Teff Porridge with Roasted Strawberries and Citrus

There is nothing like a little trip to get me inspired back in the kitchen. Eric and I managed to overlap work trips – Eric to Kenya for an Engineers Without Borders project and my own trip to Burundi. At the end, we snuck in two days in Copenhagen to relax, eat, and explore.

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We walked about 15 miles each day and ate so well – everything from smorrebrød to piles and piles of lumpfish roe. The Danes place an emphasis on quality and freshness, which is apparent everywhere you go. One of my favorite meals was lunch at GRØD, a tiny little spot devoted to porridge. My barley-otto with celery root and lovage was delightful so of course I had to buy the book.

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This recipe, though, is not from the book. It is the result of a welcome-home shopping trip to Mr. Piña that included super-on-sale strawberries and a bag of teff grains. Inspired by GRØD, this breakfast porridge hits all the right notes – wholesome and grainy, subtle hints of sweetness and acid, and a crisp textural crunch. Perfect for a weekend or those days you wake up at 5am from jet lag.

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Teff Porridge with Roasted Strawberries and Citrus

*You can use any citrus here, really. I had all kinds of yummy stuff on hand – pink lemon, blood orange, minneola tengelo, and cara cara orange. The same goes for nuts – I toasted a combination of pine nuts, almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds.

1/2 cup teff grains
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup chia seeds
1.5 cups water
1.5 cups milk of your choice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
pinch of salt

2 pounds strawberries, trimmed and sliced
slices of whatever citrus you like
toasted nuts and seeds
toasted coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange the strawberries on a baking pan. Cut the ends off the citrus fruits and squeeze the juices over the strawberries. Arrange very thin slices of citrus over the top. Bake for an hour.

In a pot, mix the teff, oats, and chia seeds with the milk and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes until it reaches the consistency that you want. I like it a bit runny still. Towards the end, add the maple syrup and salt and stir to combine.

In a dry pan, toast the nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes. They will all toast at different rates so best to do each type individually.

Top the porridge with the strawberries, nuts/seeds, and coconut flakes. You can cut the rinds of the citrus slices and add those as well.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gochujang Tahini

Happy New Year! Eric and I rang in 2015 playing a dreidel drinking game (which I – the only non-Jew in the room – won) and dancing to the Phil Collins Pandora station at our new-to-me, old-to-Eric friend’s apartment. And maybe it was Phil Collins, or perhaps it was the coffee I drank after dinner, but I managed to stay awake until 3am – a real feat for me considering my propensity for falling asleep at 9pm.

Brussels-Gochujang-Tahini

On New Year’s Day, I felt some of the first pangs of missing Chicago. Tired, slightly hungover, and craving some comfort food, Eric and I set off on a search for good, authentic Mexican. Having lived for years around the corner from at least five taquerias in Chicago, we were used to rolling out of bed and being mere minutes away from Eric’s beloved carne asada tacos at Guanajuato Carniceria. And perhaps we haven’t found our spot yet, but sadly, the bland carnitas topped with cheese – yes, cheese – just didn’t do it for us. After that, we made our way to Xi’an Famous Foods for something that actually is done really well – Chinese food.

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Anyway, on the healthier, new-year’s-resolution appropriate end, here is a nice little roasted veg dish that is pretty filling and flavor-packed. My brussels sprouts went perhaps a little over – I’m still getting used to the erratic temperatures in my new oven – but the crispy, burnt ends were actually kind of good with this spicy tahini, which is the real star of the show here. This sauce would be good over so many vegetables and noodles, so don’t feel brussels sprouts are the only way to go here. Make a big batch and use it all week.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Gochujang Tahini

2 cups or so of brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small daikon, peeled
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup tahini
1 heaping teaspoon Gochujang
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 leaves fresh basil

Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, combine the brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a bit of salt. Spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer and roast until crispy, approximately 15 minutes or so.

Thinly slice the daikon and place in a bowl with the white vinegar. Fill with water until all the daikon is submerge. Place in fridge.

In a bowl, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, tahini, Gochujang, and rice vinegar. Stir well and set aside.

In a pan, dry roast the pine nuts over low heat. In a mortar and pestle, smash the basil and olive oil together with a pinch of salt, then add to the dry-roasting pine nuts. Stir for another minute until fragrant and just warmed through.

To serve, smother the brussels sprouts in the Gochujang-tahini and top with pickled daikon and basil sunflower seeds.

 

Stone Fruit Salad

I’ve been keeping a mental list of the millions of things I love about summer. Besides the weather, happy people everywhere, and endless activities, one thing I have been appreciating lately is the changing availability of fruits and vegetables. After a long winter of squash and potatoes, a new fruit or vegetable comes into season each week during the summer! One week we have asparagus, the next I’m buying cherries by the bushel. It’s pretty neat and the limitless variety keeps me both inspired and eager to eat.

