Mexican Cauliflower Tacos: Who Knew?

Cauliflower whaaaa???

Yeah, I hear that.

So I’ll let the photos do the talking.

So.

Total deliciousness, that’s what.

Beyond fabulous flavor, the “why” is pretty obvious, too.

These cruciferous-filled tacos are more nutritious and planet-friendlier than most of their meat-centric cousins given they’re composed of, well, cauliflower. My favorite white-headed crucifer is crazy low in calories and sublime when roasted. Tossing it with poblano, jalapeño, and chipotle peppers alongside tomatoes and pinto beans led to my creation of Mexican cauliflower, the inspiration behind today’s tacos and one helluva side dish.

All I did here was stuff that spicy mixture into a soft whole wheat tortilla—if you’ve not yet made the switch to whole grain products, do learn more why you should here—and topped it with diced avocado and cilantro. A scatter of cheese, spoonful of sour cream, and dice of onions add even more oomph.

And because who doesn’t love tacos?

Like this? Try my meaty meatless tacos or my lobster tacos with mango salsa. Or just click here to see a photo and recipe round-up of some of my Mexican favorites. And thanks for reading!

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Mexican Cauliflower: Hot and Healthy

Mexican Cauliflower and PeppersAh, roasted cauliflower. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Cauliflower in three colors, a work of edible art? Check. Sicilian style? Check. Smashed? Check. Indian curried? Check. Soup? Quadruple check: simple roasted, artichoke and leek, broccoli, and pesto parmigiana.

And I’ve even created a Super Bowl version where I drenched cauliflower with buffalo sauce and served it with blue cheese dressing.

Today, one of my favorite crucifers goes South of the Border when it’s dressed up all pretty with tomatoes, peppers, and pinto beans, a spicy side dish bursting with fiery Mexican flavors. And, no, this wasn’t planned specially for my recent “Bring on the Heat” series, but it certainly fits the bill with its three different varieties of peppers (poblano, jalapeño, and chipotle): watch the quantities as you go, taste often, and make it as hot—or not—as you like!

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 2 medium heads of cauliflower, broken or chopped into chunks (about 10 cups)
  • ~1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup poblano pepper, chopped (or a combination of poblano and green bell)
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño, finely minced (discard seeds if you fear heat)
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo (1 of the chopped chipotle, 1 of just the sauce, or more of both if you want it even hotter)
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, unsalted (about 5 cups chopped; if using fresh you may want to add additional canned tomato sauce)
  • 2/3 cup pinto beans
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 cup beer (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish

Instructions

Roast the cauliflower. Chop the crucifer and season with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast in a hot oven as directed here.

Roasted Cauliflower | PKWay

Sauté the vegetables and aromatics. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat the oil over medium and cook the onion and peppers until softened, about 6 minutes. Mix in the garlic, seasonings, and salt until fragrant, about 45 seconds.

Mexican Cauliflower Veggies

Stir in tomatoes and beans. Pour in the canned tomatoes and beans and mix to combine, taking care not to crush the beans, then stir in the lime juice and beer. Simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. (Note that if you are using fresh tomatoes you will need to allow an extra 20 minutes or so for the raw tomatoes to cook and break down.)

Mexican Cauliflower Tomatoes

Fold in the roasted cauliflower. Stir the cauliflower and cilantro into the tomato mixture until everything comes together. Taste and reseason with salt, pepper, spices, and chipotles as desired.

Mexican Cauliflower | PKWayServe and enjoy. A scatter of cilantro (fresh coriander) brightens the dish and makes the colors pop, too.

Mexican Cauliflower | PK Newby

* * * * *

Mexican CauliflowerThis blog post is dedicated to my faithful and fabulous Facebook fans, many of whom begged for the recipe after drooling over my dinner last weekend. If you’re not a fan already, I’d love it if you gave my page a like here, where you’ll see daily updates on what I’m eating and drinking and learn the latest food(ie) and nutrition news.

