CINCO DE MAYO FARE
These days I really look forward to any cultural occasion using it as an opportunity to dive into that culture and soak in, first and foremost, its cuisine. On a day like cinco de mayo, a day celebrating Mexican heritage and pride, how could you not be in the mood for guac and enchiladas? As I do with most dishes, I put my own little spin on things by creating a plate full of vegetarian, whole grain friendly cinco de mayo fare. [Insert spoonfuls of guac and salsa here].
SMOKED BLACK BEANS -
- Black Beans (2 15oz cans)
- Green Onions (2)
- Garlic (1)
- Lime Zest/Juice (1)
- Smoked Seasoning (1 tbsp)
- Cumin (Pinch)
- Fresh Cilantro (1 tbsp)
- Vegetable Broth (1/2 cup)
- Salt + Pepper
- Finely chop up the garlic clove and green onions (green and white parts).
- Drizzle some oil into a small cast iron pot. Raise the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and onions.
- Drain and rinse the beans well. Add them to the pot.
- Grate in some lime zest, then squeeze in the lime juice. Stir the beans and let the flavors start to come together.
- Add the smoked seasoning, cumin, salt + pepper. Pour in the vegetable broth and continue to stir.
- Finely chop up some cilantro, throw it in the pot, do a final stir, lower the heat to a simmer and then cover.
- Let the beans sit and stir occasionally until you reach a nice smooth consistency.
FAJITAS VEGETALES CON QUINOA -
- Poblano Peppers (2)
- Red Onion (1)
- Green Chile (1/2)
- Jicama (1)
- Raw Agave Nectar (1 tbsp)
- Fresh Cilantro (1 tbsp)
- Lime (1)
- Tequila (2 tbsp)
- Cumin (1 tsp)
- Oregano (1 tsp)
- Quinoa (1/2 cup)
- Blue Corn Tortillas (10)
- Salt + Pepper
- Prepare quinoa according to package. I used some vegetable broth for the cooking liquid and added some cilantro to give it that “Mexican” flare.
- Thinly slice up the red onion, poblano, chile, and jicama. Place these veggies in a large bowl.
- To the bowl, add some oil, raw agave, lime juice, cumin, oregano, and chopped cilantro. Season with salt + pepper and mix together well.
- Get a grill pan going on your stove. When ready, throw the veggies on there and let them cook/brown. A few minutes into the cooking, add the tequila. Continue to let the veggies cook up and then remove from heat once done.
- Fluff up the quinoa and add the veggies to it. Stir together just until combined.
- Plating: Serve with a side of blue corn tortillas.
SPICED DEVILED EGGS
Easter to me can’t be Easter without eggs. Whether it be an Easter egg hunt, egg shaped chocolates, or more traditionally – deviled eggs. They’re quite possibly the easiest hor d’oeuvres… ever. But are they the tastiest? Not always. They tend to carry a reputation of being either bland or boring. I spiced things up with a little ginger miso paste and a pinch of curry power. As we popped these in our mouths, my mind kept racing to thoughts of their versatility and possibilities of alternate flavor combinations. And as such, I think these would make a brilliant topping for a number of dishes v. being smeared between two slices of bread.
- Eggs (4)
- Ginger Miso Paste (1 tbsp)
- Mayonnaise (1-2 tbsp)
- Paprika (Pinch)
- Curry Powder (Pinch)
- Salt + Pepper
- Boil the eggs until hard boiled. My trick is to then run them under cold water for a few minutes to keep the yolk bright yellow.
- Peel the shells, cut each egg in half, and scoop out the yolks. Place the yolks into a small bowl.
- Add the ginger miso paste and mayonnaise to the yolks and mix together until completely combined and smooth. Season with salt + pepper.
- Re-fill the egg whites by piping in the yolk filling. Top with paprika and curry powder.
WILD MUSHROOM PIEROGIS + BASIL PEA PUREE
One of my all-time guilty pleasures has got to be dumplings and pierogis are no exception. I rarely eat a true piergoi – potato, white flour, cheese… not exactly what you call whole grain friendly. It was my husband’s idea actually as we were perusing the aisles of our local store pondering our Easter fare. Best. Idea. Ever. These guys came beautifully prepped by a local Polish company so, like fresh pasta, it was just a matter of boiling for a few minutes. It gave me time to create a few sides, tame to my sauce, and create a fresh purée to top. Holidays are the perfect excuse to eat your favorite foods and Easter is no exception. Happy indulging!
- Wild Mushroom Pierogis*
- Can Chopped Tomatoes (26 oz)
- Vegetable Broth (1/3 cup)
- Basil (Bunch)
- Garlic Clove (2)
- Yellow Onion (1)
- Parmesan Cheese (1/3 cup)
- Green Peas (1/4 cup)
- Lemon Zest/Juice (2 tbsp)
- Olive Oil
- Spaghettata Seasoning
- Bologna Aromatic Herbal Salt
- Finely chop up the garlic and yellow onion. Add the garlic to a large, deep sauté pan drizzled with olive oil and set over a low simmer. Throw in a pinch of spaghettata seasoning.
