Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fresh Summer Vegetable Marinara Sauce

Talk about a fresh dish for a warm summer evening.   You will feel healthy after eating this sauce - trust me.  All of the ingredients for this sauce came straight from the farmer's market and their colors - and flavors - burst out of the sauce.  I recently discovered my food processor buried in the basement, kept in storage during my year away in Swaziland, and - feeling inspired - I used it to grate all of the vegetables that went into this sauce, making it more uniformly delicious with every bite.  I also used only minimal spices so as not to overwhelm the natural freshness and flavors of the veggies.  This became a rather dry sauce, as I let most of the liquid boil off of it, and it ended up with the consistency of a very thick pesto more than anything else (which I enjoyed).  Keep it covered if you want it to be soupier.  But have faith.  Let it do its thing.   Let it simmer away and voila - a beautiful sauce will emerge, one that is slightly sweet from the carrots, a bit tart from the tomatoes, and all around delicious.  

Fresh Summer Vegetable Marinara Sauce

1/2 white onion
1 large carrot
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 juicy and ripe tomatoes
4 stalks bitter greens (kale, turnip greens, spinach, etc.)
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil (or less if you can get away with it)
Handful of fresh basil, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1 - 2 splashes of gluten-free balsamic vinegar to taste (I used Trader Joe's brand)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Prepare your favorite pasta as directed (I used Tinkyada Whole Grain Spaghetti Noodles).

Cut the carrots and onion into large chunks and feed into the food processor to grate (or, if you don't have one, grate them by hand).  Grate the bell pepper and set aside.  Heat the olive oil in your pan and add the carrots and onion; stir to coat well.  Cook over medium heat for about 5 - 7 minutes.  After about 2 minutes, add the minced garlic and stir.

Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into large chunks and place directly into the food processor.  Blitz them a few times until you have a chunky sauce, and add this to the carrot and onion mixture.  Rinsing out your food processor between batches, chop the bitter greens the same way. 

If you are using fresh basil, chop it into rough pieces and add them to the pot, along with the oregano, salt, and pepper.  Add one splash of balsamic vinegar to taste, and taste it again after about 2 minutes.  Add some more if you feel it needs it. 

Continue to cook over medium-low heat, uncovered, for about 5 - 7 more minutes, or until you are happy with the taste and/or your pasta is done.  

Serve over your favorite pasta and top with Vegan Parmesan Cheese or Daiya Vegan Cheese, if desired.  

Suggestions for using leftovers:   
-Place a corn tortilla on a nonstick pan and spread half with the marinara sauce and half with Daiya Vegan Cheese.  Cook until cheese is melted, then fold and enjoy!
-Mix with shredded turkey or chicken and eat over a bed of lettuce as a salad or in a sandwich.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Raspberry Jelly Roll

This is the beautiful cake that was waiting for me when I arrived home on my birthday.  My mom had sent me a flurry of text messages while I was out with some friends celebrating.  It turned out that she was asking me what kind of jam I wanted in my birthday jelly roll.  After a rapid back-and-forth of flavor discussions, we finally settled on raspberry.  And it was a good choice, and the jam was even homemade!  This is a lovely, light cake that looks fancy and tastes even better!

Raspberry Jelly Roll (Adapted from "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma Rombauer)
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/8 cup tapioca starch
1/8 cup potato starch
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup white sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (optional - we didn't use them)
Confectioner's sugar
3/4 - 1 cup raspberry jam (other flavor suggestions: blackberry, strawberry, apricot, blueberry, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Grease a 15 ½" x 10 ½" x 1" rimmed baking sheet (jelly roll pan) and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper.  Do not grease the top of the wax/parchment paper.

Sift flours together with baking powder and salt and whisk in a bowl until thoroughly blended.

Separate the eggs and set the egg whites aside.  Beat all four egg yolks at medium-high speed for 1 minute.  Gradually add 1/2 cup of the sugar and beat until pale and thick.  Gradually add the flour and beat on low speed until smooth.

Using clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl at medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.

