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.
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!
April 18, 2012 § 3 Comments
Hear the word dandelion & almost instantaneously feelings of annoyance pulse through your body. In our world of green grass, Scott’s lawn care & petroleum based fertilizers we have been trained to loath the petite flower-mimicking “weeds” .
On that note, I decided to take advantage of the fact that none of my neighbors would mind if I yanked a few from their front yards (first I made sure no chemicals had been applied). Weeding with a reward, what could be better?
These little fritters cook up best right after you pick the flowers so fry them as soon as possible otherwise the flowers wilt & brown quite fast.
This recipe is so simple & will surprise even the toughest critic (14 year-old Dorito-fiending boys). The mixture of flint corn meal & light brown sugar quickly fried creates a crispy coating for these somewhat tangy flowers. Oh, and a dollop of soft chevre on the side never hurts.
Serve the fritters with their greens & you’ll end up with a plate full of vitamin a, fiber & potassium. In fact, dandelion greens (& roots) are used medicinally to clean the blood as well as for their diuretic-like properties.
Yes, I know they aren’t exactly the most attractive dish you’ve ever made, but I guarantee that after you try these fritters once, they will find their way back into your kitchen every spring.
2 cups of dandelion flowers, with stems, 1/2 cup flint corn meal, 2 Tbsp organic brown sugar, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 cup organic half & half, large egg*, organic canola oil for frying
*I used a duck egg from the farmer’s market, but chicken eggs will work just as well.
Cover a plate with several layers of paper towels or napkins. Set the plate aside for later.
In a medium size wok or cast iron skillet heat 1 inch of canola oil over medium-high heat until ready to fry ( when ready, the temperature oil the oil will be 320-350 degrees Fahrenheit). Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine cornmeal, brown sugar, baking soda & salt. Mix well pressing out all of the clumps then add the half & half & the egg. Mix until smooth.
When the batter is smooth, dip the flower end of the dandelion into the batter until it’s fully covered. Carefully place the battered flower into the hot oil. Watch the flowers closely as they will brown very quickly. As soon as the fritter turns golden brown flip it over to fry the other side, remove it (with a slotted spoon) & place on the paper towels to soak off some of the excess oil.
December 8, 2011 § 2 Comments
Simmering sencha: earthy, grass-toned, mellow & slightly astringent. Browned Garlic: bold, pungent, spicy & sweet. Preserved Lemon: bright, acidic & a bit adventurous.
These flavors from common kitchen foods meld together to create something worth repeating; again and again and again.
Anyone who has been sorely disappointed by the flavor, or lack there of, in quinoa can join the millions. I’m sure many people who are on the quest toward healthier eating lug home a bag of this protein-packed grain in hopes it will solve all of their problems. They get home, cook the grain in water, add some salt, pepper & olive oil & never touch it again. To those of you who have experienced that, this will certainly change your minds. Plus, who doesn’t love butternut squash & some savory mushrooms?
Not to mention the fact the this is a perfect whole grain option for people who have to eat gluten-free. Whole grains (wheat berries, oats, barley, rye, millet, amaranth, etc) were not meant be consumed in the ugly form of “whole wheat” pre-sliced bread, “whole wheat” Pillsbury Frudals, “whole grain” pre-made packaged pancakes or any of the like (I’m not kidding, this is what our government, according to MyPlate, considers a serving of whole grains). Whole grains are meant to nourish our bodies – stop falling for the health claims on the sides of corporate packaged foods & get adventurous.
People complain that it is too expensive to eat healthfully, but buying bulk whole grains is probably one of the cheapest things you can get. Things get expensive when you start buying the “healthy” packaged stuff. Oh, and forget the MyPlate recommendations – let’s make all of our grains whole.
But getting back to the bliss; if you don’t have preserved lemons this really won’t be the same. I’m sure you could try peeling lemons, then letting the peels hang out in sea salt for a couple days & you would probably get something similar, but if you want to preserve your own lemons the link is here: Preserved Lemons. Or you can always buy them online (if you’re in a rush): Buy Preserved Lemons
Tea Simmered Winter Squash Quinoa
5 cups of water, 5 heaping Tbsp Sencha tea (5 green tea bags works too), 2 cups white quinoa, 2 whole butternut squash, 1 cup mushrooms, assorted, chopped, 7 cloves of garlic, 1 preserved lemon, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp, 3 Tbsp dried oregano, feta cheese to garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit on roast. Slice the squash into 1 inch thick pieces & roast for 35 minutes until the skin has lifted & the flesh can easily be pierced with a fork. Fill a medium sauce pan with 5 cups of water – cover & bring to a boil. Add the tea & steep for 10 minutes. Strain the water to remove the loose tea leaves or remove the tea bags. Add the quinoa & bring to a rapid boil while covered, then reduce the heat & stir constantly (keeping it uncovered) until the quinoa has absorbed all the water (it will be light, fluffy & will expand to about four times the original amount).
