Monday, May 31, 2010

Amaretto Strawberry Shortcakes

Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer, and I can't think of a more summery dessert than Strawberry Shortcake. Shortcakes are simple to make, but most recipes are laden with butter (a whole stick? who needs that!) and white flour. I searched around and found a good recipe I could modify using only 2 Tablespoons of butter and substituting 1/2 the AP flour for whole wheat pastry flour. They turned out quite good, considering the health-conscious adjustments. Next time, I might try using all canola oil to see if I can make it completely vegan. Although, I'd probably still cave and go for the whipped cream. You can also mix any combination of berries and stone fruits that are in season, and feel free to swap out the Amaretto for your favorite liquor. Oh, and if your Memorial Day looks like mine (mostly cloudy), serve with extra shots on the side.

1 cup unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat flour)
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 Tablespoons organic cane sugar
2 Tablespoons organic butter
4 Tablespoons canola oil
1 cup soy milk or fat free milk

Preheat oven to 425F. Spray a nonstick cookie sheet with oil spray or line with parchment. In a medium bowl, mix together the flours, salt, baking powder and sugar. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter and oil into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, or dump it all into your food processor and zap it a few times. Add the milk and stir until just incorporated. Drop 8 mounds onto the cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes or until biscuits are golden.

1 lb. strawberries
1 Tablespoon organic cane sugar
1 Tablespoon Amaretto

Slice strawberries and combine with sugar and Amaretto. Refrigerate for 30 min. or until ready to serve.

Whipped Cream
1/2 pint organic whipping cream
1 Tablespoon organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract

Whip in a mixer until fluffy. Keep an eye on it, as you don't want it to turn into butter (which I've done).

You can make everything ahead of time and assemble the shortcakes when you are ready to serve them.

Serves 8

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Herbed Garlicky Sweet Potato Oven Fries

You noticed those tasty guys next to the portobello sandwich, huh? If you're like me, it's pretty hard to resist french fries. (Would you like fries or salad with that? Um, would you like $100 or a punch in the mouth?) Anyway, making them in the oven saves you a lot of calories and fat. And sweet potatoes are much more nutritious than their white counterparts: rich in dietary fiber, complex carbs, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium, these guys are actually really good for you!

Sweet potato fries are notorious for turning out soggy. One trick I've learned is to preheat the empty pan in the oven first, then drop the oiled buggers on--you should hear a sizzle. They will never be those stiff, stand-up-straight, deep-fried concoctions, but your body will thank you for skipping the drive-thru.

2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and sliced 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven and rimmed baking sheet to 450F. Toss together all ingredients and drop onto hot baking sheet. Bake 30min, turing them 1/2 way through.

Serves 4

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Portobello Mushroom Sandwich with Caramelized Fennel & Onion

This past Sunday, The Chronicle featured an article about bay area vegan chefs who are getting a lot of attention for their creativity. This recipe was adapted from the article, simplified for time's sake (I have a 2-year-old and an 8-month-old!) I made the aioli they suggested; and while good, I decided it wasn't necessary. I was in the mood for a little goat cheese and that went well with the mushroom and caramelized fennel & onion. Speaking of which, I added more fennel and less onion, but feel free to play with the amounts that suit you. Of course, if you want to keep it vegan, whip up that aoili and omit the cheese. I made everything at lunch and assembled it quickly at dinner time. Served with sweet potato fries and a nice Zinfandel (I recommend Turley), no one will be asking: "where's the beef?"

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh ground pepper
4 portobello mushrooms, stems removed

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix up the oil, soy sauce and pepper and rub over the mushrooms. Baked on rimmed baking sheet for 15 min.

Caramelized Fennel & Onion
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin crescents
1 medium fennel bulb, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon organic cane sugar
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Add oil to skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and fennel and cook 5 min. Add the sugar and cook 1 min. Add the red wine and vinegar and cover, reduce heat, simmer for 10 min. Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates, about 5-10 more min.

4 rolls (I bought whole wheat buns, but get whatever suits your fancy)
4 Romaine leaves, torn
Goat cheese or Caper Aioli or both (or for the truly time constrained: dijon and/or mayo)

To serve:
Preheat oven to 400F. Slice mushrooms and arrange on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Top with the fennel/onion mixture. Bake for 5 min. Warm rolls in the oven as well, then assemble with the lettuce, cheese, etc.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mango Cilantro Salad with Coconut Lime Tofu

The sun overcame the fog for a couple of hours today, which always inspires me to make something summery. This is a combination of a few different Vietnamese and Thai recipes. I wanted the mango/peanut/cilantro combination without a thick, heavy peanut sauce. The result was a nice, light dinner, which we paired with some rustic bread and a 2009 Miner Mendocino Rosato. Make the tofu and dressing ahead of time and toss everything together last minute. If you don't know how to slice a mango, it can be extremely frustrating, so here's a quick how-to: video.

Coconut Lime Tofu:
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons coconut milk (look for the tiny cans)
Juice of 1 lime
1 pound firm tofu

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Mix the water, soy sauce, coconut milk and lime juice in a bowl. Cut the tofu into 1/4" strips and dip into sauce before arranging on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 min. until golden.

For the dressing:
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon infused chili oil (or 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1 pinch red chili flakes)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced red onion or shallot
1 Tablespoon agave nectar (or substitute organic cane sugar to taste)

Mix ingredients together.

For the salad:
4 cups chopped romaine
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 cup chopped cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1 cup diced mango (1 large or 2 small mangos)
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1 chopped avocado (optional)

Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces and toss together with the above ingredients. Dress to taste.

Serves 4

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Remarkable Rice Salad

This is one of those dishes I like to make a double batch of and keep it on hand for a few days, using it as a side dish for whatever else I happen to be making. The first time I had it was on a sunny day at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club at a family picnic. The recipe was passed on to me from my husband's aunt, who brought it that day. I've modified it a bit, and I encourage you to try different dried fruits and nuts (raisins and pine nuts might be good.) Great the day of, even better the next day; a fantastic dish to bring to parties. I'm having mine tonight with veggie burgers and a glass of 2006 Pierre Boisson Meursault. And yes, my 2 year old loves this, too.

2 cups uncooked brown rice
1/2 cup pecans
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 can hearts of palm, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (or more, to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

Cook up the rice according to package instructions and transfer to a large bowl to cool. Once cooled, combine with remaining ingredients and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. It also happens to be fantastic at room temperature.

Serves 4-6
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