Tastes, Bites & Licks

Enjoying the flavors of life

Sweet, Hot and Smoked: Stuffed Portobello Mushroom

I make a few variations of this dish, but here are the basics. Inside the mushrooms, I spread a hot pepper jelly. Then, I add greens, such as kale, and the mushroom’s stem diced. I add thinly sliced pieces of smoked gouda or cheddar.  I bake it until the kale ends crisp, the shroom is cooked and the cheese forms a melty mess. 

The flavors meld:  sweet heat from the jelly,  smokiness of the cheese, and  the slight bitter tang of the greens with the meatiness of the mushroom. 

I wish I could find a date with as much complexity. 

Loaded Nachos (low fat, vegetarian)
Toasted sliced corn tortillas (not fried), Low fat shredded cheese (mozzarella, jack and cheddar), feta, pineapple salsa, chives, chopped asparagus, beans, avocado, low-fat sour cream and Trader Joe’s Chili con queso (has few calories, crazy but true).
Totally hit the spot. Nothing better than messy food!

Loaded Nachos (low fat, vegetarian)

Toasted sliced corn tortillas (not fried), Low fat shredded cheese (mozzarella, jack and cheddar), feta, pineapple salsa, chives, chopped asparagus, beans, avocado, low-fat sour cream and Trader Joe’s Chili con queso (has few calories, crazy but true).

Totally hit the spot. Nothing better than messy food!

I LOVE Oyster Mushrooms.

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Here they are. Ready for their close-up. The reason for my love? When sautéed in roasted walnut oil with at least 10 cloves of diced garlic and generous pinch (or two) of salt, they become addictive. Soft and delicate but full of an earthy flavor punctuated with salt and garlic. 

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I normally have them on their own. But here I’ve mixed them with red rice and shredded Tuscan kale.

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Once cooked, I add some fresh mint. I started doing this after I toured Southeast Asia. There they add fresh herbs to everything, especially the cooked food, which a brightness and added a dimension to any dish. Here mint isn’t the flavor of Girl Scout cookies but something that adds a balanced astringency to the dish. 

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Dinner is served. The whole dish with pre-made rice took about 10 minutes. 

Lunch at Num Pang NoMad

Num Pang, a Southeast Asian style sandwich shop, has three places to get your grilled meat/veggie fix in Manhattan. I hit the 25th and Broadway store shortly after it opened. Besides sandwiches, there are rice and noodle bowls, soups and salads. Here’s just a peek at the offerings which all share the flavors of Cambodia thanks to the pedigree of a co-owners.

Grilled Khmer Sausage, which has the seasonings to evoke Cambodian cooking, but the price ($8) is all Manhattan. It was also a touch small. 

Seasonal Vegetarian Rice Bowl ($8.75) had a nice mix of vegetables included a roasted winter squash. There’s a yogurt chili mayo that tops it, but it also had a mysterious (slightly oily) pesto sauce that wasn’t mentioned in the description. Tasty but not anything that creates a craving.

Think Mexican corn and swap out the cheese for grated coconut. It was interesting, but I am not sure I liked it. It’s one of those things you keep eating to try to figure it out, but you never really decide. I think the coconut and the mayo covered corn are each tasty, but their flavors never melded to create one dish. ($3)

Smashed Potato with Broccoli
1. Roast potato.
2. Smash with light cream cheese. Yes! Cream cheese creates a super creamy and rich smashed potato. It tastes like a decadent combo of American cheese and sour cream. 
3. Add steamed broccoli.

Smashed Potato with Broccoli

1. Roast potato.

2. Smash with light cream cheese. Yes! Cream cheese creates a super creamy and rich smashed potato. It tastes like a decadent combo of American cheese and sour cream. 

3. Add steamed broccoli.

Lazy Hummus
Combine chickpeas, red onion, cilantro and tablespoon of olive oil in blender. Puree. Add fresh lime and salt. 
So fast, so good.

Lazy Hummus

Combine chickpeas, red onion, cilantro and tablespoon of olive oil in blender. Puree. Add fresh lime and salt. 

So fast, so good.

Coconut Cashew Curry with Spinach and Chickpeas

This recipe is adapted from Serious Eats, http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/05/chickpea-coconut-and-cashew-curry-recipe.html

My version is a little lower in fat and has more veggies. 

1. Sautee a sliced onion, 4 cloves of grated garlic, an inch of ginger (also grated) and diced Thai chili (if can’t find, substitute Jalapeño) in a Tablespoon of oil. Add 2 teaspoons of curry powder. 

3. Pour into blender and make sure to get those brown bits. 

4. Puree.

5. Pour back into pan and add a one pound bag of frozen spinach and one can of chickpeas. Add another teaspoon of curry powder. 

6. Serve when everything is heated through. Add fresh lime juice and cilantro. 

(I usually serve with mango chutney on the side)

A trip to Kalustyan’s!

Sweet Potato Bisque with cumin seeds

imageMy friends were heading out of town and decided to “gift” me with their Costco amount of sweet potatoes. They dropped off five of the ugliest sweet potatoes you could ever imagine. There was no serving these as single roasted potatoes. They were that alien looking. 

And that’s how I stumbled on the most versatile recipe. I created my own sweet potato soup concentrate and depending what’s in the fridge created an array of different flavors. One time I added  leftover cumin dusted broccoli and another time, I mixed in raita for a garlic pop.  The bisque’s easy to prepare and store in the fridge. When hungry, I just scooped some into a pot and added water. 

Here’s how: 

1. Cut up the sweet potatoes into even pieces and boil. Thinner the pieces. the faster it cooks. 

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2. Sautee onion, garlic, cumin seeds (a generous amount), ginger and a chili pepper. 

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3. Drain the potatoes. Combine veggies and potatoes in blender. Puree. Hello concentrate!

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4. When you want some soup, just pour some of the concentrate into a pan and add water. It takes a very short time to heat up. Creamy soup, with no cream. 

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Toasted Quinoa Salad in 15 minutes

Here’s the fastest way to a nutritious meal:

1. Toast quinoa for a minute or two in a dry pan. Add water to boil and then simmer covered for 15 minutes.

2. While quinoa cooks, dice red onion, cucumber and tomato. Shred fresh mint.

3. Add veggies and crumbled feta to quinoa. Toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and juice of half of a lime. Salt and pepper to taste.