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Last week I decided to do something I rarely do . . . actually follow a recipe! I’m usually allergic to recipes, obsessively tweaking whatever I’m cooking up to make it a bit more my own. I suppose this comes in part from my years learning to cook while living overseas, where I always felt a bit too transient to invest in measuring utensils. Needless to say I’m not a great baker . . . but that’s another story.

Still, when I came across this recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree  from Michael Natkin’s awesome veggie site, Herbivoricious, I felt inspired to follow it as closely as possible and see what would happen. I got out my measuring cups and spoons, bought the correct ingredients, and whipped up something new and delicious. I served this with fresh fruit to start, a delicious beet tartar, and a good bottle of wine (Erath Pinot Noir, one of my faves). I might have had a special occasion to put together a meal like this. ;)

I learned a few new tricks while taking the time to follow this recipe but still made it my own by discovering some awesome ways to serve the leftovers. And I have to say, as fancy as this sounds, it was a snap to make. Even though the list of ingredients and steps looks long in this post, I probably put together this entire dish in a little over half an hour, including the cooking times. It’s impressive and easy. Go for it.

Pistachios

Pistachios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree

Ingredients

Pistachio Puree

  • 2 cups unsalted, roasted pistachios
  • juice of one whole, medium-sized lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water

Roasted Asparagus (I guess I did adapt this part a tiny bit. The following is my version—check here for the original.)

  • 1 bunch organic asparagus spears, the fat kind, trimmed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • balsamic vinegar reduction
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped
  • fresh tarragon leaves
roasted asparagus

roasted asparagus (Photo credit: elana’s pantry)

Directions

Pistachio Puree

I bought raw, unsalted, organic pistachios, so I needed to roast them myself. In order to do this:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Spread the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Cook for about 10-12 minutes.

The nuts will be warm, chewy, and slightly brown when done. Yum.

Once the pistachios are roasted, combine them with the lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and half the olive oil in a vitamix. (The original recipe uses a regular blender, so don’t shy away if you haven’t yet gone pro with your blending utensils.)

With the lid on and at a medium-low speed, drizzle in the rest of the olive oil followed by the water. Blend until mostly smooth but not totally creamy—you’ll want a bit of texture here.

Once the initial ingredients are blended, you can tweak the flavor if needed. I added a bit more salt (I like salt.) and another pinch of smoked paprika, but overall, I didn’t feel the need to change much at all. Make sure to keep the puree covered, as the beautiful green will oxidize and turn brown on top, just like guacamole.

Roasted Asparagus

As soon as you take the pistachios out of the oven, turn up the heat to 400. Toss the asparagus with a bit of olive oil and salt, and roast on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. (I served the asparagus in full spears because it looks pretty and that’s how it’s done in the original, but I found the spears a little tough to cut into. Next time, I might halve them before roasting and forget the fancy presentation.)

Once the asparagus is tender, turn on the broiler and cook until it becomes blackened in spots. This last step is important—the crispy asparagus heads and crunchy black bits add a great texture to the final dish.

To Serve

Spoon the pistachio puree onto a plate and place the asparagus on top. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over everything, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction*, and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves. Add a bit more salt to taste.

*The original recipe calls for real balsamic vinegar or a reduction, and considering the price of the real stuff at Whole Foods, I decided to try my hand at a reduction. It worked perfectly, and I’ll definitely be making more. To make your own reduction:

  1. Pour a bit of balsamic vinegar into a small pot or pan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add sugar—I think I used equal parts organic unrefined sugar and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Reduce to medium-high heat and continuously whisk the mixture until it reduces by half or just a bit more.
  5. Drizzle away!
Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree © 2013, Juniper Stokes

This recipe makes far more puree than you’ll need—after all, it’s basically a fancy nut butter. Luckily, it keeps for up to a week in the fridge and is so delicious you’ll be happy to have extra.

How we actually at the dish--I just piled all the asparagus on in a big messy heap! haha

How we actually ate the dish–I just piled all the asparagus on in a big messy heap! haha

Natkin recommends serving the leftovers with other types of veggies, such as raw endive or roasted cauliflower. I used a bit of my leftovers as a dip for baby carrots, and heated the rest up in the oven to make a hot dip for rice crackers and French bread. I highly recommend heating up the leftovers. The hot dip was gooey and yummy and rich—yet totally vegan. It would make a great pesto-like sauce for pasta, as well.

