Thursday, July 31, 2014

Breakfast All Day

omelet with a pinch of red spices
Break two eggs into a mixing bowl and beat with a tbl or two of water, a pinch of the spice or herb you like and maybe some salt or pepper and whip them into a froth.  Enter a hot pan, a touch of oil and in seconds the salad or vegetable mix from yesterday becomes a meal that can be done at any time of the day.  Omelets are a great task to practice.  T
he Vegetable Alchemist.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Moroccan Lentil Stew

Roasted Moroccan Lentil Stew
Sometimes cooking is great mind time.  You have a flavor in mind, need to chill from the day and are willing to spend a few extra moments to use the spice and herb cabinet, lots of veggies and simmer lentils or other legumes till just done.  I had to throw in a pic of one of my favorite family food businesses, Newman's Own Organics.  Those apricots are actually from Turkey, so there was no bleaching agent.  Instead of being orange, they were dark brown. 
great apricots
oven roasted eggplant
carrots, sweet potatoes, onion, potatoes
All of the vegetables were pooled together in mixes, the eggplant was done on its own so control the roasting.  I tossed each group with a touch of salt and pepper, Madras curry, cumin, thyme, basil, fresh garlic and ginger.  I added a few drops of oil to each and oven roasted in batches, combining all in a pot with diced tomato, and the apricot simmered lentils for a few final moments of cook and reseason.  It took about 15 minutes of peel, slice and dice with an extra 15 minutes of tending the slow simmering lentils.  A few coarse shreds of cilantro and spinach with a pinch of slivered chiles and,  ' Dinner was served '.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Red Mustard Greens: 1000 score
What could be more complicated that lettuce?   But if you are looking for a little be more nutrition consider what else might go on your burger or rough cut into your next mix of sauteed vegetables for a side dish.  Adding something nutritionally rich makes a difference in energy.  Bitter and strong greens that are often difficult for some to eat raw, ease their flavor when lightly cooked. Higher nutrient numbers offer more body energy. 
Take a look at these greens and their nutritional density index and see if you might want to add them to balance your own meals.  The Vegetable Alchemist.
Butter Lettuce: 585 score
Red Kale: 1000 score

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Balancing Act: Part Two: Bitter

Cauliflower Curry
Curry Minded and it was fantastic!  Classic combination of cumin and yellow curry spices but balanced in a way that offered aroma, depth, rich flavor with toasty notes but no dairy.  Normally bitter dishes are balanced with sweet like coconut or nut milks, brown or white sugar, ghee, or some other kind of starch like potatoes or rice.

My ingredient list: cauliflower, carrots, onion, peas, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, slivers of serrano chile and cilantro. I could have used a black iron skillet but instead I used a wok on low and slowly toasted the cauliflower on one side and removed to a bowl.  I added the spices, and cooked lightly and as soon as I found a hint of aroma, which was about 10 seconds, I added one tablespoon vegetable oil, the garlic, ginger, carrots and onion.  Simmer gently.  Next in, cauliflower, tomatoes, serrano chile, and a 1/2 cup of water for a quick 3 minute simmer.  I finished with a cup of  peas, a pinch of salt and pepper and cilantro.

Mixing ingredients to finish
Toasting Cauliflower on lower heat

The learning was that with slow careful cooking and in the right order, the pan picks up a caramelized skin from the vegetables.  Make the pan too hot for this style of no cream curry and the flavors will bitter out!

Enjoy the day, enjoy the curry.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

another day in the trenches

Vegetable Alchemy adds a lot of excitement to the day.  We test ideas on foods that bring a lot of healthful living to every day.  The Vegetable Alchemist.
love what you do

