Tuesday, September 11, 2012

All Kale the Caesar!

The last weeks of Summer I have been on the road in search of great greens.  Without question Kale comes to the top.  Fun, nutritious, flavorful and flexible, I encounter scads and scads of endless possibilities with this leafy, functionally fabulous, tasty gem.  http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2

Baby Kale Caesar
With so many varieties and perfect for a late Fall crop that survives the frost, larger versions sometimes take long cooking or chop coarsely and cook lightly with garlic, olive oil and a touch of lemon.  With high protein content it is a no brainer to add to meat, poultry and fish recipes.  But coming from a restaurant family who prided itself on fine dining to coffee shop flair, I can safely say that my father's tableside Caesar Salad is an excellent opportunity to showcase Kale. I sought out some baby kale mix for what is a great expression of this classical dish.  You should do the same.

Too bad I cannot share that homeboy Caesar recipe of my Dad's at this time.  But......I know each of you has that special twist you like to add when in comes to bringing forkfulls of Caesar Salad to life.
All Kale The Caesar! 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mushroom Madness Continues

Well, the weekend approaches and lunch, dinner or snack my frig has a few extras.  Time to put them together into an easy tasty dish.  Mushrooms are a perfect fit for beef.  A fast skillet simmered in ten minutes could easily just come to the table deconstructed with condiments and let everyone construct their own.  Don't forget your favorite hot sauce!   Happy Friday.

Mushroom and Beef Tacos
Prep Time:       15 minutes
Cook Time:      15 minutes 
Serves:              4


1     lb       button mushrooms slice or chopped coarsely
2     tbl      olive oil
1     lb       ground beef, 75/27 lean to fat
1/2  cup    Spanish onion, chopped fine
2     cl       garlic, fresh, chopped fine
2     teas    chili powder
1/2  teas    cumin, seed
1/2  teas    paprika
1/4  cup     water
2                plum tomatoes, diced fine
1/2  cup     grated cheddar cheese, sharp
1/2  cup     romaine or iceburg lettuce, shredded
12   small  corn taco shells.

Heat a ten inch thick bottom skillet.  Add the olive and oil and when hot, add the ground beef onion and garlic.  Cook and stir about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped mushrooms and continue cooking until the mushrooms are almost dry.  Add the spices, the water and simmer slowly for about 3 minutes.  Season lightly with salt and fresh pepper.  Serve up with condiments and small crispy taco shells.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mushroom Madness

Mushrooms, tomatoes and tomato taste about to
simmer into a fantastic Mushroom Bolognese!
Mushrooms hit the top of my list when it comes to working with vegetables.  Way beyond the routine stuffed fungi and grilled portobella burgers, this Mushroom Bolognese  simmers in my kitchen sending me in a transe remembering the forests of Tuscany!  Who needs to write more  when you can spend the time making it.  I find either grinding or using the shredder attachment on the food processor offers a more robust result as when you just chop the mushrooms in the bowl of the processor, the result can be more watery.  However, it is all about the end texture you want. Try it both ways on seperate days and let me know which one your prefer.  The juniper, clove and allspice kick in with a rustic flavor and heady aroma.  Be sure the wine is not too acidic or the end result will be a bit tannic.  If that does happen add a pinch of sugar and make a note to self to use a softer wine next time.  Toss on spaghetti, layer into lasagne, serve with roasted eggplant or a meat or poultry you fancy.  You might find that this is so good that you get possessed and Mushroom Madness urges you to keep eating it before it hits the pasta! 

Mushroom Bolognese
Meal Occasion: Dinner, Brunch and Lunch
Prep Time:        20 minutes
Cook Time:       25 minutes
Serves:                4

1 1/2     lbs    crimini mushrooms
1 1/2     lbs   portobella mushrooms
1                    medium onion, cleaned and cut in half
3                    medium size carrots, peeled
2                    stalks of celery, washed
4           cl      garlic, peeled
1           lb     tomatoes, cored, and cut into fine dice
1           Tbl   tomato paste
1            c      red wine
1           teas  red chili pepper, finely chopped
1/2        teas  bay leaf, crumbled fine
1/2        teas  cinnamon, ground
1/2        teas  allspice, ground
3/4        teas  clove, ground
pinch             juniper berry, dried, ground
sea salt and pepper to taste
2            Tbl   olive oil
cooked pasta of your choice

Using the shredder attachment of the food processor, individual grind and set aside each of the first six ingredients.   Heat a 10 inch skillet to medium and add the olive oil.  Toss in the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and simmer, stirring.  Cook about five minutes.  Add the mushrooms and stir.  Cook another four to five minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Add the wine, chili pepper, herb and spices.  Simmer gently about 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so.  Season to taste. 

