26 April 2011

new job.

It's pretty fair to say that I've been a bit swamped lately. I took on a position as the chef at Modca, a new cafe in my neighborhood (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) and it's put me under a bit of a rock the past few weeks.

From creating various dishes and courses for the owners to try over the course of a week to planning and executing a 4-day tasting event open to the public to just finishing my 4th day of breakfast and lunch service, I'm trying hard everyday to keep it together.

Thankfully, on that respect, I've been working 14-17 hour days (combination of kitchen time and computer/admin time) without more than one day off since starting and so I've had lots of time to try to "keep it together." So far so good.

I'm excited for this new venture-- it's been a pretty wild ride so far, and I don't always know what I'm doing or what will happen next, but that's really so much part of the fun. Every once in awhile, I enjoy surprising myself-- so that when I wake up in the morning, hung over from lack of sleep, with fresh burns on my forearms, not being certain what day it is, and asking myself what the hell I've done-- it makes me laugh to myself and say "I have no idea."

12 April 2011

recipe: indian spiced lentils with spinach and coconut milk

Lentils! I've been rediscovering this under-appreciated nutritional powerhouse as of late. Second only to soybeans in amount of protein per serving (18g per cup of cooked lentils), they're also crazy rich in fiber, help stabilize the blood sugar, and are a great plant-based source of iron. Read more about lentils!

I whipped this up as quick weeknight meal. I love lentils because they are quick to cook from their dry state (about 20 minutes) during which time I can usually get the rest of my dinner prepped and ready-- not to mention that they do not contain sulfur like other legumes, so, as Rebecca Wood puts it in The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, "produce very little wind"-- and, that's always nice isn't it?

For this, I started with dry lentils and had them cooking in a pot while I chopped and prepped everything else. My lentils weren't completely cooked when I added them to the rest of the mix, but I just let the whole thing simmer a little longer while I washed dishes.  This is a great make-ahead dish as it tastes even better the next day or two. This also freezes well and actually tastes really good at room temperature-- so bring it for lunch!

Spinach and Lentil Curry
1 tablespoon coconut or canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrots (from about 2 medium)
1 cup cooked brown lentils (from 1/2 cup dry)
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
whisper of nutmeg
14 oz crushed or diced canned tomato
1/2 14 oz. can light coconut milk (reserve the rest in the fridge or freezer for another use)
3 to 4 cups frozen spinach
1/2 to 1 cup water (based on your consistency preference)
salt and pepper
chopped cilantro, for serving

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sweat the onions and carrot for about five minutes, turning down the heat if they are getting brown. Add in the spices and cook for another minute, then add the lentils and cook for another minute. Add in all of the remaining ingredients, except for the salt, pepper, and cilantro. Turn the heat up to high, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes until heated through, adding more water if you like Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve as a stew or over brown rice, millet, or quinoa. Top with cilantro.

11 April 2011

product placement: cayuga organics jacob's cattle beans

Full disclosure? I hadn't gotten these particular beans before, but have had a greenmarket crush on Cayuga Pure Organics since they first started appearing at the Union Square market I think early last year or later on in 2009. I have bought some black turtle beans and a few flours from them, but I've really been crushing on some of their more unique heirloom beans. So even though I've been scrimping lately, I finally splurged because my dry bean selection at home was getting low, and I found a $20 bill in my pocket on market day!

These cattle beans were hard to resist-- I mean, just look at them! Who wouldn't want to eat a bean that pretty? They almost tripled in size-- I love big beans and I cannot lie-- and had a soft and rich texture that I adore. I just cooked them with a little salt, and even though I did overcook them slightly, they didn't fall apart and held up nicely in every application I put them through during the week (salads, warm bean and veggie mixes, etc.).

Cayuga Pure Organics is based in Ithaca, NY and grows and sells farmer milled grains and flours, dry beans, and some delicious, hearty bread at greenmarkets throughout NYC and a few stores around the city in addition to growing organic feed for upstate livestock. Next CPO purchase? The beautiful orca or calypso beans, if they're still around!

Cayuga Pure Organics Website
Note: I did not receive any compensation or product from Cayuga Pure Organics for this review.

07 April 2011

bento of the day: dill-walnut-arame beet salad; millet-quinoa with cattle beans, kale, carrots, and tomato; avocado and lime

Bentos for two, made for me and my friend Mia for a workday picnic in Brooklyn on a warm spring day! She brought along some sparkling water and strawberries to round out the meal.

Beet Salad with Lemon, Dill, Arame, and Walnuts; Millet-Quinoa with Sauteed Kale, Carrots, and Cattle Beans topped with crushed fire roasted tomatoes; Sliced Avocado; Lime Wedges

05 April 2011

recipe: beet salad with lemon, dill, walnuts, and arame

This simple recipe is a great opportunity to incorporate seaweed into your diet. Arame, a milder version of hijiki, is one of the least strong of the seaweeds and very easy to use making it a great option for seaweed novices! What's so great about seaweed? It's a great source of naturally occurring iron, calcium, iodine, and trace minerals and micro-nutrients and arame is also sometimes used to help combat high blood pressure.

Beet Salad with Lemon, Dill, Walnuts, and Arame
Serves 2-4

2 cups roasted beets, cut into small cubes (about 1/2")
1/2 lemon zested
juice of 1/2 lemon (1-2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (walnut oil would be lovely here as well)
2 tablespoons rehydrated arame*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (parsley or cilantro would be nice substitutes)
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

Mix it all together, season with salt and pepper to taste. Delicious.

*Rehydrating arame: Take one big pinch of dried arame, soaked in small amount of cold water for 10 minutes. Drain and squeeze excess moisture from arame, and it's now ready to use.

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