Meanwhile, peel garlic & gently smash it under the side of a large knife. This can be done by putting the garlic on a cutting board, holding your knife so the blade is parallel to the bored & banging the side of the blade with the heel of your hand to squish the garlic. Slice the lemon vertically into eighths, then chop the slices into 1/4 of an inch pieces.
In a skillet add olive oil & heat for 2 minutes. When oil is warmed, add garlic & the chopped lemons. After 5 minutes add the oregano. Continue cooking over medium heat until the garlic is browned. When the garlic is golden brown, pour the oil mixture over the quinoa.
In the same skillet used to brown the garlic, saute the chopped mushrooms in 1 Tbsp of olive oil until fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Chop the squash into cubes & toss into the quinoa. Add the sauteed mushrooms, taste & season as desired. Before serving, drizzle with olive oil & throw in a handful of feta for added creaminess.
This is a good recipe to make at the beginning of the week & refrigerate. It tastes great on top of kale or spinach or can be reheated for a quick dinner.
November 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
Toasted fennel seeds, chewy roasted raisins, slightly charred red onion & of course the indispensable winter green, kale.
Now don’t go turning up your nose saying I’ve tried kale, I hate it & everything about it, or the infamous I’d cook that but my husband & kids will kick me out, because there is a secret to eating kale – actually, it’s a secret to harvesting kale. Kale harvested after a frost is much sweeter & more palatable than summertime kale. All it takes is a little chill & kale is transformed almost as much as a scrawny young girl after puberty – I’m not kidding. It’s probably best if I leave out the fact that it’s high in calcium, beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin C, vitamin K, sulforaphane, a molecule in all cruciferous & brassicas vegetables that is known for it’s anti-cancer properties & a plethora of various other carotinoids, at the risk that you’ll think I’m just trying to convince you to eat it. I’m not though, I promise. Skip the kale & their will be more for me.
This recipe may seem like it has some tediously skip-able steps, like toasting the fennel or baking the raisins, but I assure you that they are there for a reason. Toasting the fennel seeds allows for a multi-sense experience. As the volatile oils are released, we are able to not only enjoy the flavor of the seeds, but also enjoy the aroma. The raisins are heated to further concentrate the sugar simple sugars, glucose & fructose, as heating is just a way of drawing out more water.
Kale & Roasted Raisin Jumble
- 8 large leaves of kale, stemmed & chopped
- 2 red onions, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rings
- 1 cup of any grain, or pasta*
- 1/2 cup of walnuts
- 1/3 cup of raisins, roasted
- 4 Tbsp fennel seed, toasted
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1 tsp garlic powder (garlic salt)
- 1/4 tsp black pepper & salt to taste
*Here I used sprouted bulgur wheat, but quinoa, amaranth, barley, linguini, orecchiette, etc will do. Sprouted bulgur is cooked in the microwave with 1 cup of bulgur to 2 cups of water, covered well, for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to roast (or bake) at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Add onions to a skillet over medium heat & saute for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil, cover the onions for 2-3 minutes & allow them to brown without burning. Meanwhile, prepare what ever grain or pasta you’ve chosen to use. In a small baking dish mix the raisins & black pepper. Roast for 7 minutes, until the raisins swell slightly, then set them aside to cool.
Add chopped kale and 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the slightly charred onions and toss in the saute pan until the kale has wilted, but is still a vibrant green. Add the coriander & garlic powder. Continue to saute over low heat. Add the bulgur (or other grain) & walnuts, then salt to taste. Last, add the raisins & toss one more time.
Serve hot or refrigerate immediately. This will last refrigerated for about 5 days.
October 16, 2011 § 3 Comments
It’s a shame that this recipe isn’t what McDonalds uses to make their “Egg” McMuffins. Maybe if it was, our country wouldn’t be suffering from an obesity epidemic. I hate to start on such a negative note, so I’ll change my tone, but I had to say it.
