spinach salad + baked falafel balls

Spinach Salad + Baked Falafel

i’d say in the last 6 months or so
i’ve had a strong feeling
of lethargy.
not physically per se,
but like i’m tired of the grind.
i’m perfectly content to have cereal for dinner,
and more often than not
i’ll turn to dw
and say we’re eating out
or it’s his turn, again, to make something.
i still go through the motions of
being an adult:
menu plan
grocery shop
meal prep.
if i’m really good,
i might even blog about it.
i would say though,
butt-end of 2016 was cereal all day, err’day,
and repeats,
like this spinach salad that is so stupid good,
and some form of bean ball,
whichever i happen to grab from the pantry.
it’s not a hardship when ingredients are good
to begin with,
but it certainly does make for
a quieter food space.

Spinach Salad + Baked Falafel

 

TL; DR:
i’m beat, i might drop off the face of the earth
cus all i eat is breakfast for dinner,
unless it’s this salad,
in which case, it’s dinner for breakfast.

Spinach Salad + Baked Falafel

spinach salad with dates & almonds
adapted from the cookbook jerusalem by ottolenghi
the NY Times has the full recipe

*note: we made this salad all autumn and it looks to be something we’ll be consuming all winter. i’ve used spinach, arugula, kale, or lettuce mix. my vinegar use is also spotty, sometimes it’s generic distilled white, other times it’s sherry vinegar and recently it’s been rice vinegar. i obviously have an issue with following recipes to the T. i also eyeball amounts of everything, because sometimes the fridge needs clearing or the meals needs to be stretched to the next day. it’s whatever tastes good, man.
**note: the butter can be omitted & double down on the olive oil, but if you’re able to consume it, or have access to lactose free butter, DO IT.
***note: the falafel balls are an added healthy protein option, though any meat or hard boiled egg would do. the salad is fine as a stand alone meal. i have taken to par-cooking or full on cooking the garbanzo beans before shaping. soaking is not enough and my stomach rebels if we skip the boiling part. besides, this method offers an almost creamy hummus-y like texture that’s quite pleasing.

3 TBL vinegar, take your pick, you can do whatever you want
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
4-6 dates, pitted and rough chopped
Salt
1 TBL unsalted butter, i use Green Valley Organics
2 TBL olive oil, divided
2-3 pitas, roughly torn or cut into 1 1/2 -inch pieces
1/2 cup raw, slivered almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tsp sumac
healthy pinch chili flakes
spinach or greens, aim for like 2 really big healthy handfuls
2 TBL freshly squeezed lemon juice, optional (real talk: i’ve never done this step, and up until i had to type this recipe out, i didn’t even know about it)

in bowl, add the vinegar, onion slices and dates. throw in a pinch of salt and mix. set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.

in a frying pan, heat up the butter & 1 TBL olive oil. aim for medium heat. add the pita pieces and cook until golden. this step can take up to 10 minutes sometimes, depending on how big the pieces end up being and how crunchy you want them to be. add in the almonds and mix well. take/turn off heat and add in the sumac & chili flakes and a pinch of salt. mix thoroughly.

to assemble, in a large mixing bowl add in the greens with the pita mix with the onion/date dressing, excess vinegar included. drizzle with an additional tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice if using, and toss well.

BAM!

baked falafel balls
makes 22 balls

soak 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans with a healthy pinch of baking soda overnight
1/4 cup of parsley, WITH STEMS
1/4 cup of cilantro, WITH STEMS
1/4 cup of minced onions
2 tsp cumin
salt/pepper to taste
1-2 tsp almond meal

cook garbanzo beans for about an 30-45 minutes, in the same soaking water. drain.

pre-heat oven at 350F and prep a baking sheet with parchment paper.

in a food processor, pulse the parsley, cilantro and onions. add in the cooked garbanzo beans, cumin and salt/pepper. pulse, you’re not making hummus, it’s a chunky texture that you’re aiming for, there might even be whole beans in there, you’re wanting the mixture to stick somewhat. add almond meal, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture binds enough to make a ball.

using an ice cream scooper, scoop out a portion and rolling to a ball. put on baking sheet and continue.

bake for 20-30 minutes. if you think of it, turn the balls to brown all over. it’s not detrimental if you don’t.

remove from heat. can be eaten hot or at room temp. usually i drizzle bit of miso-tahini dressing, which doesn’t clash with the spinach salad dressing.

BAM!

