Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fava Bean Croquettes

For the first time in 31 years I had me some fava beans.

I love beans in all forms, but have always avoided this one. Why, you ask?

So...... Fava beans remind of that crazy scary movie, Silence of the Lambs and everytime I think of Anthony Hopkins feasting on fava beans and some random dude's liver with a little chianti, I tend to.. I don't know... lose my appetite.  I've also never been a fan of chianti for the same reason.

Then, one day I was thumbing through one of my new cookbooks, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, and the recipe for fava bean burgers caught my eye.  Packed with potato, spinach, fava beans, some spices and a little bit of egg and breadcrumb, these sounded like something I could eat without having flashbacks of scary movies from my childhood.

I had a bit of difficulty finding fava beans, since they are more of a springtime crop, but ended up scoring some frozen ones at the Asian market. They were also skinned which made the prep work alot less labor intensive.

Turns out they weren't so scary afterall. They actually tasted similar to edamame but had a creamier texture. In fact, if you have a difficult time finding favas, I think edamame would be a great substitution.

Lastly, Ottelenghi named these "burgers" in his cookbook.  They have a pretty creamy texture and wouldn't really work as a burger patty, so I called 'em croquettes instead.  I whipped up a quick lemon tahini sauce to accompany the croquettes, served alongside a simple arugula salad.  You could also serve them with a little sour cream, greek yogurt or a couple of lemon wedges to keep it simple.

Fava Bean Burgers  (Serves 4)

3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
3/4 t. coriander seeds
3/4 t. fennel seeds
1/2 lb. (about 6 cups) spinach
3 T. olive oil
1 lb. (about 3 cups) shelled fava beans (fresh or frozen)
3/4 lb. potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1/2 fresh green chile, seeded and finely diced (I used a whole, seeded jalapeno)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 t. turmeric
salt and pepper
3 T. chopped cilantro
6 T. dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
1/2 c. sunflower (or other neutral oil)

Put the whole seeds in a pan and dry roast over high heat for 3-4 minutes, or until they start releasing their aromas. Grind to a powder in a mortar and pestke and set aside (I used a spice grinder)
Wilt the spinach in a hot pan with 1 T. of the olive oil. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out any liquid, then chop roughly and set aside.
Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for about a minute, drain and refresh under cold water under cold water. When cool enough to handle remove and discard the skins.
Cook potatoes in boiling water for about 15 minutes for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and tip into a large mixing bowl. Immediately add the fava beans, crushed seeds, chile, garlic, turmeric, remaining 2 T. olive oil and some salt and pepper. Ise a potato masher to mash it all up roughly; don't worry if some beans are not totally crushed. Next, add the wilted spinach, chopped cilantro and breadcrumbs. Lastly, mix in the egg.
Wet your hands and shape the mix into fat patties that are roughly 2 inches in diameter and 3/4 inches thick. Chill them for at least 1/2 hour.
To cook, heat up the sunflower oil and fry the burgers on high heat for 5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Serve hot with lemon wedges or your favorite condiment or dipping sauce.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roasted Beet Salad

It's cold and blustery and snowflakes are in the air.

My choice of dinner plans probably wasn't the most logical given the weather outside, but then again, when do I ever think logically about anything.

As much as I love vegetables, I'm really not much of a salad person. Unless, of course, it contains lots of croutons and cheese, with super fresh greens and a nice homemade vinaigrette.  Then... I'm game.

The greens at the farmers market are my top pick when making a big 'ol salad. This week they were calling my name. They're on the pricy side, but there is no comparison when it comes to freshness and flavor.  I snagged some arugula and pea shoots from Little Seed Gardens.  Pea shoots are pretty much one of the best things ever. So good.

I picked up a fresh baguette and made some croutons for crunch.

Beets made an appearance too. Roasting 'em is the way to go!

A simple vinaigrette and a little cheese is all you need to complete this delicious salad.

Don't be put off by all the steps. If you prep everything while your beets are roasting, this salad comes together in no time.  The beets, vinaigrette and croutons can also be made a day ahead and thrown together the next day for a quick salad.

Roasted Beet Salad (Makes 2 HUGE salads or 4 side salads)

Roasted Beets

1 lb. red beets, scrubbed clean. (I used about 8 small beets. The smaller ones cook alot faster too!)
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the beets in the center. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Fold up the sides of the foil to make a little package. Place the sheetpan in the oven and roast until you can easily pierce your beets with a knife. This can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the size of your beets. I usually check them in 20 minute intervals. When beets are done, set aside until cool enough to handle. The skins should slide off easily, if not, a small paring knife can be used. Once the beets are peeled, cut into 1" cubes and set aside. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees to make the croutons.