Enjoy!

Oh, and I did get a nice thank you for such an awesome dinner :)

my thank you for dinner :) ©2013, Juniper Stokes

my thank you for dinner :) ©2013, Juniper Stokes

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This creation combines one of my favorite foods–potatoes!–with one of my favorite flavor combos–tarragon and nutmeg. I came up with this recipe during a serious craving for comfort food, hence the potatoes (who doesn’t love hot, salty carbs?). Still, I like to at least pretend to be healthy . . . so, I used multi-colored French fingerlings for extra antioxidants and left the skin on for a vitamin boost. I combined the potatoes with all natural ingredients, and viola! A healthy (-ish), gourmet comfort food is born.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fingerling potatoes
  • 2 Tbs butter (or olive oil)*
  • 2 Tbs half & half (or non-dairy substitute, such as hemp milk)*
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan (or 2 Tbs nutritional yeast)*
  • 1 1/2  tsp dried tarragon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • splash olive oil

*Vegan/healthier options

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly toss the fingerling potatoes with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. (Alternately, steam or boil the potatoes until tender–the important thing here is just making sure that they’re cooked and soft).

Next, remove the potatoes from the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Mash the potatoes and stir in the remaining ingredients (leave out the nutritional yeast at this stage if you’re making the vegan version–it’s best served uncooked, stirred in right before serving).

Return the potato mixture to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the mixture is cooked through. You may want to top everything with a bit of extra parmesan at this stage ;)

Remove from the oven and serve!

twice-baked fingerling potatoes © 2013 Juniper Stokes

twice-baked fingerling potatoes © 2013 Juniper Stokes

 

 

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It may technically be spring now, but it still feels like winter here in Colorado (well, actually Colorado weather is weird, in the 70s one day and snowing the next . . . but that’s another story). Winter always makes me crave potatoes and other earthy veggies, so I’ve been taking advantage of the last of the season by indulging in some roasted root goodness.

Recently, I had a bit of fun getting creative with the colors of my root veggies, combining chioggia (or candy cane) beets, jewel yams, and purple potatoes for a stunning roast.

Rainbow Root Roast © 2013, Stokes

Rainbow Root Roast © 2013, Stokes

I tossed the veggies with typical roasting ingredients (olive oil, garlic, onion slices, dried herbs) and was left with a beautiful, delicious, and surprisingly healthy dinner–beets, yams, and purple potatoes all have higher nutritional contents than regular old white potatoes.

So go ahead, join me in upgrading your veggie roasts during the last of our cold weather!

Rainbow Root Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 large chioggia beet, chopped
  • 1 medium jewel yam, chopped
  • 2 medium purple potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • olive oil, to coat
  • 1/2 tsp each dried thyme, rosemary, basil*
  • pinch cayenne (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

*There are no rules with spices and herbs–get creative!

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the vegetables, coarsely slice the onion, and mince the garlic. Toss everything together with the olive oil and spices. Roast for about 45 minutes, turning the vegetables a few times to prevent sticking and maintain even cooking. When the root veggies are soft and slightly browned, remove from the oven and serve. Top with parmesan and a squirt of lemon juice for a bit of an extra treat.

That’s it! A recipe that is both easy to make and impressive to serve.

Enjoy!

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Well, this is a bit late . . .  but what are you going to do?

This year, the Chinese New Year fell on February 10th, 2013, bringing us into the year of the water snake. Being a sucker for holidays, even ones outside of my own cultural traditions, I had a personal celebration. I decided to honor water snake by making a small painting, and I cooked up a bit of Buddha’s delight, a traditional vegetarian dish typically served during the Chinese New Year.

For my water snake illustration, I did an ink-blob sketch in my art journal. First, I dropped a bit of Dr. Ph. Martin’s liquid watercolor onto one side of the page. Next, I folded the page in half and pressed evenly in order to create somewhat symmetrical ink blobs. Then, I took out a black ink pen and let intuition guide me as a doodled a water snake.

