Sunday, December 21, 2014

Recipe Redux: The Flavor Bible Mushroom Walnut Polenta Appetizers

A post-year celebration is due, because Recipe Redux has been taking over your feed on the 21st and 22nd of each month, for 42 months now!! And since 'tis the season for (drinking) party games, we were each challenged to grab a cookbook on page _42 and make it healthier.

So I dug through all my cookbooks, and then I went home home and dug through all my mom's cookbooks and couldn't find any recipe that fell on a page "42" that inspired me, nor that I could improve. Because I do not take cookbook buying lightly, and if it's in my house, it is trustworthy and healthy (my definition of "healthy" that is…). I savor cookbooks and literally read them front to back. (Whether I actually make the recipes, or follow them is debatable). (Have I mentioned that baking is not my forte?)

I know that my strengths lie neither in creating nor following recipes, but rather in improvising with what's at hand. That's why I bought my new bible. Literally. the Vegetarian Flavor Bible. 

And what do you know, page 242 contains one of my favorite vegetables, the earthy mushroom. A polarizing plant, I adore shrooms for their unami (meaty) taste, pliable texture and versatility. Now the deal with the Flavor Bible is that it recommends not only how to cook each food, but also what to pair it with. Pairings are ranked by how many experts would recommend it. 

One multi-pairing stuck out to me because no way have I ever mixed mushrooms and nuts. 

Mushrooms + Garlic + Leeks + Lemon + Walnuts 

And then above, it was highly recommended to pair mushrooms with polenta. (And I didn't have leeks on hand, so I used scallions. What did I just say about following recipes? Can't even follow a damn improv!)

So I decided to whip up an appetizer (because my dad loves appetizers. And then I ended up working 'til 6:30 and totally missing his dinner. Sorry dad! They're good as leftovers I swear!). I added dried porcini mushrooms because a little goes a long way in enhancing the flavor of plain ol' crimini mushrooms. It's actually super quick to whip up. You'll be teasing appetites in under 35 minutes.

Mushroom Walnut Polenta Bites 
Serves 8
  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 6 cups water 
  • 2 cups polenta 
  • 1tsp salt 
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 8 oz brown baby bella crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Chopped chives (optional garnish)
  1. In the morning or before you start making your meal, soak the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes. Rinse, roughly chop and set aside. 
  2. Bring water to a boil. Add salt and polenta. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Heat olive oil over med-high heat in a cast iron (or thick bottomed) skillet. Add garlic and scallions, and cook until lightly brown. 
  4. Add crimini mushrooms and sea salt. 
  5. Saute, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to brown 
  6. If it's been 20 minutes, remove the polenta from heat and smooth with a rubber spatula onto a baking sheet. Let sit until mushrooms are done. 
  7. Add walnuts and lemon juice to mushrooms. Cook for 5 more minutes
  8. Cut polenta into squares, and top with a spoonful of mushroom + walnut mixture. 
  9. Serve with chopped chives!
Note: You can also make the polenta the morning of, so all you have to worry about when you get home from work is sautéing this mushrooms. easy peasy. 
I do recommend these cookbooks, and sticking to their recipes as much as you possibly can:

For delicious recipes and meal inspiration:

For technique:
What's YOUR favorite cookbook? 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Holiday Love List: Eating, Reading and Detoxing

Because this is what the holidays are all about right?
Reading: Since it's almost that (awful) time of the year again, when resolutions and weight loss gimmicks abound, take a moment for a scientific look at the pseudoscience of Dr. Oz: "For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%." Worse than 50/50 chance there folks. And since we believe in open access and sharing the real evidence, you can read the entire study on recommendations made by doctors on TV here. 

(And if you haven't seen this brilliant John Oliver episode on the good doctor, stop what you're doing and watch it now). 
Cooking: Every drool-inducing recipe in The Forest Feast Cookbook. You should really pick this gem up. Gorgeous photos + watercolors, super simple yet delicious recipes. It'd make a great last-minute gift! 

Moving: Because Ragnar SoCal Ultra training starts next week, I'm running. Luckily, Wyoming is one of the most gorgeous/stark places to do just that. Nevermind that I'm running in the middle of the road (thank god there is NO traffic). If anyone wants to drop some ultra training knowledge on my, I'm all ears. Please?
Detoxing: But not the kind that you think... (PS juice cleanse detoxes don't work. Period. End of Story. Good-bye. Stop. Read this). Yes, I'm actively cutting back on the alcohol a bit over the next two weeks, but much more importantly, I'm going to spend some serious non-computer, non-phone, digital detox time for Christmas. Because your brain needs a reset, and while I should do this more often, starting somewhere is better than never starting. I'll let you know how it goes. Who else is giving presence this holiday season?

Happy holidays from me to you! Leave a comment below about what you're loving these days!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Rum Raisin Chia Pudding

 By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by the California Raisin Marketing Board and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Want a naturally sweet holiday dessert? Reach for California Raisins. These tasty little dried grapes are not sweetened, plus there's fiber and iron in them too! If you'd rather skip the dessert route, they also make an-the-go snack that will never hurt your wallet--of all the delicious dried fruit out there, raisins are consistently the cheapest.

But you should really add them to your dessert. Preferably with rum...

Confession: I've never eaten rum raisin ice cream. But I'm pretty sure this is better. Chia seeds create this fantastic tapioca-like consistency but have WAYYYYYY more nutrition than any other dessert out there. Holler at me if you love Omega-3s and fiber! Add rum-soaked raisins and this boozy dessert is a sweet ending to your night:

Rum Raisin Chia Pudding
Makes 1 serving
  • 2 oz spiced rum
  • 1/4 cup California Raisins 
  • 1 cup almond coconut milk
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  1. Soak raisins in rum. Preferably for 24-48 hours.
  2. Combine non-dairy milk, chia seeds, vanilla and maple syrup. Stir well. Set in refrigerator to set for at least 1 hour. 
  3. Top chia pudding with rum raisins. Enjoy!
How do you eat your raisins?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Healthier Salads Ahead: TofuBaked Giveaway

 Let's be serious. Unless you have a EZ Tofu Press, tofu can be tricky to get right in your kitchen. It's soggy texture turns most people off, and it takes time and practice to get it just right. And sometimes you just don't have that time. So I was pretty excited when Nasoya sent me samples of their new TofuBaked. Marinated and fully cooked, TofuBaked is ready to be added to a salad or a tasty Bahn Mi sandwich--without the draining of pressing. Plus, it's two tasty flavors (Sesame Ginger and Teriyaki) are just calling to be tossed in a stir-fry, adding 32 grams of protein to your dinner!

 Especially with holiday madness settling in, I'm all for more quick, easy and healthy meals. My go-to salad? Arugula + TofuBaked + Sauerkraut + red chili flakes + lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice + olive oil + garlic + sea salt).

I'm giving away 2 coupons for free TofuBaked to 1 lucky winner. Just comment below on what your favorite salad topping is and you're entered! 
  • Contest runs from 12/1/14 7AM MT to 12/5/14 7AM MT
  • Contest open to US Residents only
  • For an additional entry tweet: "Enter to win @ElizabethEats @Nasoya #giveaway" 
Good luck!