Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quick Pickled Radishes

always dance with the one that brung ya.
Quick Asian-Style Pickled Radishes 
and Sweet Onions

Layered sliced radishes and sweet onions, soon to be pickles.

It always comes back around to the pickle. If you're a regular reader you know all too well that I've been on a radish tear of late. With the exception of dessert, they've made an appearance in nearly every dish coming out of my kitchen this summer. Yes, even breakfast; salted radishes on toast, anyone? But I always return to my first love, the one that brought me to the radish party in the first place, the pickle. More specifically, the quick pickle- a ridiculously simple (and tasty) way to preserve these beautiful little roots . This is a slight modification of my earlier recipe for pickled watermelon radishes, using instead spring/summer radishes (such as champion or french breakfast) and sweet onions. Leaving the radishes unpeeled will give the finished pickles a gorgeous pinkish hue, the perfect pop
of color for summer salads and slaws.
Now you go and try this recipe while I get to
work on this whole radish dessert thing...

Fresh coriander in the mortar and pestle.

Quick Pickled Radishes and Sweet Onions
(will fill one 8oz jar)

You will need a clean glass jar
with a tight fitting lid

1 small bunch of radishes, scrubbed and sliced into thin discs
1/2 sweet onion,
cut into 1/8" slices
1/4c unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2tsp sea salt
1/4tsp ground pepper
1tsp organic sugar
1 1/2tsp freshly ground coriander seeds
2tsp extra virgin olive oil

Layer sliced onions and radishes in a clean glass jar.
Sprinkle ground coriander seeds over top of layered vegetables.
In a separate bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, salt, pepper, sugar and olive oil.

Pour vinegar mixture over radishes and onions.
Seal jar tightly and give it a good shake.
Refrigerate overnight, allowing flavors to develop.
Will keep in the fridge for up to a month.

The gorgeously pink finished pickles.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Raw Kale Pesto

more ways to eat kale.
Raw Kale Pesto
Bright, raw, perfect.

We're all obsessed with kale these days. Kale salads, kale pizzas, kale chips, kale EVERYTHING. I've been around the kale-paved block and then some. I've eaten it raw, cooked, baked and chip-ed, but now it's time for something new. Having not yet figured out a good way to pickle it (VERY open to suggestions, though) I'm turning to pesto, a go-to for preserving greens around here. Many recipes call for briefly blanching the leaves beforehand, but it's completely unnecessary. Simply remove the tough stems and process it uncooked. Raw kale makes a bright and simple pesto that is great with everything from raw chopped salad to a traditional pasta dish 
to eating it straight out of the jar with a spoon.
Not that I've ever indulged in such nonsense...

Gorgeous local kale, soon to be pesto-ed.
Can that be a verb now?

Raw Kale Pesto
(makes about 4oz)

1 bunch of kale, about 6-8 leaves, washed and center stems removed
1/4c raw pine nuts or walnuts
1 clove garlic
2Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tsp sea salt
1tsp lemon juice
1/4c nutritional yeast
pinch of black pepper
extra olive oil as needed

Coarsely chop kale and garlic clove and place into food processor or blender.
Add pine nuts or walnuts, sea salt, lemon juice, nutritional yeast and peppper.
Process until greens break down, about one minute. 
Drizzle in olive oil and blend until mix is well incorporated. 

For a thinner pesto, add more olive oil 1tsp at a time. 
Store in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Will keep refrigerated for a week or two and freezes spectacularly well.
Cover pesto with a thin layer of olive oil to extend shelf life.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Raw Chard Chips

kale schmale... this is where it's at
Raw Chard Chips.
Kale chips aint' got nothin' on these.

As mentioned in my last post, we're smack dab in the middle of chard week here at the slow club kitchen. Seemingly endless rain and relatively cool early summer temperatures here in the northeast have done wonders for my container-grown plants. As a result I've gone a little mad-scientist over here, experimenting with ways to preserve some of this beautiful bounty. The freezing route has been tested with mediocre results. The pickling route has been tested with OUTSTANDING results (recipe here), so what to try next??
If kale can chip-ifyed, why not chard? 

It can be done! And the results are not only incredibly tasty, but gorgeous. Chard leaves are slightly less hearty than kale, making for a more delicate and entirely different raw chip experience. When readying the leaves, trim away the larger pieces of stem (and save them for these pickled chard stems), but keep the center veins of the leaves intact. This will make the finished chips a bit sturdier. One incredibly helpful tip I can offer- save those little desiccant packets you find in store bought foods like seaweed chips; I hoard them like nobody's business. Toss one into the container with your finished dehydrated chips; it'll do wonders keeping them 
crisp and fresh. 

