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Summer Soba Noodles

Summer Soba Noodles_healthy and delicious

Lusciously light noodles, that’s my description for this dish. Cold soba noodles are a popular summer dish in Japan. The Japanese people are very wise by eating like this; light, savory, vegetable based; a good way to stay cool. The traditional way to serve them is without toppings; just the delicate flavor of the noodle with some dipping sauce on the side. You dip them as you go.
In my version I decided to give the dish a little kick and add some fresh vegetables and tofu. We usually have this for lunch or a light summery dinner. The combination of fresh crunchy vegetables, sweet savory sauce and creamy tofu cubes, pairs really well with the tender noodle. The preparation could not be easier, and if we measure preparation time versus rewarding flavors it is a winner.
If you think this dish looks complicated, don’t worry, its easy to make. To save you some prep time I recommend you invest on a little kitchen gadget: get yourself a julienne peeler. It is one of my favorite tools. Its fun, easy to use, and easy to clean. You can use this peeler for any other vegetable or fruit. One of the best kitchen gadgets to have. Let’s cook!

Summer Soba Noodles_ sauce ingredientsSummer Soba Noodles_ ingredientsSummer Soba Noodles_Yes,more please!

Summer Soba Noodles

Serves 2-4

3-6 Soba noodle bundles approximately 1.5 bundle per person ( I recommend you to get the Japanese kind. You can get them at any Asian specialty aisle of a supermarket )
2-4 green onions/chives – finely sliced
2 carrots (shredded, julienne or grated)
1 seedless cucumber (julienne or thinly sliced)
½ avocado
1/4-1/2 cup unshelled and cooked edamame beans(optional)
1 block of extra firm Tofu, remove the excess water patting it with paper towels and cut into small cubes.

For the sauce:

3 tablespoons soy sauce.
3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil + one extra tablespoon for finishing.
2 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar.
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 garlic clove grated
the juice and the zest of one small orange.

In a bowl Whisk all the ingredients. Reserve 1/3 of the sauce to marinate the tofu squares.

Garnish with:

Thai Basil to garnish
Black or gold sesame seeds
1 Red chili, thinly sliced

Directions:

1.-

Start by making your sauce. Place all its ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Set aside 1/3 of the sauce and marinate the tofu. While the tofu is absorbing all the flavors, proceed to cut and prepare your vegetables and garnishes.

2.-

Bring a large pot of water up to a boil. Unlike regular pasta, you do not need to salt the water. Once the water is boiling place the noodles and monitor constantly, using a pasta spoon to prevent the noodles sticking. Bring the water up to simmering. Do not let it boil. Follow the instructions in the package, taste, it should have some elasticity to it. Usually takes around 4-5 minutes because they cook through quickly . Keep an eye on them to avoid over cooking. When the pasta is ready drain the noodles into a colander. Immediately return them to the pot and fill the pot with cold water. Leave the water running into the pot a bit until the noodles cool down. Gently with your hands rinse the noodles in threads.*( see picture below) until they feel less starchy. Drain them again into a colander and allow them to drain. You can transfer them to a bamboo mat, to remove the excess water.

Summer Soba Noodles_How to prepare soba noodles

3.-

In a non-stick pan proceed to saute the marinated tofu until golden brown. A little scorching doesn’t hurt either.
In a large bowl season the noodles with a tablespoon of sesame oil and add sesame seeds.

Summer Soba Noodles_Sautee_marinated_Tofu

Divide all noodles evenly into 2 or 4 bowls, garnish with the Juliane carrots, cucumbers, avocado, sautéed tofu, edamame, red chilli.
Serve a small sauce bowl per person for extra dipping the noodles. Enjoy!

Summer Soba Noodles_for two

~Enjoy!~

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Beet Salad, Avocado spread & Pumpernickel crostini

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini_table-ready

This weekend Ian and I had really good eats. Beets are one of my favorite root vegetables, My mom used to make steamed beets sliced with a squeeze of lime and salt and served as an afternoon snack for my brother and I when we where kids. As a grownup, I love them in all preparations; raw, shredded over salads, ROASTED, steamed, in soups, chips and one of my favorites is to pickle them. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to wait until they are pickled, so I refer to a recipe like this and it works like a charm.
I made this Beet Salad, with avocado spread and pumpernickel crostini last Sunday with the type of beets they had available at the farmers market, beautiful Golden and Chioggia Red beets. I believe some are sweeter than others; to me, golden beets taste less earthy and less sweet compared to Red beets. Every kind of beet is extremely healthful and full of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, so use any kind you have available. They can lift up any simple green salad, or become a meal as in this instance. This light vinaigrette works like a charm in combination with the following cooking method: I steamed them for a short time until just al dente, with a little crunch. The contrast in textures between the bread and the avocado spread and the sweet-tangy beet salad is what grabs me the most. The vinaigrette is light and tangy with bright fresh herbs…. done! This is a very easy and full-flavored recipe. You can serve this as an appetizer, light lunch, or with the addition of the avocado in slices and some pecans as a great side salad.

