Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

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Lemon and Herb Kefir Spread

(Look for kefir in the yogurt section of your grocery store.)

2 cups plain whole milk kefir
1 teaspoon finely chopped preserved lemon (optional)
½ teaspoon lemon zest, grated on a Microplane
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pour the kefir into a nut bag or a triple layer of cheese cloth. Place the nut bag in a strainer. Place the strainer inside a bowl. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 16 to 18 hours.

Discard or reserve the whey (clearish liquid) in the bowl. Transfer the strained kefir from the nut bag into a small bowl. Add the preserved lemon, lemon zest, lemon juice and thyme and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slather on a piece of your favorite toasty bread and serve!

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine!

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Honey Vanilla Ricotta with Fresh Berries

It’s summer! Make use of your stash of berries with this simple and super quick dessert. Sure to be a crowd pleaser (for kids and adults)… Enjoy! Recipe is below (and in my cookbook, Great Food Starts Fresh, page 110) AND you can also watch me make this on my youtube page. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quJvHnOrIlE

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Fresh Fruit with Honey Vanilla Whipped Ricotta

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Fruit: (feel free to make your own berry combo!)

2 cups fresh sweet cherries, halved and pits removed

2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 pint blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or a combination

5 large fresh mint leaves, chopped finely (2 tablespoons) plus 4 large whole mint leaves for garnish

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Vanilla Whipped Ricotta:

1 (16-ounce) container whole-milk ricotta cheese, drained

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar

2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom

 

In a medium bowl, toss to combine the fruit salad ingredients.

Put the ricotta, vanilla extract, confectioners’ sugar, and honey in the bowl of a food processor or mixer. Process or whip until smooth. Refrigerate until it’s time for dessert.

To serve, divide the fruit into bowls, top with a generous spoonful of the Honey Whipped Vanilla Ricotta and garnish with a mint leaf.

Sweet Summer Corn Soup

What is summer without corn?! Grilled, sauteed, boiled – it’s all delicious, but one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy corn is corn soup.

This recipe is packed with that sweet corn flavor because everything comes to a boil, including the otherwise discarded cobs. Even when you take all the kernels off, they still hold so much flavor! So, why not use that flavor to your advantage? This recipe is also drought friendly: not only because we use every last inch of that corn on the cob, but also because it’s creamy without using any butter or dairy. The trick? Throwing a potato into the mix to give it extra richness. Oh, and there’s also that dollop of avocado. Mmmm.

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Creamed Summer Corn Soup with Chopped Cilantro and Avocado Puree

Yield: 6 cups

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

4 ears corn, kernels sliced off the cob (2 cups), reserving cobs

1 medium yellow potato, peeled and diced medium (1 cup)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 large lime)

1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Avocado puree (recipe below)

 

Heat the grapeseed oil in a small pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the corn (and their cobs), the diced potato and the stock, then cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Remove from the heat, then remove and discard the corn cobs.

Using an immersion blender, blend continuously until smooth. Add the lime juice, chipotle powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm and garnish each bowl with a dollop of avocado puree, a good sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a light grind of pepper.

 

Avocado Puree

1 large avocado (9 ounces), flesh scooped out, seed and skin discarded

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1/2 large lime)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

A few good grinds of black pepper

 

In a small food processor combine the ingredients and puree until smooth.

Melon Mint Sorbet

It’s a sweltering summer, so here’s a drought friendly recipe that will cool you off and make your summer fruit last. I recently got a delicious green melon at the Hollywood farmer’s market (from T&D Farms) called an Ogen Melon, originally from Israel. This is part of what makes shopping at the farmers market so fun – being able to try new varieties of fruits and vegetables. If you can’t find an Ogen Melon, you can use Honeydew. Either way, you can go wrong with this sweet, refreshing treat.

Melon1 Melon2 Melon3 Melon4 Melon5 Melon6 Melon8

Melon Mint Sorbet

Yield: approximately 2 pints

 

1 3-pound ogen melon or honeydew, cut in half and seeded

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup organic corn syrup

40 medium mint leaves

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (approximately 3 to 4 limes)

 

Scoop out melon and put in a blender. Puree and measure out 3 cups. (Drink any excess for a delicious cooling beverage!) Save the melon shell for optional service.

