Damn you Reset, you stole my Crunch!

January 20, 2012

Kale Chips

Sorry to leave you mid-guide the last few days! We’ve got one more meal to go and then that recipe post I’ve been promising. So here we go…it’s time for Dinner…

No matter how much I’ve preached in the past about cooking with “balance”, in terms of taste, appearance, and texture, the latter of that bunch is always the hardest to remember to plan for. But without a contrast in texture, even the most delicious meal can fall flat. And during the Reset, it will become increasingly clear how much you are missing a good “crunch”!

In general, finding ways to enjoy your dinner without meat, wheat, and dairy can be pretty easy actually. There are amazing pasta substitutes that you can buy if you get desperate, but even thinly shredded raw zucchini can sub for spaghetti if you have a craving. Otherwise dining on stir frys, soups, and stews are easy and comforting and plates full of side dishes can be just as filling as your standard “meat, starch, and veg” meal we all grew up on. Ironically enough, you may also find you have more time to enjoy your meal as most of these recipes involve quick cooking ingredients. The point I guess I’m making is, dinners on the Reset can be really frickin delicious and exciting. But you’ve got to get a little creative for your crunch.

Without the wonder of breadcrumbs, crispy bread, flour tortillas, etc. these are the best crunchifier suggestions I’ve got so far…what about you guys? Any good crunch substitutes to suggest?

Kale chips: These have become all the rage, particularly in NYC. My guess is they were the result of a culinary accident but if you haven’t tried these, you have to get on board the train. I like to use dinosaur kale or lacinto kale because the leaves seem to hold up a bit better than your standard supermarket kale. Either way, baking the leaves at 350 with a little olive oil and salt for just a few minutes renders you with some fantastic crispy chips. These aren’t so sturdy to use for dipping but when you need a fix, these are your go to!

Pan roasted chickpeas: A while back, I saw Em’s Mom making a batch of these; a can of strained chickpeas in a cast iron pan over low heat with a little rosemary and salt. While we chatted (and probably drank some red wine) I waited to see what would become of these otherwise boring chickpeas and after about 45 minutes I was addicted. These guys get nice and crispy and their flavor intensifies like crazy. You can mess around with any seasonings you like on this. I love to add curry powder to mine. But I can’t imagine you can go wrong here. Perfect to top a salad or soup!

– Nuts: This may seem like an obvious one, but I’m not talking about simply throwing some walnuts in a beet salad. What I mean is that just like breadcrumbs topping your favorite dish, crushed nuts (particularly hazelnuts and almonds) make for an amazing compliment to a meal. So you might not be able to nut-crust a piece of chicken on the Reset, but roasted over some asparagus or cauliflower, you’ve got yourself a delicious Reset friendly topping.

Baked spring rolls: I made these during my last reset and am actually bummed I didn’t think about them again until writing this post. These remedied my need for crunch then, and they will do the same for you. Using rice paper wrappers ensures you are Reset approved and essentially you could stuff these things with anything. I went a more traditional Asian style last time with cabbage, mushrooms, and tamari but these would work perfectly for other flavor profiles as well. They are little tricky to work with the first time but don’t worry. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be cranking these out like crazy. Just soften the rice wrapper in warm water and then add your filling and wrap. Bake these guys off at 375 until nice and crunchy!

So there it is, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few great snacks making for a great 10 day Reset. But what about dessert? Don’t worry I’ve got you covered. More thoughts on the Reset and the recipe post coming soon!




Spring Reset Day 8: Give Me Some Crunch!

April 14, 2011

Baked Spring Rolls

Before starting this 10 day journey, Kelly kept warning me of the her hardest part with this type of reset. And it wasn’t about meat, wheat, or dairy. It was all about crunch! Because when you think about it, texture plays an unbelievable role in how much we enjoy food and for the most part, vegetable and even bean based meals tend to be lacking some crispy, crunchy goodness. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether it is these kale chips that I’m an idiot for not making more often, or these baked spring rolls from last night, I refuse to be denied the crunch.

And trust me when I say: these spring rolls are absurdly easy to make. In a wok (or a large saute pan) quickly stir fry shredded cabbage and carrots with sliced mushrooms and sliced scallions. I love to shred my own vegetables with my food processor but if you are in a pinch, the “cole slaw” mix in the grocery store is the perfect substitute. With just a tbsp of honey, a few good splashes of tamari, and 1 tsp of chinese five spice, you will have an unbelievable filling for spring rolls, dumplings, or even to simply serve over rice. In this case I used rice paper wrappers gently soaked in warm water until pliable to assemble my spring rolls. Simply add a few small spoonfuls of the filling and roll the wrapper like a thin burrito. Bake in the oven at 375 for about a half hour and you will have a delicious snack or even a main meal to be proud of. And while you could definitely fry these, baking them after brushing with olive oil did a nice job of keeping these light all while adding that necessary crunch.

A day and a half to go and I’m not even sure I want it to end!

The Tale of Two Techniques

September 7, 2010

Calamari and Peach Salad with Kale Chips

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on “The List” but that’s probably because I’ve been cooking so much. But trying new restaurants, new dishes, and new flavors is one of the most sure-fire ways to kick up the creativity. Which is exactly what happened after we ate at DBGB’s this past week. DBGB’s is Daniel Boulud’s take on the gastropub that promises great beers (like this Back in Black which was awesome), and some upturned classic bar food to go with it. They have become known for their many varieties of sausage, which we were sure to enjoy, but what really wowed me the most was their grilled calamari appetizer. Paired with spiced chickpeas and an tangy lemon yogurt sauce the most impressive component of the dish was the technique. Because calamari is one of the easiest things to overcook. And chewy calamari is just about the least appealing thing I can imagine. 

So running with this inspiration, I was hoping to make some perfectly prepared calamari of my own. First I made a “salad” of diced heirloom tomatoes, fresh corn, red onion, zucchini, and a sweet peach. The flavors melded perfectly with the help of some lime juice and paprika and was the perfect place for some “second-blanched” calamari. I’ve tried this method a number of times in the past but this was by far the best execution. Blanching the calamari for only a matter of seconds in a water broth spiked with lemons and old bay, creates the perfect texture and highlights the seafood’s flavor. 

And this “salad” was complimented with a side of some simple kale chips. Another method that has been getting some fairly regular blog attention, baking kale with just a bit of olive oil and salt is worth a shot. Because there is no substitute for ruffles and doritos but for a unique crispy addition to your meal, these will certainly do the job!

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