1/3 of a baguette, cut into 1/2" cubes (about 4 c.)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves roasted garlic
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. sea salt

Make sure the oven is at 400 degrees. Place the olive oil, garlic, lemon, thyme, olive oil and sea salt in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy. Place the croutons in a bowl, pour the dressing on top and toss well to coat. Spread the croutons on a sheet pan and bake for 12-14 minutes until light brown.

Champagne Vinaigrette

2 T. champagne vinegar
1 t. dijon
1 1/2 t. honey
1 T. minced shallot
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Place all the ingredients in a small glass jar and shake the crap out of it for 10 seconds.

Now.... the assembly.

Place some arugula (or other salad green) and pea shoots (if using) in a large bowl, and toss with some of the dressing. Transfer your greens to a plate, and then toss some of the beets with a little dressing. Pile beets on the greens and top with croutons and a sprinkling of feta or goat cheese.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Miso Udon Soup

Sometimes there is nothing more comforting than a big bowl of piping hot miso soup. 

Miso is a paste made from soybeans, sea salt, koji (a mold starter) and is sometimes mixed with barley, rice or other grains. It is allowed to ferment from three months to three years, which produces an enzyme rich food. Miso is a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. It aids in digestion and contains beneficial probiotics. It is also high in vitamin B12, protects against radiation, boosts immunity, lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of developing breast, lung, prostate and colon cancer.

Add some vegetables, mushrooms, a little tofu and some udon noodles and you got yourself a nutrient dense bowl of deliciousness.

You can adapt this recipe to whatever you have on hand.  Sometimes I'll leave out the tofu or udon and pack it full of vegetables like carrot, daikon radish, kale, snowpeas, mung bean sprouts and mushrooms. Seaweeds, like arame or wakame are great and pack a huge nutritional punch. I prefer a lighter miso, like chickpea or mellow white, but when there are so many varieties, why limit yourself to just one?
Get creative and experiment!

Miso Udon Soup (makes one biiiiig bowl)
* the amounts here are all rough estimates. Use as little or as much of each ingredient depending on personal preference.

3 c. water
2 T. miso
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, peeled and grated
1/2 c. tofu, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2-1 oz. udon noodles
3 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 scallions, sliced
2 handfuls of baby spinach
crushed red pepper flakes (opt)
chili-sesame oil or toasted sesame oil (opt)

Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil. Add udon noodles and cook until al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water and set aside.
Place the water, grated ginger and garlic in the same pot you cooked your noodles in.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the tofu. Let simmer 2-3 minutes.  Put the miso in a small bowl. Ladel 1/2 c. of simmering water into the bowl with the miso and whisk until combined. Add the miso back into the pot and add the shiitake mushrooms. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to let the soup boil (it will kill off all of the beneficial bacteria and nutrients in the miso). Remove from the heat, add the spinach and let sit for a minute to wilt.  When ready to serve, place the udon noodles in the bottom of your biggest soup bowl. Pour the miso soup on top and garnish with scallions.  Add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes and a drizzle of chili-sesame oil (or toasted sesame oil), if desired.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oatmeal Chia Chocolate Balls

It's 8:27 p.m.
You are craving chocolate (more specifically, chocolate chip cookies) like nobodys business.

Option number 1:  Throw on several layers of clothes (hey, it's cold out there) and haul ass to the grocery store, only to lose your parking spot, having to park four blocks away upon your return.

Option number 2: Beg your significant other or housemate to go the store for you. Bribe them.

Option number 3: Peel your butt of the couch and make these oatmeal chia chocolate balls! They take around 10 minutes from start to finish and are loads healthier than eating the real deal.

I'm not going to lie and say these taste like chocolate chip cookies, 'cause they don't. If you are expecting a sugar/white flour/butter bomb (which I do love on occasion) then these aren't for you.

But... if you are looking for something quick to satisfy that sweet tooth, that is actually healthy for you, and isn't a piece of fruit, then these are the treats for you!

Let's talk superfoods.

We've got dates, oats, raw cacao, chia seeds and some lucuma powder.

Dates are a great source of fiber and contain high amounts of potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins. They are also a great natural source of energy as they have natural food based sugar like glucose, sucrose and fructose, making them perfect when you need a quick boost without the crash.