I hope you all enjoy this incredibly tasty recipe, and do stay posted for how I put this spicy side dish to work in some inspired leftovers.

Like, say, cauliflower tacos...

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Chile Peppers Bounty | PKWay

Shakshuka (Eggs in Purgatory): Perfect for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner

Shakshuka (Eggs in Purgatory) | PK WaySome Americans may not be familiar with shaksh(o)uka, a spicy egg dish commonly consumed in the Middle East and North Africa. In the US and England shakshuka is sometimes referred to as “eggs in purgatory,” and the seasoning can tend toward Italian rather than Middle Eastern. My version keeps with the traditional flavors and features harissa, a key ingredient that packs on the heat. (And, yes, you can use a high-quality store-bought harissa if you don’t feel like making your own.) Of course, as with all things I share with you, the key is to get healthy dishes like this into your life in a way that works for you, so include herbs that tickle your fancy and turn up the heat as hot as you’d like.

Whatever you call it, whichever spices you choose, however fiery you make it, the result is always delicious—because what isn’t glorious about eggs gently poached in a richly flavored tomato sauce?

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup poblano pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1/2-1 jalapeño pepper, finely minced (remove seeds if desired)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to season vegetables
  • 2 teaspoons harissa
  • 3/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
  • Big pinch dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, either canned or fresh, with their liquid
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup white beans
  • 2 eggs
  • Chopped parsley (for garnish)

Instructions

Heat the olive oil over medium in a saucepan then add the onions and peppers, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic, harissa, and paprika until fully coated and fragrant, about 45 seconds. Mix in tomatoes, water, and white beans to combine and simmer over low heat until somewhat thickened, about 10 minutes. Taste and reseason with salt, pepper, and spices as desired.

Shakshuka Sauce

Create a small ditch in the sauce for each egg (make sure you can’t see the bottom of the pan, though). Crack egg into the hole, cover the pan, and simmer over low heat 3-5 minutes.

Raw Egg in Shakshuka

Cook until the egg whites are firm and the yolk is cooked to your desire. (Runny is best, to allow the warm yolk to mingle with the tomato sauce.)

Poached Egg in Purgatory

Spoon the sauce with one egg each into a bowl, sprinkle with parsley, and serve immediately. An extra sprinkle of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil never hurt, either.

Note: The recipe as written will provide sauce for about two one-egg meals. For larger portions, serve two eggs per person. Double or triple the ingredients as written and make it in a large frying pan to serve a crowd.

* * * * *

Cooking & Eating Notes

I love making shakshuka in the summer, when fresh tomatoes, peppers, and herbs abound at the local farmers markets. Happily, however, canned tomatoes do a fine job—and in some ways are even better because the dish will come together a lot sooner rather than waiting for fresh tomatoes to break down and thicken. Either works!

Those familiar with the dish might note the unusual addition of white beans to my recipe. Most people don’t consume enough legumes for their health, and white beans pair beautifully with tomatoes. The beans add a pleasing texture contrast to the dish and also increase its satiating power due to the extra fiber and protein, which help you to feel full (hence manage your weight). Play around with the ingredients to suit your own palate; I sometimes include thinly sliced fennel for a fun change. Many people top shakshuka with crumbled feta or parmesan, which would obviously be delicious though I don’t find the cheese necessary to the dish.

I adore tomatoes and tomato sauce of all kinds, from Italian to Indian, so it will come as no surprise to my regular readers that shakshuka fits perfectly into my repertoire. Another reason I love this dish so much is because it’s perfect any time of day. I made this recipe as part of a recent interview on the science of breakfast to showcase the savory side of morning eating. Yet in my world, this dish is much more likely to appear on my supper table, perhaps with whole wheat pita or crusty whole grain bread and a salad to complete the meal. Eggs make a delectable dinner—quick, too!—and they appear on my evening menu in some way almost weekly. A few sliced oranges and pomegranates add a sweet and pretty note to your meal.

