Thursday, April 25, 2013

Baked Stuffed Breakfast Avocados

The beauteous and delectable avocado sometimes gets a bad rap for being high in fat, but it's important to realize it's the good kind; the sort that lowers cholesterol. They are also loaded with potassium, folic acid, and vitamins B6, C, E, and K, and are a good source of fiber - so the fact that they are nonsensically delicious is just the icing on the proverbial cupcake!

I got this idea - as I have so many others - from a recipe I saw on some random blog. The mad person in charge of this particular asylum had taken it in their head to stuff a lovely avocado with eggs and bacon and bake it in the oven, presumably in the interest of creating an edible metaphor for the battle between good and bad cholesterol e'en then being pitched in their arteries. I've had baked avocado in warm salad applications (served with wilted spinach, roasted tomato, and a drizzle of balsamic: swoon), but I'd never considered having it for breakfast. When I realized what a fool I'd been, I headed straight for the kitchen, and about a half hour later we were digging into what my partner dubbed the "best breakfast food ever." Definitely one to make again! (Be forewarned that these things are both filling and rich - I could only manage one half - so all you need alongside is some decent toast for any excess gooey avocado, and maybe a fruit salad if you want to feel full and extra virtuous.)

Baked Stuffed Breakfast Avocados
~ 2 perfect, ripe-yet-firm avocados
~ 1 large potato
~ 4 slices tempeh bacon, cooked according to package directions
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, smoked paprika
~ 1-2 tsp. hot sauce (I used Frank's original)
~ 1-2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
~ A few grinds of black pepper

~ Preheat the oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit and coat a small baking sheet with cooking spray.
~ Pierce the potato with a fork and microwave until soft (microwaves vary; this took about 7 minutes in mine). When it's cool enough to handle, remove the peel, and mash the cooked potato in a bowl.
~ Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop out just enough of the flesh to make a well for the filling. Add the scooped out avocado to the mashed potato along with the salt, smoked paprika, hot sauce,  black pepper, and nooch; mash until smooth.
~ Add the crumbled, cooked bacon and combine thoroughly. Fill the avocado cavities with the potato mixture and bake, uncovered, at 425 for about 15 minutes, until the filling is browned and the exposed avocado around the edges is bright green and a bit oozy. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Saffron Cauliflower Soup

This substantial-yet-delicate soup gets its special charm from saffron, which has the magical power to elevate everything it touches to a state of exotic, sunshiny yellow yumminess. It's also a great use of the too-often-undervalued cauliflower; grated ginger adds a fresh brightness, pureed cashews lend creaminess (and protein), and the inclusion of some chopped spinach at the end satisfies my personal compulsion to have greens in absolutely everything. I should note that when I made the quantity below for a family of five, we had no leftovers (which are among the best perks of making soup), so if you're feeding more than a couple of people, you might want to double the recipe. I certainly plan to do so with subsequent batches!

Saffron Cauliflower Soup
~ 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour
~ 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
~ 1 large onion, diced
~ 2 large carrots, diced
~ 1 tbsp. each: grated ginger, minced garlic
~ 1 large head cauliflower, cored and chopped
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, cumin, coriander, curry powder, chili powder
~ 1/2 tsp. turmeric
~ Pinch nutmeg
~ A few generous grinds black pepper
~ 5 cups no chicken broth
~ 1 14 oz. can "lite" coconut milk (about 2 cups)
~ 1 tsp. saffron threads
~ 1-3 tsp. hot sauce (optional; I used Sriracha)
~ 1/2 lb. chopped, frozen spinach 

~ Soak the cashews in hot water for at least an hour; drain and puree until smooth.
~ Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot, and sauté the onion and carrot over medium heat about 7-10 minutes, until just softened. 
~ Add the ginger, garlic, cauliflower, and seasonings; stir to coat and continue cooking another 5 minutes or so.
~ Add the broth, cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring just to a boil. Lower to a simmer.
~ In a small pan, warm the remaining oil over medium-low heat and “bloom” the saffron for about a minute, releasing its flavor and color.  Stir into the soup and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
~ Stir in the pureed cashews and coconut milk and cook another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and puree with an immersion blender.
~ Turn the heat to medium, add the hot sauce and the frozen spinach, and cook until the soup is just hot and the spinach is just wilted. Serve hot with crusty bread and/or oyster crackers.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chickpea Flour Fritatta

Though all at once can't not
Eat when I cut sliver out for each,
Yet I can make my breakfast up, that all
From me do baked receive the flour of dal,
That some do call besan. What say you to't?
~ Coriolanus, 2.1.144-48 (well, sort of; if there's a more enjoyable way to adapt Shakespeare than making it fit recipe descriptions, I don't know what it is)

I've posted a few tofu-based frittata recipes in the past, but what makes this one a little different is the inclusion of chickpea flour - also known as gram or garbanzo flour, besan, or (as I like to call it) magical fairy pixie dust. Call it what you'd like, but if you haven't ever cooked with it, you're missing a treat: not only is it a great coating for fried or baked foods, it's the perfect base for savory pancake type things, makes your French toast crispy, and is a better all-purpose thickener than regular flour. It also adds body to dishes like omelets, crepes, and - yes! - frittatas ("frittati"?) than can be fiddly in terms of texture/structural integrity. The addition of chickpea flour in this recipe makes for a light, airy breakfast/brunch dish that slices beautifully and takes much less time to set up than its besan-free counterparts. I've listed the vegetables that happened to be on hand the last time I made this, but you should obviously feel free to use whatever you like, within reason (for instance, a whole artichoke might not be the best idea). Serve alongside some roasted potatoes, a little hot sauce and/or ketchup, and a mimosa or Bloody Mary, and you should be ready to face the world - or not, as you like it.

Chickpea Flour Frittata

The Batter
~ 1 11.5 package silken tofu (I used TJ's)
~ 1 cup chickpea flour
~ 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
~ 1 tbsp. cornstarch
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, dill, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard
~ 1/2 tsp. each: turmeric, white pepper
~ 1/2 cup water
~ 1/2 cup fresh, chopped parsley
~ 1-2 tsp. hot sauce (I'm currently obsessed with Frank's)

The Veggies
~ 1 tbsp. olive (or other) oil
~ 1 10 oz, package mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 red bell pepper, diced
~ 2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
~ 6-8 scallions, chopped


~ Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit, and coat a quiche pan or deep pie dish with cooking spray.
~ To make the batter, combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.
~ Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until they begin to brown. (Pro tip: don't stir them around - just let them sit there for a few minutes and then turn them once!)
~ Add the bell pepper and cook another few minutes, until it gets a teensy bit charred.
~ Stir in the spinach and scallions and cook just long enough for the spinach to wilt.
~ Remove from heat and transfer the cooked vegetables to your oiled baking dish. Pour the batter over the top and smooth with a spatula; a little sprinkle of paprika looks pretty.
~ Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for about 30-35 minutes, or until the batter is completely set and pulling away from the sides of the pan ever so slightly. (Ovens vary wildly, so you should check on it periodically!) Allow to cool for about five minutes before slicing and serving - ideally with a side of roasted potatoes, hot sauce, and a Bloody Mary.