November 7, 2012 § 4 Comments
Fall is nearly over; the leaves have hit the ground, filling the air with the saccharine scent of decomposition. Long walks in the ginseng-scented woods yield hens and chickens hiding on rotting trees, dilapidated bikes and a flush that rouges my cheeks. Against the setting sun the tips of the barren trees look like black lace. Once the sun is gone, the air is silent and chilling. I was lucky enough to catch some glimpses of Rhode Island’s color before it was wiped away by the brazen winds of hurricane Sandy.
The lack of warmth and daylight at this time of the year instigates (for me at least) a craving for craze sweets, breads and hearty roasts (all things I hardly ever eat). However, now more than ever it’s imperative to really dig in and feed our body things that will nourish it.
With the length of the days rapidly decreasing we can all feel winter’s threat; naturally most of us go into hibernation mode. Comfort food keeps us warm, but unfortunately many of the dishes we’ve come to know as our favorites are not exactly the best fuel for keeping us healthy. As I’m sure you know (and have read on every health-related website), whole foods (aka foods with only one ingredient in the ingredient list) are the fuel our body needs and craves. When we’re hungry, tired and stressed (common feelings for this time of the year, are they not?) we tend to make food choices that don’t benefit us. Then we’re forced to deal with the consequences of our poor food choices when we feel lethargic or get sick. Everything we put in our bodies matters, yes, every little thing.
I said all of that to say this; coconut flour is not only satiating with its high fiber, protein and fat content, but is also delicious. Coconut is indulgent and nourishing at its core and this flour proves it. Coconut flour can be used to make cookies, cakes, waffles, pancakes, tarts, “oat”meal and may be a substitute for flour when thickening sauces. But, because coconut flour holds water so well, there are some adjustments that need to be made. When using 100% coconut flour, for every one cup used, 4 eggs should be added to the recipe. By the way, coconut flour is gluten-free so consider experimenting with it if you’re cooking for someone with an intolerance.
This recipe can be made many ways, my favorite is just the fragrant coconut flour, a pinch of stevia and some hot water, but adding coconut milk (cream) an egg and vanilla extract makes for a heavier, more custard-like dish. Below I’ll provide both recipes. Experiment and enjoy!
Coconut Flour “Oat”meal
My Favorite way:
(makes one hearty vegan, gluten-free serving)
1/4 cup raw, organic coconut flour, 1 tsp organic powdered stevia, about 1 cup of hot water and fruit, nuts and nut butters for topping with cinnamon, cardamom and/or cacao powder for spicing
In a bowl mix coconut flour and stevia. Add hot water 1/2 cup at a time, mixing as you add the water. The coconut flour requires a lot of water, but to avoid making your “oat”meal too watery taste it as you go. I like mine on the drier, less soupy side.
(makes one hearty gluten-free serving)
1/4 cup coconut flour, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup coconut cream or milk, 1 egg, 1 tsp stevia or other sweetener, 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract and fruit, nuts and nut butters for topping with cinnamon, cardamom and/or cacao powder for spicing
In a small sauce pan mix coconut flour, water and cream over medium heat until there are no clumps of flour. Add the egg. Immediately mix so the egg doesn’t cook. Continuously stir the mixture while you add vanilla extra, stevia and any desired spices. Top with something delicious and serve while warm.
More on Turin and Terra Madre to come. But for now, enjoy your “oat”meal.
October 6, 2012 § 2 Comments
This is going to be quick; no convincing, no nutrition information or wordy phrases (sorry Paul) and it’s mainly because every second spent doing something other than studying alpha helices, beta-pleated sheets and amino acids seems kind of, I don’t know, unproductive. BUT we all have to eat so I might as well share one of my recent favorites.
I know, why didn’t we think of this before? Anyways, this can be used as a dip, a spread, a body mousse or a dressing and, can be made with other fleshy winter squash, nut/seed butters and spices. With that said, this lightly spiced pumpkin-tahina combo has been my favorite thus far.
I do have to mention that a creamy tahina (also know as tahini but I have had trouble calling it that since hearing Israelis throatily proclaim it tah-hina as if it’s a goddness of some sort) and pungent garlic are necessary here (since they are really the only ingredients). Cumin, sumac, nutmeg, black pepper, paprika or a touch of cayenne would certainly lend some character, but here is the base, you do the rest. Also, I will give the recipe for homemade tahina, which is by far the strongest and most satisfying, but you can certainly fine some decent tahina around.