Shakshuka (Eggs in Purgatory) | PK Newby

Breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner, whenever you choose to make shakshuka you are sure to please your tastebuds—and you can feel especially good about all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrrients you’re giving your body in this nutritious and satisfying plant-based meal.

And I think it goes without saying that it’s definitely a better choice than a donut.

Want to hear me talk more about shakshuka, and the science of breakfast in general? Click here to listen to the interview on Gastropod and read the article. 

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Bring on the Heat (Part 3): Vietnamese Soup with Red Curry and Coconut

Vietnamese Noodle SoupI didn’t plan to write three posts in a row dedicated to spicy foods, really. But after two weeks of being sick I’m anxious to get back to regular life, and that means sharing recipes with you here on my blog. And I adore spicy dishes featuring global flavors so this was a great opportunity to reconnect about foods that I love.

Part 3 of my spicy trifecta takes me to Vietnam, where I bring you one of my all-time favorite soups. I first created this meal-in-a-bowl in 2012, and I hope you’ll read the story of its origins. So enamored am I with this dish that I also created a video. If you are a visual learner (or just like watching me cook), then please do check it out; I also talk about why my version here is more nutritious and better for the environment than its meaty third cousin. Yet the time was long past due to write out the full recipe for you.

And I’ve got to admit, with the additional tweaks I’ve made over the past several years this soup is even better now than it was then.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 8 cups cubed)
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons olive or grapeseed oil (divided)
  • Sea salt, black pepper, white pepper (to season squash)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemongrass, finely minced (about two 3-inch stalks)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic (about 4 large cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1-2 Thai red chiles, finely minced (optional) (or 1 small habanero)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock, homemade or low-sodium store-bought
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
  • 1-2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili paste (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha
  • 1-2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate, dissolved in 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1-2 teaspoons fish sauce (omit for a vegan version)
  • 3-4 Kaffir lime leaves, fresh or dried (omit if you can’t find)
  • Brown rice noodles, about 4 ounces
  • Salt, pepper, white pepper, lime juice (for reseasoning)
  • Thai basil, for garnish (or cilantro, if unable to find Thai basil)
  • Chopped peanuts, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

Roast squash. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Peel and seed squash and cut in cubes. Place on a large baking sheet, drizzle with about 1-2 teaspoons oil and season liberally with sea salt, white pepper, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat with your fingers. Roast in the oven approximately 20 minutes, or until soft, tossing halfway through.

Prepare soup base. In the meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large soup pot over medium heat and add onion, celery, red pepper, and lemongrass. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add squash and mix with vegetables and aromatics until coated, then add 4 cups vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes. Taste; this is a basic but great stew as is, if you want to stop right here then use the leftovers to make the soup another day.

Blend soup. Use a hand blender to create a thick purée. Taste. This too is a fine dish on its own: roasted butternut squash soup with mild southeast Asian flavors, a very gentle introduction to the cuisine. But if you continue building, you’ll see this soup grow and develop in complexity.

Season to taste with remaining ingredients. Stir in 2 cups coconut milk and all seasonings and lime leaves and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until hot. Taste. I often add the additional quantities of chili paste, curry paste, and tamarind for a bolder flavored, spicier soup. You should omit the chili paste and sriracha altogether or add sparingly if you are sensitive to heat. And by all means add additional chile peppers if you want, or cayenne, for extra kick. (You can add a bit of honey or palm sugar for balance if you need a little extra sweetness, though it’s usually not necessary with butternut squash. If you made this same recipe with pumpkin or other squashes, which also works well, you’ll need the sweetener.)

Add rice noodles and protein of choice. Soften rice noodles according to package directions until al dente. Once soup is seasoned to your liking, add noodles and stir to combine. Additional chopped and sautéed bell peppers add color and texture. I also often add garbanzo beans (chick peas), bay scallops, tofu, or shrimp to this soup to boost the flavor and nutrient content. (The version below shows peppers, shrimp, and scallops.)