- Chiffonade a bunch of basil and add it to a blender with the peas (pre-chilled). Grate in some lemon zest and squeeze in the juice.
- Add in a tbsp of chopped onion to the blender. Season with some salt + pepper. As you slowly pour in the olive oil, purée this mixture until smooth.
- Raise the heat on the sauté pan and add the onions. Let them caramelize. Season with Bologna aromatic herbal salt.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes and broth. Stir and heat through while stirring. Do not let it boil completely – keep it consistent around medium or medium low heat.
- Chiffonade some more basil and add it to the sauce along with the Parmesan. Give it another stir, taste and season as necessary. Lower the heat and cover.
- Bring a pot of water up to a boil, then salt. Drop in the pierogis and let them boil for about 5 minutes (or less). Drain and do a very quick sauté in olive oil. Transfer directly to the sauce, cover, and let sit until you’re ready to serve.
- Plating: Serve pierogis with plenty of sauce and topped with the basil pea purée.
THANKSGIVING DINNER ‘10
This year, I had the pleasure of cooking up the entire Thanksgiving feast. This meant being in the kitchen for a few hours the night before, and pretty much the entire morning and afternoon on the actual day. It wasn’t the least bit stressful (for me) and I would gladly do it again. I had a rough idea of what each dish would encompass but didn’t write down or research any concrete recipes. I almost feel like it would be more stressful to work off of recipes when you’re putting together so many different dishes and working against the clock. I played around with ingredients as I went along and am proud of the healthy nature of each of my dishes. I also put a lot of thought into how every dish would taste together. As strange and complicated that may sound, Thanksgiving is all about piling on the food, right? You don’t have a separate plate for each dish. Everything is meant to be eaten together and as such, all those dishes better marry well.
- Hor D’oeuvres –
- Appetizer –
- Entrees –
- Organic Griggstown Farm Turkey
- Sides –
CANNELLINI BEAN SPREAD
I got the inspiration for this starter years ago at a local restaurant called Eno Terra. Rather than serving bread with olive oil, this restaurant brought out a basket of bread with a side of bean spread. It was so simple yet delicious and an ingenious alternative to a more traditional starter. Reminiscent of hummus minus the Greek flavors, this is a refreshing and light starter your guests will gobble up in no time. It takes hardly no time to prep leaving you plenty of time to tame the other star dishes.
- Cannellini Beans (12 oz)
- Lemon (1/2)
- Italian Parsley (1 tbsp)
- Garlic Clove (1)
- Thyme (1 sprig)
- Olive Oil
- Salt + Pepper
- Pre-heat oven or toaster oven to 375 F. If you’re multi-tasking through multiple dishes like me, you’ll likely already have an oven pre-heated.
- Thinly slice the baguette crosswise into 1/4 inch slices. Brush one side with olive oil. Pop the baguettes into your oven while you make the spread.
- If using canned beans, make sure you drain and rinse the beans thoroughly.
- Using a food processor, blend together the beans, chopped parsley, lemon zest and juice, thyme, and chopped garlic. Season with salt + pepper.
- As you blend the ingredients, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you get a nice consistent texture. Taste as you go along and add more salt + pepper as needed.
- Plating: Coat the oiled side of the baguette with the bean spread or serve the toasted baguettes with a side of spread.
HOISIN-HONEY GLAZED MINI SAUSAGES
Whenever you throw a get-together, regardless of how many people you anticipate, you should always have some fun hor d’oeuvres ready to go. I love these mini sausages because you can make them ahead of time and sort of forget about them until a few minutes before your guests arrive. You can also pretty much glaze/marinade/engulf these mini sausages in any type of sauce you’re craving… but I thought this would be a great way to utilize some leftover hoisin sauce and brighten up the salivating palettes. Let’s get the party started.
- Cooled Mini Chicken Sausages (2 lb)
- Hoisin Sauce (6 tbsp)
- Honey (4 tbsp)
- Tomato Paste (or Ketchup) (1 tbsp)
- Cooking Sake (2 tsp)
- Chives (or Scallions) (1-2 tbsp)
- Japanese Mustard (1 tbsp)
- Salt + Pepper
- Cut up the mini sausages into bite-size pieces. If you can’t find mini chicken sausages, substitute with regular-sized sausages and cut them down to bite-size pieces.
- In a stockpot or deep pan, whisk together the hoisin sauce, honey, sake, mustard, salt + pepper.
- Add the sausages to the pot or pan, raise the heat to a medium boil, cover and let simmer.
- You could also roast these little guys in a 400 F oven for about 30-40 minutes. Just as tasty but all of my ovens were taken the day of… so I opted for stove-top.
- Plating: Top with chopped chives and serve with plenty of toothpicks.