Chilled Avocado and Roasted Corn Chowder

Two chilled soups within a week! Sounds crazy I know. But hang with me on this. It’s creamy and cold. And no, I am not on an all liquid Vita-mix juice diet.

Corn is finally hitting the market. Nothing is more sweet and rewarding than fresh grilled corn. I love eating it directly from the grill right off of the cob. I can barely wait for it to cool down and I always burn the roof of my mouth. A small price to pay for juicy corn! I love corn that is so sweet that it needs no butter, just tons of flaky kosher salt. Mmmmm.

The corn crop is pretty light this year due to the drought that the midwest is currently experiencing. Prices are going up and the yield is going down. So grab these babies now while they are hot! Get extra to freeze and pack away like a good little food hoarder. Here is a great resource for preserving extra corn on the cob safely.

This recipe is inspired by Mark Bittman’s Avocado-Corn salad from the Food Matters Cookbook. The original recipe was chosen by Jenn of Vanilla Lemon. Although the salad itself sounds incredibly delicious, I was also inspired by this Avocado Chipotle Bisque recipe. Seems like the best of both worlds!

My chilled avocado and roasted corn chowder gets a great smoky flavor from chipotle powder and from roasted corn.  I roasted the corn easily using my gas stovetop oven. Place the shucked corn cob on the burner. Turn the burner on medium-high heat, turning the cob with tongs until it is lightly charred on the kernels to your desired doneness. The kernels can be removed easily by using a serrated knife. Rub the flat backside of the knife up the cob to release all of those great corn juices, allowing the corn juice to drip into either a bowl or the bowl of the food processor.

This chowder can easily be made with frozen corn that you wisely stored from the summer harvest. Also, after cutting the kernels from the cob, save the cobs and boil in water to make a corn broth to use in this soup! Handy dandy.

Chilled Avocado and Roasted Corn Chowder (Dairy Free), Adapted from the Food Matters Cookbook and Vegetarian Times.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 medium avocados, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 ears of corn, roasted and kernels removed from cob
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 1/2 cups of water, vegetable broth, or corn cob broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

Instructions

  1. First, take shucked corn and roast over an open flame or grill. I turn the gas on my stovetop range to medium-high heat and hold the corn over the flame with tongs. Allow the kernels to blacken. This will take about 2 to 3 minutes to roast one cob.
  2. Using a serrated knife, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Using the dull side of the knife, scrape the juices from the cobs into the bowl. The cobs can be reserved and used to make corn cob broth which is detailed here!
  3.  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor fitted with the steel blade. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately or chill for up to 1 day. Serve topped with diced cherry tomatoes, roasted corn, and cilantro.

Creamy Herb Cashew Dip

I think my husband is part fish. When the temperatures begin to increase, he craaaaaves water. Not to drink, but to swim and frolic. Well, I should clarify…he doesn’t really frolic, but he does squeel…a manly squeel and dance…a manly dance.  It’s a good squeel…like a kid discovering a never-ending stash of gummy bears…or me discovering a never ending stash of kale. Don’t judge.

He scoured the web for swimming pools in KC as the temperatures climbed higher and higher, topping at 107 F over the weekend. Luckily a friend allowed us to crash her apartment pool this weekend, quenching his need to be submerged in liquid. It was wonderful. I had forgotten how luxruious it feels to lay by a quiet pool sipping a cocktail, wearing big Jackie-O sunglasses, and munching on snacks.  

This weekend has solidified that my next purchase will be a kiddie pool to place in my tiny tiny tiny yard…Oh and to get some tiny unbrellas for my cocktails. Every girl deserves these two things! Wait..we also deserve pedicures…and great friends….and brunch…and…ok, ladies deserve a lot.

For a pool-side snack, I whipped up an easy dairy-free dip that gets its creaminess from pureed raw cashews. I made the dip dairy-free for two reasons: (1) dairy and the hot afternoon sun do not play well together and (2) my cute manly-squeeling-non-frolicing husband does not consume dairy. 

