Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saturday Sustenance for March 20, 2010

There have been two big shake ups with local farmers markets in the last month. The first was vendors losing the fight to serve freshly prepared food at farmers markets. The second was Sunset Valley Farmers Market losing its lease at Toney Burger Stadium, which resulted in it moving to Barton Creek Mall--next to the Dillard's-- and changing its name to Barton Creek Farmers Market. The Sustainable Food Center has opened a new market in Toney Burger called the SFC Farmers Market at Sunset Valley. Both or these markets will be open Saturdays 9 am to 1 pm. It looks like this weekend will be a cold one, but hopefully we'll get enough sun to enjoy the market!

This week, Newflower has:
pineapples, $0.99 each
champagne mangos, 2 for $1
5 lb. bags of carrot, 2 for $4
10 lb. bags of russet baking potatoes, 2 for $4
1 lb. packages of mini cucumber, 2 for $4
large red bell peppers, $0.77
radish bunches, 2 for $1
jicama, $0.88 per lb.
organic Braeburn or Cameo apples, $0.77 per lb (that's cheaper than most conventional apples!)
organic cauliflower, 2 for $4
organic romaine lettuce, 2 for $3
organic Valencia oranges, $0.99 per lb.
14.5-15 oz. cans of Muir Glen organic tomatoes, 4 for $5 (I love the fire roasted style, and Muir Glen is one of the few companies that uses steam instead of lye to remove skins from their tomatoes)
32 oz. Pacific organic soups, 2 for $5
bulk walnut halves and pieces, $4.99 per lb.
bulk organic quinoa, $3.49 per lb.
4" potted Gerbera daisies, 2 for $6

Sprouts has:
blackberries, 6 oz. for $1.47
strawberries, 1 lb. for $1.47
naval oranges, $0.49 per lb.
radish bunches, $0.49 each
red bell pepper, $0.88 each
asparagus, $1.27 per lb.
roma tomatoes, $0.99 per lb.
pitted Kalamata olives, $5.99 per lb.
1 lb. prepackaged walnuts or almonds, $4.99
14.5 oz. Muir Glen tomatoes, 4 for $5
16 oz. Cascadian Farms frozen vegetables, 2 for $5
And their 3 day, Friday, Saturday and Sunday sale includes deals like:
4 count bags of Hass avocados for $1
5 lb. bag of grapefruit, $1
16 oz. Seapoint edamame, $1
10 lb. potatoes, $1
8 oz. whole or sliced white mushrooms, $1
8 oz. Oasis hummus, $1
6 oz. Jason Powersmile toothpaste, $2

Sun Harvest has:
5.6 oz. blackberries, $0.98
navel oranges, $0.49 per lb.
Maradol papayas, $0.49 per lb.
green or red leaf lettuce, $0.49 each
10 lb. russet potatoes, $1.88
asparagus, $1.88 per lb.
Cascadian Farms organic frozen fruit, buy one get one free
Garden of Eatin' organic chips, buy one get one free
R.W. Knudsen organic juice, buy one get one free
Lakewood pure cranberry or pomegranate juice, buy on get one free
half gallon Almond or Rice Dream nondairy milk, buy one get one free
Traditional Medicinals organic tea, buy one get one free
Follow Your Heart Dressing, buy one get one free
bulk golden raisins, $1.99 per lb.
Seventh Generation laundry detergent, buy one get one free

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cuban Dinner, Part 2

I was lucky enough to be able make to the Austin 360 Food Blogger Bash at SXSW last night--despite some major printer issues that had me running almost an hour late--and had a great time! I really need to find a way to make it to more local events because they truly do inspire me. Not only are there so many passionate, talented, creative people around, but I realize that people actually read my blog. I guess I forget, especially when I don't get comments, that people other than my friends are reading my little blog.

As promised, here's the follow up to the Cuban dinner menu. These sweet potatoes are too easy, the only bad thing about them is that they require a long time in a hot oven, which is great on a cold winter day, or a rainy spring evening, but it's torture on a warm Austin night. Regardless, they are delicious! As I said last week, I don't make them nearly enough. Try them out just once and let me know what you think! You can see in these pictures that I cut the potatoes much thicker, almost a 1/2 inch thick. You can go thinner or thicker, but of course the thicker the cut the longer the bake, and I think I prefer the crispier outside and softer inside I got with the thin slices. I believe JD preferred them thicker, though.

This meal comes together pretty easily if you already have your beans cooked since each dish has pretty distinct stages. I usually work as follows to get everything done at about the same time:

1) Preheat oven
2) Roast peppers while peeling and slicing sweet potatoes
3) Cool peppers while getting sweet potatoes into oven
4) Start rice
5) Prep all ingredients for beans
6) Start beans
7) Flip sweet potatoes
8) Boil water if blanching greens
9) Make garlic cilantro sauce for sweet potatoes
10) Prep and blanch greens if blanching greens or make salad, etc.
11) Cut plantains, heat oil and do first fry for tostones
12) Check sweet potatoes, if done, dress with garlic cilantro sauce
13) Smash fried plantains and fry for the second time
14) Eat and enjoy!

Cilantro Lime Brown Rice

Adapted from this recipe

1 teaspoon safflower oil
2/3 cup long grain brown rice
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 2/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cilantro leaves, minced
lime wedges for garnish

Heat oil over medium low heat in a 2 quart saucepan. Add rice and lime juice and saute for approximately 1 minute, until rice turns slightly opaque and aromatic. Add water and sea salt and bring to a boil. Once rice is boiling, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for approximately 45 minutes.

When rice is done, add minced cilantro and fluff gently with fork. Serve hot. Garnish with lime wedge.

