Moment: Hungry Pie Birds, South St. Louis

pie birds stl

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Heidi Swanson’s Broccoli Gribiche and My Coconut Kitchen Giveaway Winner! (veg, gf)

First things first: thank you to everyone who entered last week’s giveaway. I really enjoyed your responses- what healthy, creative people you are! To impartially choose a winner, I used the super-technical method of writing names on slips of paper and having a coworker choose one before lunch. All documented on high-quality iPhone video.

Rrrrrrroll ’em!

Congratulations Diana, winner of the My Coconut Kitchen coconut butter sampler pack! I hope you enjoy the sumptuous spreads as much as I do- let us all know how you use them.  Thank you to My Coconut Kitchen for the prize- be sure to check out Angie’s delicious inventory!

congrats

This week, I was looking for a meatless recipe with simple, clean flavors  that would fill me up, create leftovers, and be relatively simple to prepare. I was short on time and motivation and long on hunger, so who did I turn to? Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Every Day, a wonderful cookbook given to me by a wonderful aunt. My last Heidi Swanson post brought us another delicious meatless dinner- white beans with cabbage. Heidi’s broccoli gribiche recipe is listed in Super Natural Every Day under “lunch” and would be a showstopper at a picnic or potluck. I know it was a big hit at my one-woman potluck. Here it is! Broccoli gribiche.

gribiche done

BROCCOLI GRIBICHE

Adapted from Heidi Swanson

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes
  • 1 large head broccoli, florets chopped into bite-sized pieces and some stem chopped
  • 2 tbsp + 1/4 cup olive oil (healthy fat!)
  • kosher salt
  • 4 hardboiled eggs, 1 cooked yolk set aside
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh or 1 tsp dried chives

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and arrange two racks in the middle and top of the oven. Wash the potatoes and chop any potatoes larger than your thumb in half. Do not chop your thumb in half, only thumb-sized potatoes. Toss the potatoes and any thumb bits with one tablespoon of the olive oil and a large pinch of kosher salt in a large bowl; turn the potatoes out into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast on the middle oven rack for the first 15 of 30 minutes. Set the bowl aside.

While the potatoes cook, hard boil your eggs. You can find a foolproof allez! gourmet hard-boiling method here if you need it- super, super easy. While the eggs cook, wash and chop your broccoli and toss with another tablespoon of olive oil and another pinch of salt in the large bowl. Once the potatoes have cooked 15 minutes, stir the potatoes, turn the broccoli out onto a separate baking sheet and place the broccoli on the top rack of the oven, roasting the potatoes and broccoli another 15 minutes. You can set both baking sheets aside when the roasted veggies are done.

potatoes and broccoli

Back to the eggs: let your hardboiled eggs cool in ice water for speedy cooling and to prevent rings around the yolks. Peel one, remove its yolk, and mash that yolk in the trusty, large bowl you used for the potatoes and broccoli. I’m saving you dirty dishes here. My husband would be proud. Verrry sloooowly whisk the 1/4 cup olive oil into the mashed egg yolk, emulsifying the mixture. It will be a lovely, velvety, glossy yellow.

dressing emulsify

a!g action shot! bam! pow!

Whisk in the mustard and then the vinegar. Add the shallots, capers, and herbs, mixing the gribiche well. Chop the remaining 3 1/2 eggs and gently fold them into the mixture.

dressing shallots

Now for the fun part- combine the potatoes and broccoli in an an even larger bowl and add the dressing, gently tossing everything to coat. Serve. This stuff is seriously delicious, reheats very well, and can be served cold or at room temp. The flavors of the dressing were even better the next day, having had some time to mix and mingle overnight. Cheeky devils. I paired mine with Trader Joe’s new cruciferous crunch mix, braised in olive oil with a bit of red wine vinegar. Enjoy!

dinnah is served

dinnah is served

Harkening back to March of last year, here’s an allez! gourmet recipe for a classic Spanish potato salad, Ensaladilla Rusa.