Paprika-Lime Chard Chips

1 bunch of chard, stems removed and leaves quartered
1.5Tbsp olive oil
1/2tsp sea salt
1.5Tbsp fresh lime juice
1Tbsp paprika
2Tbsp nutritional yeast

Wash and dry chard.
Cut away stems up to the base of leaves and set aside.
Slice each chard leaf top to bottom through center vein, then halve each piece.
Put cut chard into a medium sized mixing bowl.
Add olive oil, salt, lime juice, paprika and nutritional yeast. 
Toss to combine, then use your hands (this will be a little bit messy) to lightly massage mixture into the leaves. 
Spread seasoned leaves in a single layer onto dehydrator sheets.
Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 8-12 hours.

Alternately, the chips can be oven baked at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes,
just keep a close eye on them as they can easily burn. 

Store in an airtight container (if baking, allow to cool completely first)
for up to a week. 

Pretty food just tastes better, right?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pickled Chard Stems

hell yes, we can pickle that.
Quick Pickled Chard Stems.
Chard stems: scrubbed, sliced and ready for pickling.

Get ready dear readers, it's chard week here in the slow club kitchen. Despite the best destructive efforts of the local slug population (slimy little fuckers), I've got a bumper crop this season. This is not a bad position to be in, but it does force a little on-your-feet thinking to avoid drowning in brightly colored leaves or becoming excruciatingly bored eating the same dish night after night. How to preserve this gorgeous bounty??  A stumbled-upon image of sriracha pickled chard stems on the Bon Appetit website was a miraculous revelation.
Of course, pickling is the answer!

I've hybridized a couple of recipes, this one from the New York Times, and the aforementioned sriracha pickled chard stems. The result is sweet, briny and spicy; enjoy them on their own, add the pickles to a summer noodle or salad dish or, if you're feeling a little on the ambitious side, pair with this raw pine nut goat cheese

So lets crank up some punk (the So So Glos' new album"Blowout" is my summer pickling soundtrack) and get down to brining.

Chard stems packed and ready for pickling brine.

Quick Pickled Chard Stems
(fills one 8oz canning jar)

1 cup of chard stems,
leaves removed
3/4c unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4c water
2Tbsp sugar
1Tbsp kosher salt
1/8tsp coriander seeds
1/8tsp black or pink peppercorns
1tsp sriracha

Wash and scrub chard stems and trim off any remaining bits of leaves. 
Slice stems into batons roughly the height of your canning jar, minus 1/4" for headspace. 
Pack stems into canning jar.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, spices and sriracha in a small sauce pan
and bring to a light boil.
Stir until sugar and salt has dissolved.
Pour hot brine over stems, cover and refrigerate.
Leave for at least 2 days and up to 2 weeks for flavors to develop before eating. 
Will keep for up to 1 month in the fridge.

The finished product.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Raw Vegan Goat Cheese

...and the final piece of the puzzle falls into place.
Raw Pine Nut "Goat Cheese"
Raw pine nut goat cheese spread, served with whole grain crackers.

Not to be too much of a curmudgeon, but I'm not generally too big on faux meat and dairy products. Don't get me wrong, they're great transitional foods for those easing slowly into a more vegetarian/vegan diet, and I certainly won't deny scarfing them down from time to time. Tofu dogs on the grill in the summer, vegan cheese on a pizza, and of course the occasional vegan grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese (thank you Daiya), but these things are more of a novelty than everyday food.
Nut-based cheeses are a whole different story.
Healthy, plant-based whole ingredients combine to create a final product with the
creaminess and texture you'd expect from a dairy-based cheese.

This is the great uncharted west of the homemade vegan world, people.
An entirely new frontier just waiting to be further explored.
There are a handful of nut-based cheeses on the retail market, but they are hard to come by (or way too expensive) for the majority of us.
As has been stated on this blog before, I am a cheapskate (the alternate working title for this blog was Cheap-Ass Vegan...) and an obsessive DIY-er.
So, not surprisingly, I've been experimenting with some recipes.
I've got a pretty good recipe for raw cashew ricotta under my belt
and now, after a little experimenting, a raw pine nut goat cheese recipe
to share with you, dear readers.

Raw pine nuts, post soaking and roughly doubled in volume.

Raw Vegan Pine Nut 
"Goat Cheese"
(makes about 4oz)

1/2c raw pine nuts
1tsp extra virgin olive oil
1tsp lemon juice
1/8tsp lemon zest
1/2 clove of garlic, finely minced
2tsp nutritional yeast
1/4tsp ground black pepper
1/4tsp salt
plus extra for topping

Place pine nuts in a glass jar or bowl and cover with an inch or two of cold, filtered water.
Soak overnight.

Drain pine nuts and toss into a blender or food processor with all other ingredients.
Blend for 3-5 minutes until completely smooth.

Scrape the blended cheese into a small glass jar,
a 4oz mason canning jar works perfectly.
Tap the jar on the counter a couple of times to get out any air bubbles,
then use a spatula to smooth the surface.

Blended and peppered cheese, about to go into the dehydrator.

Sprinkle a little additional pepper on the surface and pop the jar into your dehydrator*.