Using a rubber spatula, fold one-quarter of the whites into the batter, and then carefully fold in the remaining whites.  If desired, fold in the 1/2 cup nuts.

Scrape the batter into the prepared jelly roll pan and spread evenly.  Bake until the top is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed, about 10 - 12 minutes.  Run a knife along the edges to release the cake from the pan.  Remove the browned crust from the top (it will become crumbly if rolled up with the jam).  Invert the cake onto a sheet of aluminum foil that has been sprinkled with confectioner's sugar (to ensure even distribution of sugar, use a sifter to sprinkle it onto the foil).

Let the cake cool completely before peeling off the wax/parchment paper.  Once it has been removed, spread the entire top of the cake evenly with the jam of your choice. 

To roll the cake up (quoted from "The Joy of Cooking"):

"Starting at a short end, fold and press and inch or so of the cake firmly up over the filling to get started.  Keep these first turns tight; cracking will diminish as the diameter of the roll increases.  Use the sheet of foil under the cake to help roll the cake.  Once the cake is rolled, use two hands to move the roll carefully back to the center of the foil.  Wrap the back of the foil over the cake so that it overlaps the front portion of foil, covering the roll completely and tightly.  Place in the refrigerator to firm the roll before unwrapping and serving."


-Other fillings could include gluten-free custard, buttercream icing, poppy seed filling, chocolate spread, espresso/coffee spread, ganache, or your favorite nut butter.
-The jelly roll became more moist on the second and third days.  If you are keeping it beyond 2-3 days, slice into individual portions and keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheesy Turkey Quesadilla with Mango-Ginger Chutney

My mom has been trying to clean out the shelves in our freezer now for the last few weeks to make room for our frozen fruit order, which we use to make a huge amount of jam each year.  The biggest obstacles to achieving that goal were two fat, frozen turkeys that sat perched on one of the shelves.  Mocking her with the exorbitant amount of space they were taking up. 

So we cooked them.  Both of them...on the same day.  These were not small turkeys, mind you.  Their combined weight was just shy of 50 pounds, and we roasted them all day, one after the other, filling the house with the delicious smell.  I woke up and for a moment, thought it was Thanksgiving.  We cut away the meat for what seemed like hours, never quite seeming to find the end of it, filling up containers and gallon freezer bags with the succulent and tender meat.  About 20 people came to the gathering at which this turkey was served, and while they did their part in helping us consume it, we are still swimming in the leftovers.  I don't mind this, as I love turkey and haven't eaten it in over a year, and hey - it's a chance to get a bit creative with how to use it.  This is what I came up with today.

This is very quick to make, perfect for a dinner or lunch where you don't have a lot of time to prepare a full meal.  And while I don't usually like the texture of corn tortillas when they haven't been cooked, these puff up into a lovely soft shell for the toppings, and the light sprinkling of garlic, salt and pepper on the outside might make you forget that you're eating one made from corn.  I happened to have Trader Joe's Mango Ginger Chutney on hand, but you could really use any chutney you like for this. 

Cheesy Turkey Quesadilla with Mango-Ginger Chutney

For each quesadilla:
1 - 2 tbsp. of your favorite chutney (I used Trader Joe's Mango Ginger Chutney)
~1/3 cup Daiya Vegan Mozarella Cheese
~1/3 cup shredded turkey (or shredded chicken)
1 gluten-free corn tortilla
Any other toppings you like! (sliced bell peppers, mushrooms, red onions, etc.)
Cooking spray
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Spray a small nonstick pan with the cooking oil, coating well.  Sprinkle a generous amount of garlic powder over the cooking spray evenly, and then add a little salt and pepper as well (to your own taste).  Place 1 corn tortilla in the pan and push it around the pan a bit to coat it well with the cooking spray and spices.

Spread about 1 - 2 tbsp. of the chutney over the tortilla.  Sprinkle cheese over the chutney, and then evenly place the rest of your toppings on top of the cheese.  Cook over medium-high heat for about 4 - 6 minutes until the cheese is melted, and then fold in half and continue to cook for another minute or so to brown both sides.  Serve immediately.