Archive for the ‘Raw Foods’ Category

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July 16, 2013: Kohlrabi Salad

July 16, 2013

Kohlrabi Salad

Here’s a delicious summer salad for these hot days: light, cool, raw, quickly prepared with a complex and interesting taste and texture.

Kohlrabi is a relative of cabbage, but closer to a turnip in shape and size , with a thin skin and a lighter and slightly sweeter taste than a turnip. The variety I used in my salad has a purple skin, but kohlrabi also has a white-skinned variety.

Toast about 1/2C. pine nuts in a dry, non-stick pan over low-medium heat, turning often, until lightly toasted. Remove from heat and cool.

Skin and matchstick 1/2 a sweet potato.  Wash, core, and shred a medium head each of kohlrabi and cabbage. Cut about 16 large black olives into eighths. Combine and mix all veggies and chill. Before serving, parcel out the salad into individual bowls. Spoon dressing over salad and top with chunks of goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Accent with a grind of pepper and Herbs de Provence.

Kohlrabi Salad Dressing:
For every two servings: 3 Tblsp. Olive Oil+1 Tblsp. Lemon Juice+1 Tblsp. Cider Vinegar+1/2 Tsp. each of Dijon Mustard and Maple Syrup. Whisk dressing before serving.

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April 29, 2013: Chilled Tofu

April 29, 2013

Chilled TofuOh, dear…I’m afraid I may lose some of you with this one. [sigh] Well, who must do the hard things? Those who believe they must!

Chilled tofu is probably not your first choice of foods. In fact, drawing from a quick poll of friends and fellow-workers provided info that it was no single persons first choice of foods! But it is (often) MY first choice and I hope to tell you why. I can particularly hear my sister Mary Lou’s voice in my head “TOFU…bleeech!” Well, I will make a deal with Moo and the rest of my readers. Make it through this one, and I promise to concoct one very rich and decadent recipe at some point in the future (…and yes, I will entertain suggestions!)

Ok. So tofu….now wait….giiiiiive it chance!….tofu has a number of things going for it. Shall I list them?

Healthy: Yes, tofu is so healthy, that it has been virtually a cliché connected with health since…well…forever! As tofu has a naturally neutral flavor on its own, we are always tempted to either fry tofu or add gravy (sometimes both) all of which reduce the natural health factor. Instead, I find a light sauce, spices or just tasty veggies add flavor to tofu without adding excess calories. My litmus test for a healthy food is any one that I can eat and immediately go on my 5 mile run. Raw tofu, fresh fruit, and a chilled salad are the only meals I know that I can easily do this.

Variety of Texture: Tofu comes in a many textures to appeal to individual tastes. I prefer a very firm texture, but if you like softer textures, you can go for a silken tofu which is very much like custard in texture. Every texture between firm and silken exists.

Speed of Preparation: Preparing raw tofu is a quick two-step process: wash tofu and put under a press for about 10 minutes to remove excess water. The only added time is limited only by the time needed to prepare the food served with the tofu.

Decorative: Raw tofu adds a white base that combines well with other bold colors to make a simple, but attractive hors d’oeuvre.

Versatility of Tastes: As tofu takes on the tastes of any food it is served with, that means you have practically an infinite variety of taste combinations.

I can hardly consider the meal I made above to be a “recipe” per se, it was so simple. I cleaned and pressed tofu and cut fairly large pieces. I grated a carrot, chopped a spring onion, and grated a small piece of ginger. The sauce is half a commercial “spicy, brown, bean sauce” and half shoyu. As I mentioned, the variety of things you may add is limitless. My other favorites: toasted sesame seeds; thinly sliced nori; steamed, drained, cold spinach; grated daikon; and hot sauce.

I believe the reason many people hate tofu is because they have never had a good brand. Sadly, the stuff they sell in super markets are the worst examples. The best you will find is the home-made kind found in a Chinatown kind of market. The next best you can buy is at a health-food store.

Chilled tofu is wonderful on a hot Summer day, delicious with green tea, beer, or sake.

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January 13, 2013: Pickled Cabbage

January 13, 2013

Pickled CabbageHere is a Japanese staple for many meals: pickled cabbage. Fresh, bright, simple, easy to make, healthy, and versatile, this delicious side complements most Japanese foods. Known as tsukemono in Japan, pickled cabbage is such a universal dish there, that it is sometimes served with breakfast! For a quick lunch, white rice, a side of fish, and pickled cabbage is a perfect light meal.