Garnish the soup with chopped peanuts and/or fresh herbs. (It’s hard to find Thai basil, but definitely do if you can—it adds more authentic flavor than cilantro. As you can see, I did not have any the day I made this soup, alas.)

Vietnamese Soup with Shrimp and ScallopsMakes approximately 10 cups of soup.

* * * * *

One of my disappointments in leaving The Taste was that I didn’t get to show off much of my repertoire, which as my regular readers know spans the globe in a way different from the other cooks on the show. I definitely would have used this soup base in some dish or another to wow the judges. I’m quite certain Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, and Marcus Samuelsson in particular would have devoured it given their fondness for curries. As importantly, this dish brings together so many of my passions, a spicy-sweet bowl of comforting goodness that stars plants, protects the planet—and it’s especially perfect in the cold winter months.

And, of course, it’s out-of-this-world delicious.

I send it to you with love.

This is the third in my three-part series dedicated to “Bring the Heat,” where I shared a few spicy favorites. Part I is a recipe for green curry paste and part 2 is harissa, spicy sauces that I’ll feature in upcoming dishes. Stay tuned! (And don’t worry, I promise to stop talking about The Taste once the season ends.)

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Bring on the Heat (Part 2): Harissa

Harissa Sauce | PKWayI may not be competing in tonight’s “Bring on the Heat” episode of The Taste on television, but things are definitely getting hot here in my own kitchen. I kicked things off with yesterday’s recipe for green curry paste, a favorite in Thai cooking. Today I’m traveling to another distant part of the globe and using a different variety of chile to light my culinary fire.

Harissa is a common ingredient in North African and Middle Eastern cooking. Like its spicy Thai cousin, this bold sauce (or paste) can also be used to season a wide variety of dishes. And it’s hot, which should be obvious from its major ingredient, chile peppers.

There are so many chile cultivars from which to choose that I’ll let you make your own decision which you use in this recipe depending on your preference for heat. (Though they should be red, obviously.) And if you’re really into chiles—or are a science geek like me—then you can read all about Capsicum to your heart’s desire at the Chile Pepper Institute.

Or, you can just learn empirically by jumping right in to make this recipe.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 large red pepper, roastedChile Peppers | PKWay
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, rough chop (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, rough chop
  • 2-4 red chile peppers, rough chop (remove seeds if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch dried mint
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)

Instructions

Heat a frying pan over low and add the coriander, cumin, and caraway, toasting until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool for a few minutes before crushing them with either a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.

Add the olive oil to a pan over medium-low heat and sauté the onion, garlic, and chile peppers until very soft, deepened in color, and somewhat caramelized, about 15 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and continue to caramelize another 10 minutes or so. (Don’t rush it—caramelization is an important flavor of the paste. And, honestly, I should have done it longer, which would have created a darker and smokier paste. So, do that.)

Whiz the peppers, spices, vegetables, and remaining ingredients together in a food processor until smooth. Taste. Drizzle in additional olive oil as needed and tweak the heat with crushed red pepper flakes, as desired.

Store in an airtight container covered with a thin film of olive oil.

Make about 2/3 cup, which will last for weeks in the fridge and freezes beautifully.

Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi. Follow directions here for roasting a red pepper or use a high-quality store-bought version.

* * * * *

As I also mentioned in yesterday’s piece on green curry, you should always be prudent when making spicy foods, starting with the lower amount of chiles and going from there. Both of these pastes should even be a bit hotter than you would normally like, because they will be diluted once they’re added to your dish. But proceed with caution even so: the flavors mellow only somewhat, and you can always add more heat later, but you can’t go back.

Harissa Paste | PKWay

Furthermore, please do wear gloves when handling chile peppers, especially when working with the hottest varieties. I have had a number of unfortunate incidents involving flaming fingertips where I foolishly ignored my own advice. One of those times I spent half the night with my hands plunged into an ice bath for hours on end. My hands were literally on fire.

Well, not literally, but, man, did that hurt. And not in a “hurts so good” kind of way like the pleasant burn of eating super spicy food. More in a “Holy $!&%, I can’t believe how much pain I’m in!”