Monday, August 13, 2012


Delicious any time am, afternoon or post workout!
Being a Vegetable Alchemist I want to know more about what and why I am eating.  I prepare food at home as often as I can and follow sites that include fitness and body care.  I have always been one to approach those meals and what I chose at eateries with my interest in linking choices to 'body smart food.'  This is one fast prep I saw in a skin care blog.  I did not have a few of the ingredients such as the almond milk and coconut oil.  However I just used a great almond meal I had and some coconut water.  It gets rancid fast so keep it tighly sealed and possibly refrigerated.  A small amount of coconut oil is great to have on hand. I missed the great Omega opt with it as the oil it is full 'medium chain fatty acids' according to Perricone, the author of the note on this.  Because of that it increases circulation and with the avocado and rest of the ingredients the end smoothie is chocked with with healthy fats and protein you can 'bank on.'

Meal Occasion:  Breakfast, Snack, Post Workout  
Benefits:             Skin tone and freshness
Prep Time:         10 min
Blend Time:         2 min
Serves:                  2

4-6 oz. unsweetened almond milk
1 c. frozen pineapple pieces
1 sm. piece avocado (about 1/5 of a lg. avocado or ¼ of a sm. one)
1 tbsp. shredded unsweetened coconut
1 tbsp. coconut oil
Dash vanilla extract
2-4 ice cubes
4-6 oz. water, or coconut water

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
2. Blend until smooth and creamy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Introducing The Vegetable ATM

When I started this blog a few years ago  I wanted to understand what a blog meant, who would read it and why.  I linked the blog from my web site, Vegetable Alchemy and I wrote about my growing interest in seeing vegetables move to center of plate and balancing daily meals with more fruits, herbs and spice.  The time has been well spent and while I know I am not writing to a cast of thousands, writing and reading your comments has helped me learn about readers, learn about what is body smart food and find a fun way to look at what I love most, simple, fresh plant based fit food.

Knowing that, Vegetable Alchemy introduces a new title to this blog: The Vegetable ATM.  Going forward I want to write about fashionable, plant based one dish meals that are body smart and for every day eating.  I'm looking for a balance of 55-60 % carbohydrate, 15-20 % protein, 10-15 % fat.  Often times recipes will be written with readers adding back their own proteins.

The journey to plant based one dish meals has taken many turns.  Looking at multiple course menus, even for home use, and seeing the amount of cuisines that are heavily steeped in animal proteins from historic recipes, it is easy to see how an emergy population past 7 billion people will truly tax the land if duplicated.  More importantly, new thoughts in nutrition clearly embrace a plant based diet.  I have nothing against historic cuisine. But with plant based eating I can incorporate new ideas in nutrition, have a tasty satifying one dish meal, keep my weight in check and have still have loads of energy to easily fulfill my daily work and family demands.  We no longer eat to a rythme of three meals a day, meat, potatoes and a smattering of vegetables.  Small and medium size plates, with a multiple of eating occasions from snacking to eating out are the norm.   So tasty, healthful and fun one dish, body smart meals that educate and nourish are certainly for me, the key to easier healthful living.

As The Vegetable ATM continues I will write about all kinds of meal occasions centering on one dish preparations.  You will recognize some dishes, if not many, as they are adapted for this blog. Soon the inventory of recipes will be integrated into an easy directory for last minute referencing.  All suggestions are steeped in plant based living.  I will show you how to get enough and the right kind of protein.  Hopefully you will be attracted to the fun preparations, the tastes and my sincere interest that you learn to prepare foods that you inegrate into you daily lifestyles. These one dish meals will stress some knife skills but also easy clean up. You will see that as I redefine my own flavor cabinets you will want to do the same offering you countless opportunities for last minute cooking based not on cuisines but centered on plant based produce, fruits, herbs and spices with an occasional impromptu inspiration or two.  My measure of success is that you will find yourself wanting to return home at least a day or two each week to grab the ingredients and learn to become a Vegetable Alchemist. 

