Margaret Riesen Cooks

Food for Thought

Rock Those Leftovers!

In our haste for convenience, we often overlook some of the delightful ways of “repurposing” left-over foods. Many of our comfort foods had their origins in creating something tasty from food that had lost its freshness, e.g. over-ripe fruit, old bread, etc. Over-ripe fruit gets turned into jam, compote, cider or hard alcohol. Stale bread can be turned into bread pudding or plum pudding. In Switzerland, my grandmother used up old bread to make “Rösti” with apple or plums. Here’s how: the sliced fruit is steamed in some butter, with a little added sugar. Remove the fruit from the pan, add more butter and toast the thinly sliced hard bread, until brown and crisp. Add the fruit back to the pan, with a pinch of sugar, lemon zest and juice. Serve warm, with a splash of cream.

HEY, IT’S GLUTEN-FREE . . .

. . . what more could you want? This fabulous “chwockwat” mousse (as my granddaughter calls it) is high in fat and calories, made with real butter, eggs and real cream. It’s a treat – so you eat a small portion and savor it. There is no comparison between REAL FOOD and processed low-fat, low-everything STUFF! Try it, you’ll like it . . .

Delicious and Tropical!

Chips and salsa, anyone?

Here’s a summer recipe that’s guaranteed to be a hit at your next party – Avocado-Mango Salsa!

3 ripe, firm avocados

1 lb fresh or frozen mango, cut into chunks

1 medium size jicama, cut into large chunks

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 small chili, jalapeño or serrano (finely chopped)

½ bunch cilantro, finely chopped

Juice from 2-3 limes

Sea salt, to taste

Place the jicama in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not puréed. Add the avocado and mango and pulse until blended. Fold in the minced garlic, chopped chili, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Makes about 3 cups. Serve with corn chips, quesadillas, or fish tacos.

Eat Like a King . . .

. . . with this fabulous salad from Joan Nathan’s latest cookbook King Solomon’s Table. It combines two grains (barley and wheat), and five fruit (grapes, olives, dates, pomegranates and figs) – foods that were eaten during biblical times – with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and some seasonings. I chose a quick-cooking barley and freekeh (a delicious green wheat) for the grains, and seasoned them with extra virgin Bariani olive oil, a little sea salt and a splash of balsamic vinegar. The cooked grains were combined with organic microgreens and then topped with the sliced fruit. It makes the perfect meal for a summer evening – filling, yet light with an exotic twist.

A Cool Meal on a Hot Day!

Now that the weather has gone from zero to sixty in record time, light summer meals are back in vogue. As a chef, I love learning about different cuisines from around the planet, as the foods of a region reflect its history of cultural influences and cross-pollination. Marrying into a family of Eastern Europeans, I came to appreciate many of the Lithuanian specialties prepared by my mother-in-law. Many of the dishes combined pickled or smoked fish with cooked vegetables and dill, and I found a similar dish more recently in a book of Tunisian cuisine – just one example of how foods travel across cultures.

For this dish, combine cooked carrot, potato, beet, and turnip with a vinaigrette dressing, dill, cooked egg and smoked herring . . . a most satisfying and light meal on a warm day!

 

Lattes and Loutoutins

There’s many ways to treat ourselves to something special, sometimes it’s a steaming latte, sometimes it’s an extravagance, like a pair of CFM shoes. The best treat we can give ourselves, however, is to invest in ourselves. Our health is our most valuable asset, and the best way to insure good health is to eat REAL FOOD. Buying fresh, organic foods can seem more expensive than some convenience product, but you’re getting real nutrition instead of the four horsemen of the apocalypse: salt, sugar, fat and a bunch of chemicals. And good health looks better on anyone than a pair of ridiculously expensive shoes!

Is that food on your plate?

If it came out of a package with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce, it’s not food, Dude! It’s a food product, scientifically formulated by one of the manufacturing giants to deliver the right amount of addictive flavor to keep you coming back for more and to keep eating long after you’re full.
The magic flavor hook is delivered by prodigious amounts of sugar, fat and salt. Cravings induced by sugar, according to an article in the NY Times are “comparable to those induced by addictive drugs like cocaine and nicotine.” You may think you’ve chosen your meal, but it has chosen you. “Convenience” foods may be convenient in terms of saving time and effort, but they take a huge toll on your health. And when your health suffers, all your energy and resources go into trying to get well again. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. If you want to remain healthy and vital, eat real food. Watch for our educational blog on eating simply and well.

O Comfort Food, O Comfort Food

‘Tis the season, but when it comes to comfort food, we gotta have rootsrulewhat we gotta have! It’s a cultural thing. The English have Marmite and the Australians have Vegemite. The English say that Vegemite is disgusting, and the Australians say that Marmite is disgusting, and Americans think they’re both disgusting . . . don’t laugh, it’s a touchy subject. My mother, who was Australian, used to feed us kids slices of toast, slathered with butter and a thin layer of Vegemite. I loved it! The theory is it will curb children’s sweet tooth . . . it worked for me, and I still sneak a taste every so often.
Here’s a comfort food we all agree on: a side of roasted root vegetables to go with your favorite Holiday meal. Be adventurous – try rutabagas, turnip, beets, root celery (celeriac), parsnip . . . slice them into desired size, toss them with olive oil, sea salt and rosemary, and place them in a hot (400 deg) oven.

Gourmet Holiday Magic

appwoodside1Need some fab food for your Holiday party but don’t know where to start? You can feel confident when hiring The Vegetarian Gourmet to cater your special event. We’ve been in business since 1997, and opened our doors in the Bay Area in 2010. Our plant-based menus bring you specialties from around the world, whether all vegetarian, vegan, or non-vegetarian, and they are prepared from the abundance of locally available fresh, high quality, organic ingredients. Riesen taught culinary classes at SBCC for twelve years, which gave her the opportunity to perfect specialties from the finest world cuisines.
Still not sure? Check out what our clients are saying about us on Yelp and give us a jingle.

Ate too Much?

SilkRdPilaf. . . I certainly did! Those holiday meals are a perfect reminder that we can all eat more vegetables . . . for our own health and for the health of the environment. How about bringing back Meatless Mondays? Eating an all vegetarian meal does not have to be boring or challenging. For those of you concerned about getting enough protein, a meal of grains and legumes gives you all the essential amino acids. Create a tasty meal of brown basmati rice, French or beluga lentils (available at Whole Foods), seasoned with fresh herbs, cumin, julienned vegetables and garlic. Serve on a bed of greens for a quick meal, or as a high protein side dish for your vegetarian (or vegan) guests.