Sunday, April 15, 2018

Old MacDonald Had an Elf

Gosh, another week has come and gone…it seems that every week goes faster and faster. Slow down life!! I’m just now gettin’ used to bein’ 70 but 80 will be here before you know it! Enough of this foolishness, let’s talk food and cookery! With some construction work taking some of our cookin’ time away (we’ll fill you in later), we have just a couple of recipes to share this week and if we have time, we’ll share the one we left out last week.
First, Tuesday night, we ‘fixed’ a recipe from one of our favorite vegan cookbooks, Vegan Bowls by Zsu Dever, Freekeh Stir-Fry Bowl (with broccoli and shiitakes). We’d bought some Freekeh at Patel’s Indian Grocery after Camille Peeples of Feast Specialty Foods asked if we’d ever tried it. Not only had we never tried it, we’d never even HEARD of it.
Turns out, it’s a pretty old grain (well, not this particular package) mentioned in a 13th Century Baghdad cookbook! According to Wikipedia, Freekeh is made from green durham wheat. After a rather complicated process of harvesting while soft, sun-drying and then burning, the wheat is threshed thoroughly, sun-dried again to assure consistency in flavor, texture and color. The seeds are then cracked into smaller pieces and resembles bulgur. The cooking process is similar to most hard grains; there is a high protein content as well. The recipe looked fairly easy with relatively few ingredients. So, here we go. We first cooked the freekeh…combined with our ‘go-to’ ‘chicken’, bouillon (instead of vegetable broth), a piece of raw ginger, crushed garlic, and some sea salt, it took about 20 minutes to absorb the liquid and cook to an al dente texture.
We set it aside. We’ve been trying to get all our cooking prep work done early so we are out of the way when the contractor arrives. We sautéed the sliced shiitakes using a non-aerosol spray of EVOO.
The recipe called for a tablespoon of grapeseed oil but we opted for the spray to cut down on the fat. Next, we added the broccoli
and let that cook about 3 minutes. Then came the sliced red bell pepper, a handful of chopped almonds, and bamboo shoots (the recipe called for water chestnuts; we only had bamboo shoots so opted to use them rather than go ALL the way to the store to buy one measly can of water chestnuts). You can see we did not think ahead and had to switch to a larger pan. The cooked freekeh was added
along with a sauce we had also prepared earlier. We actually doubled the amount of the sauce which worked quite nicely. The sauce is made from toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, red pepper flakes. Salt is listed as an ingredient but with the soy sauce, it’s not necessary.
This conglomeration is stirred until the sauce is absorbed and VOILA!! Freekeh Bowl!!
Now, to bump up the substance a bit, we sautéed some Gardein Beefless tips to add…this dish was so delicious it will be on our horizon for many a meal.
You don’t actually need the additional meat analog; the flavor of the freekeh is fabulous and with the addition of the veggies and sauce, it’s just wonderful!!
Our Ornish meal for this week was cooked Saturday night…Penne with Broccoli Rabe. Truth be told, we prepped this dish for an earlier day but had to bump it back to allow for the contractor to finish up the the re-do of the kitchen (pics later). Here we have our ‘mise en place’: sliced Onion, Broccoli Rabe, Golden Raisins, Lemons and Zest, Basil (purple and green from the garden), and Red Pepper Flakes/Nutritional Yeast.

We sautéed the onion
and eventually added the broccoli rabe.
The recipe stated to cook until tender which took a bit longer than the 5 minutes suggested. We then added the remaining ingredients; garlic, the juice of both lemons as well as the zest, red pepper flakes, raisins, nutritional yeast, and the cooked pasta (along with about 1/4-1/2 cup of the pasta water).
This cooked until aromatic and well mixed.
We also cooked up our Gentle Chef Italian Sausage analog to serve on the side (3 g of fat per sausage).
Here is the final plating, along with some Ezekiel bread toast.
The nutritional information was calculated using the My Fitness Pal recipe application. Note: the total grams of fat INCLUDES the pasta.
Paired with a meat analog of your choice, a salad with fat-free dressing, or another vegetable, it’s a very tasty and satisfying meal. There is an option for toasted pine nuts but we did not include them.

If you remember, last week, we had to leave out a recipe because we ran out of room. It was actually a recipe that Camille and Your Elf prepared in the Feast Kitchen and did not get a chance to photograph. It was so good, we decided to make it at home so you could see. From Power Plates cookbook, Spicy Basil Noodles with Crispy Tofu, Bok Choy, and Bell Peppers. This appears initially to be fairly labor intensive BUT after you’ve done it once, you realize it’s pretty easy. We cubed and marinated our tofu…now, we like to marinate for like EVER!! So we let it sit for the day before draining.
We prepared the rice noodles by soaking in hot water until they were soft.
Then we made the spicy sauce which is OUTSTANDING!! We processed Serrano chilies, shallots, and garlic into a paste
whisking in lime juice, ‘chicken’ broth, and brown sugar for later use. Next, we sautéed our bok choy that had been sliced on the diagonal,
added the sliced bell peppers
and let them get a crisp cook
before adding the bok choy leaves since they would cook so much faster.
The noodles were drained and added
along with the sauce. All that was mixed well and we were ready to add the tofu. SOOO, here’s where WE went off the Air Fry Tofu rails…we WAY overcooked the tofu. Not only did we cook at too high a temperature but also cooked much too long. So, instead of crispy tofu like CAN occur in the air fryer, we produced tofu marbles that looked good but were pretty much inedible. DON’T DO THAT! Or, you can fry the tofu in oil. In any event, here’s the finished plating before we removed the tofu marbles and enjoyed the noodles!!
Very spicy with the Serrano based sauce! We’ll do it again because it is easy and we will most certainly cook better tofu!! However, the lengthy soak in the marinade did produce a tasty pre-marbleized tofu.
We got our first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box from Two Dogs Farms today amidst tornado sirens and severe thunderstorms at the local Farmer’s Market. Evidently, nothing keeps The Elf from her food sources. We are particularly excited about this CSA because Two Dog Farms not only grows beautiful produce, they introduce you to vegetables you may not have used or cooked before. Here is a picture of today’s box of goodies, which we have now cleaned and packed away. From left to right, we have Butter Lettuce, Radishes, Spinach, Scallions (or green onions down here), Curly Kale, Kohlrabi, Swiss Chard, and Bok Choy.
We have LOTS of options on the table for Ornish-friendly recipes to try with this awesome produce! Stay tuned!
And last, if you’ve kept track of The Elf since OCTOBER of last year, you’ve probably made the Kinky Elfery Kitchen make-over journey with us. Well, we are FINALLY finished and so very, very pleased with the eventual outcome (after the first contractor left us with an unfinished mess). Todd Toups of Innovative Construction Designs, LLC stepped in and showed us how we could make it even better. Not only was the cabinet catastrophe fixed, we now have a beautiful ‘subway’ tile backsplash with under cabinet lighting and electrical fixtures. SEE!!

So, until next Sunday, we wish you a safe, happy, and healthy eating kinda week. And REMEMBER to 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. DO EPIC!


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