Green Vegetable Stirfried Rice
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook time:  10 minutes
Serves          2

2    cups  cooked brown rice
1/2 cup    vegetable stock
1              egg
2    teas    canola oil, divided
2    cl       garlic, chopped
1    Tbl     fresh ginger, chopped
1/2 cup     celery and leaves, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1    cup     Napa Cabbage, cut into 1 " pieces
1    cup     pea shoots, cut into 1 " lengths
1    cup     kale, swiss chard or other leafy green, chopped into shreds
1    cup    scallions, white and green seperated, cut into small rounds
2    teas   tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1    Tbl    oyster sauce
1    teas   sesame oil
pinch of red pepper flakes


Heat a 10 inch non stick pan to medium.  Add one teas of the oil.  Whip the egg lightly in a bowl and add to the pan, scrambling quickly and remove temporarily to a plate or bowl.

Place the pan back on the heat, add the rest of the oil.  When hot begin to stirfy the vegetables starting with the garlic, ginger and celery, then adding and stirfrying the rest, reserving the scallion green. 

Add the stock, the rice and stirfry.  Add the scallion greens, the reserved scrambled egg, the tamari and oyster sauces, then the sesame oil. Stir. Season lightly with cracked pepper if you want.  Plate and sprinkle with a bit of red crushed pepper flake.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lifestyle Not Just Recipes

I suppose that there are those of you out there that take a look at the recipes and say, 'I don't have time to make that.  He must just have time to sit around all day and dream this stuff up, then shop and make just to blog about it....'  Well no way is that the case.  These dishes are made at the end of the day or early evening sometimes at lunch if I can, with a little thought to what is in the cooler when I leave for business early each day.  I might stop on the way for a few last minute items or lean on a pantry of small containers of vinegars, oils, spices and dried or canned goods.  Always I want a fresh component.

I look at how long it takes to make a REAL Beef and Burgundy, even a simple Skillet Chicken and I am not into multiple pots, side dish for the most part, lengthy clean up and recipes that take me 3 hours to digest at the end of the day.  Whatever I make I can easily scale to 4 or 6.  I generally work out swimming, biking, running, with pilates or other sports at least four or five days a week so coupled with business, I am hungry and so is the household.  Breakfast is quick and tasty, lunch sometimes not at all and a snack could be fruits like apples, oranges and bananas.  Smoothies might hit part of the mid morn.  I always key on flavor and speed.  But when I eat at the end of the day, I like to interact at home and have fun with what I make.  I want it fast and simple but with YUM as the outcome.  I aim for, ' Please sir, can I have some more! '  as my goal, the engaging response to learning and loving how to make food fantastically delicious.  It does not always succeed but that is the learning curve of having fun learing to make your own tasty meals.

My body smart food keeps my weight level, my sleep comfortable and inventory low and inexpensive.  Heavy dishes and complicated food is not my style. I get while it is and was all developed.  But now in my process of developing Vegetable Alchemy I have redefined my cabinets to highly nutritious, simple, flavor centered ingredients with a refrigerator that balances with essential vegetables and occasional fresh herbs.  When I want to add any kind of protein I shop  for it that day.

Constantly I read and hear of the challenge of getting food on the table.  I see the recipe sites offering scaled down versions of the same key work recipes over and over saying that these buzz words are what the consumer want.  Beware.  Preparing a variety of simple dishes is educational as much as mentally.  If you view it as a chore, then it will be.  If it makes you aggrivated, chose a box.  Vegetable Alchemy views eating body smart food as part of a lifestyle that integrates simple great tasting food into a little weekly workout for a good feeling body.  Love the colors, the flavors, the learning of knife skills, the understanding of technique and then plating the results and you will find yourself thinking: Lifestyle, not just recipes. I feel so good!  Happy Thursday.

Easy Sesame Noodles

Prep Time:   20 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Serves:            2

8        oz.        cooked linguini pasta, seasoned with salt and pepper, tossed with 2 Tbls olive oil
2       teas        fresh ginger, grated
1                     cucumber, lightly peeled and cut into thin strips (julienne) no seeds
2        Tbl       cilantro, fresh, coarsely chopped
1        Tbl       basil or mint, cut into thin strips (julienne)
3-4                  Napa Cabbage leaves
3                     scallions, just into thin rounds
2        Tbl       apple cider vinegar
1/4     cup       chunky peanut butter
1        teas       tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1        teas       sesame oil
pinch              sugar
pinch              red pepper flakes
1                     lime, cut into 6 wedges
1     teas          sesame seeds, lightly toasted

Toss the linguini and ginger in a bowl and set aside.  Place a sheet of paper towel on a small plate or tray and lay out in stacks the cucumber, cilantro, basil, cabbage and scallions.  Make and warm a dressing by stirring the vinegar, peanut butter tamari, sesame oil and sugar with 1 Tbl of water in a small microwavable bowl.  Cover and micrwave 30 seconds.  Stir and repeat.