Pickled Cabbage
First make brine: add 1 Tsp. sal de mer to every 1C. H2O and bring to boil, then cool. 12-16 cups of brine should be enough for one head cabbage.

Take a small head of Chinese Cabbage (about 1 pound) wash and cut widthwise every inch. Bring to boil about 4 Qts. salted H2O. Add cabbage, thicker pieces first, and cook cabbage for no more than 2 minutes. Immediately drain and immerse cabbage in ice water.  In a large pot, add cabbage and enough cooled brine to cover cabbage. Cover with a plate and weight the plate with something heavy (I used a smaller pot filled with water.) Place 2 small pieces (4″x2″) of kombu (a Japanese seaweed) in the pot. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Store in a cool place for at least three hours. [The pressure and salt will remove bitterness from the cabbage.] Drain brine from cabbage and rinse. Drain cabbage well. Add 2 Tblsp. each lemon juice and rice vinegar and 1 Tblsp. mirin. Cool. Pickled cabbage should last for a week in the fridge.

Cabbage can be fine on its own. For variety add, shredded carrots, daikon (a Japanese radish) or chili peppers chopped fine (I added 2 chilis-seeds removed, about 4 Tblsps., to mine.) Top cabbage with shoyu, toasted sesame seeds, or toasted wakame.

I was very pleased with the final taste, but luckily, Teja was by and it was very good to get his opinion as to how “correct” my pickled cabbage was. He said I had made it a bit more hot than the cabbage he had in Japan, making it closer to the Korean kim chee, so a little less of the pepper would make it more authenticHe also said it could use a bit more sweetness, so maybe a dash more mirin could make it better. He also said cabbage is never served by itself in Japan…always with fish, rice, and usually something sour like umeboshi (pickled plum.)

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September 07, 2012: Matchstick Salad

September 7, 2012

Here’s are super-simple, super-light, super-healthy salad for the last hot days of Summer.

Skin and matchstick three medium carrots and a small jicama (or daikon, Japanese white radish). Wash and matchstick two stalks of celery and a small zucchini. Wash and matchstick a small eggplant; rinse, salt and let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse under cold water. Dry eggplant on paper towels. Skin, de-seed and matchstick a small cucumber. Thinly slice a mild red pepper. This makes about 4 C. veggies. Add 1/2 C. rice vinegar and one Tblsp. mirin to veggies. Chill. Top with toasted sesame seeds and crumbled toasted nori.

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July 26, 2012: Mixed Summer Salad

July 26, 2012

Here’s a simple Summer salad of mixed baby greens, toasted almond slivers, and Western Sweet Cherry halves. Top with Japanese Dressing and a grind of black pepper.

Japanese Dressing:  4 Tblsp. Olive Oil+4 Tblsp. Lemon Juice+2 Tsp. Shoyu+2 Tsp. Mirin

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November 09, 2011: Salad Dreams & Copper

November 9, 2011

There’s a little boy on my front stoop. The strong, low angle of the Autumn sun filters through his blond lashes to light his beautiful young face, so light in color, that it almost hurts to look at him. Harrison is 5 years old, and his mouth is slightly smudged with the chocolate donut with sprinkles he is munching. Alternate to his bites, he is gulping from a small container of milk that he cradles with two hands and this makes me wonder at what point in our life do we gain the confidence to grasp our containers with the one hand, and what measure of innocence do give up along with that particular transition.

Lisa, Harry’s mom, has surprised me with a spontaneous visit, just when I thought the highlight of the day was to reduce a pile of wood, from fallen trees of last weekends’ storm, to kindling. She has kindly brought donuts and coffee, junk food that is, these days, almost devoid from my diet. As we soak in the unseasonable warmth and sunlight, Harry, way ahead of the adults meandering, has wolfed down the donut and is sorting through the limestone gravel of my driveway and proclaims that he has found “gold”…actually a yellowed, weathered piece of limestone. This prompts an impulse that sends me inside to search my nick-nack shelf and I am pleased to find a genuine piece of raw copper that I can hand over to Harry with the explanation of the difference of the two metals. Harry pockets both the limestone and copper in his red fleece.

