Monthly Archives:

August 2013

Miso Oat Porridge

Miso Oat Porridge

My sweet tooth doesn’t generally kick in until after breakfast. Unless we’re talking homemade apple pie, I’d rather save the sweet stuff for lunch or dinnertime. This goes not just for crappy sugary cereals, but pancakes and waffles too.

Don’t go all Amanda Bynes on me. I promise you, I do love a big stack of blueberry pancakes fresh off the griddle. However, unless it’s a lazy, off-work morning and nearing close to lunchtime, I usually want to wake up to savory, not sweet.

Miso Oat Porridge

I’ve been seeing a lot of savory takes on oatmeal lately, and given my typical morning temperament, I decided to give one a chance. I chose a recipe from 101 Cookbooks, a blog I’ve been following for quite some time now. The recipes you’ll find there are generally simple but elegant, and always make me want to dive in.

This particular recipe calls for just four ingredients, along with a handful of your chosen toppings. As simple as it is, it really reinvents a morning bowl of oats. Toasty, and slightly salty from the miso, the bowl really becomes what you decide to chop up and throw on top of it.

Radishes

Funny how just a few posts ago I was pleading for help on what to do with radishes. Now I’m eating them for breakfast.

For this, I went with some fresh herbs and minced onion to compliment the miso, and thinly sliced radishes to add a bite to the subtle, sweet flavor of the butter. Delish. I felt great after eating this, and will be adding it to my morning rotation, radishes and all.

Have you tried any interesting versions of savory oatmeal? I’d love to hear about them!

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Summer Rice and Quinoa Tabbouleh with Beets

Summer Tabbouleh with Beets

Can we talk about how fast life moves after graduating from college? And I’m not even at a 9-5 job anymore. Nor do I have kids…I can’t image how time will feel when that happens. I’m picturing similar to how this 800 mile per hour high speed train would feel, if it ever gets built.

This summer seems like a blur. Late August and evening sweater weather, how did you creep up so fast? Please leave me be for another few weeks. I need some time to contemplate. (i.e., to lay on my back in a pool, and stare mindlessly up at the sky). Ya feel me?

At least I can say the past few months have been entertaining ones, and packed with a tabbouleh salad full of new experiences. This last week, I had the opportunity to teach yoga to a class of senior citizens, a group of former homeless drug addicts, and Temple University’s volleyball team. Man, was each experience different. And tremendously rewarding. Occasions like this really make me reevaluate life. If only I had more time to ponder over those feelings. In a pool. Or a lake. I won’t be picky, summer, if you just stay a bit longer.

Summer Tabbouleh with Beets

So while life has been busy and all over the place, I’ve been making a lot of no-recipe tabbouleh salads. Ones in a huge bowl that will last for the week, and are packed with farmer’s market veggies to keep me charged and thinking straight.

On these occasions, there are no measuring cups or spoons present, excluding the one I’m using to taste as I go. There is no exact science involved. Or open laptop being splattered with veggie juice, tracking every ingredient’s use. While I love recipe development, more often than not, this is how I enjoy cooking the most. Improvisation based off of the ingredients I have at hand.

I hate to snub you guys of a precise directions here, but I want you to simply use this as inspiration to create your own version of tabbouleh. No stressing if you’re missing ingredients from the recipe, well, because there is no recipe. And no freaking out if it doesn’t look like some photo. Below is simply a loose blueprint to get you started. Also, just an FYI, one beet can go a long way. You don’t need much to add that gorgeous pink vibrancy you’ll see in the bowl above.

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Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

Summer Vegetable Coconut Curry

I often say that even if I became really poor, it’s unlikely I’d ever go hungry. Through all my various foodie friends, farmer connections, side food-related jobs and food blogger perks, my fridge these days has been endlessly stocked. My splurgeful trips to Whole Foods have been minimal. And my tummy has been full.

Unlike some of my recent grad friends (cue those who moved to NYC), I’ve managed to avoid a diet of peanut butter and canned beans. (Although, don’t think those items don’t show up quite often too. I eat plenty of PB from a jar, primarily by choice, and chickpeas too. Being a vegetarian does have its naturally affordable qualities.)

When I do head to the store these days, often I walk out with nothing other than figs and Greek yogurt. As a hustling journalist in a dying field, and a freelancer of many trades, this scenario seems a bit out of place. And it would be if it weren’t for the abundance of healthy veggies that have graced my life this summer, free of charge. For this I feel fortunate.

