Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

I try to get all of my grocery shopping done on Friday night on my way home from work. I love grocery shopping, but if I don’t try to squeeze it in between 5pm and dinner my first glass of wine on a Friday, it takes up too much of my Saturday or Sunday. I hem and haw over what to cook for lunch and dinner for week, what to make for the blog, furiously flipping through cookbooks, Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Cooks Illustrated, Pinterest and by the time I’m out the door, half of Saturday is gone and I’m starving.

Friday night grocery shopping doesn’t necessarily mean my decision making is easier, but it forces me to commit ahead of my old schedule. Last week, I decided to buy ingredients for a “Chinese salad” because 1. more salads and 2. Chinese New Year. The new South End Whole Foods has TWO AISLES of bulk bins and when I spotted bulk black rice (aka forbidden rice), I had a salad vision and went with it.

Orange and Almond Black Rice Salad with soy ginger vinaigrette is full of flavor and texture. If you’re like me and need a break from all the heavy winter foods, this salad will be satisfying. It’s filling, but full of light and crunchy veggies, like cabbage, snap peas and scallions. Isabel has been encouraging me to make these sesame clusters for a while now, and I regret not having made them sooner. Along with the roasted almonds, the sesame clusters give the salad another dimension, making it heartier and more filling than most, perfect as a main dish.

Orange + Almond Black Rice Salad | Our Four Forks | #vegan #glutenfree

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Mini Mocha Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting

Mini Mocha Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting | ourfourforks.com

Aside from the occasional (post red wine) late night cookie, I don’t bake very often. But since Valentine’s Day is around the corner and Juno (and several other storms) trapped me inside, I made these mini mocha cupcakes with raspberry cream. Twice. After one snow day last week, I brought the first batch out to one of our favorite neighborhood bars and they were devoured in minutes. The second batch, made for a Super Bowl gathering, was gone just as fast and the two remaining (which I may have hidden) were eaten for breakfast.

Made with simple, healthy ingredients, these mocha cupcakes are gluten free, vegan and full of chocolate and coffee flavor. The creamy raspberry frosting, made with just coconut oil, confectioners sugar and raspberry juice, is easy to whip up with ingredients you likely have on hand. For more of a mocha muffin rather than a cupcake, just omit the frosting and enjoy with your morning coffee.

Mini Mocha Cupcakes with Raspberry Frosting | ourfourforks.com

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Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Wings

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Wings | ourfourforks.com

Whether or not you watch the Super Bowl, it’s the end of January and, here in New England, we still have two cold ,long months of winter. In Boston, post-holiday winter means sports, bars (and sports bars), skiing and comfort food. Juno is bearing down on us as I type this and, even though I don’t care so much about the outcome of Sunday’s game (go Seahawks), I always enjoy trying healthy game-day alternatives.

These sticky sesame cauliflower wings are a flavorful, addictive alternative to traditional chicken wings liked by both vegans and meat eaters. For other healthy Super Bowl food inspiration, I’ve created a “Game Day Makeovers” Pinterest board, so follow us there.

Super Bowl Pinterest Board | ourfourforks.com

Links + Photo Credits (Top to bottom, left to right):

Sticky Sesame Cauliflower Wings | ourfourforks.com

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Chickpea Shortbread Cookies with Clementine Sugar

Chickpea Shortbread Cookies with Clementine Sugar | ourfourforks.com

Before the holidays, Isabel visited me in Boston. Since she’s basically vegan, she is used to lugging around some staple food items just in case she can’t eat what’s served: Larabars, almonds, chestnuts, and, this time, chickpea flour. Why chickpea flour? Socca. Made into a pancake or crepe from just chickpea flour and water, it’s simple to make to accompany any meal.

Inspired, I picked up my own bag of chickpea flour this weekend and decided to experiment a bit. I made socca (with some cumin at Isabel’s suggestion), but I also made chickpea shortbread cookies. Chickpea flour, also known as besan or gram flour, is popular in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking and has a characteristically nutty flavor, especially when toasted as it is here. Though Persian chickpea cookies, known as nan-e nokhochi, are traditionally made with canola oil or butter, I used coconut oil, which worked perfectly.

Chickpea Shortbread Cookies with Clementine Sugar | ourfourforks.com

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Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

It’s weird – I love cornbread, corn muffins, corn tortillas, corn bread stuffing, but I’ve never been into polenta. It’s not that I disliked it – I just didn’t have the urge to make it, order it or eat it. But my polenta perspective shifted recently when I ordered short ribs and polenta at friend’s birthday dinner and liked the polenta as much as the beef. This week, I saw a recipe for smoked porter-braised beef short ribs with polenta in Food and Wine (via the women at Food52) and made it immediately (with gluten free beer). And it was as good as it looks.

 

As a new polenta fan, I ventured into my cookbook library to find some polenta recipes I had previously skimmed over. Moosewood Restaurant New Classics, an old favorite, inspired me to bake and “bread” the polenta after letting it set, which is what I’ve done here. Crispy baked polenta with sun dried tomato pesto it full of flavor, texture and seasonality. It’s warm and comforting, but the little pop of basil gives a nod to warmer months to come.

 

Crispy Baked Polenta with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto | ourfourforks.com

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