The dip is basically a vegan ranch dip that can be served with veggie sticks (or crudites for all you unbrella-adorned-cocktail-drinking Jackie-O glass-wearing ladies) or crackers or spread on a sandwich or even watered down and added to KALE as a dressing. It also would be great with these easy homemade beet chips from Meg at My Whole Food Romance, which was this weeks recipe for the Food Matters Project. Mmmmm…

Creamy Herb Cashew Dip (dairy free, gluten free, grain free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian)

Makes 1 1/4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons each of fresh dill, parsley, and chives (save a little bit to sprinkle on top)
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to the bowl of a powerful food processor fitted with the steel blade. Process for 2 minutes or until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate until chilled (about an hour). Sprinkle with fresh dill and chives. Serve with plenty of veggies for dipping!

Open-faced Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich with Tahini-Miso Spread

I’m going to make this short and sweet….just like this recipe.  It’s hot. So hot. My oven is staying off…so off.

But you know what is not hot…this open-faced sandwich. She’s cold. Nice and cold to break that heat.  This is an awesome quick lunch or light dinner.

The tahini-miso spread is quite addictive. You can add a bit of water to it, thinning it out to use as a dressing for kale salads or veggies as in Cookie and Kate’s Raw Kale Salad with Creamy Tahini Miso Dressing. Brilliant.

Alright..got it? Good. Oh and this cute open-faced sandwich is loosely based on Mark Bittman’s Updated Tea Sandwiches. This recipe was chosen by Aura of Dinner with Aura. Check out the other recipes here at the Food Matters Project page.

Open-faced Tomato and Cucumber Sandwich with Tahini-Miso Spread

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 2 tablespoons of tahini-miso spread (recipe below)*
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • crumbled feta
Instructions
  1. Spread 1 tablespoon of tahini-miso spread on each slice of bread.
  2. Layer tomato slices and cucumbers. Sprinkle with feta. Enjoy!

*Tahini-Miso Spread Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon white or red miso paste
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of rice wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.
  2. To use as a dressing for salads, add 1/4 cup of water.
  3. Spread/dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for a week.

Grilled Cabbage with Cilantro-Mint Chimichurri Sauce

Grill it. Anything….grill it. No ovens. Pop open that grill. Look in your fridge…what do you have?  Me? besides ketchup….

Kale (of course…i’m obsessed)

Beets (another new obsession)…..red cabbage from my CSA….squash, onion, cilantro, cucumbers from the garden, and a whole chicken from the CSA. Hrmmm….

I am of the belief that when nearly anything is roasted or grilled, it makes it better…..like bacon.  Grilled romaine is awesome, so why not cabbage?

This is the easiest side dish. Cut a head of cabbage in 8 equal segments, keeping the core intact! This keeps all your pretty cabbage leaves together. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Throw it on a preheated grill for 5 to 10 minutes per side. Delicious. Any cabbage would work…green, red, nappa….uhm. I’m sure there are others. Try it.

I served the cabbage with a delicious cilantro-mint chimichurri sauce adapted from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook.  As part of the Food Matters Project, the featured Mark Bittman recipe was Mixed Grill with Chimichurri chosen by Lexi of Lexi’s kitchen.  Check it out. Chimichurri is an Argentinian herby sauce similar to pesto, but is typically made from parsely. It amps up anything.   I’m a cilantro and mint whore, and they are taking over my garden. So these two fab herbs went into the chimichurri.

Side note. Does anyone else like to say chimichurri like I do? NO? anyone? just me? Sounds like a dance move. hrmmm…do the chimimimimichurri.

Anyways, I used the leftover chimimimimichurri as a salad dressing for kale the next day.  It’s like a secret power sauce and will make you want to do the chimichurri while you eat it. Note to self, add chimimimichurri to new food loves.