Quickie: Kimchi Tofu Soup and the Benefits of Fermented Foods (v, gf)

So it’s springtime. Allegedly. Can’t verify that for you right now, I’m too busy scraping ice off of my windshield. Or at least I was this morning… Sheesh! This should be the time to make chilled soups and bright, minty salads dotted with neon green peas! Instead, I find myself craving warmth, spice, and honestly, detoxification, thanks to an overzealous Friday night with friends (who are totally worth celebrating- hello, ladies). So I suppose that will be my spring theme for this delectable Korean-inspired recipe: renewal!

kimchi soup

The spicy, fragrant, good for you star of this detoxifying soup, kimchi, is a Korean side dish made with fermented vegetables, mainly cabbage. While kimchi is near and dear to my heart, all fermented and cultured foods are powerful nutritional underdogs. I’ll quote Casey Seidenberg’s  Washington Post rundown of why we should all be eating fermented foods: Seidenberg, co-founder of D.C.-based nutrition education company Nourish Schools, says,

“Organic or lactic-acid fermented foods (such as dill pickles and sauerkraut) are rich in enzyme activity that aids in the breakdown of our food, helping us absorb the important nutrients we rely on to stay healthy. | Fermented foods have been shown to support the beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. In our antiseptic world with chlorinated water, antibiotics in our meat, our milk and our own bodies, and antibacterial everything, we could use some beneficial bacteria in our bodies. | When our digestion is functioning properly and we are absorbing and assimilating all the nutrients we need, our immune system tends to be happy, and thus better equipped to wage war against disease and illness.” 

underdog

What a delicious way to get the good bugs in our systems- by EATING! If kimchi’s not your style you can nosh on sauerkraut, beer (easy, tiger, easy), stinky cheese, dill pickles, yogurt, miso, sourdough bread, and kombucha to make your tummy and immune system happy and healthy. Or if you like kimchi and have five minutes, you can make this soup. Happy winterspringtime, everyone!

KIMCHI TOFU SOUP (KIMCHI JJIGAE)

Adapted from Competitive Cyclist

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of your favorite kimchi, packed and chopped (I used two packages of Trader Joe’s napa cabbage kimchi)
  • 1 package tofu, cut to medium dice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tsp low-sodium vegetable cooking base or 2 tsp bouillon
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Korean chili paste or garlic chili paste, such as Huy Fong
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced and divided
  • eggs, optional

Directions:

Chop your kimchi into bite-sized pieces. You may eat as much as you want as you chop. Watch your fingers.

kimchi chopped

Dice the tofu block. It’s really fun.

tofu chopped

Mix the kimchi and vinegar and add to a large stockpot. Add the water, cooking base, tamari or soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, and half the scallions. Stir this together, then gently stir in the tofu blocks and bring the soup to a boil. If you’d like, crack a few eggs into the boiling soup and cook until the whites are opaque. If not, serve and top bowls with remaining fresh scallions, passing sesame oil around. So very tasty and so, so good for you.

kimchi soup cooking


Quickie: Hard Boiled Eggs with Dukkah (veg, gf)

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m in love with the Heidi Swanson cookbook, Super Natural Every Day. This lovely little snack is straight from her book, with a Trader Joe’s-loving twist: I bought my dukkah pre-made. Sacrilege, I know! And while Heidi’s recipe for homemade dukkah is lovely, I couldn’t pass up a high-quality shortcut for $2.99.

eggs

Dukkah is an Egyptian seasoning blend made of nuts and spices, and is often mixed with oil and used as a delicioud bread dip. Heidi suggests drizzling a hard-boiled egg with a bit of olive oil and sprinkling with dukkah as a quick and flavorful snack.

dukkah

This idea has been tantalizing me for months and when I found my jar of dukkah at TJ’s, it was game on. This is much less a recipe than an idea and an inviting way to try a possibly unfamiliar spice blend. So, let’s talk hard boiled eggs and have a snack, shall we?

HARD BOILED EGGS WITH DUKKAH

Inspired by Heidi Swanson

  • pre-made dukkah, available at Trader Joe’s, or made with Heidi Swanson’s recipe
  • eggs
  • olive oil

My foolproof method for hard-boiling eggs is this: place your eggs gently into a pot and cover with cold water, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and remove from heat, allow to sit- covered- for 15 minutes. When 15 minutes is up, float the eggs in a bowl of ice water before peeling. This will prevent those icky green rings around the yolks. Peel, cut an egg in half lengthwise, drizzle with a bit of oil and sprinkle with dukkah. Delicious!

ice bath


Ensaladilla Rusa (pes, gf)