So. Bring on the heat, indeed.

But keep it in the food, not on your extremities.

Also: I so would have won tonight’s challenge.

Note: This is Part 2 in a three-part series. Part 1 is here, and part 3 is here.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Chile Peppers Bounty | PKWay

Bring on the Heat (Part 1): Green Curry Paste

Thai Vegetable Green Curry | PKWay

Green curry with eggplant, broccoli, and rice noodles is just one way to use this paste. Thai basil is a beautiful garnish.

When it comes to take-out, Thai food is right behind sushi at my house. But my ordering-in days have dwindled considerably as I turn to my own kitchen to make my favorites at home. Think: Pad Thai and Thai salad with spicy peanut dressing. My versions are much tastier and more authentic—not to mention more nutritious.

You might be wondering, “What does this white chick know about authentic Thai food?” I heat that. Yet, I have had the good fortune to expand my cooking skills and palate greatly after traveling to many different parts of the world, Thailand among them. I spent several weeks backpacking around the country, sampling all kinds of different foods. (Though I did pass on the roasted guinea pig at the local market—which was whole, by the way.) And I took a wonderful class at the Sompet Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai where I learned to make many traditional dishes, including green curry.

Green curries can be made using a varied array of vegetables and proteins, but green curry paste is the key ingredient, as the name implies. My version uses a modern food processor rather than a traditional mortar and pestle. I did do the whole thing by hand in Thailand and it’s kind of a lame move to use a food processor, I’ll admit. But I just didn’t have a large enough pestle (or is it mortar?) to fit all of the ingredients and, if we’re being honest, didn’t really feel like it. If you’re up to the task—and/or have some inherent aggression that needs an outlet—grab your stone tools and get mashing.

Whatever kitchen aid you employ, making curry paste is a great cooking project, and it’s time well spent since it keeps in the refrigerator for weeks and freezes beautifully. That means home-cooked curries are even faster than take-out.

And way, way more delicious.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons shrimp paste
  • 10-15 Thai green chili peppers
  • 1 cup shallots, rough chop
  • 3 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled, rough chop
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1-2 Kaffir limes, quartered (the whole fruit, substitute regular)
  • 1 cup cilantro, stems and leaves
  • 3 pieces lemongrass, fresh, rough chop (white and light green parts only)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, crushed
  • 4 chili leaves (if you can find them)

Instructions

1. Heat the coriander and cumin sees in a frying pan for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.  Place all ingredients into a food processor (or use a mortar & pestle).

Green Curry Ingredients

2. Blend everything together until a chunky paste forms. Taste and add more chiles if desired.

Green Curry Paste | PKWay

Makes about 2 cups.

* * * * *

There’s nothing difficult about this recipe other than making sure you have the right ingredients; a high-quality supermarket or the Asian food store will have most of them and there are common options if you can’t find indigenous varieties.

Also, making sure your curry paste isn’t inedibly spicy.

The flavors will become diluted somewhat in your final dish, when the curry is combined with other elements (like coconut milk). But you can always add more heat to whatever you’re making later on so be careful when making the paste; you can’t go back.

On a somewhat ironic closing note, my readers and students know that I am a realist and so I will happily confess that I still keep a selection of high-quality curry pastes in my pantry (green, red, yellow, and the like). Making a paste is easy, but it does require a lot of ingredients—which doesn’t always align with my curry cravings. I’ve gotten better about keeping a batch in the freezer for exactly this reason, but I’m glad to have those handy little store-bought jars on hand in case I need them.

And, while I’m no longer competing on The Taste, I would have definitely featured this curry paste in the “Bring on the Heat” challenge to knock the mentors’ socks off.

Just sayin’.

Note: This is Part 1 in a three-part series. Part 2 is here, and part 3 is here.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

 

Sherried Sweet Potato and Crab Bisque: A Sublime Soup

Sweet Potato Crab BisqueYesterday I promised that roasted sweet potatoes would be the beginning of many delectable dishes. True to my word, today I bring you sherried sweet potato and crab bisque, a luscious soup that combines comfort and elegance in one bowl.