Grilled Cabbage with Cilantro-Mint Chimichurri Sauce

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cabbage, sliced into 8 equal portion making sure to keep the core intact! This keeps your cabbage segments from falling apart.
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 bunch of cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh mint
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt , divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill for direct heat.
  2. Drizzle about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil over cabbage segments. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Carefully place cabbage onto grill, allowing to cook on one side for 5 to 10 minutes. You want those lovely grill marks. Carefully flip and cook on the other side for about 5 minutes, making sure to not completely char your cabbage. I like the edges slightly roasted. Remove from grill.
  4. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (or your kitchen), place the remaining ingredients (cilantro through black pepper) into a food processor or blender. Whirl and whirl until finely chopped. Pour into a jar.
  5. Spoon sauce over grilled cabbage and anything else that you want.

Baked Curry-Spiced Falafel Sliders

Hellooooo summer. I went on a lazy bike ride one evening this weekend and watched families grill on their patios, kids running through water sprinklers, in promptu baseball games in neighborhood streets, old couples walking hand in hand down the trail by our house, and dogs playing fetch with their owners. Lightning bugs danced around me and the first chirps of cicadas filled the air. It was magical and classic.

The change between seasons and its effect on people is so curious to me. During the short cold days of winter, we stay tucked away in our homes, hybernating and watching reality TV. But as spring and summer hit, bringing with them longer and warmer days, people bloom like the vegetables and flowers in gardens.  They open up their homes and patios to their freinds and family, communing with one another and experiencing the outdoors. Neighborhoods turn into blockparties every night. It sometimes feels like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell painting. 

Another awesome thing about summer versus winter is that food turns from heafty casseroles to finger foods! And oh how I looooove finger foods. Huge burgers leave me lethargic, but sliders….I can have two DIFFERENT kinds. This is perfect for a gal like me that can not make up her mind when it comes to food or anything really.

If you are looking for a handy dandy finger food to take or serve at a party, these falafel sliders are perf.  This recipe is adapted from “Braised Chickpea Fritters and Vegetables” from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters Cookbook and was chosen as part of the Food Matters Project by Lena of Mrs Garlic Head.

I adapted them to be spiced with curry and carrots, plus turned them into a picnic totin finger food. The curry kick makes them a winner for even meat lovers.  For this falafel, use uncooked chickpeas that have soaked overnight. You will need a good food processor to create the chickpea “flour” and mix in the additional ingredients. Baking the falafel makes them a bit crumbly, but still delicious. If you prefer, you can pan fry them in a bit of olive oil or coconut oil. The leftovers can either be frozen or refridgerated. I ate the leftovers cumbled over a delicious kale salad.

Baked Curry-Spiced Falafel Sliders

Ingredient

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, rinsed, picked over and soaked for at least one hour and up to overnight (do not cook and do not substitute canned beans)
  • 1 small red onion, quartered
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 medium carrots
  • coconut oil or olive oil
  • Slider fixings (12 whole grain rolls or pita, cucumbers, crumbled feta, cilantro, cucumber-mint raita*)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.  Oil a roasting pan with 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil.
  2. In a food processor, combine soaked and drained chickpeas, onion, cilantro, garlic cloves, cumin, curry powder, carrots, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Process until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Scoop out 1 tablespoon at a time and shape the falafel into small 1-inch patties at 1/4 inch thick. Place each falafel pattie in the well oiled roasting pan.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the roasting pan and flip the patties carefully. Place the roasting pan back into the oven (middle rack) for another 10 minutes. The patties will be light brown.
  5. Assemble your sliders with small whole grain rolls or pita flats, sliced cucumbers, red peppers, and cucumber-mint raita (recipe below).

*Cucumber-Mint Raita

  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 cup of peeled and diced cucumber, pressed with a paper towel to remove excess moisture
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • pinch of garlic powder
  • Salt to taste

Instructions – Mix above ingredients together in a medium bowl. Season with salt to taste.

Black Bean and Chard Breakfast Tacos

Greens are overflowing the farmer’s markets and my garden. Now is the time to load up on fresh leafy greens like chard, kale, mustard greens, and lettuce.

It was a shock to the system to arrive home from vacationing in cold South Dakota (highs in the 40s) and arrive in KC with heat indices topping at 100 degrees!!!! Today has been full of harvesting my spring plants and planting summer crops of basil, cilantro, beets, green beans, tomatoes, strawberries, and more chard. I can’t get enough! Plus, adding greens makes me feel not so guilty when I partake in one (or three) brews for Memorial Day celebrations and maybe an extra hunk of dark chocolate. Shhhh!

