Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

Grits ‘n’ Greens, Mediterranean-Style January 29, 2012

Maybe it’s because I’m part Mexican.  Maybe it’s because I’m part Paraguayan (the lost land of South America).  Or maybe it’s because I’m American-born.  But I’m quite a fan of any food that is based on corn as a grain.  Corn tortillas, tortilla chips, corn nuts, Fritos, grits, tamales, cornbread, pop-corn, Corn Pops…  I once lost, and swallowed, a baby tooth while eating Corn Pops.  Corn Flakes are kinda boring, but I’d eat them, I guess.  And let’s not forget Cheetos.  The crunchy kind, not puffy.

And then there’s polenta, the Italian answer to American grits.  Both are a simple combination of cornmeal and water to produce a porridge, but polenta is cooked longer than grits, to bring out more flavor from the grain.   Additionally, there is soft polenta, and firm.  Soft polenta is a more velvety version of grits.  Firm polenta has a creamy interior, yet is able to hold its shape.  Either style can be fashioned in a variety of ways: as breakfast, lunch, or dinner; main dish or side; sweet or savory; boldly flavored or mild.  Cornmeal is awesome…

Firm Polenta (to impress your friends and family)

2 cups cornmeal (I used half coarse and fine ground)

6 cups water

salt to taste

any other desired herbs or spices (optional)

butter or olive oil (optional)

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 2 cups of the water to make a mush.

2) Heat the remaining water to a boil.  Add the salt, and whisk in the cornmeal mush.  I also threw in some black pepper, nutmeg, and paprika.  Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.  Stir almost constantly.  As time passes, the polenta will thicken.  (I went for 30 minutes, arms got tired.)

3) Once the time is up, spread the polenta onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You can spread it as thick as one inch, or thinner.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.  I neglected mine for a couple of hours, actually…

4) Once the polenta is cooled, you can cut it into any shape you desire.  I happened to have received some AWESOMELY AMAZING animal-shape cutters from Henry’s sister, Justine.  I couldn’t help but use the rabbit…  Thaaank yoooouuu Justiiiiiiinnne :)

5)  Bake your bunnies polenta at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, or til desired crispiness.

After that, you can do what ever you like with your polenta.  But I have a suggestion…

Saute a few cloves of garlic and a cup of sliced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  Add half a cup each of chopped black olives and raisins, and half a pound of fresh spinach (trust me on the olive-raisin combination, especially if you like sweet-and-salty stuff).  Once the spinach is cooked, season with salt, pepper, and some vinegar if that’s your thing.  Then throw in a quarter cup of chopped nuts or seeds.  I used pistachios, but anything will  do.

Some paprika for color, and CUTEST DINNER EVER.

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“It’s Chowdah!” January 27, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 7:50 am
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I’m not sure where this idea came from.  Probably from the vegetable drawer where I had a bunch of celery that I wanted to use up… and the pantry where I stored the plethora of grains we received from le sister-in-law for Christmas.  Thaaaank yooouuuu, Tiiiiinaaaaa :)

Also from the gigantic library of Simpsons dialogue that is stored in my brain…

Though atypical, I believe this soup may qualify as a chowdah.  It’s creamy and chunky.  Yet it contains no actual cream (unless you decide so), and while it fills you up, does not leave you feeling heavy.  This soup/chowder is green.  Win.  It’s got satisfying texture, and herbal tanginess.  More win.

One prerequisite to this recipe is that you like celery.  Of course, you could use something besides celery, such as carrots, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, etc…  But then you wouldn’t have the lovely shade of chartreuse…

Celery & Amaranth Chowder

Ingredients:

1 lb celery stalks, including the leaves

1 small/medium onion (preferably yellow or white)

some light vinegar (such as apple cider, white wine, or champagne), or better yet, a dry white wine

3/4 cup amaranth grain

1 bay leaf

1 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp white or black pepper

5-6 cups water or vegetable broth

1-2 avocados (depending on how creamy you want it.  One was enough for me.)

