Archive | August, 2012

Take Me Away, Chipotle-Sage Sweet Potato Fries!

On rare occasions, I run across a really incredible ingredient that transports me to a land far, far away where my troubles, stress and worries cease to exist.  Thanks to my assortment of truly inspired infused olive oils and boldly flavored vinegars from 11 Olives that arrived today – and the subsequent tasting orgy that unfolded in my kitchen – I joyfully floated to a magical fantasy kingdom where rivers flowed with a heavenly mango balsamic, dragonflies rested on puffy sherbet-colored clouds of blood orange olive oil, and lacy yellow flowers glistened with oh-so-delicate and fragrant white lemon balsamic vinegar. Heaven on earth! It was so divine that I had to invite my neighbor friends to come over and share the joy of this amazing tasting. They laughed at my giddy excitement over the phone, but when Martha and her daughter Kelsey arrived, they were soon exclaiming “OH MY GOD!!” and “you have to try this one – it’s insane and I’ve never tasted anything like it!” while their eyes bulged and their mouths filled with the divine flavors of these amazing oils and vinegars. I had 14 in all to taste. I know, I know, I have absolutely no self control. But after talking with the owner and maker of the artisinal barrel-aged balsamics and infused olive oils, and hearing his passion for food and the beautiful flavors he’s concocted, I couldn’t help myself. My only regret is that I didn’t buy more flavors! (Check out their menu at http://www.11Olives.com. To purchase, contact the owner, Rick – he’s super cool and a very nice uber-foody – at info@11olives.com or call 206-290-4856.)

I can’t decide my favorite combos yet – California lime olive oil with pomegranate vinegar, or mango vinegar with chipotle oil are the current frontrunners – so I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of cool recipes from me in the weeks to come! Kelsey came up with the first killer recipe, which I cheffed up tonight. It is delectable: sweet potato fries dressed with chipotle olive oil and fresh sage. The smoky chipotle flavor pairs beautifully with the rich, creamy tasty of sweet potatoes, the sage adds a unique and interesting depth and then there’s the slight kick of heat to finish it off. Oh my…when you try this, it may just sweep you away to that magical land of wondrous flavors and pure happiness. So don’t be surprised if you hear yourself saying: Take me away, chipotle-sage sweet potato fries!

Chipotle-Sage Sweet Potato Fries

Serves: 6
From fridge to table: 22 minutes

1 – 15 oz bag of frozen julienne cut sweet potato fries
15 large, fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3 tbsp chipotle olive oil from 11 Olives

Heat oven to 425. Place fries in a large bowl and toss well with sage and oil. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes (or until crispy and golden), tossing a couple of times while baking to ensure even browning and crisping. Serve plain – the flavor is so insanely good that you don’t need any dipping sauce at all. Enjoy!

Thanks for the inspiration, Kelsey, and also 11 Olives!

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Off-The-Vine Tomato Soup

Hello. My name is Cimeron and I’m a tomato addict. I ignored all the warning signs, like when I planted 18 tomatoes in my garden last spring. I convinced myself that it was normal and declared it would be a fun challenge to make use of all the tomatoes once harvest time rolled around. Little did I know that I’d have pounds and pounds and POUNDS of tasty, delectable tomatoes. John and I are utterly drunk on tomatoes! Perhaps it’s wrong to be addicted to garden-fresh tomatoes, but it tastes so right!

Even if it’s not raining tomatoes in your yard, you can still head to the farmer’s market and pick up some delicious tomatoes that are bursting with summer-fresh flavor. While my favorite way to eat them is raw so we can taste all their tangy, sweet, juicy goodness, this vibrant soup also highlights the bright, fresh flavor of ripe tomatoes. It’s so good that John always asks for seconds, and our friends request it frequently. There are some interesting secret ingredients that help the tomato flavor pop even more: ginger, orange zest and a hint of clove. Trust me on this: this is a mouth-wateringly good soup.

So get out to your garden and pick some fresh tomatoes, or pick up some vine-ripened flavor-bombs at your farmer’s market and prepare to feel your taste buds dance for joy!