To plate, arrange 4 ounces of the gingered pasta in large soup plates.  Neatly arrange the vegetables and herbs around the pasta.  Spoon even amounts of sauce around the dish and garnish with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, lime wedges and sesame seeds on each.  Gewurtraminer is a great tasty treat to accompany this dish.

# 69 Beef and Broccoli

Chinese guy and his wife are in bed one night after working hard all day at their restaurant.  About 2 am. he still can't sleep, rolls over and shakes his wife saying, " why you no kiss me anymore? "  she grunts and says to go back to bed.  He does but minutes later he turns back and shakes her again, saying " why you no make love to me anymore?"  She is aggrivated but says little and repeats to go back to bed.  He can't and finally demands, " Why you no 69 me anymore? "  Now she is pissed and sits up and shouts, " What, What, What?  You want a  Beef and Broccoli at this time of night ? " 
Regardless of what # 69 is to each of you, Beef and Broccoli is a good meal!  This is a rendition adapted from a friend, a little heavier on the broccoli and a little less on the beef.  Kisses, love and more are sure to come your way.....but cook it right first!

Beef and Broccoli
Prep Time:   15 minutes
Cook Time   10 minutes
Serves:          2

1    Tbl    soy sauce
1    teas    cornstarch
2   Tbl     vegetable oil, divided
2    cl       garlic, chopped fine
2    Tbl    ginger, fresh, peeled and chopped fine
1    cup    flank steak, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2    cup    broccoli, fleurettes cut into 1 inch pieces, stems trimmed and cut the same
2    Tbl    dry white wine
2    Tbl    oyster sauce
1    cup     steamed rice (optional)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Be sure to trim the stems of the broccoli from its outter tough green layer.  Then cut into 1 inch pieces.

Mix the soy sauce with the cornstarch, two teaspoons of the oil and stir in the garlic, ginger. and beef.  Season lightly with cracked fresh pepper.  Heat a 10 inch wok or skillet to medium high.  Add the remaining oil.  Add the beef mixture and cook, stiring until rare.  Add the broccoli and stir.  Add the wine, oyster sauce and one tbl water.  Stir and cook 2-3 minutes or until the broccoli is cooked but still crisp.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.  Plate over steamed rice.
ENJOY your # 69.

Summer Extras Built into Glory

Food Trucks are the craze right now.  http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/sizzler-has-food-truck-sorry-hipsters-142481   But a lot of times after being pelted daily with all the attempts at grabbing customers and sales and the excitement heading to the newest thing, the fantastic pleasure of being able to cook a quick dinner is empowering, reasonably priced and just plain enjoyable.  Last night I avoided the truck scene and headed back to ' engage the range ' for a dinner for two. 

In the frig there was little of one thing, but not a lot of any, so I figure out this simple Summer Stirfry which came together step by step like the Phoenix.  Learning to put together flavors through trial and error is a fun journey.  You cannot be afraid of failing, you just have to go at it with gusto. Add a little patience and attentiveness and you tip the balance of failure to success. This is one of the successes that gives you  a chance to practice your knife skills.

Quick Summer Stirfry
Prep Time:    20 minutes
Cook Time:   10 minutes
Serves:           2

2    Tbl   olive oil
1/2        Spanish, white or red onion, cut into half moons
2    cl     garlic
1    cup    zucchini rounds, cut into half moons,
1    cup    yellow squash rounds, cut into half moons
1/2 cup  broccoli, stems and fleurettes, cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1            new potato, medium size, skin on cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup  Napa Cabbage, cut into 2 inch pieces, or other leafy green like Kale or Chard
1/2 can  Norther White Beans, drained but not washed
1    Tbl   tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup  scallions, trimmed of stem and cut into 1 inch pieces
2    Tbl   fresh green herb such as cilantro, basil, parsley or oregano
2    Tbl  toasted bread crumb, (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat a 10 inch wok or skillet to medium. 
Add the oil.  When hot, add the onion and garlic and stir.  Add the next five ingredients and stir.
Add 1/2 water and the tamari.  Shake the pan
and partially cover, simmering 2-3 minutes more.  Stir the beans and scallions.  Partially recover and cook  2-3 minutes.  Season.  Stir.  Cook uncovered about 2 minutes. Plate to medium size bowls.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Show Me Your Tomatoes and I Will Show You Mine !