Friday, July 25, 2014

A Balancing Act: Part One: Sweet

a warm balanced variety of  vegetables 
a stirfry mix of greens and vegetables
a variety of sweet, bitter and sour veggies
Having delicious food is about following basic flavor rules: salt, sour, bitter, sweet and umami (the overall taste of deliciousness).   When the ingredients piled on the counter to ready a stirfry it was clear that one of those four directions had to be followed.  With some bitter flavors in eggplant and zucchini skin as well as strong flavors in cabbage, salt, bitter and sour did not seem like the right direction.  A little bit of oyster and low sodium soy sauce with aromats of garlic and ginger supplied the pungency and the rest was a two minute toss and serve.  I used a bit of red pepper flakes to add a touch of heat and round out the flavors.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Head to Head

finished Cauliflower Noodles
In my quest to develop a modern cuisine I continuously test old recipes and new thoughts on techniques and trends against those surfacing in Vegetable Alchemy with its growing cell plant to body focus.  Weekly I receive all kinds of newsletters that offer surprises in products and people working in the food chain around the globe . One of these groups is possibly the core of my most respected reading from test kitchens. I have enjoyed their work for decades.  From a recent test recipe bundle,  I cooked up a pasta dish with cauliflower.  Cauliflower rocks!

wide noodles drained leaving most of the starch behind
Their insight was that using a smaller amount of water to cook pasta and not draining it offered a thick base to create a sauce.  The recipe did exactly what was promised.  But for Vegetable Alchemy and a more nutritionally rich dish with far less calories, I adjusted it for less of all starches and lightly browned the cauliflower to keep it crisp. My ingredients included: blanched pasta, cauliflower, bacon, onion, stock, thyme, lemon, parsley, salt and pepper.  I could have thinly cut some nutrient dense greens and added but this time I just wanted the sublime taste of the cauliflower carried through the pasta and herbs.  I did not use the recommended campanelle as I had a few portions of wide egg noodles to  cook knowing I did not need all that starch.  I have included the original and my notes in captions below the pics.  Happy cooking with either version. The Vegetable Alchemist.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another Day in Burgerland

finished burgers with all the fixins'
I was never much of a burger guy.   The concept is simple.  

Place properly cooked and flavored meat onto some kind of bun and you have a simple portable meal.  I always felt heavy after a burger, heavy and with a bloated stomach that growled.  Burgers slowed me down and I felt like either sleeping or swimming to work off the weight of my body very slowly utilizing a lot of calories that I did not necessarily turn into energy.

This burger is a bit different.  Yes, in reply to a reader, it is BEEF not turkey.  And yes, it has a bun and flavorings.  But conceptually the all meat has been swapped for half  70/30 ratio of meat to fat ground beef and half diced domestic mushrooms. I let the mix sit 30 minutes refrigerated to allow the mushrooms and meat to blend in flavor and bind a bit.  I added a touch of Dijon mustard and drops of soy to season.
diced domestic mushrooms
tasty nutrient rich greens

 2 burgers and left overs
There are ways of adding binding character but not this time. The lettuce, mayo and tomato has been swapped for a touch of mayo on the inside cover of the 2.5 oz bun as the 'special sauce', with a cabbage leaf on the bottom and an arugula, red kale and cilantro mixed bag of unseasoned, undressed greens on the top.  No tomato.  The end results after downing two was feeling like I was satiated and happy but not that, 'Oh my god, I can't eat another thing...' feeling.  And, oh yeh!  They were super tasty.  Hope that gets you in the mood.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

a touch of  jalapeno added 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Testing Popular Trends

basil, barley, kale and lemon salad
Kale is at the tip of everyone's tongue these days, literally and figuratively.  Shopping yesterday, I watched a committed kale enthusiast try to get her Mother to 'taste the goodness' as she offered up a piece of leaf from her bunch soon to end up in the shopping cart.  MOM would have nothing to do with it..."too strong, smells like green yuk! ' the Mom replied.  A glare and then shrug of the daughter's shoulder as a snub and off they went both focused on shopping for their own eating habits.

spinning pesto
We all have an individual sense of taste and with individualism being almost at an all time height, I can see it creates lots of pier pressure as well as confusion when it comes time for a family or friendly meal.  Too many personal specifics crowd the refrigerator and workspace .

