Monday, January 28, 2013

(Vegan) Red Lentil Soup

Ok, I know I've done Red Lentil Soup before, but I usually add bacon or use chicken stock. But since my daughter has gone Vegan, I've been searching for some ideas that we can all eat for dinner. This is great soup! The veggies don't turn mushy and it has a nice earthy, rustic flavor. We didn't miss any of the "meat" flavor! Although, a nice sprinkling of Parmesan would certainly be nice if you wanted to downgrade it to Vegetarian. I tell ya, this has been quite the learning experience! Not enough to turn me into a full time Vegan, but I can handle it on occasion. I love my meat! ;)

Vegan Red Lentil Soup

2 T red onion, chopped
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 t dried basil
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes & green chiles)
1 fresh tomato, chopped
2 cups red lentils
8 cups water
3 kale leaves, stem removed, sliced thin
2 T red wine vinegar
Himalayan Pink Salt & freshly ground pepper*

In a large sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in lentils and add water & tomatoes. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour. Add the kale and cook for about 15 - 20 minutes until wilted. Add the vinegar, salt & pepper. Serves 4-6. (recipe adapted from Bob's Red Mill)

I partnered the soup with some grilled White Cheddar Cheese sandwiches. Perfect for a cold, rainy night!

*I love this pink salt! I use it all the time...but $9.49 at Amazon? I get mine for $1.99 at Trader Joes!* 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Turkey Burger & Spiced Baked Fries

This is what I made for dinner last night. I'm trying really hard to cut out white carbs, plus I'm trying to offer some vegan choices for my daughter. I made some veggie burgers for her but didn't take a pic yet. I'd never made them before and always wanted to. They smelled great and look pretty, but the were a little mushy. I'd probably add more oatmeal next time, or roll them in some panko before frying.

Anyway, these recipes are super easy and very flavorful!

For the Turkey Burgers:
Put 1 lb ground turkey, 5 diced mushrooms, 2 T finely minced fresh garlic, & 2 T Soy Vay Veri Teri sauce into a large ziplock bag. Close tightly, squeezing most of the air out, and massage the ingredients until well mixed. Should give you 4 generous patties. Grill. Serve with Butter/Bibb Lettuce (or buns), swiss cheese, avocado, & red onion...or whatever floats your boat!*my recipe*

For the Spiced Baked Fries:
Slice 2 large Russet potatoes into thick wedges. Toss them in a bowl with a generous drizzle of olive oil and some pink Himalayan salt (Trader Joes, $1.99. Love this stuff!!!!). Bake at 450 for 30 minutes. Flip them over and sprinkle a mixture of 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon oregano, & 1 teaspoon Ancho Chile powder. Bake for 15 more minutes. (I have a new oven, so I had to turn mine down to 425 for the last 15 minutes cuz they were getting too brown.) *This recipe was from FoodNetwork Magazine*


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

Isn't this pretty?

I just butterflied a 3 lb pork loin roast, pounded it down to make it a bit thinner and easier to stuff, then layered some chopped kale that I had tossed in olive oil, garlic, pink salt, & pepper, a few slices of Prosciutto, & about 1/2 a cup shredded Fontina cheese. Put a few sprigs of rosemary on the seam, tied it up with some string to keep it all secure, drizzled some olive oil over it, then roasted on a rack with a bit of water in the pan, at 325 for about 45 - 50 minutes or until the thermometer reads 160. Let rest for 10 minutes in some aluminum foil. Drizzle with more olive oil. Slice into spirals. I didn't take a pic, but I served it over a bed of large Northern White Beans & wild rice. Super delicious! ( I know I made something very similar to this earlier this month, but this one turned out a lot better and I was much happier with this one! It might be because the one I did before was a tenderloin, whereas this one was a loin....much fattier, flavorful cut of pork.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Max's is closing down! La Plancha opening soon!

I must admit that I hadn't been to Max's in probably about a year. The other day, my daughter asked where we could get a good cheeseburger, so I suggested Max's. Right before we walked in I said to her, "I'm always trying to think of a great restaurant that has a variety of American fare, etc. and we never think of Max's. We really need to come here more often!" Then we walked in the door and saw that the main dining room was taped off and a big sign saying that a new concept, La Plancha, is opening up on February 6th. I was confused because the bar to the left was still open and appeared to still be operating as Max's. I thought that maybe they were going to have 2 concepts in 1 space: Max's on the left, La Plancha to the right. But sadly, thats not the case! Max's hasn't earned a profit in over 2 years, according to two staffers there. So, the same owners are hoping that this new Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar will appeal to Marin residents. I am not sure that we necessarily needed another Mexican restaurant, but I'll give it a shot. They compare it more to Guymas in Tiburon, rather than say, The Cantina in Mill Valley. I grabbed a copy of their menu and some of their selections look intriguing: Albondigas con Crema - Beef & Chorizo Meatballs with Tomato Sauce, Chile en Nogada - Poblano Pepper stuffed with Ground Pork, Raisins, Pineapple, Onions, with Walnut Cream Sauce & Pomegranate Seeds, plus they have your standard Tacos, Burritos, Tamales (one with Lamb, Onion, Chile Verde, Achiote Crema! Different!), and a nice selection of Margaritas, Wine, & Cerveza (they have a bucket of Mini's! Haven't had that since I was in Ensenada as a 20 something!). I'm looking forward to sipping on a Campeon Top Shelf Margarita while nibbling on some Antojitos Mexican Street Snacks at La Plancha next month.

I really am going to miss Max's, though. Its too bad. Among some of the favorites that I will miss is their delicious Chopped Salad, the Potato Skins, the Sliders, and of course, their amazing Reuben Sandwich! Friends tell me that I should check out Millers East Coast Deli in the Montecito Shopping Center where Pasta Pomodoro used to be, next time I need a Matzo Ball fix!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Braciola di Maiale

I was at Nello Cucina last month and contemplated ordering this dish. However, I filled up on the Carpaccio and didn't get to try it, so I had immediate designs to recreate the dish for dinner one night. It makes for a really rustic dinner on a cold winters night.

3 lbs pork tenderloin, pounded as thin as you can get it, sprinkle with salt & pepper
3 oz Proscuitto
4 oz Mozzarella di Bufala (the kind in the water, so its soft)
A bunch of Spinach leaves
White Northern Beans (I used canned)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Layer the pork with the Proscuitto, cheese, & spinach. Gently roll lengthwise away from you. Fasten with several toothpicks. Lay the tenderloin seam side down on a rack over a roasting pan. Cover the bottom of the pan with water. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until the temp reaches 160. Remove, cover with foil, let rest for 10 minutes before removing toothpicks and slicing into spirals. Serve over the warmed through white beans, garnish with Parmesan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil if desired. Enjoy!