Monday, August 30, 2010

One More Thing to Do When in Tomato Heaven: Stuff Them with Quinoa

I had a plan this morning. I had bought some yellow tomatoes at the farm on Saturday that I hadn’t tried yet so I would use one to make a simple quinoa dish for dinner and add another to put in a salad. I set some red quinoa in water to soak for several hours and went on with my day. When I got home, I found these gorgeous beauties all hanging together behind some very bushy stems of a tomato plant.

They were so ready to pick–so perfectly ripe that I could’ve eaten one straight off the plant like an apple. They were too pretty to put in the refrigerator or to freeze and there were too many to put in salad, so I thought, “I’ll stuff them with quinoa!” I came up with the quick recipe below that made a very tasty filling and baked very nicely in the tomatoes:

Quinoa-Stuffed Tomatoes

5 – 6 large fresh tomatoes, tops cut off and insides scooped out and set aside

1 c quinoa, soaked in water for several hours and rinsed extensively

2 c water or veggie broth

1 T grapeseed oil or which ever oil you’d like to use

1 shallot, minced

1 red pepper, chopped fine

1 – 2 stalks celery, chopped fine

the insides from 2 tomatoes, chopped fine

sea salt


Emeril’s Essence (I’ve made a batch of his spice recipe w/o salt and I use it frequently)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 t fresh thyme

1 T chopped, fresh oregano

1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ c finely chopped walnuts

Place the rinsed quinoa and water or veggie broth into a medium saucepan on high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook ~8-10 minutes or until almost cooked through. Drain if any liquid remains. In the meantime, in a medium skillet, sauté the shallot, red pepper, and celery. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, and herbs and sauté for 1 – 2 minutes more. Remove from the heat and add the garlic. Fold the mixture into the quinoa, add the egg and walnuts and mix well. Stuff into the hollow tomatoes, place into a baking dish, then top with freshly grated parmesan if desired. Bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Let cool a little before serving and then dig in!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Buckwheat Crepes

The other day while talking with my Uncle Don, he told me about how my grandfather used to make the best crepes he’d ever eaten. Evidently his secret was to make the batter and let it sit in the fridge overnight. My mom used to make crepes quite a bit while I was growing up as well. She didn’t make the batter ahead of time, but I remember we’d sprinkle brown sugar on them, roll them up, and dig in. Since having this conversation with my uncle, the wheels have been turning and crepes have been on my mind. Except, instead of making a traditional recipe that calls for white flour, I wanted do a buckwheat crepe. Most recipes I’ve found call for both buckwheat and white flours since some amount of gluten is probably necessary to keep them together. But I decided if I’m using buckwheat I’d like to try to make them completely gluten-free. A gluten-free substitute for white flour usually consists of potato flour, rice flour, xanthan gum, and tapioca flour. Since I didn’t have this wheat alternative, I tried tapioca powder instead and I was surprised that the crepes came out well. By powder, I mean that I ground tapioca pearls into a fine powder in a spice grinder.

These crepes can be served at any meal, but here I used them for dinner and desert and I put together a couple of fillings to try. The first course was a vegetarian dinner crepe made with a Mushroom Tomato Sauce that I combined with hummus. If you’re a meat eater, however, shredded, cooked chicken and caramelized onions would work as well with the sauce. For desert, I made a very quick crème using avocado, ground almonds, hemp milk, and a little maple syrup and paired that with some nice organic strawberries for a filling. I made these for my parents and they approved immensely. Of course, Mom had to have one with brown sugar for old times. : )

Buckwheat Crepes

1 ¼ c buckwheat flour
2 T tapioca powder
½ t sea salt
1 c hemp or almond milk
1/3 c water
3 large eggs
3 T grapeseed oil

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredients and add to the dry. Mix well with a whisk until all clumps are gone. This batter can then be refrigerated overnight or until ready to use.

To make crepes, heat a heavy skillet on med heat. Lightly grease the bottom with butter or oil. Add ~ ¼ cup of batter to the center of the pan then lift it by the handle and swirl it around to spread the batter evenly in a circular motion in the pan. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip and brown the other side – about 2 – 3 minutes each side. Transfer to a plate and add your favorite fillings–either savory or sweet!!

A sweet filling alternative used above:

Avocado Cream

¼ cup ground almonds
½ avocado
¼ cup hemp or almond milk
1 T real maple syrup

In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth.

A Mushroom Tomato Sauce You Want to Eat With a Spoon

This sauce began as a quick idea to use as a filling with veggies or hummus for buckwheat crepes and after tasting it I decided it’s a keeper. Particularly now that tomatoes are in season, this sauce will be at its best and I’ve already made a list of other ways to enjoy it: on top of crusty baguette slices, with soba noodles or whole grains like quinoa, on eggs or breakfast burritos, and even with spaghetti squash–one of my favorites lately. The recipe below makes about 1 cup of sauce, but it can easily be doubled or tripled.

Mushroom Tomato Sauce

2 Portobello mushroom caps

1 – 2 T grapeseed oil

2 large ripe tomatoes – 1 diced and one grated with the large holes of a vegetable grater (this will mostly produce juice)

1 t minced, fresh garlic or to taste

1 T chopped, fresh chives

sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Slice the mushroom caps into large slices then place them into a food processor and pulse to form small chunks. Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add the mushrooms and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until about to turn brown. Add the tomatoes and juice, some cracked pepper and a pinch of sea salt and stir well. Simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture reduces and is thickened to a desired consistency, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the garlic and chives and adjust the salt and pepper. Here's to your health!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Sweet and Tangy Red Juice

I’ve talked about my time every week in Boston on several occasions and there’s always something to learn from it for me. I work not far from a few small but good restaurants and although I mostly bring my food with me for two days of work, I will sometimes eat out. Around the corner from the office is a place called the Blue Shirt Café that makes salads, wraps, soups, smoothies, and juices. Before leaving Boston one week, I designed my own fresh juice of beets, carrots, cucumber, lime, and ginger and I instantly fell in love with it!! It’s a beautiful, vibrant red from the beets and carrots, it's sweet, it’s tangy, it’s got a little bite from the ginger, and it’s refreshing. In fact, drinking this on my ride home has become habit–almost ritual, and when I get home I feel fabulous. It keeps me from getting hungry without weighing me down, loads me up with energy, and alleviates any sweet attacks that may be lurking. I enjoy it so much that I’ve begun to make it at home. And it’s great with a scoop of green powder to boost the already abundant levels of nutrients. This is one of those habits that I’m so glad I’ve adopted!! So here it is...

Red Juice

1 raw beet, top and bottom removed and mostly peeled

1 large cucumber, quartered

4 medium carrots

½ lime, much of the skin removed

2” piece of fresh ginger

If using organic vegetables, wash well and remove any stems. If not organic, peel the vegetables and remove most of the skin from the ginger and lime. Run everything through a juicer, or blend in a blender, then strain. If desired, add your favorite green powder. Enjoy immediately!!