Biscotti–Make Your Own!

Afternoon project: chocolate hazelnut biscotti . . . thank you, Martha Stewart, you’re the best! Biscotti are “twice cooked”: the dough is initially formed into long flat sausages and baked until firm. Once the mass has cooled, the loaves are then sliced into quarter inch slices and baked again, which gives them the crunch. You’ll find many different recipes for biscotti. They’re easy and inexpensive to make, and your friends will be wowed. This recipe came from Martha Stewart’s “Baking Handbook”. I love her recipes – they’re easy to follow and always turn out well. Stay tuned for a fabulous gluten-free version . . .

YUMMY COOKINESS . . .

Whatever you call them, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cookies, or your own pet designation — they’re easy to make and always a hit. Here’s the trick.

Mixing the cookies with soft butter is most efficient, but the dough will be sticky. Some recipes suggest refrigerating the dough and then forming the cookies into 1” balls . . . but that’s a pain in the you-know-what.

Do this – form the cookies into 1” balls while the dough is soft, and then place them into the fridge (or freezer) until they’re hard. Place the hard cookies into the pre-heated oven, and the cookies will stay round. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

Spice Up Your Thanksgiving!

Cranberry Salsa

12 oz. fresh cranberries
½ c parsley
2 Tb lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
½ jalapeno chili, chopped
1 small red onion
½ c fresh orange juice
2 Tb orange zest
5 Tb honey
1 Tb cilantro

Finely chop the red onion, chili, parsley and cilantro and place it in a bowl.
Coarsely chop the cranberries in the food processor and add to the onion and parsley mixture. Fold in the orange and lime juice, honey, and zest. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Gluten-free vegan desserts, oh my!

Sugar-laden holidays right around the corner appear to be inspiring my obsession with desserts at the moment! Here is another fab vegan treat, this one made from rice. You may be familiar with kheer, a popular Indian rice pudding, made with milk and flavored with cardamom, saffron and raisins. My favorite rice dessert is Burma Superstar’s fabulous black rice and coconut pudding, which I’ve been able to approximate in my own kitchen. Here’s how:

Start out with sticky Thai black rice, e.g. Lundberg Black Pearl Rice. I usually soak the rice in salted water for a few hours, before draining and cooking according to package directions – but you’ll need to reduce cooking time and cooking liquid. Rice should be soft but not mushy. Drain and place in a heavy bottom pan with coconut milk and simmer until rice is creamy; sweeten, to taste, with organic sugar (try Billington’s dark Muscovado sugar). Toast some unsweetened coconut flakes in a dry pan, until toasty brown and fold into the rice; save a few sprinkles for the top. Serve warm, with fresh raspberries or slices of mango, and a scoop of Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream . . . heavenly!

Making Your Next Holiday Mixer AMAZING!

With corporate Holiday gatherings right around the corner, a great way to show employee appreciation is to make allowances for people’s dietary preferences and multi-cultural backgrounds.

Healthy and delicious appetizers.

A great menu is one that delights and surprises – with options that offer variety and take special dietary needs into consideration, e.g. gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. While many Holiday offerings can pack on the calories, how about offering a menu that’s healthy AND delicious? Try it – you’ll like it!

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.

Chocolate!

If you had grown up in Switzerland like I did, you would know that chocolate is one of the four food groups. When I first moved to this country, good dark chocolates were hard to find but, thankfully, that is no longer the case. You’ll even find a great selection of chocolates at your local drugstore . . . who knew? If you open the chocolate drawer in my kitchen, you’ll see a selection of some of my favorites, like the many flavored dark chocolate varieties now available from Lindt.
For chocolate desserts – e.g. mousse, flourless chocolate torte, triple-chocolate fudge brownies – I use dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao. Great selections are available at Caillebaut, which you can purchase online, or at your friendly local Trader Joe’s market.