Whole30 Week 3: Vegan and Not-So Vegan

Asparagus & Fennel Soup by Amy Roth Photo

This week’s post is dedicated to Kenji Lopez-Alt, that test kitchen god (and managing culinary director at Serious Eats) whose recipes formed the backbone of the best meals I made this week. Only minor tweaks were necessary to make them Whole30-compliant; though I’m really starting to hate the word compliant, the adjustments seem to be coming to me naturally now. I’m still constantly hungry despite eating all the time and adding even more fat to my diet, but the cheese cravings aren’t constant, so I’m headed in the right direction. No tiger blood, either, but I always thought that was a long shot, anyway.

Lunch today was a fan-freaking-tastic soup of asparagus and fennel, found on Lopez-Alt’s Instagram feed. I took the basics and tweaked them a bit with what I had in the house and fell head over heels. I sautéed 1/2 large chopped onion with a small thinly sliced bulb of fennel and a finely chopped stalk of celery in olive oil until they were soft, then added one bunch of chopped asparagus (minus the tips, which I steamed) and half of a sliced russet potato and cooked them together for a few minutes. One quart of chicken stock, salt to taste and some simmering later, I blitzed the soup in my Vitamix and lunch was served. I love simple, seasonal recipes, don’t you? I may try to accentuate the fennel flavor next time with a splash of Herbsaint, but honestly found the soup to be perfectly balanced this way. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Cast Iron Steak & Vegan Creamed Spinach by Amy Roth Photo

A more substantial meal came in the form of a stovetop-cooked ribeye and vegan creamed spinach, which may sound like an odd combination, but hear me out. When you’re eating so much meat in one sitting (though not that much — Gil and I split the steak), there’s no need to go overboard with real creamed spinach. It’s just too much. And honestly, I found the flavors of this vegan dish much more pleasing and less muted than I do with the standard recipe. Blended cauliflower and almond milk form the base of the “cream” and are just brilliant at that job. I did add a little nutritional yeast for a cheesy tang, but otherwise cooked it according to the recipe.

The steak followed the Serious Eats recipe I use exclusively during winter, when the thought of standing at my grill would be enough to keep me from eating steak at all if not for this method of indoor cooking. I did use ghee instead of butter and could definitely taste a difference, but the steak was excellent anyway, so no complaints there.

I did have a couple of small cheats this week. When I couldn’t stand the thought of preparing one more meal, Gil whisked me away to a BBQ joint where I had smoked beef with a side of mashed potatoes that might have (probably) had milk and/or butter in them. I felt fine after, so no worries for me! Then, at a meeting I attended Tuesday, I had one Terra Chip which was The Best Thing I’ve Ever Tasted In My Life. I can’t even lie. Fried potatoes (though this was taro, I believe) are absolutely my trigger food and that chip was like a drug that left me wanting more. I don’t know where I got this self-control, but am very happy for it, because otherwise I’d be sitting on my living room floor covered in grease and crumbs.

Then again, Benny would probably take care of the crumbs situation. I haven’t really shared about it here, but we lost both Ru and Otis over the last two years, which was just heartbreaking. Ru left us only in December of last year, so we waited as long as we could, but finally adopted another greyhound just three weeks ago! He’s the sweetest little guy with a funny bark and a much bigger brain than Ru and Otis put together — it’s a little scary to watch him figuring things out. He’s still a little camera-shy, so no decent photos yet, but if you’d like to follow him on Instagram, he’s precocious and has his own account. And while you’re there, follow me, too! I try to post everyday, so there’s always something delicious to see.

I’m planning to end Whole30 a few days early next Thursday, when I’m going out to lunch with friends. We’re planning for dim sum and I don’t want to miss out on everything but steamed vegetables. But I’ll behave. Mostly. See you next week!

Asparagus and Fresh Garlic — It MUST be Spring

Gluten-Free Spring Dining

UPDATE: Congratulations to Sarah Cordes, winner of the cookbook Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan! 

It feels like an eternity since I’ve had fresh, local asparagus, so I didn’t waste much time this morning getting it from the refrigerator to my belly. Heaven to me is asparagus with a sunny-side up egg, so I riffed on that to come up with a breakfast I’ll enjoy until the season marches on.

