watermelon gazpacho

Yes, once again it has been months since I’ve posted a recipe. Insert excuses here: full time dietetic internship + planning a wedding…. yadda yadda yadda. However, the light at the end of the tunnel is visible! And that means (hopefully) lots more recipes come September.

Summer is upon us (technically as of this coming Saturday) and tonight is particularly muggy and gross in my lovely NYC. When hot weather hits, I love a good gazpacho. Last month when the first really hot night happened, I made a white gazpacho, which was cucumber and almond based. There’s a great coffee shop/sandwich place in our neighborhood that has been touting its watermelon gazpacho on a chalkboard outside, and every time we walk by, we go “mmmmm, we should make that.” So tonight, I did!

photo 1I used a Tyler Florence recipe to get a sense of what the general proportions should be, and then blended away. It’s super simple:

  • about 2 medium plum tomatoes
  • 2-2 1/2 cups fresh watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 cucumber (seeded if you use a regular cucumber; you don’t really have to seed it if you use an English cucumber – the long skinny ones)
  • 1/2 a red onion
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile (2 if you love it spicy like I do)
  • a small handful of fresh dill
  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

photo 3

Roughly chop your ingredients and toss everything in a food processor or blender, setting aside about 1/3-1/2 the watermelon first. Add more of various ingredients to taste (I added more salt, jalapeno, and vinegar after the first blend). Serve in chilled bowls, garnished with feta cheese and dill!

As an aside, NewYork-Presbyterian, the hospital at which I do my dietetic internship, has an Herb of the Month program – and dill just happens to be the June Herb of the Month!

shiitake-miso soup

The holidays are (almost) officially over… phew! In the past 5 days, Chris and I have celebrated 4 Christmases and a birthday in 3 different states. Nothing to complain about of course, but that all amounts to a LOT of eating! So while discussing dinner on our drive home today in a car stuffed with cookies and chocolates (in between mouthfulls of trail mix of course, from one of our gifts) we decided we wanted something on the lighter side for dinner. I also noted that it would be a great soup day, considering the sheets of rain that haven’t let up for the past 8 hours, and I remembered a segment from some morning show the other day about hearty healthy immune boosting soups for the winter. There was one that we really wanted to make, a shiitake-miso soup, but after searching for that recipe on my iphone for over half an hour, I gave up and decided to wing it and make my own based on some of the ingredients we already had. You can enjoy this on a cold rainy day, or if you’re catching your annual winter dose of yuck — which, amazingly enough, knock on wood, I haven’t caught this year! I don’t know if it’s the flu shot or the not having finals anymore to wear me down, but I’ll take it. And this soup will help. The mushrooms contain phytochemicals which lower cholesterol and have even been shown to have anti-cancer properties, and an active compound called lentinan that revs up your immune system. The seaweed contains the broadest range of minerals of any food, in addition to reducing the body’s inflammatory response and also being an anti-cancer food. So here we have it, my own version of shiitake-miso soup:

In a large pot, sauté 1 bunch of chopped scallions, 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger, and 3-4 cloves chopped garlic in 1 tbsp sesame oil for about 1 minute. Add to that about 3/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and sliced. (You can also use dried shiitakes instead of fresh but make sure to soak them according to the package directions first). Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium-high heat and then add 4 cups unsalted vegetable stock and 3 cups water and about 2 1/2 tbsp white miso. Next add about 4 bunches of chopped baby bok choy, and about 6 strips of kombu (kombu is a type of kelp; you can find it at most Asian-run grocery stores near the dried seaweed). Finally, add some bonito flakes or 1-2 tbsp furikake rice seasoning with 2 tsp fish sauce (these are rough guidelines, but do it according to your taste). Simmer for about half an hour, and then remove the kombu strips and throw them away (they’re only for flavoring). Add a 14 oz block of firm tofu, cubed, and I also added a spoonful of sambal oelek red chili paste for a little heat. Serve with nori strips for a little extra delicious flavor, and a dash of sriracha or soy sauce if you like.

shiitake-miso soup

shiitake-miso soup

spicy kimchi stew

It’s surprising, given my love of all Asian food, that I’ve never really cooked Korean food. Luckily, thanks to an awesome birthday gift from my friend Sherri this weekend, that has changed! Sherri gave me a book called “The Korean Kitchen” by Young Jin Song, a book her mom gave her to get her started on Korean cooking. The book is full of beautiful photos, and it even gives you some Korean history and tells you where to buy specific ingredients. After trying to recover from two colds and the flu back to back, and with the temperatures dropping below 20 degrees in NYC, nothing sounded better to me last night than the recipe for spicy kimchi stew.