I first developed this recipe a few years back from leftover butternut squash soup, and the story of its origins is worth reading.

But if you don’t care about any of that, you can just pour yourself a glass of sherry, grab your potatoes, and get cooking.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 5 sweet potatoes (enough for 4 cups chopped)
  • Olive oil, sea salt, and pepper, for seasoning potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup leeks, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage, dried
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 cup lump crab meat, packed (8 ounces), picked over for shells
  • 2/3-1 cup cream (how creamy do you like it?)
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, fresh
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry, to taste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sage, minced, fresh (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon honey (optional)
  • Sea salt and white pepper, to reseason

Instructions

1. Roast sweet potatoes, as described here. (I recommend white pepper to season the potatoes for this recipe rather than black pepper, but it’s not all that important.)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2. Heat oil over medium heat then sauté leeks, celery, carrot, and peppers until soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add chopped garlic and herbs and mix until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze the pan with sherry then add roasted sweet potatoes and stir to combine. (The mixture is already delicious, I’d like to note.)

Sweet Potatoes

3. Pour in 7 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add additional white pepper and salt, stir, then turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Give the soup a taste. You could stop right here and you’ll have a wonderfully tasty sweet potato soup all on its own.

Sweet Potato Soup | PKWay4. Use a hand blender to purée the soup into a thick mixture, adding the additional cup of stock to thin if desired. (This version is also delightful. Try it!)

Sweet Potato Bisque5. Stir in crab, cream, and sherry and simmer an additional 10 minutes, until the alcohol mellows. Mix in fresh thyme and sage and simmer an additional 5 minutes. Reseason with salt and white pepper to suit your palate, adding honey if needed to balance the flavors.

Sherried Crab Bisque Makes about 12 cups of soup.

* * * * *

As I mentioned above—but it’s worth repeating—you could stop at step 3 (or 4) for a lower-calorie, broth-based (vegan) sweet potato soup sans cream and crab. Had I not been developing this recipe, I probably would have; it really hit the spot. If you like it, too, you could serve either of those versions one night for supper and make the bisque from the leftovers, sort of like I did when I first made it. Always good when a recipe does double-dinner duty, after all—and that doesn’t even include portions that can be frozen for another occasion.

Oh, and do go ahead and reserve some extra crab and perhaps a few thin slices of red pepper and some fresh herbs for garnish. This soup absolutely deserves a beautiful presentation. Unfortunately, I neglected to save any, so my photo is unaccessorized.

But garnish or no garnish, I adore this soup.

And I hope you do, too.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

Copyright © 2015 P.K. Newby. The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes: The Beginning of Beautiful Things

Roasted Sweet Potatoes Close-upHardly the electrifying entrance to my 2015 blogging that I had planned, especially given my recent television-worthy recipes and enormous backlog of incredible dishes I have in store for you. Not to mention everyone is thinking about diet and weight, just like every other January—and I’ve got a few pieces in the works on that topic, too, since that’s my area of expertise.

But the flu got the better of me, alas, and I’ve been out of commission since the first of the year. I’m getting back into the swing slowly, and today’s short piece is perfect for my energy level and your schedule (since I’ll bet you’ve been inundated since returning to work after the holidays).

So let’s all start out nice and easy, shall we? A couple of instructions, a few photos, and before you know it you’re enjoying scrumptious roasted sweet potatoes, fabulous on their own and featured in many delectable things I’ll be writing about very soon.

* * * * *

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. While the oven is warming, wash and cut the tubers into whatever size makes you happy. Leave the skin on, for goodness’ sake! Adds fiber and texture and reduces food waste.

Sweet Potatoes | PKWay

2. Scatter the potatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper; freshly ground black is great, or white pepper is nice for a change. Mix with your fingers to ensure even coating.

