Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dinner ideas-old or refurbished (simple roasted veggies)

Pre-roasted vegetables. All dressed up with Olive Oil, Rosemary, Sea Salt, and Thyme. Heat for 45 minutes at 400* Stir occasionally.

It is always a joy for me to hear that someone has tried a recipe or learned a new food trick from this blog. My hope is that for those who know me personally, this blog will be a glimpse into my life and a way to stay connected, and for those whom I don't know, an opportunity to become more acquainted. For both these groups, my hope is to introduce some new foods, simplify home "whole- food" cooking, and to inspire creativity in the kitchen. This blog inspires me everyday.

Sometimes a little inspiration doesn't necessarily mean big elaborate meals, or unique new ingredients. Perhaps it is to make something that you have made many times before but not for a while, something you've forgotten about; or maybe it is to put a new twist on, what is for you, an old classic. When I am having trouble deciding what I want to eat or what I want to make, I usually pay attention to what part of the world I would like my flavors coming from. When I think eggplant, I could be heading on the Mediterranean train, or going to the Middle East. Coconuts can take me to Costa Rica or Thailand. If you start here, and stock up with a few essential seasonings, grains, oils, condiments, and canned goods, you will be prepared to touch on any flavor and make any dish a restaurant has to offer, look like a waste of time a money.

An old classic for dinner, lunch, or snack is the roasted vegetables. I think this is something that is so simple people forget about it completely. Either that or they rely heavely on routine roasted veggies, and for those people more power to you! Roasted veggies can be on the sweet or savory side. For those who battle real sugar cravings, I always suggest airing their roasted vegetables on the sweet side (by increasing your sweet vegetable intake you can overcome nagging sweet cravings). Using cinnamon and nutmeg to draw out the sweet flavors. Personally I love them savory, they taste very sweet to me this way as well. Usually when I roast vegetables, they are meant to occompany anything I am making, but most of the time do not make it to dinner. We eat them hot out of the oven and baking dish, Chop usually dons his with ketchup, I like them as is.

Never stood a chance.

And speaking of eggplant and roasted vegetables...every shopping trip I make I buy an eggplant. I have mentioned its use many times before. It takes about 5 minutes to peel and prepare an eggplant for roasting, about 15 minutes in the oven at 40o degrees, and the flavor and texture is unbeatable for many dishes. Here is one simple use of roasted eggplant, this is something you would get at a fancy mediterranean deli, pay $8-10 for and completely drool over, why not make it at home. Go ahead, treat yourself.

Skin and roast your eggplant (drizzle pan with olive oil, lay out plant, sprinkle with sea salt, 15 minutes/400*)
Heat bread in still hot oven with parmesan slices on one side (I used ww rosemary loaf, oh my) Spread other side with pesto (this is pesto season, I know you all have your fridge stocked with it)
Slice tomatoes, avocado, and lettuce

Put the sandwich together yo.

Don't forget to sweat your eggplant. If it is very fresh, you probably won't need to, but if it has been sitting for a while you will want to draw out the bitter flavors with sea salt. I slice it and put it in a colander as seen above, then sprinkle it with sea salt and leave it. Chefs (like the real deal) will do this for an hour or hours. I leave it for about 15-30 minutes. You will see sweat bead up on the surface (that is the bitterness leaving, if only people were so simple.) I then quickly rinse it in cold water (eggplant is another one of those spongy, don't want to get too wet, vegetables) and it is ready to roast!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy 7th of July! (raw mango pie/ banana pie)

Happy 7th of July! For all of those who had too much fun on the 4th or not quite enough, we can now celebrate that it is all over. Independence day is behind us and this means that summer is in full swing, whether the weather behaves accordingly or not.

The 4th on Block Island is crazy, one might say ridiculous. People come out here to celebrate, ahem, get completely obliterated drunk, walk around with little to no clothes on, leave their trash behind, and those who do not pass out on the beach, make for a pretty obnoxious boat ride home. The 3rd of July, however, is quite nice. People still get drunk, but it is much more contained and more of a family day type celebration.

This past 3rd of July was a great day. Myself and 2 friends rented kayaks and took a nice long kayak around the Great Salt Pond. The sun was shining, the water was clear and cool and we had some fun running into friends on the pond. The annual Rat Island Music festival is every 3rd, this is a hodge podge of musicians that gather at a glorified rock (Rat Island) a few yards from the shore in the harbor. You either need to boat or swim to get to the "festival", and we were happy to catch a little bit of the action on our way back with our kayaks. After kayaking we went for lunch and and then I was feeling the bug of the warm summer weather and decided to make a tropical dessert. We had friends visiting and I thought it nice to entertain with a pie.

Our friends we ran into on the pond. They live on an island on the island, and boat to and from shore.
Rat Island Music Fest. The beginning of the festivities.

This pie recipe may seem familiar. It was borrowed from my friend Ali's blog, and I've decided to share a few variations for you to enjoy. The best part about it is the simplicity, set it and forget it.
Raw Mango Pie


2 cups almonds
1 1/2 cups pitted and soaked dates

4 bananas
4 mangoes

Whiz up almonds and dates in food processor until they form a big sticky ball.
Spread and press this into a pie plate.
Peel and slice meat off mango (or you can use frozen mango about 2 cups). Put into a food processor with bananas and mix until smooth. Pour into crust and freeze. This can be eaten slightly frozen or all the way.



Raw Banana Pie

2 cups walnuts
1 cup pitted and soaked dates
whiz em up press em in a spring form pan or pie plate
Blend 4-6 brown bananas and pour in spring form
sprinkle top with walnuts and freeze

I thought it would be pretty spankin special to add chocolate to this pie. There are some amazing raw chocolate recipes. Chocolate when not heated or treated in any way is an amazing superfood. It has one of the highest contents of antioxidants than any food, and is rich in minerals, nutrients and life force (I sound like a raw foodie now). Raw cacao is beautiful and I love using it, it is also pretty expensive. You can find it in most health food stores (also in the column to the left). If you were not too concerned with making the pie raw, I would say some high quality melted dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar drizzled over the crust before you pour the banana would be amazing. It would harden in the freezer, making a delicious frozen treat. For a raw chocolate ganash you may have to get a little more creative and some more obscure ingredients but you'll know its raw and therefore living!

1 1/4 cups cacao powder
1 1/8 cups grade b maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut butter (you'll find this online)

Blend all ingredients till smooth, then cover the crust with this mixture. Then the banana, yum.