Chef Amber Bailey

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Vegan Coconut Crusted Sweet Potato Bahn Mi with Chili Miso Mayonnaise

I can't believe that it is March already! It seems crazy to me that 2015 is already in full effect and charging through it's third month. I am so excited for what March has to bring.. one of those lovely things being SPRING and slightly warmer weather (however I say this as it's totally snowing outside). And of course, once it's Spring, it will mean that I officially SURVIVED my first Winter! I wasn't really sure how it was going to go, I honestly had this terrible picture of being in some type of arctic tundra where the entire city was just underneath mountains of snow....but luckily for me it wasn't as bad as my mind had imagined (lets be real, I'm in NYC not Boston).

Since it has been so cold these past few months, it has really given me time to come up with new recipes and to cook new things that I normally would just get from a restaurant (just because it is more convenient that way). I have realized the fact that if you don't have a ton of good food places in your immediate area here in the city, you are forced to go outside of your comfort zone and venture out to other parts of the city... or you are forced to just cook at home. Luckily for me, I love to cook, so the second option is what I usually end up doing. 

When I lived in Orlando, I lived next to this lovely Vietnamese restaurant called Pho 88. It was my absolute favorite place to go get a steaming bowl of Pho noodle soup. They also had really yummy Bahn mi sandwiches that were so incredibly cheap, it almost made you scared to eat them (until you took your first bite, then you realized that you didn't care how they made it.. you just wanted to finish it as quickly as possible). Their sandwiches were so popular, the owners decided to open just a Bahn mi sandwich shop right down the street (also walking distance from my house). This shop, Yum-mi sandwiches (such a clever little name in my opinion), had 15-20 different types of Bahn mi sandwiches, all super cheap, and very fresh. My favorite sandwiches were always the vegetarian ones, with lemongrass tofu or sometimes I just got extra vegetables. I always knew that no matter what my Vietnamese craving was, it would be satisfied. 

Since moving here (the city that feels like it has millions of places to eat)... I have yet to find the perfect Bahn mi sandwich shop (however Num Pang has a pretty killer version). There is just so many options, I just don't have time to try them all.. and I want a ultra-fabulous-super-delicious bahn mi sandwich basically on my first try. So... while I am still looking for that can't-stop-to-breath -while-I-am-eating sandwich shop, I had to just come up with something on my own that I knew that would satisfy my craving.

What I came up with? I wanted to do something vegetarian and something with coconut. Why with coconut? Well... a few months ago I purchased (in bulk) 6 bags of unsweetened flaked coconut... I still have 5 1/2 bags. Therefore, what would be better than coconut crusted roasted sweet potato slices on a crusty baguette with crunchy pickled carrots and daikon, fresh jalapenos & cucmber, vibrant cilantro, and a white miso scented spicy mayonnaise? Absolutely nothing.. was my answer, so I preheated my oven and started prepping away. Bahn mi sandwiches are pretty easy, you really just need to quick pickle the carrot and daikon, then cook whatever your base of the sandwich is going to be, then assemble.  If you didn't want to have a vegetarian sandwich, you could always use some type of protein (like chicken or tiger shrimp), and maybe one day I will play around with a recipe like that, but today, I am using the simple sweet potato. When I realized that I was going to do sweet potato, I started looking through the internet to see if anyone else had done something similar, and to my good fortune I found a lovely version from a blog called Earthy Feast where Grace makes whole foods look to beautiful in her food photography pictures. Once I saw her sandwich, I knew that I was going to make something that was similar, but had my own twist on  it! 

Recipe - adapted from Earthy Feast Smokey Sweet Potato Bahn mi

Ingredients & What to do:

Pickled carrots and daikon

  • 4 carrots, cut into matchsticks (you could also buy pre-cut matchstick carrots at the store. I didn't because I wanted my carrots and daikon to be similar in size once cut)
  • 2 daikon, cut into matchsticks
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp agave
  1. Put the matchstick carrots and daikon in medium size bowl, set aside
  2. Combine the water, vinegar, salt and agave in small saucepan and heat until boiling
  3. Once boiling, remove from heat, pour over the carrot and daikon mixture
  4. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then let chill in refrigerator until ready to assemble sandwich (best if chills for at least 30 minutes)

