Friday, April 26, 2013

Beans Bourguignon

In the world of vegan eats, Beef Bourguignon becomes "Beans Bourguignon" (page 253), a remarkable transformation in my opinion. Originating in Burgundy, France (the word bourguignon means "as prepared in Burgundy"), this delicious stew always includes red wine (of course) and usually mushrooms, as well as other vegetables and seasonings. This particular recipe uses shallots, mushrooms, carrots, and tomatoes, with dark red kidney beans taking the place of beef. Deliciously seasoned with garlic, bay leaf, and thyme, this is a dish of simple ingredients that meld together for taste perfection. Initially I was stumped on how to work around the step calling for adding kneaded little balls of margarine and flour to the simmering pot, which seems to be a fancy way of thickening the stew. My solution was to shake ¼ cup water and 2 tablespoons of flour in a jar until very smooth, and add that to the simmering pot instead. Great results! The stew thickened, and with no added fat. Serve this with crusty French bread to dip into the delicious broth. Bon appétit!
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies, and use a bit of sherry, water, or broth instead, and/or a nonstick soup pot.
ü  Instead of making the "kneaded butter", put ¼ cup water and 2 tablespoons flour in a jar with a lid, and shake vigorously until all the lumps are gone. Add this slowly to the simmering pot, and stir until the stew is thickened.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spicy Sesame Noodles with Green Beans

"Spicy Sesame Noodles with Green Beans" (page 240) is simply delicious! Although technically this dish can go together rather quickly (it is in the "Fast Recipes" category of this book, meaning the dish can be prepared in 30 minutes or less), it can also be somewhat labor - and pots and pans - intensive. It calls for green beans, which you might have to trim, cut, and steam (1st pot); there is the pasta to boil (2nd pot); there are the veggies to dice and stir fry (3rd pot/skillet). That being said, this dish is well worth the effort, I'm just not sure I would call it fast. But then again, I'm not a speedy cook. I rather enjoy lingering over meal preparation when I have the luxury to do so. The flavorful sauce for this dish is comprised of tahini, sugar, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce, which is tossed together with the cooked noodles and sautéed veggies (red bell pepper, garlic and ginger). Here again Robin incorporates the "rule of three" theme, this time with sesame: Tahini in the dressing, sesame oil for sautéing, and sesame seeds sprinkled on top of the finished pasta toss. I opted to leave out the sesame oil, but as little as ½ teaspoon would impart a richer sesame flavor if you so desired, with a lot less fat than the 2 tablespoons the recipe calls for.
 "Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies, and use a bit of sherry, water, or broth instead, and/or a nonstick skillet.
ü  Use whole grain noodles, such as the Eden brand 100% whole grain udon - I highly recommend this pasta.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Smokey Chipotle-Pinto Hummus

Not so long ago, many of us didn't even know how to pronounce "hummus", let alone realize it was something good to eat, and not humus, the remains of decomposing leaves. I remember the first time I tried hummus at my local food co-op, and to help all us newbies figure out how to say it, the menu board listed it thusly: "Hummus (a tune)". It worked! I never forgot how to say the word, and I've had an ongoing love affair with this wonderful food ever since. Technically, hummus is a Middle Eastern paste or dip of mashed chickpeas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, and garlic. But in today's hummus crazed world, this is a loose definition, and just about any bean mixed with a variety of seasonings makes a good stand in for the traditional blend. Such is the case with the "Smoky Chipotle-Pinto Hummus" (page 11), and might I say, this particular combination of garlic, pinto beans, chipotle, and lime is astounding! With flavors inspired from traditional Mexican cuisine, this hummus is delicious with baked tortillas chips, as a burrito filling, or in large enough quantities, a substitute for refried beans. Since I've discovered powdered chipotle chili powder, I've found I don't always have to crack open an entire can of chipotles chiles in adobo sauce for one chili, and then try to figure out what to do with the rest. Here I used about ½ teaspoon of chipotle chili powder instead and it came out fantastic. The really great news about this recipe is there are no changes necessary to keep it McDougall Friendly!
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü     No changes necessary! J

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Red Bean Burritos

If you have cooked rice on hand, these "Red Bean Burritos" (page 128) can be put together in no time at all for a quick meal any time of day. This is an uncomplicated mix of sautéed onion and bell pepper, mixed with beans and rice, topped off with avocado and salsa, and wrapped into a warmed tortilla. Many of the recipes in this book incorporate a theme into the ingredients list. It might be color; it might be using a single food in more than one way (such as incorporating sesame seeds, sesame oil, and sesame tahini in the same dish). In this recipe, red is the theme with the inclusion of red bell peppers, red kidney beans, and red tomato salsa. (If you wanted to build on this, you could even use a red onion as well.) I opted to use corn tortillas instead of flour since I wasn't able to find any healthy flour tortillas at the time I made this dish, so my picture is a shot of what the mix looks like before scooping it up with pieces of warmed corn tortillas.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü  Omit the olive oil when sautéing the onion and bell pepper. Use a nonstick skillet instead, and/or substitute water or broth for the oil.
ü  Opt for brown rice instead of white.
ü  Use oil free whole grain flour tortillas, or if unavailable, use corn tortillas.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Golden Couscous Salad

For pasta salads using couscous, I prefer to use the giant sized variety known as Israeli couscous, and that is what I did when making the "Golden Couscous Salad" (page 86). This did require me to change up the recipe directions somewhat because when I cook Israeli couscous, I boil and drain it like other pastas, rather than letting all the cooking liquid soak in like you do with rice. For that reason, I added the turmeric to the boiling water in order to impart the golden color onto the couscous. There are many shades of golden in this salad, including the turmeric, yellow bell pepper, carrot, apricots, and golden raisins. Even the chickpeas are a bit golden. This salad is just bursting with color and flavor. I did have to improvise on the dressing ingredients, because as written, the recipe calls for ¼ cup olive oil. Instead of that, I combined 2 tablespoons each of sherry, light veggie broth, and lemon juice. Fantastic! This salad holds up well in the refrigerator, so we were able to enjoy it several times over 3-4 days.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü Substitute 2 tablespoons each of sherry, light veggie broth, and lemon juice for the ¼ cup olive oil.
ü If you can find it, use the whole wheat variety of couscous. I've seen this in the small cut variety, but so far, not in the Israeli variety.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus

I love asparagus however it is prepared: steamed, roasted, puréed into soup, chilled in a salad, and now in this dish, "Stir-Fried Sesame Asparagus" (page 356). The sesame in this recipe comes from both sesame seeds, and sesame oil, but I opted to leave the oil out. The asparagus is lightly stir-fried and seasoned with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce, which gives this quick side dish a definite Asian persuasion. The sesame seeds are added at the very end.
"Keeping it McDougall Friendly" checklist:
ü   Instead of stir-frying the asparagus in canola oil, use an equal amount of sherry, which is very complementary in this dish.
ü  Omit the sesame oil, or use just a couple of drops if you want to intensify the sesame flavor.