Summer veggies.

At this point, I honestly have more vegetables sitting around than I can eat. Some of you fellow gardeners I’m sure can relate.

I often get stuck eating a lot of simple salads, which are great, but sometimes recipes like this are in need. It’s amazing how a simple coconut curry can make you appreciate a bowl of vegetables that much more.

I contemplated putting this over rice, but I honestly wanted to just spoon its brothiness as is, and call the large bowl of veggies a meal. So that’s what I did. However, I ended up pouring it over pasta the following day, which was quite nice too. I’ll leave the decision of how to serve it up to you.

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Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

I’ve happily walked into the life of someone who owns a grill. And a pool. Seeing as though I live in a small, city apartment with not even an inch of backyard space, this new addition to my life overcomes me with joy. I’m not talking about the new friend. Just the swimming and the grilling. (Kidding, of course).

While as a kid I had more than enough yard for forts and capture the flag, I didn’t grow up with a grill. Or a pool. But I begged my parents for both. I can see why they didn’t want to take on the latter, but the absence of a grill is still something I’ve never quite figured out. When veggies are in season, I find it to be one of the easiest ways to create a healthy plate full of flavor.

As of lately, I’ve been using my friend’s grill to feast on a ton of portobello mushrooms. It’s as simple as whisking up a 3-ingredient marinade of garlic, olive oil and splash of balsamic. From there, just throw those saucy rounds to the flame. Easy. Add some melted cheese, toast up a bun, and you’ve got summer’s easiest vegetarian burger.

Eggplant

Before I discovered my new friend had grill access, I invited him over for post-yoga dinner of Eggplant Rollatini. If I would’ve known about his backyard status, I would’ve saved this one for a later date. There are only so many eggplant slices you can fit on a countertop George Foreman. Chilling outside while waiting for food to char is one thing. Chilling inside, impatiently counting the minutes till the next batch, is another. Times that by four batches, and you get the true 2-br Philly apartment grilling experience.

Vegan Eggplant Rollatini

If you have a backyard grill, by all means, use it for this recipe. If you don’t, but have a grill pan or other smaller device, I assure you, the slight impatience you may suffer through will be worth the results. Take the time to slice and cook through several batches. Grilling the eggplant first ensures you won’t end up with a chewy, undercooked rollatini. If there’s anything that can easily ruin an eggplant parm or rollatini, it’s an undercooked base. Don’t let that happen.

Here, I’ve created a vegan version of the Italian classic by using a ricotta-like crumbled tofu and then adding bulgur wheat for a little extra texture. Herbs and nutritional yeast make sure this is by no means a flavorless vegan dish, and marinara seals the deal to compliment all the flavors. If you’re lucky, eat this pool-side or deck-side. If you’re not, don’t sweat it. Literally. Grab a beer, open the window and enjoy.

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Roasted Okra, Tomato and Garlic Pilaf

Okra

 

If there was ever a veggie I hated when I was a kid, it was okra. Okra and parsnips, the latter of which I could still go without. But that’s another story.

Okra is a strange character. A little seedy and a bit of slimeball, it’s the kind of veggie you don’t want to mess with on the wrong side of the stove. Treat it wrong, and likely it will treat you wrong back.

Handle it right, however, and I’ve learned it can actually become a new friend. One you may just fancy inviting onto your plate.

Roasted Okra, Tomato and Garlic Pilaf

Human friends and veggie friends alike, they say you get less narrow-minded as you get older. Perhaps that’s been the case with okra. I’m not entirely sure if my change in opinion is primarily a result of my little kid tastebuds growing up, or the new cooking methods I’ve been using. Regardless, I don’t think I’ll ever mess around with any steaming or stewing of okra again. My parents did this one too many times for me to conclude I’m not a fan, even in my old and tastebud-mature age of 23. (Right.)

Okra releases slime when it cooks. Makes it sound so appetizing, right? However, there are ways to reduce this, including cooking them whole and roasting them in the oven. Frying isn’t a bad option either, and as Ree Drummond reveals, you could even eat okra without cooking the pods at all. Who knew? I can’t wait to try a raw version the next time they’re in my kitchen.

Here, I threw the okra in the oven with some garlic to sweeten things up and tomatoes, since ’tis the season for those. It’s a simple preparation that makes a nice meal or side with the addition of bulgur wheat, a traditional tabbouleh staple.

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