Each year a restaurant friend of mine has a promotion during the peak of Summer, "Show Me Your Tomatoes!" the sign reads in huge letters swinging above the storefront.  And for sure, it never fails to attract the most fantastic tomatoes! .....a constant crowd pleasing run away success.

After this year's rousing festivities, we decided to hit the streets motivated by fantastic tomatoes.  The hunt took us to local stores, large organic national chains and small farmers market growers.  Favorites were the locally ripened on the vine where 'ripe' was not a marketing word but actually delivered that explosion of taste. Shelf life is short on these, maybe three or four days.  A hint in off season when tomatoes are underripe, one can cut them in half and slow roast them on racks in a 250 degree oven until they start to shivel.  A little drizzle of olive oil, chopped garlic, herb and touch of salt before roasting improves the oven dried flavor.  But the seasonal 'ripe' flavor adds a level of umami that can hardly be challenged.  Yes, they are all fresh, but 'ripe' brings out why a vegetable based diet with great understanding of preparation is so right.  In fact, right to the skin and body level.

More on that is great to read:   http://www.drgranny.com/2011/04/26/health-benefits-of-tomatoes/

And from me, time I Show You MY Tomatoes!'

Umami Tomatoes
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Serve Time:              0 minutes
Servings:                   2

5          medium ripe farmstead tomatoes
1          cubanelle pepper
1    Tbl red wine vinegar
3    Tbl extra virgin olive oil
2    Tbl chopped fresh rosemary, mint or basil
2    Tbl chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut each tomato in 8 wedges and place in a bowl.  Slice the cubanelle pepper into thin rounds, discarding the last 1/4 inch stem.  Place cubanelle pepper, vinegar, oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and coarse black pepper over the tomatoes.  Toss, serve with crusty garlic bread and eat with Chopsticks right from the bowl. Yum!   And a shared bottle of an under $20 Verdejo, a dry white wine from Spain, brings the slightly acid dish into another expectation.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Smoooooth Success!

A year ago I was off doing a flavor conference in Napa Valley.   Happily I had an evening to spend afterwords as normally when I am done,  I am heading to the red eye flight for that late pm return and early start on the next day.   A group of us got together for a few late night snacks and the conversations about global cooking took a lot of paths.  I found myself sitting across from Andrea Nguyen, a truly great cook, fabulous writer and intriguingly wonderful person.  Andrea talked about her life on the road while research a new book of hers:  Asian Tofu (ten speed press)

In her honor I settled into one of her recipes, 'Silken Tofu and Edamame Soup'. While I know there is a lot of conversation about soy and I am taking a serious look at scads of data, this dish rocks!

Go for it.  Sumptuous and rewarding.  A bit of caution.  Carefully follow the amount of rice and edamame.  Too much rice leaves an over creamy mouthfeel.  Too much edamame or overcooking same can lead to a somewhat unrefreshing nose.  In short, my suggestion is to 'follow the recipe', at least until you try it Andrea's way.   Many thanks, Andrea for another great book!

Silken Tofu and Edamame Soup

A Melon Beyond Compare

When I hear home cooks say they want to make restaurant food at home I understand in the sense they want the finished dish to look and taste professional.  However, the number of cooks that achieve that, the layout of the professional kitchen, the dish and potwasher on staff, the surfaces that are easy to clean with ready available refrigeration and table prep areas are all key to making a restaurant dish.

Salads are one of the easiest dishes to assemble in the style of a restaurant.  Care has to be taken to have the salad hit the table when it is needed and not before as fresh and lively are two key components offer satifaction. 

Watermelon has almost countless opportunities as an ingredient.  Here is one style that a friend of mine and I offered in Carmel Valley to a discussion group.  It teaches you how to be a good cook as you make it, step by step.  It also teaches you respect for ingredients, savoring the combinations as part of your success.  This is not the kind of dish I would do on a whim.  There are simple ways of adding watermelon for ease.  Cutting these pave' or paver bricks out of watermelon helps to teach knife technique.  Use the scraps and rest of the watermelon to make a fun gazpacho. Enjoy the journey.  And a heartful thank you! to my friend Dan Kelly for sharing.