So back to those lovely greeeeeens. This is why today’s Food Matter’s recipe, Beens N’ Greens Burritos (chosen by Good Things Grow) is perfect for this time of year. I slightly adapted the recipe as a breakfast dish, adding a poached egg and serving it on corn tortillas instead of flour. I prefer corn tortillas to flour (even whole wheat flour tortillas), because they are less processed and typically have less than 5 ingredients. Corn tortillas also topically have more protein, fiber, and less carbs than their flour brethren.

This is basically the same as my Huevos Racheros recipe, but with the addition of swiss chard. Yum. Great start to the day!

Black Bean and Chard Breakfast Tacos

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch (about one pound) of swiss chard (or kale or spinach), washed and cut into 1-inch strips (removing stems)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • cilantro
  • salsa or pico de gallo
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add chard and sauté for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until chard wilts. Add black beans and heat through. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Cook eggs to your liking. I prefer poached…mmmm.
  4. Heat tortillas by either throwing them in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds or over the stove in a pan with with a tad bit of olive oil.
  5. Place one tortilla on each plate. Divide chard/black bean mixture among each plate. Top with cooked egg, feta, and cilantro. Dive in!

Spicy Mango and Coconut Quinoa Salad

Fresh. Sweet. Spicy. Sassy.

No, not me…this quinoa salad. Well…yes, me too, but also this salad.

This dish is basically mango salsa mixed with quinoa…oh and flaked coconut, because we all need more flaked coconut in our lives.  Flaked coconut makes me feel fancy and on vacation. Adding it to this salad was just an extra bonus.

I’m a huge fan of quinoa salads. They are probably my second fav next to kale salads.  Quinoa is an amazing grain, or seed rather, packed full of protein and fiber.  This quinoa salad feeds 4 to 6 as a side dish. It’s great served along side grilled wild alaskan salmon.  To make a more substantial meal and serve it as a main course, the addition of 1/2 cup of roughly chopped roasted salted peanuts or almonds will add protein and make it a bit more hearty.  

This recipe started out as just mango salsa, which was adapted from this week’s Food Matters Project recipe, Mexican-Style Fruit Salad with Grilled or Broiled Fish which was chosen by Food and Frederick.  However, my salsa was taken to superhuman status after I was inspired by the Mango and Coconut Black Rice Salad in my new fav cookbook, Plenty from London’s Ottolenghi.  Holy cow, I have never seen such great veg-tastic food porn in my life. It’s gorgeous. It’s inspiring. It’s a must. I love this book, like I love mason jars….and that’s a lot of love people. Because, seriously, mason jars are about the most useful thing in the world. And duct tape. But duct tape is not beautiful.

Spicy Mango and Coconut Quinoa Salad

Serves 6 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa* (see note on cooking instructions)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh basil
  • 1 large mango (or 2 small mangos), chopped into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients, except the diced mango and flaked coconut, into a bowl. Toss to combine.
  2. Add mango and coconut, and stir just to mix. Do not over stir or the mango pieces will disintegrate and become too mushy. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

*Cooking Quinoa- Rinse 1 cup of uncooked quinoa thoroughly, until water is no longer milky. Place rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups of water or broth. Cook on medium-high heat until it comes to a rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until tender and the water has been cooked out. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. I like to double this, cooking extra to eat throughout the week.

Breakfast Bruschetta with Swiss Chard

The markets and my garden are overflowing with lush swiss chard. Chard is a great source of iron, folate, zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E…to name just a few. This powerhouse green should be on your plate as much as possible and it has been making an appearance in nearly all of my meals lately since I just harvested THREE huge bags of it. Want some?

