Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Red Curry Coconut Soup

I don't know about you but everytime I've purchased a soup at the supermarket that's in those plastic containers I am sooo disappointed. The vegetables are always overcooked and mushy and the broth is just one note of flavor. And have you ever looked at the sodium content? OMG - Don't get me started...
Now I have been told that I am hard to please a bit of a food snob, but I believe that if you can make it better yourself and make it great what's the point in paying for crappy food. Soup is one of those meals that is so easy to put together at the last minute and you can't beat the flavor you get by garnishing with fresh herbs. Making your own soup allows you to control the sodium content and build layers of flavors that are sure to please.
With cooler weather a nice soup in the evening is always welcome. This soup is fragrant and easy to throw together as long as you have a few essential items in your pantry on hand. Coconut Milk, Red Curry Paste, Canned Tomatoes and Vegetable or Chicken Stock. Plus I always keep on hand in the refrigerator fresh herbs whether it's fresh cilantro in a cup of water (which by the way will last a week as long as you cut the stems and put in fresh water when you get home from the grocery store) or a packet of fresh basil.
Adding fresh herbs to any dish will immediately brighten it up and make a blah dish spectacular. Cilantro is super cheap and always packs the punch!
Red Curry Paste is a combination of chili peppers, lemon grass, garlic and galanga (a root that is similar to ginger), coriander, kiffer lime and peppercorns - it can blow up the heat quickly so be sure to taste as you go so you don't over power your dish. Look for Red Curry Paste in the Asian section of the grocery store in jars. Once opened keep in the refrigerator. You can add it to sauces and stews and it will add a little kick and a great depth of flavor to a lot of dishes.
Red Curry Coconut Soup
1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
1 Small Onion, Diced
1 Tablespoon Ginger, Minced
1 Teaspoon Red Curry Paste
1 14 oz Can Fire Roasted Organic Tomatoes, Diced
4 Cups Vegetable or Chicken Stock (for non-vegan eaters)
6 oz White Wine
1 14 oz Can Coconut Milk
1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
1 Teaspoon Organic Sugar
1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
Fresh Basil or Cilantro, Chopped
In a medium stock pot over medium high heat, saute onions, ginger and red curry paste. Cook the onions until they are translucent approximately 5 minutes and then add the chopped tomatoes. Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the vegetable or chicken stock, white wine and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low simmer. Allow soup to simmer on low for about 20 minutes so that the curry seasoning has a few minutes to blend with the other ingredients.
Add the sesame oil, sugar and salt. Add the chopped basil or cilantro and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
To serve splash with a dash of sesame oil and garnish with fresh basil or cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cherry Ginger Nut Stuffed Apples

Halloween and cooler weather brings fond memories of dunking my head in a big tin tub trying to grab an apple with my teeth! As I was wondering through the produce isle the other day that memory flashed through my head when I saw mounds of apples. I just cracked up. That was so random.

Then I thought - what can I make with apples that's different than pie or dumplings that I can eat for breakfast and stay on this vegan diet? Well.....Brew some chickory coffee and throw these little nuggets in the oven for a morning treat! This beats oatmeal any day. So simple to make ahead and keeps in the fridge wrapped with plastic wrap until your ready to bake.

Just pick up some gala apples, dried cherries and pecans. Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and candied ginger and dot with a little coconut oil in place of butter. Bake and enjoy.....Here's the actual recipe.

Cherry Ginger Nut Stuffed Apples
2 Gala Apples
1/2 Cup Pecans, Chopped
1/4 Cup Dried Cherries
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Crystalized Ginger, Chopped
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon, Ground
1/8 Teaspoon Cloves, Ground
Dash Sea Salt
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil (add this just before baking)

Using a knife or spoon to hollow out the apples leaving approximately 1/2 inch apple in the bottom to keep filling from coming out.

Mix together pecans, dried cherries, brown sugar, crystalized ginger, cinnamon, cloves and sea salt. Fill apples with nut mixture.

At this point you can put in an airtight container and wrap with plastic wrap to keep for a couple of days.

Put apples in a baking dish and add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil on top.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

Serving Suggestions: Great for breakfast or as a side dish with dinner or a spinach salad tossed with a warm cider dressing.

