Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Maple Grilled Sweet Potatoes

This is an easy salad for those days when you just need to grill. It is a sweet salad that has a bit of a twist because the smokiness of the grill brings out some deliciously complex flavors from the sweet potatoes. I used grape seed oil in this recipe because it has a higher heat index, but olive oil would work as well if that is what you have on hand.
Maple Grilled Sweet Potatoes 4 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut lengthwise into planks 1/3 cup grape seed oil 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/2 teaspoon salt 1. Prepare grill. While grill is warming, mix grape seed oil through salt in a small bowl. Brush the sweet potatoes with the oil mixture and place on grill when it is warmed. You may brush additional oil on as needed, but you should keep the grill closed to cook thoroughly. 2. When sweet potatoes are done, allow to cool slightly. When they are cool enough to handle, cut the planks into cubes and drizzle with remaining maple syrup-oil mixture. Toss to coat. Note: The sweet potatoes will get slightly charred from the grill. If you wish to avoid this, you may wrap slices in foil packets, but this will change the texture and diminish the flavor.

Baked Berry French Toast

This is the perfect treat to make for a brunch get together. It is dairy-free, but truly decadent. If you are not a dairy-free vegetarian, you could easily use traditional milk and cream cheese. Also, for this dish, I used Streamline berry filling from World Market that had blueberries, currants, raspberries and blackberries; using a pie filling that just had blueberries or blackberries would work just as well.
Baked Berry French Toast 8 pieces challah bread, cut into 1 inch cubes 8 ounces dairy-free cream cheese 2 cups berry filling (see details above) 6 large eggs 1/4 cup maple syrup 1 cup dairy-free milk 1. Spray a 9×13 with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place half the bread cubes in the baking dish. Scatter dollups of cream cheese over bread. Spoon dollups of berry filling over top and complete layering with remaining bread cubes. 2. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, and dairy-free milk, and whisk until blended. Pour over existing layers. Place remaining dollups of berry filling over top. Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for another 30 minutes.

Warm Potato Salad with Fennel and Onions

Potato salad is a quintessential American summer side dish, but I have never been a fan of the traditional version which is laden with mayonnaise. This version has some tartness from the vinegar and the golden potatoes make it creamy; while it may be served cooled or at room temperature, it is most flavorful when still warm. Naturally, it is gluten-free and vegan.
Warm Potato Salad 1 pound golden potatoes (Yukon Gold, for example), cut into 1 inch cubes 1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced 1/4 cup olive oil 5 Tablespoons white wine vinegar 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 pinch crushed red pepper 1. Bring 5 cups salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add potatoes and boil for 10 minutes, or until they are fork tender. 2. While potatoes are boiling, mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl. When potatoes are done and have been drained, add them to the serving bowl and toss with dressing to coat completely.

Mission to Paris

In Mission to Paris, Alan Furst has a clever idea and a lot of potential with his story, but it lacks development and is far from the great spy novel that it could be. The story revolves around Fredric Stahl, a Hollywood actor, who has been sent to Paris to work on a film about World War I. The filming begins at the same time that the roots of World War II are being planted and Stahl is quickly invited to social engagements that are hosted by the richest and most powerful Germans in Paris. While he believes this to be part of a warm welcome, he soon begins to suspect that the Germans have other plans and would like to use him to influence the public opinion of the Nazi regime (and given Stahl’s Austrian heritage, he would be accepted in Germany). Stahl speaks to Wilkinson, a representative at the American embassy, and comes to realize that he could take advantage of an opportunity offered by the Nazis (to judge a mountain film festival) in order to gather information for the Americans. Under the pretenses of promoting his film, Stahl travels to Germany and sees the true state of affairs. After returning to Paris, he realizes he can no longer remain neutral and decides to do one more exchange while filming in Morocco. The tension mounts as the Germans begin to suspect Stahl’s involvement and he must decide what to do in order to survive and return to America safely. While the plot sounds solid from the outset, the first third of the book is a description of Stahl’s character and focuses on his outlook as a movie star and his position in the social sphere. The spy situation, although seemingly the center of the story based upon the book jacket, only takes up a fraction of the story. The rest of the story focuses on Stahl’s romantic interests and his endeavors to explore Paris. The characters are underdeveloped and the story overall is a slow read without the action and suspense that is expected in spy novels. The story ends rather suddenly and leaves the reader to tie up loose ends.

Crunchy Quinoa Spinach Salad

This quinoa salad which is packed with veggies and toasted sunflower seeds is absolutely delicious. It is easy to make and is a wonderful option as a vegan and gluten-free side dish. For people who eat dairy, you may wish to substitute goat cheese for the daiya pepper jack cubes.
Crunchy Quinoa Spinach Salad 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth 1 cup quinoa (I used the tri-colored variety to give it some variety) 1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels 1/2 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed) 1/2 cup toasted sunflower seeds 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 5 ounces baby spinach 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, gently torn 1/4 cup cubed daiya (or other dairy-free) Pepper Jack cheese 4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 1. Add vegetable broth, quinoa, bell pepper and corn to a medium sauce pan on the stove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender. While quinoa is cooking, mix red wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste, in order to make salad dressing. 2. When done, add sun-dried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper, stirring to incorporate. Allow to cool briefly while arranging spinach on a salad plate. Top spinach with quinoa and add cheese and basil on top of salad. Drizzle with red wine vinegar salad dressing and serve.

Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potatoes and sweet potato fries are fairly addictive! While store bought versions may be convenient, these only take a few minutes longer to make and have delicious flavor without all of the additives of the store bought versions.
Sweet Potato Fries 4 medium sized sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4″ wide fries 1 Tablespoon sea salt 3 Tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon dried garlic granules 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 2. In a large freezer bag, toss sweet potato fries with sea salt to coat. Allow to sit for approximately 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, drizzle olive oil into the bag and sprinkle in spices. Toss fries in bag to coat. Spread fries onto a prepared baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes. 3. After 35 minutes, reduce heat to 425 and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Maple Apple Tarte

This apple tarte is delicious and not too sweet. The teff flour and coconut oil make the crust delicious and light. I realize that teff flour is hard to find, so if you cannot find it, you may substitute it with buckwheat flour which is also gluten-free, but this will make for a denser crust. If you don’t have a pie tarte pan, this can be made in a springform pan, it just won’t have the lovely fluted edges.
Maple Apple Tarte Crust: 1/2 cup chopped pecans 1/2 cup oats 1/3 cup ground flax seed 1 cup teff flour 2/3 cup refined coconut oil 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 Tablespoons brown sugar Filling: 2 large apples, peeled, cored, and very thinly sliced 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 3 Tablespoons maple syrup, plus more for topping 1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 2. In a food processor, combine pecans, oats, and flax seeds, pulsing until ingredients represent a coarse meal. Make the crust by transferring all but 1/4 cup of the pecan mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer and combining all of the remaining crust ingredients, mixing on low until the ingredients come together into a coarse dough. Reserve 1/4 cup dough mixture, pressing the remaining dough into a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 15 minutes. 3. To make filling, mix apples, coconut milk, cinnamon and maple syrup in a medium bowl. Layer apples in concentric circles on the baked crust and drizzle with remaining filling when arranged. Top with reserved dough and pecan meal as desired to cover the apples. Bake for 45 minutes, or until apples are tender. 4. To serve, cut tarte into slices and drizzle with warmed maple syrup.