2-3 Tbsp tahini

1) Coarsely chop the onion and place in a food processor.  Add the celery leaves, and puree into a slurry.  Heat the slurry over medium-high heat in a soup pot.  Oil or butter is optional here, as the slurry will steam-cook itself.  Keep it covered for 10-15 minutes.  Meanwhile, chop the celery stalks into bite-size chunks.  Mash up the avocado pulp, and set aside.

2) Uncover the soup pot and let the onion-celery leaf  slurry evaporate some of its liquid.  It should turn a slightly darker green and reduce in volume.

3) Add the chopped celery stalks and cook until they just start to tenderize. Pour in enough vinegar or wine to loosen any bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan (a few tablespoons should do it).  Add the amaranth, water or broth, and spices.  It will look like a Florida canal, unfortunately…

4) Cook, partially covered, over medium heat for 20-30 minutes.  This should be enough time for the amaranth to cook, and the celery to soften a little more, but still retain some bite.  Turn the heat to low, or completely off, and stir in the mashed avocado and tahini.  Add salt to taste, and more vinegar if it’s lacking “pop“.  Adjust the seasoning if needed.

You can make this chowder more indulgent by stirring in some heavy cream, sour cream, creme fraiche, or cream cheese.  (Anything involving the word cream, I guess…)  Plain yogurt would also be good, as well as cashew butter.  Serve with some rustic whole grain bread, or a baked potato.  For garnish, I found Kalamata olives to be fantastical, but some grated cheese would be wondiferous.

It’s CHOWDAH!

 

Ghost Noodles January 23, 2012

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 10:04 am
Tags: , ,

I meant to write/post this yesterday… but damn, I hate Sundays.  I know most people hate Mondays, but I’m actually refreshed on Monday.  On Sunday I feel leaden with BLAH.  I attribute this to a Catholic upbringing.

Anywho...  Have you heard of shirataki noodles?  They’re made from the tuber-like stem of a plant called konjac (which also goes by various other names but you can just Wiki that).   The plant is found in India, China, Korea, and Japan, and is used to make flour and jelly-like foods.  It’s very high in fiber, and extremely low in calories, which of course, makes it a good diet food.  And leave it to the tiny-waisted Japanese to make a noodle that’s practically calorie-free.

The ones I bought are studded with bits of seaweed, but you can find plain ones, as well as tofu-based shirataki.  Regular grocery stores may have them, but you’re better off going to the Asian market.  There are “wet” and “dry” packages.  The wet ones are pretty much ready to go, and packaged in liquid.  You can find those in the refrigerated section.  I’ve yet to work with dry shirataki.  Like most noodles, they lack flavor and serve as a blank canvas for whatever you’re making.  I was looking to make something reminiscent of a ramen pack.  You know, salty, savory, mysteriously addictive…

Collegiate Shirataki

Ingredients:

1-2 tsp sesame oil (you can use other oils, but this will yield more of that “Japanese” flavor)

veggies/protein of your choice (or not, but we’re trying to be healthy, right?)

1 small package of shirataki noodles (any type)

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 cup or more of water or vegetable broth (depending on how soupy you like your noodles)

soy sauce to taste

1) Heat the sesame oil in a medium saucepan, and saute your veggies.  Once they’re cooked, add the noodles.

If you’re cool, you cook with chopsticks.

2) Add the remaining ingredients, and let it simmer a few minutes.  Like I said, feel free to add more liquid if you’d like.

And that’s pretty much it.  Adjust the seasoning if need be.  You probably won’t need any salt if you use enough soy sauce.  If you want to go totally fat-free, omit the oil and just throw everything together and simmer.  But I mean, a little fat is definitely a good thing…

Enjoy with your fancy chopsticks.  (Or the ones you stole from Pei Wei, whatever.)

