Taste The Sun

There is the tease,

and then

there is the diabolical.

beautiful, but unbearably frigid upstate new york. but see that sky? i've been working on it...

beautiful, but unbearably frigid upstate new york. but see that sky? i've been working on it...

Here in the Northeast, climate change has given an over-the-top performance,

as we cheer wildly for a rare day above freezing.

Of course, early Spring often plays with us,

coyly giving us a warm spell,

only to revert to her old Winter habits.

But this time around, 

it's much more intense.

Cabin fever happened ages ago.

We're way beyond that.

And, with all the respect due to Nature

(as she's been given a lousy script, and a far worse production crew,)

isn't it time we make some heat?

That's more like it!

That's more like it!

Bossa Nova has been filling my rooms.

Island flavors mingling in la cucina.

Bright colors dancing front and center from a forgotten recess of my closet.

You know what I mean?

TIME. FOR. ACTION.

I'm calling in the Sun King, honey.

And I've got one hell of an offering.

Do you know about sun butter? Beasties, you've got to get on this. It tastes like creamy peanut butter, but is made from sunflower seeds. That's right! So it's wicked nutritious, nut-free, and absolutely the tastiest thing ever. Sunflower seeds are the gifts of the deliriously happy-faced sun flowers, and are loaded with beauty nutrients. They have insane amounts of vitamin E, Lovers, which your skin adores, crazy high amounts of B vitamins and beloved minerals, one of whom is magnesium, which has the ability to calm your nerves. 

Stress-busting, beautifying, AND delicious? I'd call that a purrfect food.

Let's make a Vixen-ized version of the classic peanut sesame noodles, with a spicy mango salad as its date.

Sunshine Noodles 

  • 1 9oz. package of pure buckwheat noodles (or quinoa noodles)
  • 3/4 C sun butter (available in your health food store. If they don't carry it, they can order it.)
  • 3/4-1 C pure water
  • 2 Tbsp Nama Shoyu
  • 1/2 inch piece of ginger, grated or chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped super fine
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp raw coconut nectar or stevia
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, as you like
  • 1/4 raw cashews, chopped
  • Pinch of ground cardamom
  • Celtic salt, to taste

Spicy Mango Salad

  • 2 organic mangoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 organic carrots, julienned
  • 1 organic cucumber, julienned, skin on 
  • 1/4 raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • handful of fresh organic basil, chopped
  • zest of 1 lime
  • Good pinch of Celtic salt

Make the salad first, so the flavors have time to mingle. You want to make the buckwheat noodles at the last possible moment, because they become wallpaper paste if they sit too long.

Combine all the ingredients in a pretty bowl, toss, and let it do its thing.

Now, in a large bowl, whisk together all of the Sunshine Noodles ingredients except the salt. Keep working the sun butter into the water, adding a little water at a time, until the mixture had a fairly thin, creamy consistency. Add more water if you need to. I like mine drowning in sauce, but you may prefer it a little thicker.

Make the noodles. Drain and set aside. (**You can make this totally raw by using zucchini noodles if you like. Just run them through a spiralizer or use a potato peeler.)

Add the sauce to the noodles. Using tongs, toss the mixture together, making sure to coat all the noodles. Taste it. Mmmm. Add your salt here, and adjust the fire from the pepper flakes if you desire.

Top it with the chopped cashews, and enjoy. Eat the salad first for proper digestion. Always raw before cooked. Remember that. 

It is sooo good, you won't believe it's healthy.

the real-life "girl from impanema," héloise pinheiro.

the real-life "girl from impanema," héloise pinheiro.

Bring on the tropics, Mama.

We're all waiting. 

Impatiently.

xxx Alise

Alise In Wonderland

Tea For The Temptress

Shall I tease you,

on this freeee-zing Winter day,

with thoughts of a mouthwateringly satisfying repast?

Delicate aromas, piquant flavors mingling

just waiting for you

as you come in from the cold

snow on your boots

your nose red

your pretty face licked by a chill wind...

