Monday, May 25, 2015

we sail tonight for singapore

I picked a hell of a time to get into roasting chicken. I mean it's not hot yet, but very soon, it will be completely inappropriate to let the oven run for an hour, even in the evening.

While I can, though, I'm going to be doing this every week, so get prepared (and send me your favorite roast chicken "recipes"/flavor combinations)!

Today's recipe was inspired by the finest chicken rice I've ever eaten at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at the Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore. It was my first thought when I saw the recipe over at She Simmers. All the talk of lemongrass and chili dipping sauces took me straight back to the sweatiest (but one of the most delicious) days of my life.

It kind of took on a life of its own, though - obviously, the chicken was roasted and not poached, so the texture was different. I ended up rubbing the chicken with a coconut oil-ginger-garlic mixture that, when combined with the lemongrass stuffing made for some of the most delicately perfumed chicken ever. (I'm speaking in a lot of hyperbole today. Trust me, it was deserved).

I tossed a couple spoonfuls of the delicious coconut oil-chicken fat at the bottom of the baking dish with the red sprouted jasmine rice for a nice solid base, and simply sauteed quartered bok choy in some sesame oil to round out the dish.

Ginger-Lemongrass Roast Chicken
inspired by She Simmers
serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, about 5 lbs.
4 T. coconut oil
1 t. minced ginger
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. salt
3 large lemongrass stalks, halved and cut into 4-inch pieces

1. Set the chicken out on the counter to lose that refrigerator chill while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the coconut oil, ginger, garlic and salt.

3. Remove any "extras" from the inside of the chicken and pat dry. Carefully slide your hand between the skin and the chicken breast. Spread half of the coconut oil under the skin, the other half over the outside of the chicken.

4. Place the chicken on a v-rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish and add 1/2 c. water to the bottom of the pan. Roast for about an hour, or until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

a little bit of spice

A little bit of healthy yum for what is consistently my weak spot - a good old-fashioned barbecue. There is generally no amount of smoked meat that I will turn down, and today's celebration was no exception.

For the longest time, my buddy Paul and I have been trying to get a brisket-off going, but it hasn't been the easiest thing to get all of the competitors together. It finally happened today, in celebration of Paul's birthday. It was meant to be.

I've already assaulted Facebook and Instagram with the results (hint: I'm marrying the guy), and let's be honest about how sliced brisket is not the cutest thing to photograph. Instead, I want to talk about this glorious hummus.

Yes, hummus is usually not evocative of such a descriptor, but this one's worth it. This one is rich and creamy (thanks, avocado), comfortably lip-tingling (just two roasted jalapenos, thanks), and all that wonderful cumin and cilantro gives it such a wonderful earthiness that is just so satisfying.

I meant to grab some naan to serve with this, but ran out of time to make another stop at the grocery store. Luckily, there were plenty of chip options already at the party. I think this is definitely a carb-y accompaniment, though - crudite is nice, but I think you want to use some sort of flatbread thing to take full advantage of all of the flavors, and the sweetness of vegetables throw an unnecessary additional flavor profile to your bite.

Roasted Jalapeno Hummus
slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker
makes 2 cups

For the hummus:
2 jalapeños
2 cloves garlic, skin on
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 small avocado
juice of 2 limes
1 t. cumin
4 T. olive oil
1/4 c. cilantro leaves
salt, to taste

For the pepitas:
1/2 c. raw pumpkin seeds
1 T. olive oil
pinch each salt, pepper and cumin

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Place garlic cloves with skin still on and whole jalapeños on a baking sheet. Drizzle them with a small amount of olive oil, and roast for 15-18 minutes, flipping jalapeños once to ensure even roasting.

3. Once done, remove from oven and set garlic aside. Wrap the jalapeños in foil to steam for a few minutes. Then carefully peel away skin and remove seeds.

4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chickpeas, 4 T. olive oil, cilantro, avocado, cumin, lime juice, roasted jalapeños, and peeled garlic cloves. Blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Salt to taste.

5. To prepare toasted pumpkin seeds, preheat oven to 350 degrees, and toss 1/2 c. seeds with 1 T. olive oil, and a pinch each salt, pepper, and cumin. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 8-12 minutes. Add to top of hummus, along with another drizzle of olive oil and fresh cilantro. Serve hummus with veggies, tortilla chips, or pita.