Watermelon ‘Pave’ Salad, Baby Heirloom Tomatoes, Plum Gastrique
Prep   Time:  45 minutes
Serve Time:  10 minutes

4             apples
12   oz    white vinegar
8              plums, cut in half, stones removed
8     oz     sugar

1              small watermelon, cut into 1 inch X 4 inch rectangles
½   cup    balsamic vinegar, reduced slowly to about three tablespoon syrup reduction
½   cup    Teardrop Heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
1   bunch watercress, arugula or mizuna washed and drained broken into 3 inch pieces
Sea Salt

Peel, core and chop apples.  Place them in a pot just large enough to hold and cover with water. Cook 20 minutes until a soft purée and strain.  Do not push the pulp, just let it drip for about an hour or more.  Place liquid  back in the pot with vinegar bring to a simmer.  Cook 5 minutes then add the plums.  Simmer slowly until soft. Push the mixture through a strainer.  Place the plum mix back in the pot.  Add the sugar and cook until 225 degrees on a sugar thermometer.  Remove from heat and reserve. This is what we call a gastrique, a tart and sweet reduced sugar syrup. 

Cut watermelon into 1-inch thick pave, place on a platter. Spoon lightly with fruit syrup ‘gastrique’.  Place mixed greens seasoned with sea salt on top of the melon. Drizzle with balsamic glaze.  Garnish plate with cut heirloom tomatoes seasoned with sea salt. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Asian Salad 1-2-3

Salad can be as simple as grab a bag full of greens and have some fun.  Try this. A friend of mine, Chef Dan Kelly and I put this together in minutes for a group one afternoon.  Our 'rice mice' were the hit of the party! 

Asian Style Very Veggie Salad with Niguri ‘rice mice’ Chips, Wasabi Dressing
Using Dole Very Veggie Salad Kit
Prep   Time:  25 minutes
Serve Time:  15 minutes

½ cup rice wine vinegar
2  teas wasabi powder
2  teas fresh ginger
1  teas sugar
¾  cup  canola oil
2   teas sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

1   cup  cooked and flavored sushi rice
2   tbl    white sesame seeds
2   tbl    dark sesame seeds
1   pak   Dole, Very Veggie Mix
½  cup   red pepper strips, 3 X ¼ inch
1            Gala apple, sliced thinly

Place the first four ingredients in a large 10 inch bowl.  Slowly stream in the canola oil.  Finish the dressing with stirring in the sesame oil.  Season with salt and fresh pepper to taste.
Form the cooked and flavored sushi rice into small 2 oz oval balls.  Mix the sesame seeds  together in a small bowl and individually roll the sushi ovals on all sides with the sesame seeds.

Heat a ten inch skillet to medium.  Add 3 tbl of olive or vegetable oil and carefully brown the ovals on all sides.  Set aside to drain on a paper towel.  

Add a ½ cup of the wasabi dressing to a bowl.  Toss in the Dole Very Veggie Salad Mix and gently turn into the dressing.  Plate to small bowls or a large serving platter.  Add the crispy sushi ovals to the bowls and even distribute the red pepper strips and apple slices. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Body Smart, Center of Plate

Refining overcooked and smelly vegetables to aromatic and slightly crisp we get a new center of plate.  My vote on the cheese might be a switch to feta or even goat's cheese but YUM is in the taste for the beholders.  Bring out the Vegetable Alchemist in you!

Quick braise of Broccoli and Cauliflower
Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves:         4
1   small bunch of broccoli, seperated into 3 inch lengths
1   small head of cauliflower, cored, broken into fleurettes
2   tbl        olive oil
2   teas      butter
1   lemon, cut in half, seeded and juiced
8   (1 oz)   parmesan,  thin slices
2   tbl fresh chopped herb like flat leaf parsley (optional)
pinch crushed red chile flakes
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
Cut the broccoli stalk into 3 X 1/2 inch pieces.
Heat a 10 inch stirfry or saute pan to medium.  Add the olive oil and butter.  Heat until the butter stops foaming.  Add the broccoli and cauliflower and toss.  Season lightly with salt and fresh pepper. Cook about 3 minutes. Turn heat to medium high.  Add 1/4 cup of water, cover partially and braise for about 4 minutes until vegetables are cook but crisp.

Remove from heat, uncover and plate vegetables neatly.  Place the pan back on the heat and turn to medium. Add the lemon juice and simmer gently for two minutes.  Sprinklein the red pepper and spoon pan juices over and around. Top with the cheese and possibly a little fresh grated carrot.  A little Italian white wine called Vermentino goes well.