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini_-Golden-and-Chioggia-Red-beets.

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini_sunnny-winter-salad

Beet Salad, Avocado spread & pumpernickel crostini

Serves 2-4

1 Golden Beet
1 Red Beet
1 small sweet potato ( it adds contrast and creamy texture)
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1-2 Tablespoons of fresh thyme, tarragon and mint.
(you can replace any of these for dry, but at least use one fresh herb if you can.)

Avocado spread:

1 small avocado smashed
1 small clove of garlic grated
Lemon Juice, salt and pepper.
Pumpernickel Bread
Some butter or extra virgin olive oil to grill the crostini.

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini_Tosted-with-butter

Directions:

Scrub and rinse really well. In a double boiler steam the beets whole do not cut them, for 15- 18 minutes*
set them aside and allow them to cool. Once cool, peel them and slice them thin. ( a little less than ¼” inch.) Place them in a Bowl, add the herbs, rice vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Gently toss these together and set a side.
Smash the avocado with a fork in a small bowl. Add grated garlic, and a squeeze of lemon, with salt and pepper to taste.
For the Crostinis: on a medium-high heat nonstick skillet, add a dab of butter and toast about 4-6 pieces of bread, both sides. ( I highly recommend the butter , it plays so well with the bred and the tangy notes from the beets!… However, the vegetarian or vegan version using the extra virgin olive oil also tastes terrific. Enjoy!
For service there are two options: assemble to serve or serve everything separately and assemble as you eat.(the second option is more fun, and it prevents your crostini from getting soggy.
* note: if you keep your root vegetables in the refrigerator, allow them to come to room temperature before you start cooking them, to ensure they cook evenly.

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini_table-ready-to-eat!

Beet-Salad_avocado-spread_pumpernickel-crostini_-Golden-and-Chioggia-Red-beets_under-the-sun

~ Enjoy under the sun ~

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Blueberry-Orange Buckwheat Pancakes

Blue Berry Orange Buckwheat Pancakes ~ Yes, more please!

 If I have to choose between pancakes and French toast, I will choose French toast, except when it comes to Buckwheat pancakes. Everything changed the day I tried Buckwheat flour. I’m not gluten intolerant, but in the recent years I’ve noticed how much better I feel when I omit processed white flour. This is huge for me because at one point in time I was really committed to baking as a full time career; I even considered opening a business. Life takes you in mysterious ways, and my body did not like to be in a daily contact with a high content of sugars, white flour, or saturated fats. I always think of the analogy of an alcoholic opening a bar or being a bartender… not the best choice right?…So in my research, changing my habits to better quality foods and whole grains, I stumbled upon buckwheat while I was watching an episode of “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain. He was visiting Brittany, France (it is a great episode you should look it up).  It featured the beautiful French peninsula surrounded by the English channel, the Celtic Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay; lots of amazing scenery. Buckwheat is a staple of this region, pancakes, galettes, and crepes are made with this type of flour. If I remember well, he was served a galette and my mouth just dropped!. So there I was, trying to find Buckwheat flour and not a lot of stores carry it. I found a brand that I still buy and love: Organic and Whole Grain Bob’s Red Mill Organic Buckwheat Flour. For my friends in Mexico it is “Harina de Alforfón or Trigo Negro”( Im sure you can find it in an ecotienda or Mamá Coneja).
Despite the name, buckwheat is not wheat; not a grain but a fruit seed, It is high in Omega-6, protein, fiber, all the B vitamins, Magnasium, Potassium, Rutin and Selenium. It is easy to digest, and GLUTEN FREE!!! So if you have experienced a burst of sleepiness after eating a short stack of regular white flour pancakes, try this recipe. You will feel great and energized after eating them. No bloating, no crawling for the antacid.
Buckwheat flour makes light and fluffy pancakes with a nutty flavor that goes very well with any fruit, maple syrup, or agave nectar.  This recipe is easy. Listed below is the standard recipe followed by the vegan version, with substitutions. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Pancake abstract ~ Yes, more please!

Blueberry-Orange Buckwheat Pancakes

Makes 6-8 4” small pancakes

dry:

1 cup of buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons of Baking powder
2 tablespoons of coconut sugar
1 good pinch of kosher salt

wet:

1 cup of unsweetened coconut cream
1 egg
2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil, melted butter or a mild extra virgin olive oil.
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
The zest of one whole small orange.
The squeezed juice of ½ an orange, save the other half you will need it later!
Little extra butter for the pan. (You can use soy spread if vegan)
For Vegan pancakes: substitute:
1 tablespoon of ground flax seed + 3 tablespoons of water= 1 egg
1 cup of Soy milk or Almond milk will replace the total dairy.
Other variations: Add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg instead of the Orange zest.

