Saturday, January 30, 2010

Red Beans And Sticky Rice, With Gomashio

Like any good vegetarian, I'm always on the lookout for a new beans and rice dish. So, naturally, I was interested in a recipe for red beans and sticky rice, seasoned with black sesame seeds and salt, from Tea and Cookies. While the recipe was simple -- requiring only adzuki beans, sticky rice (aka mochi rice or sweet rice), black sesame seeds and salt -- it incorporated different flavors and textures than my usual beans and rice dish. And so, I decided to give it a try.

The beans and rice were easy to prepare. I soaked 1 cup of adzuki beans (twice what the original recipe called for) and 1 and 1/2 cups of sticky rice overnight, in separate bowls. The next day, I drained and rinsed the beans, then cooked them for about 20 minutes while I rinsed and washed the rice. When the beans had finished cooking, I drained them but reserved the cooking water. The rice and partially cooked beans then went into a larger pot, with about 2 cups of the reserved bean cooking water, and a dash of salt. Less than 20 minutes later, the rice and beans were done.

The gomashio (black sesame seeds with salt) is also easy to make, although I had to work through a couple kinks. I used a recipe for stovetop gomashio at Just Bento, which was written for people who have a kitchen scale. Since I don't have a kitchen scale, I spent a little time with on-line measurement equivalent tables and a calculator, and ultimately figured that the recipe called for about 7 tablespoons of black sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 cup of water. I decided to make a half batch, using 3.5 tablespoons of black sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of water.

The recipe said to toast the black sesame seeds in a pan over medium-low heat until they popped, and then add in salt water and stir until the water evaporated. I was worried about burning the sesame seeds (since I couldn't tell by color whether they were toasting), and so I may have started out with too low a heat setting. However, after about 25 minutes and several increases in temperature -- to almost medium heat -- my sesame seeds still weren't popping. Out of frustration, I tasted a seed and found that it was nice and toasty. So, perhaps the seeds don't really have to pop? I added the salt water to the pan and was rewarded with a wonderful salty sesame smell. The water evaporated in just a couple of minutes, leaving me with tasty gomashio to sprinkle over my beans and rice.

Since the gomashio can take some time to prepare, I would definitely recommend making it in advance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cream of Barley Soup (With Mushrooms)

I'm still on a Deborah Madison kick -- this time, her Cream of Barley Soup, from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. It's a smooth, creamy soup (thanks to puréed barley and vegetables, and reduced-fat sour cream) which delivers a nice dose of whole grains.

The recipe suggested garnishing the soup with cooked barley and thin slices of sautéed leek and shitake mushroom. I did stir some additional cooked barley into the puréed soup. However, instead of using a leek/shitake mushroom garnish, I sautéed about a pound of chopped baby portobello mushrooms in one tablespoon of melted butter. I really liked the texture of the barley and mushroom chunks in the otherwise smooth soup.

Since my mom's family is Hungarian, I couldn't let a dish featuring both sour cream and mushrooms go without a little paprika.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Lentils and Shells

I've been looking for a good lentil/pasta dish for a while now. This dish from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen really does the trick, thanks to an unlikely combination of ingredients: lime, cilantro, thyme, celery, onion, and spinach (plus pasta and lentils).

If you like Deborah Madison and live in Denver, you might want to know that she will be giving a talk at the Denver Botanical Gardens this coming October. Info here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Winter Vegetable Tian

A summer dish made with winter vegetables -- thin slices of sweet potato, parsnip, and fennel, layered over sautéed leek and garlic, sprinkled with thyme and ground fennel seed, and topped with gruyere cheese. Adapted from this recipe from the Barefoot Contessa.

I used one sweet potato, one parsnip, and one fennel bulb. In the future, I might try to wedge in another (sliced) fennel bulb -- who knew that fennel was so good with gruyere?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Shish Kabob Grill

I really should make my own tabbouleh. But, I've got no incentive, because I live just a few blocks from the Shish Kabob Grill. Packed with parsley (as well as tomatoes, onion, bulgur wheat, lemon juice, olive oil, and, I think, mint?), the Shish Kabob Grill's tabbouleh salad is refreshing, pleasantly crunchy, and a complete impediment to the development of my own tabbouleh recipe.