Oh by the way, I was joking about the body mousse thing…
Sugar Pumpkin “Hummus”
Hummus: 2 cups of sugar pumpkin puree*, 1/3 cup tahina, 2 cloves raw garlic, about 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil and fine grain sea salt to taste.
*Roast a large, gutted pumpkin at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes or until soft then scape out the flesh. In a food processor, or blender pulse the pumpkin until sooth. 15oz of organic canned pumpkin works as well.
Tahina: 2 cups hulled sesame seeds, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or sesame seed oil and 1/4 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)
In a skillet, toast the sesame seeds one cup at a time until light brown and fragrant. In a food processor pulse the toasted seeds until they form a fine meal. Add the salt. While running the food processor, add olive oil in a stream, processing for about 15 seconds. Pour the tahina into a bowl and mix with a fork until there are no dry lumps. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.
Note: Freshly milled tahina can be stored in a mason/bell jar in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks.
In a bowl combine the pumpkin puree, tahina and olive oil. Mix until fully combine. Press (with a garlic press) or chop the garlic then add it to the pumpkin mixture. Mix well, and season with salt or desired spices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
This recipe makes about 4 servings. It can be kept refrigerated in an airtight container for 4 days, but I guarantee it won’t last that long.
September 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
What do you do with a tomato beaten by the sun, scorched fiery red, with flesh so plump and juicy that it has folded over upon itself?
I found it cloaked with purslane beneath a mound of weeds while picking kale at my secret kale picking spot. I got lucky, had it been there much longer it probably would have turned to mush, but its scarlet skin caught my eye. Tomatoes are delicious, but I only eat them in the summer because, well you know; they suck in the winter. First off, they are gassed red with ethylene gas made from petroleum. Secondly who wants to eat a cold, watery tomato when it’s snowing – I’ll take a warm, sweet buttercup squash over a mealy tomato any winter day. Anyways, a lot of the tomatoes we grow end up getting cooked down and jarred, so they can be used when the days are short and there is snow on the ground, but big ones like these require eating now.
Brandywine, Amish paste, Aunt Rudy’s paste, Pineapple Bicolor (my personal favorite), Sungold, Cherokee Purple, Black Prince, Cosmonaut Volkov, Green Zebra, Big Boy, Verde Puebla, Tomatillos, Jubilee, Rutger’s, Early Girl, Grandma Mary’s paste and Black Krim tomatoes made up this summer’s collection. I will miss going into the backyard before every meal, but I am relishing in it, using every bit of fresh food that I can.
So, while tomatoes are everywhere you should be throwing them into everything (unless of course you’re allergic to them, in which case I’m very sorry but you’ll have to sit this one out)! Here I’ve combine bright tomatoes with organic black quinoa, pignoli (aka pine nuts but pignoli sounds so much better), basil and a splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice. This recipe is fast and delicious, it’s vegan, gluten-free and because it’s quinoa based, it is a good source of complete protein. Oh, and it makes a convenient salad topper; keep it in your refrigerator and scoop some onto a bowl of hearty spinach or spicy arugula.
Black Quinoa, Pignoli & Tomato Toss
2 3/4 cups vegetable broth, 1 cup black quinoa, 1/2 cup pignoli nuts, 4 large tomatoes, any variety, diced, 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped, juice from 1/2 of a lemon, 1/2 tbsp dried mint, 1 tsp dried tarragon, black pepper and sea salt to taste and extra virgin olive oil
In a medium sauce pan over high heat bring 2 cups of vegetable broth and quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, cover and turn the heat down to medium. Stir every couple of minutes until the quinoa has absorbed all of the liquid.
If the quinoa doesn’t fluff up, but remains chewy add the remaining 3/4 cup of broth and continue to cook over medium heat until the liquid is gone and the quinoa is fluffy. When finished quinoa has tiny white strands that separate from the black part of the grain (see above).
When the quinoa is completely finished toss it with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, transfer it to a serving bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or until cool.
While the quinoa is cooling, dry roast the pignoli nuts in a cast iron skillet or saute pan. This takes less than 5 minutes. Once the pan is hot the nuts will brown and become fragrant; this means they are finished.
