Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Speaking of carrots...

Did you ever stop to taste a carrot? Not just eat it, but taste it? You can't taste the energy of the earth in a twinkie! Speaking of carrots, for some reason, David and I both took trips to the market and came back with loads of carrots...15lbs. in all. We might be turning orange soon, but I'll find ways to use them up...have any ideas? Carrot Harissa Mint Feta Salad has been on my mind since I read the recipe seemed like such an interesting combination...just had to try it. (recipe below) I love to help people learn the that fresh non-processed food is so much better tasting and not so hard to make. It can be as simple as dumping a drained can of garbanzo beans, add some lemon zest, juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, parmesan and some as is, or over some field greens.

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Here are the words that hooked me on this recipe. "Sweet, tender roasted garlic, hot ancho and guajillo chiles, and a fragrant mix of spices create a mouthwatering rub for succulent grilled thighs." Seemed like the perfect meal for Memorial Day, after a day of "prepping" the deck for the summer. I've decided to use a few small round tables with chairs (instead of one big one) to give the feeling of a bistro at our own house. I hope to give "Chez Abrahamian" a lot of use.

Chili and Roasted Garlic Grilled Chicken

Roast a couple heads of garlic
(Cut the very top off the head of garlic, pour some olive oil , wrap in foil) place in 350 degree oven until soft and brown.

Grind in spice grinder (coffee grinder will do)
1/4 tsp whole all spice
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1/4 tsp cumin seeds

Squeeze all of the roasted garlic cloves into a bowl and mash together along with the ground spices and 1 TBSP. apple cider vinegar, 1 to 2 tsp. of whole chili powder (ie. ancho and guaillo), a pinch of salt and 2 tsp. of dried oregano until thoroughly combined.

Rub paste all over chicken thighs (bone in skin on, I used a whole cut up chicken) No marinating involved. Grill over medium low heat until cooked through. This took a while, but as you see it was well worth it!! Great flavor.

Here is something else, that takes a little time...North African chile paste Harissa. It's not hard to make, you just need some spices and dried chilis, whirl it into a paste and you'll have a delicious addition to sandwiches, pasta, couscous, eggs, use your imagination. I now have a jar of the divine paste in my refrigerator. It is kind of just need a bit. We mixed it with plain yogurt and mayo, to make a great dip.

Tomato-pepper harissa

(The Wednesday Chef)

Makes 1 cup

4 ounces dried chiles (I used New Mexico chiles, but you could also use guajillo chiles or an equal mixture of both) You can find these at most grocery stores...even Cub Foods!!
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3 sun-dried tomatoes, dry-packed
1 large red bell pepper
2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil, plus extra for storage

1. Roast the red pepper in the oven until blistered and collapsing on all sides. Set aside to cool on baking sheet. Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let rest until softened, about 30 minutes. Drain, then remove the seeds and stems from the chiles. Wear latex or rubber gloves when you do this to avoid irritating your skin.

2. Place the seeded and stemmed chiles into the bowl of a food processor with the garlic and pulse a couple of times. Add the salt, cumin and coriander. Process until smooth, pouring the olive oil into the feeding tube on top as you blend.

3. In a small bowl, cover the sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water and allow to soften, about 15 minutes. Drain. Remove the skin of the roasted pepper, and the veins and the seeds. Do not rinse under water.

4. Add the tomatoes and one-half of the roasted red pepper (reserve the rest for another use) to the chile mixture, adding a few tablespoons of water if needed to achieve the right consistency. The harissa should have the texture of thick paste. Cover with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate until needed.

Now that you've made the this wonderful condiment, you can make the recipe I had in mind and have been anxiously waiting to make. It might sound like an odd combination, but it WORKS!!

Carrot Salad with Harissa, Feta and Mint
The Smitten

3/4 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed and coarsely grated
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds or about half as much, ground (I used seeds but ground them first)
3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds or about half as much, ground (I used the seed but ground them first, again)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon harissa (for a solid kick of heat; adjust yours to taste, and to the heat level of your harissa)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped
100 grams feta, crumbled or chopped into bits

In a small sauté pan, cook the arlic, caraway, cumin, paprika, harissa and sugar in the oil until fragrant, about one to two minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour over the carrots and mix. Add the herbs and mix. Leave to infuse for an hour and add the feta before eating. With a fork.

Ellen's Green Beans

This next recipe comes from my friend Ellen. She brought these wonderful green beans as an appetizer to a party and I couldn't stop eating them!! Spicy, fresh and addicting!!

  • 2 lb. Bag of green beans (Costco's is perfect)
  • 2/3 cup almonds
  • 8 cloves or 8 t. crushed garlic
  • ½ tube of red chilies paste
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • salt to taste

In a large pot, heat enough water to cover the beans. When the water starts to boil, add salt and the beans and cook for 2 minutes. Keep a large bowl filled with water and ice cubes ready. Remove the beans and plunge in the ice water immediately to stop the cooking. Once the beans are cool, drain on paper towels and keep aside. (This can be done a day ahead.)

Place the almonds, garlic in a food processor and process to form a coarse paste. Add red chili paste.

In a large pan, heat 2 T. oil and saute the onion till soft. Add the almond paste and salt and saute for a minute or two, add 2 T. more oil. Add the honey, soy sauce and balsamic vinegar and mix well. Cook for 1 minute on high heat stirring frequently. Toss sauce with beans and enjoy.

Do you need a simple and wonderful base for the fresh berries of the season?? This fits the bill perfectly!! Pile on the anti-oxidants.

Yogurt Cake

serves 8 or more

1 1/2 cups full-fat yogurt
2/3 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan lightly with baking spray or oil, and line the bottom with parchment.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and nutmeg right into the liquids and stir just until no lumps remain.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, covering with foil at the end if the top is browning. When a tester comes out clean, transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Serve the cake warm or at room temperature. When well-wrapped, this keeps very well for several days.

I love this quote from Dr. Shaklee. " I never belittle the medical profession, but we are two separate fields of endeavor. They are trained to treat disease, I'm interested in building health." Let's get together so I can show you how Shaklee can help build your familie's health.
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