Cimeron’s Off-the-Vine Tomato Soup

Serves: 4-6 as a meal, or 8 as a starter
From vine to table: about 30 minutes

3 tbsp olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
18 mid-sized tomatoes (between golf ball and baseball size) or 13 big suckers, chopped up
2 tbsp grated ginger (fresh ginger, peeled)
3.5 tbsp grated orange peel
A pinch of ground cloves
A big handful of fresh basil, chopped very finely
A handful of croutons

In a big pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until they’re see-through, which takes about 8 minutes or so. Add the orange peel, ginger and cloves, stirring/cooking for 2 minutes to release the fragrance and flavor of the additions. Then reduce heat to medium, toss in the tomatoes and cook – uncovered – until the tomatoes have broken down, which can take about 15-20 minutes. Be sure to stir them every now and then so they don’t stick to the bottom and burn. Turn off the heat and then with a stick blender, puree the soup. You could also use a blender or food processor, but since I hate to clean, I like to just put the stick blender right in the pot and go to town on it.  Season the soup with salt (preferably smoked sea salt if you have it) and pepper.  Serve the soup hot with some fresh basil on top and a couple of croutons. Enjoy!

 

The Boomerang: Honey Garlic Chipotle Corn on the Cob

Oh man, last week John experienced Operation Carnivore Reversion! The Big Green Egg (which is a crazy grill fad) and the overwhelming draw of his favorite childhood dishes cooked by his mother was just too much for him to resist. He OD’d on meat so badly that he actually boomeranged and requested a full slate of vegan meals this week. “I feel like my intestines need a scrub down. Bring on the vegetables,” he said. Since this is the first time he’s actually requested a vegan meal plan, I’m torn between being bummed about his drunk-on-meat stupor from last week, and being stoked about his newfound zeal for vegan food. Hmm, let’s focus on being stoked and plan some super tasty veggie dishes, shall we?
John usually isn’t inspired to eat many veggies, so that’s left me no choice but to develop a secret weapon: Honey Garlic Chipotle Spread. I put this slightly sweet, slightly savory, slightly smoky taste of heaven on fresh white corn on the cob. It is to die for. And it’s a total crowd pleaser, too! I’m telling you, it’s the only thing on earth that can possibly make corn on the cob taste better than it is on its own. And as John readily admits: “This spread makes people eat a lot more corn.”
So whether you’re looking for a super tasty way to dress up corn on the cob, trying to get someone to eat more veggies, or providing a vegan boomerang for someone who had a momentary meat orgy, this is the recipe for you. Enjoy!
Honey Garlic Chipotle Corn on the Cob
Serves: 8
From fridge to table: 11 minutes
8 ears fresh corn on the cob, shucked
1 tbsp chipotle sauce *
1/2 cup melted vegan butter spread (I like using Earth Balance)
(If your vegan butter spread is unsalted, add ½ tsp salt to the recipe)
1/3 cup honey
3 cloves garlic
* To make chipotle sauce, buy a can of “canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce,” which you’ll find in the Hispanic food aisle in grocery stores, and puree it in a food processor or blender. Freeze in ice cube trays for future use.
Bring a big huge pot of water to a boil. Toss in your husked ears of corn, cover and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 11 minutes for perfectly cooked corn that’s both crisp and tender.
Meanwhile, dump all the other ingredients in a food processor and puree. Once the corn is done, drain it and pat each ear dry, then brush the spread onto each ear. By the way, you can also make the spread several days in advance and refrigerate it. It firms up a bit in the fridge, but I think it makes it easier to get a thick coat of it onto the corn. When you’re ready to serve the corn, pass the extra spread around the table so people can put on extra as they’re eating – trust me, they’ll love it so much that they’ll want more.
By the way, if you want to make the flavors really pop and you’re willing to go to a little extra work, grill the corn in the husk, and rub the spread onto the corn kernels before you put the corn on the grill – it deepens the flavor a lot and it’s simply deeeelish!

I had to include this. Our cat, Mango, loves loves loves corn. When I’m not looking, he steals the entire cob off my plate. Now he gets his own corn, sans chipotle spread of course. Are we the only ones with cats who eat strange foods?