Friday, May 22, 2015

good morning, good morning

I've always thought that the smoothie bowl is the most obnoxious "health food" trend I've observed in a long time. I mean, why is your smoothie in a bowl? The whole point of a smoothie is to put a whole bunch of fruit/vegetables (which you would normally serve yourself from a bowl) into a cup, preferably with a straw, so that you can walk about and carry on while "eating." Why would you go through the trouble blending all that just to put it back in a bowl and make yourself sit down to eat?

Well, when you go low on chia seeds to make the pudding you're used to, and instead, find that 6 T. of chia seeds to 2 c. of liquid will only get you an end-product with the consistency of a smoothie. Then you give up, pour 1/2 a cup of the stuff into a bowl, and start going at your fridge and pantry to find pretty things to decorate the top of your smoothie bowl with - in my case, mangos, bananas, blueberries and unsweetened coconut flakes.

I must say, it's not a terrible breakfast. It evens feels a little like dessert, with all of those toppings. And I have never been so energetic and happy than after having ingested this combo of chia and matcha - and bonus: no coffee jitters! I stand corrected, smoothie bowls.

Matcha Chia Smoothie Bowl
slightly adapted from Choosing Raw
serves 4 (with fruit added)

2 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
6 T. chia seeds
1 t. matcha powder
toppings of your choice

1. In a large measuring cup, combine the almond milk, chia seeds and matcha powder. Stir vigorously to evenly combine. Divide among four 1/2-c. containers, and refrigerate overnight.

2. In the morning, top with your choice of toppings - fruit, nuts, etc. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

love letter go tell her

Dear Flavors of Southeast Asia,

I miss you so, so much.

I should know better than to think I could do as well to recreate them on my own, but you can't blame me for trying. And honestly, this soba noodle soup supplemented by a few chunks of salmon, poached directly in a coconut broth accented by funky fish sauce and heady lime juice, is no slouch.

I'd mix up the mushrooms a bit more for interest next time, and I'd try the black rice vermicelli I found in the Asian grocery store, but for now, this soup is the band-aid for my aching heart.

Until I see you again,

Soba + Salmon in Coconut Broth
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 4

1 T. coconut oil
1 lb. mixed mushrooms (I used king trumpet and shiitake)
2 14-oz. cans light coconut milk
1/2 T. minced ginger
1 1-in. piece lemongrass, halved lengthwise, hard outer skin removed and smashed with a cleaver
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced
1 c. halved cherry tomatoes
2 c. vegetable broth
2 T. fish sauce, or to taste
3 T. fresh lime juice, or to taste
9 oz. soba noodles, cooked according to package instructions
cilantro leaves, for garnish

1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high. Add the mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate.

2. Raise the heat to high. Add coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass, chiles and tomatoes to pan and cook, stirring, until coconut milk thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir the stock into the coconut milk mixture, add the salmon, and cook 2 minutes or until salmon is just cooked. Add the mushrooms and their juices.

3. Divide the soba between 4 bowls. Ladle the broth and salmon over the noodles, and serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

close enough for rock and roll

I knew going in that this Apple-Walnut "Oatmeal" wasn't going to be anything close to the comforting (but still quick-cook) steel cut oats that I used to make myself when I wasn't trying to go raw before 6.

*** Did I ever explain the wedding diet? It's Mark Bittman's Vegan Before 6 Diet, slightly altered to be as raw as possible in addition to vegan. (Cheats include two lunch meetings that were set before the diet commenced). Trying to be reasonable at dinner, allowing meat, but still keeping out dairy (major cheat for the absolutely stupendous Jon + Vinny's last night).  ***

Anyway, hence smoothies and chia puddings for breakfast recently. I basically had nothing to lose in trying this "oatmeal." And you know what, it's not bad. It's sort of muesli-like. Think about it - when you're eating muesli, you're not really concentrating on what the oats taste like. They're really just a vehicle to get the good stuff - the dried fruits, nuts, etc. - into your face. This, then, is just the good stuff.

Adding the almond milk helps it feel more like "cereal." I can also imagine this would be delicious with pears and hazelnuts, maybe something with cashews and some shredded coconut. Guava and macadamia, even?

Raw Vegan Apple-Walnut Oatmeal
slightly adapted from Just Glowing With Health
serves 2

2 Pink Lady apples
1/3 c. walnuts
1/3 c. almond milk

1. Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and process until finely chopped, leaving a bit of texture.

2. Serve with additional almond milk. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, if desired.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

any way you want it

You know, I never got into roasting chicken. I have terrible anxiety about it being done enough, and if not, subsequently poisoning my dinner guests. I live a dramatic life.