Body Smart the New Fashion Way

There we all were, involved in business with this mad discussion on recipes, and, while listening, I kept thinking and thinking......' Really???'  There is nothing new here in this conversation.  I want something modern..... and they are all talking about 'enlightening ' readers but with 'old news',  for surely nothing being said is any where near evolutionary or revolutionary.  I want a simple clear link to body smart thoughts on vegetables, herbs, fruits and spice.....?

As the meeting turned to lunch, it was clear to me that my foodie boasting compatriots were not enamored with the clean taste of their salads and veggie sides, as all drowned them in massive amounts of dressing, soy, condiment and other various goops.  " Whaaat?" they asked when they saw me watching the sacrifice?   

And then that link came to me! Make it a road map to my goal! ......and voila!  The new Body Navigator for The Vegetable Alchemist, well thought out flavors that link to a reason.  And a
food and body connection par none was born!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Iceberg claims a Stake

With all the grills in America seemingly primed for the upcoming week of July 4th, a true celebration is certainly center of plate!  Freedom Rocks. Freedom is King.  Freedom is something never to take for granted.  I worked for The United States Government for 10 years with a team that traveled to many countries explaining the foods we had available for export. It is a demanding job. It was exciting to bridge the gap of language and culture with food. Meeting people around the globe on their own soil, from Asia to Africa, South America to India and the Middle East brought to mind how ' food brings people together '.  This was the theme I used in addressing the Fourth of July, United States Embassy party in Osaka Japan.  Our team prepared regional dishes for over 600 people visiting from twenty countries.

This year, my idea of seeing Heads of State has turned for a moment on this day to tasting Heads of Lettuce!  My smokey tasty celebration involves none other than Iceberg and some smokey salt!  It will be my center of plate.  Wildly popular decades ago iceberg has a solid place in the wide and colorful field of garden greens. Crunchy, crispy, full of pairing opportunities aside bbq, meat, poultry, fish, vegetables or just on its own with a delicious umami dressing, Head Lettuce takes its own center Stake for this Day.  

Happy upcoming Fourth of July.  And thank you, American Armed Services, a part in my family included, who continue to keep us free.  Respect Freedom.  It's not free. Happy Birthday, America.
The Vegetable Alchemist.

Iceberg dressed with Smoke Sea Salt
1    Head Iceberg lettuce, cut into four wedges
1    teas  + 1/2 teas smoked sea salt
1    tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1    clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1    lemon, cut into 4 wedges (optional)

Using a fork or whisk rapidly stir the white balsamic vinegar into the olive oil.  Add the garlic and one teas smoked sea salt.  Mix thoroughly. Stir in the parsley leaves.Crack in black pepper to taste and serve over wedges of cold, crisp iceberg sprinkling evenly with the remaining 1/2 teas of smoked sea salt.  A wedge of lemon is a great garnish, especially if you are serving the Wedge with a protein.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Salad is the Real Cool

Energy. Energy. Lots of easily usable, renewable forms of energy. Energy that powers the Universe. Energy that powers you. Think fresh energy.  Think fresh, tasty energy. Think way past protein, carbohydrate, and fat. Energy wants you thinking PHYTOCHEMICALS.  And so I include the meaning of the word.  You might even try snackin' on it for that short umami energy hit.  Phytoliscious sunny spectacular fun. I know you can appreciate that.

Phytochemicals, chemical compounds that occur naturally in plants (phyto means "plant" in Greek), are responsible for color and organoleptic properties, such as the deep purple of blueberries and smell of garlic. The term is generally used to refer to those chemicals that may have biological significance but are not established as essential nutrients.[1] Scientists estimate that there may be as many as 10,000 different phytochemicals having the potential to affect diseases such as cancer, stroke or metabolic syndrome. Although certain phytochemicals are available as dietary supplements, some scientists speculate that potential health benefits of phytochemicals may best derive from consumption of whole foods.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytochemicals

Your Universe needs more than a mound of carbs, much more than a shake of protein and far more than a dish of fat. Leave the obesity behind.  Phytochemicals will soon have their own GNOME week!  Luv what you body luvs. Snack on phytolife!  Be the Cool.  Authentic Rethought!  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thoughts on Modern Eating

I'm walking the aisle of a major bookstore, searching for answers on my new modern cuisine. With what must be hundreds of thousands of books, my eye seems to beeline.! " Be What You Are", the book title says. Be What You Are,! I say to myself. I did not know I was in the self help section, but why not? I need help. I need answers.