I also really like the hummus -- a creamy, smooth blend of chickpeas, sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil, which is served with two warm pitas (or sold in small tubs). Yes, I can (and do) make my own, but...

Sometimes I get the falafel sandwich -- a large pita filled with falafel, hummus, sesame paste, tomatoes, and lettuce. At about $6, it's an inexpensive but filling meal.

The restaurant also has a vegetarian platter (with hummus, baba ghanoush, falafel, grape leaves, and spinach pie) but I haven't tried it because I'm the rare vegetarian who doesn't like eggplant.

Shish Kabob Grill
1503 Grant (corner of Grant and Colfax)
Denver, CO 80203

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slow-Cooker Baked Beans

These baked beans are made with smoked paprika, not pork or bacon. It takes several hours of cooking from start to finish, but for most of that time, the beans are simmering away in a slow-cooker (aka Crockpot).

The recipe starts out by cooking the (pre-soaked) beans in a slow-cooker for three hours. The beans are then drained and added back to the slow-cooker -- along with smoked paprika, dried mustard, grated onion, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, and water -- to cook for another 10 to 14 hours. I let mine simmer overnight on low heat. While I was sleeping, the beans transformed from pale to tangy brown.

Recipe here. I used cannellini instead of navy beans, and added salt to the cooked beans.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Grapefruit Ginger Smoothie

I'm please to report that I finally own a blender that doesn't leak. So pleased, in fact, that I've been making smoothies even though the temperature has been well below freezing, and the ground in Cheeseman Park hasn't been visible in weeks.

While winter might seem like a strange time for a frozen treat, smoothies made with winter fruits like grapefruit are really yummy. This smoothie combines grapefruit, ginger, vanilla yogurt, and a handful of strawberries.


sections and juice of 1 grapefruit (approx 1 and 1/4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt
4 strawberries (I used frozen)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender, and purée until smooth.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Island Oatmeal

Oatmeal with coconut milk, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and mango -- adapted from a recipe for arroz con dulce (Puerto Rican rice pudding). Yes, it's based on a dessert, but the oatmeal is more subtle than sweet. It's also super easy to make.

3.5 cups water
14 ounce can lite coconut milk
4 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
3 cups quick oats*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 generous teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup currants or raisins
1 mango, washed and cut (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan, and cook over medium heat until boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer five minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adjust seasonings and serve.

*If using a different type of oats, you might need to adjust the amount of liquid and the cooking time.

Note: This post is linked to Healthy Green Kitchen’s breakfast recipe blog carnival for Haiti. -- B

Friday, January 1, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower

Well, any good intentions regarding "moderation" went right out the window with these addictive little bits of roasted cauliflower. I ate half the batch in one sitting. Luckily, it was all more or less healthy stuff -- cauliflower, tumeric, garlic, red pepper flakes, olive oil, and a dash of salt.

It looks like there are lots of different roasted cauliflower recipes out there --I made this version working from a recipe at 101 Cookbooks. It's really simple, with 30 minutes of baking time, and maybe 5 minutes of hands-on time. These little guys will definitely be on the meal rotation for 2010 (perhaps with a dhal or chickpea curry?). I might try adding a little cumin seed, too.

1 cauliflower, washed
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
dash red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Cut the "branches" of the cauliflower away from the main stem. Discard the stem. Cut up the "branches" until they are in bite-sized florets.

Place the cauliflower in a 13x9 baking dish (or a baking sheet with a rim), spreading them out into a single layer.

Drizzle the cauliflower with the olive oil, then add the garlic, tumeric, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir until the cauliflower is more or less coated with the seasonings. (They will get even more coated when you stir the cauliflower during and after the baking process.)

Bake the cauliflower for 15 minutes. Then, carefully pull the baking dish out of the oven (with an oven mitt) and give the cauliflower a good stir. Let the cauliflower bake for another 15 minutes.

After the cauliflower has baked for a total of 30 minutes, remove it from the oven, and give it another good stir so that it's thoroughly covered with seasonings.

Serve immediately.