Add the 3 cups melon puree, sugar, organic corn syrup, mint leaves, salt and lime juice to the blender and blend on high for 30 seconds.

Transfer the blended mixture into an ice cream machine and process until firm. Alternatively, transfer to a container, cover with plastic film (pressing the film directly against the surface of the sorbet) and place into the freezer until firm.

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

OMG. This recipe is so delicious. Need proof? Super Sous and I grilled 7 ears of corn when developing this recipe and devoured them all within 15 minutes. In fact, Super Sous exclaimed, “this is the best grilled corn dish I’ve ever had!” when all was said and gone, I mean done.

Elote or the Mexican-style street food version of corn is common to see here, being sold, in LA. Vendors in parks or on street corners set up camp with their makeshift grills, tub of mayonnaise, chili powder and cojita cheese, serving the sweet and savory cobs to eager customers.  It’s pretty fantastic; a pleasure on the taste buds.

Since Super Sous and I have been creating Drought Friendly Recipes, we realized that we could still enjoy this creamy crunchy corn on the cob, sans egg and cheese by doing a swap out with soymilk aioli (aioli is normally made with an egg, but soymilk acts as an emulsifier) and using a sprinkle of nutritional yeast for the cheesy creaminess. Add to that a special spice mix blend we created (take that, chili powder!) and fresh chopped cilantro and you have a winner.

This recipe serves 12, but you may need to double or triple the batch. Trust us. It’s addictive.

 

corn shucked

Shucked corn with one layer of husk left

corn grilled

Grilled corn

Drought Friendly Aioli

Vegan Aioli

Elote with Aioli

Slathering on the aioli

Elote finished

Time to dig in

Drought Friendly Elote: Mexican-style Grilled Corn

Yield: 12 servings

 

12 ears of corn, whole and unshucked

Vegan Aioli (recipe below)

Elote Spice Mix (recipe below)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 cup packed roughly chopped cilantro

 

Preheat your grill to medium-high.

Shuck the corn, leaving 1 layer of husk covering the cob. Cut off the silk at top of corn.

Place the corn on the grill, close the lid, and grill for a total of 15 minutes, rotating the corn ⅓ turn every 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked and the husks are slightly charred.

Remove the corn from the grill, carefully shuck the corn (hot!). Brush with aioli, sprinkle some of the spice mix and yeast on the corn and top with cilantro.

Serve, enjoy, repeat.

 

Drought Friendly Vegan Aioli

Yield: 1 cup

 

1 large clove garlic, pressed (1/4 teaspoon)

3½ teaspoons lime juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup organic soy milk

2/3 cup organic grapeseed oil

 

Mix all ingredients except oil in a small container or bowl with high sides. (I used the glass container that goes with my French Press.

Using an immersion blender, blend all ingredients thoroughly.

Keep the immersion blender a bit raised in the container, to where the liquid is churning vigorously. Slowly stream the oil into the vortex of the churning liquid. Don’t rush this step. The slower the oil stream, the better. The liquid will thicken and form to the consistency of mayonnaise. Refrigerate until use.

 

Elote Spice Mix

1 tablespoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1¼ teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ancho chile powder

 

Mix ingredients together in a small bowl.

Veggie Burger

It’s summertime and that means burgers! Therefore, for our next Drought Friendly Recipe, we bring you a delicious, hearty and umami packed (thank you, mushrooms) veggie burger. This recipes makes thirteen 1/4 pound burgers. Now, if it were beef we were using, that would mean a serious water footprint. According to the LA Times, it takes 1,799 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef. So, again, if this recipe were using beef, it would take a little over 5,800 gallons of water to produce thirteen 1/4 pound burgers. Good thing this recipe is comprised of veggies and grains. When you calculate the water footprint of this recipe as is, it comes out to something around 800 gallons of water or around 1/7 of the water used for a beef burger. So, how about swapping in this recipe for your next burger night? Bonus: you can make the burger mix in advance and then cook the pattys off when the time comes. Enjoy!

veggie onions

Spreading out the caramelized onion on a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool

veggie burger mushroom

1/2 batch of quartered mushrooms ready for pulsing

mushrooms chopped veggie burger

Good texture for the mushrooms

mushroom onions veggie burger

Spreading the roasted mushrooms over the cooled caramelized onions

rice lentil veggie burger

Rice/Bulgur/Lentil mixture

spices veggie burger

Spices!

veggie burger

Brushing the burgers with oil before putting them in the pan

Veggie Burger Overhead

Time to eat.