I skim the book and speed through the tests. What am I? Right now what I am is developing a modern way to eat, to enjoy cooking and understand how the right food for each of us makes a huge difference biologically without calling out food and medicine or reactive food. Sure, this may not be for mainstream guy on the street at this time. But who knows, maybe it is, maybe it will be. It combines my interest in science, my background as a chef, my love for fitness, the body and a lifestyle of low impact, plant based food with a modern approach.

I see the kitchen design magazines on shelves. Close by are groupings of food as entertainment, food as health and wellness. food as living, food as social, food as cultural, food as travel, food for growing and food for showing. Weight watchers, weight losers, weight gainers, Food, Food, Food. Food is everywhere and oddly enough, right around the corner are more magazines that are reactions on food: food for diabetes, gluten free food, cancer and heart disease food, homeopathic food and EAT Right Food, I guess to responding to so many eating wrong food. The list of those magazines wraps itself nicely into magazines on pharmaceuticals and cosmetics using isolated food nutrients in suppliment and cosmetic ways. It is all about food and food extensions. Food as Entertaining runs that full monty extending reversal reality from wrongful eating to Food as Medicine. But still, I cannot find my food magazine nitche yet. What am I? What is my cuisine?

I am looking for a way to recipe ideas that start with ingredients paired to the body, true biology based eating matching me and food. I want to have fun and food and science every day. I want cell matching, digitally presented reasoning behind what I eat and enjoy with fresh forward thinking thoughts. I want a personal teaching cuisine. So, What am I? Suddenly I am a developer of a new modern food style: plant based, low impact, body smart, Vegetable Alchemy, cell smart. I want you to be interested. Start building your link to recipes of a purposeful modern cuisine, fresh flavorful, fun blended with a nod to your biology whenever we eat. This mole below is great for your insides! What does that mean? More on that when I figure out how to tell you in a way that is upbeat without the medicinal flavor of Food as Medicine. Give me feedback or just be patient. We will get there. We cannot do this overnight. Use with pastas, vegetables. seared tofu, seitan, pork and chicken. This is Who I am, my human biology driven teaching cuisine.

The Purpose of Pumpkin Seed Green Mole
1 cup pumpkin seeds, hulled, lightly toasted
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon oregano leaf, crushed
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
6 red chiles, seeded
1 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic
2 romaine lettuce leaves
1/2 cup cilantro, fresh, stems and leaves
2 cups vegetable stock or chicken
sea salt

Place first four ingredients into a spice grinder. Crush and place into a food processor. Add all ingredients, blend. Store refrigerated. Use hot as a sauce or cold as a spread.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Please Sir, Can I Have Some More?

A weekend full of sports and workout. Super Sunday approaches. Winters in Chi-town get exciting on the tube as channels compete for viewing tennis, basketball, snowboarding, soccer and golf. I watch and think more and more about ideas on how to grow out Vegetable Alchemy changing the world for low impact living. As sports commercials tout burgers, pork and chicken, I settle into examining my stash of home-styled new misos and start chopping away. Quick Winter Vegetable Soup takes shape. What miso will it be? barley, chickpea, brown rice, white bean or red? Miso, miso on the wall.....barley gets the call.

A friend sends a note on f/b....' Check it out.... from a diary of sayings from Albert Einstein! ' " I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious." Well, so am I right now, about Miso and how great it is in a low impact world. Planet Minded, Body Smart. I find it 'curious' that with decades of food and beverage experiences, cooking in all types of cuisine, all over the world, now after all that background, I just feel more comfortable moving my lifestyle to plant based and low impact, sports to food and living. As for those of you reading, grab a beer and check it out. Call a friend over as this easily makes two hefty bowls. Knife practice makes perfect. Vary the veggies as you like. It's fun filled cheap!

Miso and Vegetable Soup, spoons of savory satifaction.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped 1/2 dice
1 cup celery, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup Idaho potato, peeled, cut into 1/2 dice
1/2 cup green pepper, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 cup kale, stems intact, washed and cut into thin strips
2 cloves, garlic, chopped fine
2 tablespoons barley miso
1 cup firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 quarts vegetable stock, divided
1/2 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon oregano leaf
1/2 teas red pepper flakes
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste

Heat a three quart wok or stock pot. Add the olive oil. Stir in the vegetables up to and including the garlic. Cook over medium heat until the kale starts to wilt. Stir 1/4 cup of the vegetable stock with the miso. Add the remaining stock to the vegetables and bring to light boil. Cook about 3-4 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Stir in the tofu, cilantro, oregano, red pepper flakes and season lightly. Simmer one minute. Stir in the barley miso mixture. Simmer one minute and enjoy!