Dehydrate at 115 degrees
for 6-8 hours.
The cheese will form a rind on top and firm to the texture of spreadable goat cheese.
Serve the cheese directly out of the jar, as a spread.
Alternately, you can spoon the blended cheese into a rectangle of cheese cloth, roll it into a log,
twist the ends and place it in the dehydrator for the
same amount of time.
This will give you a small log of cheese, which can then be served as is or
rolled in fresh herbs.

*If you are dehydrator-less, do not fear!
The cheese can be "dehydrated" in the oven, set to 170 degrees, for 3-4 hours.

The finished product.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Vegan Fresh Summer Rolls

cooking without heat?
yes please.
Vegan Fresh Summer Rolls 
Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce
Vegan fresh rolls and peanut dipping sauce. Summer perfection.

Fresh summer rolls and peanut dipping sauce: quite possibly the most perfect warm weather food in existence. Delicately elegant, sure to impress, yet light on the labor and absolutely no cooking required. What's not to love?  They look a wee bit difficult, but throwing these together is a snap once you surrender to the rhythm of it. The rice paper may seem intimidating at first, but you will quickly learn by feel when they are soft enough to be filled. There's a bit of a learning curve for forming the rolls, so don't get discouraged if you make a few that are less-than-perfect at the start. When shopping for wrappers, be sure to check ingredients, as many can contain a disturbing amount of sodium per serving. I use wrappers that are a blend of tapioca and rice starch with no added salt. You can use any type of lettuce (romaine for a crispier texture, mustard greens for a little spice, butter lettuce for a more delicate texture) so be adventurous! The peanut sauce can be whipped up quickly on the day-of but also keeps quite well in the fridge, if you're the planning ahead type. 

Rice paper fresh roll stuffed with greens, jicama, carrots,
mango, thai basil and mint.

Rice paper wrappers, pre-soaking.

Fresh Summer Rolls
(makes 10 rolls)

10 sheets of rice paper wrappers
1 small jicama (about 1lb), peeled and cut into matchsticks
3 medium carrots, shredded or matchstickecd
1 large mango, peeled and cut into 1/4" strips
1 bunch of lettuce or mixed greens (about 4 cups)
torn or shredded
1/2c of Thai Basil, shredded 
2-3 fresh mint leaves, shredded (optional)

Rice paper wrapper filled and ready for rolling.

Vegan Peanut Dipping Sauce

1/2c creamy peanut butter
1/4c light coconut milk
1/4c water
1/2 lime, juiced
2Tbsp tamari (GF) or soy sauce
1Tbsp brown sugar
2tsp chili sauce

For the peanut sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and whisk until well combined.
Can be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in the fridge until needed. 

For the spring rolls:
Prepare a work surface that is large enough to accommodate a rice paper wrapper, a cutting board works nicely.
Lay out fillings on a large plate next to your work area.
Fill a pie plate or baking pan with warm water. 
Dip a rice paper wrapper into the water and soak until pliable, about 20 seconds.
Remove from the water and spread onto work surface.
Try to smooth the wrapper out as much as possible, a few wrinkles are ok. 
Place a small handful of shredded greens in a lengthwise in the center of the wrapper (see above photo).
Top greens with a few pieces of jicama, a few carrot shreds, some mango slices
and a sprinkling of basil and mint. 
Fold the top of the wrapper down over the filling,
fold the bottom of the wrapper up in the same way. 
Grab the excess wrapper on one side and roll it towards the center, like a burrito. 
Repeat with remainder of the rice paper wrappers.
Serve with peanut dipping sauce on the side. 
To store spring rolls, wrap individually in parchment paper or plastic wrap
and store in a ziplock.
Will keep for 1-2 days in the fridge but are best enjoyed IMMEDIATELY!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Homemade Vegan Fudgesicles

easy as pie, so to speak.
Non-Dairy Coconut Milk Fudgesicles 
Take that, summer.
This recipe was born out of necessity. It was hot outside, damn hot, and the cupboards were bare. All I had on hand was a handful of baking ingredients and a can of coconut milk. A few ingredients were thrown together, popsicle molds were filled and fingers were crossed. What popped out of those molds was good enough to immediately make it into heavy summer rotation. Perfectly creamy, fudge-y non-dairy frozen treats at a mere fraction of the cost of store bought.
Plus they're so damn easy to make!
No fancy ingredients, no special equipment needed, just popsicle molds and a whisk.
There you have it,  easy as pie.
Or fudge pops, as it were.

Non-Dairy Coconut Milk Fudgesicles
(makes 8-10 pops)

1 14oz can (about 2 cups) light coconut milk
1/4c unsweetened cocoa powder*
1-2Tbsp organic sugar (adjust to taste)
2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
*sweetened cocoa powder can be used in place of unsweetened, just sub out the sugar.

Whisk all ingredients together, pour into popsicle molds and freeze.