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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Black Plum Vinaigrette

Stone fruits are not only delicious and nutritious – high in antioxidants, fiber and potassium – but they are also being studied for their anticancer benefits.

A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that compounds called phenolic acids, extracted from Black Splendor plums and Rich Lady peaches, killed breast cancer cells but not normal cells in the laboratory. They also prevented cancer in animals.

Many fruits contain phenols but stone fruits like peaches and plums have especially high concentrations.

So celebrate plum season with this colorful and flavorful vinaigrette. I used black plums but you can use whatever plums you find fresh and local. Add the whole plum because most of the antioxidants are in the skin.

2 large black plums, roughly chopped, about 1 cup
1 heaping tbsp red onion
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
¼ cup red wine vinegar or umeboshi vinegar
Pinch sea salt
Ground peppercorn to taste

Add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Toss with your favorite salad greens, raw walnuts, cucumbers and crumbled goat cheese.

Reference:

Noratto G et al. Identifying peach and plum polyphenols with chemopreventive potential against estrogen-independent breast cancer cells. Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry. 2009 Jun 24;57(12):5219-26.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Health Food Lover: Mushroom Medicine

Dr. Cimperman was a recent guest on Health Food Lover, an Australian blog committed to nutritious and delicious foods.

Read her post on Mushroom Medicine and her recipe for Medicinal Mushroom Soup.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ratatouille with a Kick


GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Like my husband, this dish is from the south of France. His family introduced it to me long ago and it's been a favorite ever since. In August, the farmer's market is full of all the essential ingredients so I serve it up often. Ratatouille is a hit with vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike. It can be made a day or two in advance.

Ratatouille has a savory flavor with a slight sweetness from the red bell pepper and Vidalia onion. This version is also a little bit spicy, as the fresh chili peppers looked especially good at the farmer's market this week. The traditional version is made without chili pepper, so feel free to omit it. Or make a mild version by removing the seeds and membranes before you mince it.

This dish involves a lot of chopping, but you can do it as you go. While the onion is cooking, chop the vegetables in their order of appearance and add them as you chop them. I used a 1-inch dice, but if you want the dish to cook faster, use a smaller dice.

Ratatouille can make a main dish or accompany almost any protein. Last weekend I served it alongside wild grilled halibut, but shrimp, chicken or tempeh would also work well. Prepare any meat without fanfare, using only olive oil, sea salt and ground peppercorn. The ratatouille is the star here and doesn't need any competition.

Save any leftovers for Ratatouille Baked Eggs: Spoon re-heated ratatouille into ramekins, make an indentation and break an egg or two on top. Sprinkle the eggs with sea salt and ground peppercorn, then broil the dish until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Serve for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
1 large Vidalia onion, or other onion, about 3 cups chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground peppercorn
1 tbsp dried Herbes De Provence
1 medium eggplant chopped into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups
1 red chili pepper, or other color, minced
2 medium red bell peppers, or other color, chopped into 1-inch pieces, about 3 cups
2 large tomatoes chopped into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups
2 medium-small zucchini chopped into 1-inch cubes, about 3 cups
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped, to garnish

In the bottom of a large, heavy-bottom pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown and stick to the pan, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and continue cooking until it becomes aromatic. Do not burn the garlic.

Add the sea salt, peppercorn, Herbes De Provence, eggplant, chili pepper, bell pepper, tomato and zucchini. Cook until the vegetables have softened, formed a sauce and thickened, about 45 minutes or more.

Garnish with fresh basil and serve immediately.

If making it in advance, cool the finished ratatouille to room temperature, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to eat. Garnish the ratatouille with fresh basil just before you serve it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Peach Salsa with Grilled Wild Salmon

This fresh fruit salsa isn't what you expect.

It's full of Thai flavors: ginger, cilantro, scallion, chili and lime juice. They all work well with the peaches, which are seasonably sweet and juicy at the moment, and the wild salmon. But this salsa would also be a great condiment for other seafood dishes, chicken, duck, pork, tofu or organic whole grain corn chips.

I left the seeds in the chili pepper because I like my salsa spicy. If you prefer a more mild version, remove the seeds and membranes from the chili before you slice it.

1 large ripe peach, pitted and chopped into a small dice
3/4 tsp grated fresh ginger, or more to taste
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 red Thai chili pepper, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, about 1 lime
Sea salt
1 lb wild salmon fillets or steaks at room temperature, cut into 4 to 6 oz portions
Extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing

Add the peach, ginger, cilantro, scallion, chili, lime juice and a pinch of sea salt to a medium bowl. Toss to combine, taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Set the salsa aside to allow the flavors to fully develop, up to 2 hours at room temperature or longer in the fridge, covered, until ready to eat.

Preheat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Brush the salmon on both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the pieces of fish on the grill and cook until grill marks appear, about 4 to 5 minutes.

If using a grill pan, flip the salmon over, turn off the heat and allow it to finish cooking with residual heat.

If using an outdoor grill, flip the salmon over and place it on a cooler part of the grill to finish cooking.

After a few more minutes, when the salmon pieces are firm in the center, transfer them to a plate and serve immediately, with the peach salsa. Do not overcook.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Blueberry Yogurt Clafouti


This delicious dessert is a healthy alternative to blueberry pies that commonly contain a large amount of refined carbohydrates. My recipe contains no white flour or sugar. It is mostly fruit, yogurt, milk and eggs, and it calls for only small amounts of whole wheat flour and honey.

The texture is soft, between a custard and a pancake. Because you don’t have to bother with a crust, you can mix it up in minutes. Made ahead and served at room temperature, it’s a perfect picnic dessert.

Take advantage of the season now that blueberries are abundant, inexpensive, and perfectly ripe. Choose organic blueberries because this fruit is now on the list of the Dirty Dozen most contaminated produce items.

Organic butter or cold-pressed coconut oil for the baking dish
2 pints fresh blueberries
2/3 cup whole milk plain yogurt from grass-fed cows
2/3 cup whole milk from grass-fed cows
2 eggs from pasture-raised chickens
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup raw honey
Pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Coat a 10-inch round baking dish with butter or coconut oil to prevent the clafouti from sticking.

Wash the blueberries and pick them over to remove any stems or bad berries. Arrange them in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. 

Whisk together the yogurt, milk, eggs, honey and sea salt until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and whisk again until smooth. Do not over-mix. Pour the mixture over the blueberries.

Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the clafouti is puffed up and golden brown and a clean knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before serving.