Duck Egg Yolk with Buttered Miso Asparagus | Amy Roth Photo

This took me about 10 minutes to get on the table, including prep time, so you might want to give it a try on a busy weeknight when you’re tired but just can’t face ordering in again. The asparagus would make a nice side dish on its own, but as we all know, nearly everything tastes better with an egg on top. And if you have access to duck eggs (like I do, from Edgwick Farm), DEFINITELY sub that for the standard chicken egg. The rich, sunny yolk does beautiful things to the garlicky miso coating the asparagus. I’m so sad I didn’t pick up two bunches of asparagus last Saturday; now I’ll have to wait another week before making this again.

If you’ve been here before, you may notice that I’m trying a new recipe feature from GetMeCooking. Starting with this post, recipes will be printable and uniformly formatted with information about ingredients that may trigger common food-related allergies. Someday, I’ll have the entire site updated and indexed all the way back to 2006, but I think this is a good start. Any thoughts or suggestions for making it even more user-friendly?

Also, just a reminder that I’m giving away a copy of Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table, an essential cookbook filled with stellar recipes written in her easygoing, encouraging voice. You have until this Friday at 11:59pm ET to register using the entry form at the end of this post. Good luck to you!

And happy asparagus season, if it’s springtime in your neck of the woods!

Buttered Asparagus with Miso and Fried Egg

Serves 1
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Total time 10 minutes
Allergy Egg, Milk
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Enjoy Spring's first and finest (IMO) dish — buttered miso asparagus with a fried duck egg.

Ingredients

Asparagus

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons yellow miso
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (chopped)
  • 1 bunch asparagus (woody ends snapped off)

Sunny-Side Up Egg

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg (duck, if you have it)

Note

This recipe works with fat, woody asparagus. I haven't tried it yet with delicate, slim stalks, but when I do, I probably won't cover the pan because they won't have to cook for quite as long. 

Directions

FOR THE ASPARAGUS
In a pan large enough to hold the asparagus in one layer, combine water, butter, miso and garlic. Stir over high heat until miso and butter have melted into the water.
Add asparagus, bring to a boil, and cover. Lower heat to medium and steam for two minutes, then remove lid and cook until liquid has evaporated. Keep an eye on the asparagus at this point, because miso will burn if you're not careful. Asparagus is ready when it's crisp-tender; test it by inserting the tip of a knife into the fattest part of the stalk. It should slide in easily, but the asparagus should still be firm. Serve immediately with fried egg.
FOR THE SUNNY-SIDE UP EGG
Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small nonstick pan over medium heat. When butter stops bubbling, crack the egg into the pan. Add 1 tablespoon water and cover. Cook until whites are set, but yolk is still runny. Serve over buttered miso asparagus.

From the Market: Memorial Day Edition

Gluten-free recipe from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges
Asparagus from Orchards of Concklin

Well, hello! It’s good to be back from my extended self-imposed exile. It’s a long, tedious story that involves dealing with a vexatious situation for the past two months with no end in sight. Also? Mid-life crisis and the eternal question of what do I really want to do with the rest of my life all tied up in a nice, black bow. My heart’s telling me food photography is the way to go: I love it and already have made some money at it without self-promoting too crazily, but is it something I can really do as my almost-sole source of income? Maybe it’s time for a leap of faith.

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Last weekend marked the start of our weekly farmers’ market in Ringwood, which also means the start of my 2012 Farmers’ Market Feast series. Above, you see my first local (delicious, amazing, worth-waiting-all-winter-for) asparagus of the season treated very simply using an idea from Home Cooking with Jean-Georges, one of my new favorite cookbooks: toss blanched asparagus with a tiny bit of butter instead of olive oil and sprinkle liberally with parmesan shavings and lemon zest. I added a little truffle salt and turned it into breakfast with the addition of a sunny side-up egg, and it really lightened my mood.

gluten-free
Spinach & radishes from Bialas Farms, strawberries from Orchards of Concklin, salad greens from Nina’s Red Barn Farm

Then I got a little creative for lunch Sunday afternoon. I was far too sweatystanky to bother cooking with any form of heat because our air conditioner is not only merely dead, it’s really most sincerely dead. The panting and lethargy going on in our house was ridiculous, and it wasn’t just the dogs this time. So I made a fresh version of a summer salad roll with spinach & salad greens, fresh mint, peppery radishes, green onions, and the sweetest strawberries you can imagine rolled up in a softened rice paper wrapper. I went with a spicy fish sauce-based dipping sauce that provided a perfect salty accent to the rolls. Sure it would’ve been a lot easier just to have a salad, but where’s the fun in that? This could be a nice treat to serve at the start of a dinner party or to bring to a cookout, provided you keep the rolls covered with a damp paper towel.