Spinach Salad + Baked Falafel

1 year ago: chili + fennel seed pork pies
2 years ago: lentil tacos
3 years ago: diy toy kitchen

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

in an effort to end 2016 with some
kind of happiness,
with some mad hope,
dw & i split the 4 day break
with friends,
then snuggled up,
(hygge, H O L L A!)
hiding from people,
watching sherlock.
we are our best selves
after a period of anti-social behavior.
it’s been a whirl of short weeks-long weekends,
now faced with not another holiday until spring,
i’m doing what i can to break the monotony of winter.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

the first step is a minor adjustment
to my social calendar.
i signed up to volunteer
at our local IRC office,
i was matched with a burmese family.
for a few hours a week
i will tutor them in english,
along with whatever else they’re up for.
this will likely challenge me,
i’m not naturally inclined toward teaching,
but this is necessary,
as i fight,
COME AT ME KC,
in a small way,
the absolute cluster of the next 4 years.

but first, let’s eat.
happy 2017.

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

mohinga – burmese fish noodle soup
adapted from luke nguyen

makes an ass ton – we were eating this for dinner for about 5 days, and there was still more, but i had to put an end to the leftover thing

note: i did not add the rice powder, because i didn’t feel like grinding rice. my spice grinder is for coffee grinding anyway.

noodle bowls:
rice vermicelli noodles
hard-boiled eggs, halved
chopped cilantro, to garnish
lime wedges, to serve

broth:
1 head of fish, if you had to choose, catfish is fine
1 lemongrass stem, bruised
2 garlic cloves, bashed
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 TBL cooked chickpeas, mashed (i used jarred jovial)
1 red onion, quartered
1/2 red onion, chopped
fish sauce, to taste
1.5 lbs catfish fillet, cleaned and de-boned

spice paste:
3 lemongrass stems, finely sliced, white part only
2-4 red chilis, to taste
1/2 red onion, rough chopped
4 garlic cloves , diced
1″ piece of fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
1/2 cup grape seed oil
2 tsp shrimp paste
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sweet paprika

make the broth: place the fish head in a large pot with the lemongrass, garlic, red onion quarters and turmeric. pour in enough cold water to cover the head and bring to a boil. skim off any muck, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. strain the broth and put back in pot. keep the heat at low, and gently lower the fish fillets into the broth and cook for about 15-20 minutes. remove the fillets and with forks, flake them into chunky pieces. set aside. keep the broth pot on low though.

while the broth is simmering, make the paste: in a mortar & pestle, pound the lemongrass, chillies, chopped onions, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste. you can use a food processor for ease.

in a saucepan, heat up the grape seed oil. add in the paste and saute for 20 minutes. you’re gonna question if the amount of oil is correct, and i’ll just say, i asked the same question and it worked out fine. stir in the shrimp paste, tumeric and paprika. add in the flaked fish, be gentle with mixing, cook on low for an additional 5 minutes.

returning to the pot of broth, add the fish mixture to it. next, throw in the mashed chickpeas and chopped red onions. season with fish sauce to taste. stir to combine, and let simmer for 30 minutes.

to serve:
cook vermicelli noodles according to package instructions. divvy into soup bowls.

ladle soup over noodles, being sure to add in chunks of flaked fish.

top with half hard boiled egg and generous smattering of chopped cilantro.
spritz with lime juice.

BAM!

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

3 years ago: coffee chocolate chip ice cream
2 years ago: carne rustida de navidad
1 year ago: spiced mexican cookies

curried broccoli & cheese soup

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

it’s been an emotional week –
i would be remiss to not mention
the historic shit show that is happening
in American politics right now.
i’ve cried more in the last 6 days than i care to admit
i’ve broken up with people on facebook
i spent the first 24 hours gathering grace,
the next 24 hours cowering,
and now i’m ready to tread out to the deep end.

as the late rufus scrimgeour said:
These are dark times, there is no denying.
Our world has perhaps faced no greater threat than it does today.
But I say this to our citizenry:
We, ever your servants,
will continue to defend your liberty
and repel the forces that seek to take it from you!
Your Ministry remains, strong.
(Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling)

stretch in the direction of kindness,
forgiveness, emotional bravery.
be a warrior for love.
(dear sugar, Cheryl Strayed)

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

curried broccoli & cheese soup
serves 2 for a week of lunches

note: the curry flavor is subtle, green curry can be spicy and the coconut milk and cheese tempers it, leaving a rather pleasant heat. you can up the amount if you want, i found that 2 TBL was enough.

