Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Healthy Cooking in a Hurry

I'm teaching a 4-week class for West Hartford Adult Education called "Healthy Cooking in a Hurry." Each evening we create an appetizer (soup or salad), entree and dessert in about 3 hours. Now, you don't have to do all of these in one evening... because it is quite a bit (and then you'd be as crazy as I am). But I do try to cram as many recipes as I can into a class, so that's why we have the full menu each week.

Last night's feast began with a Pear, Toasted Pine Nut and Field Green Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette.

This was followed by an entree of Cornmeal-crusted Tofu Cutlets with Mushroom Gravy, Red Harvest Quinoa and Sauteed Kale. The entree took a while to prepare since it had several components: a "breaded" tofu cutlet which was baked in the oven; a mushroom gravy thickened with cornstarch and tahini, a quinoa pilaf made with sweated onion, celery and apple then tossed with pine nuts and dried cranberries; and a side of kale that was simply wilted in a skillet with olive oil and garlic. Here's the finished plate:

Cornmeal-crusted Tofu Cutlets with Mushroom Gravy,
Red Harvest Quinoa and Sauteed Kale

For dessert, I made a gluten-free vegan version of my grandma's Lithuanian Apple Cake. For some reason the photo didn't transfer :( But it was warm, crumbly and slightly gooey (I think 5 more minutes in the oven would've made it perfect)... and still sweet and delish!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This week's menu

Why do I keep craving creamy things? Cheesey white sauce... mashed potatoes... gravy... pudding... I decided to combine all these into my menu this week and I think the results were pretty delicious.

Since the fall weather, fall colors and fall veggies are starting to make their appearance, it seemed the perfect occasion to do a twist on traditional mashed potatoes by using sweet potatoes instead. Then I added carrots and parsnips, too, officially making a "mashed root vegetable" side dish with a little Earth Balance margarine and maple syrup. And if that wasn't sweet enough, I made a savory sweet balsamic reduction with caramelized onions and figs to top the baked tofu. Some broccoli florets balanced out the color and flavor.

Meal #1: Butternut Squash and Leek Risotto with Wilted Escarole and Butter Beans
Meal #2: Baked Tofu Cutlets with Figs, Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Glaze, Mashed Root Vegetables and Broccoli
Meal #3: Cauliflower Au Gratin with Panfried Curry Tempeh Cakes, Green Beans and Quinoa

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Raw Food Lesson

This week's raw request was for another savory nut pate. I did some research and discovered several recipes for mock salmon pate as well as crab cakes, both of which looked delicious. I combined some elements, tweaked the measurements, and ultimately came up with a version that worked really well without garlic, onion or peppery spices for my client. The mock salmon patties are topped with a raw Gomasio made from white and black sesame seeds, Dulse flakes, and sea salt, which gives them a crunch reminiscent of that deep-fried coating of crab cakes.

And of course, you have to have tartar sauce when it comes to fried seafood patties, right? So I did a little more research and found an excellent recipe for creamy dill sauce by Cherie Soria that's made with soaked cashews and lemon juice. I also tweaked it a bit to suit the needs of my client, but we were both pleased with the results. Nothing beats the aroma of fresh dill!

For dessert, we needed to prepare something for a few "regular" people who are new to raw food. I decided that my fresh fruit tart with date nut crust would be the perfect solution. It's something everyone loves, and it looks so beautiful. In the center are some lovely little wild blueberries, and blackberries garnish the perimeter.

I hope dinner was a success!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This week's menu

While the majority of Americans enjoyed a day off on Labor Day, I was busy cooking in the kitchen (though still enjoying myself, nonetheless!). I keep wanting to do a menu featuring produce fresh from the garden, but I've been so disappointed with the lackluster bounty this season. Until now.

There is an overabundance of stringbeans in my little urban garden, and so this week they found themselves in two recipes. First, as a creamy rice and stringbean casserole. Second, as a side dish tossed with sauteed cherry tomatoes and lovely little yellow pear tomatoes from my garden. If I had some local potatoes to roast in the oven, I'm sure the outcome would have been even more heavenly, but the Russetts I used weren't too bad.

Meal #1: Baked Tofu Cutlets with Brown Rice and String Bean Casserole

Meal #2: Three Bean Chili with Brown Rice

Meal #3: Cornmeal Crusted Butter Bean Cakes with Oven Roasted Herbed Potatoes, Stringbean and Cherry Tomato Sautee