This week for the Food Matter’s Project, Laura of Chef Laura at Home chose Mark Bittman’s Bruschetta recipe. Bruschetta consists of roasted bread topped with good olive oil, rubbed with crushed garlic, salt and pepper, and then topped with whatever your little hungry heart desires.  Typically, the toppings consist of either a tomato basil salad, or white beans, or cured meats, or cheese, or in my case…sautéed CHARD and an egg. My pictures show a fried egg, but I also tried this dish with a fabulous poached egg (my first attempt at poaching eggs and damn it was easier than I thought). The secret to poached eggs is buying good fresh eggs.

To make bruschetta, drizzle a slice of good rustic whole grain bread with good olive oil (because you deserve the best). Toast the bread under a broiler for a few minutes. When the bread is done, rub one or both sides with a clove of mashed garlic.  Now you are ready to top it to your liking.  To see what some of the other FMP bloggers chose to top their bruschetta with, go here.

Breakfast Bruschetta with Swiss Chard

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of good rustic bread (I used whole wheat sour dough)
  • 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, mashed
  • 2 eggs (poached, fried, or soft scrambled)
  • A large handful of swiss chard (or any leafy green such as spinach or kale), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat broiler on high. Drizzle bread with olive oil (1 teaspoon per slice of bread). Place bread on cookie sheet on the top rack of the oven just beneath the broiler. Depending on the thickness and size of your bread, broil for 1 to 3 minutes per side. Keep an eye on them because the edges will brown quickly and you will be eating croutons for breakfast instead of toasted bread.  Remove from oven and rub a clove of garlic on one or both sides of the warm toasted bread.
  2. While toasting the bread, heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Place chard in pan and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until chard is wilted. Drizzle with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook the eggs to your liking. Go here for a step by step tutorial on making the perfect poached eggs. So easy and good.
  4. Place toasted bread on plate. Top with sautéed chard and poached egg. Season with salt and pepper.  I topped mine with fresh slivered basil and goat cheese also. Mmmm.

A Tale of Two Salsas: Basic Salsa and Rhubarb Salsa

Oh salsa…so quick. So easy. It makes the best of times. (too cliche?)

With just a few ingredients, you can make dip-heaven. Salsa can take any dish up a notch or three.  Tomatoes are just a starting point for basic salsa. Later in this post, I’ll let you in on some secrets on how to use seasonal produce to make different types of salsa.  Basically, I’m going to change your life.

Yes, it is true.  I love to dip things. I often choose a meal based on its “dipability”.  Don’t judge! It’s one of my oddities….Ok many oddities, but people…it’s a party at every meal!!! And having a great basic salsa recipe is key for anyone to have tucked up their sleeve to pull out for impromptu events.

Because this was my week to host for the Food Matters Project and because of my love for all things dip-able, I chose the easy fresh salsa recipe from Mark Bittman’s the Food Matters Cookbook.  Paaaahrtay!  If you have never made fresh salsa, you are doing it today (or as soon as you can). Ya, I know you may have other crap planned, but guess what….salsa calls….”make me”.  And it’s easy. Dip it or throw it on tacos, or a salad, or on a spoon. Fresh salsa is perfect party food (for my solo party) or perfect to bring along for such occasions as Cinco de Mayo or you can bring it to my house for me to dip!

Garden tomatoes make the best salsa. But even when tomatoes are out of season, you can use canned tomatoes, which is what I did. Mark Bittman’s basic salsa is technically pico de gallo.  I chose to puree the salsa since I used canned tomatoes and because I like the smooth consistency. However, you can leave it chunky, if you prefer.

So let’s break it down. Really there are a few base ingredients that go into making salsa.

Onions + jalapeño + cilantro + lime juice (or any acidic juice really…vinegar works well too).

From this basic formula, you can add several ingredients to make fresh salsa.  Tomatoes are the basic salsa, of course. It will keep for up to a week in the fridge. But I doubt it will even linger that long. I used this salsa on top of eggs, on top of a spinach mushroom quesadilla (so dippable), and with homemade tortilla chips.

But, if you are feeling adventurous, there are other ingredients that you can add to salsa besides tomatoes….. such as seasonal fruit, black beans, or corn.

