Living the WELL Life

Feel the Heat - by Christina Pirello

Monday, June 28, 2010

Even in the heat of summer I love to spice things up for some hot and heavy action…in the kitchen.  This menu is perfect for a festive dinner party with friends or, better yet, a couples’ night.  Your taste buds will do the tango as you and your partner bring on the salsa dancing.  I kept these dishes on the light side because, who knows, you might need some energy for later

‘Margarita’ with Fried Chips
Avocado and Corn Relish on Radicchio Salad
Hot Hot Hot Black Bean Soup
Black Soybean-Stuffed Cornbread
Mexican Chocolate Drops

‘Margarita’ with Fried Chips

1 ripe tomato, seeded, small dice
1 small ripe, but firm avocado, seeded, small dice
1/2 red onion, small dice
3-4 sprigs cilantro, finely minced
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Tequila or lime juice

avocado oil
4-6 soft corn tortillas, sliced into triangles
sea salt

Make the ‘margarita.’ Place tomato, avocado and red onion in separate bowls. Season each to taste with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Take a margarita glass and layer tomato, cilantro, then avocado, cilantro, then onion, with cilantro on top. Gently pour tequila or lime juice over the ingredients up to the onion. Do not float the ingredients. Set aside to marinate while you fry the chips.

Heat about 3 inches of oil in a wok over medium heat. When the oil is hot, you will know because patterns will form at the bottom of the pan, fry the tortilla pieces in batches until crisp and golden. Drain and paper and toss with salt while the chips are hot so it sticks.

To serve, set the ‘margarita’ on a plate with chips around the rim.  Makes 2-3 servings

Avocado and Corn Relish on Radicchio Salad

¾ cup avocado or extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ red onion, diced
4 cups fresh/frozen corn kernels
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Ground cinnamon
2 avocados, peeled, seeded, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, roasted over an open flame, peeled, seeded, diced
4 poblano chiles, roasted over an open flame, peeled, seeded, diced
4-6 scallions, thinly sliced (root to tip) on the diagonal
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
Several leaves of radicchio

Heat ½ cup oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté garlic and onion for 1-2 minutes.  Stir in corn, a light seasoning of salt and pepper (to taste), a pinch of cinnamon and sauté for 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool in skillet.

Stir avocados, red pepper, poblanos and scallion gently into corn mixture with lemon juice and remaining oil.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside for 30 minutes before serving to allow flavors to develop.

To serve, arrange whole leaves of radicchio on a platter and mound relish on top.  Makes 3-5 servings.

Hot Hot Hot Black Bean Soup

Extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
1 dried red chili, crushed
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 red onion, diced
sea salt
1 carrot, diced
1 cup butternut squash, diced
1 cup fresh/frozen corn kernels
2 cups cooked black turtle beans
5 cups spring or filtered water
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Place oil, garlic, chili, ginger and onion in a soup pot and turn the heat to medium. When the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in carrot and squash, a pinch of salt and a generous sprinkle of mirin. Sauté until just shiny with oil. Add corn and beans and stir gently. Add water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and simmer for 5 minutes more. Serve garnished with fresh scallions. Makes 5-6 servings.

Black Soybean-Stuffed Cornbread

Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
½ yellow onion, diced
sea salt
generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 ½ cups cooked black soybeans
1 small can diced tomatoes, drained

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
generous pinch sea salt
1/3 cup light olive oil
1-1 ½ cups Pearl Unsweetened soymilk
2 tablespoons finely minced chives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil and flour a deep-dish pie plate.  For the filling, place a small amount of oil in a skillet, with garlic and onions.  Turn the heat to medium and when the onions begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add pepper flakes and beans, stirring to combine ingredients.  Add diced tomatoes and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes, uncovered, stirring frequently.  The mixture will naturally thicken slightly.

For the cornbread, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk briskly.  Add olive oil and mix well.  Slowly stir in soymilk until you achieve a thick, spoonable batter.  Finally, fold in chives.  Spoon ½ the batter into the prepared pie plate.  Top with soybean mixture, covering the cornbread completely.  Spoon remaining batter over the beans, again, covering completely.  Bake until the center of the cornbread springs back to the touch, 35-40 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing into wedges.  Makes 4-8 servings.

Mexican Chocolate Drops

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1⁄2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup light olive oil
1⁄2 cup brown rice syrup
vanilla soymilk

Chocolate glaze:
1/4 cup vanilla soy or rice milk
3 tablespoons brown rice syrup
1 cup grain-sweetened, non-dairy chocolate chips
unsweetened shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder and spices in a mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine. Mix in oil and rice syrup. Add soymilk by tablespoons, mixing until the dough gathers into a soft ball. Roll the dough into 1-inch spheres and arrange on baking sheet about an inch apart.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the cookies crack a bit on the top, but are still soft. Cool completely on wire racks.  Prepare the glaze by bringing soymilk and rice syrup to a high boil.

Remove from heat and whisk in chocolate chips until silky smooth. Dip the tops of each cookie into the glaze and then into coconut. Makes about 24 cookies. 


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