This probably doesn’t seem like much cooking for three days, but I’m doing another cookbook shoot on weekends. It’s a lot of work, but a good time doing what I love — cooking and taking pictures. I’m not sure of the release date yet, but I’ll certainly keep you posted.

And on the cookbook front, I can’t let the unofficial start of summer go by without telling you about Grilling Vegan Style by John Schlimm. I spent a bit of last summer shooting it and just got to see the fruits of my labors a few weeks ago, just in time for grilling season. So exciting. If you’ve spent any time here at all, you know I’m pretty far from vegan, but these recipes were delightful. It’s a lot of fun to be able to eat your work at the end of a long day.


Grilled Corn on the Cob with Piquant Sauce (left) and Shiny Happy Poppers (right)

A great thing about John’s recipes is that little twist he adds that elevates them beyond normal everyday fare.


Two-Faced Avocado Sandwiches (left) and Mojito Mojo (right)

I also love the creative names and funny introductions he gives to each recipe.


Romaine Holiday (left) and Tattooed Watermelon Salad (right)

I’d never HEARD of grilled watermelon till I shot this book. Now it’s all I want to eat, and I never really liked watermelon at all.


Presto Pesto Lasagna

No need to turn on the oven and heat up the house when you’re making a vegan lasagna. It’s the perfect summer recipe!


S’More is Always Better!

How is it possible that I never had s’mores until I shot this book?! They might just be the perfect dessert and there really isn’t a meal that isn’t made better by a s’more finish. I speak from experience. (Vegan marshmallows and graham crackers can be a little tough to find, but many Whole Foods carry the Sweet & Sara brand, which are virtually indistinguishable from the animal-based thing. In fact, I might give the nod to the vegan grahams, so you definitely should give this a try.)

From the Market — The Kickoff

Grilled potatoes, radish green pesto, shaved asparagus

We went straight from winter to summer around here, and not a moment too soon. I’m stuck in an office today instead of out enjoying perfect grilling/hanging out/whatever weather, but at least it gives me time to reflect on last weekend’s fixin’s.

We’re going to have some green on this blog and lots of it now that our local farmers’ market is back for the season! It was a bittersweet opening, as some of you know — our market is now dog-free. Poor Gil looked like a lost soul just wandering around without the boys, while I did what I always do and loaded up on good stuff to carry home. We’ll probably venture out to other markets that are dog-friendly in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned for a full report.

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

I felt like an appetizer to get the ball rolling, and ended up with one that would be just as good for barbecues as for a light dinner during grilling season — grilled potato rounds with radish-green pesto and shaved asparagus. It’s vegetarian, nutrient-dense and good hot or cold (though I give the nod to hot-off-the-grill because crispy grilled potatoes just can’t be beat).

grilled potatoes, radish-green pesto, shaved asparagus

It’s easily adapted to use what you have in the house. The radish-green pesto came about because I hate throwing anything away, and a pesto is just about the easiest way to use extra greens. If you don’t have radish greens or just don’t like them, use any kind of pesto you prefer. I had some garlic confit in the fridge, so I tossed the asparagus with garlic oil and lemon juice, but go ahead and use olive oil if that’s what you have.

Springtime pie

For lunch, I rejiggered my triple-garlic pizza, adding quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions and shaved asparagus and radish-green pesto leftovers. Really good stuff.

These quick-pickled wild garlic & spring onions were inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s pickled onions.

after baking

A thin layer of mozzarella and grated parmesan and garlic confit (natch) tied the whole pizza together. We made short work of it, I’m afraid, but I still have the makings for one more pie, which should be just the thing to kick off this next weekend.

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market — The Kickoff”

From the Market: Week 5

gluten-free

Right off the bat, I’ll admit that yes, I cheated a little here. Asparagus hasn’t been seen at the Ringwood Farmers’ Market for the past two weeks, but 1) I had a craving and 2) didn’t it make for a pretty — if slightly pornographic — shot?

Because I operate under the assumption that pretty much everything is better when topped with a fried or poached egg (especially the super-fresh ones we get from Nina), I went with a variation on a shaved asparagus salad from the pages of Food & Wine for Sunday’s lunch:

The ricotta salata I substituted for the Parmesan was creamy and subtle, but I think I’ll try the recipe as written next time for even more of a punch.