Oats help to lower cholesterol, boost immuinity and help stabilize blood sugar. They contains loads of soluble fiber and contain high amounts of vitamin E, zinc, selenium, iron and magnesium and have a good amount of protein. Now you know why you start your day with a bowl of oatmeal!

Raw cacao (unprocessed chocolate) contains high amounts of anti-oxidants and is one of the best sources of magnesium (which happens to be the most deficient mineral in the diet of modern cultures. Magnesium helps to relax muscles, improve digestion and is benefical to the heart and cardiovascular system. Chocolate gets a bad reputation for causing weight gain, cavities and diabetes, which only occurs when you add dairy, sugar and other fillers.  Chocolate in it's unprocessed form, however can help you LOSE weight (because of it's high chromium content) prevent cavities (theobromine actually kills one of the strains of bacteria that causes tooth decay) and can regulate blood sugar (again, due to the chromium content) which is beneficial for diabetes.

Chia seeds (ch-ch-ch chia) are the best source of omega 3 fatty acids with high amounts of calcium, protein, fiber, antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals. They help improve stamina, digestion and help reduce cravings because of their high levels of soluble fiber.

Lucuma powder is made from the subtropical fruit of the pouteria lucuma tree native to Peru and Equador. It has a sweet, almost butterscoth like flavor and is high in calcium, magnesium and potassium and iron. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps boost immunity.

Oatmeal Chia Chocolate Bites (makes 8 balls, or 16 little bites)
Adapted from Tasty-yummies

6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 1/4 c. oats
1/3 c. raw cacao nibs
1 T. chia seeds
1/2 t. lucuma powder (optional)
2 T. honey
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1-2 T. water (if needed)

Place the pitted chopped dates in the food processor with 1 T. water and the vanilla extract and process to create a uniform paste, scraping down the sides, as needed. If the mixture seems a little dry, add a bit more water.
Add 1 c. of the oats, chia seeds, honey, and lucuma (if using) and process until combined. Add the raw cacao nibs and the remaining 1/4 c. oats and pulse to combine. If the dough seems too dry, add a bit more water. If it's too goopy add a bit more oats.

Roll mixture into balls with the palms of your hands (I used 1 T. for the small bites and 2 T. for the larger ones). Allow them to chill for 20 minutes in the frige before digging in.
Store in an airtight container for up five days in the refigerator.


Now go and satisfy that craving with zero effort and zero guilt.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rosemary Gin Fizz

I'm all about making cocktails that have some redeeming qualities. You know.. like drinking pomegranate juice and vodka.. champagne with a splash of blood orange juice, or this here rosemary gin fizz.

Rosemary has been known to stimulate the immune system, improves circulation and digestion, helps fight depression and improves memory.  It's also an anti-viral, anti-infammatory herb AND an aphrodisiac.

Combined with the immune boosting and alkalizing properties of lemon juice and the botanicals of some top shelf gin, like bombay sapphire, you got yourself a health tonic!

Well... not really a health tonic, but it sure is tasty and better than drinking a vodka and red bull.....

Rosemary Gin Fizz
Adapted from The Sassy Radish

1 1/2 shots gin (I used bombay sapphire)
3 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 T rosemary syrup (see below)
Ice cubes

Cold seltzer water or club soda
In a tall glass, stir the gin, lemon juice and rosemary syrup.
Fill the glass halfway with ice and top with seltzer.

Rosemary Syrup:

1 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
2 rosemary sprigs, rinsed

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer over moderately low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain the syrup and chill. (The syrup can be prepared and chilled for up to 1 week.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spirulina Cacao Goji Treats

Superfood crackalicious balls of energy.

Yeah, we're about to get crazy here.

These tasty treats will give you superpowers.

No Joke.

O.K......Maybe they won't give you superpowers, but they WILL make you feel amazeballs, give you a boost of energy and supply your body with antioxidants, chlorophyll, omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and a crapload of vitamins and minerals.

Spirulina Cacao Goji Treats (makes 6-8 balls)
From Meghan Telpner

1/2 c. raw cacao, ground to a coarse powder
1/4 c. goji berries, ground to a fine powder
1/4 c. hemp seeds
2 T. coconut oil (in liquid form)
2 T. honey
2 T. spirulina
1 T. chia seeds
1 T. rice bran
pinch of sea salt
1/4 t. vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients together thoroughly.
Roll 1-2 T. mixture into balls.
Freeze for 20 minutes.
Store in the fridge.