healthy splash of olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup spelt flour
2 cups veggie stock
1 can of full fat coconut milk
2 TBL green curry paste, i’ve been using this brand and it’s spicy AF, i like this brand too.
4 cups broccoli florets + stems
2 large carrots, match-sticked
salt/pepper to taste
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese, we use cabot extra sharp cus it clear states that it’s lactose free

in a pot, heat up about 1-2 TBL of olive oil. saute the onions until translucent, with generous pinch of salt/pepper. at this point, you can remove the onions or you can be lazy like me and just push them to the side of the pan. drizzle in a healthy glug of more olive oil, about 3-4 TBL worth and then sprinkle in the spelt flour. you’re aiming to make a roux, so make sure that all the flour is incorporated in the fat. if you aren’t diligent about whisking/stirring it, it’ll get brown, which is fine but the color of your soup will be darker, the taste will be fine though. either way, make sure you fully incorporate the flour with the oil and it’s thick/pasty. add in the stock and coconut milk, as well as the green curry paste. whisk to incorporate the roux and the curry paste together. bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium and add in the broccoli, carrots and garlic. simmer til the vegs are tender, anywhere from 15-20 minutes. the soup will be thick, it can be thinned with a bit of water/stock if necessary. add in the grated cheese and stir through.

ladle into bowls and top with extra cheese if you’re feeling fancy.

BAM!

Curried Broccoli & Cheese Soup

3 years ago: blueberry jam danishes
2 years ago: chickpea & sausage stew (using the same props!)(my style has not changed much)
1 year ago: only one thing last year, vegan carrot cake

vegan mapo tofu

Vegan Mapo Tofu

every four years,
i’m surprised when election time arrives,
the level of vitriol increasing incrementally,
this latest season reaching obscene heights.
i became a citizen just in time
to vote in a historical president,
and it seems like we’re on the cusp of
voting in another historical president.
(at the time i wrote this post,
we did not know who the new president would be.)
mayhap with the passing of this season
things will settle,
be less contentious,
our facebook feed will go back to
cat postings
and finally,
i’ll catch up on the Brange drama;
though i wonder in the aftermath
of such hate,
and the tacit permission to be so unkind,
i wonder what the consequences will look like?

growing up tofu was consumed fairly often,
it’s nutritious and cheap.
lentils is a relatively new addition to my repertoire,
it’s also nutritious and cheap.
combining the two,
a western ingredient in an asian dish,
seems about right in this climate.

if only we could be so kind
in the blending of our cultures.

Vegan Mapo Tofu

Vegan Mapo Tofu
drawn from these sources: lady&pups, lucky peach, and burp! appetite.

note: you won’t use all the chili bean paste oil, it can be stored in fridge for a long time, used to top other dishes, like ramen or dandan noodles.
it’s spicy AF, dw was like, WHY IS THIS DISH SO ANGRY?!
note**: i’ve made this a few times, with/out the chili oil, with meat or with lentils, it changes depending on what we have in the pantry. what is the always the same is the tofu, i’m a firm tofu lover, the silken/soft stuff makes me mad. another thing, i always use the french lentils because they hold their shape better.

chili bean paste oil
1 cup of grapeseed oil
1 – 2 TBL of douban paste, i use lee kum brand
2 TBL chili pepper flakes

combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat at medium. with a spoon break the paste as best you can and fry for about 5 minutes, until the flakes turn brown. take off heat and cool completely. strain into a clean jar/container. keep in fridge until use.

the main event
1 package of firm tofu, wrapped in kitchen towel & pressed down with something heavy to draw out excess water
1/2 cup of lentils, i used black/french, cooked (cooked in water for about 30 minutes)
splash of oil
a knob of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced/minced dried wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water
2 TBL of douban paste, i use lee kum brand
splash of chinese shao-xing wine, rice wine is fine
splash of dark soy sauce
1 tsp of ground sichuan peppercorn, i use penzeys
1 – 2 cups of veg stock
1 TBL cornstarch + 2 TBL cold water

after tofu’s been pressed of excess liquid, cube it and set aside.

heat up a large skillet with some oil and the ginger and garlic, take care to not burn. add in the lentils, along with the mushroom and douban paste. stir it through so that the lentils are fully mixed with the paste. add in the shao-xing wine, dark sauce and ground peppercorn. cook it through for a minute or so and then add the stock and tofu cubes. lower the heat and allow to simmer until reduced by half. (i like my chinese dishes liquidy cus i enjoy pouring the sauce over rice). add in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. gently mix everything and the liquid is fully thickened, and transfer to serving bowl.

top with a tablespoon or so of the chili oil, heated in a small pan. serve with hot rice.