With spring in full force, RHUBARB has finally flooded the farmers market!!!!  To take full advantage of rhubarb at its peak, I decided to also try to make a rhubarb salsa.  I know, I know, I know…what about rhubarb pie, rhubarb tart?  Just trust me and branch out from the sweet desserts. Rhubarb salsa beckons you. I was so impressed with the outcome. Using the basic salsa recipe as a starting point, I replaced the tomatoes with rhubarb and sweet bell pepper, and then added a tad bit of honey mixed with apple cider vinegar and lime juice. The tartness in the rhubarb salsa is balanced by the sweet honey and complimented by the spicy kick from the jalapeño.

I ate this on fish tacos (so devine and sorry no pictures….they disappeared in my mouth). I also topped my fresh spring salad with it. Heavenly.

In summer, swap out tomatoes for peaches or mangos. In the fall, use granny smith or any other tart variety of apples. You can also swap orange or lemon juice for the lime juice.  Seriously, the options are endless when making salsa. After you make these salsa recipes, you are going to be in deep smit with them. You are welcome.

Don’t forget to check out the other FMP bloggers creations!

Basic Salsa (from the Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman)

  • 1 1/2 cups of tomatoes (or 1 15 oz canned tomatoes, undrained)
  • 1/2 white or red onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of cilantro, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions for Basic Salsa
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Puree until well combined.
  2. Taste and add salt/pepper. Chill covered for at least 30 minutes.
Rhubarb Salsa 
  • 1 stalk of rhubarb (1 to 1 1/2 cups), diced
  • 1/4 cup of sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tablespoons of diced white or red onion
  • 2 tablespoons of diced scallions
  • 1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of cilantro, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions for Rhubarb Salsa
  1. Heat 2 cups of water in a saucepan to boiling. Blanch rhubarb by placing in the boiling water for 10 to 20 seconds. Quickly remove the rhubarb and place in a colander. Run cold water over the rhubarb to stop the cooking process. Blot the rhubarb with a paper towel to dry.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the bell pepper, onion, scallions, jalapeño, and cilantro. Add rhubarb and mix ingredients.
  3. In a small separate bowl, dissolve the honey in the lime juice and apple cider vinegar. Drizzle this dressing over the rhubarb salsa and stir. Add the salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Easy 100% Whole Wheat Seedtastic Bread

So, I have had quite a busy few weeks. I was supposed to have this bread ready to post yesterday for Food Matters Monday, but I failed and got behind. But I totally ate this bread for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert for the last several days.  So without much further ado……

I have always romanticized about owning a bakery….waking up early to bake fresh bread and pastries.  Locals coming to get their fresh baked breads every morning…but then there is the problem with me not being a baker of breads.  I had never quite gotten the knack until I learned the No-Knead meathod that Jim Lahey (of famed Sullivan Street Bakery) founded years ago. Since learning this method, I have never gone back. It’s genius. Throw all the flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl…add water…stir…let the shaggy mess rest for several hours (best if is allowed to rise for 12 to 24 hours)…then pull it out of the bowl, roughly shape into a ball or football, then bake. Bam. Delicous, house warming, belly craving bread. Slather butter on it or PB or eat it plain. Daaang.

No kneading and no waiting to see if your bread has risen and fallen then risen and fallen again…none of it….none. It’ll change your life (and your waistband if you bake too many loaves like me..hehe) and save you a poop ton of money. That’s right…a poop ton. Make your own bread and impress friends and family.

Or impress yourself, because really that is all that matters.

Mark Bittman has also used this no-knead method in his Food Matters Cookbook. His recipe, Real Whole Wheat Bread, was chosen this week for the Food Matters Project by Melissa of the Faux Martha. What is great about this recipe, is that there is so many variations…herbs, seeds, fruit…you name it…you can make it. So stop doubting yourself and make some BREAD. Nothing smells better than fresh baked bread. Mmmm…

Now, although the primary recipe is Mark Bittman’s, my baking method is not technically Mark Bittman’s method. I prefer an artisinal appearance or free form with a crusty exterior. I also like smaller loaves, which is why I divided the recipe below into two beautiful football shaped loaves. You can definitely bake this in a loaf pan if you want. But a few years ago, I found a book at an estate sale called “Health Bread in Five Minutes a Day” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois that takes the no-knead method to another level, cooking the bread on a baking stone in a super hot oven (450F) and trying to mimik hearth-style baking. You will get professional looking loaves every time and it is super easy.

