Monday, August 29, 2016

Explore Cuisine's Chickpea Spaghetti

Explore Asian, a company specializing in Asian-style pasta products, has expanded and changed their name. Explore Cuisine, as they're now known, recently introduced a new line of pastas made with beans and pulses that are certified vegan, organic, and gluten free. They sent us a few items to sample, including spaghetti made in Italy with chickpea flour. Since the Minx is unable to eat chickpeas, I chose a night when she was out with friends to put together a sauce for the chickpea spaghetti to consume on my own.

We had olives and capers in the fridge so I decided to make a puttanesca sauce. I also had some beef koftes (meatballs) left over from a few days earlier, so I crumbled them up and put them in the sauce. To recreate the recipe for you as close as possible, I've included instruction on how to season fresh ground beef with the proper spices. Of course, if you are vegetarian or vegan, you can skip the meat and just make the sauce, but don't forget to add the extra spices. This, of course, is tasty on any type of pasta.

The chickpea pasta itself was really good; I couldn't tell that it was not made from wheat flour until I added the sauce. At that point it became a little mushier than semolina flour pasta. But the flavor was good, and I'd definitely eat it again.

Middle Eastern-inspired Puttanesca Sauce

To make the sauce:
1 can (28 oz.) tomato puree
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 medium onion chopped
1 carrot chopped finely
1/4 pound mushrooms chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1/4 cup olives chopped
1 tbsp. capers chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan over high heat and wait until the oil is shimmering. Combine onion, carrot, and mushrooms in pan and sprinkle with some salt. Sautee in pan until onions are translucent. Add tomato puree, tomato paste, garlic, olives, and capers to the pan and stir until all the ingredients are blended. When the sauce begins to bubble, turn the heat to low and cover pan. Allow to simmer for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. If the sauce begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, add a little water. The basil should be added just a few minutes before serving.

To make the meat:
1 pound ground beef
1 clove garlic chopped
1 tbsp. coriander
1 tsp. all spice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp, pepper

Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Crumble the ground beef mixture into a pan over high heat. Cook the meat, stirring frequently, until the meat has developed a brown crust.  Drain the excess fat and pour the cooked meat into the sauce about halfway through the sauce's 2 hour cooktime, to allow flavors to meld.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Farm to Chef 2016

Farm to Chef is back for another exciting season! Once again, thirty chefs will collaborate with thirty farms to produce amazing dishes with fresh, locally produced, ingredients. This year's competition will be held at the B&O Railroad Museum on September 26th at 6:00pm. Tickets are available via Eventbrite. Early bird tickets (until September 5th) are $95, with the price going up to $110 thereafter. No tickets will be sold at the door, so get yours now!

Proceeds benefit Days of Taste, an interactive program that encourages elementary school students to appreciate the taste and benefits of fresh food by introducing them to the basic elements of taste and teaching them about food’s journey from farm to table.

Click here to see a list of this year's chefs (including Neill Howell of the Corner Pantry, Donna Crivello of Cosima and Donna's, and Sarah Simington of Blue Moon Cafe).

Examples of chef's dishes from 2015.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Baked Oatmeal

I started a diet in March that involved giving up wheat, sugar, and dairy. It wasn't as difficult as it sounds, actually. I suppose the worst of it was giving up sugar. I have a terrible sweet tooth, and eat entirely too much chocolate, pastries, and ice cream. That's why I have been a fatass pretty much my entire life, apart from a handful of slimmer years that resulted from starvation dieting and some pretty intense cardio in the form of country line dancing (it was the 90s).

I love bread, too, but with no wheat allowed, I couldn't have my usual breakfast sandwich. So I had to resort to eating a lot of oatmeal. Muesli (or "overnight oats") was my go-to work breakfast. I could mix it up the night before and by morning it would be all ready to eat. But a month of muesli is a bit much. I decided to try baked oatmeal as an alternative. The texture would be quite different and I might even be able to fool myself into thinking I was eating a piece of cake for breakfast. Well, that didn't work, but I still enjoyed it.

My favorite version of baked oatmeal involves oatmilk or hempmilk, Earth Balance margarine in place of butter, with a nice handful of fresh blueberries (or juice-sweetened dried blueberries) and almonds mixed in for texture. An 8" square pan makes enough breakfast for an entire week, plus more, so it's pretty economical, too.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups quick rolled oats
2 cups milk (dairy or non-dairy)
2 tablespoons melted butter (or Earth Balance)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (or agave or maple syrup)
2 eggs, beaten
Pinch salt
Pinch cinnamon (can also add cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, etc.)
Fruit and nuts of your choice (bananas, dried berries, almonds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine oats, milk, butter, sweetener, eggs, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl. Stir in fruit and nuts. Pour into a 8- or 9-inch square baking dish and bake for 30-40 minutes, until set.

Serve hot, warm, or even cold. If you're feeling decadent, mash it up a bit while it's hot and pour over some half and half, add fresh sliced apples cooked in butter and brown sugar, or sliced peaches, or whatever fresh fruit you have on hand.

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