff of dust, a screech, a squeak --
The king’s jaw opened with a creak.
And then in voice so faint and weak --
The first words that they heard him speak
Were, “How about a peanut-butter sandwich?”

Shel Silverstein’s Peanut Butter Sandwich

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Search for the GF, Vegan Burger Grail

Homemade veggie burgers can be tricky, especially when you want to make them gluten free and vegan. Why? Well, with my luck as of late they have either held together, looked pretty, and tasted like sandpaper, OR they have tasted amazing but didn’t exactly remain in a patty. Which is fine, but I am greedy and want both! As my quest for the vegan burger Holy Grail progressed, I was pleased to see that I wasn’t the only blogger pursuing this endeavor so I had a plethora of recipes to peruse the last couple weeks. I wanted constant consistency throughout the cooking, a delicious and fresh veggie taste, and of course a burger that was going to settle with my dietary guidelines.

The almost Holy Grail of Vegan/GF Burgers - I'm a perfectionist.
I think I found it. I still want to tweak a few things to the recipe but this is so far the best tasting trial I have had. Moist, nutritious, and held up when I flipped them! What more can a gluten free vegan chef ask for! Plus, it makes 8 patties so I have dinner ready for this week. Maybe I will come up with a second and third recipe for you! I am thinking sandwich wraps are in order.

Of all the recipes I found, Angela’s stuck out the most to me. I baked mine because I don’t have the gumption to grill them yet. In time my dears, in time. I had most of the ingredients in her recipe but had to make some substitutions. I also made mine gluten free, and topped them with spicy guacamole, dijon, fresh tomato, and local spinach leaves. Here is her original recipe here: Angela's Perfect Burger

I prepped on Sunday and let my burgers firm up on a cookie sheet overnight. I had every intention of gobbling these gorgeous burgers down Sunday, spent the whole time making them and ended up being hit with a mean pizza craving. Hey, what can a girl do?? It was worth the wait though.

Gluten Free & Vegan Pepita Burgers
(the closest thing to the burger grail so far)

• 1/2 cup onion, diced
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• Flax eggs: 2.5 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl
• 1 cup oats, processed into flour
• 1/2 cup pepitas (Spanish pumpkin seeds)
• 1.5 cups gluten free bread crumbs (I processed 3 pieces sunflower flax bread)
• 1 cup local grated carrots
• 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and pureed
• Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
• 1/3 cup almonds, chopped
• 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1 tbsp gluten free soy sauce
• 1.5 tsp chili powder
• 1 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
• Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the 2 burger toppings:
• 2 gluten free hamburger buns
• 2 thick slices local tomato
• Spicy guacamole (I bought Whole Foods brand to save time)
• ½ cup local spinach
• 2 tbs dijon

Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly grease a cookie sheet. In a large skillet, heat oil and add garlic. Once you can smell the garlic aroma add your onion and sauté until translucent and slightly browned. Mix your flax egg together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Prepare the rest of the ingredients as noted. I used my food processor and kept adding them into a large bowl, leaving the spices out to mix in last for taste testing. Once all ingredients are in the bowl mix well. The flax egg should help everything stick together. Add seasonings and salt to taste.

Roll out 8 balls to make sure all patties are equal size then shape dough into tightly packed patties, lightly wetting hands in between each patty to prevent sticking. I formed mine right onto the cookies sheet.

Bake for 15-17 minutes on each side. They should hold together for flipping but be gentle! Serve between those delicious buns holding all your scrumptious toppings.

I roasted local corn for our side! So easy to do in your oven. Just pop them in at 350F for 30 minutes, remove from oven and peel back husks. A little earth balance and pepper graced my little kernels!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kitchen Poker Face

I love a good sandwich. There is just something perfect about how you can make converse flavors and textures melt together, tweaking a common known recipe into your own original plated perfection. An email I received yesterday from one of the recipe sites I follow boasted a bundle of “dinner worthy” sandwich recipes to try. As I clicked and became carried away with the mouthwatering, eye-catching icons, I realized I haven’t made a sandwich in a while. I used to express deep devotion to my Panini press, concocting all sorts of beautiful flavors between two slices of bread. Well, I am back in the game, and playing some wild cards in this round of cooking poker.
The BLT. Everyone has their own perception of the perfect BLT. My previous 5 card winning hand would have been:

1. Crunchy, cheesy toasted bread
2. Juicy, ripe, thick tomato slice
3. Crispy, light lettuce
4. ‘Special Sauce’ (mustard, mayo…something mixed)
5. And of course, the ace, thick sliced bacon

But, like I said, I am introducing some new rules to the game. I am not going to settle for traditional approaches. My “BLT” wouldn’t feature most of the natural go-to fixin’s: meat, cheese, egg, lettuce, mayo. Yes, I dealt a hand last night that beat the BLT god’s odds against me.

1. Gluten Free Bread (cheesy and buttery a la vegan)
2. Juicy, ripe, thick tomato slice (for old times sake)
3. Fresh, locally grown spinach (more nutrients!)
4. Dijon Mustard (mayo wha?)

V-BLT. Looks heavenly doesn't it?!
Um, FACON? Yes, Facon. Fake bacon. No, not the store bought kind. Those store bought strips strip most of what I like about bacon. Even when I ate bacon I would season to my own liking. I marinated, spiced, and browned thin tofu slices to FACON.