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Because I eat yogurt with fruit every weekday for breakfast, I like to change things up a little on weekends, so we had gluten-free pancakes before hitting the market Saturday morning. I’m still playing around with flour combinations for breads and pie crust, but this pancake recipe was perfect as written. (By the way, I have no plans to turn this into a blog about dietary restrictions, but if you’re looking into a gluten-free diet, I highly recommend the Gluten-Free Girl blog. It’s an amazing resource.)

But back to the pancakes. I cooked them in only about 1/2 teaspoon of butter each, but they were so rich-tasting and slightly sweet on their own that they only needed a dollop of the raspberry jam I picked up recently from B&B Jams to put them over the top.

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I didn’t really load up on fresh vegetables this weekend because I went overboard last week and still had quite a bit hanging around in my vegetable drawers. I’ve been on a leftover kick all week long, but only yesterday did I finally get around to using up the last bit of the smoked beef tongue (courtesy of Snoep Winkel Farm) I made last weekend. Of course, on that first day, we had it in tacos as we always do, but during the week it made appearances sliced on crackers with Dijon mustard or just nibbled out of hand straight from the cutting board.

But my plan for Saturday’s lunch included my latest favorite way to use leftover bits of meat and vegetables: Vietnamese bun, a refreshing salad served with cold rice noodles, and the perfect thing on a hot summer day.

This was made entirely with odds and ends from the refrigerator: Tatsoi, cabbage, carrots, red bell peppers, radishes, green onions, basil and cilantro, all tossed with a sweet-sour-salty-spicy dressing, funky with fish sauce and garlic. And hit with a lot of Sriracha, naturally. I’ve found that if you get the sauce right (I used the one from this Vietnamese Chicken Salad), the rest of the salad just falls into place.

It’s been a migraine-y day for me, so I have nothing more to offer at the moment, but I’m hoping to get around to an apricot & goat’s milk frozen yogurt sometime this week. Hope you have a great one!

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “From the Market: Week 5”

From the Market: Week 1

Kofta with Spinach & Arugula Salad

The Ringwood Farmers’ Market opened this weekend, and not one minute too soon! I’ve been craving their fresh produce since the weekly market closed last November; winter market (new this year) only took place once a month, and the pickings were slim. It was winter, after all.

But now we’re back to greens, berries, honey and meats from small local farms, so let’s dive in.

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What I missed most about the early markets was the amazing spinach and arugula from Bialas Farms, not to mention the rest of the veggies and fresh herbs that always make up the bulk of my shopping experience on weekends. Because I was impatient to try the first haul, I made brunch as soon as we got home — a quick pesto with the spinach and arugula, some walnuts and grated locatelli, all smoothed out with a Ligurian olive oil. The pasta was a gluten-free selection from Fontanarosa’s, which I only visited for the first time this weekend. I now plan to shop there all summer long.

[About the gluten-free thing: I cut out the major sources of gluten about a month ago after reading The GenoType Diet. I’m highly suspicious of any diet at all (and definitely didn’t try this to lose weight — so don’t worry, those of you who know me), but thought I’d give this one a try since a lot of what the author said about my type rang true, given my experience. Anyway, I can honestly say that the mild-to-moderate joint pain I’ve had for the past few years has completely disappeared since I cut the out the gluten. (Other things I won’t go into here have cleared up as well.) Maybe it’s all unrelated, and I hope it is, but we’ll see how I feel when I re-introduce regular pastas and whole-grain bread into my meals.]

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Even though we were invited to a BBQ Sunday afternoon, I had to get in a little grilling of my own this weekend, so I threw together a quick-ish lunch. The appetizers were inspired by this post at Smitten Kitchen and I was thrilled with the way they turned out:

That’s a lot of good stuff packed into a couple of bites, and it came together with almost no effort on my part. I just grilled 1/2-inch-thick slices of homemade bread till they were toasted, smeared them with loads of truffle butter, some room-temperature robiola (one of my favorites, but you could try whatever you like here), and topped them off with ribbons of asparagus, crunchy fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper.

To make the ribbons, just grasp the tip of the spear and use a vegetable peeler to shave down the length of the asparagus.