Stone Fruit Salad

So here we are in stone fruit season with yet another salad. I mean, who cooks in the summer? Mostly I crave big bowls of lettuce simply dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, but every once in a while, I’ll get fancy and make my salad something special.

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Now, I don’t usually eat salads with balsamic vinegar. Maybe it was over done in the early aughts, but I just do not care much for it. With stone fruits, however, this yogurt balsamic works perfectly over their acidic sweetness. Top it with sweet corn and jicama, and you have the perfect mid-summer salad.

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Stone Fruit Salad with Sweet Corn, Jicama, and Yogurt-Balsamic

*Vary the amounts of each based on your preference. The dressing recipe yields a big batch; store leftover in the fridge if needed.

arugula
nectarine, sliced thinly

peach, sliced thinly
plum, sliced thinly
cherries, halved
jicama, peeled and julienned
sweet corn, shucked

1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
juice of half a lemon
1 garlic clove, smashed in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the sweet corn using your favorite method. I just boil the cobs for about 5 minutes. Let them cool, then cut the corn off the cob. Layer the vegetables and fruit in a salad bowl or on a plate.

For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a large mason jar or bowl. Shake/whisk to combine. Pour over the salad and eat!

 

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

It’s all about the saucy sauce.

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This is really a simple recipe. Barely a recipe, actually. Make some rice. Steam some veg. Buy some tofu. And mix it all together with a swanky, saucy sauce.

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I have a pretty well-stocked Asian pantry these days. Gochujang and miso are staples in my fridge, and I have both light and dark soy sauces in the cupboard. Usually, whipping up a little Asian-inspired sauce for things isn’t challenging. But if you don’t want to go through all the trouble of sourcing every single bottle available in the Korean, Vietnamese, and Chinese grocery stores, my staples are a nice soy sauce, fish sauce, and sesame oil. I use a lot of rice wine vinegar, but other acids work well (lime, for instance). Mirin is another nice thing to have but I can easily do without. Fish sauce on the other hand… it’s hard to replicate that flavor. Just don’t smell it and you’ll be fine.

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This recipe has some specialty items from the Asian grocery store, but feel free to swap in any other mushroom for the buna shimeji or tarragon for the perilla leaves. We make rice bowls a lot and they’re pretty versatile – truly a kitchen-sink kind of dish if there ever was one.

Rice Bowl + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

The last note here is about the tofu. Get the good stuff or make your own. Sometimes I’ll use a super firm tofu in rice bowls, but this one uses a creamy, silken tofu. The custard-y texture is a nice contrast against crunchy vegetables.

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Rice Bowls + Tofu + Saucy Sauce

1 cup brown basmati rice, cooked according to package directions
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small bunch broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 avocado, sliced
buna shimeji or other mushrooms, roughly chopped if needed

1 package silken tofu

1 clove garlic, smashed in a mortar & pestle with a bit of salt
1 teaspoon white or black sesame seeds, smashed in a mortar & pestle
1 fresh red chile, finely minced
1-inch nob of ginger, finely minced
1 green onion, finely sliced on the bias
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce (or tamari or Liquid Aminos)
1 tsp fish sauce
2 tsp rice wine vinegar (or other acid like lime juice)
2 tsp water

1 green onion, finely sliced on the bias
2 perilla leaves, rolled and finely sliced
a few extra slices of red chiles

Making the bowls is easy enough: prepare the rice according to the package. Chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces and steam or blanch them for 1-2 minutes. You want them still snappy. Combine the rice, veggies, and avocado in a big bowl. Dole out individual portions in smaller bowls or on plates.

For the mushrooms, I had a bit of this handy douban oil from this recipe on hand (except made with gochujang and coconut oil), so I quickly pan-fried them in that for about 2 minutes. If you don’t have chile oil on hand, just fry them in any other high-smoking-point oil. The key to mushrooms: fry them on high heat. Otherwise, they’ll release moisture and you’ll steam them. Top individual portions with mushrooms.

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch long pieces – kind of like thin bricks. Place a slice on each individual portion.

For the sauce, toss everything into a jar or deep bowl and shake or whisk vigorously. Pour over individual servings to taste, and top each bowl with the green onions, perilla leaves, and red chiles.

Big Green Dinner Salad

This big green salad is hearty enough for lunch or dinner. It’s loaded with all kinds of things that you can’t really make out in the picture: olives, blanched broccoli, blanched asparagus, cabbage, arugula, and chickpeas. Blanched broccoli is a recently rediscovered favorite of mine; sometimes I make a dinner out of just that drizzled with some salad dressing. It soaks up the dressing perfectly. I have been making huge batches of this salad in the beginning of the week so that I can grab some easily for lunch or dinner without much hassle.