Sweet potatoes Pre-Roast

3. Roast until tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 15-20 minutes (depending on size), tossing half-way through; some will have gorgeous brown color, caramelized goodness.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

* * * * *

Sure, the holidays are over, but sweet potatoes can be enjoyed throughout the colder months in oh-so-many ways. Lucky for me, I can even buy lovely local varieties from my winter farmers market right through April. And, as with most veggies, roasting at high temperatures brings out the best flavor. (Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are the exemplars, and asparagus is darn good, too.)

A sweet potato has about 175 calories and 6 grams of fiber, and it’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene out there, which is the plant form of vitamin A so important for vision. It also provides a whole bunch of other good stuff like vitamin C and many of the B vitamins in addition to minerals like manganese and copper. A root vegetable, Ipomoea batatas are higher in calories and starch than many other veggies so they’re not on my everyday menu like leafy greens and crucifers, say. Yet they can certainly be enjoyed as part of a healthy, energy-balanced diet. This recipe couldn’t be simpler, and they’re wonderful out of the oven as is: I challenge you to stop popping them into your mouth directly off the baking sheet.

But just wait until you see some of my favorite ways to use these orange beauties.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve really got to get back to bed.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

© 2015 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Red Wine Poached Pears with Goat Cheese Cream & Candied Pistachios | What I Made on The Taste

Poached Pears on The Taste | PK WayWhen the “Happy Holidays” challenge was announced on The Taste, I immediately thought: Lobster! Duck! Roast beef! Turkey!

Well, not really, since I don’t eat the latter three things on that list. Though I did briefly consider making lobster, which I completely adore; my lobster bisque is one of my all-time favorite dishes on the blog, hands down. (Meeting the meat not required.)

Rather, I decided to make my red wine spiced poached pears, which allowed me to showcase the healthier side of holiday eating and my love of French cuisine. It’s always a risk doing sweets on the show since the chefs generally prefer savory. But poached pears are not a sticky, sugary dessert—and my version even less so given its pairing with tangy goat cheese cream, tart blackberries, and spicy-sweet candied pistachios.

A beautiful and elegant addition to your holiday table, poached pears boast the seasonal colors and flavors that everyone loves. And they smell absolutely divine while cooking. But don’t get me wrong, now: I love my Christmas cookies, just like everyone else (and you can visit my recipes page for those). Go ahead, serve some on the side if you wish. Yet, I find that poached fruit hits the perfect note at the end of a meal, especially welcomed amidst the heavy eating of the holidays. It’s a special dessert that really is one of my favorite things to make at Christmas.

I hope you love it, too, and I wish you all the best for a season filled with love and laughter, joy and peace.

* * * * *

Ingredients

  • 6 pears, ripe but firmSpiced Poached Pears | PK Way
  • 1 bottle red Zinfandel wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 star anise
  • 10 green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 12 blackberries
  • Lime, zested, for garnish
  • Goat cheese cream
  • Candied pistachios

Instructions

1. Prepare the pears. Use a knife to crush the cardamom pods (the shells should break but not fall apart). Bring wine, sugar, spices, and salt up to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. (Ruby Port also works well in this recipe, but you’ll need less sugar in that case.) In the meantime, peel pears. Whether you slice the pear or keep it whole is up to you: I like cutting them to maximize the surface area between the fruit and wine, but a single small pear left whole, like a Seckel, makes a stunning presentation. It just depends on the event, my mood, and which variety I find that determines what I do. If you do slice them, remove the seeds using a 1/2 teaspoon. I used Comice in this recipe, since those looked the best at the market. They are big pears, hence the quarters (really, sixths).

Peeled Pears | PK Way

2. Poach the pears. Place the pears in the poaching liquid and simmer for about 15-30 minutes. Time varies depending on the size of the pear and how firm/ripe it was to begin with. Watch carefully, since you don’t want them to become baby food. (Unless you have a baby. But they probably shouldn’t be eating this dish). When a sharp knife is easily inserted, you’re good to go. By all means, give one a taste to make sure.