Water Snake © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Water Snake © 2013, Juniper Stokes

I never really know what I’m going to end up with ink blobs and doodles, but I find the process so meditative, and I was happy to have a theme to inspire me.

For the Buddha’s Delight, I used a traditional recipe for inspiration but changed it up a bit to use what I had on hand and add a little health boost. First, I fried up some firm tofu in coconut oil and turmeric and set it aside. Then, I stir fried mixed veggies in coconut oil with garlic and ginger. For my veggies, I used shredded carrot, chopped celery, broccoli, rehydrated black forest mushrooms, mung beans, purple cabbage, and leeks. Yum. I used a wok on high heat to cook the veggies quickly and leave them a bit of crispness. While the veggies were cooking, I sprinkled on a bit of rice wine vinegar, tamari, white wine, sugar, and toasted sesame seeds. To serve, I topped everything with bit more tamari and toasted sesame oil. Toasted sesame oil isn’t a traditional addition to this dish, but I love its flavor and tend to add it to everything. The dish tastes perfectly good without it, too.

Buddha's Delight © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Buddha’s Delight © 2013, Juniper Stokes

For more detailed instructions, check out the following recipes:

Happy New Year!

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I’ve been meaning to do a Mixology Monday post for quite a while, so when the creatives at Putney Farm sent out a call for “inverted” drink recipes, I knew it was the perfect time for me to participate. I decided to invert one of my favorite drinks, the dirty martini. I switched up this drink by using traditional ingredients (gin and olives) with new and surprising flavors.

mxmo

I’ve been a fan of dirty gin martinis for a long time (my name is Juniper; gin is my destiny) and I’m always down to support local business. So when I learned about Boulder’s own Roundhouse Spirits Imperial Barrel Aged Gin, I knew I had to give it a try.

Prospect-RH-Imperial-no-back-label

This stuff has the kick of gin with the oak of whiskey, earning it the nickname “ginskey”. It’s awesome. To complement the oak, I added smoked, rather than traditional, olives and juice.

I used Mezzetta’s Applewood Smoked Olives and was happy with the results.

applewood_lg_2

So, here’s my recipe for make a new, “inverted” martini:

  • 2 oz. barrel aged gin
  • 1 Tb. smokey olive juice
  • 3 smoked olives
Smoke and Oak Martini © 2013 Juniper Stokes

Smoke and Oak Martini © 2013 Juniper Stokes

Enjoy!

Check out the original post here: Announcing Mixology Monday LXX: Inverted

 

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This tofu dip is awesome. Vegan, flavorful, healthy, easy . . . basically everything I love in a new recipe. Serve it with vegetable sticks, rice crackers, sweet potato fries, or whatever else you have on hand. Or realize it’s too delicious for its own good and just start scooping bites into your mouth, like I do ;)

Ingredients

  • 6 oz silken tofu
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tiny clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Directions

Coarsely chop the green onion, garlic, and tofu, and throw everything in a blender or food processor. Viola! Dip is served.

Non-food processor version:

Sometimes, I’d rather make a lumpy dip than need to clean an extra kitchen item. Actually, this is true most of the time. If you feel the same way, try this version. First, mince the garlic and green onion to the best of your ability using a knife. Second, mush everything together until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Enjoy!

Ume-tofu dip

chunky-style ume-tofu dip*

*The recipe makes more than pictured. I just couldn’t help myself and ate half of it right away . . . .

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This winter has me turning to root veggies for my seasonal nourishment, and I usually have a wide selection of root vegetables on hand–potatoes, yams, carrots, beets, turnips, onions–anything that can be pulled from the ground. But the other day, in the mood to cook, I opened my refrigerator to find only bag of organic carrots and a gigantic daikon radish*. Luckily, limitations often lead to great creativity. I decided to challenge myself and see how many ways I could prepare a carrot-daikon combo, and I came up with three new and delicious recipes. All three recipes are seasonal, easy, and healthy, so enjoy!

English: Picture of a pile of Daikon (giant wh...