Before you jump elbows first into bread baking, here are a few notes about bread and the primary ingredients….

1. Yeast hates hot water…it will kill those suckers. So use luke-warm water. This means that the water feels just a little warm to the touch (no hotter than 100 degrees F). Cold water from the tap will work also, but the initial rise time will take much longer. If your water at home has a funky flavor, I recommend buying distilled or filtered water, because your bread will then get the funk…and not a good funk. Otherwise, tap water will be fine.

2. Make sure your yeast is fresh. Store in the fridge to make it last longer. Initial rise times are slower if you use less yeast (1/2 teaspoon versus 2 teaspoons). If you want to speed up the rise time, increase the quantity of yeast up to a 2 teaspoons (one full packet) for the below recipe. If you double the below recipe, use 1 1/2 tablespoons of yeast. If you plan on making a lot of bread, buying yeast in bulk (a jar instead of those pesky packets) will save you money.

3. Boost nutritional value in your breads by using 100% whole wheat and adding healthy seeds within or on top of the bread. Seeds can include sesame, flaxseed, caraway, pumpkin, sunflower, poppy, and anise. To top the bread, paint the surface of the loaf with water before sprinkling the seeds on the loaf.

4. Baking stone – A baking stone will give you the best results for a professional-looking free form loaf. The stone absorbs excess moisture from the wet dough, allowing the crust to become crisp. Mmmm.  Also the weight of the stone helps with heat retention and provides even heating and heat transfer to the loaf.

Sorry for the excessively long post, but it is worth it!  This is why I’m late in posting it. Also, don’t forget to see what the other FMP foodies did with this recipe at the Food Matters Project home page.

Easy 100% Whole Wheat Seed Bread

Yield: Two 1-lb loaves (or one big mama jamma loaf)

Ingredients (this recipe can easily be doubled to make 4 1-lb loaves in order to feed an army)

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional to add additional seeds such as pumpkin, poppy, sesame)
  • 1/2 teaspoon active yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (must be less than 100 F)
  • Topping: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower (or whatever you have on hand)

Instructions (seems like a lot of instructions but it is uber easy)

  1. Combine flour, salt, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, and yeast in a medium 5 qt bowl.
  2. Add water and stir with a wooden spoon till combined. The dough should be wet and shaggy and resemble biscuit dough or batter.  Cover (not airtight) with plastic wrap or damp towel. Allow it to rest at room temperature until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top with bubbles) at least 2 hours, but it is best when left 12 to 24 hours. (If your house is cold, turn the oven on to 200 F then turn it off, placing the  dough on the oven to rise).
  3. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, or it can be refrigerated in a lidded (not airtight) container and used over the next week. You can lop off smaller pieces and bake smaller portions, storing the rest in the fridge until you are ready for fresh baked bread.
  4. When you are ready to bake the bread, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and shape into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quater-turn as you go.  At this point you can either place in a loaf pan or bake on a pizza peel for an artisinal loaf. For the artisinal loaf, place the loaf to rest on a greased cookie sheet (can also dust the cookie sheet with cornmeal). Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 1 1/2 hours.
  5. At leasat 30 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 F with a baking stone placed on the middle rack of the oven. Place an empty metal broiler tray on the lowest rack, making sure that it won’t interfere with the rising bread.
  6. Just before baking, dust the top of the loaf with flour and then slash the loaf with a razor or serrated knife with 1/4-inch-deep parallel cuts.
  7. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot preheated pizza stone (or you can place the greased cookie sheet directly on the stone if you can’t slide the loaf off of it). Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the preheated broiler tray and quickly close the oven door.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the loaf is browned and firm. Note: If you used a cookie sheet, remove the bread from the cookie sheet at 20 minutes and bake the rest of the way on the pizza stone.
  9. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing and eating.