Poached Pears | PK Way

When the pears are cooked, remove them from the liquid. If I’m in a rush to serve them, I will sometimes put them in the fridge for a bit to cool down. These are best enjoyed at room temperature, though, so keep that in mind whenever you’re serving them. While the pears are cooling, turn up the heat and reduce the poaching liquid until it becomes a delectable sauce; you’ll know it’s ready once you have trouble stopping “tasting.”

3. Candy the pistachios. While the pears are poaching, make up a batch of spicy-sweet nuts following the recipe here. Or, better yet, make the nuts days in advance and store them in the refrigerator to ensure they stay crunchy.

Candied Pistachios with Spoon | PK Way

4. Whip the goat cheese cream. You need just four ingredients for this dreamy dessert topping, which takes less than 10 minutes to prepare. Follow the recipe here. (The lime zest is just for show since I’m using it in the dessert itself.) And do make sure the topping is at room temperature when serving, not cold, to maximize the taste and texture.

Goat Cheese Cream with Lime Zest | PK Way

5. Plate the dish. Place a few pears into a dessert bowl and spoon a tablespoon or so of the reduced poaching liquid onto the pears. (Don’t forget to strain the solid spices from the mixture; no need to ruin a perfectly lovely holiday gathering with having to perform the Heimlich.) Slice a few blackberries onto the pears, then dollop the cream atop the mixture. Finish with a zest of lime and a few candied pistachios.

Red Wine Poached Pears | PK Way

Serve, and wait for applause.

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.

Goat Cheese Cream (Dessert Topping) | What I Made on The Taste

Goat Cheese Cream | PK WayPoached fruit is one of my favorite desserts. Elegant and flavorful, beautiful and delicious. Easy on the waistline, too. Of course, the calories creep up once you start spooning on this dreamy topping. An intriguing alternative to whipped cream, this recipe mixes chèvre (goat’s cheese), mascarpone, and crème fraîche together to create the perfect complement to poached pears and other desserts. And it’s still a much lighter choice compared to, say, cheesecake.

So dollop away, and then see how I used this lusciousness in the dish I made on The Taste.

* * * * *

Ingredients

Instructions

Beat the chèvre for 5 or 6 minutes, until creamy. (Using a hand mixer is fine, but whatever). Mix in the crème fraîche and mascarpone until fully blended. Stir in honey, taste, and adjust ingredients as desired.

* * * * *

Clearly, this recipe could not be simpler given its got just four ingredients. And by all means don’t take the measurements too seriously. Use whatever proportions you please. The variant I made on The Taste stars chèvre to create an alternative dessert / mid-course / cheese course. I also thought that Chef Ludo Lefebvre would appreciate the goat cheese in particular—and I was right judging from the smile that crept across his face when he tasted my spoon. And you don’t necessarily need the creme fraiche, though I personally like the tang it brings to the mix to complement the sweet fruit. I’ve also made it before using mostly mascarpone, and there may have been rum or brandy involved in that version.

Goat Cheese Dessert Topping | PK Way

Oh, who are we kidding. I always spike this cream with something or other to flavor the cream (and teetotalers could just use vanilla extract).

So why not this time, you ask? Well, let’s just say sixty minutes is a lot shorter than it looks running around a television set under pressure.

Yet the proof’s in the pudding that it worked out even so.

Enjoy, and click on the photo below to go to the recipe for the rest of the dish.

Poached Pears and Goat Cheese Cream | PK Way

If you like what you see here at The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen, please subscribe to my blog from the home page, become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twittercheck out my food porn on Pinterest, watch my cooking videos on YouTube, and peruse my recipe page for soups, salads, seafood, sweets, and more.

Dr. P. K. NPK Newbyewby is a nutrition scientist and educator with expertise in the prevention of obesity and chronic diseases through diet and the relations between agriculture, food production, and public health. She brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability through writing and videos to help people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Her first book Foods for Health is onsale at local bookstores and here.

© 2014 The Nutrition Doctor is In the Kitchen. All Rights Reserved.