Living the WELL Life

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Are We Feeling A Little Irritable?
According to the principles of Chinese Medicine, the spring heralds more than the arrival of tulips and daffodils. This time of year, when the earth is re-born and energy rises, the liver becomes more active, enlivened, if you will. As energy warms, it’s important to nourish the function of the liver and to honor the season by adapting your food and cooking to the season.

Happy Spring!

Creamy Shiitake and Cannellini Soup
Green Risotto with Peas
Apples, Oranges and Olives on Endive
Baby Carrots and Asparagus with Maple Glaze
Roasted Asparagus with Mushroom Fricassee
Chocolate Brownies with Macadamia Nuts

Creamy Shiitake Soup
1 yellow onion, diced
8-10 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until tender, thinly sliced
One half cup cannellini or other white beans, rinsed well
4 cups spring or filtered water
sea salt
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons barley or white miso
2-3 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, for garnish

Place onion, shiitake mushrooms and beans in a soup pot with water, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low cook for 45-1 hour, until beans are soft.  Remove a small amount of broth and dissolve miso.  Stir back into soup and simmer, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf.  Serve garnished with scallion.  Makes 4-5 servings.
    Note: you can create a richer soup by using half unsweetened soymilk and half water.

Green Risotto with Peas
5 cups spring or filtered water
extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
½ (one half) yellow onion, finely diced
sea salt
1 cup Arborio rice, do not rinse
½ (one half) cup mirin or white wine
1 cup fresh/frozen peas   
4-5 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced, for garnished

Place the water in a saucepan over low heat and keep warm throughout the cooking.

Place a small amount of oil in a deep skillet, with the garlic and onion, over medium heat. When the vegetables begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute until the onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.  Stir in rice and saute until just coated with oil.  Add mirin and reduce heat to low.  When the rice has absorbed the mirin, begin adding warm water, by ladles, stirring the rice frequently, and only adding more liquid as it is absorbed.  The total cooking time should be 25-30 minutes, yielding creamy rice that still has some firmness.

While the rice is cooking, bring a pot of water to a boil and blanche the peas, about 1 minute.  
When the rice is just about ready, when you have added the final ladle of water to the risotto, season to taste with salt and stir in the cooked peas, allowing them to cook in the risotto for the final minutes.  Remove from heat, transfer to a serving platter and serve garnished with fresh parsley.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Apples, Oranges and Olives on Endive
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
Sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 granny smith apples
7-9 ripe oranges
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4-5 Belgian endive, halved, sliced into strips
2 stalks celery (tender, inner stalks), thinly sliced on the diagonal
½ (one half) cup pitted oil-cured black olives, slivered
2 stems fresh basil, leaves removed, left whole

Whisk together vinegars, rice syrup, sea salt to taste and oil until smooth.  Slice apples and remove seeds, but do not peel.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.

Cut the tops and bottoms off the oranges to expose fruit.  Then, resting the fruit on a cutting board, slice off peel, including the pith.  Cut segments free from inner membranes and mix with apple slices and lemon juice (to prevent browning).

Toss together endive, celery, olives and fresh basil together in a mixing bowl.  Toss oranges and apples in with endive.  Finally, toss with enough dressing to coat.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Baby Carrots and Asparagus with Lemon-Maple Glaze
1 pound baby carrots, with tops, if possible, left whole, rinsed very well
1 pound asparagus, bottoms snapped, left whole
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons Suzanne’s Specialties Maple Rice Nectar
sea salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
5-6 lemon wedges, for garnish

Bring a small amount of water to a boil.  Arrange carrots in a steamer basket and steam until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.  Steam asparagus until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Arrange carrots and asparagus on a serving platter.

Combine oil, rice syrup, a generous pinch sea salt and lemon zest in a small saucepan.  Cook over high heat until foaming.  Remove from heat and spoon glaze over cooked vegetables.  Serve garnished with lemon wedges.  Makes 5-6 servings.

Roasted Asparagus with Mushroom Fricassee
1 pound asparagus, stems snapped, left whole
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
grated zest of 1 lemon
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
10-12 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (crimini, chanterelle, shiitake), thinly sliced
One half cup mirin
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, finely minced
juice of one half fresh lemon

Preheat oven to 375o.  Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan.  Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and lemon zest.  Bake, uncovered, until just tender, 10-12 minutes.  
While the asparagus bakes, prepare the mushrooms.  Place a small amount of oil, shallots and garlic in a deep skillet and turn heat to medium.  When the shallots begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute until browned, about 5 minutes.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer mushrooms for 3-4 minutes.  Remove cover, raise heat to medium, add wine and a light seasoning of salt.  Cook until wine is absorbed, 2-3 minutes more.  Remove from heat and stir in parsley.
To serve, arrange asparagus on a large platter and spoon mushrooms over top.  Drizzle with lemon juice.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Chocolate Brownies with Macadamia Nuts
1 1/3 cups granulated maple syrup
¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tablespoons spring or filtered water
2 teaspoons shelled hempseeds
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/3 cup semolina flour
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ (one half) teaspoon baking powder
Generous pinch sea salt
Unsweetened or vanilla soymilk
1 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
½ (one half) cup macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped

chocolate glaze
1/4 cup unsweetened or vanilla soymilk
1 teaspoon brown rice syrup
2/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips
1/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips, coarsely chopped, for garnish


Preheat oven to 350o and lightly oil an 8-inch square baking pan.  
    Mix together maple granules, applesauce and water in a medium-size bowl.  Stir in hempseeds and vanilla.  Fold in flour, semolina, cocoa, baking powder and salt, mixing just to combine ingredients.  Stir in soymilk to create a smooth, spoonable batter. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts until well-incorporated.
    Bake for 40 minutes for chewy brownies and 45-50 minutes for more cake-like brownies.  Either way, the brownies should be set when touched.

While the brownies bake, make the glaze.  Prepare the glaze by placing soymilk and rice syrup in a small sauce pan and bringing to a high boil.  Pour over chocolate chips and whisk to create a smooth, shiny glaze.

When the brownies have cooled, cut into 16 squares and place on a wire rack with a piece of parchment underneath.  Spoon glaze over each brownie.  Makes 16 brownies.


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