Method:

1. In a medium size bowl mix all dry ingredients. Next, whisk all wet ingredients. Proceed and mix wet and dry until well combined; small lumps in the batter are ok. THis batter is a bit on the thicker side, If is too tick feel free to add bot of  water, milk or any non-dairy free will work great.
2. In a separate bowl, rinse and dry blueberries. I usually don’t mix them into the batter, I prefer to place them individually so I can distribute them evenly.
3. Cut fresh strawberries and macerate with the juice of the other ½ orange.
4. Have your Ice cream scooper ready!. I’m a free shape pancake maker, never perfectly round!… but I find it helps portion and shape by pouring the batter with a ice cream scooper *(see picture below) , especially with this batter since its a bit thicker than regular pancake batter.
5. Over a medium heat non-stick pan, proceed and start cooking the pancakes. Add a little butter to pan, wait until bubbly and melted. Place one scoop of batter wait 10 seconds and start adding the blueberries. It takes approximately 1-2 minutes per side, when you start to see burst bubbles on the edge of the pancake is ready to flip. Continue to cook until golden brown. Proceed with the rest of the batter.

Note: Because of the darker color nature of the flour, you will have to monitor the heat a little more than normal, and do not worry if they look a little more than golden brown.

Blue Berry Orange Buckwheat Pancakes _step by step ~ Yes, more please!

Blue Berry Orange Buckwheat Pancakes_you are so fluffy!!! ~ Yes, more please!

Warm up your Maple syrup and serve with the macerated strawberries, fresh blueberries and pistachios.

I love the contrast in flavor between cooked and fresh blueberries so don’t hesitate to double up on them! 

 Can you smell the love?

Blue Berry Orange Buckwheat Pancakes ~ Yes, more please!

Sorry, but I have to say that I will never miss

the refined white flour… No More!… Enjoy!

Blue Berry Orange Buckwheat Pancakes_no bites left! ~ Yes, more please! 

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Cauliflower Ceviche

Cauliflower Ceviche_Tostada ready to eat!

The full summer weather is here! Austin, Texas is burning hot! 101-106 Fahrenheit. With these kind of summer temperatures I can’t even conceive the idea of “grilling”. Can you imagine being outside with 101 on the thermometer in front of a grill trying to light up the charcoal?…Not my cup of tea i prefer the tundra if you ask me. But well this weather conditions fire up the indoors freshly made meals; light, crisp and lots of veggie action.

Cauliflower-Ceviche_cauliflower-florets

I tried to make this ceviche once in my years of college, not so good; it was really mushy and flavorless… but I loved the concept of using the beloved Cauliflower. Cauliflower is the vegetable everybody loves now because of its versatile flavor. It is evident that Cauliflower has a love affair with butter and cream. Mashed cauliflower can replace a good pile of mashed potatoes, cauliflower gratin, cauliflower chowder, griller, roasted, among my favorites. But what I crave in a Summery hot day is something light easy to digest, fresh and no oven or a long cooking time required.

So with this said, I revamped the cauliflower ceviche recipe from my College years by adding diced crunchy vegetables, steaming the cauliflower and lots of good fresh and dry herbs plus a punch of citrus goodness to add extra flavor. That acid, salty umami note that just makes your mouth water, as soon you start reading the recipe…

Cauliflower Ceviche is a great summery meal, for Vegetarian, Vegans and Carnivorus that won’t even care about the difference once they have the first bite!

Margaritas on the side?…Yes, please!…Enjoy!

Cauliflower-Ceviche_Yes,-more-please!

Cauliflower-Ceviche_ingredients_Yes,-more-please!

Cauliflower Ceviche

Serves 4

1 Cauliflower head, medium size. Remove the core and small diced florets.

Small diced:

2 carrots
1 tomato
½ medium size red onion
2 green onions including the green part.
1 cucumber seedless
1 long celery stalk
1 habanero, or 1 jalapeno, or 1 serrano. (Remove the seeds for a less spicy version.)
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
2-3 pinches of dried oregano

The juice of:

2 Limes
1 Lemon
The juice and zest of ½ Orange
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon of  sea salt
Black crushed pepper to taste.

Garnish with:

Radishes, Avocado Slices, Pumpkin seeds, Ketchup,( weird but delicious, it adds some sweet and tangy note)
Cholula hot Sauce, Limes. Serve with Tostadas or crackers.

Directions:

In a medium size pot steam the small diced Cauliflower florets until al-dente, for about 3-5 minutes. Remove from steamer place them on a tray in one single layer and let them cool off. Mean time chop all the vegetables. Place them on a big salad bowl, add the herbs, extra virgin olive oil, the citrus juices and S&P, toss well.  Once the cauliflower florets have cool down, add them to the mix, toss well and let it marinate for 20-45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with tostadas or crackers, avocado Slices, radish slices, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and a dash of your favorite hot sauce…

Cauliflower Ceviche_One bowl healthy meal

Cauliflower-Ceviche-Summer-Vegetarian-Vegan-Bliss_-Yes,-more,-please!

Refreshing, Vegetarian Ceviche, Enjoy!

Music Pairing: Mini Skirt, ESQUIVEL- Metropole Orkest

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