Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)

photo of kabocha squash-red lentil curry in white bowl on purple placemat on the dinner table

Community cookoffs are a delicious way to bring people together!

It’s almost time again for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA) Annual Community Cookoff! This year’s theme is “Oodles of Noodles” and will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from 2-4 pm at the Brew & Brew. It will be a celebration of carbs and the recipes of many chefs working hard to please your palate!

This year’s cookoff motivated me to post about last year’s AFBA 2017 Collossal Curry Cookoff. As a brand new member of the AFBA, I decided to enter my Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry in the cookoff. I was a bit scared, but I thought it would be a good way to meet my fellow AFBA members and showcase the type of food that I cook.

Curries don’t have to be hot to be flavorful, aromatic, and delicious!

I was excited for people to try my vegan curry which was not at all hot and spicy. I wanted to make the curry flavorful (with sweet kabocha squash, fennel, sweet potato, and curry leaves) and spicy rather than hot (with ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon). I also used red lentils to give the curry great body, flavor, and texture. Yum!

fresh ginger and bowl of spices for Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)
 
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Serves: 2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 2 fronds fresh curry leaves, chiffonade or 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, small dice
  • 2 cups kabocha or butternut squash, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1 teaspoon tamari, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar, or to taste (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • lemon or lime wedges, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Rinse red lentils several times and soak in a bowl with water for about an hour.
  2. Heat heavy-bottomed soup pot on medium heat. When hot, add coconut oil, onion, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté on medium heat until soft.
  3. Add the carrot, celery, curry leaves or bay leaf, ginger, and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir in powdered spices.
  4. Add the chopped sweet potato, fennel, squash, zucchini, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  5. Drain red lentils and add them to the vegetable sauté. Add water, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. Season with tamari and ume vinegar (or sea salt). Heat until simmering.
  7. Add fresh herbs and turn off heat.
  8. Serve on top of rice with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

3rd place finish!

After a few hours of curry tasting and ballot casting, I was thrilled to get a 3rd place finish, and went home with various gift cards and goodies from local businesses. It ended up being such a fun day!

I hope you’ll try making this recipe when you are in the mood for something sweet, savory, and nourishing. It is delicious with basmati rice and a crisp green side salad. I also add baby spinach when warming up leftovers to give it some freshness.

Sign up for this year’s cookoff!

And by the way, get your tickets here for the 2018 AFBA Oodles of Noodles cookoff on September 23rd. It will be an experience to remember!

Please let me know if you’d like to chat about cooking lessons, corporate team building, dinner parties, or yoga retreat catering. My public group cooking classes are listed here.

Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic

photo of baked wild salmon with rosemary and garlic

Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic is my go-to recipe for dinner parties and weeknight meals, as it is both easy to prepare and kind of gourmet. Make some basmati or jasmine rice, some vegetables and/or a salad to go with the salmon and you’ve got a complete meal! Besides being more flavorful and fresh-tasting than farm-raised varieties, wild salmon has a lot of health benefits because it contains vitamin B12, taurine, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, and is high in protein.

Bake wild salmon at lower temperature to avoid drying out

My favorite way to make wild-caught salmon (like Coho or Sockeye) is to drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, then bake it at low temperature (about 320° F) until just barely cooked through (about 10-12 minutes for a 1-lb fillet). Wild salmon is lower in fat than farm-raised salmon (such as Atlantic or Norwegian) and seems to stay moisture by baking at lower temperature rather than roasting or grilling.

Wild salmon keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator

Make a little extra wild salmon so that you can use it the next few days to top salads or add to homemade sushi rolls. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator so that it will stay fresh. As long as the fish has been salted, it should stay fresh for up to 2-3 days depending on the temperature of your refrigerator. Just check the salmon before you use it to make sure it still smells fresh (should not be overly fishy or bad smelling).