Our main course was a kofta salad. The spinach and arugula made another appearance here, tossed with tzaziki sauce for the salad base. I had a few extra asparagus ribbons from the appetizers, so I threw them on as a garnish. But the real draw was the kofta made with ground lamb from Snoep Winkel Farm. I used the recipe that’s become my standard, substituting walnuts for pistachios since those were, um, about 18 months out of date. Oops.

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And then we went to a BBQ where I consumed lots of steak and delicious veggie skewers, so I was pretty meated- and veggied-out by Sunday morning and took it easy with a little goat’s milk yogurt with fresh strawberries, blueberries and honey. (Sadly, the blueberries were store-bought since they aren’t quite in season here, but the The Orchards of Concklin‘s strawberries are as perfect as ever, and their peonies aren’t half-bad either. I’ll bring my camera next time we go so I can show you just how popular Rufus and Otis are with the proprietor. The honey is local, too — from Nina’s Red Barn Farm, where we buy our fresh eggs and where I’m evidently known as Rufus’s mom.)

gluten-free

Hope everyone had a safe and relaxing Memorial Day Weekend.

This & that, on my first snow day

The day started with this:

Which was followed by this:


Mushroom ragu with no-stir polenta.

While all around, this was happening:

All of that, combined with Monday’s personal day makes this the best work week ever.

Grilled salmon with blueberry salsa

“Your eyes are bigger than your stomach” was one of my dad’s favorite sayings — which never got old, by the way — when I was a kid. Of course, by the time I hit my teen years, that saying was defunct, as I became an eating machine and the “hollow leg” jokes started (which also never got old).

I still have issues with my eyes being too big, mostly when I visit the Ringwood Farmers’ Market on weekends. I know I won’t be cooking much during the week, but I just can’t help myself with all of that gorgeous summer produce on display. Surely I’ll find a way to use blueberries and cilantro and beets and tuscan kale (and about 10 other things) before next weekend, right?

Well, not always, or even usually. But last night I was determined to at least make a dent in last weekend’s haul, so I started researching recipes for salmon and blueberries and kept coming upon one that sounded promising and had the benefit of only requiring a quick stop at Garden of Eden for a jalapeno pepper and a grapefruit (both easily toted on the bus).

I gotta say, this salsa rawked! Assuming frozen blueberries were recommended for a reason, I used about 1/2 cup of frozen and supplemented with about a cup of fresh, but otherwise stuck to the recipe. I’d like to replace the grapefruit with pineapple next time to sweeten it up a bit more, but this version was so good Gil and I dug into the leftovers with a spoon.

I grilled the salmon (and the asparagus, now that I think about it) with nothing more than a slick of olive oil to keep them from sticking to the grate, but the blueberry salsa and a sprinkling of fleur de sel knocked ’em out of the park.

I’ll keep the fruit salsa solution in mind for this weekend. Pork loin with peach and basil salsa doesn’t sound half bad, and I think they’re still pretty good after only a week in the fridge…

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Grilled salmon with blueberry salsa”

Peas

This weekend, Gil and I made a quick and early excursion to the farmers’ market (Rufus overheats easily), but still managed to return home with bags bursting from the beautiful fruits and vegetables and pickles and pies and herbs on display. I was unable to resist much, so I’ll be doing a lot of cooking (for one) this week before the greens wilt and strawberries turn to mush.

The very first things I put to use from our haul were sugar snap peas and asparagus. I sautéed them lightly in butter and olive oil with garlic and reconstituted morels, then steamed them till tender with a little of the morel liquid. I topped the vegetables with chives and thyme from my herb garden and was very happy, indeed, until I had the bright idea to serve it with red snapper fresh from the freezer. And quelle surprise! the fish wasn’t so great, but it’s finally convinced me of the need to find a good fish market in the area. If anyone out there knows of a good one in Passaic or Bergen county, let me know.

Because I have real trouble letting anything go to waste, it was a happy day when I saw a recipe for chilled pea pod soup at Chocolate & Zucchini. I plan to make this until the market runs out of snap peas; it was light, delicious, and refreshing, especially topped with a spoonful of crème fraiche and more chives from my herb garden. Yum.

Penance

But it isn’t really penance if you enjoy it, right?

The simplest of dinners was in order after the weekend’s feast: Steamed asparagus with browned butter-spring garlic-lemon sauce, one egg over easy, and a sprinkling of sea salt, parm/reg and black pepper.