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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Beauty and The Elf

Wow! Here we are almost halfway through April already!! This is an abbreviated Blog today to just catch you up on a couple of things from the Kinky Elfery Kitchen. We'll get to our main recipe this week (and it was a GOOD one!) in just a bit BUT's a look at some of this week's eating stuffs.
You know that Monday is Veggie night. Well, we got a taste for some GOOD home made tomato soup, found a recipe that touted "the best ever", and decided to dive in for Monday night. The site is called Sprouted Routes and here's the recipe link.
Then we remembered that Big Solid is not that fond of tomato soup, so we threw in some other veggies as well. Not a particularly handsome meal, but we figured it would be healthy AND bring Big Solid around on the tomato soup. We found some nice tomatoes (well, as nice as you can find before the 'real' tomatoes come in), including some smaller heirloom tomatoes of varying colors...always fun. Our 'mise en place' was pretty small as the recipe had very few ingredients. Not pictured are the onions and tomato paste. Basically, we had tomatoes and avocado oil (which we LOVE).
The tomatoes were washed, dried and then coated with some of the avocado oil

and baked until the skins were browning and the tomatoes had released some of their yummy juices. Included in the baking was a head of garlic that had been cut off at the top to expose the heads and wrapped in foil. Your forgetful Elf did not remember to include the roasted tomatoes in a picture until after they had been blasted into soup. Roasting takes about 40 minutes to an hour.
As the tomatoes and garlic were cooling down a bit from the oven, we sautéed the onion until they began to brown and then added a wee bit of avocado oil and the tomato paste (you know, those 2T packs of tomato paste come in very handy). The roasted tomatoes AND roasted garlic were added and stirred to blend.
And speaking of blending, we gave the VitaMix a workout pureeing the entire batch of soup about half of it at a time. We had to deviate from the recipe here as our VM bowl would not hold the entirety of the soup. The bottom line is that it got pureed without a hitch.
We made the croutons out of pumpernickel bread instead of rye, as the recipe indicated as well. So..that was done.
Next up, the greens! We had been to Mr. Chen's (YAY!) and found some great mushrooms as well as some lovely baby bok choy.
We'd already gotten some nice Swiss Chard (rainbow and red), so we had our greens with mushrooms all set.
We started thinkin' about how to prepare the bok choy, especially since we were going to sauté the Swiss Chard with Mushrooms and Sherry Vinegar. 
We decided to try our elfin hand at baking it and sure enough, found several recipes toward that end. So, that's what we did. It was delicious although next time, we will up the seasoning a bit more. We washed and dried the bok choy and then tossed in a bit of grapeseed oil, minced garlic and fresh lemon juice. Baked in a 450º oven, turning once, until slightly brown on the leaves.The final plating looked like this.
Not sure we changed Big Solid's mind on the tomato soup, but we loved it. He did eat a LOT of vegetables with his one bowl of soup.

We also prepared a really nice Tofu Scramble this week with some fresh asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, yellow squash and zucchini.We sautéed the veggies,
added the pressed tofu and some turmeric and cayenne for flavor and color.
Then we added a spice called Kala Namak, otherwise known as Black Salt.
It has a sulfur-esque flavor that when added in SMALL quantities, helps the tofu taste eggy. And believe us when we say SMALL quantities...if you add too much, you might as well start over, so add sparingly and taste before adding more. Trust your Elf on this one. The final dish was wonderfully healthy, tasty and a good lunch or supper meal.

Now, for the 'featured' recipe of the week, Chickpea Curry. We LOVE curries, be they Thai, Indian or whatever. So, we thought we'd give a go at a recipe for one. We found this recipe at Jessica in the Kitchen,
thought is sounded reasonably doable and had at it. Here's the link to the recipe
We got out 'mise en place' and commenced this effort. Coconut flour, chickpeas, Garam Masala (more about that later), ground Cumin, Hot Madras Curry, Fire-roasted diced Tomatoes, minced Garlic, Coconut Milk, sliced red onion, and a lime. Whew!
We sauteed the onion and tomatoes,
stirred until they were nicely blended,
added the chickpeas and the spices,
and finally the coconut milk and the coconut flour. This was stirred until it was smooth and a nice consistency. When we tasted it, we were not quite happy with the flavors and here's where that Garam Masala (Penzey's) comes in. It's a Masala (it's their Punjabi Garam Masala) that has a strong taste of cardamom and coriander which seemed to overpower the other spices. So, we scrambled around to figure out how to offset the intensity and tone it down a bit. We wound up adding heat (Sambal and red pepper flakes) along with about another half can of coconut milk and more coconut flour. We finally achieved the flavor that we wanted and learned that we either use LESS of the Penzey's Masala OR make our own, which we usually have on hand but had used up! We use Susan Voisin's great garam masala recipe so you can bet we'll be putting that into place soon. The recipe and instructions for making the garam masala can be found at the end of the linked recipe for Black-eyed Pea Masala.
Or you can google recipes for variations on garam masalas to find one that includes other spice blends.

And, we have a new VEGAN cookbook from America's Test Kitchen and MAN O MAN, are we ever excited about this one. A quick perusal is enough to know there are not only dozens of great recipes to try but also the America's Test Kitchen methodology for making sure the recipe is good, including various brands to use for the best results. You see before you one HAPPY ELF!
Finally, we leave you this week with a photo of Big Solid and your Elf at Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville MS. It's the annual gathering of alumni to watch the Spring football scrimmage. Big Solid played football a few years back and this band of brothers reunites yearly for a rousing weekend of tales and lies, embellished heroics on the field, and reliving the old Glory days. We wouldn't miss it for the world.
Well, gee, this wasn't as abbreviated as we anticipated! Until next week (we will post next Monday instead of Sunday), LOOK for the GOOD, be an EXAMPLE of the GOOD, and ACT for the GOOD as HARD as you can, in as MANY WAYS as you can, EVERY DAY that you can. In other words, “DO EPIC”!
Your Elf

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