 

Cheez-an-Rice, Que Crazee! January 18, 2012

Filed under: Recipes — rabbit @ 2:01 pm
Tags: , ,

I’d say I censor myself pretty well on here.  I could write the way I actually talk, but that would mean I’d have to come up with textual ways to express the quirky sounds and phrases that come out of my mouth (which would require a glossary page), as well as put up a sensitivity warning on my home page.  But I know who and what I’m going for on here, I know what I should, and shouldn’t write, and since it is my blog, I’ll call the shots.

 

I don’t think it’s a big deal…

But godfuckingdamnit, Congress, do NOT censor my LOLCATS.

And that is all I will say on the manner of this whole internet censorship insanity.

One thing I do often say as a substitute for swearing is “cheese-and-rice”.  I say it quickly, with a Hispanic accent.  For example, “Cheese-and-rice, what a dumbass”, or “Cheese-and-rice, this chocolate torte is orgasmically wonderful”.  I have no reservations about using the phrase “Jesus Christ”.  Actually, I probably use each phrase equally.  But there are a few reasons I say “cheese-and-rice”.  One, I just like the way it rhymes with “Jesus Christ”.  Two, people who swear often have to use a variety, otherwise nobody likes you anymore.  Three… it sounds cute, and would, in reality, be delicious.

And while I’m not too keen on most vegan cheese substitutes, I made one of my own, just to feel good about myself.

Cheez-an-Rice!

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice

2 cups warm water or vegetable broth

1 cup vegetable of your choice (I used broccoli; you can try tomato, sweet peas, carrots, cooked mushrooms, etc.)

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast*

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp dijon mustard

a few sprinkles of dried turmeric

a dash of nutmeg

salt to taste

*About nutritional yeast, a.k.a. “nooch” in the cult-vegan world: this is a high-protein, vitamin B-loaded supplement, grown on molasses.  It has a savory, sorta-cheesy flavor, although you really can’t compare it to real cheese.  Nonetheless, it appeals to a lot of people’s taste buds, and makes for a good cheese alternative.

By the way, thanks to Allie for the surplus supply ;)

1) Begin by toasting the rice in a large, dry pan, on medium heat.  Stir the rice around frequently, to keep it from burning.  It will start to snap, crackle, pop (haha…), and that’s when you know you’re getting there.  Make sure to really keep stirring at this point.  Once the noise subsides a bit, add your water or broth, and a little salt if you’d like.  (Be careful when pouring the liquid in.  I had actually boiled my water, and pouring that into an already hot pan of rice was quite bubbly and scary.)  Bring the heat down to low, cover, and cook 20-30 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed, and the rice is almost done.  Then add your veggies, and a little more liquid if necessary.  Cover again and cook until the rice is done, about 10 minutes.

2) While the rice is in its first stage of cooking, you can start the sauce.  Drain the cashews and place them in a food processor.  Start chopping them finely.

(Notice the renegade bit of broccoli on the lower left…)

3) Scrape down the cashew pieces with a rubber or silicone spatula, and add the remaining ingredients for the sauce.  Puree until smooth, adding a little water along the way to help it out.  This is the basic sauce.  You can adjust it to your own taste.  I added a bit of vegan worcesteshire sauce, and a little slice of avocado.  You can try other herbs and spices, miso paste, barbecue sauce, tahini, etc.

4) Mix the sauce in with the rice. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Done.

It’s actually like a vegan Rice-a-Roni…  Of course, you could use the sauce on pasta, barley, quinoa, amaranth, etc.  From a health perspective, I like that this dish is made with practically no processed ingredients, it has all natural, good fats, and has plenty of protein and fiber.  Win.  And yes, it tastes goooood…  By the way, toasting the rice brings out its nutty flavor and a more satisfying texture.  Plus, it cooks faster because it’s more ready to absorb liquid when toasted.  You should toast all your grains, damnit.

A little hot sauce doesn’t hurt either…

 

Rabbit’s Remedy January 16, 2012

Filed under: Interestin' Food Info,Recipes — rabbit @ 10:21 am
Tags: , ,

Okie-dokie.  I’m back from sticking my head in the ground.  I am ready to bring you crazy goodness.