I found a kale barley recipe in a monthly popular food magazine.  Two trending items, barley for fiber and kale for nutrient richness.  I know I can take a cooked cup of barley, put a few drops of lemon juice on it, add salt and pepper and even without further ingredients, I have a good meal.  I could do the same for kale but would add a few drops of oil to ease digestion, regardless of a few added calories.

When you take barley and toss it with an intense kale pesto that is made from spinning 6 oz of kale with a bit over 1/2 cup of oil, you get a large flavor bomb that I can only say intensifies with added fresh kale in the salad, as this recipe specified.  And while I do believe food is your best medicine, I was looking to eat tasty vittles, but instead I felt if I made the published recipe my food was more about detox.  I ended up reserving the kale pesto, adding a touch of it to my traditional pesto, tossing in some additional basil leaves with the torn kale, then using the rest of the ingredient base of currants, fresh chopped shallot, a tablespoon of preserved lemon, toasted pine nuts and barley for a fabo Summer dish that for me was more balanced.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Tofu: Price Smart Versatility

tofu seasoned and finished with scallions
Tofu is one of the most versatile of items.  Some
love its texture and ability to absorb flavor as well
as adapt to various cooking methods. Others find
nutritionally richness in the plant protein. Either way
tofu clearly offers plenty of opportunity  to extend
your culinary  knowledge.

Here a simple dish of mushrooms, garlic, tofu with a
touch of oyster sauce, bit of stock to simmer and a
small  hand and of  scallions as an end stir before plating. 
You  can add more vegetables to what I am showing
or change the vegetables to your own combinations.
But the wonder of the dish is the simplicity of simple
ingredients highlighted by the shittake mushrooms
blends aroma, taste, flavor  into as healthy  bowl of
price smart eating.

The Vegetable Alchemist.
simple ingredients
shittake lightly browning
tofu diced and added

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Watermelon Never Had It Soooo Good !

Light, tasty and wonderful
is a good thing.

Quickly blanch and plunge into cold water a big hand of basil leaves.  Dry and place in a blender with pinch of salt and a pinch of cracked pepper. For every one half cup of  basil you start with add 1/3 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of mild cold pressed oil. Liquify. Taste, adjust seasoning and and strain into a small bottle or cup.  Set aside.  Tasty basil dressing is key.  Water lightens the load and lets the flavor come through.

Take the rind off a seedless yellow watermelon.  Save the rind in the frig for smoothies.  Cut the melon into the piece style and size you like.  Plate.  Sprinkle with a mild feta, not too salty or age, like French feta.  Drizzle the plate with basil juices and sit down to a tasty treat!  Use the rest of the basil juice on sandwiches, fish, tomatoes and anything else you love with a light basil flavor.  The Vegetable Alchemist.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Traditional Cuisine Evolves

finished stirfry
leftover chicken and pork
tray of nutrient dense greens with cut veggies
left over Pad Prik sauce
George Auguste Escoffier....' was one of the most important leaders in the development of modern French cuisine. Much of Escoffier's technique was based on that of Marie-Antoine Carême, one of the codifiers of French haute cuisine, but Escoffier's achievement was to simplify and modernize Carême's elaborate and ornate style. In particular, he codified the recipes for the five mother sauces ' (wikipedia)

I look at what I am doing to create a modern cell based cuisine as the next step in the evolution of food.
We have mother cuisines just as Escoffier modernized mother sauces.  His purpose was to bring order to the kitchen and order to recipes.  Mine is to use mother cuisines with a new interest in adapting the ingredients to be more nutritious and nutrient dense. 

This blog demonstrates a simple stirfry using left over meats, some nutrient dense greens, simple celery and yellow squash with the left over sauce from a take out Thai dish called Pad Prik .   A touch of Dulse (seaweed) was added instead of salt and for vitamins.

There is a constant that is starting to appear.  Nutrient dense food has a terrifically positive impact on health. I am energizing my body with nutritional dense plant food, not huge amounts of unnecessary meat protein that the body has to work hard at burning for energy.  As the weeks continue there will be patterns of preparation using key methods.  Enjoy the stir fry..... The Vegetable Alchemist

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quiz Time

What would make thiks fabulous looking and tasting quality tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella salad more nutritionally dense?  That's my question of the day.....simple, colorful, delicious and easy  ......

