Friday, August 19, 2016

Dressing Up: Spiced Apple Cider Vinaigrette to Enhance Your End-of-Summer Salad Days

It's summer and the weather's been too hot for proper cooking and life's been too fragmented for me to prep for grilling or slow-cookering or [whatever else people do]. We have been eating an awful lot of salads these days and nobody's complaining.

Here's why: I don't mess around with my salad dressings. I take them v. seriously and my goal is to have on hand a couple at a time, both good enough to drink. Dressings are meant to help the veggies go down. The lovelier they are, the more veggies we'll consume, right?

This one has been a go-to this summer, based on an all-star recipe from My New Roots, but doubled (you'll want the extra!) and simplified a bit for those of you who get daunted by long ingredient lists and/or don't want to buy twelve spices just for a dressing. Even if it is in the top three dressings ever.

This is what I put it on last night: a lentil salad, as suggested on the My New Roots blog, but with way more vegetables.*


It would be great with some sort of quinoa or other grain salad with roasted sweet potatoes or squash and/or grilled meats of some sort. Mixing in something salty-umami (olives, capers, grilled mushrooms) with something sweet-tart (dried fruit, apricots) is nice. Go big or go home - veggies are good for you!

Spiced Apple Cider Vinaigrette
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
1-2 tablespoons strong mustard (I use a spicy stone-ground kind but dijon would be good too)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander (or two teaspoons if this is your favorite spice and/or it's not in your curry powder - this adds a nice citrusy tone to the dressing to brighten up all the other strong spices)
1 teaspoon baking spice (e.g. apple pie/pumpkin pie spice)
1 teaspoon mild or medium curry powder (a more yellow one will be milder (my preference), something like garam masala would make this a v. intense dressing - not a bad thing, but if that's what you're using maybe start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust accordingly)
1/4 teaspoon or more cayenne pepper

Put ingredients in a jar, shake it all up, and put on everything! Store in the refrigerator for at least a week.

* In pictured salad: "zen greens" blend, tomatoes, carrots, celery, apricot, cucumber, al dente black lentils, sheep's milk feta, capers, and raw sunflower seeds. It was really good. I'm about to eat it again for lunch.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Rest-of-March Meal Plan

Meal plan for ten days. More for me than you, but maybe it will inspire you. Hope springs eternal. Oh to be inspiring, she thought, self-indulgently, before eating more than her share of cookie cookies.

Day 1: Date night

We went to Grand Cafe and discovered Sunday is Sicilian pizza night. We went big (like, even dessert) and then I got to enjoy the leftovers for lunch today. I heart leftovers.

Day 2: Roasted yams and chickpeas + sautéed greens + poached pears for dessert


Day 3: Leftover lentil stew (most of us) + leftover yams and chickpeas served over rice (others of us) + green salad + avocado slices


Day 4: Brinner - starring Beeler's sausage + poached pear baked oatmeal + yogurt + carrot salad

Day 5: Spicy miso soup - swapping in my new favorite condiment, gochujang, for the Sriracha - with loads of veggies, tofu, and these unexpectedly delicious noodles (Full disclosure: my children won't eat soup, or anything spicy. They will, however, eat a plate of steamed vegetables, tofu (if it's salty and crispy enough) and al dente noodles, all drenched in butter. Deconstructed soup, if you will.)

Day 6: Rachel Khoo's salmon buns (Alicia, come on over!) + citrusy slaw

Day 7: Chorizo huevos rancheros (recipe to come) + leftover citrusy slaw + homemade baked tortilla chips

Day 8: Lentil Sloppy Joes (recipe to come) on cheesy arepas + kale chips + crudité OR weeknight coconut curry + quinoa, if timing gets tricky

Day 9: Miso chicken piccata (note: use coconut or almond flour in place of wheat flour to make this gluten free; also check your miso) + green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes with basil vinaigrette + quinoa

Day 10: Snow Pea, Cabbage, and [Mixed Greens] Salad with Smoky Tempeh (with a side of quesadillas for the littles...)

On Day 11, somebody is going to cook for me.

Happy beautiful March.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

You Had Me at Vegan: Date Nut Raisin Bread

I am back, my friends, because this is a recipe worth sharing. It's slightly adapted from a Date Nut Bread recipe in Food52's new Vegan cookbook - a delightful cookbook indeed, whether you're an experienced vegan, an aspiring vegan, or an omnivore who likes to cook and eat all kinds of different things (and maybe minimize your food consumption's harmful impact on the environment and animals). There's something kind of fresh and beautiful and clean about the cookbook, even though a lot of the recipes are the same ol' thing - tofu scrambles, mac-n-[tahini and nutritional yeast instead of]cheese. I'm a sucker for all the things the book does well: simple, straightforward recipes; stunning photography; lots of grains and greens and beans. I'm also a sucker for dates, as are my children, as we all are for all things "bread", so this recipe was rather inevitably the first one I tackled from the book, within about 24 hours of picking it up from the library. I am v. glad I tackled it. It is nothing short of absolutely delicious.