The weekend of February 15th, I met Dave in D.C. for a lovely Valentine’s getaway. We stayed at the Willard the first night- which was FABULOUS and made me feel very important and as if I needed an official seal or something- and stayed with my lovely aunt & uncle in Annandale the rest of the trip. We walked all over the place, we saw art, we posed with sculptures, we ate tacos, we drank Yuengling, we ran and walked in Maryland and saw falls and boat locks, and there were memorable oysters at the Old Ebbitt Grill and an inspiring dish of ensaladilla Rusa at Jaleo.

ensaladilla rusa

What is ensaladilla Rusa, lady? you may ask, and why should I care about Jaleo? Well. You’ll be happy to know that ensaladilla Rusa is an iconic Spanish tapa, basically a simply dressed potato salad with tuna and peas. I’d read about it before, but we tried it for the first time at the José Andrés-owned Jaleo, a busy tapas spot on 7th Street in Penn  Quarter. Jaleo is full of tourists (like us) but the food is fast and tasty. I am always fine with having anything to do with José Andrés, who I admire very much, and Jaleo is an accessible way to try one of his restaurants with little-to-no planning required. Find his bio here– just know that he’s a legendary Spanish chef and a visionary. I won’t drag my chef groupie-ism out any longer than I need to… but check him out.

the spectacular Willard

the spectacular Willard

So! Those things being said, I recreated the tapa at home and it made quite the bright and tasty spring dinner. I’m looking forward to having it as a bright and tasty spring lunch tomorrow.

ENSALADILLA RUSA

Adapted from a José Andrés recipe

Ingredients:

  • 3 red potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 2 cups shredded carrot, chopped
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh peas
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 large can white albacore tuna, drained
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • light mayonnaise, about 3/4 cup
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Carefully place the potatoes into the water, and boil for ten minutes (don’t drain yet- keep reading). While the potatoes are boiling, I’ll mention a fool-proof way to hard-boil eggs: place eggs in a pot and cover with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil, then immediately cover and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 minutes, then remove to a bowl of ice water for five more. Perfect, and no green rings on the yolks!

poifect!

poifect!

Okay, back to the kitchen. Heat the peas for a minute in your microwave and drain; place in a large mixing bowl. Chop and add the parsley. Drain the tuna, drizzle it with the olive oil, and let sit. If the ten minutes are up on your potatoes, add the shredded carrots to the boiling water and cook them both for five minutes more, and drain.

the goods

the goods

Let the potatoes cool to room temperature, which should take t 10-15 minutes. While you wait, chop the eggs into small dice. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle and not crumbling when you cut them, cut them into 1/2 inch dice. Carefully stir the peas, parsley, and potatoes together; then carefully stir in the eggs. Stir in the 3/4 cup mayo, and then fold in the tuna. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. This will be a room-temperature dish. Serve with cracked black pepper and enjoy!

Quick shout-out to one of my other main men, John Singer Sargent, and the first Jaleo to capture my heart in the capital, long ago.

And here’s an allez! gourmet recipe for another spin on potato salad- broccoli and potato gribiche!


Phototastic Travel Post: Mangú (Dominican Mashed Plantains) (v, gf)

In October of last year, Dave and I traveled to Santo Domingo for a few days to see my amazing cousin Michelle marry the love of her life, Arturo. Stick with me here- I’ll get to food, I promise. The wedding was beautiful and we were treated like royalty by my beloved aunt, who I call Tata. Staying with Tata is unlike staying in a hotel- not only are the food and surroundings better, everything she touches is filled with unconditional love, in the way only Tata can do.

Tata's impeccable mangú

Tata’s impeccable mangú breakfast

Dominican hospitality is like nothing I’ve experienced anywhere else- friends and family members greet their company with freshly squeezed tropical fruit juices, presented on silver coasters and handmade lace doilies. There is no pointing to the cabinet of glasses, no “help yourself,” the way there is in the Cruse household (sorry, Tata). The details Dominican hostesses remember about their guests are uncanny and never forgotten- my husband, who loves desserts, was bombarded with cake and ice cream the last time we were down after only being rumored [online and a thousand miles away] to be a dessert fiend. Which is a spot-on assessment. Tata remembered from years ago that I like brown sugar more than white, and lovingly made me strong, Dominican coffee each morning with a beautiful little bowl of brown sugar next to it. Dave likes tea more than coffee, and Tata graciously made it for him each morning, served on a small silver, doily-covered tray next to my coffee. If I am someday as effortlessly gracious a hostess as Tata is, I’ll be forever happy:

coffee

One of my favorite Dominican breakfast dishes, mangú, is part of the classic, hearty, Dominican farmer’s breakfast that also includes fried cheese or salami, avocado,  and sunny-side up eggs. It’s heavy, but man… it’s GOOD.