So I’ll tell you both the original recipe, and the changes I made. First of all, the original recipe calls for boneless pork chop, but there is a suggestion in the notes that you can substitute fresh tuna steak. Since I haven’t eaten pork in over a year, I went with the tuna! I actually think it could work well with just the tofu in the recipe, but I leave that up to you… Also, I cheated and didn’t make my own kimchi. There is a recipe for kimchi in the book, but there are two Korean markets in my neighborhood that make their own and sell it, so I went for the easy route (I’ll blame it on the fact that it was a school night). Anyway, here it is: Soak 4 dried shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 30 minutes. When they are soft, drain and slice them, discarding the stems. Dice 5oz of firm/extra firm tofu into cubes. Dice the 7oz of pork (or fish) into bite sized cubes. Slice 11oz of kimchi into small pieces, squeezing out the liquid first. Add 3 tbsp of vegetable oil to a heavy pot, adding your meat/fish and 1 crushed garlic clove, and saute until cooked. Then add the kimchi and 1 tbsp of Korean chili powder (I actually couldn’t find this either, and used Sambal Oelek chili paste, which came out fine!) and cook for 1 more minute. Then add 3 cups vegetable stock and bring it to a boil. Add the tofu, mushrooms, and 2 chopped scallions, cover, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Add salt if you want (I found it didn’t need any) and serve hot! We had ours over a little rice, but it’s delicious just on its own too.

The perfect spicy concoction for a cold winter night…

spicy kimchi stew

spicy kimchi stew

pumpkin (and-unexpectedly-peanut) soup

I really have no excuses for this recipe. I didn’t make pumpkin pie for thanksgiving and have lots of leftover cans of pureed pumpkin. I didn’t have real pumpkins lying around. I didn’t go to the farmers market. It’s just fall and I wanted pumpkin soup for lunch!

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is super easy, especially if you used canned pureed pumpkin (if you’re going this route, make sure you get just plain pureed pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix!). If you feel like roasting, scooping out, and pureeing a whole fresh pumpkin, go for it. Whichever way you get your pureed pumpkin, take about 4 cups of it and throw it in a pot with 6 cups of chicken stock (yes, homemade would be nice, but a nice store bought kind works if you’re pressed for time). Add a roughly chopped onion, a clove of garlic, 5 or 6 whole peppercorns, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme. Bring it to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Take it out in batches and puree it, or use one of those handy hand blenders right inside the pot if you have one. Then simmer for another 30 minutes and add any other spices you want to taste – salt & pepper, maybe a pinch of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, or curry or cayenne. This soup can go many different ways. You can also add a splash of half and half, milk, or cream at the end, if you want a creamier soup. I’ve also heard of adding peanut butter to make a peanut pumpkin soup… hmm, and WHY haven’t I tried that yet?! I don’t normally run back to the kitchen mid-post, but let’s do this right now.

Ok, I just separated a small batch of the soup, added a touch of peanut butter (the all natural unsalted organic kind, where the only ingredient is peanuts), took one bite, and added some pb to the rest! I didn’t go overboard – probably 1/3 cup of peanut butter went into the soup pot. I was a little worried that the thyme would clash with the taste, but it actually made it a much more interesting flavor. Doesn’t peanut butter make everything better?

Vegan Week, Day 3

Day 3: Breakfast

Blueberry banana almond milk smoothie

I needed something quick and easy today, as I was rushing to catch a train to the beach with my friend. I threw a banana, blueberries, and some almond milk with ice in a blender, and voila! Vegan smoothie. I’ve been wanting to recreate one of my favorite smoothies from a shop down the street – banana, almond milk, and spirulina, but I’ve been to three stores and can’t find spirulina powder anywhere. I’ll have to visit the health food store back in my old neighborhood, which has everything!
Day 3: Lunch

Panzanella salad

I wanted to throw together something simple, cool, and refreshing for the beach today. And every time I opened my fridge, that last chunk of farmer’s market sourdough (already used in Monday’s portobello sandwich and yesterday’s french toast) stared me in the face. It’s fairly stale by now, but I hate wasting things so I found a way to use it. Panzanella salad is popular in the summer in Florence and other parts of central Italy. It includes chunks of soaked stale bread and tomatoes, sometimes onions and basil, dressed with olive oil and vinegar. I’d seen a few recipes online, but I decided to just go with what was in my fridge. I chopped up the last of the bread into bite size pieces, and added chopped cucumber, sweet vidalia onion, vine tomatoes, a few kalamata olives, and a large handful of fresh basil. I dressed it with olive oil, a mixture of balsamic and red wine vinegar, minced garlic, and salt and pepper. My friend and I ate it at the beach with a pile of fresh mango, cherries, and grapes. Tastewise, the panzanella was good, but I think I should have toasted the bread first – it needed a little less stale and a little more crunch.
Day 3: Dinner

Spanish-Italian gazpacho

Dinner was lunch… in a blender. Ok, let me explain. I was saying earlier that all this cooking has been fun, but I have so many leftovers. My friend Molly (who is an amazing professional chef) suggested that I throw the panzanella salad into a food processor and add a few ingredients to make it gazpacho. So that’s exactly what I did. It occurred to me that it would be sort of an Italian flavored gazpacho, given the bread and basil, but I made it work. I dumped all the leftover panzanella in the Cuisinart and added one more tomato, some tomato juice, a scallion, two large handfuls of cilantro, two jalapenos I found in the bottom veggie drawer, a dash of cumin and worcestershire sauce, and the juice from half a lime. I ate my gazpacho with a nice slice of avocado and some of last night’s leftover soba noodles and summer rolls. Hey, while I’m mixing Italian and Spanish in one soup, I might as well throw in Asian on the side!