A risky move. Especially with such a long standing traditional recipe. I’ll think you’ll love this non-conformist BLT though, or rather FST? I know I should call a spade a spade but for reader’s sake, let’s try…V-BLT. A vegan BLT. Rolls off the tongue a bit nicer.


Yields 2 sandwiches

• 4 slices gluten free bread of choice
• ½ package extra firm tofu
• 2 tbs low sodium Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
• 1 tbs Daddy Hinkle’s gluten free marinade OR liquid smoke
• Pepper
• Earth balance butter
• 2-3 tbs nutritional yeast (optional)
• 2 thick slices organic tomato
• ½ cup to 1 cup locally grown spinach
• Dijon Mustard
• PAM EVOO spray (if using griddle)

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place 4 slices of bread on a greased baking sheet. Lightly spread earth balances on pieces then sprinkle nutritional yeast evenly until all coated. (Omit yeast if preferred but it gives it a cheesy taste). Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and then another 10. My oven can be temperamental so I just watch for browning. Remove and set aside to cool.

While your bread is toasting, press your tofu and slice thinly lengthwise. I came out with about 6 slices. Place in a bowl and add tamari, daddy hinkles, and pepper. Let marinate for about 10 minutes.

Heat a sauce pan with 1 tbs earth balance. Dry off your tofu and add to the pan. Brown on both sides until crispy like bacon!!

Heat your griddle to 350 F and lightly grease. You can use a large pan if you prefer, or Panini press. I wanted mine piled high so I opted for the griddle. Lay down your slices of bread and begin layering. On 2 slices layer spinach, tofu, and tomato. Drizzle Dijon on the other two slices and place it on top of your layered slice, pressing down slightly with your spatula. Flip (carefully) after about 3-4 minutes. You just want everything to combine and warm together.

Plate and serve! I made kale chips on the side. Haven’t tried them? Oh, you don’t know what you are missing! Here is quick recipe below. I have my whole family hooked!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, this was the most perfect "BLT" I have ever eaten. The bread was crispy and buttery and housed the most amazing flavors. The Facon? Perfection. Even my husband didn't want to come up for air between bites. This version also cuts a whole lotta calories, another win I would say. V-BLT just earned itself a weekly spot on the week's menu!

Kale Chips

• 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed
• 1 tbs olive oil
• Seasoning of choice
     o Sea salt and pepper
     o Cajun
     o Nutritional yeast for cheesy chips

Heat oven to 425 F. Tear leaves off the stems into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add olive oil and massage into kale. Lay on a lighted greased baking sheet with none of them touching. Add preferred seasoning. Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

Plate and serve. My advice, get your hands on some before serving…they go FAST!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Restaurant Staycation

I think most everyone wants to relive a vacation they have taken. You always say you cannot wait to go back and make incessant vows to yourself that you will. A song, a smell, a restaurant reminds you of this vow a year later, maybe two, and you curse yourself for not planning it already and promise to plant a date on your planner. The vacation that flicks periodically in mind is my honeymoon to Turks and Caicos. We swore we would return that last day of our trip as the faded yellow taxi wheeled into the palm tree lined entry to our condo. And I hope to soon. But like I said, these little promises may lurk for a while, so I decided I would find the next best thing in Tulsa.

Our chairs are still waiting for us...
 How could I possibly match the crystal Caribbean and fresh conch in Turks to the Midwest mother land of Tulsa? Well, I can’t promise you ocean and sand, but I can promise you true Caribbean cooking, fresh fish, jerk, rum punch, and so much more. This Tulsa restaurant fries plantains instead of chicken, serves callaloo instead of collards, and even offers options for vegans (Bob Marley being their favorite!), gluten free gals and pals, and of course you carnivores!

Hibiscus Restaurant on Brookside is my island staycation. You’ve heard of those right? You stay in town but treat yourself like you’re on vacation. One rum punch in, and you’ll be happily lounging in this laid back local island.

We have frequented Hibiscus since they opened their doors. We used to hit up the jerk chicken $5.99 lunch special once a week! Now I go for their vegan fare, and occasionally split the fish with the hubby. You really can’t go wrong with any of their jerk options of course, and I do begin to get the shakes if I don’t satisfy my callaloo cravings. ;)

Jerk Fish, Fried Plantains, Calaloo...and our cocktails!
I recently spoke to a Caribbean connoisseur on the inside and these were a few of her favorite things…did the sound of music just pop in your head like it did mine? Maybe steel drums in the background…okay snapping back, her favorite things: the pork chop (her number one favorite), the curry fish, and the pineapple martini. I have tried the last two and can tell you that if you haven’t given yourself a vacation from your life lately, get your overworked booty to Brookside. We most recently tried the jerk fish and I don’t know how long I can wait until I sink my fork into this flaky dish again! The fish was tender and the sauce provided the perfect heat to give your taste buds a kick! Of course I paired our entrée with callalo and fried plantains. Let’s just say that fish never stood a chance. I enjoyed delicately muddled mango mojitos and my husband stuck to is original order of rum punch. He so dearly coined it getting “rum punched” while we were on our honeymoon.

The staff is always so friendly and accommodating. The food is fresh and brings a little spice into your life. I love sitting in the natural lit room, listening to reggae ride my worries away with a sweet cocktail and a zesty dish.

I am not sure when I will be returning to the white sandy beaches of Turks, but I know I will treat myself to the Caribbean very soon just down the street!

Hibiscus Restaurant
3316 S Peoria Ave
Tulsa, OK 74105-2029
(918) 749-4700