Miz Chef

Cooking Up a Healthy Life


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Husk Cherry Salsa

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So, what exactly are husk cherries? That’s what I wanted to know when I spotted them at the Union Square farmers’ Market in Manhattan. At first I thought they were gooseberries because they looked exactly like gooseberries—they were golden globes covered in a paper-thin, skin-like husk.

But the sign said “husk cherries.” Naturally, I bought some.img_6445

Native to the New World, husk cherries are not cherries at all. Sometimes also called husk tomatoes, Cape gooseberries, and ground cherries, they’re a type of flowering plant belonging to the nightshade family.

Their flavor is quite unique. It’s like a cross between a tomato, a papaya, and a pineapple. Sweet and savory at the same time. The easiest and no-brainer way to use them is in a salsa, which is exactly how Native Americans peoples used them, as well as eating them out of hand.

I think if food-loving people were smart, they’d introduce themselves to husk cherries and make them better known to the world. They’re really a great little fruit/vegetable. If you ever see them, buy a small bagful and give this recipe a try.

Enjoy!

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Husk Cherry Salsa

Makes approximately 1½ cups.

1 cup husk cherries
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced chile of your choice
¼ minced cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Remove the husks from the cherries by peeling the husks back and twisting them off. Rinse the cherries in cool water and set on paper towels to drain. Cut the cherries in half and place them in a bowl.img_6451Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Serve with tortilla chips or pita bread, or use as a relish for fish, chicken, pork, or vegetables.img_6455

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Release of World Party!!

World Party Front CoverAt long last, I can finally announce the release of my latest cookbook, World Party: Vegetarian Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvres and Party Plates.

Thai Peanut Dumplings

Thai Peanut Dumplings

This is both an excitement and a relief because this book has been on a long and arduous trip. I first got the idea for it, and began researching recipes and cuisines for it, in 2002. I spent many years testing and developing recipes to duplicate the dishes I’d read about and sampled, but in such a way that they would stay true to the originals as much as possible while making them meatless.

M'Baazi

M’Baazi

I started with a list, and that list grew and grew. Over the years, I added recipes, deleted recipes, changed recipes, and in a few cases I was so determined to make a particular recipe work that I just kept testing and testing until I came up with the right result. Sometimes a recipe simply didn’t work and I tossed it. Occasionally I would discover that I’d confused one dish for another, and sometimes I had a recipe that I couldn’t find the proper name for in its originating culture. In those cases, I researched high and low on the internet and in books and magazines, asked friends and coworkers if they knew, asked friends to ask their friends and coworkers if they knew, posted questions in special interest groups on Facebook, etc. I found out the answers to some, and found out that I had others all wrong.

An Indian Feast

An Indian Feast

As I met and talked to more and more people from different cultures, my list expanded but, oddly, also shrank. So many cultures have more common threads than we imagine, and as I started to examine my recipes, I began to realize that there were more similarities than differences. It was a fascinating and educational journey I went on.

Pot Stickers

Pot Stickers

The one thing I’ve learned from this project, if nothing else, is that no matter what clothing people wear, what religion they practice, what rituals they perform, what kinds of jobs they hold, or how much money they have, we are more similar than we are different. You can see this in the very similar dishes that are shared between nations, with maybe just a spice or two, or a cooking method, differentiating them.

Arepitas with Black Bean-Corn Salsa

Arepitas with Black Bean-Corn Salsa

Eating is the one thing that every single human being on earth must do to survive, so it’s no wonder that food is the common bond across the planet. No matter where you go in the world, a signal that you are welcome is the offer of food. When you are a guest at someone’s home, it always gives your hosts tremendous pleasure to feed to. It is the global sign of hospitality, and many customs and rituals were created around food. In some places, to refuse food is an insult, or to not finish it all is a sign of poor manners. Some cultures expect you to belch loudly when you’re done to show that you are satisfied.

Food always brings brings people of the world together.

Australian "Roo" Burgers

Australian “Roo” Burgers

It’s my hope that through food, we can find common ground and sit at the table together to share a meal.

So take a trip around the world. If you can’t do it physically, do it in your kitchen and at your table. Try new recipes and explore new flavors, and invite your friends and loved ones to share in the journey. Most of all, enjoy it. Peace.