Use different toppings on wild salmon for variety

This recipe tops the wild salmon with sautéed garlic, rosemary, maple syrup, and sea salt. Get creative and use different toppings the next time you make salmon. Try making a fresh basil pesto (I make mine without cheese) and spread on the wild salmon after it is baked. Another super delicious topping is a “sesame butter” from The New Basics Cookbook which has toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, unsalted butter, tamari or soy sauce, and scallion. What other toppings have you tried?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entrée
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salmon
  • 1 lb. fillet wild-caught salmon (such as coho or sockeye)
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • unrefined sea salt
Topping
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
  • a few pinches unrefined sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320° F.
  2. Prepare topping ingredients first so it can be cooked while salmon is baking.
  3. Keep skin on salmon. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Place salmon fillet in glass or metal baking dish.
  5. Coat both sides of salmon with a thin layer of olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with sea salt (about a teaspoon).
  6. Bake until white albumin protein show on the outside of the fish, or until cooked almost through when flaked with a fork.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with foil until topping is ready.
  8. While salmon is baking, prepare topping.
  9. Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, small skillet or saucepan until shimmery. Turn to low and add garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. When garlic softens, turn off heat and add maple syrup. Whisk to combine and pour over cooked salmon. Return to the oven, if desired, for a minute or two or serve as is.

Watch this how-to video I made with Dr. Jonathan Shultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) about making Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic:

Baked Salmon Video

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Crusted halibut with caper white wine sauce

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas

photo of polenta bowl with chickpeas and kale

I invited my former student Naomi Silverman, to contribute a recipe for my blog so that I could feature her work and let people know how awesome she is! She gave me this lovely recipe for a Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas. It is simple enough as is to make for a weekday lunch or dinner, but can be jazzed up for a dinner party with just a few additions–such as colorful quick ume pickles, a delicious tahini dressing, or some steamed, tri-colored carrots! Feel free to vary the beans, vegetables, or grains if you don’t have the same ingredients on hand, but keep in mind that the cooking technique for polenta is very different from other grains such as brown rice or quinoa (which steam rather than simmer). This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas
 
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Chickpeas
  • 15-oz can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
  • dash chili powder (chipotle or other)
  • 1 teaspoon untoasted sesame oil
Polenta
  • 1 cup dry polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
  • 2 cups spring or filtered water
  • 2 cups soy milk or almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
Kale
  • 1 bunch curly kale, tough part of stems removed and chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Optional
  • 1 avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large baking dish or sheet pan, toss chickpeas with oil, salt, pepper, and chile powder. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring polenta and water to a boil, whisking frequently. As the liquid gets absorbed, stir in milk, little by little, until the polenta is smooth, creamy, and free of lumps, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. While polenta cooks, heat a large skillet, add coconut oil and diced onions, and sauté until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the kale and sprinkle on ume plum vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté for a few minutes until the kale is tender but still bright green.
  4. To serve, arrange all items in a bowl as desired and top with with diced avocado.

Naomi interned with me this year after completing her classroom hours at The Natural Epicurean. In the 10 years I taught there, I had dozens of amazing and talented culinary students intern with me. They assisted me in different aspects of my work, such as being a teaching assistant for my macrobiotic course or Ayurvedic cooking classes, assisting me with personal chef and catering work, testing recipes, or helping me create photos and videos for promotional materials. Naomi and I worked together for a few months this spring and came up with some beautiful materials for my web site and cooking class promotional materials. I am so grateful for her help, which came at a great time, when the cooking school had just closed and I was building my business and independent cooking classes. I miss working with Naomi now that her internship hours have ended, but hope we will get a chance to cook together again soon! Below is a video of us hard at work (and very well fed)!

Naomi has started her own personal chef business in Austin, Texas specializing in healthy, beautiful, plant-based (vegan) meals made with organic, locally grown produce. You can read all about her background, which includes an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Food Justice and a certificate in plant-based chef training from The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. Let her know if you need her help with your next dinner party or weeknight meals!

photo of Chef Naomi SilvermanI’ll be teaching a class on Nourishing Buddha Bowls and Dressings on Jan 6th in Austin, TX. For class listings and to sign up for classes, please visit https://cookloveheal.com/book-a-class.