Chop the tomatoes, discarding the water and seeds in the center; this prevents the dish from being watery. Julienne the basil and combine it with dried mint, tarragon, lemon juice and a teaspoon of olive oil.
When the quinoa has cooled toss in the basil dressing and the pignoli nuts. Season with salt and black pepper before serving.
August 9, 2012 § 3 Comments
Crunchy granola. Yes, crunchy granola is right and in more ways than the one mind-blowing, muscle powering, tongue tantalizing way I’m about to share with you. This recipe basically defines crunchy granola in the flowing floral skirts, worn sliver jewlery, kombuch brewing, feathers and fern trees, Dr. Bronner’s castile soap, mung bean sprouting, beeswax boiling, make love not war, downward-facing dog kind of way. This buckwheat granola was my best friend during my mountain and rock climbing excursion through New Hampshire.
While we are on the topic; I Googled “crunchy granola” and was so amused (maybe a bit too much) by the Urban Dictionary definition of “crunchy granola bar” that I felt it completely necessary to share so you can use it to spice up your everyday vernacular.
Heidi: “Oh that Crunchy Granola Bar? I heard he just moved here from Denver.”
Hiking and rock climbing with two crunchy granola bars is not easy, so I made a huge batch of raw sprouted, vegan (if you omit the raw local honey) buckwheat granola and figured it would be the best fuel (screw over-processed power bars) to power my butt up the mountain as fast as my boyfriend and his friend. And I must say, it worked very well. Not only did we make it up Mount Washington, but we completed the ascent, which usually takes about 4 hours, in only 2 hours and 40 minutes (including our granola eating breaks). I was impressed.
Since the “crunchy granola bars” I was hanging with both spend most of the year in the mountains of Arizona and Colorado, they are into rock climbing. Because Rumney, NH has some good spots to climb, we spent our last day there so they could remedy their climbing craving. So, for the first time I climbed outside, and have to say, it was a lot of fun – but again, without my sprouted granola I probably would not have been able to keep up and complete all the climbs that they did!
Between climbs I came across some pretty cool looking mushrooms but decided to stick with eating the granola. I don’t think hallucinating is smart while rock climbing but what do I know? Anyways, let’s talk about this granola. Buckwheat is a serious power food. Not only is it gluten-free, but it also, according to Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, may help to lower blood glucose levels which allow those who enjoy it to stay satiated while managing and preventing diabetes. Plus, buckwheat is high in fiber, flavonoids and minerals such as magnesium. These mirconutirents harmonize to synergistically lower LDL (low density lipoproteins aka bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (high-density lipoproteins aka healthy cholesterol). Almost as impressive as our Mt. Washington ascent, huh?
Sprouted Buckwheat & Date Granola
3 1/2 cups raw buckwheat*, 25 large Medjool dates, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin coconut oil, 2 Tbsp raw honey (optional), 1 Tbsp organic vanilla extract, 1 tsp Himalayan pink salt, 2 Tbsp Ceylon Cinnamon, 2 cups whole raw nuts (almonds, pecans or cashews), 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
*the amount will increase after sprouting because the buckwheat will hold water
Optional Additions: Flax seeds (raw or sprouted), crystallized ginger, dried Turkish or Black Mission figs, dried bananas, seeds, cacao nibs or beans, etc.
To Sprout: Rinse the buckwheat in a sieve, then put it in a baking dish or bowl fully submerged in water. Let the buckwheat sit in the water for 1 hour. After an hour, pour the buckwheat back into the sieve and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 24-48 hours (depending on how sprouted you want them) rinsing every 12 hours. When you begin to see the “tails” you can make the granola.
Date Paste: In a blender, combine 18 dates, the water, coconut oil, honey (if using), vanilla and pink salt until they for a somewhat smooth paste. Taste and adjust adding more dates, honey or vanilla depending on your preferences.
Meanwhile, chop up the remaining dates into fourths. Mix dates, nuts, coconut and cinnamon into the sprouted buckwheat. Add the date paste making sure to scrape every last drop from the blender into the buckwheat mixture.
To “Dehydrate”: Set your oven to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly coat with coconut oil. Split the buckwheat mixture into two and evenly press it out on to the baking sheets. Dehydrate for 10 to 24 hours until the date paste is dry and the buckwheat forms sheets or clusters.
