Summer Squash Tart

As I have been talking about, Frank and I were rolling in summer squash for a few weeks thanks to the CSA. Unfortunately, I lost the photos of one of my squash-based dinners, but if you have not tried pan-searing pattypan squash slices and topping them with mint chutney, I really think that you should. Simply heat up a large skillet over high heat, and place slices of squash in the pan. Let them cook until the pan-facing side chars; flip over and repeat for the other side. The pan searing really brings out the sweetness of the pattypan squash, and the mint chutney compliments the squash very nicely.

Luckily, I did not lose the pictures to a lovely tart that I created with yellow squash, basil, white beans, and phyllo dough. It was like a light, flaky pizza, and everyone who has tried this has sent along their praises. The best part is that this dish is that it is relatively easy, allowing you to sit back and have a cocktail while it bakes.

Summer Squash Tart

2-3 Tbsp olive oil

6 sheets phyllo dough
1 can white beans, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
3/4 c. basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 small summer squash, sliced thinly
1 small shallot, sliced
1/2 red pepper, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Puree white beans, lemon juice, cornstarch, and basil in food processor until smooth, adding a bit of water if needed. Set aside when finished.

Now to work with phyllo! Take 2 sheets of dough and place in a 9x11 pan. Brush with a bit of olive oil all over, working dough into corners of pan. Repeat twice more, with 2 sheets each time. You should have overlap on the edges and sides of pan- this will be rolled down at the end. Spread the white bean-basil mixture over the phyllo as you would a sauce; make sure the layer is uniformly thick. Top with slices of yellow squash, overlapped and placed in rows. Sprinkle chopped pepper and sliced shallots on the squash, and dust with a bit of sea salt. Roll down the edges of phyllo to create a crust, and brush with olive oil.

Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until filling is set and crust lightly golden. Serve warm or chilled. I found that this tasted better after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours, if not overnite.

Squash Soup, Hot or Cold

It always seems as if the week goes by so quickly when it comes to updating! However, I am back with a new post and a new recipe that, I found out as the week went on, only gets better with age. With the abundance of zucchini and yellow squash that we had last week, I used it in a few dishes. This particular soup was inspired by one that I was lucky enough to have at Angelica Kitchen recently. It was their special of the day: a squash, corn, and jalapeno bisque, and it was absolutely amazing. While my version did not taste *quite* the same, it still received rave reviews from Frank. And as the week went on and leftovers gathered, it was also very delightful chilled, perfect for the warm, humid weather that we have been having. But before I give you the recipe, I wanted to share with you all a fantastic-sounding event that I will be attending on Wednesday evening. Gena of Choosing Raw is involved in an organization called Beam Green, which aims to spearhead the green movement to reach all the way down to the smallest of children. The group meets once per month at Tavern on the Green, and always has an exciting line-up of speakers and presentations. The invitation was extended to readers/bloggers of Choosing Raw, and I am very excited to be attending. I will report back, don't worry. Please check out Gena's fantastic blog, and also the Beam Green website in the links above. Now for soup!

Squash, Corn, and Jalapeno Soup

2 medium sized summer squash(I used 1 zucchini and 1 goldenrod)
4 ears corn on the cob
2-3 japalenos, depending on your spice preference
2 cloves garlic
2 shallots
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups water
1/2 Tbsp. white miso

Slice corn off of three ears of corn, and set aside. Next, Mince garlic, slice shallots, and peppers. Seed at least one of the jalapenos. Leave seeds in the others depending on how much heat you can tolerate. Heat oil in a medium dutch oven, and add shallots, garlic and peppers. While these are cooking, halve squash lengthwise, and cut into
chunks. Since this soup will be pureed, size does not really matter here.

When the shallots are soft, add in cumin and squash, stirring to coat. Cook for 2 minutes, and add in 4 cups of water and corn, and bring to a simmer, cooking for another 30 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, cut off the corn from the remaining cob. This will be reserved for later. Your soup will look somewhat like this:

Turn off the heat and allow soup to cool for 10 - 15 minutes. Stir in miso (never place miso into boiling liquid as it kills the beneficial properties of the miso), and blend the soup either with an immersion blender or in a regular blender, taking care to place only small batches of soup in the blender at a time. Transfer into a serving bowl, and add in remaining raw corn. The corn will be crunchy, fresh, and sweet; a nice contrast to the smooth soup. Save some corn for garnish on top.