We walk around back, first to see a pile of wood from the huge branches that fallen around, and through my deck. Kind neighbors have helped clear the branches from the deck, but the devastation remains. Harry, weirded out by the wreckage, will not step upon the remains of the deck, despite our assurances that it is safe…now. Remembering how just a few nights earlier, when both oak and pine fell inches from where I was sleeping, with massive destruction, and after a night of worrying that a larger branch would squash me like a bug, I get Harry’s hesitation.

Harry has a goal today: he is on a quest to find a particular “Ninjago” an obscure (to me anyway) Lego toy and we are off to Target. Now, I must have been in a Target before, but I really don’t remember a better time shopping anywhere. I tease Lisa that I have the best times in her company, and it is a double pleasure when Harry is along. I don’t know what I find more entertaining: Lisa being startled by the automatic toys firing up as we pass by, or Harry’s ease and knowledge of how they work.

It is a kind of relief to find that the original recipes that I make for this blog, come from a familiar source. Whether a good photograph idea, a recipe, and even these days, that story idea, it’s all from  that creative essence that comes in quiet times. Running, a shower, the dreaming fugue just before sleeping, spark the source and ideas just flow. The other night, before sleeping, I was musing how I could use the last of the supplies from my friend Pamela. The salad just had to have Pam’s canned beet slices and her magnificent find from her CSA: Watermelon Radish. Musing, the recipe just coalesced in my mind.

I had a shopping list for materials for the salad, still just in my imagination, without any real means to buy them. Between rounds of tag around endcaps with Lisa and Harry, Lisa put a basket in my hand and shooed me off towards the food aisles to “get what I needed” and the salad, thanks to her kindness, could then reach the reality phase.

After, we were off to the Wayside candy store. I helped Harry get his rainbow dose of multi-colored M&Ms, Lisa got some penuche fudge, and I, on my quest for the perfect soft licorice, tried theirs. We then tried to walk in for lunch at the Wayide Inn, but being a warm Autumn weekend, we were out of luck. We had to settle on pizza and eggplant parmesan at a local pizza shop (more junk food!) A perfect visit, on a perfect Autumn day!

For the salad, preheat the oven to 350°F. On tin foil, roast walnuts, turning often, for about 20-30 minutes, until toasted. Cool. On a base of Baby Spring Mix salad, I added slices of Pam’s beets and Watermelon Radish. I had never heard of this radish before, until Pam brought me some from her CSA. This radish is delicate in taste, without the heat of our smaller radish, but with enough zip for a unique addition to a salad. It’s got just the tiniest bite, a real snap in texture and is very pretty. Just remove the skin and slice thin. I topped the salad with craisins, chunks of blue cheese, and the toasted walnuts. I finished with the following vinaigrette and ground pepper and a sprinkling of Herbs de Provence.

Vinaigrette:  Add 1 Tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar to 3 Tblsp. Olive oil and 1 Teasp. Honey. Mix well.

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October 22, 2011: Shredded Daikon

October 22, 2011

My friend Pamela gave a slew of fresh veggies last week, from her CSA. All have been very delicious, but the most interesting was four daikon radish. Daikon is a larger (generally about 6″-1′ long by about 2-3″ circumference) white variety of the radish family, originally from Japan. It is not nearly as hot as the American red variety of radish, but is mild, juicy, and with just a tiny bit of hot and sweetness combined. Daikon is full of vitamin C, and is good for digestion. It is delicious as an accompaniment to just about any Japanese meal or as a healthy snack.

If daikon comes with leaves, cut them  off (you can blanch these and fry in a little sesame oil, for a great veggie side dish.) Skin daikon root and save skin for stock. Shred daikon and drain juices in colander, but don’t let daikon dry out. After sampling, I wanted a bit more heat, so I added 1Tblsp. of my pepper mixture from last week “October 20, 2011: Prepping Peppers” to about the 5C. of shredded daikon. Add a sprinkling of sal de mer, mix, put daikon in a jar and cover with rice vinegar.

The result is an interesting and delicious mix of hot, sweet, sour, and with a tiny bit of salt in a perfect balance. Tantalizing and complex to the tastebuds, healthy for the body.

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