A Lyonnaise bouchon, soul sister to both  the bistro and the café

A Lyonnaise bouchon, soul sister to both  the bistro and the café

These blustery Winter days always make me think of bustling about 

through the streets, 

busy people making their way indoors

to a hot and succulent supper.

Delightful steam coming from a stew, a tangine, a pottage, a cassoulet.

In the cities. 

and in the countyside

You, my busy Darlings,

popping into a tiny nook

to shake off the cold

warm up your soul

chat with friends 

smile at strangers,

raising your glass to the end of another day,

and the promise of a cozy evening.

My favorite haunts: Figaro BISTROT, Los angeles, and  CAFÉ REGGIO, NYC (below)

My favorite haunts: Figaro BISTROT, Los angeles, and CAFÉ REGGIO, NYC (below)

The bistro was born in the basement kitchens of Parisian boarding houses as a way for the owners to supplement income by opening up their hearth to the public, serving simple, usually slow-cooked dishes with wine and coffee. Over time, these became the classic small restaurants we adore for their modest prices, wonderful food, and enchanting atmosphere. I find the true bistro to be a close cousin to the café, though technically the latter began as more of a coffee house.

And though we associate them with major cities, these tiny gems are of course found in villages everywhere around the globe, serving regional fare and local charm. You can count on it. And that's such a beautiful thing.

Of course, it's difficult to maneuver menus anywhere,

so today, as I make my way home,

I think of how inviting it would be to slide into 

an old oak banquette

and savor a dish like this one

with all the charm of the old world

but none of the unhealthy ingredients.

I've conjured up something very special for you.

The secret here, Loves,

lies in the tea leaves...

Wild Rice Tease

Serves two.

  • 4 oz. organic wild rice
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 8 oz. organic button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 3/4 C dry red wine 
  • 1 tsp vegan butter (olive oil/flax)
  • 1 tbsp loose tea
  • Celtic salt
  • Olive oil, organic and first cold pressed if possible

Begin casting your spell by preparing a cup of loose tea. Oui!

I've used a chocolate pu-erh here, for it's rich, earthy flavor and supreme health benefits. Pu-erh has been honored in Chinese medicine for centuries as it is considered to open the meridians, 'warm the middle burner' (the spleen and stomach) and be beneficial to 'blood cleansing' and digestion. For these reasons, it is often consumed after heavy meals or sipped as a hangover cure/preventative.

A good-quality pu-erh will have an earthy, mushroomy flavor, hence my choice here. (You can find them in most tea shops, and in health food stores - Numi makes a nice one.) Of course, you can use any tea you love that compliments the flavor of whatever you're making, so experiment! Earl Grey or jasmine (the flowers, not a green tea blend) would work well here too.

So, 1 Tbsp loose chocolate pu-erh per cup of boiling water. Steep in for three minutes max. You definitely don't want any bitterness in the dish. 

Now pour the prepared tea into a saucepan, and add the wild rice. Bring it to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes when the rice is tender but chewy.

While that little number is bubbling away, spiral a little olive oil into a gently heated sauté pan. When you can feel the heat with your hand just above, add in the garlic, and allow it to sizzle and release its scent for about three minutes, until it turns translucent. With your fingers, loosen the fresh herbs from their stems and into the pan. Give it all a little stir. Let the flavors and scent mingle for a few minutes, then add in a dollop of vegan butter (about 1 Tbsp-ish), allow it to melt in, then add your mushrooms. Here's where it all gets kind of gorgeous: Fold the mushrooms into all of it, coating them and making the whole thing come alive. Splash in the red wine, stir, and let it cook ever so gently for a while. Cover it to keep the jucy-ness inside. 

When the rice is finished, introduce it to the mushroom mixture. Give it all a great tumble, and taste. Here is where you'll need a bit of Celtic salt, some pepper, and very likely a bit more wine. Stir, let it simmer a few more minutes, then taste it again. You should be there just about now.

