Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Picnic Posole Salad

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I’ve been making posole salad for picnics, parties, and barbecues years. I think people enjoy it because it’s both something different from the usual fare, while offering something familiar and not too “out there.”

hominy

Dried hominy

So what is posole (or pozole)? Not everyone outside of the Latin community is familiar with posole. Posole means “hominy” (from the Nahuatl word pozolle), and actually refers to a stew, popular in Mexico and made with hominy and pork or chicken. But it is sometimes also used (loosely and unofficially) to refer to the hominy itself, which is properly called mote. Corn, in general, is known as maize.

Mote is maize that has had its hulls removed through a process known as nixtamalization. This involves boiling the kernels in a water-and-lime (or ash) solution. The resulting product is used in many traditional dishes throughout Latin America, the most commonly known being posole stew, a dish that goes back to the pre-Colombian Aztecs. Continue reading

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Chilean Tomato and Sweet Onion Salad

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One of the best things about summer is all the beautiful, luscious tomatoes that become available. So this is the season for tomato salads. It’s almost not even worth it to make tomato salad any other time of the year.

This is a simple Chilean version, which gets a bit of a kick from minced Serrano or jalapeno pepper. But if you like, you can omit it. Choose any tomatoes you like—there are so many options this time of year! Heirloom varieties make a stunning salad, but good old beefsteak tomatoes do better than fine. Continue reading


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Oat Noodle Salad with Umeboshi Plum Dressing

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Yes, I’m still on a noodle kick. This time I’ve created a recipe using oat flour noodles. The nice thing about gluten-free noodles is that they’re lighter than wheat noodles, but like wheat noodles, they can be used in a variety of ways.IMG_6043

For some reason, these noodles are sold in packages with the odd weight of 13.4 ounces. I don’t know how or why they came up with that number, but it makes it awkward to create a recipe. (They probably started with 380 grams and it just happens to convert to 13.4 ounces, but why 380?) Well, I used approximately 10 ounces, which is three of the bundles that come in the package in the photo.

In this recipe, I’ve paired oat noodles with string beans and Japanese yams (although, if you can’t find Japanese yams, you can use sweet potatoes). The noodles and yams will soak up the dressing very efficiently, so if the salad is too dry for your tastes, you can add a little more olive oil, but the salad will not be oily in the slightest.

Ume Plum

Ume Plum

For the dressing, I used an umeboshi plum. Umbeboshi plums, a Japanese specialty, are ume plums (but more closely related to apricots) that have been salted and fermented. In the world of natural healing, umeboshi plums are considered miracle workers. If you divide foods into acidic, alkaline, and neutral, umeboshis are alkaline and can adjust imbalances in your body. It’s been used in Asia, particularly, Japan, China, and Korea, for centuries for a variety of ailments, including fatigue, nausea, diarrhea, colds, indigestion, headaches, and hangovers, among other things. Samurai soldiers were given umboshi as part of their field rations. They not used the plums to help them battle fatigue, they also used them to flavor foods such as rice and vegetables. Umeboshis also acted as a water and food purifier. Continue reading


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Warm Sorghum Salad

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This week in honor of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead, I offer you Warm Sorghum Salad.

Okay, the truth is, I already had this blog post and recipe prepared but it seemed like an appropriate time to post it.IMG_5809

Many people don’t know what sorghum is. It’s a grain that originated in Africa and that’s been used in this country for years as fodder—except in the South, where it’s been a fairly popular grain. Also in the South, sorghum molasses often takes the place of regular molasses, honey, maple syrup, and corn syrup. In short, it’s a liquid sweetener that’s used in baked goods, as well for drizzling on biscuits, pancakes, and toast.

I’ve offered other sorghum recipes here, such as Sorghum Pilaf, Sorghum Stir-Fry, and my Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist (using sorghum molasses) even made it in into the holiday issue of Pilcrow & Dagger.

Sorghum is gluten free and inexpensive. But it’s also very use friendly. It’s a diverse grain that can be used in many different dishes. Here’s my Warm Sorghum Salad. It’s great to bring to dinner in the fall and winter, but also to barbecues and picnics in the warmer seasons. And the kale makes it a well-rounded, healthy dish. Enjoy!

Warm Sorghum Salad

Makes 6 servings

1 cup sorghum grain
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup minced shallot
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ lb. mushrooms (preferably a combination of white and baby bella), thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 packed cups chopped kale
Fresh pepper
½ small lemon

Dressing
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the sorghum in a mesh strainer and rinse it under running water for a minute or two. Place it in a small pot along with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, until tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain well.