The day we baked this bread may v. well have been our last snow day of the year, given current forecasts, and nothing says baking day like a little flurry, right?


B was my helper, as usual. He's a pretty great little baker. He has gotten v. good at measuring by weight and whisking without making a giant mess. He's not so good at cracking eggs, so thank heavens for flaxseeds.


My changes were minimal, motivated by resourcefulness, economics, and safety: used 200 g of dates + 175 g raisins, as that's what I had on hand and anyway dates are like six times the cost of raisins; omitted the walnuts because, well, anaphylaxis; doubled the salt and ditched a a third of the sugar (I almost always do both of these in baked goods, unless it's the kind of crazy decadent cookies that are fully intended to cause a toothache, then I use the called-for amount of sugar); used bread flour because I didn't have all-purpose.

It's still supergood and moist (ew!) and perfect on day 4, particularly (but by no means necessarily) if you suddenly recall that you're not vegan and top it with a big smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Dang.

Two mega tips:

1. Sift your baking soda into the dry ingredients (or wet, if you prefer; just make sure there are zero clumps). Here's B showing you how.
2. Cool completely before slicing. It's hard (like, really hard) but you'll have a much more structurally sound bread if you do.


Vegan Date Raisin Bread
Adapted from Food52
Yields: 1 standard loaf; about 10-12 servings

2 cups boiling water
1 cup pitted dates (I used deglet), chopped as finely as you can be bothered
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose or bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda (sift this!)
1/2 teaspoon salt (finely ground - if using kosher salt, use 3/4 to 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
3/4 cup soy milk or other nondairy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (another more neutral oil will work here too, e.g. grapeseed, sunflower)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9X5" loaf pan. 

Pour boiling water over chopped dates and raisins and let them soak while you prepare everything else.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, sifted baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds and 3 tablespoons of the water that your dates are soaking in (or if there's not enough, just use some warm tap water). Let the flax-water mixture sit until thickened. In a larger bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the nondairy milk and vinegar until frothy. (Wondering why the vinegar? Two reasons: (1) it will "sour" the nondairy milk and act like buttermilk, making for a more tender (ew!) bread; (2) the vinegar will react with all that baking soda in the oven, helping the bread rise a bit despite the absence of eggs, which are a big player in the leavening of traditional baked goods.) Add the melted coconut oil and the flaxseed mixture. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined.

Drain the dates and raisins well. Fold them into the batter, then stir in a splash more of nondairy milk if it seems too dry. (I didn't need a splash more of milk, but I didn't really drain my dates and raisins that well.) Pour batter into greased pan.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, rotating pan after about 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick or knife into center to see if it's dry. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool for a least 15 minutes longer before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container for at least four days.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Good-bye Local D'Lish

It is with a heart both slightly broken and majorly overflowing with gratitude and joy that I share some important news: Local D'Lish is closing its doors this week, and I will no longer be teaching regularly at that special store. I have so much to say about this!!! But in the mean time, please come support me, Ann, the Yin family, and our beloved neighborhood, which will be feeling a great loss, as we say good-bye to Local D'Lish and hello to new chapters in all of our lives!
A message from Ann Yin, the owner of Local D'Lish:

Dear Local D'Lish Family,
Close to 8 years ago I opened Local D'Lish with the goal of helping people connect
through the power of food. I wanted to highlight and feature local farmers and
food artisans by building a community centered around slow and intentional
food. I feel confident that through my little "magical" store, Local D'Lish, "WE"
have been able to do that.

What an honor it has been to get to know all of you and introduce you to
amazing local farmers, food artisans and chefs. In the last 8 years we have
launched many many foodie careers (especially for women), we have raised
thousands of dollars for hundreds of organizations, we have had an incredible
impact on the growth of the local food/farm to table movement here in the Twin
Cities. Through endless social events, winter markets, neighborhood events and
product launches, we have helped to grow this incredible North Loop
neighborhood into a central part of the city’s culture.

What a joy it has been to be a part of all of your lives and all of this wonderful
celebration around food and community. I have put my heart and soul into Local
D'Lish and the North Loop, but it is time now for me to transition into something
that will offer me more of a work/life balance. Most of you have watched my
family grow and you also know how important my girls are to me, owning a
business takes such a huge commitment of time and resources. I am so incredibly
proud of what I have created and nurtured in this little store but it is time for me
to find a new career that will offer me more balance in my family life.

In this spirit I have officially closed Local D'Lish and am officially searching for a
new career chapter in my life. To wind down the store, clear out my inventory
and to celebrate all that we have accomplished I will host a final sale on Thursday, February 11 from 10am-7pm. I hope you will be able to join me and my family to say goodbye while enjoying some great discounts on inventory, equipment and general merchandise. Stop in to shop, share stories and give me a big hug. Thank you for sharing this journey with me. I genuinely treasure this experience.

All my love,
Local D'Lish
208 N. 1st Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401