Enjoy this with a few roasted brussels sprouts, and of course a green salad first. I like a mix of mild winter greens with apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and maybe a handful of dried cranberries and slivered almonds...

And, of course, keep that bottle of red going. *wink*

Keep playing with the tea-infused grains, my little Nibbles. I really think you'll have fun with it. Let your instincts guide you. 

Oh, and as for those tea leaves,

yes, I do read them.

And your future looks...

AMAZING.

Stay warm and well, Darlings!

I love you,

xxx Alise

A Temple Dancer's Feast

Tracing cosmic patterns with our bodies,

bringing energy forth form the center of Earth herself,

and releasing it into the stars...

Mmmmm, yeah...

Undulate on over here,

and taste the delights of Inanna's table.

Divine Falafel

For the Falafel:

  • 1 C fava (broad) beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 1 C garbanzo beans (chick peas), soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red chili, seeded and chopped (you can substitute green if you can't find red)
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 C fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped 
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • Olive oil (first cold press preferred)

For the Sauce (not pictured-oops!):

  • 1/4-1/2 C tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of ground cayenne or hot paprika
  • Spring water as needed
  • Celtic salt and fresh ground pepper

First, blast the soaked beans in a food processor or high speed blender until they are finely ground. I couldn't find dried favas, so I used canned. (Rinse them well!)

Now add in the dried spices, and give it another blast.

Add in the chili, garlic, and fresh herbs. Whizz it all until it forms a smooth, almost paste-like texture. Add a "bump-n-grind" (pinch of salt and grind of pepper), and place it all in a large bowl. Sprinkle in the baking soda, mix it all through with your hands (wheee!) and let it rest for 15 minutes.

(Go have a stretch and a little shimmy. When you're done, they will be ready.)

Wet your naughty little fingers, then begin shaping the mixture into small spheres. 

Here, you can either bake them, or sauté  in a large pan. I prefer them in the pan. Why? They're juicier. And, yes, a bit higher in fat BUT it's a healthy fat, so, who cares? If you're more comfortable baking them, simply heat your oven to 350F, lay them out on baking sheets, cover with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Take them out, and allow them to brown, turning once, for about 15-20 minutes or until golden.

If you're using the pan, spiral some olive oil in, then heat it on a medium flame. I usually heat oil very slowly, but in this case I would raise it a little, so they cook quickly and stay crispy. Toss in as many falafel as you can fit, then give them a nice sauté, rolling them around so they brown on all sides. I flattened them out with a spatula so they would cook faster (I was starving), but keeping them in spheres will keep the insides moister.

While they dance for you, make the sauce. Just whisk all the ingredients together, adding water as needed to thin the mixture to your liking. 

When they are done (of course, you must taste one, or four, to see if they are ready), transfer them to a plate and eat them immediately! Yes, they will keep, but honestly straight from the pan they are outrageously good!

And that succulent little salad gently illuminated in the back, there?

Souk Salad

  • 1/2 head organic red cabbage, sliced then chopped
  • 1 organic carrot, shredded
  • 1/4 C tahini
  • 1 C flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh mint, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
  • sprinkle of Celtic salt
  • A few grinds of fresh pepper

Just mix it all together in a large bowl, Loves! That's really it! An incredibly crisp, fresh-tasting, delicious salad that can easily include some cooked quinoa if you want to make it a meal unto itself. I wanted to add some black sesame seeds...but couldn't find any...(sniff)...

So, though falafel is traditionally eaten with pickles, or nestled into pita, sometimes with yogurt, I have made this offering light and super clean, nibbling on the figs and grapes to start, then after a spell the salad for optimum digestion, and last the gorgeous falafel with tahini sauce.  I wish you could jump through the screen and share this with me!

The fragrance, the textures, the flavors...total foodgasm.

Have a beautiful day, Beasties.

Undulate with me, yes?

xxx Alise