Frozen Treats

Summer has finally decided to show its face here in Brooklyn, and it is most welcomed! I officially have a sunglasses line on my nose, and I don't even ascribe to the idea of donning tanned skin. So in celebration of summertime and the living being easy, I present to you two things: one, a creation of my own, and the other, a review of Tempt Hemp Milk ice cream by Living Harvest, which I found quite unexpectedly on Sunday afternoon. First up, My own frozen creations. This recipe was inspired by my aunt's peanut butter balls. If she were 30 years younger, I think Frank would leave me for her and her peanut butter balls alone. Wanting something with peanut butter and chocolate, but not wanting a frozen chocolate shell, I devised the following:

Chilled Peanut Butter Truffles
1/4 C. Peanut Butter ( I used natural salted chunky PB)
3 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar
Cocoa Powder for rolling

Mix together peanut butter and powdered sugar in a small bowl until fully combined. The mixture should stiffen and gather all excess sugar and peanut butter from the sides of the bow
l, as seen in this not-quite-attractive picture:
Next, fill a separate bowl with cocoa powder, and take small chunks of the mixture (about 1-2 tsps), rolling into a ball. Roll the peanut butter ball in the cocoa powder and place on a plate covered with a sheet of waxed paper or parchament. Since the peanut butter will be warm, the cocoa will be absorbed into the ball, making a chocolate layer, as seen here:

Freeze the truffles for about 15 minutes, or until well chilled. Roll in cocoa powder again, which will allow for a proper 'dusting' of cocoa to be present on the outside, and re-freeze. Please note that these are best frozen, as they do not get rock hard, and the cocoa powder remains in-tact, as seen in the first photo. If they are simply refrigerated, the cocoa may be absorbed again. The recipe yields 10 - 12 truffles.


Part Two, Ice Cream!
Your resident vegans, Christina and Frank, went to see Mission of Burma (who were fantastic!) by the East River waterfront in our neighborhood Sunday afternoon, and walking back decided that it was the perfect warm day for an ice cream finish to dinner. So we stopped at one of our local health stores on the way home to peruse our options. We had almost decided on a coconut-milk based ice cream, when lo and behold, I spied MORE selections in another freezer case, namely a very enticing Hemp Milk ice cream called Tempt, made by Living Harvest Foods, sole makers of the hemp milk that you find on your store shelves. Always being one to go for the unusual in life, this sighting immediately made me put down the coconut milk version that I held in my hand. Tempt comes in Vanilla Bean, Chocolate Fudge, Coconut-Lime, Coffee-Biscotti, and Mint Chip, all of which were present in the very freezer case that we were standing in front of. I was intrigued by the Coffee Biscotti flavor, but Frank is not a java lover. However, we both enjoy mint and chocolate, so Mint Chip it was! I must say that I was very impressed with this product. The ice cream was smooth and very delicious, and the flavorings were well-balanced. The chocolate pieces were soft and not crunchy, as in some ice creams; it reached a nice, semi-soft consistency with about 20 minutes of thaw time; and did not melt all over as we ate it. I think that everyone needs Tempt in their freezers this summer, it's very impressive!


Music for Frozen Treats: Mission of Burma, any and everything you can find. Of course, it's best live...

CSA Goods, and Mango-Cilantro Stir-fry for a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

I know that I have mentioned how I enjoy menu planning from what vegetables we get in the CSA every week, so I thought that I would start sharing with all of you what vegetables we recieve, and the menu that is planned to go with them. Yesterday's batch consisted of:
1 Lb. squash
8 leaves kale
1 head lettuce
6 radishes with greens
2 cucumbers
8 scallions
6 Chioggia beets
Menu ideas include: Squash-Corn soup; Roasted beets and pattypan with pilaf; raw tomato salad; green vegetable toss; summer squash phyllo pockets. Since we still had last weeks' squash offering left over, we'll be using a lot of it this week. Now that I have tempted you with this weeks' recipes, let me share one with you from last week.

I wish that I had pictures to share today of the recipe I am about to discuss, but in all honestly, this meal definitely tasted better than
it looked. Frank and I often tend to put together some sort of 'stir-fry' dish about once a week or so, largely to get a complete meal filled with greens, vegetables, and beans. One of the first vegetables that we received in our CSA share this summer were Japanese Turnips (Hakurei), as shown to the left. These are mild, tender turnips that usually are pickled or eaten raw. Having seen *a* mention of them being cooked, Frank and I have cooked with them every time they have come to us, and these turnips have turned into one of my new favorite vegetables. They are tender and sweet when cooked, with a great juicy bite to them. The Japanese turnips have been coming with their equally delicious edible greens still attached, which we use in the dish they are cooked in. Using garlic scapes in place of traditional garlic adds a lovely flavor and also takes the place of a more traditional green bean. In my desire to change our usual stir-fry seasonings a bit, I decided to create a cilantro-lime sauce, and to add mangoes in...

Mango-Cilantro Stir-Fry
1 - 2 Tbsp oil, and water as needed
4 garlic scapes, sliced into 1-inch pieces
6 medium Japanese turnips, cubed (8ths), greens removed and reserved
2 heads baby Bok Choi
6 oz. sugar snap peas
6 oz. mung bean sprouts
2 medium sized mangoes, cubed
1 1/2 c. chopped cilantro
Juice of 3 limes
dash cayenne pepper

Directions: Heat oil in large dutch oven over medium high heat, and place garlic scapes and japanese turnips in, turning to coat. Add a bit of water to steam, and cook vegetables for 10 minutes, or until turnips begin to tenderize. Add liquid as needed so that the vegetables do not stick.

While these vegetables are cooking, make the sauce. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. The consistency should be less paste-like and more salad-dressing like. If there is not enough liquid, add in water, one tablespoon at a time.

