Golden Beets Salad with Figs and Ricotta

Spring can’t come fast enough outside but at least the produce I’m starting to see in the markets tell me it’s around the corner. I bought a pint of figs and thought about this great spring salad that’s usually matched with toasted kale. I used the mache I had in the fridge instead but feel free to use any mixed greens.

This is the first time I’ve ever peeled golden beets before roasting them. It was more work, but less messy later and it stops you from double-guessing if they are tender enough after 25 minutes in the oven. You can see they’re good to go since they’ve already been sliced.

When plating, act like you’re a chef on TV and smear the ricotta with the back of your spoon–it makes for a great presentation.

Ingredients:
4 small golden beets, peeled and cut into wedges
olive oil
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
mache, or any mixed greens
3 fresh figs, stemmed and sliced
a scoop of fresh ricotta
salt and pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 425º. Toss the beet wedges with some olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Spread them on a baking dish and roast until tender, about 25 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and the maple syrup. When the beets come out of the oven, toss them with some of the dressing. There should be some olive oil coating the beets. If not, drizzle a little more olive oil.
3. Assemble your salad. On a plate, smear a spoonful of fresh ricotta using the back of a spoon. Create a bed of greens and then top with the dressed beets. Add the figs and drizzle some more of the maple syrup-balsamic vinegar dressing all over for a little sheen. Season with some pepper and serve.

Homemade Blueberry Oatmeal Scones

I had a long weekend coming and I wanted to prepare for a lovely and slow Monday morning and thought of baking something the night before so I can leisurely enjoy breakfast the next day. I found this blackberry oatmeal scone recipe from 3191 Miles Apart and adapted it using blueberries, the only frozen berries I had left in my freezer from all the smoothies I’ve been making myself in the mornings.

It also required 2 tbsps of milk but I only had almond milk handy so I used that knowing that a wee bit of a different kind of milk won’t make too much of a difference. For the plain whole milk yogurt, I just picked up a small cup of the regular Fage total Greek yogurt. Pulsing all the dry ingredients and then folding it in with the wet was sloppy, but I held them together with flour dustings and gently patted the dough down to make a semi-thin wheel before I sliced them into 8 beautiful pieces.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour, more for dusting
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsps unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 egg
2/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 tbsps almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
sugar for dusting

1. Preheat oven to 400». Add the oats, flours, sugar, zest, baking powder and soda, salt and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it resembles a coarse meal. Transfer to a mixing bowl and add blackberries, toss gently until blackberries are coated.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, milk and vanilla. Gently fold the wet ingredients into the blackberry mixture until just combined. Dough will be sloppy but take care not to crush the berries.
3. Transfer to a floured work space and gently pat out into a circle about half an inch thick. Cut into 8 pie-shaped wedges and carefully transfer each scone to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 14-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer baked scones on a wire tray and let rest.

Luvo

I called in sick for 3 days last week because of coughing attacks. I wasn’t feverish so I doubt it was full-on bronchitis, but I definitely felt very unsexy. Add that to the snowstorms we’ve been having here in New York City and it’s been a very taxing winter.

When Fast Company released their 2014 list of Most Innovative Companies, it included Luvo, a company that brought together chefs, nutritionists and doctors to come up with restaurant-quality food you can zap in your microwave or heat up in the oven. I was curious to try the food and how much different they could be from the lifeless quick meals I see a lot of co-workers heat up too often in the office. I was stuck at home with cabin fever and it was the perfect week to feed myself something quick without sacrificing the taste.

My favorite was the orange-mango chicken with green-tea infused whole grains and steamed kale and broccoli. I would usually forego whole grains, but in this case it gave the dish a really good chewy texture. I also tried the nine-grain pilaf with sweet chile beef and it also came with the sturdy kale and broccoli. (That’s the photo below and that’s how it looks like straight out of a heated pouch. Not bad, right?) It was so much better than the Chinese takeout beef you like but always feel guilty about. The chicken chili verde was also tasty and it came with polenta with pumpkin seeds; the black beans made it more savory.

All 3 definitely tasted more healthy than I am used to as far as lunch options go and it felt good to eat them especially when I was feeling under the weather. I was surprised at how green the vegetables were coming out of a pouch I heated up for half an hour in the oven–I do not have a microwave at home anymore–and how much color each dish had. The combination of ingredients may sound too good to be true but they work well together. My only complaint? I’m a growing girl and I needed 2 of these just for one sit-down lunch!

If the food quality is not enough for you, you have to commend the packaging: the box is made from 100% recyclable paperboard and the pouch contains unbleached paper from 20% pre-consumer waste; soy or waterless inks were used for printing to cut down on resources and pollution.

Related post/s:
Luvo is one of Fast Company’s 2014 Most Innovative Companies
Find out where to buy Luvo

Hwe Dup Bap, Korean Rice Bowl with Sashimi

This is more of a how-to assemble this rice bowl than a recipe, but Korean hwe dup bap is one of my comfort foods so I decided to put it up. Just like the Japanese chirashi, all you need is sashimi-grade fish on top of rice, and typical me, I put both versions together. I don’t have exact measurements either because I make the faux sushi rice per serving and I just estimate the right ratio of rice to the mirin-sugar-salt mixture.

Ingredients:
rice vinegar
white sugar
salt
white rice, freshly cooked
kochujang
soy sauce
sesame oil
nori, torn in smaller sheets
sashimi-grade tuna, sliced in manageable pieces
togarashi

1. Make the sushi rice. Combine the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. In a separate large bowl, combine your freshly cooked rice with the vinegar mixture and mix well.
2. Make the sauce. In another small bowl, combine the kochujang paste with soy sauce and sesame oil. Whisk to dilute the paste as much as possible.
3. Assemble your rice bowl. In a bowl with a serving of the rice, drizzle in the kochujang sauce and top with the tuna. Drizzle a little bit more sesame oil and sprinkle with togarashi. Serve with nori on the side.

Soba Noodles with Miso-Pickled Ginger Dressing

For the pickled ginger in this recipe, you can buy the pre-packaged ones from your Asian market–it’s the kind you eat with your sushi–or easily make your own if you have a few extra hours to marinate. I’ve included that recipe below just in case.

When assembling the dish, I tossed all the vegetables with the dressing first before I folded them in with the soba noodles because I didn’t want the noodles to break and get soggy. Serve this cold and you’ll have a nice salad to eat for your Meatless Whatever-Day of the week.

For the pickled ginger:

Ingredients:
1 large knob of ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 tsp salt

1. In a small pot, bring water to a boil. Then add the ginger and cook, stirring once or twice, to soften it, about 30 seconds. Drain the ginger in a strainer, separating the pieces with chopsticks so they drain well. Transfer the ginger to a bowl and let stand.
2. In another separate pot over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve, then increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Pour in the vinegar mixture to completely cover the ginger in the bowl. Let stand for a couple of hours, or overnight.

For the soba:

Ingredients:
2 tbsps white miso paste
2 bundles of soba noodles
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
pickled ginger
1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
2 scallions, chopped
1 sheet toasted nori, torn
2 tbsps toasted sesame seeds

1. Cook soba noodles according to package directions. Rinse under cold water, drain, and place in large colander.
2. Blend miso, sesame oil, rice vinegar, pickled ginger, and about 3 tbsps of water in a blender until smooth.
3. Pour in the miso-pickled ginger dressing in a large mixing bowl. Stir in carrots, radicchio, green onions, nori, and the sesame seeds until well-combined. Fold in the soba noodles and toss gently.