June 30, 2014

Meatless Monday: Soba Noodle Bowls

Soba Noodle Bowls | hardparade.blogspot.com
This recipe is about soba noodles but first I'm going to talk about their hip sibling, ramen. I'm a sucker for it - I even like the instant, sodium-fueled kind that you grab from the bottom shelf in the 'international' aisle. Nowadays, I'm smarter about my ramen consumption and just use the noodles from those packets, creating my own broth and adding in tons of veggies for flavor, rather than sprinkling it on.

I recently discovered Mind of a Chef on PBS. If you're a food person (you know, someone who thinks about it all day, brings it up in every conversation, and is always hungry) drop everything and GO watch it on Netflix (only season one) or Amazon Instant Video (seasons one and two). I was blown away by every aspect of this show from the content to the production to everything in between. It's beautifully done, fun, informative, and gives you a major case of the munchies! (It also gave me ALOT of wanderlust)

After marathon watching the first season, which followed around Momofuku's David Chang, my hunger for ramen intensified. I wanted to make it a little healthier so I searched around and found this great soba noodle recipe from Bon Appétit. Sure, it's not exactly ramen but it has all the elements of a great ramen bowl - noodles, crunchy vegetables, a flavorful broth, and a nice egg yolk on top.

Soba Noodle Bowl
Recipe modified from Bon Appétit
Serves: 4, PointsPlus: 10
Ingredients:
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 in. piece peeled garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup dried wakame (a kind of dried seaweed, this is optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound assorted mushrooms (like shiitake, white button, baby bellas, whatever is available)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-oz. soba noodles
  • 4-oz. radishes, thinly sliced
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Directions:
  • Sauté garlic and ginger in a medium saucepan until golden and fragrant
  • Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes
    • Add soy sauce and wakame, set aside
  • Heat vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 10 minutes until they are slightly crisp and golden
    • Transfer them to the set aside broth
  • Meanwhile, cook soba noodles according to directions
  • Divide the broth and soba noodles among four bowls
    • Top with radishes, egg yolk, scallions, and sesame seeds
    • Add hot sauce, like Sriracha, if desired!
Soba Noodle Bowls | hardparade.blogspot.com
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June 23, 2014

Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip

This dip is fresh, light, and super healthy! Not only is it great for when you have guests over - you can spread it on a sandwich for an extra punch. I'm thinking this pea & edamame dip, alfalfa sprouts and roasted red peppers stuffed into a pita with some mixed greens! Try changing up the veggies with what you have available in the freezer - I bet you can substitute fava beans, chickpeas, cannellini beans, etc. Let me know in the comments how you've changed it up!
Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip | Hard Parade
Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip | Hard Parade
Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip | Hard Parade
Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip | Hard Parade
Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip | Hard Parade
Healthy Pea & Edamame Dip | Hard Parade
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June 20, 2014

Cucumber Gazpacho with Shrimp & Watermelon

Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
This is my absolute, number one favorite thing to make in the summer. It's easy to make (chop, blend, mix, chill), there is barely any stove action, and it is ridiculously delicious. It is my go-to; I seriously cannot get enough. Cooling cucumber and watermelon comes together with warm, citrusy shrimp and explodes with flavor. You can easily make this soup vegetarian by omitting the shrimp. If you're not a watermelon fan (what?!), you can substitute another melon like honeydew or cantaloupe. I like to go in for seconds and thirds or serve it as a main course, so I at least double, if not triple, the recipe.

Cucumber Gazpacho with Shrimp & Watermelon
Serves: 4 first course servings
Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
Ingredients:
  • 4 large cucumbers, coarsely chopped - 1/4 cucumber left aside for garnish
  • 4 scallions, coarsely chopped, plus more for marinating shrimp
  • 1 cup chopped chives, mint, dill, basil - basically whatever green herbs you have
  • 1 piece ginger (about 1 inch), coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • 1/4 pound large shrimp, cleaned and cooked then diced - leaving aside a few shrimp whole for garnish
  • 1 cup diced seedless watermelon, cantaloupe, or honeydew
  • Lime juice
Directions:
Dice 1/4 cucumber and 1/4 cup watermelon and combine in a small bowl. Set aside for later. In a food processor, combine rest of cucumber, scallions, herbs, ginger, and garlic and process until smooth
Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
Add yogurt and olive oil, combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper and hot sauce. Transfer the soup to an airtight container and refrigerate until chilled, at least an hour.
Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
While the soup is chilling, peel and clean the shrimp and marinate them in olive oil, lime juice, scallions, salt, and pepper. Let the shrimp marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
Sauté the marinated shrimp in a little olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat until they turn pink and begin to curl, about 1 minute per side. Leaving a few shrimp aside, dice the rest of the shrimp into small pieces and combine with HALF of the chopped cucumber and watermelon mixture. Fold into the chilled soup. Divide the soup evenly into bowls and top with the other half of the chopped cucumber and watermelon mixture. Place whole shrimp on top and serve immediately!
Cucumber Gazpacho | hardparade.blogspot.com
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June 19, 2014

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jam

Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Panna cotta is light, delicious, and sneakily decadent (okay, not SO sneakily - there's heavy cream in it). It's a sweet treat that I don't always think to make but am always thrilled to have made when I do. This version takes it up several notches with tangy buttermilk. I know buttermilk is usually in savory dishes but it pairs perfectly with sweet and slightly tart strawberry jam. It's like a lightweight cheesecake in a glass! You can always double the jam and spread it on buttery toast or dip right into it with a spoon, mmmmm.....