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I have also been making various versions of a yogurt dressing. It’s so easy: dump yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, and an add-in or two into a jar and shake, shake, shake. This past week, my add-in was a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and a 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. But you could add chopped herbs, crushed garlic (raw or roasted), crushed scallions, sesame seeds, etc. Measurements here are approximate – get creative with it.

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Big Green Dinner Salad

Romaine lettuce, finely shredded
Arugula, finely shredded
Red, green, or savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 head broccoli, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives of your choosing (I’ve been using “fresh cured” olives lately, which are in the black olive section of the grocery store)

1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 raw garlic clove
add-ins of your choosing (for example, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you begin chopping all the veggies. Put the romaine, arugula, cabbage, chickpeas, quinoa, and olives in a large bowl. When the water starts to boil, put in the broccoli and asparagus. Let boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately strain and place in an ice bath. Let the broccoli and asparagus drain completely. When drained, add to the bowl. Toss the entire salad together.

Make the dressing by combining yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and any spices in a jar. Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of flaky sea salt until it is the consistency of a paste. Add the garlic to a jar, put on the lid, and shake until combined. Dress the salad on a per serving basis. The salad itself will last a few days (really, up to a week, though it will begin to wilt a bit) in the fridge undressed.

*Other options to add to this salad: chopped hard boiled eggs, shaved brussels sprouts, finely shredded kale, other grains like farro or bulgar wheat, blanched and chopped cauliflower, fresh roasted sweet corn, mushrooms, etc, etc.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

Oh, the holidays. Just yesterday, a messenger delivered two cheesecakes to our office. Tomorrow, I’m expecting our first fruit cake. This is always a tough time of year for healthy eating.

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Fortunately for me, I hate fruit cake – no temptation there. Pumpkin mousse cheesecake? Yeah, that’s a different story. Two things have kept me from digging in so far this week:

1) I checked the nutrition label immediately – at 420 calories for one tiny slice, that cheesecake doesn’t look so enticing anymore, and

2) I stocked up on veggies at work. Lots of veggies. And to keep them enticing, I have been bringing in this bean dip.

I’m pretty much obsessed with this bean dip right now. It’s so good, so easy, and unlike other bean dips (ahem, hummus), it tastes better with veggies than it does with, say, pita, so it’s healthy to boot. Yeeeah.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

2 cans Great Northern or white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 stalks of rosemary, stripped from the stalk
juice and zest of one lemon
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

In a food processor, combine the beans, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, and lemon juice and zest. As it is processing, pour in the olive oil. Serve with red peppers, cucumbers, and mushrooms.

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Potato Salad

Whew, it’s been a while. I’ve been busy, you know, getting married!

Wedding Photo

What a cool, fun day we had. I’m so sad, actually, that’s it’s over. Everyone told me I’d feel relief. Really I just feel this huge sense of disappointment that we don’t get to party anymore! I mean, look at that photo – what cool friends we have! What a beautiful location we had!

Alas, back to work and cooking now. I actually made this recipe for my family a few weeks ago and everyone really enjoyed it. Potato salads seem to epitomize summer, but I’ve never understood the thick mayonnaise dressing that can’t sit out in the sun and fills your belly to the point of disgust. A few things make this potato salad stand out – a vinegar and oil dressing, cilantro, and beans. Together, they elevate the dish and make it taste, in my opinion, a lot more of summer.

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Potato Salad

1 pound potatoes
1/2 pound green beans
1/2 pound turkey bacon (I found a pepper turkey bacon)
1/2 cup cilantro
4 shallots
2 jalapenos
1 clove garlic
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
red wine vinegar, to taste, to finish the dressing

Start by getting the potatoes in salted, boiling water. Cook them until they’re just barely soft all the way through. In the last couple minutes, toss the beans in and blanch them. When finished, put them in an ice/water bath to stop the cooking and keep the beans very green.

Meanwhile, brown the bacon in a separate pan. Keep the brown bits and rendered fat in the pan.

Mince the garlic, shallots, and jalapeno. Keep the seeds and ribs if you like it very spicy, otherwise remove. Toss them all in the rendered fat for a quick saute. You just want to barely cook these – the garlic should still be pungent, the jalapeno still fresh and spicy, and the shallots still crisp. In a bowl, mix the aromatics and rendered fat with the olive oil and lemon juice. Taste, and add more red wine vinegar if needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Once cool, chop the potatoes into cubes and the beans into inch-long pieces. Combine with the dressing and top with cilantro.