Monday, March 19, 2012

Cocoa & Cherry Biscuits, Meyer Lemon Curd, Meyer Lemon & Thyme Marmalade

The title is rather long I know.  I had a bunch of Meyer lemons I needed to do something with this weekend so I made the curd and marmalade.  But then I realized that I needed something to have them with, so I went ahead and made the Cocoa Biscuits.  Though really, I think I can just eat lemon curd on its own by the spoonful ;)

Cy has finals this week, so I figured these would make great high protein snacks.  The Cocoa biscuits are gluten-free and made from almond meal with a little bit of cocoa and some cherries thrown in for good measure.  It makes for a good contrast with all the lemon condiments.

Lemon curd is one of my all time favorites, but I always assumed that the luscious consistency came from all the butter.  However, I am happy to announce that it doesn't have to.  I based my recipe off of this one.  It uses very little sugar and absolutely no butter.  And similarly for the Marmalade, I don't know if it was because my meyer lemons were not too tart, I found that I did not have to add too much honey to make it.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Creamy Broccoli Soup

This one's a staple in my cooking repertoire because it's quick and easy to make, healthy and delicious to eat.  It's a creamy broccoli soup that uses no cream, and instead is thickened with oats, adding to its nutritional factor. 

I usually make this when it's already too late to try to cook anything too creative for dinner...or when I'm feeling lazy, hehe. I always make a big batch so that I can have it for lunch the next day.   In fact the base of this soup recipe is so simple and foolproof that you can easily swap out the broccoli and turn it into another soup...kale? Carrots? The possibilities are endless.

For now, I stick with Broccoli, because I ♥ broccoli.  I've already talked about why here

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Umbrian Lentils with Oven-dried Tomatoes and Gorgonzola

This is another one from the beautiful vegetarian cookbook Plenty.  I really love the fact that the recipe asks you to oven-dry the tomatoes. Rather than those jarred sun-dried tomatoes that tends to come packed in oil, this way tends to be less caloric and you can even control the amount of dryness.  I love that semi-dried state of the tomatoes that embraces both the flavor intensity of sun-dried tomatoes and the juiciness of a fresh ripe tomato.

And speaking of tomatoes, my mother continues to store her tomatoes in the fridge even though I've told her that tomatoes lose their flavor when they're stored at cold temperatures.  She refuses to believe me.  So if you are like my mother and prefer to keep your tomatoes in the fridge, then at least try to bring them back to room temperature before you use them.  This will help bring back some of that lost flavor.  

It's a well researched fact that tomatoes don't like to be stored in the cold, and now there is further research saying that the nutritional values of a tomato may be increased when they are cooked. Apparently, the amount of lycopene and antioxidants increase dramatically as the tomatoes are heated.  And it is now common knowledge that lycopene is one of the single most effective "oxygen-quenchers".  Their incredible ability to devour free-radicals in our bodies make them an important part of our diet. You can read more about this research here 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sweet Gestures: Korean Soup (yukgaejang) from Cy

Happy Monday! 

Cy was very sweet this weekend and made one of his favorite Korean soups for me...or maybe he just wanted to eat it ;)  It's called Yukgaejang (pronounced Yu'ke jan) and it's a little bit on the spicy side...but apparently I am a wimp when it comes to spicy food so perhaps I'm not the best judge. Either way it was great because it was a little bit on the chilly side out here in Los Angeles yesterday - definitely perfect soup weather.

*I apologize for the quality of the picture - my place is on the darkside in the evenings and this was shot with virtually no light

I think Cy pretty much made up the recipe as he went along, but I will post the directions anyway.

(serves 4)


5cups ....Water
2cloves...smashed garlic
4cloves...minced garlic
200g.......Bean Sprouts
A bunch of Green onions
1cup........Fernbrakes if you can find them (optional)
1package..Enoki Mushrooms
1Tbsp.......Gochujang (Korean spicy Miso)
1tsp..........Red Chili pepper powder
A handful of rice noodles (optional)
1 egg (mixed)
1-2tbsp sesame oil


1) In a big pot, add beef brisket, garlic and ginger with water. Boil it for 40-50 minutes over high heat.

2) While it boils, cut the green onions and fernbrake into pieces about 7 cm in length.  Put them all into a big bowl with the bean sprouts, enoki and minced garlic.

3)  In a small bowl, mix together the gochujang, soysauce, and red chili powder.  Add this spice mix to the bowl with the vegetables and mix well.

4)  When the beef is well cooked, take it out and set it aside to cool down.

5)  Add the mixture of vegetables and hot pepper oil sauce into the boiling beef stock. Boil it for 20-30 minutes.