Coconut crusted sweet potato

  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes, skin on, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil - I used room temperature, un-melted coconut oil, I realized it acts almost like a paste when it is not melted, and it worked perfectly to keep the coconut flakes to stick to the sweet potato. *I used to live in FL, where the coconut oil was always melted NO matter what, it's OK if yours is melted, I just wouldn't go the extra step to melt it if you didn't have to!
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, pulsed a few times in the food processor, but still left very coarse
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 400 and line two medium size baking sheets with parchment paper
  2. Place sweet potato slices in medium sized bowl, add the coconut oil to the bowl, and massage onto each piece of potato.
  3. Once the sweet potato is covered with the coconut oil, add the coconut flakes, sea salt, black pepper and 1 tsp of the paprika to the bowl, toss to coat until all pieces have an equal amount on them.
  4. Line the slices of sweet potato equally spaced out on the parchment lined baking sheets
  5. Sprinkle with the remaining paprika
  6. Bake 12-15 minutes until sweet potato is cooked through, but not mushy (I checked mine at about 10 minutes, and then again at 15. They will continue to cook slightly once removed from the oven, so just try to be careful to not overcook the slices)
  7. Let cool for 3 minutes before sandwich assembly

Spicy Miso Mayonnaise

  • 3 Tbsp Mayonnaise (I used Veganaise)
  • 1 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp Tamari
  • 1 tsp sambol oelek (raw chili paste)
  1. Add all ingredients in small bowl, mix until completely combined and then refrigerate for 30 minutes so that the flavor can really settle.

Other ingredients for sandwich

  • 4 medium size baguettes (I got mine from Whole Foods, they are made fresh daily and are just super cute)
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs, divided into 4 portions
  • 2 cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Almost time to eat!

Putting it all together:

  • Toast the baguette for 2 minutes in the already heated oven
  • Slice down the middle and remove half of the inside of the baguette (the guts) - this will make room for all those yummy ingredients about to go in your sandwich!
  • Spread chili miso mayonnaise on both sides of the inside of the baguette
  • Layer in order: coconut sweet potato slices, carrot & daikon, cilantro, cucumber slices, jalapeno slices (however many you like for your spiciness liking.. my jalapeno's were so incredibly hot that I only used about half a jalapeno per sandwich)
  • Fold over and press down slightly so the ingredients really incorporate together, cut in half and serve with lime wedges
  • Enjoy warm, or you can enjoy room temperature or even cold (I did all three ways and really thought they were all fantastic)

 

Please try this sandwich! If the pictures I have included below don't entice you... just trust me.. it was worth the tiny bit of effort!

Happy eating,

Amber

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Before it was the sandwich... it was just fresh, colorful ingredients

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The pickled carrots and daikon are my favorite part about bahn mi.. it just screams fresh

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It's almost as if the coconut snowed all over the sweet potato. this was before the sweet potato went into the oven.

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beautiful and golden, straight from the oven

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are you hungry yet?

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i went a bit crazy with the sandwich pics, you can stop anytime.. 

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or can you?

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..almost done i promise

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this was my favorite picture from today

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until i took this one...

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...and i'm done! hope you enjoyed!

Caramelized onion & roasted garlic tart with gluten free brown rice crust

Happy Saturday! 

I was delighted to find out that I got the day off today (which is something rare for me and Saturdays), so I decided to make the best of this not so pretty, kind of snowy day, and to practice on my food photography and recipe writing.

I decided to share this recipe, one that I absolutely love making, of a healthier version of a savory tart (or quiche, however quiche just sounds so 90's to me, therefore I am going to go with calling it a tart instead).

 

There is really few ingredients in this dish, so it really gives the ones that are in it a chance to really shine. I started with a brown rice crust that is just one egg mixed into some brown rice, then cooked for 10 minutes until crispy. Next I add caramelized onions,  they are truly one of the simplest and satisfying things that you can do in the kitchen. All it takes is a little patience and you have these wonderfully brown and sweet onions that go well with so many dishes. When I first started caramelizing onions, I (gasp) would add a tsp of sugar to quicken the process and ensure that they would get sweet quickly. I now know that by just covering the onions during the first half of the cooking time, you only need just a pinch of salt and they will come out perfect every time. Roasted garlic in a tart was first introduced to me when I was reading one of my many cookbooks, Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi. His recipe inspired me to start putting roasted garlic in my own tart, because it is just a fabulous counterpart to the caramelized onions. I also add quite a bit of air into my eggs and almond milk mixture before pouring over crust, caramelized onions and roasted garlic. I just throw the eggs and almond milk right into my Vitamix and let it go for about 30 seconds, this makes your tart so light and airy. Lastly, to finish the tart off, its specked with a bit of herb chevre, dill, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. 