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Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide skillet. Add the shallot, ¼ teaspoon salt, and saute until soft and translucent, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute until the water they release dries up and mushrooms brown.IMG_5813When you see browned bits in the pan, deglaze with the apple cider vinegar (add it to the pan and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon).IMG_5816

Add the kale and another ½ teaspoon salt and cover; cook until kale is tender.IMG_5818While that’s cooking, make the dressing and set aside.

When the sorghum is cooked, add it to the pan with the kale and pepper and mix.IMG_5821Pour in the dressing and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Squeeze the lemon over it and stir.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.IMG_5824


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Chickpeas and Beet Salad

IMG_1024Despite the fact that I have less and less time to cook for myself these days, when I walk past the farmer’s market, I’m seduced by the beautiful vegetables. So, then I find myself with vegetables that I have no time to cook, but must.

This week, I had beets. The beets were firm and bright and the leaves were full and green. I couldn’t help myself. But I had to deal with them quickly. So, I went to my go-to beet recipe: Chickpea and Beet Salad. It’s simple, it’s fast (once the beets are cooked), and it’s satisfying.

The greens? My go-to greens recipe: sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

The reason for my lack of time? Well, apart from my work/commute issue, I have multiple projects happening at the same time. One of those is volume 2 of Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, which is finally under way after a very long delay at my publisher. It’s slated for release in April 2016. With any luck, that will be the case.

This beet recipe, by the way, appears in volume 1 of Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, and it’s just one of many delectable dishes straight from the Mediterranean. Continue reading


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Red & Golden Beet Carpaccio

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I went to the Greenmarket this past week and found golden beets, which is not something I encounter often. So I bought a bunch and finally got around to roastingfarmer's market 8-14 them. I love beets and so happened to also have some red beets left over as well.

I wondered what I should do with all these beets. Well, as it turns out, today was a pretty hot day and I just didn’t have the energy or desire to do too much food prep.

So I pulled out my mandoline and just sliced these little jewels up. My mandoline is old and cheap and it sucks, so I didn’t really get nice clean edges. But it didn’t matter. Some extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and thinly sliced red onions (which I also got at the IMG_3207Greenmarket), and I had a simple, flavorful, and attractive light summer dish. The herbs from my garden and a few olives topped it off.

Do not discard the leafy greens. Those are amazing sauteed in olive oil and garlic. Trim off the tough stems. Fill a big bowl with cold water and soak the leaves for about 15 minutes (swish them around a couple of times). Lift the leaves out of the bowl and place them in another bowl. Repeat this a couple of times until you feel the leaves are clean. Saute garlic in olive oil, sprinkle in some paprika, then add the greens and some salt. Cover and cook over medium heat until wilted, about 10 minutes. This is both delicious and nutritious—they contain antioxidants, vitamins B6 and A, calcium, and they help fight osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s Disease. The beets themselves have vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, folate, and manganese. They help prevent prevent anemia, build muscle and maintain nerve function, build bone strength, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote a healthy immune system. And its betaine, an amino acid, helps fight against colon and stomach cancers.

Red & Golden Beet Carpaccio

2 large red beets
2 large golden beets
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and trip beets (snip off long roots and cut off stems). Wrap beets up tightly in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierce with the tip of a knife, about 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and unwrap. When cool enough to handle, peel off skin with the help of a paring knife.

Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice beets as thinly as possible. Arrange on a plate, along with the red onion. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Season with salt and pepper.

Add olives, herbs, or any other seasonings you’d like.

Serves 2.

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Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

Chickpea (garbanzo) and beet salad is not a new thing. In fact, a recipe for it is in my cookbook, Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, Volume 1. But, see, I had this kale that I needed to use, and I had just roasted up these fresh beets that I’d purchased at the Greenmarket.

So, this particular chickpea and beet salad is a mutated version of my old recipe, encompassing the little “extras” in my fridge. It’s really simple and can easily be seasoned to suit anyone’s taste.

Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

2 medium beets
1 cup kale leaves, washed and chopped
½ cup cooked garbanzos
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cured olives (any kind)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. (The time will vary, depending on the size and freshness of the beets. You will have to unwrap the foil to check it.)

Remove from oven, unwrap the foil, and let cool. When cook enough to handle, peel the beets with a paring knife (the skin will pull right off). You may want to wear gloves to keep your fingers from turning red. Chop and place in a medium bowl.

Add kale, garbanzos, oil, and balsamic and mix. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and mix again. Gently mix in the olives.

Serves 2.