6)  Shred the beef thinly and add it into the boiling soup along with the rice noodles. Cook it about 5-10 minutes more. Adjust flavor with salt and pepper. And adjust for spiciness with either water or spices.

7)  While the soup is still on heat, drop the already mixed egg gently into the soup, stir gently as to not break up the egg too much.

8)  Finish with a sprinkle of sesame oil.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blood Orange and Riesling Gelee with Coconut Panna Cotta

This one's got a fancy long title, but really it's just jello...a really delicious jello.

Blood oranges are such interesting fruit aren't they?  This particular batch I had gotten from the farmer's market was especially "bloody".  They were colored so extremely dark red that I actually decided not to put up the photographs because they looked almost gory.  

However, in terms of health, this is probably a good thing since the red pigment that gives blood oranges its distinct color is actually anthocyanin, an antioxidant.  And as most of us are already aware, antioxidants provide tons of health benefits like protection against cancer, heart disease, and lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.  All on top of the fact that as a citrus, it is high in Vitamin C, folate, and fiber.

But in anycase, back to the jello! 

I was trying to decide what to make with the blood oranges I had when I came across this beautiful recipe on the web.  I felt very inspired to try something similar.  It's been relatively warm and dry out here in Los angeles, so this seemed like the perfect refreshing break we needed.  There is a layer of vanilla bean and coconut on the bottom which pairs wonderfully with the more tart blood orange, and I finished it off with another layer of gelee made from some leftover Riesling.  I crushed it so that it looks like ice...figured it can look even more refreshing ;)

Now on to the recipe...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tofu Dessert Part 1: Wannabe Meyer Lemon Cheesecake

This is an incredibly easy dessert you can pretty much whip up in no time.  Although I've titled it as a Cheesecake, let me just tell you ahead of time that it's better to think of this as something more like a Cheesecake flavored custard or Blanc Mange.  Whatever you call it, I love it.

And no, it's no true cheesecake, but it's really amazing how you can achieve that sort of flavor out of four simple ingredients unrelated to dairy.  Just tofu, miso, lemon, and honey....yes that's right, miso.  The combinations of tofu and miso actually give that cheesy sort of flavor and no, you won't taste the miso. I understand that the sound of these ingredients in a dessert may turn some people off, but to those people I have to say, please give it a chance!  

Even if you don't consider this a cheesecake, I think that as a standalone dessert, this is really quite delicious. With a silky mouthfeel, and refreshing flavor, it's a perfect light end to a meal.

You can use a regular lemon, but I have a bunch of these beautiful Meyer lemons from the farmer's market to go through, so I incorporated them into the recipe.

Now on to the recipe...

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Healthy Pick-me-up: Zucchini & Carrot Muffins

This is a go-to recipe for when both Cy and I are craving a little bite.  These muffins are not too sweet, and packed with protein. It replaces white flour with chickpea flour and almond meal so that it helps cut back on the carbs and keep you fuller for longer. It makes for a perfect, pre-basketball snack for Cy.

Neither Cy nor I are vegan, but I enjoy going through some vegan cookbooks for inspiration when I bake.  Clean Start is a beautiful vegan cookbook that I often turn to for her simple no fuss dishes.  I love the fact that these muffins use no eggs, no dairy, no gluten, no oils, and no refined sugar.  Not that I have anything against any of these ingredients aside from the refined sugar, but I think that sometimes its nice to take a break from them to help out your digestive system a little.  (Not to mention it helps cut back on those usual muffin calories!)

Zucchini & Carrot Muffins
adapted from Clean Start
approx 12 regular muffins

3/4cup...chickpea flour
1/2cup...corn flour
1/2cup...almond meal
1/4cup...potato starch *cornstarch will also work. I personally like the consistency of potato starch better
1tbsp.....baking powder
1tsp.......baking soda
1/4tsp....ground nutmeg

2/3cup....mashed banana (about 1 large ripe banana)
1/2cup....raw honey *or maple syrup, or other sugar alternative such as stevia/splenda
1tsp........lemon juice
1/2tsp.....vanilla extract
3/4cup....grated carrots
3/4cup....grated zucchini
1/2cup.....chopped walnuts *optional 

1) Preheat oven to 350degrees F.  Prep your muffin tins with oil or muffin cups.

2) In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.

3) In another bowl, mix together all wet ingredients.  *If you want your muffins sweeter, you can add another 1/4cup of honey if you'd like.

4) Add the wet to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. You can also mix in the walnuts here, or any other optional ingredients you'd like to add such as raisins or dried currants...ooh or maybe dried pineapple?...the possibilities are endless!

5) Scoop batter into muffin tins, distributing evenly.

6) Bake for approximately 20min or until toothpick test comes back clean.  Remove from oven and let cool before handling.

*The muffins also freeze well in an airtight container!

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