So now that we’re in the heart of winter, I thought I’d do a little something to ward off those seasonal chills, colds, and hack-up-your-insides situations.  Boyfriend has had a disgusting cough these past few days.  He totally deserves it.  Each time he’s coughed, I’ve either mocked him, told him to shut up, or said “Stop it”.  Still, I was inspired by his love of ginger, and knowing how beneficial ginger is to the immune system, decided to concoct a tasty, healing soup.  In the west, we tend to associate ginger with holiday sweets and little else.  But in the east, aside from relieving nausea, ginger is often used against coughs, flu, arthritis, headaches, and general inflammation.  It’s one of those indispensable ingredients.

Unlike a lot of ginger-tinged soups on the web, this one does not start with a canvas of sweetness, such as butternut squash, apple, or carrots.  (It does have carrots, but very few.)  Instead, I looked to South India’s rasams for a little tutelage.  Often made with lentils (or other legumes), rasams are relatively thin, savory-tangy soups, and with all their spices, are rather tasty alternatives to over-the-counter medicine.  My creation has no legumes (though I thought about it), but is a puree of simple, easy-to-find ingredients, along with some heat, tang, and relief from whatever ails you.  Even dumb boyfriends.  Okay, maybe not, but y’know…

Sick-In-Bed (or just-because-you-like-it) Ginger Soup

Ingredients:

3 medium carrots

3 stalks of celery

1 bell pepper (yellow, orange, or red)

1 small yellow onion

5 cloves of garlic

1 four to five inch piece of fresh ginger

olive oil, salt & pepper (to coat the above)

1 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp powdered fenugreek

several dashes of cumin and coriander

5-6 cups water

lemon juice, and/or apple cider vinegar, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Coarsely chop the carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and ginger (of course, peel the onion, garlic and ginger).  Save the celery leaves and set them aside.  Toss the chopped ingredients with some olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Spread onto a baking tray (I lined mine with aluminum foil.  Fewer dishes to wash…), and bake on the bottom rack for about one hour, or until everything is tender.

2) Transfer the roasted veggies to a soup pot, and add the celery leaves, powdered ginger, fenugreek, cumin, coriander, and water.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about half an hour (at least).

3) If you have an immersion blender, use that to puree the soup.  If not, use a blender to puree the chunks of vegetables, then return them to the broth and mix well.  Add a few (or several) tablespoons of lemon juice and/or vinegar, salt and pepper to your taste.  Adjust any other seasonings.  You may also want to add a small spoonful of sweetener to calm the ginger.  Depends on how much you like the natural taste of ginger.

If you want to tinker with this recipe, you could include ingredients such as: other roasted vegetables– tomatoes, potatoes, parsnips, beets, etc.; tamarind paste; buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt; peanut, almond, or cashew butter; unsweetened coconut, almond, or soy milk; lentils, beans, or leafy greens.  To make a meal of it, serve with, or over basmati rice, and some grilled tofu or fish.

This soup will seem more harsh at first, if you’re not accustomed to spicy foods.  But as it sits, the ginger will mellow out, the sweetness from the roasted veggies will come through, and the acidity of lemon/vinegar will bring out the yum of the whole shebang.  It opens up the airways, warms your stomach, and clarifies your head.  Yeah, you might hack up some phlegm, but that’s a good thing.  Don’t suppress your illness, purge it out.  Mmm… purge…

 

New Friends January 11, 2012

Filed under: Random — rabbit @ 11:33 am
Tags:

Look what happened to my sorghum flour!

In spite of the waste, all I have to say is…

Me gustaaa

 

Hibernating… January 3, 2012

Filed under: Random — rabbit @ 2:38 pm

Rabbit will be in her burrow for a while, as winter has officially begun in her neck of the woods.

(But I’ll try to dig up some stuff here and there, because I like you.)