I love that word, by the way (in case you couldn’t tell from my title)– Redux. It’s a literary term, meaning “brought back, restored.” I’m going to start referring to my second round of the Clean Program– my revision of 21 days of detoxing– as the CPR.
So here we are again, dear readers . . . brought back, restored to Thursday (everything is recursive, I’m beginning to realize)– Day Eight of the CPR.
And, like last week, the EBWINTMENIHMB is coming over for dinner and, whether he knows it or not, another seduction.
As I’m flirting with vegetarianism and eating Clean (off the elimination diet), sexy food must also be healthy food. Vital. Cleansing. Yet my goal is also that each course would be delicious and indulgent at the same time.
So now that I live in Vancouver again, I want to support local businesses and buy fresh and local whenever I can. Downtown Vancouver is what is known as a “food desert.”
I went in to Neighbor’s on Tuesday to see if they had local frozen cherries for my Detox Cherry Beet Smoothie. They did not, but the woman who owns it said, “I know a farm where I can get them,” and promptly made a notation in a little black book: “Come back next week?” she said. “They should be in by then.”
While I was there, I started browsing, wanting to see if I could get some root veggies or local greens– just see what they had in terms of produce. And lo and behold, they had nettles. I LOVE nettles. Last week, at the Food Co op, it was fiddlehead ferns for the millet risotto.
I love surprises, and so does the EBWINTMENIHMB. So as soon as I saw them, I knew that the special ingredient of this Week’s installment of Dinner and Seduction would be nettles. (And now I’m thinking of Iron Chef and the special/secret ingredient. God, I love that show. The Japanese one, not the American one– the dubbed in voices are even more delicious than the food.)
Anyway, I spent Tuesday night trying to think of recipes with nettles. Usually I would prepare them like spinach– blanch them in hot water so they lose their sting, dry them, and then sauté them in olive oil. Delicious, yes, but I admit, upon reflection, that they probably got a bit of short shrift that way– when paired with a meat.
Now that I’m seeing the world through the eyes of a vegetarian, I want to make the nettles the star of the meal. And yet most of the nettle recipes I found were not clean: they had cheese, or were built around a pasta, or were paired with meat.
Then I found this gorgeous recipe for Nettle Soup and it hit me: Nettle Soup with homemade Clean flatbread. I did a little searching and found a recipe that would be easier to adapt to my nutritional standards: Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s recipe from The Guardian.
Nestled next to the nettles at Neighbor’s were some gorgeous violets. I could not say no to their lovely little purple faces. “They are full of Vitamin C,” the owner told me, because of all the sunlight they absorb. I did a quick search for the nutritional benefits of violets, but right now, I’m just excited to use them as a garnish, sprinkled on top of the soup.
So that’s the first course.
I’m also going to serve a salad. I’ve been saving the salad greens I’ve been growing behind my house for this meal. When I bought them, two Sunday’s ago now (Palm Sunday!), I harvested from them almost immediately, and then left them alone until last Thursday. So I’ve left them alone for another week– letting them regenerate for my dinner of seduction.
They are so happy right now in their new home. I was a little worried about them getting enough sun behind my house, but they are bursting out of their home– there’s a deer tongue lettuce that looks like it just wants to leap out of the basket. I say hello to them every morning (I can’t help it.) Exuberant might be the word for it.
And speaking (writing?) of exuberant . . . I am so excited to serve the EBWINTMENIHMB a salad I harvested just minutes before we eat it. I have radishes (I have been craving radishes– they are very cleansing) and I’m going to make a carrot ginger dressing (altered slightly to be Clean) from Gwenneth Paltrow’s cleanse diet– according to her, this dressing is “the jam.” I don’t know quite how to read that (does that mean like jelly?), but it does look delicious.
And just in case the EBWINTMENIHMB is still hungry, I’m going to have another course ready to whip up. Because at Neighbor’s, foraging through their little refrigerator of greens, I found these gorgeous maitake mushrooms– fresh. Local. Maitakes are nutritional powerhouses– I remember reading about them in one of Dr. Perricone’s books years ago. I even took a supplement for a while (this was years ago.) So now I have some to actually prepare for culinary delight.
I sort of agonized a while over what to make with the maitakes. Of course, the millet risotto I made last week with mushrooms and fiddleheads would have been perfect. But this is my weekly date with the EBWINTMENIHMB– I don’t want to be a one trick pony.
So I let that question back burner for a while, and then I remembered that soba noodles (100% buckwheat) are on the Clean List. So I am going to make a simple stir fry with the cooked and shocked soba noodles and sauteed mushrooms with scallions and a few other things. I may add more add more radishes to the recipe.
And of course, there is the question of dessert. The EBWINTMENISMB has a sweet tooth– he loves dessert. He especially loves ice-cream, and he pretty much famous in his social circles for his home-made ice-cream.
I’ve been experimenting with clean desserts in my Vitamixer– Tuesday night I made a peach sorbet that was just frozen peaches, and then (strictly in the name of experimentation, you understand) a cherry sorbet that was simply frozen cherries and two teaspoons of raw cacao powder. I like my desserts more tart– less sweet, so to please the EBWINTMENISMB that is going to be a little trickier.
I tried to make a nondairy vanilla ice-cream yesterday (the first time he made ice-cream, at Christmas (a to-die for peppermint), he told me that making a high quality vanilla ice cream with vanilla beans (rather than extract) is the best base– then add fruits or candy or whatever it is you’re going to add.)
In my ice-cream experiment, I made some almond milk, and then added the recommended portions of sugar (I used palm sugar, which is CLean) and vanilla extract and ice cubes. It tasted like ice-milk– ok, but definitely not the satisfying mouth feel of ice-cream.
One woman on a vitamix forum suggested four parts frozen to one part liquid– so a cup of coconut milk, say, to a pound of frozen strawberries.I also made one using the ingredients for vanilla ice cream but replacing the icecubes with frozen raspberries. That one was better.
The EBWINTMENISMB lent me a book called Vice Cream– a vegan approach to ice-cream– but all the recipes are for ice-cream makers. But the ingredients were awesome.
So I think what I’m going to do a mix of a few things: I’m super into those frozen cherries right now, but the EBWINTMENISMB is not super into chocolate. So I’m going to make an “ice cream” for him that uses a cup of hazelnut milk (I’ll sprout the nuts tonight) and add a third of a cup of medjool dates (the preferred raw sweetener from the Vice Cream cookbook.) And then I’ll add a touch of raw honey (I just really want to use that) and a vanilla bean pod. Instead of ice, I’m going to use frozen cherries.
I think it will be good. It won’t be ice-cream, persay, but it will be creamy and smooth and delicious. A vibrant red from the cherries. Flavor from the sugars (the raw honey and the dates) and from the vanilla bean.
So we’ll see how tonight goes. We may get through all three courses– we may not. Hopefully I won’t sting my hands raw whilst transferring nettles from their bag to the huge pot of boiling water to blanch them. I may enlist the help of the WBWINTMENISMB with the dessert . . . as I’m typing this I’m realizing I forgot the vanilla bean, so I’ll probably text him and ask him to bring one. Yes, he is the kind of man who has vanilla beans at his house on the regular. To be honest, I have no idea what will happen.
All I know is that I am excited.
Will post pictures and any successful recipes tomorrow!