BAM!

Vegan Mapo Tofu

3 years ago: chicken pho
2 years ago: za’atar socca + middle eastern smashed avocado
1 year ago: only one thing last year, vegan carrot cake

lemongrass chicken & rice soup

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

we celebrated autumn super early this year,
like,
butt-crack of september early.
not because it was cold,
but because there was a Chicken Soup Contest
that i had to enter
and i needed to tweak the recipe.
for 3 weeks straight
poor dw had to eat chicken soup for lunch.
further,
he had to analyze what it was lacking,
and what i could do to fix that lacking.

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

dw was by my side the entire event,
helped set up,
calmed my nerves,
and assisted with the ladling.
(he also reminded me to look gracious
when i didn’t win ALLLLLL the categories #TigerChild)
i even sent him out to spy on my fellow competitors.
alas,
we walked away with the
“Director’s Choice Award”
(he was so adorably proud #MyBiggestFan)
we have a week’s worth
of leftover soup for lunch,
dw has requested no soup after this week,
and i’m already brainstorming for next year.

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

lemongrass chicken & rice soup
serves 6-8
keeps in fridge for a week, perfect for lunches.

*note: it looks like a lot. if it’s too long, you don’t want to read and you’re strapped for time, use boxed/canned chicken stock and infuse the lemongrass/ginger/garlic/kefir lime leaves by simmering them in for about 30 minuntes. it’s cheating, but it’ll do the trick.
*due to this being a jewish contest, the rules were that the ingredients be kosher. kosher rotisserie chicken is brined, so there’s an added saltiness. for the first 2 weeks we used regular plain rotisserie chicken and upped the fish sauce amount. for the last 2 weeks, i decreased the fish sauce amount, just be sure to season to taste accordingly.
*note: the garnishes are clutch — the lime and cilantro adds freshness. don’t skimp on that.
*late note: to keep the flavor of lemongrass etc in the soup throughout the week, keep the extra flavoring pieces in, fishing them out just before serving. if you take them out sooner, the soup still tastes great, but it’s milder.

homemade stock:
1-2 kosher chicken carcasses, depending on how big they are
3 large carrots, washed, tips trimmed and rough chopped
3 stalks of celery, washed and rough chopped
6 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and slightly bruised
2″ knob of ginger, slightly smashed
3-4 garlic gloves, whole but slightly smashed
handful of kefir lime leaves
1 small-medium onion, quartered
3-4 red thai chilis, whole and scored
palm-full of whole black peppercorns
water

soup:
2-3 carrots, washed, peeled & diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
meat of kosher rotisserie chicken, shredded
1/2 cup rice
1/8-1/4 cup kosher fish sauce (i used Red Boat)
1 TBL oil, olive oil or grapeseed

extra flavoring:
2-3 lemongrass stalks, slightly bruised
1″ knob of ginger, slightly smashed
1-2 garlic cloves, slightly smashed
1/2 small onion, cut in half
1-2 red thai chilis, whole and scored
splash of neutral oil, like grapeseed

garnish:
limes
chopped cilantro
chopped red chili (very, very optional)

in a crock pot, add all the stock ingredients in and add water till it covers everything. lid, turn on low and walk away. i’ve done it for as short of amount as 4 hours and for as long as over night (about 7-8 hours). strain and set aside.

to make the extra flavoring, in a small frying pan gently warm a splash of oil and saute all the ingredients. be gentle, you’re just warming the ingredients through so they can release their aroma and flavor. keep on low, kinda sorta ignore and every so often move the ingredients around so they don’t feel neglected and burn.

in a big pot, heat up the oil and saute the diced onion until softened, you’re not looking to caramelize it though so be careful. add in the minced garlic, carrots and celery and mix thoroughly. carefully pour in the stock. add in the extra flavoring & shredded chicken, and bring to a boil.

lower heat.

add in the 1/2 cup of rice, stir, lid and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

season with fish sauce, to taste.

at this point, you can fish out the random flavorings, or just avoid them when ladling the soup.

serve with lime wedges and topped with chopped cilantro and chopped red chili.

BAM!

Lemongrass Chicken & Rice soup

3 years ago: how to make bouillon cubes
2 years ago: blueberry swirl + coconut macaroons
1 year ago: apparently, i didn’t do shit last year.