I welcome a thought or two from any of you out there.. my goals is to add something so simple that it does not destroy the beauty of the combination....but adds a bit more nutrition to this classic favorite.....

Projected Blog Answer:  3 days                                                                       The Vegetable Alchemist

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Salade du Garbage

Nutrient Dense Greens and Vegetables

This experiment with Vegetable Alchemy started out with a simple thought, make a kale Caesar and have dinner.  Suddenly the inventor in me took over and I said, ' Kale Caesar is yesterday's news.I get that. It is now even commercialized on menus in loads of places. How can we push further.'  You can see the process for what was finally termed, Salade du Garbage (garbage salad) in the pics. Results were a whopping 95% in nutritional density, and a dismal 30% in palatibility. (Just add more dressing!)  As I ate my heady bowl of nutrition,  I envisioned me on all fours with a  cow in pasture or a horse in a bucket of grain!  Just tie on the feed bag.  But learn I did and back at it today! Time to go back to the base line and see where we are in this journey to create a modern cuisine.  To start the salad idea, I raided and cleaned out the frig again. You can follow my thoughts in the captions on each photo.
chopped greens mixed with tasty vinaigrette

Question: Why am I doing this?
composte 'salad' for local farm

trimmings to local farm: animal edible 'salad'
When in doubt, just add Chicken!
1) Because new information in cell biology has demonstrated clearly for decades that the body has much, much more potential in longevity and the century old cuisines we eat do not support longer life regardless of how good they taste.  ( Certainly most days, I would not trade my cell phone for a telegraph!)

2) Because of the new age of digital advancement going way past the molecular level, it is evident that the body works on micro-nutrients: phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and we have design past cuisines with the information and products from those eras that target general macro nutrients: proteins, carbohydrates and fats and now we are overly concerned with dead calories from these when we should be concerned with nutrition from more efficient micro-nutrients as out bodies would be more healthy.

3) Because of modern lifestyle we have turned out foods over to manufacturers and this 'processed food'
is causing severe damage to soil, water, air quality with industrialization and severe damage to our bodies in diseases.

4) Because further research has shown clearly that when minimum amounts of exercise are combined with better nutrition the results confirm weight control, better overall health and extended life, which seems a good use of all the new knowledge which should be the start of a new base line, or developing a food/energy to body more responsive modern cuisine.  The largest practiced traditional are: Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean, Island Styles and now American.  All steeped in meat and poultry proteins.

Vegetable Alchemy as a concept is almost 20 years old in my research.  It all started when I worked at Moosewood in upper state New York as a student at Cornell and realized that having come from meat based meals of my family, the plant based diet  I was cooking, serving and eating ( we each did a bit of everything at Moosewood) left me feeling light, with lots of energy.  As of today definition of Vegetable Alchemy is applying nutritionally dense plants to a plant based diet.  And from last night's Salade du Garbage I can safely say, a clear part of the goal is to produce results that you WANT to eat, that taste is king. But these are only details, details. 

It took Edison over 900 attempts to perfect his light bulb.  Well that gives me a lot of opportunity to press forward as I am way under a few hundred experiments and date keeps getting stronger.  Consider the light bulb when it became commercial.  Think about how many more improvements have been added for efficiency that have had lasting impact.  The light bulb benefits our lives and makes living a whole lot better.  Vegetable Alchemy will too.  Just need patience, time, a few more dollars, your interest and dedication to a vision.  The Vegetable Alchemist.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Habits and New Beginnings

Not long ago I was in a meeting discussing how to turn a company around.  Answers were flying around the table from the executive committee.  Each idea was scribe on a huge black board as hours ticked away. The Chairman of the Board sat there quietly listening, saying nothing but it was evident he had a point of view.  He did not want to take over the meeting and yet he had a lot of money invested in the company.  The time came time for Chairman to leave for the airport. When I got back to my office there was a book on my desk, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.  I've probably read it 5 times already but the point is to change a habit you have to consciously focus on the change so you swap one habit for another.

