Monthly Archives:

April 2011

Vegan Nacho Pizza

Nacho + pizza = a sublime combination. Deeply craving pizza, I decided to whip up a pie that would satisfy my appetite without involving globs of unhealthy cheese. I decided to turn to Daiya, my new and only favorite vegan cheese. I paired the creamy “cheese” with another buttery ingredient, avocado. Can you say heaven? Um, yes! Who says a pizza needs cheese? And who says a vegan pizza need to be ridden of “cheese”? Neither are the least bit true, my friend. Finished with a few jalapenos to just slightly cut some of the richness, this pizza was an absolute winner.

Vegan Nacho Pizza

-1-14 inch pizza crust
3/4 cup to 1 cup pizza sauce (I like my pizza saucy, so I lean more towards the 1 cup)
-1 cup cheddar Daiya cheese
-Garlic powder
-Dried oregano
-Jarred jalapenos, handful
-1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

Roll out dough and bake according to instructions, removing just before dough is completely cooked. Spread sauce across crust, and sprinkle with garlic powder. Top with Daiya cheese and sprinkle with oregano. Scatter jalpenos across pizza. Return to oven and bake until cheese is almost melted, about 5 minutes. Remove and spread avocado slices across pizza. Bake an additional minute. Serve.

Q and A with America’s Next Great Restaurant Competitor Sudhir Kandula

America’s Next Great Restaurant is a new NBC reality show that features competitors from around the country looking to launch their original ideas for a restaurant chain.

The winning competitor will land his/her branded restaurant chain in the centers of Hollywood, Minneapolis and New York City. Funding the winner will be Iron Chef Bobby Flay, Biggest Loser’s Chef Curtis Stone, co-CEO of Chipotle Steve Ells, and executive chef and restaurateur Lorena Garcia. The four investors have been working with competitors to help develop their ideas, putting them to the test along the way by challenging them in a series of rigorous cooking and business competitions.

After months of competing, it’s now down to the final three episodes, with the finale to air May 1st. Landing a spot among the last three competitors is 41-year-old Sudhir Kandula, currently Vice President, Sales, at eCert Inc, a New York-based firm that works with companies to reduce email fraud.

Kandula intends to launch Spice Coast, a modern take on Indian food that will feature a variety of healthy, light, and vegetarian options. I chatted with Kandula to ask him a little about his experience, what kinds of tasty foods we can expect on the menu, and how he make a fast-food-styled restaurant chain a healthy success.

Click here to read interview…

Asparagus with Soy Asian Vinaigrette

As promised, another asparagus recipe. With a few pounds picked and stashed in the refrigerator, likely there’s more of these to come too.

This recipe’s one of my favorites, one that I’ve been making for a few years now. Actually, the spring dish was one of my very first kitchen creations, back when I couldn’t tell you the difference between chives and cherries. (“Mom, what in the world are chives and where can I find them for this asparagus recipe I want to make?”)

I’ve come quite a long way, as have my recipe developing skills and passion for food. The recipe too has changed a bit over the years…I can’t seem to find the original soy sauce stained sheet I followed back in my early cooking days. But the flavors of that first asparagus dish were memorable enough that I’ve been able to recreate a similar dish, one that yields an addicting way to eat asparagus.

I’ve substituted chives in this recipe with onion grass, simply because I have a ton of it freely growing in my back yard. (My cat uprooted the chives I once had growing in a pot…Someone must have mistakenly told him it was a bathroom…).  While the flavor is a bit different, both work equally well. So if you don’t have a ton of onion grass, or grass in general, near where you live, or if you aren’t sure of the soil quality, then swap out the wild onions with some store bought or garden grown chives.

Asparagus with Soy Asian Vinaigrette

(Serves 4)

-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
-3 tsp. toasted sesame oil
-4 tsp. Dijon mustard
-1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
-1 garlic clove, minced
-2 Tbsp. wild spring onions (onion grass), minced
-3 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
-2 lb. asparagus (40-45 medium-sized stalks)

In a small bowl, whisk together first 5 ingredients. Steam asparagus until tender, 5-7 minutes. Toss with vinaigrette. Sprinkle sesame seeds and chives on top. Serve.

In Season: Asparagus

Asparagus

In season: Mid-April through mid-July

Choose: Bright green, firm stalks, with tightly bound heads. Avoid wrinkly stalks with soft, dewy tops.

Storage tips: Place stalks upright in a container filled with about an inch of water, or bunch and wrap stems in a wet paper towel. Refrigerate, and use within 2-4 days.

Prepare: Shave thinly and serve raw, or steam, saute or roast whole. Use fingers to remove woody ends where they naturally snap off. Pairs well with lemon, garlic, soy sauce, curry powder and a variety of other spices.

Nutrition 411: About 30 calories per cup, 3 grams of fiber, 30% DV of vitamin A, 70% DV of vitamin C, 15% DV of iron, 61% DV of folate (anti-inflammatory), 11% DV of vitamin E and an assortment of other vitamins. Bottom line- You can keep this veggie on your to-do list.

Fun facts:  Asparagus is a member of the Lily family. This shining member grows particularly fast, lives long, and comes in several different shades. Somehow it manages to avoid growing pains, even in ideal growing conditions where stalks can shoot up 10″ in a 24-hour period. A patch generally yields edible stalks for at least 15 years and often longer, which makes it a great garden edition. Aside from the classic green, purple and white varieties also exist. The veggie contains a sulfur compound called mercaptan, which when broken down during the digestive process, causes some people’s pee to turn smelly. A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that when tested, only 46% of British people produced the odor while 100% of French people tested did. If you have the gene that puts you on the smelly side, you’ll know it.

Rest assure, look for an asparagus recipe or two coming soon.

Classic Deviled Eggs

Yeah, I know. Easter’s over. So why am I still blogging about deviled eggs? Well, we all have to do something with that leftover carton of hard-boiled eggs we helped the little ones in our life color. Turning them into deviled eggs will guarantee they won’t go to waste. Who’s going to pass up a rich, creamy deviled egg? Even if deviled eggs were on this past weekend’s Easter menu, with a quality recipe, you bet people will be reaching for more than one half. More than two won’t really fit with the whole weight loss/health watch plan, but no worries. I’m sure your friends would be happy to drop one or two off in their mouths.

Besides, who says deviled eggs have to be reserved solely for the holidays. (If you’re not an Easter celebrator, then heck, they definitely shouldn’t be saved just this time of year.)  They’re an easy-to-make treat, and for my non-vegan fellows out there, they make a not too shabby protein snack, as long as you can limit yourself to just one or two bites.

I’ve posted this recipe before…Last Easter…and sadly, it’s probably been since that day that I’ve eaten them. But after enjoying them this year, even after tasting them on Easter might I add, I think I’m going to have to change my ways. It’s a standard recipe that my grandma and mom have tweaked to the point that I seldom can say I really love anyone else’s deviled eggs. That’s how family recipes work, right? Feel free to adapt ours as your own, or let me in on any of your family’s deviled egg secrets.

Click here for recipe…

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