A Spanish Feast

A Spanish Feast

 

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Ah, The Cranberry Sauce

Still looking at the bowl of leftover cranberry sauce in the fridge? The nice img_0020thing about cranberry sauce is that it has a pretty long shelf life (the sugar acts as a preservative). But the question is always, what do I do with it all?

Well, I’m here to help. Once again, here is my list of 12 things to do with leftover cranberry sauce.

  1. Mix a tablespoon of it into chicken or tuna salad.
  2. Make a salad dressing. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to a homemade vinaigrette.
  3. Use it as a sauce for meats, vegetables, fish, and (my favorite) vegetarian “chicken” patties.
  4. Mix about ½ cup to 1 cup of it into cheesecake before placing it in the oven. (Just swirl it in; don’t overmix.)
  5. Dollop some on top of slices of pound or angel cake.
  6. Stir about 1 cup of it into a big pot of chili.
  7. Make ketchup out of it—add it to a traditional homemade ketchup recipe.
  8. Turn it into salsa by adding some minced jalapeno or some chili powder and cumin to it, or a chutney by adding other dried or fresh fruits, such as raisins, chopped dates, or chopped apple.
  9. Use it as jam for toast, muffins, or bagels.
  10. Mix about ¼ cup into muffin batter (these will be the best cranberry muffins ever!).
  11. Use it as an ingredient in homemade ice cream.
  12. Add it to a breakfast bread.img_5650

This recipe is a healthy loaf (which many people appreciate after Thanksgiving), using whole wheat flour and flax seeds. You can have a healthy post-Thanksgiving breakfast or snack while still enjoying holiday flavors. You don’t need a lot of sugar, either, because there are sweeteners already in the sauce. As for the flax seeds, use a clean coffee grinder to grind it until you get a coarse powder. Enjoy!

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Cranberry Sauce-Walnut Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
2 tablespoons sugar or maple crystals
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
½ cup cranberry sauce
½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper so that parchment sticks out of the sides (or grease it very well).

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, flax seeds, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt.img_5633In a small bowl, mix together eggs and buttermilk.img_5634Mix this into the flour mixture just until all dry ingredients are moistened.img_5635Stir in the walnuts. Swirl in the cranberry sauce, but don’t mix it in completely—you just want it to run through the batter.img_5638Spoon batter into loaf pan. Bake until lightly golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out fairly clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Some moist cranberry on the toothpick is okay.

Set pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Turn loaf out onto the rack. Serve warm or cool completely.

If you have any cranberry sauce left, dollop a spoonful on each slice.img_5654

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15 Things to Do With Leftover Stuffing

Once again, I’d like to offer a post that some people found helpful in the past. With this one, I hope to help answer the serious question of what to do with all that Thanksgiving stuffing (or dressing, depending on where you are). Here are some ideas for using up all that delicious stuffing in your fridge.stuffing-2016

These ideas will work with just about any kind of stuffing, so be creative and just dig into that Tupperware bowl! I’d love to hear from you and find out what you made with your leftovers this year.

15 Things to Do With Leftover Stuffing

  1. Stuffed Peppers: Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and membranes, and press the stuffing into the cavities. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until peppers have softened.
  2. Frittata: Beat 6 eggs and stir in about a cup of stuffing. Cook in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until underside has browned. Flip over or place in a 350 degree oven until other side has browned.
  3. Turkey casserole: Replace the rice or bread in your favorite turkey casserole recipe with stuffing.
  4. Dumplings for soup, stew, or chili: Mix 1 beaten egg into 4 cups stuffing and roll into balls. If too loose, add breadcrumbs. Drop into soup, stew, or chili and let cook.
  5. Vegetable pie: Using the stuffing as the bottom layer where mashed potatoes would be used.
  6. Stuffing cakes: Flatten stuffing into a patties and pan fry; serve with leftover cranberry sauce or gravy.
  7. Turkey sandwich with stuffing: Self-explanatory.
  8. Stuffed artichokes: Trim artichokes. Press stuffing between the leaves. Place in a baking pan with a 1/2 inch of water in the bottom and cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees until tender.
  9. Stuffed chicken breasts: Flatten chicken breasts with a mallet. Place a tablespoon or two of stuffing and roll up the chicken. Pan fry or bake until cooked through.
  10. Vegetable calzone: Make your favorite calzone recipe and just mix some stuffing into the vegetables.
  11. Vegetarian meatballs: Add 1 beaten egg to 4 cups stuffing. Add grated tempeh or crumbled tofu and, if you like, some grated cheese. Pan fry or bake at 350 degrees until browned.
  12. Rice balls: Add stuffing to any kind of rice–this is a good way to also use leftover rice–and roll into balls. Dip in beaten eggs and roll in breadcrumbs. Pan fry or baked at 350 degrees until lightly browned and heated through.
  13. Vegetable sauté: Make your favorite vegetable saute recipe and mix in some stuffing. Keep cooking until well blended and heated through.
  14. Meatloaf or Veggie Meatloaf: Replace the breadcrumbs in your favorite meatloaf recipe with stuffing. If the stuffing is moist, reduce the amount of any liquid you use.
  15. Veggie burgers: Mix stuffing into your prepared vegetables. Form patties and cook as you normally would.