Note: My oven takes about 20 hours set on the “drying” setting, but every oven will be different depending on the setting and the heat. If you have a dehydrator, set to about 110 degrees Fahrenheit and dehydrate for 3-6 hours flipping the granola over after 1.5-3 hours.
Enjoy in yogurt, tossed into a kale salad (my favorite), with some fresh figs or berries, on a peanut butter banana, in nut milk or just straight up in big handfuls! Be careful though, this stuff is addicting…. and crunchy!
July 16, 2012 § 2 Comments
We are in the heat of the summer and finally the zucchinis are sprouting their phallic protrusions like it’s going out of style, the cucumber vines are spotted with petite yellow flowers that morph into miniature cucs, the nasturtiums are going wild, broccoli crowns royally spring up after every cutting, snap peas line the twirling tendrils, green tomatoes sun bathe trying to turn their sick skin ruby red, the chard is plentiful, garlic scapes emit their pungent fragrance and the kale isn’t stopping any time soon.
Along with the boisterous produce, eggs with yolks that are as orange as the sky at sunset are coming rapidly. The four chicks are growing faster than the purslane at the feet of my brandywines and I’m excited to figure out their sex. I’m hoping for no more than one rooster, but that would be some ridiculously good luck.
Good food is always plentiful in the summer as meals are always straight from the garden. It takes a lot to grow the food so to not take advantage of each morsel that comes from the rich soil seems silly. With that being said, I’m sure you can image how much chard and kale I’ve been eating, no? After eating greens for breakfast, lunch and dinner I guess it’s not surprising that I would start doing “crazy” things. First I started using nut butter to dress the leaves of the salad, next I added some fruit and then I went wild, mixing cacao nibs into my plate of Russian Red kale. Oh so good.
I guess it may seem strange if you’re stuck on the black and white idea that cacao = chocolate and chocolate = cacao but if you step out of the narrow-mindedness of typical associations, cacao is no more than a dried seed that belongs nestled between the chlorophylly leaves of your kale salad. Plus, cacao + kale = super food extravaganza. Together (2 cups kale and just one ounce of cacao nibs) they deliver over 1300% of the recommended vitamin K and over 300% of the needed vitamin A. Plus calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, fiber and more flavonoids than almost any other super food (think blueberries, wine, green tea, etc).
If that is not enough, both kale and cacao contain a significant amount of the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin, found mainly in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals is known to promote feelings of happiness and well being (ever wonder why chocolate is magical?). Now maybe you can see why it’s a good idea to start your day with cacao and kale, never mind just consume the stuff in general. Edible optimism.
This is not really a recipe per se, but more of a suggestion. I’ve used raspberries, blue berries, or strawberries and if it’s really hot I substitute half of a frozen (organic/fair trade) banana. Depending on the fruit I use I interchange peanut butter with almond butter but anything works. Also, I’ve been breaking up pieces of homemade halva into the salad to give it more nuttiness – it’s a nice addition and adds some extra calcium if you like halva. Toasted coconut or buckwheat granola also work really well with the flavor of kale. Remember, kale is bitter so taste as you go to make sure you like the flavor combinations.
1 1/2-2 cups raw kale, chopped, 2 Tbsp nut butter, 1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup fruit, 1/8 cup organic, raw cacao nibs or beans
Chop kale, toss it in 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Mix remaining olive oil with 1 tbsp of nut butter and mix with a fork until it’s homogenous. Pour the oil and nut butter mixture over the kale and toss. Add nibs and toss until mixed. Add fruit. Top with the remaining nut butter and a sprinkling of nibs.
Share and enjoy!
June 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
Rice is something I’ve always struggled with. I enjoy it when other people labor through the simmering and stirring for me, but every time I concoct a rice based dish I’m sorely disappointed. Repetitive disappointment in the rice department bruised my ego a bit. I mean over half of the world’s population probably eats rice every day, multiple times. If they can cook it so well what was I missing? The answer – the right type of rice. This recipe uses short grain rice, which is, in my opinion more palatable than long grain which tends to be a harder and more dry (in my very humble experience). This earthy combination is one not to miss out on. The recipe comes from a Middle Eastern cookbook, Artichoke to Za’atar by Greg and Lucy Malouf. Shann gave me for my birthday last summer and I must say I appreciate it exponentially more after experiencing the cuisine of Israel. However, it doesn’t take a trip to the Middle East to realize this rice is exceptional.
