DDD #65 – Vegan “Tree of Life” Cabbage Cake or Stuffed Cabbage Tower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back


To watch the video, click the image above.

I had cabbage & I had a desire for some old school comfort food.  I was Googling around looking for inspiration & saw this thing of beauty by Proud Italian Cook:

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Both my friend, Rose, and I were blown away & both swore to make it immediately.  And we both did.  I think she stuck with the original recipe but I had to make it vegan & make it before work – including going to the store to buy a different kind of cabbage – Savoy cabbage – so I could get that pretty lace effect – so I had quite a task ahead.  My cabbage, ultimately, was not quite as vascular as the one Proud Italian Cook used & my oven heats unevenly – so I did not get quite the forest effect they did & I browned one side.  No matter!  This was easy to make & is really delicious & quite the show stopper!

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I would have just used two bags of the Beyond Meat rather than add tofu but I only had one bag.  I used frozen tofu that I thawed & then squeezed the water out.  It gives the tofu a spongy-texture that resembles ground beef more than raw tofu does.  It also has the added benefit of removing lots of the moisture.

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I also added maitake mushrooms (seen above) and 2 grilled zucchini – simply because I had them.  You could fill your cake with whatever traditional filling you would use for cabbage rolls or use this recipe or tweak this recipe.  I used Rao’s sauce for ease & because it is the best jarred sauce on the market.  You can use your own favorite – homemade or from a jar.  Whatever you decide – I promise you will be delighted with this unexpected & regal reinvention of the humble stuffed cabbage roll.

Vegan “Tree of Life” Cabbage Cake (Stuffed Cabbage Tower)

Serves 4-6 (depending on appetites)

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of Savoy (or other green) cabbage

2+ TBS olive oil

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (or 18 oz or more and skip the tofu below)

1 lb tofu – frozen, thawed, water squeezed out & crumbled

1 onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 celery stalk – chopped

1/2 to 1 lb mushrooms – chopped (optional)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

1-3 tsp fresh thyme (or oregano) – less if you use dried

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used brown basmati)

S&P to taste

24 oz of your favorite red sauce

1 cup or so of Grated vegan Parmesan – optional

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Core the bottom of the cabbage (leaving it in tact) & place in a deep pot cored-side down.  Add 2-3 inches of water & bring to a boil – covered – for 5 minutes.  Plunge into cold water & when it is cool enough to handle – carefully peel the leaves away & place on paper towels to dry.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan & then cook the onions, celery and mushrooms (if using) until soft (my photos do not reflect the proper order & it doesn’t really matter).  Add the beef, tofu, and garlic, thyme, parsley rice & 1 cup marinara.  Blend well.  Season with S&P.

Grease a deep, round casserole or souffle-type dish & then arrange the prettiest and largest leaf on the bottom. Place another leaf on top of that and up the sides of the dish all around.  Layer in some beef mixture (maybe 1/2 inch) & top with another layer of cabbage.  Repeat until you reach the top or run out of filling.  Finish with cabbage on top making sure to tuck it in the dish all around.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and a sprinkling of about half your cheese (if you are using vegan or real cheese) all over.  The cheese can be eliminated completely with little impact on this recipe.

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Bake for about 40 minutes.  Let it rest then invert a serving plate over the casserole dish, then carefully flip it over.  Top with more warmed marinara & some of your cheese.  Cut into slices and serve with additional warmed marinara and more grated cheese.

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Vegan Cabbage Cake (Stuffed Cabbage Tower)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

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BathingandthesinglegirlCover

vromans back

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I had cabbage & I had a desire for some old school comfort food.  I was Googling around looking for inspiration & saw this thing of beauty by Proud Italian Cook:

unmolded-cabbage-1

sauced-cab-sliced

Both my friend, Rose, and I were blown away & both swore to make it immediately.  And we both did.  I think she stuck with the original recipe but I had to make it vegan & make it before work – including going to the store to buy a different kind of cabbage – Savoy cabbage – so I could get that pretty lace effect – so I had quite a task ahead.  My cabbage, ultimately, was not quite as vascular as the one Proud Italian Cook used & my oven heats unevenly – so I did not get quite the forest effect they did & I browned one side.  No matter!  This was easy to make & is really delicious & quite the show stopper!

I used:

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I would have just used two bags of the Beyond Meat rather than add tofu but I only had one bag.  I used frozen tofu that I thawed & then squeezed the water out.  It gives the tofu a spongy-texture that resembles ground beef more than raw tofu does.  It also has the added benefit of removing lots of the moisture.

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I also added maitake mushrooms (seen above) and 2 grilled zucchini – simply because I had them.  You could fill your cake with whatever traditional filling you would use for cabbage rolls or use this recipe or tweak this recipe.  I used Rao’s sauce for ease & because it is the best jarred sauce on the market.  You can use your own favorite – homemade or from a jar.  Whatever you decide – I promise you will be delighted with this unexpected & regal reinvention of the humble stuffed cabbage roll.

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Vegan Cabbage Cake (Stuffed Cabbage Tower)

Serves 4-6 (depending on appetites)

INGREDIENTS

1 head of Savoy (or other green) cabbage

2+ TBS olive oil

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (or 18 oz or more and skip the tofu below)

1 lb tofu – frozen, thawed, water squeezed out & crumbled

1 onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 celery stalk – chopped

2 zucchini – grilled & diced (optional – both the grilling of the zucchini & the zucchini themselves)

1/2 lb mushrooms – chopped (optional)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

1-3 tsp fresh thyme (or oregano) – less if you use dried

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (I used brown) – or more if you eliminated the zucchini & mushrooms

S&P to taste

24 oz of your favorite red sauce

1 cup or so of Grated Parmesan (vegan – or not, if you are not vegan) – optional

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Core the bottom of the cabbage (leaving it in tact) & place in a deep pot cored-side down.  Add 2-3 inches of water & bring to a boil – covered – for 5 minutes.  Plunge into cold water & when it is cool enough to handle – carefully peel the leaves away & place on paper towels to dry.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan & then cook the onions, celery and mushrooms (if using) until soft (my photos do not reflect the proper order & it doesn’t really matter).  Add the beef, tofu, zucchini (if using) and garlic, thyme, parsley rice & 1 cup marinara.  Blend well.  Season with S&P.

Grease a deep, round casserole or souffle-type dish & then arrange the prettiest and largest leaf on the bottom. Place another leaf on top of that and up the sides of the dish all around.  Layer in some beef mixture (maybe 1/2 inch) & top with another layer of cabbage.  Repeat until you reach the top or run out of filling.  Finish with cabbage on top making sure to tuck it in the dish all around.  Drizzle the top with olive oil and a sprinkling of about half your cheese (if you are using vegan or real cheese) all over.  The cheese can be eliminated completely with little impact on this recipe.

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Bake for about 40 minutes.  Let it rest then invert a serving plate over the casserole dish, then carefully flip it over.  Top with more warmed marinara & some of your cheese.  Cut into slices and serve with additional warmed marinara and more grated cheese.

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Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – A CONTEST! – and Downtown Los Angeles!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Uh-oh!  Wouldya look at that!  The AMAZING make-up company, Too Faced, has selected my book to give away in the summer essentials giveaway!  All you gotta do is go on Instagram, follow me at @christineelisemccarthy and then navigate to @TooFaced on Instagram, find this image on their wall & follow the rules to enter.  DO NOT enter on MY Instagram page.  Only entries on the Too Faced page will be considered.  A signed copy of my book, a bikini & Too Faced’s ENTIRE summer line!  CRAZY!  And the contest ends tomorrow (June 23, 2015), winner announced June 24, 2015 – so enter NOW!  And remember – go follow me on Instagram, then go follow Too Faced there & enter through their page.  Good luck!

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So – I had jury duty today.  That is the hallway at the court.  Everyone dreads jury duty but I work freelance & literally cannot afford to miss a day of work – let alone a week.  So – I had to miss work today to go down & asked to be rescheduled – which just means that, if I am working in December – I lose at least another day’s pay.  Such a fucked system.  But, anyway – they let me out at noon so I decided to make the best of being downtown & met my friend Rose for lunch at Grand Central Market.  Here is what that LA wonder looks like:

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Pizza was SUPER thin & delightful but it was so friggin’ hot out – neither Rose nor I could eat more than half of the tiny 8″ pizzas.  So – I have some for later!  🙂

Across the street to the west from Grand Central Market is another LA landmark – Angel’s Flight.  It is not currently in service, however.

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Even more interesting – across the street to the east is the Bradbury Building – most famous as a location in Bladerunner.  Look how incredibly gorgeous it is!

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6-22-15 (67)  CLICK THIS PANORAMIC ONE TO BLOW IT UP.

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And there you have it!  My downtown Los Angeles adventure today & a chance to win lots of make-up & a bikini & a signed copy of my book!

The recipe next.  It isn’t really a recipe.  It is an idea & I have been talking about it a lot lately & eating it even more frequently.  These eggplant pizza towers.  Not really pizza but born of my wanting a tortilla pizza but without tortillas.

I slice up & eat an entire small eggplant alone but quantities of everything really depends on how many you are feeding, how hungry they are & then personal taste as to the sauce-cheese ratio.  So – an informal recipe will follow.  Also – these would be nice served on top of pasta tossed with a red sauce.  I cannot recommend Rao’s highly enough.

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Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade 

INGREDIENTS

About 1 eggplant per person – sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick & lightly salted

Fresh mozzarella – enough to put a few slices on top of each slice of eggplant

Red sauce of your choice

Fresh basil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

I grilled the slices on my stove top grill first to char them a bit.  Just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill dry & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

OR – you can opt to bake the slices naked for 15-20 minutes to get them less thick & mushy.

Whatever you do – cook out some moisture & try to grill a little flavor onto the slices.

Top with sauce & cheese – quantities up to you.

Bake at 350 on a cooking sheet topped with parchment paper (THE BEST – nothing sticks) or treated with cooking spray or olive oil.  Assemble each eggplant slice with sauce & cheese & cook them in a single layer – stacking them into towers when you put them on the plate.

Meanwhile – to make the basil chiffonade – simply stack several leaves of basil, roll them into a tube & slice the tube up.  Voila!

It should take 10-15 minutes for the cheese to melt & begin to turn golden but all ovens are different so eyeball it & take them out when they look good to you.

Stack your little eggplant pizzas & garnish with basil.  Yum!

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Gluten-Free Polenta Crust Pizza & Pizza Towers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This couldn’t be much easier to make – unless you just bought a pre-made pizza.  Polenta (the quick cook kind) is done in 5 minutes.  Or – you could buy it like this:

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If you buy it like that – then these are just really glorified English muffin pizzas.  SO EASY!  If you buy instant polenta like this:

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then it comes together in about 5 minutes for a more traditional pizza – like I posted above.  For the towers – you need to chill it in the fridge for a while (30 minutes?) til it sets – like this:

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See?  I just poured it into a container – chilled it – then sliced it up & cut rounds with a cookie cutter (or the top of a glass).  The chilled polenta lasts for days & can be used to make little pizzas on the spur of the moment.

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I added a TBS or two of fresh thyme to my polenta as it cooked.  This is totally optional.

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So – calling this a recipe is overstating things.  I used some homemade red sauce that I had around.  You can use your favorite recipe (I have a 5-Minute arrabiata here & also a marinara) or a jarred version.

I used a combination of fresh mozzarella & Parmesan.  You can use any cheese or any other pizza toppings you desire.  I added fresh basil (and I recommend this as it really does add a lot) and a few sprigs of arugula.  Both of these are optional.  I found the larger pizza to be a bit more moist than I would have preferred so I really suggest the little mini pizzas over the larger one – even if you do not care to present them in tower form.  I’ve been popping little cookie-sized pizzas into my mouth all weekend.  I recommend it highly!

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Gluten-Free Polenta Crust Pizza & Pizza Towers

INGREDIENTS

Polenta (either pre-made or instant made as the package instructs)

Fresh thyme – optional (add to the polenta as it cooks)

Tomato sauce and/or sliced fresh tomatoes

Pizza cheese

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Fresh basil and/or arugula – shredded as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Make the polenta & either take a portion & spread it into a 1/4 inch pizza crust on a greased sheet or pan covered in parchment paper.  Cook at 450 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the edges crisp.

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Top the pizza with sauce, tomatoes & cheese & cook until the cheese is melted & beginning to brown.  Garnish with basil and/or arugula & eat it up!  OR!

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Chill the polenta until it is firm (maybe 30 minutes – or overnight).  Slice it to your desired thickness & (optionally) cut it into little rounds.  Or – just open that pre-made tube of polenta and slice that fucker up.

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Place on a greased cooking sheet or on parchment covered pan.  I then doused mine with crushed red pepper.

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Bake these at 450 degrees for about ten minutes & then top them with sauce & cheese.

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Then bake until they look done to your eye.

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You can garnish them with basil & arugula & serve them like this or let them cool for about a minute & stack them.  You will likely need a toothpick spiked through the center to keep them from sliding into a gooey mess.  Whatever you decide – pop open a bottle of wine & get your munch on!

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Ahi Sushi Tower with Mango Salsa & Avocado, Spicy Mayo and Baked Wonton Crackers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Isn’t that pretty?  Tasted even better!  Like most of my recipes, there is nothing difficult about this beyond the fact that it requires a few ingredients some might find a bit exotic & it takes several steps to accomplish.  Still, once you have made the rice & the salsa & the sashimi & the guacamole – you have the stuff to make many of these in minutes.  As to the ingredients, I think nearly everything I used can be found in most major supermarkets.  If there is something I use that you cannot find – Google that ingredient followed by the word “substitute.”   Usually – someone out there will have posted a simple solution to your dilemma.

There are two sauces on the plate here with this dish.  One would do so if making both overwhelms you – make the one that sounds tastier to you.

I bought two pieces of ahi at Costco yesterday at $14 pound.  They are each about 3/4 of a pound & look like this:

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This same fish is $27 a pound at Gelson’s.  If you buy ahi at a supermarket with a full service seafood department – I recommend having them dice the fish for you.  Tuna has fat running through it that resists cutting & gets all gross & sinewy if you try to cut across the grain or with the grain – whatever way is the wrong way.  I managed to salvage most of this slab but some was beyond repair & was eaten eagerly by my three dogs.  Giving already spoiled dogs sushi grade tuna is outrageous – but cutting the fish incorrectly will leave you in the same situation.  In fact – before I venture into my second slab tonight – I am going to watch one of these tutorials HERE.  Maybe you should, too.

I am going to give the ingredients & directions to each of the levels of this tower individually.  This tower is topped with a pinch of micro arugula which is CRAZY spicy for such a delicate looking little herb but it costs $5 for a small container.  I splurged on it yesterday – rationalizing that I’d save so much on the tuna that I could afford it.  Nobody can afford it.  It is obscene to spend $5 for just a garnish but sometimes you just gotta say “fuck it.”

OK – so – the tower is comprised of a layer of sushi rice, a layer of mango salsa, a layer or avocado & then the ahi sashimi.  The wonton cracker atop was DELICIOUS & so easy to make so I really recommend you make a bunch of these to use as scoops to devour your creation.  I decided to try making them because I couldn’t bring myself to buy a lesser version in the chip aisle at Gelson’s, pay $5 for them & get a bag that, despite weighing 3 ounces, somehow packed 1600 calories.    MAKE THESE.  You won’t regret it!

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Baked Wonton Crackers

INGREDIENTS

Wonton skins

Sesame seeds (black or white)

Egg whites – whisked

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Swipe some egg white wash on each wonton & sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake about 5 minutes on each side or until they are golden & crisp.

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Spicy Mayo

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup mayo of your choice

2 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.  If you have a squeezy bottle to put it in do – because then you can make pretty designs on the plate with the mayo.

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Soy-Mirin Sauce

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS soy sauce

2 TBS mirin

1 TBS rice wine vinegar

1 TBS lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil

A few drops hot chili oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Blend together.

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Avocado Layer

INGREDIENTS

1 large ripe avocado – diced

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS lime juice

S&P to taste

DIRECTIONS

Mix together.

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Mango Salsa

INGREDIENTS

1 ripe mango – chopped

1/2 red onion – minced

2 scallions – minced

1/2 red bell pepper – minced

1 jalapeno (or 2 serranos if you love heat) – minced

S&P to taste

Juice of half a lime

Juice of half a lemon

DIRECTIONS

Mix together.

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Sushi Rice

INGREDIENTS

3 cups Japanese sushi rice

3 1/4 cups water

1/3 cup rice vinegar

3 TBS sugar

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS

Rinse the rice until the water runs clear.  I used a rice cooker here & made the rice with just the water.  Stove top – I imagine you boil the water, add the rice, lower heat, cover & cook as long as the package suggests.

While that cooks, heat the rice vinegar in a small pan.  Add the sugar & salt & dissolve them.  Remove from heat & allow to cool.

Once cooked – cool the rice completely.  Fold in the vinegar without mushing up the rice & set it aside until you are ready to use it.

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Ahi Sashimi

INGREDIENTS

3/4 pound of high grade ahi tuna

2 scallions – chopped

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TBS olive oil

2 tsp black sesame seeds

2 tsp white sesame seeds

1 TBS white truffle oil (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Watch a Google tutorial on cutting raw tuna for sushi – the cube the ahi up.  Mix with the other ingredients.

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To assemble the tower:

I used a food ring mold.  I love my ring mold & I recommend you get one!  If you do not have one – you can assemble this free form (rice then salsa then avocado then ahi) or in a backward sequence in a bowl (sprayed with cooking spray), ending with the rice, then just flip in onto a plate.  Drizzle with either the spicy mayo or the soy-mirin sauce – or both!  Top with micro arugula, if you are a spendthrift or with more diced scallions and/or avocado or more mango salsa.  Serve with the baked wonton crackers.  Impress yourself as well as your friends!

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Forbidden Black Rice & Herbed White Beans with Seared Mushrooms, Fried Sage & Black Truffle Oil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Asian markets & birthdays.  On the surface – not much in common.  But, for me this year – both offered much culinary inspiration.  The Asian markets (often posted about here on my blog) are a wonderland of exotic ingredients, not all of which are exactly appetizing – like these giant water bugs available at Bangluck Market:

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but there are lots of other delicious things there – like this black rice:

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Four pounds for $11.  Not bad!

And my birthday netted me a pasta cutter & two new Cuisinart food processors & this array of exotic ingredients:

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including this incredible bottle of wine

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and this gorgeous little bottle of truffle oil!

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So – black rice in hand and bottle of truffle oil demanding to be tried – I looked up rice recipes.  Nothing struck me.  “Black rice & beans” most brought up images of black beans & white rice & I thought – why not make black rice with white beans?  I couldn’t find a recipe where anyone was doing what I envisioned so – I made this up.  The white beans are adapted from this recipe HERE.  Look how pretty theirs were.

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And they were perfect because they are truly white – the contrast I needed for the very inky, black rice.

I kinda made up the rice & the mushroom-sage topper.  The mushroom sage thing is a nice touch (I LOVE fried sage) but not necessary.  You could serve the rice and beans plain or with another topper – corn or peas – or with a veggie side – like I did last night – my Jack Daniels Whiskey & Honey Glazed Carrots.

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Nothing in this dish is difficult to execute.  If you don’t have fancy food rings to create a dramatic presentation, maybe use a ramekin or other bowl.   Or you could just do the traditional rice & beans serving – create a mound of rice in a bowl & then a moat made of beans – or a ring of rice with the beans center stage.  A sprig of rosemary or thyme on top & you have a gorgeous presentation.

This rice is sometimes called Forbidden Rice and here is a little info about its history & nutritional benefits.  In ancient China, black rice was considered the finest grain and only served to the Emperor, therefore, “forbidden rice,” as it was off limits for the general public.

Anyway – like the mushroom-sage topper, the black truffle oil is also unnecessary but an amazing & delicate addition to this recipe of subtle flavors.  If you can swing the cost – a small amount goes a LONG way.

Also – this will make a lot of beans – maybe more than you really need.  I quick soaked a single cup of beans & then added them to a pound of dry unsoaked beans – hence the two tone nature of the beans in my images.

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Oh – and look at this cool photo my camera took on its own!  I don’t know why – but I kinda like it.

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Lastly – this could easily be made without the cheese rind for a vegan option.

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Forbidden Black Rice & Herbed White Beans with Seared Mushrooms, Fried Sage & Black Truffle Oil

INGREDIENTS

For the mushroom & sage topper

Black truffle oil to drizzle (optional)

1 TBS butter

2 TBS olive oil

10-15 sage leaves

4 garlic cloves – minced

10-15 mushrooms – sliced

For the herbed white beans

1 lb dry small white beans

8 cloves garlic

4 sprigs rosemary (or more)

4 sprigs thyme (or more)

the rind of a hunk of Parmesan – or other form of Parmesan

Salt to taste

For the black rice

2 cups black rice

4 cups stock

1 TBS olive oil

5 garlic cloves – minced

Zest & juice of a lemon

Salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

For the herbed white beans

With kitchen string – tie up the rosemary & thyme into a bundle.

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Heat your oven to 400.

Quick soak the beans by bringing a large pot of water to a boil.  Add beans – bring back to a boil.  Remove from heat & let the beans soak, covered, for one hour.  Drain & rinse them.

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Put all the ingredients for the beans into a large dutch oven or covered casserole.  Cover with fresh water that comes about an inch over the beans.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Stir the bean & bake another 45 minutes.  The cheese rind & garlic should begin to break down.  Test the doneness of the beans & cook them in 15 minute increments.    They should be very tender in about 2 hours but your results might vary a bit – so check them after 90 minutes.  If they get too thick – add more water.  If the cheese & garlic do not break down completely, you can either blend them with a hand mixer (immersion blender) or fish them out & blend with a small amount of beans in a food processor.  I used a wooden spoon to mash some of my beans to create a thicker creamier dish.

When the beans are done – remove the herb bundle & add salt to taste.

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For the black rice

Heat the olive oil in a lark stock pan.  Saute the garlic about thirty seconds.  Add the rice & the lemon juice & zest.  Stir to coat all the rice with oil.  Add 4 cups of stock & bring to a boil.  Cook as per package directions or reduce heat to low & cook, covered, about 45-60 minutes – checking after 45 minutes for doneness.

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For the mushroom & sage topper

Heat ONE TBS of the oil oil with the butter.  Fry the sage leaves for about a minute.  Drain on a paper towel.

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Add the other TBS of olive oil & add the garlic.  Saute one minute then add the mushrooms.  Cook on high heat until the mushrooms begin to brown.  Remove from heat.