We’ve finally got eggs! At first, I was hesitant to believe it, but after pulling the petite golf-ball-like orbs from the hen’s laying quarters for the past seven days, I’ve realized that it’s probably only going to get better.
The eggs in this sandwich were probably some of the most expensive eggs I’ve ever eaten (we have a while until our inputs & the hens’ outputs break even). Although the eggs were definitely the most expensive, they were by far the tastiest little morsels around. We’ve been letting the hens out to roam around the garden, torture the dog, flock into trees & to hop. Yes, hens hop, or at least ours do. But hey, the happier the hen, the better the egg- that’s my hypothesis.
All around the country the number of people rearing their own chickens (mainly for laying), keeping bees & planting their own gardens is increasing exponentially. It makes sense. As this nation has become more educated about the way our food is grown & raised, the energy required to ship it to us (food miles) & the actual nutritional quality of what we’ve been consuming, people have begun to lose their faith in the integrity of our food systems (& for good reason). So, instead of relying on a system that we can’t count on, why not take a whack at self-sufficiency (just a little whack).
So when I say this is the ultimate breakfast, lunch & dinner sandwich, you have to understand, the eggs did come from my backyard & that makes all of the difference. It’s a pretty damn good feeling to eat something you helped grow or grew yourself.
Aside from the egg, how can can anyone go wrong with a hearty artisan multi-grain loaf, roasted butternut squash, a block sharp cheddar (Melted. I know, even better right?) & arugula? You can’t.
Oh & yes, eggs do have cholesterol, but don’t let anyone fool you, eating eggs is much more nourishing than a bowl of some “healthy” cereal every morning. If you don’t know already, eggs are a prime source of choline, folic acid & vitamin A. They provide the perfect ratio of fat to protein & are probably not what is causing your high cholesterol. In fact, it is generally accepted that dietary cholesterol is not the persecutor of high LDL (bad cholesterol). Also, the fat in eggs is predominately good for you, as they are relatively low in saturated fat. High consumption of saturated fat is positively correlated (when consumed in high amounts, e.g. grain-fed & processed meats, processed cheese, butter, etc.) with high cholesterol.
As you can see, the quality of bread you use is important in deciding the the outcome of this sandwich. It’s got to be robust enough to not get lost under all the toppings that are added. Actually, the quality of everything in this sandwich is important; the bread, the cheese, the butter you used to brown the sage leaves in, the sage itself, the fresh bitterness of the arugula, and of course the egg.
By the way, if you’ve never made brown sage butter, you’re in for a treat.
Open-Face Savory Egg Sandwich
(Serves 2 or 1 really hungry person)
1 butternut squash*, cut in half, seeds removed, 1/2 loaf of bread, 5 oz organic sharp cheddar, 2 eggs, 1 cup of arugula, 2 Tbsp honey mustard, 2 Tbsp shredded organic Parmesan cheese, 1 Tbsp organic butter, 6 sage leaves, broad leaf if available, salt & black pepper to taste
*You won’t use the whole butternut squash, but it will keep in the refrigerator for several days or can be turned into Butternut Squash Soup.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit & roast the squash for 30 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Then, switch the oven to broil. Cut two 3/4 inch thick slices of bread & broil, flipping the pieces every minute until golden on each side. When broiling you should use the middle-top racks (the heat comes from the roof of the oven) & should be vigilant about keeping an eye on the bread.
Meanwhile cook butter in a skillet over medium-high until the milk solids begin to brown, this should take about 2-3 minutes. Add the sage & cook until crispy, no more than 1 minute. Remove the sage & set it aside.
Once broiled, spread 1 Tbsp of honey mustard on each slice of bread, cover with a thin piece of butternut squash & top with the cheese. Broil the cheese-topped bread for 1 minute, or until the cheese melts (this happens very quickly).
Add the two eggs to the brown butter & cook until the bottoms turn white. Season with a little bit of salt. Flip the eggs & cook for no more than 1 minute. The yoke should be runny when they are finished. When finished top the broiled cheese bread with the sage, the eggs, some arugula & a pinch of Parmesan cheese. Broil for 30 seconds to melt the Parmesan. Season with black pepper & serve immediately.
While you enjoy, consider the following: What is holding you back from getting some laying hens?