In the book, Greg and Lucy suggest stuffing a baby lamb with the Lebanese nut rice. I didn’t have that kind of time and am sure that finding someone to sell me an entire baby lamb would be a lengthy project within itself. That being said, I think this rice would be tasty stuffed in anything be it the cavity of a chicken or between the fleshy walls of a cored tomato (or any type of winter squash when they are in season). So instead of stuffing I did a bit of modifying through out the recipe. In place of the ground lamb, I substituted bones from the shoulder of a lamb I saved after making lamb confit. I preferred using the bones because they provide depth without adding ground meat, but I’m sure the meat would add a pleasant texture, especially if you decided to use this for stuffing. Also, I used about a cup of each of the nuts instead of 2/3 of a cup. This is not necessary but definitely added more flavor, texture and richness.
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 large white onion, finely diced, 5 ounces of ground lamb*, 3 cups organic short grain brown rice, 1 quart vegetable stock**, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 tsp crushed black pepper, sea salt to taste
*Ground beef or lamb bones can be used instead of ground lamb. **Chicken stock or beef stock can be substituted depending on what meat or bones you use to flavor the rice. Also, you may need 2 quarts (8 cups or 1/2 gallon) depending on the rice you use.
2/3 cup pine nuts, 2/3 cup slivered almonds, 2/3 cup unsalted shelled pistachio nuts, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 small garlic cloves, juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Lebanese Nut Rice
In a large cast iron skillet or heavy bottom pan heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Saute the onion and ground lamb or lamb bones until the onion is soft and translucent and the meat is browned. Add the rice and the vegetable stock and bring to a boil within four minutes. When boiling add the cinnamon stick, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook without stirring until the rice has soaked up a majority of the stock. If the rice is still hard add 2-4 more cups of stock and continue to simmer until the rice softens and becomes chewy.
Meanwhile, heat the 1/2 cup of olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts, almonds and pistachios until fragrant and golden brown. With a slotted spoon remove the nuts and add them to the rice when it is finished cooking. Save the nut infused oil.
Chop and smash the garlic into a paste. Heat 3 tablespoons of the nut-infused olive oil with the garlic and lemon juice until boiling. Pour over the rice when ready to serve
Enjoy with a hearty serving of tzatziki and some sliced cucumber with a indulgent drizzling of olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Bon appetite.
May 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
Yes. That’s exactly what you expected right? Step aside artificially colored mint chip; never mind the mind-blowing flavor, the attractive color will be a favorite as far as aesthetics go in no time. Plus, what’s ice cream without chocolate. Come to think of it, what’s dessert without chocolate, I mean really?
To get a bit more up-close and personal
This recipe, with the personal addition of Oaxacan chocolate I brought home from Mexico, landed in my inbox last week as a Cinco de Mayo dish curtsey of Gourmet Magazine. The second I laid eyes on it, I knew I had to give it a shot and I’m happy to say I had some serious beginner’s luck (this was my first time churning up gelato). Unfortunately, you will need an ice cream maker for this recipe, but at this point I’m convinced the world would be a heck of a lot more peaceful if everyone had the pleasure of licking a cone of homemade ice cream (or gelato) whenever they desired.
2 cups of organic whole milk, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 large avocados, soft to touch, 2 Tbsp organic corn starch, 500mg tablet of vitamin C, crushed, 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla, 1/4 cup chocolate (optional)
In a small sauce pan, bring1 ¾ cups milk, ½ cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a simmer. Stir consistently to prevent milk from burning. Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in ¼ cup cold milk and whisk into simmering milk. Bring the simmering milk mixture to a boil over medium heat, continuing to stir constantly. Boil for one minute. Pour the milk mixture into a metal bowl and chill down in an ice bath, or in the freezer until cool to touch.
While cooling the milk, purée the flesh of the avocados with ¼ cup sugar and the crushed vitamin C tablet. Refrigerate the avocado purée until the milk mixture has been chilled. Mix the chilled milk mixture he avocado purée and add vanilla. Freeze in an ice-cream maker. If you choose to add anything (i.e. chocolate, macadamia nuts, coconut, etc) add at the last 5 minutes of churning.
Remember to keep all of the ingredients COLD before adding them to the ice cream machine.