 

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Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist

cranberry enhancedA few years ago, I introduced a recipe for Cranberry Sauce with a Sorghum Twist. I think using sorghum syrup is a great way to enjoy traditional dishes without using white cane sugar.

In my cranberry sauce, it also adds a different dimension to the flavor. And it’s still one of my favorite cranberry sauce recipes.

So, below is a reprint of my original post from 2013. I hope you like it. Have a fun, safe, and peaceful Thanksgiving.

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Mashed Purple Potatoes

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Thanksgiving is coming up and people are always looking for new and different ways to serve favorite and/or traditional dishes. Purple potatoes are a great way to liven up the table.

Purple potatoes are originally from South America (where img_6316potatoes in general are originally from), particularly Peru and Bolivia. In fact, they’re sometimes referred to as Purple Peruvian potatoes. While they taste pretty much the same as standard white potatoes, because of their pigment, purple potatoes are high in antioxidants—4 times as much as white potatoes. Antioxidants are cancer-fighting agents, are good for immunity and heart health.

I found some beautiful purple potatoes at the farmers’ market and decided to mash them. Their dramatic blue/purple color makes this a special dish while still giving everyone the scrumptious mashed potatoes they’ve come to love and expect.

Enjoy.

Mashed Purple Potatoes

6 small to medium purple potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon half-n-half
½ teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Scrub the potatoes and cut them in halves or quarters. Place them in a medium pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil.img_6317

Lower the heat to low, partially cover, and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife. Drain well and let cool a bit. When they’re cool enough to handle, peel off the skin.img_6338

Place the potatoes in a mixing bowl. Add the oil, half-n-half, salt, and pepper. Mash with a potato masher. (Don’t use a food processor or blender, as this will make the potatoes gummy.)img_6339

Check the potatoes for seasoning and adjust, if needed.

 

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Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf and Red Onions

Roasted Spaghetti SquashMore spaghetti squash? Why not? It’s squash season, after all. Squash is synonymous with autumn. img_6232

Although spaghetti squash can be found from fall through the spring, there’s something comforting and pleasurable about roasting vegetables in the fall, especially squash. And since many people aren’t sure what to do with spaghetti squash, I’ve been offering some recipes. Last week, I offered Easy Spaghetti Squash Chili. This week, I have for you Roasted Maple-Bourbon Spaghetti Squash with Amaranth Pilaf.

Cultivated by the Aztecs 8,000 years ago, amaranth is a tiny little grain that is surprisingly high in protein, as well as other nutrients. One cup of raw amaranth contains 28 grams of protein, 15 milligrams of iron, and 18 milligrams of fiber, which makes it one of the most nutrient-rich grains on earth. img_6256

Amaranth is also a great source of lysine, a protein-rich amino acid. This is good news for those of us who suffer from canker and cold sores. L-lysine has been shown to shorten the life span of canker sores. I can personally attest to this because when one of those little monsters starts making itself known, I start digging into the giant bottle of lysine, and believe me, it works.

So this dish makes the perfect side dish to any autumn meal, but because of the amaranth and almonds, it also is a satisfying entree on its own. And spaghetti squash is low in calories, low in carbs, and almost fat free, so whatever diet you may be on, you can’t go wrong with this squash. You can serve it in lovely slices, or you can scrape out the spaghetti-like flesh and eat it like a pasta dish. Continue reading