Pressed Salad

Pressed salad is a dish common to macrobiotics. It is cooling, gentle, and light – a nice contradiction to a diet of dried out or heavy things (bread, crackers, meat, etc.). It is a delicious all-purpose salad that I absolutely love. It’s fun to eat with chopsticks and very, very easy to make. I learned to make pressed salad at The Natural Epicurean and I think it will become a favorite of yours, too.

There are endless combinations, but I start mine with radish, carrot, and cucumber – or whatever is on hand. I use my Benriner mandoline slicer to get thin consistent cuts. For one serving you only need about two radishes, half a carrot, and part of a cucumber. You don’t need a mandoline slicer but be sure to cut the vegetables thinly – this is a soft salad and you want to draw out some of the moisture from each thin slice.

Below: Veggies ready for salad!

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Below: Nice thin cuts! Thanks Benriner!

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Next, you massage about 1/4 teaspoon of unrefined Continue reading

Iron Chef – Natural Epicurean Style

Today we got a double dose of labs – normally each day of class consists of a half-day of lecture/demonstration and a half-day of cooking lab. Wednesday we got two lab sessions – woo!

Lab 1: Tomatoes and Peppers

Tomatoes and/or peppers are elemental foods in multiple cultures: Italian, Mexican, Thai, Korean, etc. Filled with fiber, several vitamins and minerals (notably, vitamin C, vitamin A, and beta-carotene), and antioxidants, peppers and tomatoes are nutritious and delicious. Their color and heat are clues to some of their nutritive properties – antioxidants are often most prevalent in brightly colored vegetables and fruits.

Below: A wide array of shapes and colors were presented in our selection of peppers. At the bottom, habanero peppers and just to the right of that, ghost chiles – the hottest chiles I am aware of. 

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Get Yer Veg On

Week Five started with a lecture and discussion on converting traditional recipes to healthier and/or vegetarian versions. We discussed definitions of health and how food intersects with health and healing. We talked about the trends in healthier eating and then planned a week-long menu of vegetarian lunches for a hypothetical children’s camp. Making a vegetarian menu for a school would be much harder because of nutritional requirements and it would have taken all day just to do the nutritional analysis. :)  It was fun planning a menu and seeing how the other people on my team think – working in a group can definitely produce better results than working alone.

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Lab – Vegetables I

We’ve been through Grains, Beans, Stocks, and Sauces. Time to love our vegetables!

Below: My cutting board (left) has the orange zest, which I am learning to always capture in case its needed for garnish, and garlic. Chioggia beets are red and striated; you can see them on the cutting board to the right.

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Below: Grating himalayan pink sea salt into an orange ginger dressing for our chioggia beets.

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Below: A really good vegetable ceviche created by a classmate. This was another example of a dish that was created outside of our assigned recipes.

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Below: My team’s orange-ginger beet salad.

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Below: A carrot salad with parsley and mint.

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Below: A warm carrot chipotle saute with apricots and pistachios. Yum!

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Below: Braised butternut squash.

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Below: A beet salad with parsley, mint, and cilantro. I really liked this salad. Beets are really good – spread the word!

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A Bit About Beets

Beets are crazy good for you! And fresh beets cooked well taste really good. You can dress them with a sweet or herby dressing and make them even better.

Beets are loaded with fiber and vitamin C. Dr. Oz calls beets a super food because they are loaded with inflammation-stopping antioxidants, which are common in deeply-colored foods like orange potatoes and red beets. Like many root vegetables such as carrots, beets have natural sugars with are enhanced with cooking. It’s not like eating candy, but as Chef Alex told us, root vegetables are often called “dirt candy” because they do have that subtle sweet flavor, which can round out your meal. Once you get off soda, fake sweeteners, and processed sugars, you will be in a better position to enjoy their health-promoting sweetness!

Sources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2348/2

http://www.drozfans.com/dr-ozs-advice/dr-oz-beets-the-super-antioxidant-dr-ozs-beet-recipe/

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/antioxidant-youre-not-eating

Christy Morgan’s Mac and Kale

I got a terrific kale recipe from Christy Morgan’s book, Blissful Bites (buy on Amazon), that I wanted to try. Christy, also known as The Blissful Chef, is a graduate of The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts (my soon-to-be-culinary school) and I sampled this dish at the Texas Vegetarian Chili Cookoff in 2011. I bought her book at a recent open house for The Natural Epicurean, and was looking forward to trying this recipe in particular.

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Broccoli and Carrot Salad

A simpler recipe here – some lightly steamed veggies with a super simple vinaigrette (2 T olive oil + 2 T lemon juice + salt and pepper). This salad offers lots of fiber, tons of outstanding vitamins and minerals, and just enough oil to coat the beans and vegetables.

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Below: A meyer lemon from South Texas. I had to curb my instinct to grab the shinier, brighter, and yellower lemons from more distant lands (somewhere in the “USA”). It doesn’t show in the photo, but this lemon was dull looking and a bit marred with skin defects. Nevertheless, I bought “local”, and enjoyed a lovely lemon flavor. Meyer lemons are thought to be a cross between a true lemon and either an orange or a mandarin.

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Below: Two minutes of steam brighten up the veggies marvelously without diminishing their crunch. The chickpeas offer their customary firm texture and mild yet wholesome flavor, and the lemon gives just the right amount of acidity. A nice, quick, and very easy side dish.

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