Maple Roasted Wild Caught Salmon with Fresh Rosemary

We make this dish at home when salmon is in season and we want something easy, hearty, and delicious. It is also great for a large dinner party because it can be cooked at the last minute after everyone has arrived. This recipe is quite simple; it has only 6 ingredients, including olive oil and sea salt! There are many variations on this recipe, but one of our favorites is to add toasted pecans.

When selecting your salmon fillet, make sure it is wild caught, as the taste of wild caught salmon is unparalleled, and is higher in minerals, including potassium, zinc and iron than its farm-raised counterpart. Wild caught salmon contains about half the fat as farm-raised salmon, so it is important to cook it with some oil if baking or roasting in the oven.

Some ideas for completing your menu:

  • Salmon with basmati, jasmine, or sushi rice and a green vegetable.
  • Salmon on top of your favorite salad.
  • Salmon with Niçoise Salad.
  • Salmon with sushi hand roll fixings like cucumber, carrot, avocado, toasted nori, and a dipping sauce.

Maple Roasted Wild Caught Salmon with Fresh Rosemary
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1¼ lb. wild caught salmon fillet (coho, sockeye, or king)
  • sea salt
  • about ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lightly oil a 9" X 9" glass baking dish or roasting pan with a thin coating of olive oil.
  3. Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Place salmon pieces in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle evenly with sea salt (a few large pinches). Alternatively, leave the salmon fillet whole to have a nice presentation the table.
  4. Roast salmon in the oven for 8 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, sauté garlic in olive oil until garlic is soft but not browned. Remove from heat and stir in rosemary, maple syrup, and a large pinch of salt.
  6. After salmon has roasted for 8 minutes, remove from oven and spoon garlic-rosemary oil over each fillet. Return salmon to the oven and roast for another 3 minutes, and then check for doneness.
  7. Serve with a fresh salad, sauteed greens or broccolini, or other vegetable side dish.
Variations
  1. Maple-pecan version: Toast up to 1 cup pecan pieces with the garlic until fragrant, but be careful not to burn the garlic. Keep the rest of the recipe the same, or omit the rosemary for a pure maple-pecan flavor. This variation is especially good in the fall and early winter when pecans are fresh.
  2. Maple-balsamic version: Add 2 teaspoons good quality balsamic vinegar (or balsamic reduction) to the garlic-olive oil mixture. Omit rosemary.
Note
  1. To check for doneness, plunge a small sharp knife all the way through the thickest part of one of the fillets and hold it there for 5 seconds. Pull it out and carefully touch the flat side of the knife to your lower lip, which is very sensitive to temperature. If it feels warm, the fish is just cooked through and ready to serve. If the knife is still cold or cool, the fish needs more time.
  2. Another way to gauge doneness is to watch for the appearance of a white substance that starts forming on the outside of the salmon. Usually this indicates the salmon is close to being done.

maple-roasted-salmon-6

Salmon with sushi rice, toasted nori, and steamed green beans.

Crusted Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce

Serve this easy fish dish with some basmati rice and some steamed green beans for an elegant evening meal.

Spend less time cooking and more time kissing!

Crusted Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce
 
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Flaky Crusted Pan-Fried Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 oz halibut fillet
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • fresh basil, chiffonade, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Combine flour and salt in a shallow dish.
  2. Dredge halibut fillet on both sides in flour mixture. Shake off excess flour and hold on a plate.
  3. Heat heavy-bottomed skillet on medium-high flame for about one minute.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet and immediately place halibut in the pan, flesh side down. Turn heat down to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes without disturbing the fish to allow a crust to form. Turn the fish over so it is skin side down and cook for another 3 minutes. Remove fillet onto a serving plate while making the sauce.
  5. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan with the capers. Sauté for about a minute, then add white wine. Let simmer until alcohol cooks off and sauce has reduced by at least one half. Add butter and stir until it is incorporated into the sauce.
  6. Pour sauce over the fish and garnish with fresh basil.