After watching Tata make mangú a few times and finding an international grocery store in Saint Louis that sells green plantains, I started making it at home. Plantains are a nutrient-dense, starchy food that look like bananas but aren’t sweet (though they can be, if ripe, and when prepared other ways). They’re comparable to a very tasty potato, so don’t be misled by their banana-like shape. When not paired with salami or cheese, this is a very healthy breakfast dish.

MANGU

Ingredients:

  •  2-3 green plantains, unripe, peeled and cut into chunks
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • a few rings of red onion, sliced
  • boiling, salted water, 1 cup reserved
  • avocado, sliced (optional)

Directions:

The easiest way to peel and chop the plantains, I find, is to cut slits down the sides of the peel lengthwise, and remove the peel from the ends. You may want to wet your hands while peeling if you don’t like starchy digits. Cut the plantains into chunks and toss them, along with the garlic clove, into the boiling, salted water. Boil until very tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vinegar in a small saucepan and add the red onion, cooking until fragrant and tender. These are a traditional mangú topping, but are optional. But, come on, you’ve already purchased unripe plantains from your local international grocery store, you may as well go whole-hog…

cooking, cooking away

cooking, cooking away

When they’re very tender, remove  the plantains and garlic to a large mixing bowl and add 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, 2 tbsp olive oil, and the teaspoon of kosher salt. Mash!! You can do this with a potato masher or a fork- I prefer a fork. If you’d like, you could also toss the mixture into your food processor in lieu of mashing. Now, here’s where your chef’s intuition comes in- depending on the size of the plantains you used and the consistency you like, add more cooking liquid by the 1/4 cup and olive oil by the tablespoon. I add a few more tablespoons of water and 1-2 more of olive oil. Taste as you go. You’ll notice that Tata’s mangu was thicker than mine- it’s all about preference.

And your taste-testing abilities will now be rewarded…. YOU MAY EAT!! Put the mangú in a serving bowl, top with onions (strained from vinegar) and serve! I really enjoy this dish with sliced avocado and a fried egg on top. Makes a great and complete breakfast or lunch. Just don’t take it personally when you get the side-eyes from your coworkers as they eat their canned soup.

this earned me a few confused lunchtime stares

this earned me more than a few confused lunchtime stares

If you’re reading this on a wintry, January day, which is the kind of day I’m writing on, enjoy these photos of Tata’s kitchen and amazing tropical produce and some shots of the city… ah, the comforts of home-away-from home:

view of  Zona Colonial as you leave the city

view of Zona Colonial as you leave the city

DADS HOUSE

the row home where my Dad grew up

cocina dominicana 1 cocina dominicana 2


Paleo Lemon Bars… sugar & gluten-free lemony goodness! (gf)

Hey, all! We’ve been cooking a TON over the past few months, and I have been horrible and terrible and not posted ANY of it! So, so bad and so selfishly full of good food, I am. I managed to snap a few pics of these amazing paleo lemon bars we made this weekend (actually, Dave did the work on these, I was just the happy chow hound), so here we go…

looks like a lemon bar... tastes like a lemon bar...

looks like a lemon bar… tastes like a lemon bar…

We don’t follow a paleo diet but we do enjoy sweets and I try to avoid gluten. These lemon bars seemed like a good compromise, and they turned out really well! I was surprised at how well they set up in the oven, and how tasty the crust was. The recipe also calls for 11 (eleven!?!*) eggs, so if you need another rationalizing point before you make a pan, they’re high-protein. A bit of honey replaces the traditional white sugar in the filling and crust, and coconut flour, almond meal, and coconut oil replace the flour.

DISCLAIMER: eat and store this dessert at room temperature. I refrigerated a single portion to bring with me to work today, and the texture was mushy. Eat. And store. At room temp. That is all.