Drought Friendly Veggie Burgers

Yield: 13 burgers

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided, plus more for brushing

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

20 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped roughly (1/2 cup)

24-ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

4 cups vegetable stock

¼ cup white jasmine rice

½ cup black (beluga) lentils

¾ cup bulgur

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, undrained

1 cup panko

1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground fennel

1 teaspoon ground cumin

The Fixin’s:

13 burger buns

13 large slices tomato

Lettuce (your choice!)

Pickled shallots

Organic ketchup, no question

Dijon mustard, gotta’ have mustard too

 

Place an oven rack to the upper position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the onion, 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon salt to a medium (3½ quart) saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 8 minutes until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the onion mixture over a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool. Do not wash the saucepan.

In a food processor, pulse half the mushrooms until finely chopped, approximately 30 quick pulses. Transfer mushrooms to a medium mixing bowl and pulse the remaining mushrooms in the same way. Transfer remaining mushrooms to the medium mixing bowl. Do not wash food processor.

Stir to combine the chopped mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Spread the mushrooms evenly over a parchment-lined sheet tray. Transfer sheet tray to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes. Remove the sheet tray from the oven and evenly spread the mushrooms over the onions to cool to room temperature.

In the same medium (3½ quart) saucepan used for the onion mixture, add the stock. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add rice, black lentils, bulgur, black beans (with liquid), ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil again. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes (scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning). Remove from the heat and drain excess liquid using a fine mesh strainer. Spread strained rice mixture evenly over a parchment-lined sheet tray and cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, using a fork, stir to combine the cooked mushrooms, cooked rice mixture, panko, dried oregano, chipotle powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, fennel and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put half of the mixture into a food processor and pulse 15 times until mixture is well combined. Transfer the processed batch back into the large mixing bowl and stir everything together until well mixed.

Using a ½ cup measuring cup, measure out ½ cup of mixture per burger, shaping the burgers with your hands into 4-inch (diameter) patties. Set each burger on a parchment-lined sheet tray and brush the top of each burger evenly with some oil.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Transfer the prepared burgers, oil side down, into the pan and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes. Brush the second side of the burgers with oil and then flip the burgers over. Continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked burgers to a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the burgers and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet tray from the oven. Serve burgers on buns with tomato slices, lettuce, pickled shallots, ketchup and mustard.

Drought Friendly Vegan Migas

A longer story covering our (Super Sous and my) Drought Friendly Recipes has been posted on the Central Valley NPR site and is  running on KVPR!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.47.32 AMPLUS~here’s a NEW Drought Friendly Recipe that Super Sous has created. Being from Texas, Super Sous gets a hankering for Tex Mex now and again. The other day, she was craving migas, which in Tex Mex language is a scrambled eggs dish made with tortilla chips. To make it drought friendly, Super Sous subbed crumbled organic tofu for the eggs. The rest is all veggie and spice goodness. Enjoy!

Migas1

Sauteing the onions, bell pepper, potatoes and poblano.

Migas2

Tofu Potato Migas

 

Drought Friendly Tofu Potato Migas

Yield: 4 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, diced small (1 cup)

½ pound potatoes, scrubbed and diced small

1 small poblano pepper, seeded, deveined and diced small

4 2-inch sprigs fresh thyme

1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (1½ tablespoons)

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

14-ounces organic extra firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled

1¼ cup broken organic corn tortilla chips

1 lime, halved

2 haas avocados, pitted and thinly sliced

½ cup picked fresh cilantro leaves

1 bottle of your favorite hot sauce

1 jar or batch of your favorite salsa, optional (try my tomatillo tomato salsa)

 

Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Let heat for 1 minute until hot. Add onion, red bell pepper, potato, poblano, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, coriander and chipotle powder. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, until liquid has mostly evaporated. Add tofu, stir and cook for 5 additional minutes.

Turn off heat. Add in tortilla chips, squeeze over half a lime, stir to combine and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lime as needed. Remove thyme sprigs.

Serve on plates with slices of avocado, cilantro, a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and some salsa.