-You can leave the cilantro out of the dish and offer it as a garnish if you're serving people who are not in love with cilantro.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Smothered with Cilantro and Garlic
by Christina Terriquez

I love this dish! It's a great way to prepare sweet potatoes that tastes really decadent, but doesn't contain much fat. It's also really easy and beautiful....and, even cilantro haters seem to enjoy these.

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into quarter inch thick discs
1--2 teaspoons safflower oil
sea salt
2 cloves garlic (or 1 clove if it's large or your garlic is extra strong)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
fresh squeezed lime juice (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, toss sweet potatoes with oil and a few pinches of sea salt. Spread sweet potato discs out in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, then flip each sweet potato and bake for another 15 minutes, or until tender. If your sweet potatoes are thicker, they might need as much as an hour total baking time.

While the sweet potatoes are baking, dice garlic and crush with a mortar and pestle. Add cilantro and a few pinches of sea salt and continue crushing until cilantro is pulpy and no pieces of garlic are distinguishable.

When sweet potatoes are tender, gentle toss with garlic cilantro mixture, or allow sweet potatoes to cool a bit, then rub each disc with a bit of garlic cilantro sauce. Adjust salt to taste and add lime juice if desired. Can be served hot, room temperature, or cold.

-I like to use a mix of orange or garnet sweet potatoes and yellow or Japanese white sweet potatoes for more contrast.

-Try baking the sweet potatoes at 400 degrees F. for a crisp outside and soft inside.

-Make a double batch and eat as a snack the second day!

- Cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

I'm thinking about starting a series of posts about building a basic, but well stocked, whole foods pantry. What ingredients from my recipes(or any recipes) are you curious about?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cuban Dinner, Part 1

Savory tostones covered with pineapple and yellow tomato salsa

I know that I've been neglecting my blog terribly. I always find that when I have time to blog, I don't have much inspiration, and when I have inspiration, I haven't any time. Lately I've had the extra obstacle of being broke much of the time, which sucks inspiration right outta me. Thankfully, I had was able to make it to the most recent Addie's Eat Up, which greatly helped me stir up some creativity.

There are a lot of dishes that I love but for some reason, rarely think of making--though once I take a bite, I wonder why the hell I don't make them all the time. This meal is one of my favorites, and most of the ingredients are staples, aside from the cilantro and plantains, so there's really no excuse to not have this once a month, at a minimum. I like to eat the salty tostones with a mango or peach and tomato salsa or pineapple tomatillo salsa. To complete the meal, add some leafy greens, like green cabbage water sauteed with cumin, a fresh green salad or some blanched kale.

My Cuban Menu:
Salty Tostones, with fresh fruit salsa (recipe below)
Black Beans with Roasted Peppers (recipe below
Cilantro and Lime Brown Rice (recipe in part 2)
Garlic Cilantro Sweet Potatoes (recipe in part 2)
Sweet Tostones (recipe below)

by Christina Terriquez

The tostones are pretty simple, as long as you're comfortable around hot oil. I like to use my wok with draining rack, cooking chopsticks, and spider strainer whenever I deep fry. I also typically use safflower or sunflower oil for deep frying, but rice bran oil and peanut oil are two other choices.

oil for deep frying
sea salt (optional)
powdered sugar (optional)

Peel plantains and cut them into 1-inch long segments.

Prepare your draining station. Place 3 to 4 layers of paper towel over one heat resistant plate or platter and place in reach of your stove, but far enough away that it will not catch fire. Repeat with a second plate. If you will be topping with sea salt, get that ready. If you will be using powdered sugar, place a small amount in a hand held strainer and place the strainer in a bowl. Place powdered sugar, bowl and strainer out of the way for now.

Heat at least 2 inches worth of oil over medium heat in a wok or deep cast iron pan. Oil is ready when small bubbles immediately form around wooden chopsticks when they are submerged in oil, or when a small piece of food floats to the top of the oil almost immediately when added to hot oil.

Fry plantains in batches or 4 or 5 pieces until golden brown. Drain and allow to cool.

Carefully smash each fried and cooled plantain piece and fry again until edges brown. Drain and sprinkle with salt or use hand held strainer to cover tostones with an even layer of powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

-If your plantains are less ripe, they will produce a crispier final product, but be harder to smash for the second fry. These are better for salty tostones served with salsa.

-If your plantains are extremely ripe--very yellow skin with dark brown or black spots--they will actually puff up during the second fry and produce fritter-like tostones, they're almost like banana donuts! For this reason I enjoy these most when topped with a little powered sugar, although they are interesting when sprinkled with sea salt as they have a great sweet/salty contrast.

Spiced Black Beans
by Christina Terriquez

1 large jalapeno
1/2 red bell pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
sea salt, to taste
3--4 cups cooked black beans (you can use 2 16 oz. cans)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Roast jalapeno and red pepper until skin is blackened. Place in a covered bowl or paper bag to cool for 10 minutes. Carefully peel the skin off the jalapeno, slice pepper in half, cut out seeds and white strings and mince. Peel skin off red pepper, cut in half, and reserve one half for another dish. Discard seeds and strings from remaining half and dice roasted red pepper.

Heat oil in 3 quart saucepan. Add onion, a pinch of salt and saute until onion is soft and translucent. Add red pepper and jalapeno and saute for 1 minute. Add beans, and garlic and simmer for 10 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Garnish with cilantro or avocado.

-I prefer soaking then pressure cooking pretty much all my beans in large batches with a digestive aid like bay leaf, epazote or kombu. This greatly improves their digestability and ensures they are tender and flavorful. Also, it enables me to use one small portion at a time as I need it.

-Try adding other spices like cumin.

-Use different peppers like poblano or serrano or increase or decrease amount to adjust heat.

-Use yellow or orange bell peppers or a combination for a more colorful dish.