Happy baking, and let me know what you think!

PALEO LEMON BARS

Adapted from The Primal Home

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal: just grind up a cup of almonds in a blender until they form a flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill, available at most grocery stores- check the gluten-free and baking sections)
  • 1/2  tsp freshly grated nutmeg or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tbsp honey + 1/2 cup honey– try raw honey. In addition to the health benefits raw honey provides, it’s easy to find; Archer Farms has a wildflower version that’s easy to pour and available at Target, and Whole Foods offers at least 3 kinds.
  • 3 eggs + 8 eggs
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • juice from 6 lemons, strained for seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup or more unsweetened shredded coconut to top

Directions:

This is a mix and dump recipe- first, the crust ingredients, then the filling. So simple. Preheat your oven to 350 and grease an 11×7 inch cake or baking pan with coconut oil. We used a slightly smaller Corningware dish and the recipe turned out just fine.

CRUST: In a large bowl, mix the almond meal, coconut flour, nutmeg, 1 tbsp honey, 3 eggs, coconut oil, and coconut milk. Combine completely and press into the bottom of the pan:

follow the fork marks

follow the fork marks

FILLING: then, in another large bowl (or the same one, cleaned out, if you’re dish-saving freaks like we are), combine the lemon juice, remaining 8 eggs, vanilla, and 1/2 cup honey. Whisk of this together well and pour over the crust, like so:

filling poured over the crust

filling poured over the crust

Then toss into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bars comes out clean, and the topping is firm and fully cooked. Top with the shredded coconut, let cool, and serve, relatively guilt-free!

all done, cooling and topped with coconut!

all done, cooling and topped with coconut!

 

*


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes with Chopped Almond Syrup (Best. Weekend. EVER., pt. deux) (v)

The morning before I made the  delicious migas, we worked up big appetites with a nice long swim at the Y, which consisted a slow and steady swim for me, with glimpses out of the corner of my goggles of Dave passing me back and forth for a solid hour, like something out of shark week. He was going so fast, I thought he was going to swim up and body slam me or thrown me in the air like an orca with a baby seal. Didn’t happen (WHEW… chalk one up for team seal).

ermahgerd

Anyway, we swam a lot and were hongray when we got back. What to make? Uh, how about every breakfast item we could name? There was a “you bought healthy bacon?” debacle recently (grounds, so the menu definitely included full-fat, old-school bacon, scrambled eggs, and biscuits along with the pumpkin pancakes (which are pretty healthy). Here’s what I came up with, and this recipe includes a basic homemade pancake mix you can keep on hand*:

WHOLE WHEAT PUMPKIN PANCAKES WITH CHOPPED ALMOND SYRUP

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe whole wheat oatmeal pancake mix: 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 cup ground oatmeal, 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 can Libby’s pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup soy or skim milk
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar-free syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • canola oil

Directions:

Mix everything in a bowl. Woo hoo! Easy peasy. Everything except canola oil, of course, but you didn’t do that, did you? You knew better. I knew you would! Add milk in third-cup increments, blending well each time.

first side…

Heat a nonstick skillet just under medium heat and add 1 tbsp canola oil per batch of pancakes. These do best when the batter’s a bit thin and the skillet is hot- the pumpkin is so dense it impedes the cooking process with a lower heat or thicker batter. Using a 1/3 c measuring cup as your guide, scoop three servings of batter into the hot pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes on the first side, or until bubbles form in the batter and the edges appear set. Flip and cook the other side another 2 minutes, then remove to a paper-towel lined plate.

flipped!

Pour the syrup of your choice and the chopped almonds into a microwave-safe creamer or small pitcher for serving. Microwave for 45 seconds and serve with the pancakes. These are mm-mm good, especially with real bacon.

*First, a note on the pancake mix. I keep this pre-mixed in a canister at home, about 4 batches worth. It’s really great to have on the weekends. To make pancakes from the dry mix recipe above (which was inspired by this FitSugar recipe), scoop 1-2 cups mix into a bowl, add an egg, 1 tablespoon of something sweet (honey’s a good option), and a cup of milk or more, depending on your taste. Some variations we’ve enjoyed: replace part of the mix with a scoop of vanilla protein powder, add berries, peanut butter, nuts, strawberries, or bananas. Good stuff!