Vegetable Alchemy and its related food energy to body science is growing into a tiny sound business.  And like anything in life and business, it and me are going through growing pains. This graph sometimes helps me find my way. Changing habits in business and self is hard. But the end result is a whole new beginning.. 

Below, I repeat a yesterday post from LinkedIn, as it goes hand in hand as a next step from changing habits. 'Focus' as explained is key to goals and goal setting.  Enjoying the journey is another. Hopefully you enjoy what you do as much as I do as its makes the journey worthwhile.
If at first you don't succeed take a look at the premise, the habits, the many types of focus and try, try again. Build confidence. Associate with people who want you to succeed. We, you and me can do it!  Press On!
The Vegetable Alchemist.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cloudy with an Expectation of Meatballs

 Meatballs, pan roasted tomatoes, pea shoots
The last few days I was looking for something fun and light on one of the movie stations, and clicked on to, " Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Part 2 ! " I thought, what a hysterical title. A cartoon flick about an inventor who is battling mutant food groups that were accidently created by a machine he invented. He discovers a stream of shrimpanzees, tacodiles, jellyfish sandwiches, Chum eating pickles and other animated creatures all surviving in a world he did not know he had developed!

great ingredients

40% mushroom with turkey

nutrient dense greens
After forty five minutes of laughter, I got the good guy, bad guy plot, and was happy and now comfortable knowing this time the good guy found a way to kept his cool, and win.  It was time for a little dinner and since subliminally 
I guess the title put me in the mood for meatballs, meatballs it was!  Ya gotta luv meatballs!  This version might be different than yours, but with all do respect to you and meatballs, these were fantastic.
The Vegetable Alchemist.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Experiments in Food

 a special kind of Turkey Burger
a tasty mix of high nutrition replaces lettuce
I am taking to task food and what food is made of and doing the same with what our bodies need and what energy makes up those needs.  While it has be written time and time again that 'You Are What You Eat'  I need to understand it much better and for me, substantiate this in a clear concise way.
I have been thinking, what if not only I have been eating the wrong thing by staying by traditional recipes, but what if the wrong thing causes me to age faster.   

anti-oxidant, phytonutrients in red cabbage
What if there is a whole science on how to eat way more than just what we have at present.  What if it goes right down to the nutritional quality of the soil for plants that we add to our recipes.  What if weak plants have no nutrition and strong plants are key to having fantastic skin, clean disease free blood and terrific longer term muscles.  What if a new kind of recipe offers results way past the pleasure of eating, and instead could alter our lifespan even at first from 10 to 15 years or more?  Take a look at the pics of experiments in food for a normal burger. Results are showing there is way more to our energy, our food than we think.  At least after testing this approach to a burger I found  ' What if? ' to be true.

The Vegetable Alchemist.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Update a Classic

Penne Pomodoro with Red Kale and Onion
The idea of basing your eating on nutritional density is completely different than basing it on calorie counts. Your body needs energy in the form of micro nutrients: phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and enzymes.  It can get these from either high or low calorie foods.  Nutritional dense plant foods generally have very low calories and get very high nutrient points.  With low calories and high nutritive levels, the body has cleaner more efficient energy.

That does not mean that you have to just plunk your head into bowls of green leafy vegetables in order to be a Vegetable Alchemist!  Once you understand the idea that you want to eat more efficient foods for your body, you can adjust.

Red Kale leaves ready to cut
I love pasta.  But it has lots and lots of calories and very little nutritive dense value.  I took a simple Penne Pomodoro ( penne, Parmesan and red tomato sauce) and updated it from the classical for better yet super tasty nutritive count.  I could have done this also as a side salad leaving the penne as it was but I wanted to use up the outside greens from the Red Kale and decided to quickly cut them into strips and toss with a little onion for more flavor then finish the way I do.  Flavor was excellent.  No additional cheese needed.  The Vegetable Alchemist.
Onions are simmered with Kale then tossed with a simple penne. You could even just buy the finished penne and add the kale fresh at home to finish.