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Chicken, Cellophane Noodles, and Vegetable Lettuce Wraps. Recipe and photo courtesy of www.theweiserkitchen.com

Our recipe category for next month: “The Spice of Life: Mexican Fiesta!” Please email your favorite Mexican main dish, side, salad, dessert and beverage recipes to home@acorn-online.com. Please include exact measurements and instructions, and a photo of your creation, if you have one.

CHICKEN, CELLOPHANE NOODLES, AND VEGETABLE LETTUCE WRAPS
(Serves 6)
www.theweiserkitchen.com

Fresh vegetables and chicken take on a whole new personality when wrapped in lettuce leaves with cellophane noodles, and some gluten-free hoisin and sriracha—especially when the chicken is smoked in tea leaves. Because cellophane noodles are made with mung bean flour and not wheat, it’s a tasty gluten-free meal. Leave out the chicken, and it’s vegetarian. This is an easy dish to customize to the individual needs and tastes of everyone at your table.

Ingredients:
1 package  (7.75 ounces) cellophane (glass) noodles
8 Tea-Smoked Chicken thighs, boned and shredded, or 5 cups shredded chicken
2 yellow or orange bell peppers, julienned
¼ head red cabbage, thinly sliced
2 Asian pears, julienned
18 fresh mint leaves
18 fresh basil leaves
Pickled carrots, optional
3 tablespoons gluten-free (wheat-free) hoisin sauce
Sriracha, optional
2 heads Bibb or other soft hydroponic lettuce

Directions:
Soak the noodles in boiling water for 20 minutes.

Place the chicken, peppers, cabbage, Asian pears, mint, basil, and carrots in separate bowls. Spoon the hoisin sauce and sriracha, if using, into small serving bowls.

Trim the lettuce as needed, and separate the leaves. Wash the leaves, pat them dry with paper towels and pile them on a serving platter. Place all the platters, with serving utensils, on the table or serving area.

When the noodles are ready, drain in a fine-mesh sieve and transfer to a serving bowl.

Have everyone take 1 or 2 lettuce leaves, smear ½ to 1 teaspoon hoisin on each leaf, and then fill the center of each leaf with their choice of fillings, leaving a border all the way around the leaf. To wrap, tuck the 2 short ends of the leaf in toward the center, fold 1 long side up and over the filling, covering and securing the 2 short ends, and then fold the remaining long side of the leaf tightly over the whole wrap.

SPRING ASPARAGUS SOUP WITH SAUTEED WILD MUSHROOMS
(Serves 6)
Chef Michael William Batt, co-owner of Greenwich, Conn.-based Food Design Catering (www.fooddesigncatering.com), 28 Old Field Point Rd., Greenwich, 203-622-0725

Spring

Spring Asparagus Soup with Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

Ingredients:
1 large Spanish onion (sliced)
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. sugar
1 T. kosher salt
2 qts. chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and sliced 1/2 in. thick)
3 bunches asparagus (bottoms removed and remaining asparagus sliced into 1-in. pieces)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom garnish:
1/2 lb. of assorted mushrooms (oyster, chanterelle, shitake, crimini, etc.)
2 T. vegetable oil
1 T. minced shallots
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
In a medium sized heavy bottom pot heat the olive oil over low heat and add the onions, sugar and salt. Slowly cook the onions, stirring often until they are translucent (about 15 minutes).  Add the stock and the potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are cooked (about 30 minutes). Add the asparagus and turn the heat up to high. Cook for 10 minutes. Carefully puree the soup in a blender in small batches (don’t fill the blender up to high when you first puree or you will have hot liquid flying around everywhere; add a little first and then add more as the blender is going).   Season the soup with salt and pepper.

Sauté the mushrooms in the vegetable oil over high heat until they are nice and browned. Add the shallots and cook an additional 30 seconds and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with the mushrooms.