This is something that is basically made with pantry ingredients that can be found in someones basic pantry, which is probably why I am even cooking it today (I didn't feel like going to the store in the snow). So, please enjoy, as always, if you have any questions about my recipe, just ask!

Have a wonderful weekend NYC!

Amber

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 heads garlic
  • 5 small yellow onions
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tbsp herb chevre
  • salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • fresh or dried dill

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Beat one egg then add to the brown rice in medium sized bowl, making sure to incorporate the egg throughout the rice
  • Spread the rice mixture over two small oven safe pans (or one medium sized pie pan, whatever you have in your kitchen). *The pans I used were non-stick, therefore I did not add any type of oil to coat the pan, if yours are not non-stick, I would spray it with olive oil
  • Bake for 10 minutes until the sides are light brown and crispy, remove from oven.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  • Roasted garlic: cut the tops off the two heads of garlic and place them on a piece of foil or parchment paper. Drizzle the 1 tsp of olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt, and wrap tightly. Place the little package on a baking sheet, and place in the oven, roast for 40 minutes.
  • Caramelized onions: Thinly slice 5 small onions, add 1 tbsp olive oil to heavy bottom pan over medium heat, add the onions, 1/2 tsp sea salt, stir and then cover. This process takes about 35 minutes, at about 25 minutes, uncover and finish cooking. Try to stir the onions every 10 minutes or so.
  • Egg mixture: 4 eggs, 1 tbsp almond milk, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, blend 30 seconds
  • Assemble: Add the caramelized onion mixture over the brown rice, then layer pieces of the roasted garlic around the tart, spacing out accordingly. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the brown rice, caramelized onions and roasted garlic. Sprinkle the tops with tiny specs of the chevre, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper, pinch of red pepper flakes and dill.
  • Bake in the oven for 25 minutes
  • Let cool for 2 minutes before cutting

ENJOY! 

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Cauliflower Pizza with Fresh Ricotta, Roasted Apples and Balsamic Kale

Days off to me are not a successful day off unless I am doing something in the kitchen. Everyone has ways to relax, and one of my ways that I relax is trying out new recipes or ideas of things that I have been wanting to try or perfect. Days off are also when I try to clear out whatever food items I have in my refrigerator that are needing to be used before they can't be used any longer. So when I looked around yesterday to see what ingredients I had on hand, and this beautiful cauliflower head was staring back at me, I realized that this was a perfect time to try (for probably the 10th time) to make cauliflower pizza crust that wasn't limp and soggy.

I mean, don't get me wrong, the cauliflower pizza crust that I have made before wasn't terrible, it just wasn't anything very special either.. for some reason it always came out a bit too squishy for my liking. This time, I decided that it was going to come out perfect; so I read up online about making the crust end up a bit more crispy and easier to just be able to pick up with your hands and eat it (instead of the fork and knife method).

Here are some things that I found out:

  • Cauliflower has a naturally high water content; therefore if you just process it down in the food processor (or vitamix or blender or whatever you have at your house), and then just start adding your ingredients to make the "crust", the end result will be soggy because anything that is soaking wet will not get truly crispy when baking in the oven. Therefore, once you 
  • Adding binding ingredients is important - if you try to just process the cauliflower and then try to bake it, it's not going to work! You need some binder in there to really hold it all together. I used eggs and coconut flour (to make it gluten free) and the results were awesome, however I think that next time I am going to try a vegan version with a flax "egg" to see how it comes out.
  • Very thin rounds - Instead of doing a large one crust fits all type of thing, I decided to do 4 small individual type crusts. This made it easier for me to flip them during the cooking process so that both sides were equally crispy, and it also made it easier for me to make sure that the crusts were as thin as possible.
  • Parchment paper - I have made the mistake of thinking that using aluminum foil and cooking spray or oil would do the trick to make sure these wouldn't stick... I was very unsuccessful every time I have used anything except parchment paper. The crusts just lift right off and just makes it so easy for when you are flipping them over while cooking.