Daikon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

*Though daikon is a type of radish, which I usually associate more with summer, they can actually be planted in fall for a winter harvest and prepared in ways similar to most root vegetables. Plus, they are super healthy, with high levels of vitamin C and B complex and the potential to act as a digestive aid.

Each of the following recipes is for a single serving–make sure to at least double each recipe if you’re cooking for more than yourself!

Recipe #1: Shredded Carrot and Daikon Salad 

This raw recipe is a great way to prepare daikon with all of its digestive benefits in tact. The salad keeps well for a few days, and letting it sit at least overnight allows the flavors to merge.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 large daikon
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbs shiso ume furikake
  • juice from one ginger medallion
  • splash lemon juice
  • big pinch of sugar
  • salt to taste

Directions

First, prepare the daikon and carrot by shredding them into strips. I used a vegetable peeler with a wavy blade. This type of peeler is commonly used in Southeast Asian food preparation. It’s not only great for quickly shredding veggies into strips, but it will give sliced veggies a decorative edge.

wavey edge veggie peeler

wavey edge veggie peeler

Next, sprinkle the carrot and daikon with shiso ume furikake, a pinch of salt, and a big pinch of sugar. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning meant to be added to rice, though I find all sorts of fun uses for it. The shiso ume furikake I used in this recipe contains a bit of salt and sugar, along with purple shiso, or perilla leaf, and dried ume, or pickled plum. It’s sweet, sour, salty, and delicious.

Ume Shiso Furikake

Ume Shiso Furikake

After sprinkling the furikake, salt, and sugar over the daikon and carrot, add the ginger juice and a bit of the ginger gratings. I used a Japanese-style ginger grater, which is very effective for squeezing out ginger juice. This process also creates fresh ginger gratings, and it’s nice to add a bit of these, as well. If you don’t have an actual ginger grater, try using a garlic press to expel the juice.

Japanese-style ginger grater

Japanese-style ginger grater

Once you’ve added the ginger, toss everything together with the olive oil and lemon juice. Let everything sit for at least an hour so that the flavors can meld.

Carrot Daikon Salad © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Shredded Carrot and Daikon Salad © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Recipe #2: Roasted Daikon with Carrot and Onion

No root-veggie trio would complete without a roasted dish. This simple recipe allows the daikon and carrot flavors to take the spotlight, with just a hint of onion for a flavor boost.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 large daikon
  • 1/2 medium carrot
  • 1/2″ slice of white onion
  • olive oil, to coat
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Peel and slice the daikon and carrot. Take a half inch slice from the center of a large white onion and separate the rounds. Toss the vegetables together with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread everything evenly on a baking dish or pan. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping once to prevent sticking.

Roasted daikon and carrot © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Roasted daikon and carrot © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Recipe #3: Super Healthy Simmered Daikon

I love this dish. I don’t think I’ve ever been served this dish precisely, but it is definitely inspired by my time eating gorgeous veggie food in Japan. The warmth and rich sesame flavor give it the satisfaction of a comfort food, though just about all the ingredients are super-food healthy.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 large daikon, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 medallion grated ginger w/juice
  • 1 Tbs Eden Organic Seaweed Gomasio
  • 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • a splash maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs red miso
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

First, bring 1/2 cup water to boil. Add the daikon and carrot, along with the gomasio, and reduce to a simmer. Gomasio, also spelled gomashio, is Japanese sesame-salt seasoning. I like the health bump dried seaweed gives to this Eden Organic blend, which includes dulce, nori, and kombu.

Eden Organic Gomasio with Seaweed

Eden Organic Gomasio with Seaweed

Continue to simmer the above ingredients for about 20 minutes. Once the daikon and carrot are cooked, stir in about 1 Tbs red miso (more to taste), and simmer for another 5 minutes. If you’d like a bit of heat, this is the time to throw in the red pepper flakes. Finally, remove from heat and stir in the ginger, maple syrup, and sesame oil. Serve immediately.

Simmered daikon and carrot © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Simmered daikon and carrot © 2013, Juniper Stokes

I loved all three of these dishes. I wonder what I’ll come up with next time my fridge is nearly empty . . . !

Best daikon photos ever:

WordPress blogs:

A couple of random recipes:

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