Add all of the greens into the large pot, and cook down, 5 - 7 minutes. When there is room in the pan, add in the peas, bean sprouts, and cilantro sauce. Cook for another 5 minutes, and add in mango. Stir everything a few times to warm and distribute the mango, and remove from heat.
Serve with rice or your favorite grain / noodle.

Stuffed Kale Rolls and Basil Polenta with Chile Tomato Sauce

Frank and I decided to join a CSA this year. We chose the East Williamsburg CSA near us in Brooklyn, and we have been receiving amazing, tasty vegetables every week. Part of the fun of it (for both of us I hope) is the ways in which we have to be creative in menu planning and creating meals. This week we scored 10 huge, beautiful leaves of Lacinato Kale. Having just had a raw kale salad last week (recipe to come, don't worry), and noting how the large leaves reminded me of collards or chard, which I am fond of stuffing, I decided that stuffed kale was making it onto the menu.
For the Kale Rolls, I modified the BBQ Collard Rolls in Veganomicon, substituting kale (obviously), black beans and my own sauce in the filling. We also had some basil-studded polenta left over, so that made the cut as well.

Stuffed Kale Rolls and Basil Polenta with Chile Tomato Sauce

For the sauce:

1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 medium Vidalia onion

1 small clove garlic
1 Tbsp cumin
2 tsp. marjoram
1 dried chipotle chile, torn
2 -3 dried small red chiles

Directions: Place all ingredients in blender, and puree until slightly chunky. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

For the polenta (make ahead):
3 cups water
1 cup polenta
1/3 cup chopped basil
dash salt

Directions: Bring water to a boil in sauce pan. Add in polenta in a slow stream, and stir constantly for 20 minutes, or until spoon is hard to move and polenta pulls away from the pan. Fold in chopped basil. Place polenta in an oiled loaf pan and chill until set, 2 hours. Remove, slice, and cook.

For the kale rolls (adapted from Veganomicon):
10 leaves lacinato kale, plus enough extra kale to make 4 cups chopped
1 can black beans, drained
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
4 cups chopped kale

Directions: Set a large pot filled with water on the stove to boil. Meanwhile, slice mushrooms, and trim large, thick ends off of the kale and discard. Shave the veiny stem in the leaf so that it is tender when cooked. Chop extra kale.

Saute mushrooms with 1 Tbsp olive oil until soft. Add in the kale and cook for a few more minutes. Add in beans and 2 cups of tomato sauce, and cook until the liquid has thickened up nicely.

By this time, your water should be boiling, or close to it. When it boils, place kale leaves in and cook for 5 - 6 minutes, or until bright green. When done, remove each leaf carefully from pot with tongs and place in a colander to cool briefly.

Now to roll! take each leaf and place it on your table/cutting board. Place 2 - 3 tbsp. of filling about 2 inches from the bottom of leaf, and about 1 tbsp of filling closer to the top of leaf. Roll from the bottom up. To serve, set on plate seam side down, creating a closed shape (triangle, square, etc, depending on how many each person is eating). Place extra sauce in the open center, and top with polenta slices.

Getting into the Swing of Things

With a truncated work week and a holiday to boot, I had little time for up-dating over this past week. Frank and I spent the long weekend visiting the newly-restored Guggenheim (with a fanstatic Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition), picking up our weekly CSA haul, watching the fireworks from a rooftop in Chelsea, and meandering over the Williamsburg Bridge on Sunday to stop at Guss' Pickles to pick up some amazing Full Sours, Pickled Tomatoes, and Sauerkraut. If you are near the LES, treat yourself to a stop at Guss'! Everything is prepared locally, the quality and taste is superb, and the prices are very reasonable.

Now that it is summer time in the city, I have been very much into making
smoothies and frozen, blended treats. These satiate my desires for things such as ice-cream, which even vegan, is not exactly the best food to put into your body. While I have seen many people post on the joys of 'Green Smoothies', I tend to lean towards eating or juicing my greens (I love the strong, bitter flavor!) and embracing the power of berries in blended form.
Berries, as you all know, are very high in antioxidants, flavonoids, and contain a spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Coupled with a banana, flaxseeds, and either filtered water, coconut water, or almond milk, this smoothie combination manages to be raw or high-raw, and also satiates me for most of the day. But before I hand over the recipe, an anectdote. The other day while doing some apartment re-decorating, I was reminded of the glory of Garam Masala. I accidentally had it one day to taste right after eating an apple slice, and was amazed at the flavor compliment. So, the smoothie recipe below contains a pinch of Garam Masala to add a bit of depth and warmth, much like Cinnamon, but a bit more exotic. Exotic, as we all know, is wonderful.

Blueberry-Banana-Flax Smoothie

1 medium banana

1/2-3/4 c. frozen blueberries

2 Tbsp. flaxseed

1/4 c. water or almond milk, plus more as needed

1/4 tsp. garam masala

Break banana into large pieces and place it and all other ingredients into a blender. Blend, adding more liquid if necessary to facilitate blending.


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