Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Original Brussels Sprouts, Courtesy of Trader Joes

I love to see how vegetables actually grow. I can still remember the awe of seeing my first artichoke field in Central California, a huge tuscan kale plant, rice in Japan, or zucchini  and eggplants plants in a farmers market exhibition garden. This time, Trader Joe's brought the brussels sprouts to the store, including their habitat: a stalk. On top of looking picturesque, the stalk was also inexpensive. So, roasted balsamic brussels sprouts, sauteed endives, baby spinach and a handful of cherry tomatoes, all courtesy of Trader Joes, made up today's lunch.

Balsamic roasted brussels sprouts:
cut brussels sprouts off stalk
half, and line on a baking sheet lined with alu foil
salt, pepper, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
roast for about 15-20 min at 375F.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Balsamic Vinaigrette

After using the balsamic vinaigrette in many of my salad recipes, it is time that I actually post the recipe. I promise this is the best balsamic vinaigrette ever.

1/4 cup very good, smooth, at least 8 year aged balsamic vinegar (I use Fini or Fiore's Black Cherry Balsamic Vinegar)
1/8 cup excellent extra-virgin olive oil (currently, I used a price-winning Australian olive oil I got at Wholefoods)
1 TB grainy mustard (Maille recommended)
1 TB honey
1 garlic clove, microplaned

Add all ingredients in a vinaigrette bottle (or simply a jar with a tightly closing lid) and shake vigorously. Keep chilled in the fridge, and serve for salad.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Blog Bites: Feta Spinach Pumpkin Muffins

I cannot believe I have not blogged about them yet; I made them twice already! I favor savory things to sweets any day, and these are now my favorite savory muffins. My local farmers market sells a wonderful, strong feta, as well as fresh spinach and any type of winter squash, and these are the main ingredients. I adapted it slightly from the original recipe from 101Cookbooks, but they are also delightful in their original conception.

cooking spray (or butter for the muffin pan)
1 gluck of olive oil
255g cubed butternut squash, cut 1/2-inch cubes (I buy peeled butternut squash, less work)
salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of fresh baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sunflower seeds kernels, roasted, unsalted
100g  cubed feta (full-fat, and best a local product from the farmers market)
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
180 ml un-flavored almond milk
1 cup allpurpose flour
1 cup quinoa flour
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 405F / 200C, with rack in the top third. Grease 2 12-hole muffin pans and set aside.

Sprinkle the olive oil, salt and pepper over the cubed squash. Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake for 15 - 25 minutes so that the squash is mostly cooked, but not mushy or dry. Set aside to cool.

In a bowl beat the eggs and almond milk together. Sift the flours and baking powder onto the mix, add in some salt and a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper, and mix until smooth. Fold in gently the spinach, sunflower seeds, feta, and all of the mustard. At last, fold in the baked squash.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan, filling each hole 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops and sides of the muffins are golden, and the muffins have set up completely. Let cool for a couple minutes then turn out onto a cooling rack. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Radicchio Salad with Grapes, Walnuts and Shaved Parmesan

Sunday mornings often start with tuning into Food TV or the Cooking channel, and sometimes this results in inspirations for a few meals. Today was such a day. The original salad calls for pecorino and pistachios (great idea! but I was out) and blistered grapes, but for me only the combination of radicchio and (raw) grapes stood, with balsamic vinaigrette and toasted walnuts and shaved parmesan. The combination of the crunchy, slightly bitter radicchio, the full-flavored balsamic vinaigrette and the juicy, sweet grapes with the crunch of walnuts is a wonderful combination.