BLUE LEMON’S ARUGULA AND ENDIVE SALAD WITH APPLE,
CELERIAC, CARAMELIZED WALNUTS, & CIDER VINAIGRETTE
(Serves 6)
Bryan Malcarney, Blue Lemon Restaurant, 15 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT, 203-226-2647, bluelemonrestaurant.com, Rorys Restaurant, 416 Post Road, Darien, CT, 203-655-9453, rorys.net
Website-Recipe-Bathing-Suit

Ingredients:

¾ lb. baby Arugula
2 endive
2 apples, peeled and diced
¼ lb. celeriac
¼ lb. blue cheese

12 oz. walnuts
2 tbsp. lemon juice
3 oz. butter
5 tbsp. sugar
1 dash of Tabasco sauce

¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
¾ cup olive oil
salt/pepper

Instructions:
For Salad: Cut the bottom of the endive and remove the large outer leaves and reserve. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the inner core then slice the remaining endive. Add to a bowl with the baby arugula. Remove the tough exterior of the celeriac and cut into matchsticks. Add the celeriac to the bowl along with the apple, caramelized walnuts and blue cheese. Season, lightly dress and toss the salad. Put the salad in the middle of the plate and garnish with the large endive leaves. Serve.

For Caramelized Walnuts: In a sauté pan melt the butter and sugar. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lemon juice and Tabasco and mix. Add the walnuts and toss until all are coated with the sugar mixture. Put on a greased sheet pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the pan after the nuts have cooled a bit.

For Vinaigrette: Add the cider vinegar and mustard to a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and reserve.

Red Peppers

Roasted Peppers (part of an antipasto)

PEPERONI ARROSTTITI
Roasted Peppers
(Yield: 1 large pepper serves 2 as a part of an antipasto that includes 3 or 4 other vegetables)
cucinacasalinga.com, from “Festa del Giardino” by Sally Maraventano

Ingredients:
2 large red peppers
2 large green peppers
2 large orange peppers

Directions:
Preheat a charcoal or gas grill for 10 minutes. Put whole washed red, orange, yellow or green peppers directly on the grill. (Any combination or all of one variety may be used). Close the lid of the grill and check in 5 to 7 minutes. Turn with long metal tongs, close the lid and repeat the process until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides. Remove the peppers and immediately place them in brown paper bags; lunch bags are perfect, two peppers to a bag. Close the bags and leave the peppers to steam for at least 10 to 15 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Remove the stems and tops of the peppers and clean out the seeds; then peel away the strips of charred skin. Place large strips of peppers in a serving dish or plastic container for storing in the refrigerator or freezer.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pan containing a little water on the bottom rack to catch the juices from the peppers (this will prevent spills and smoking on the bottom of the oven). Place the whole peppers directly on the upper oven rack, turning them every 5 to 7 minutes, until evenly charred on all sides. Then proceed with the steaming and peeling steps described in the grill method of roasting peppers (#1 above).

If you have a gas cook top, you can roast peppers individually.  Us a long meat fork and turn each pepper over a high flame until it is charred on all sides.  Then proceed with the steaming and peeling steps described in the grill method of roasting peppers (#1 above).

To serve roasted peppers, drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over them, and season with fresh basil, salt and freshly ground pepper. Chopped garlic and pieces of cured olives may also be added for flavor.

“CREAM” OF ZUCCHINI SOUP
(Makes about 2 quarts)
www.chefsilvia.com

I love puréed soups. They’re creamy in texture and so satisfying. And they’re the only way my (grown) daughter will eat vegetables! Zucchini are plentiful all year long (in most places). They’re inexpensive, low in calories because of their high water content (17 per 100 grams) rich in vitamin A, antioxidants and fiber and a good source of potassium.

I garnished this with a swirl of cashew cream (and put some cream in the soup as well) and some finely diced tomato for color but you can garnish it with some toasted nuts or shredded cheese or even some avocado. Get creative. And if there’s leftover soup, it freezes beautifully.

Ingredients:
3 lbs. zucchini (1.350 kilograms)
1/4 cup cashew cream (see below) + extra for swirl (62.5 ml)
3 Tbsp. olive oil (or enough to cover bottom of the pot (45 ml)
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes, for a little heat
1 or 2 tsp. vegetable base (1 tsp = 4.76g)
Water to cover the top of the zucchini
Grape tomato, finely diced for garnish
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Cut the zucchini lengthwise, then in approximately 1/2-inch slices. Place a medium saucepan (4 quarts or larger) over medium heat, add oil to lightly cover the bottom of the pan and heat. Add onions and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes or until softened. Add pepper flakes and garlic and cook just until garlic begins to color. Add zucchini and cover with cold water.

Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes or just until the zucchini can easily be mashed with a fork.

Purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender. Return to the saucepan, stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of base for extra flavor.

Plate and garnish with an a bit more cream. Swirl and garnish with chopped tomato.

For the Cashew Cream:

Place 1/4 cup of raw cashews in a small bowl and cover with cold water. Let them soak for at least 20 minutes and then purée in a food processor or blender. Add a bit more water if too thick. They should be the consistency of heavy cream.

Green Apple

Green Apple and Cinnamon Smoothie

GREEN APPLE AND CINNAMON SMOOTHIE
(Makes 4 one-cup servings)
www.theweiserkitchen.com

Ingredients:
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon wheatgrass powder
¼ bunch parsley, stems and leaves (about ½ cup)
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored and cut into large chunks
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup apple juice
8 ice cubes

Directions:
Combine the spinach, wheatgrass powder, parsley, apple, cinnamon, apple juice, and ice in a food processor fitted with a metal blade or a heavy-duty blender. Process until completely smooth, then drink up.

Avocado Protein Smoothie

Avocado Protein Smoothie

AVOCADO PROTEIN SMOOTHIE
(Makes 2 eight-ounce servings)
www.theweiserkitchen.com

This smoothie helps you get your fruits and veggies together in a single glass. The edamame provides the protein, while the other produce offers a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals. It’s perfect for vegans and because it’s not a dairy-based smoothie, for people with milk allergies, and other allergies as well.

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups unsweetened apple juice or apple cider
1½ cups baby spinach, packed
½ avocado, peeled and chopped
⅔ cup frozen mango chunks*
1 frozen banana
½ cup frozen shelled edamame, defrosted

Directions:
Combine all the juice or cider, spinach, avocado, mango chunks, banana, and edamame in a food processor or blender and blend at high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth. Divide between 2 tall glasses and serve immediately.

*Kitchen Tips
Don’t like mango? Try frozen pineapple chunks!

PHYLLO DOUGH VEGETABLE WELLINGTON
(Serves 4)
www.cateringbychefpaul.com

Phyllo Vegetable

Phyllo Dough Vegetable Wellington

Ingredients:
24 Phyllo dough sheets
8 oz. Shitake mushrooms
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1 T. shallot
3 garlic cloves
1 package fresh spinach
1 red bell pepper
2 carrots
1 celery stalk
1/2 cup Bulgur wheat
8 oz goat cheese
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup chicken broth or chicken stock
1 T. salted butter
1 To-Do(s) extra virgin olive oil
1 t. oregano leaves
Sea salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Make a Duxelle (Read bottom note about Fat Duxelle): Chop mushrooms, garlic, shallots and parsley, warm a saute pan to medium heat, add butter and saute Duxelle until the combo becomes almost dried out. Reserve.

Bring stock to a boil, check if it needs adding salt, and add some ground pepper, set bulgur in a plastic container (needs a lid), pour hot stock on it, cover and reserve for 20 minutes. Then drain liquid excess, if any, and gently squeeze it to remove more residual cooking liquid. Reserve.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add in boiling water, at once, the spinach, pushing it down. Count roughly 15 seconds as soon as a gentle boiling is coming back, right away strain and place in a large bowl with icy water.

Drain; grab one fistful of spinach at a time and using both hands GENTLY squeeze out as much remaining water as you could while avoiding mashing it. Reserve while you preparing the other ingredients.

Peel carrots (opt for fresh long rather not fatty carrots or use only one), wash celery and bell pepper. Discard bell pepper inside grains and white ribs.

Carve carrot, celery and bell pepper in sticks roughly the size of a French green bean.

In medium size sauce pan bring a couple of cups of water to a boil, blanch the veggies sticks for about 1 minute. Drain, and cool down by running cold water.

In a mixing bowl place: goat cheese, 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, and oregano, mix all ingredients until they do not look crumbly, stir in the Bulgur.

Now let’s put it together: (If you have a large counter top do the four wellington at a time).  Lay on the counter four separated plastic sheets wider than the dough, keep some space between each plastic sheets so you have room enough to do the work. Alternatively, if you don’t mind getting a greasy counter top do it directly on the counter.