Okay, so those are my tips to success.. now here's the recipe for the crust!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

(vegetarian, gluten free, low carb)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small head cauliflower, broken into pieces so that you can process it in a food processor
  • 1/4 cup shredded (or grated) Parmeggiano-Reggiano cheese *any hard, not easily melting cheese would work (asiago, romano, etc.)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 Tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 Tsp red pepper flakes (you don't need to add this, but I like a little kick in everything that I eat)
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning (if I had fresh oregano, parsley, and thyme in my fridge, I would of used those, but I didn't.. so I just used what I had)
  • 3 eggs, beaten slightly

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Process the cauliflower pieces in food processor until small, almost grain like in size. (This took me two rounds, because my food processor doesn't have the biggest bowl)
  • Remove the cauliflower pieces in batches into a cheesecloth (I didn't have cheese cloth just laying around my kitchen, so I used strong paper towels and just did it in two batches), once in the cloth, squeeze the cauliflower bits until it has released the excess moisture. Remove the cauliflower from the cheesecloth or paper towel, then place all of the squeezed cauliflower in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Add the remaining ingredients starting with the cheese and finishing with the beaten eggs into the mixing bowl with the cauliflower. Stir until combined.
  • Lined a baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Equally divide the cauliflower mixture into 4 portions. Place one of the portions in a disc shape on the lined baking sheet, making sure that it is no thicker than 1/2 inch (the thinner it is, the crispier it will be). Repeat with the remaining portions of cauliflower mixture.
  • Place baking sheet in preheated oven, and bake for 25 minutes on the first side. 
  • After 25 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven, and flip the cauliflower crusts so that the side which was on the bottom, will now also brown and become crispy. *See side note
  • Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, and let stand for 3 minutes.

 

*When flipping the crusts, make sure to be careful so that they do not break when you are flipping them. Start at the corner edge and work your way through the crust so that it doesn't break when trying to flip over.

 

When I made my pizza, I was trying to use up whatever ingredients I had in my refrigerator that day. Anything that you feel like putting on a regular pizza would work just fine! But if you do want to do what I did, here's what I did:

Cauliflower Pizza with Fresh Ricotta, Roasted Apples and Balsamic Kale

  • 4 Cauliflower pizza crusts (recipe above)
  • While the cauliflower crusts are baking, start cooking and assembling the rest of your ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ricotta + 1 Tsp olive oil, mixed together (divided into 1/2 Tbsp portions)
  • Pinch sea salt flakes per pizza
  • 2 Apples, sliced and roasted (I used honeycrisp, they are my favorite. I just roasted the sliced apples at the last 10 minutes of my cauliflower crusts cooking time, no need to add anything to the apples, just slice and bake in the oven)
  • 2 Cups Balsamic Kale (how to: 1/2 small onion diced and sauteed for 2 minutes, 3 cups chopped kale, salt and pepper to taste, cook until kale is slightly wilted over medium heat- about 4 minutes, finish with 2 Tsp balsamic vinegar)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes per pizza
  • Olive oil, used to just drizzle over finished pizza

What to do:

  1. Take 1 crust and spread 1/2 Tbsp of the fresh ricotta mixture on top of it. Sprinkle the sea salt flakes over the ricotta.
  2. Fan out the apple slices over the ricotta (roughly 8 slices)
  3. Top with 1/2 Cup of the kale mixture
  4. Finish with the red pepper flakes and drizzle with olive oil
  5. EAT!

Ok so that's it! It may seem like a lot, but it only took me about 45 minutes to make these (including inactive cooking time). This really was something delicious and it was an absolute perfect light lunch. Please, if you have any questions about anything I posted here, please just leave a comment and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading,

Happy Eating-

Amber

 

 

Coming soon!

Weekly posts of my favorite recipe that I have been cooking, or maybe just a technique that I would like to share. Please let me know if there is anything that you would like to see on here, just send me a quick email and I will try to fit it in!

Cheers

Amber