Everyone knows that having an apple a day keeps the doctor away but did you know that if you ate one each day it can lower your serum cholesterol levels by 8-11%? Apples are rich in fiber and flavonoids which help decrease heart disease. Pecans are cholesterol free, nutrient dense and are packed with antioxidants.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fire Roasted Artichoke Hearts & Thai Dipping Sauce

It's been a few days since my last post because I had a wonderful visit with my birth mother catching up on our lives and cooking together all week. Now since I have been on this vegan quest I was worried that my new way of life and cooking might be faltered with company however I found that it was kind of fun trying to find ways to introduce this lifestyle to someone who loves food but is also a meat-eater. I did cheat one night with salmon and only ate about a 4 oz size. My stomach did a few turns since I wasn't used to it but all in all it was an easy week of cooking and even ejoying some fantastic organic red wine. Sipping a glass or two throughout the evening without over endulging.

The first evening we sat outside in the beautiful October sky and enjoyed a spread of Fire Roasted Artichoke Hearts with a Thai Dipping Sauce, Slow Roasted Tomato Jam with Grilled Flatbread and a fabulous Organic Zinfandel!

It was a perfect light dinner and conversation. The tomato jam was a huge hit - once again! Which I have been told needs to be jarred and sold. So don't be surprised if you receive some from me for the holidays this year. I just might take her up on the advice.

Here is the recipe for the artichoke hearts and sauce. I hope you enjoy!
Fire Roasted Artichoke Hearts
2 Artichoke Hearts
1 Lemon
Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper

To prepare the artichokes for the grill. Wash them throughly and open the leaves to let the water run through. Then turn the artichokes upside down and give them a good shake to release the trapped water. Dry them by putting on a paper towel and then pat dry.

Using a sharp knife, trim off the top about 1 1/2 to 2" from the top where the leaves are tightly bunched.

Take some kitchen shears and trim the sharp points off each leaf continuing all around the artichoke.
Slice the artichoke in half bearing the head of the violet-colored thistle-like flower in the center. Now use a spoon and scoop out the center getting all the prickly pieces out.

In a large stock pot add about 2 quarts of water, season with sea salt, squeeze fresh lemon juice and add the lemons to the water. Bring the water to a boil and add the artichoke heart halves.

Boil in the seasoned water for approximately 15 minutes. Drain and let dry completely by placing face down on a pallet of papertowels.

Brush the artichoke heart halves with melted coconut oil and season with sea salt and cracked fresh black pepper. Place on a hot grill and roast until they become charred. Approximately 5-8 minutes.

Thai Scallion Dipping Sauce

1/4 Cup Soy Sauce (Low Sodium)
2 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (Unsweetened)
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
Dash of Agave Nectar to sweeten a bit
1 Scallion, Thinly Sliced

Mix all ingredients together with a wisk. Pour in a dipping dish and dip your artichoke leaves in and enjoy this sensational sweet and salty sauce!

Artichokes Healing Properties
Who knew that artichokes are actually considered a herb? Even though this herb is most commonly used as a vegetable it has diuratic properties, increases blood circulation, regenerates liver tissue while stimulating the gall bladder. Artichokes reduce blood lipid, serum cholesterol and blood sugar.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Zucchini Carpacio Salad

Sometimes don't you want a salad that is more than mixed greens and salad dressing without adding a bunch of calories and fat? Well tonight I decided to change it up a bit and make a carpaccio style salad with Zucchini, Fried Capers, Arugula and Grape Tomatoes. I drizzled it with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and Sherry Vinegar, then garnished it with fresh Basil, Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper.
Zucchini - A cucumber like vegetable that is actually, botanically considered a fruit. This slender shaped fruit has many health benefits and one zucchini is 25 calories, an ideal stomach filler for those looking to lose weight. Zucchini helps to cure asthma and fight against cardiovascular disease containing Vitamin C which is an anti-inflammatory property.
This vegetable is high in Potassium, Folate, Vitamin A and Vitamin B6.
Capers on the other hand have been used throughout history to promote healthy liver function. They contain two bioflavonoids, rutin and quarcetin which have strong antioxidant properties. They are high in sodium which need to be used sparingly and can be used in place of salt in a dish.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Take The Vegetarian Pledge for October

Did you know today is World Vegetarian Day? Alright all you meat eaters - take the pledge for one month to eat vegetarian and see how wonderful you feel! Click on the image above to pledge and you could be a winner and save a pig a chicken or a cow!