But I think I've gotten the hang of it. It has a lot to do with taking the chill out of a refrigerated chicken, and a lot to do with drying the chicken properly. Oh, and also a roasting rack. Nothing like a v-rack to make life easy.

I've also learned that if you put enough butter over, around, on top of anything, you really can't screw up. That's not to say, though, that there is any obscene amount of butter here - there's only 1 T. to a lb. of chicken, if not less.

I don't think that either the jalapeno or the lime flavors were particularly distinctive, but what did come out was a perfectly juicy chicken that's emboldened me to make this a weekly event. Loved the versatility here - I'm keeping things low-carb, so I just had a leg with vegetables, while I made Matty's portion into tacos.

Jalapeno-Lime Roast Chicken
serves 4-6

1 whole chicken, about 5 lbs.
4 T. butter, at room temperature
zest and juice of 1 lime
1 small jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2 T. finely diced red onion
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Set the chicken out on the counter to lose that refrigerator chill while you preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Stir together the butter, lime zest and juice, jalapeno, onion, and a pinch salt and pepper.

3. Remove any "extras" from the inside of the chicken and pat dry. Carefully slide your hand between the skin and the chicken breast. Spread half of the butter under the skin, the other half over the outside of the chicken.

4. Place the chicken on a v-rack in a small roasting pan or baking dish and add 1/2 c. water to the bottom of the pan. Roast for about an hour, or until the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Let rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.


Okay, now I'm hungry. I know, it's only Day 2 of the diet, and to add insult to injury, it's 6:30a - not jet-lagged, per se, but definitely not on a correct sleeping schedule.

I'm usually not hungry in the morning - I'll start with a workout because I can't stand to exercise with anything in my belly, and then eat when I get home, or wait until lunch. But this morning, I practically kicked off the covers at 6:30a, certain I was simply not going to make it if I didn't eat immediately.

Luckily, I've got quite a stock of yesterday's smoothie, and a new store of Coconut Mango Chia Pudding to get into. The pudding won out, with a side of fresh kiwi - I needed something to sort of chew.

I love chia puddings - like cool, delicious tapioca, but with all that fiber, protein, antioxidants, and stuff. Prepare to see a lot of them in the coming months.

Coconut Mango Chia Pudding
makes 4 8-oz servings

1 14-oz. can light coconut milk
1 large mango, diced (about 10 oz.)
4 T. chia seeds

1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

spice up your life

The original recipe for this Masaledar Sem called for only green beans, but I wanted to add some protein to bulk it up a little, so I added ground turkey. In hindsight, I should have remembered that I hate ground turkey. It's so terrifyingly boring.

The spices and spice level were perfect, though. I'm not sure how the original photo looked so saucy and yummy - I blame the turkey - but I would either leave well enough alone next time, or dice up some nice chicken to add to it at the very last minute.

A solid meal, whether or not you're dieting. Very filling and satisfying.

Masaledar Sem with Ground Turkey
slightly adapted from Food52
serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. fresh green beans
4 t. minced ginger
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 1/2 c. water, divided
5 T. olive oil
1 T. cumin seeds
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 T. ground coriander
1/2 c. diced fresh tomatoes
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
salt and pepper, to taste
juice of half a lemon

1. Trim the beans and cut them crosswise into 1-inch lengths.

2. Put the ginger and garlic into a blender. Add 1/2 c. of water and blend until fairly smooth.

3. Put the oil in a wide, heavy pot over medium heat. When hot, put in the cumin seeds. Five seconds later, put in the crushed chile or crushed red pepper flakes. As soon as it darkens, pour in the ginger-garlic paste. Stir and cook for about a minute. Put in the coriander. Stir a few times. Add the chopped tomatoes and ground turkey. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes, breaking up the turkey with the back of a slotted spoon as you do.

4. Put in the beans, salt, and the remaining water. Bring to a simmer. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the beans are tender. Remove the cover and add the juice of half a lemon, and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and adjust with more lemon, salt, or pepper as necessary. Serve over brown rice.

we detox

It's about to get real real. I've got 3 months to get my weight down to what it says on my driver's license for the wedding.

No time like the present to start. I'd cut down the arugula next time with another, more mellow green. This was quite peppery and savory, whereas I prefer to ease into my morning with something sweeter.

Pineapple-Arugula Smoothie
makes 4 8-oz. servings

1 lb. pineapple, diced
2 c. almond milk
3.5 oz. arugula
1.5 oz raw cashews
1 t. chia seeds
1 t. minced ginger

1. Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth.