Tag Archives: basil

NUT-FREE “peanut sauce” and homemade spring rolls

filet mignon spring rolls with pumpkin seed butter sauceSo, lunch today was kind of unfair.  I had leftover filet mignon from a local butcher and had just devised a recipe for a Thai “peanut sauce” without peanuts.  Yes, that means I had filet mignon spring rolls.  Yes, filet mignon spring rolls with a sauce I’ve never been able to taste in my life.

two springrollsfirst step roll

I’ve been rather addicted to these things lately.  (Spring rolls that is.)  Here’s why:

1. They’re easy to make (soak in water and roll!)

2. They’re naturally gluten-free (just rice and tapioca flour)

3. The texture is light and fun

“Fun” is a word to describe taste.  Oh yes, should I ever be judge on Master Chef, it will be a criteria.

pumpkin seedspumpkin seed butter sauce

Since I am a Bubble Child of the sort where I will die in a very literal sense if I consume even a particle of a nut, I have never tasted a Thai peanut sauce.  My friends swear by it.  It has been something on my list of things to try should I have, say, a definite 1 minute left to live.  It’d be great to never check that list off.

With that in mind, it has taken me years, and by years I mean 5, to figure out the right combination of flavor and spice to recreate the traditional peanut sauce.  It means seeds, it means turmeric, it even means lemongrass powder if you can find some!

galettes de riz

I highly recommend adopting spring rolls into your weekly gastronomic regimen.  The shells save so easily and you can fill with whatever your heart fancies.  It’s like a bunch of tiny burritos you get to eat in a row without feeling like a giant walking bean.

sauce plated

nut-free thai peanut sauce
2 tbs. grapeseed oil
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2 tsp. honey or agave nectar (vegan)
1 tsp. tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger
1/8 tsp. turmeric (freshly grated or powdered)
1/8 tsp. lemongrass (freshly grated or powdered), optional
a few dashes your favorite hot sauce
1/4 cup + 2 tbs. water
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Method: Heat oil in saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add seeds.  Sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden browned, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat, let cool two minutes.  Combine with remaining ingredients in blender.  Season with salt and/or hot sauce to taste.  (Tamari already has salt, so taste before adding extra salt!)

roll two

how-to make spring rolls

1. FILLING:*

(a, vegan)– shred and sauté some carrot and radish, blanch, then sauté with ginger, garlic, mint, basil and hot sauce; (b, carnivore)– cook your favorite protein to taste, chop up into fine pieces, then toss with sesame seed oil, mint, basil, ginger and hot sauce

grating carrots2. LET ‘ER ROLL: 

(a) soak one sheet rice paper in water for about 30 seconds, until pliable, then let rest on a clean plate or cutting board for about a minute to dry a bit and get sticky.

(b) place 1-2 tablespoons of filling about 2 inches from top of paper

(c) fold top 2 inches over filling to cover

(d) fold in outer edges to pack filling in tightly

(e) roll over 2-3 times, until any potential holes are covered and filling is secure — trim away extra rice paper

(f) repeat with as many rice papers as you want to turn into spring rolls

Serve with tamari, hot sauce of choice (Sriracha!!!), and/or homemade NUT-FREE thai “peanut” sauce.

final roll*to give an idea of how much filling you’ll need, to make about 6 spring rolls use one large radish and one carrot for vegetarian option, one chicken breast or half a steak for carnivore option.

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potted herbs > packaged herbs

mintI’ve come to a revelation– I hope to never buy herbs again in the grocery store!  This reality goes far beyond any sort of farm-to-table philosophy and straight into my pocket.  Take note:

herbs

Each of these plants cost no more than 3 bucks.  In the grocery store where the herbs will probably die in like 3 days anyways?  One buck less.  And they don’t keep having little herb babies.

Buy your own herb pots!  Even if you have no garden (I surely do not have enough moolaw to afford a garden in this urban landscape) simply keep a few pots of choice in your kitchen next to the window.  These lovelies reproduce more quickly than rabbits.  …which is why I don’t feel bad using the baby leaves to top my tartines with my teff bread.

plated tartine herb

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fruit salad with basil

fruit salad with basilThe jackets are stowed and the tank tops aplenty.  Give your fruit salad some peps by adding fresh basil. 

To really infuse the flavors, mix all ingredients 30 minutes before serving.  Today I enjoyed a combination of peach, banana, apple, and blueberry.  The banana adds a luscious creaminess and juxtaposition of texture from the firmness of the blueberries and apple.  The peach is a flavor complement to both blueberries and bananas.  Basil ties this together into something curiously savory and herbaceous.

summer salad

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Smoked Trout Avocado Wasabi Tartine

wasabi smoked trout tartine

After my midnight escapade with baguette I found myself with this:

half a baguette

This is the type of thing you walk by daily in Paris, flecking the windows of the local boulangerie, stuffed with cheese and vegetables and sliced fine meats and just the right amount of sauce to make it all come together.  It is what we call lunchtime for the working Parisian, a quick grab and go type of shape that has that comfort food quality for all those who grew up or have lived here.  But not a comfort for those enjoying food without gluten.

While I do still assert that the bread here is easier for me to digest than in the States, it does still contain the protein of wheat, and I do still have a strong sensitivity to said protein that makes me prepare gluten-free bread at home.  This little leftover from my moonlit baking session gave me a lunch idea worth sharing: a combination of sweet wasabi and basil, creamy avocado, and light yet flavorful thinly sliced smoked trout.  The reason I find this preparation particularly interesting is that the cream from the avocado provides a nice cushion between the trout and the bread, and hiding the basil under the trout and topping with the wasabi powder hides the layer of sweetness from the basil and leaves your palette even more pleased than your eye.

lunch mango trout tartine

Find your favorite gluten-free bread (or use the Buckwheat Loaf or Home Sweet Honey Buns), and slip into a little lunch pause that is as Parisian as you can handle.

lunch

Smoked Trout Avocado Wasabi Tartine

Ingredients: two slices gluten-free bread, 1/2 avocado, 1-2 thin slices smoked trout, 3 large leaves fresh basil cut into ribbons, a pinch sea salt, two pinches wasabi powder*

Method: lightly toast the two slices of bread and slice your avocado into thin strips.  Top toasted bread with avocado slices and add a pinch of salt atop each lightly.  Top with basil, and thinly layer smoked trout on top with no overlap (see above).  Evenly dust fish with wasabi powder, and serve with a shaved mango salad with some olive oil and lemon juice for something incredible.

*wasabi powder is available at most supermarkets in the Asian section or at Asian specialty stores.  Not to be confused with wasabi in a tube already hydrated.

 

 

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Beans!

mung beans

The Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras forbade the eating of beans, as he decreed that the legumes contained something of which the soul was composed.  I think he might have been exaggerating just a tad, but I can understand his enthusiasm for the magical fruit.

Tonight I had a simple rather bistro style dinner of gluten-free toasts and seasonal French cheese (easier to digest as it’s raw) and some leftover fava beans that I made into a sort of spread and topped with basil and mushrooms.  It was awesome.  And I didn’t feel like popping afterwards.

fava bean spread

What’s so good about beans?  Mr. Laertius may have been right about them being something exceptional, but here is the tip of the ice berg of reasons why they should not be banned from your regime:

1. Beans are a huge source of fiber.  Yes, yes, that’s why they are also the “magical fruit”, but if you want to pass things that are not magical in your body, tally ho.

2. Beans have a low glycemic index.  Composed of complex sugars, these carbohydrates take time for your body to break down, but are easier to process.  This makes you stay full longer, reducing cravings, while providing a natural source of sugar your body readily uses, not stores.

3. Beans are full of protein.  In combination with rice, they make a complete amino acid, which is the protein found in meat that most vegans or vegetarians are missing from their diet of they don’t work for it.

4. Beans are full of vitamins and minerals.  Another problem vegetarians might find, or anyone really, is a low level of iron.  Beans have a lot of this– as well as copper, magnesium, folate, and vitamin B6, which is a vitamin that is reduced if you’re drinking booze, so if you’re making some parties, jump on board with the beans to get your energy back up!

5. They taste awesome when cooked from their dry form with a bit of thyme and a bay leaf, and then are sautéed with onions, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, a touch soy sauce, and some oregano afterwards.  Oh yeah.

…and they’re also gluten-free.  (since you find them on this blog, you can imagine they would be!)

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