Place one Phyllo dough sheet on each recipe building area. Carefully brush it with olive oil, place another sheet on it, brush again, and carry on until you have four stacks of six sheets each.

Divide spinach and vegetables julienne in height portions. Do the same with the Duxelle.
Envision in the center of each stack a central rectangular section 4” X 3” where you will start to build up the filling no higher than 2.5”.

Spread on each stack one layer of spinach, spread the Duxelle on the spinach, and arrange lengthwise one portion of veggies on the Duxelle. Add a layer of Bulgur combo and place on the bulgur lengthwise a second layer of veggies.

Cover with another layer of Bulgur combo and Duxelle finishing by the rest of the spinach, using both hands gently shape the filling to approximate the 4”x 3”x 2.5” size we mentioned above.

Bring each side of pastry to enclose the Wellington, flip it upside down, so one do not see the wrapped corners and place on a piece of baking parchment paper set on a sheet pan.

Preheat an oven to 350, bake it 20 minutes. If it browns too fast lower down the temperature, as you want to achieve nice golden dough coloration.

Note: A Fat Duxelle contains the same Duxelle ingredients but with addition of very thinly cut bacon strips.

Bon appétit!

SPRINGTIME VINAIGRETTES
(Each dressing makes enough for 6 salads)

www.chefsilvia.com

There’s nothing quite like a beautifully emulsified vinaigrette to gently hug your greens … just enough to enhance their natural goodness and leave your palate with a delightful tang.

Homemade vinaigrettes have no preservatives or extra calories. You’ll know exactly what goes in them because you made them yourself, from scratch. Another bonus: they’re the best kept shortcut secret to getting a meal on the table fast! You can have a variety of dressing ready to go.

There’s nothing to the easy, peasey (I’m talking minutes here) vinaigrette recipes I’m about to share with you. I mixed them in three bowls (each one a small batch) to test the waters. And delightful they were. The perfect amount of emulsion: just enough to lovingly coat any fresh combo of greens. You can always vary the ratio of oil and vinegar if it’s too much tang for your tongue.

A basic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar but I made these using 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and I liked the result a lot. (Lower in calories, too.) But feel free to double or triple the recipe…but try it as instructed below first.

No special equipment needed … just a bowl and a whisk.

Basic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup vinegar of your choice
1/2 cup oil of your choice
Garlic, scallions, shallots, fresh herbs, fresh citrus juice, spices, seeds, mustard, honey, brown sugar (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Apple Cider Chia Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup organic apple cider vinegar
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. honey (or agave)
1/2 t. chia seeds (or poppy)
1 T. fresh chopped fresh parsley (Or herb of your choice. If you can find or grow lemon verbena grab some.)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. mustard (your choice)
1 small clove crushed garlic (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Red Wine Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 T. honey (or agave)
1 T. chopped fresh chopped parsley (or herb of your choice)
1 small clove crushed garlic (optional)
Pinch of salt and pepper

Directions:
Add vinegar, salt and pepper and optional ingredients to the bottom of a small bowl and grab a whisk. Add the oil very slowly while whisking all the ingredients in the bowl.

The mixture will emulsify, thickening quickly, incorporating the vinegar and other ingredients throughout the oil. (Much better together than when they separate!)

Refrigerate after use and shake or whisk before using again. These last for several weeks.

GLUTEN-FREE BETTER BREAKFAST MUFFINS
(Makes 10 muffins)
Nancy Hyon, Wilton, Conn., http://www.studio65fitness.blogspot.com

Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. almond flour plus (if this is too complicated, you can just use 2 1/2 c. almond flour. Muffins will still have some protein as almond flour has more than wheat flour)
1/2 c. almond meal
2 T. hemp protein powder or protein powder of your choice
1 1/2 T. shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. sale
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/3 c. chopped walnuts or nuts of your choice
1/4 c. raisins or other dried fruit
1/4 c. melted coconut oil
1/4 c. maple syrup or honey
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with cupcake papers or lightly oil. In a large bowl combine all the dry ingredients. Stir.

In a separate bowl lightly whisk the eggs, then combine with the rest of the wet ingredients. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix with a large spoon. Drop by tablespoons in the pan. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Let cool on a rack. If freezing, make sure that the muffins are cool before you wrap and store them.