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Assemble the rice & beans as you will & then top with a bit of the mushrooms & a few fried sage leaves.  Drizzle with truffle oil.  Devour.

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Truffled Celery Root Mixed Grain Risotto Tower with Roasted Beets, Pan-fried Cauliflower & Basil Jus

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This might look intimidating but it is not.  It just requires a few easy steps.  Most of it could be substituted with other ingredients, too.  For example – hate beets?  Use carrots or corn or sweet potato instead.  Trader Joe’s mixed grain thing not available to you?

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Use a regular risotto.  Celery root unavailable or yucky to you?  Make your risotto with whatever ingredients you prefer.  Don’t have fancy food mold ring to create the tower?   Use a bowl or just free form it on the plate for a more rustic presentation.

I loved this dish.  The celery root absolutely held its own despite competing with a lot of other flavors here from white truffle oil to roasted beets & garlic to the fried cauliflower to the basil oil.   This dish was served closer to warm-room temperature than what I would call hot – primarily because there are so many ingredients to time properly – but I liked it just warm.  It might also be served hotter if you don’t spend 15 minutes trying to get the perfect photo of it.

Speaking of which – I am often asked what I use to photograph the food.  The answer?  My iphone 5 and a construction lamp.  See?

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That is all I have going on.  I have limited dishware & napkins etc with which to present my recipes and I am beginning to feel my images are starting to look a lot alike but that is just the reality of doing it all DIY on a shoestring budget.  But THIS dish – this will definitely wow folks on any plate.  I hope you try it.

2-10-13 (35)

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Truffled Celery Root Mixed Grain Risotto Tower with Roasted Beets, Pan-fried Cauliflower & Basil Jus

INGREDIENTS

For the risotto

1 lb Mixed grains (or risotto or other rice)

1 large celery root – peeled & diced

2 cups milk

1 cup Parmesan – grated

White truffle oil to drizzle – (VERY optional)

For the roasted beet & garlic puree

6 small beets

4 TBS heavy cream

4 cloves garlic

For the pan-fried cauliflower

1 head cauliflower

1-2 TBS olive oil

For the basil jus (basil oil)

1 cup fresh basil

3/4 cup high quality olive oil

DIRECTIONS

For the beet & garlic puree

Halve your beets (or quarter them if the are large) & drizzle them with olive oil.  Toss them with the garlic cloves & roast them & the garlic (add lots of extra garlic so you can have some extra around for future recipes) in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until tender.  Check frequently & remove the garlic if it browns quickly & is done before the beets.  When roasted – cool a bit then puree the beets, 4 roasted garlic cloves & the heavy cream in a food processor.  Set aside.

For the basil jus

Plunge the basil in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Plunge it in cold water, drain & squeeze out the water.  Puree the basil with olive oil in a food processor.  Set aside.

For the pan-fried cauliflower

Slice the cauliflower into 3/4 inch steaks.  Heat the olive oil & fry the cauliflower until browned on both sides.

Alternatively – you could roast the cauliflower (tossed in olive oil) in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until it is soft & beginning to brown.  My photo here is of florets roasted in the oven.  The assembled tower images show cauliflower pan-fried as steaks.

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For the risotto

I cooked the bag of mixed grains as per the directions.

Bring the milk to a boil, add the diced celery root to the milk, reduce heat & simmer for about 20 minutes or until the celery root is soft.

Blend the celery root, the milk it cooked in & the cheese in a food processor until smooth.  Add to the cooked grains & blend completely.  Drizzle with truffle oil (if using) – sparingly, as it can really overpower the other flavors.

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TO ASSEMBLE

I used a food ring like this

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and simply put a layer of risotto then beet puree then cauliflower.  I drizzled it with the basil jus & topped it with watercress.  You could build yours backwards in a greased ramekin & flip it or in a bowl & flip it – or just present it in a more casual, rustic, unformed way.

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