Buttermilk Panna Cotta with Strawberry Jam
Recipe modified from Bon Appétit
Serves 6
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Ingredients - Panna Cotta:
  • 1 1/4 tsp unflavored powdered gelatine
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup crème fraîche (or sour cream)
Directions - Panna Cotta:
Place 1/4 cup cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin over, let stand until softened. Meanwhile, combine cream, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both seeds and pod to the saucepan.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Bring to a simmer, add softened gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Remove the mixture from the heat and let it cool. Remove the vanilla pod from the mixture, whisk in the buttermilk and then the crème fraîche.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Divide the mixture into jars, ramekins, or glasses. Chill until set, at least 2 hours.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Ingredients - Strawberry Jam:
  • 12 oz. strawberries, halved and hulled
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp unflavored powdered gelatin
Directions - Strawberry Jam:
Place half the strawberries and all the sugar in a medium heatproof bowl. Stir to combine and cover with plastic wrap. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook without stirring until the mixture looks pale and soft, about 45 minutes.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup. Pro tip: if you push the mixture through, the jelly will be cloudy. Let it drain through on its own. Discard the strawberries and add water, if needed, so the liquid measures about 1 cup.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Place 2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatine over, letting stand until softened. Meanwhile, bring the strawberry liquid to a boil. Add the rest of the strawberries and cook, stirring occasionally until tender. Remove from heat then add the softened gelatine and stir until dissolved. Set jelly aside and let it cool completely.
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
Top the chilled panna cotta with jelly, dividing equally. Cover and chill until the jelly is firm, about 2.5 hours. Grab a spoon and go to town - you'll end up eating it in under two minutes flat. I think this buttermilk panna cotta can be eaten for breakfast or dessert. You can always divide it into mason jars so you can lid it and take it on the go! This treat would make anyone's AM commute better. 
Buttermilk Panna Cotta Topped with Strawberry Jam | hardparade.blogspot.com
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June 17, 2014

Watermelon-Ginger Popsicles

Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com
Hot child, summer in the city - it's starting to get sticky, sweaty, gross up in Boston! An icy cold sweet treat is just what I need to cool down and popsicles are one of the best parts of summer, right? I feel like a kid again when the sun is streaming and a tasty, tart popsicle is dripping down my hand. These popsicles are delicious with a nice spicy kick from the fresh ginger and are a good way to get a sweet fix while keeping it pretty healthy. I wouldn't mind adding a little mezcal to them for an adult version...

Watermelon-Ginger Popsicles
Recipe modified from Bon Appétit
Makes about 10 popsicles
Special equipment needed: popsicle molds
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1/4 cup plain, fat-free Greek yogurt 
  • 1 tbsp finely grated peeled ginger
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
Directions:
Purée watermelon, yogurt, ginger, salt, sugar, and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Add more sugar and lime juice if desired, to taste.
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com
Divide the purée amongst the molds
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com

Freeze until the mixture begins to set, about an hour then stir the mixture in the molds with a knife. Insert mold sticks.
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com

Freeze until solid, at least five hours. When ready to eat, run the mold briefly under water to release the popsicle.
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com
Watermelon Ginger Popsicles | hardparade.blogspot.com
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June 16, 2014

Shakshuka: Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
I'm head over heels about eggs so I like finding new ways of cooking them. This traditional dish comes from many places but at its core, shakshuka is eggs poached in a fragrant tomato sauce. Usually, it's served for breakfast but I could eat this dish for every single meal! Serve it with pita bread for dipping and shoveling its goodness into your mouth. 

Shakshuka
Recipe from Bon Appétit
Serves 4, PointsPlus: 9
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices, crushed by hand
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • Warm pita bread for serving
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425f and heat olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapenos, stirring occasionally until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 more minutes
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
Add the hand-crushed tomatoes and their juices, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes.
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle feta evenly over the sauce. Crack the eggs one at a time and place them in the sauce, spacing evenly apart. It's helpful to make small indentations where you want to put the eggs.
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
Transfer the skillet into the oven and bake until the whites of the eggs are just set and the yolks are still runny, about 5-8 minutes. Garnish with parsley and cilantro, serve with pita bread!
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
Shakshuka | hardparade.blogspot.com
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