Sprouting

Sprouting is a fun way to "grow" your own food quickly and easily.  I much prefer posting techniques and quick recipes like this rather than full, elaborate meals.  As someone who teaches cooking to beginners or those afraid of complicated dishes, I think it's important to have lots of little ideas and recipes in your arsenal.  With all that knowledge you can easily draw upon them to create your own meal, without having to be intimidated by a pages-long recipe that takes hours to make. I mostly use alfalfa seeds for sprouting, but you could go wild and try different varieties; use broccoli or radish sprouts in your salads and mung bean or lentil sprouts in stir-frys.  A great resource for all things sprout-related is Sprout People.  Not only can you buy your seeds from them but their website is full of tips, recipes, and sprouting gadgets, like the mesh screen I use on my mason jars.

 

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Alfalfa Sprouts

Add 1 tablespoon of alfalfa seeds to a 2-cup glass jar.  This may not seem like a lot but I find it best to give the sprouts plenty of room to grow and avoid overcrowding.  Fill the jar with water and swish the seeds around, making sure they don't clump together.  Top the jar with either a specialized mesh sprouting top and the metal ring for the jar, or cheesecloth with a rubber band around the rim to hold it on tightly.  Let the seeds soak in the water overnight.

The next day, drain the water from the jar, shaking out as much as you can.  Let sit over night on your counter.  Sprouts can be kept wherever there is ample air movement and putting them in a cupboard that never gets opened could suffocate them.  Some people will put their jars upside down and on an angle to let all the water drain out, but I don't find this necessary and the sprouts grow into the screen or cheesecloth, making it difficult to clean.

The next day, you may already start to see some sprouting.  Fill the jar with water, swish it around a few times and drain well, again keeping it upside down if you wish.  Let sit another night.  Continue rinsing and draining for about 4-5 days until your sprouts are at their desired length.  Once you are ready to store them. make sure they are very dry and put them in a plastic bag (not wrapped tightly) or a plastic or glass container.  The drier they are the longer they will last.

 

Refrigerator Pickles

Easy. Easy. Easy.  No water bath, special equipment, or wondering if the jars are sealed.  Just slice the vegetables, heat the vinegar, and wait a day.  I find that these pickles stay crisper than the ones I process in a water bath.  The sugar helps balance the acidity but if you don't want to use it you can certainly leave it out.  Experiment with your favorite vegetable and get pickling!  

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Refrigerator Pickles

makes one pint jar

Ingredients:

2 zucchini (yellow or green) or cucumbers, sliced 1/4 inch thick

1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, or mixture (see below for quantity)

1/4 cup sugar

 

1.  Add sliced vegetables to the jar along with the spices and salt, fitting in as much as possible.  To figure out how much vinegar you will need, fill the jar with water then empty that water out into a measuring cup.  That is how much vinegar you will need (I find it's usually about 1 cup).

2.  Add the determined amount of vinegar to a saucepan along with the sugar.  Bring to a simmer.  When sugar is dissolved turn off heat.

3.  Pour vinegar into the jar and gently tap it on the counter to release any air bubbles.  The vinegar should come up to the top, if not, just add a bit more cold vinegar to fill it up.  Screw cap on tight and give a little shake to disperse spices.  Let cool to room temperature then store in the refrigerator.

 

Almond Chai and Iced Coffee Chai

This is a caffeine-free version of chai, a traditional Indian drink.  It normally contains Darjeeling tea, but this recipe is so simple and just as flavorful.  I have been in love with chai ever since I traveled in India where they have chai-wallas everywhere you look, selling their proprietary blend, served hot.  One of the most memorable experiences I had in the three months I was there was getting a tiny, handmade ceramic cup of hot chai while on a train.  It only contained a few tablespoons of liquid and we watched as customers finished their last drops and threw the cups out the window to shatter on the tracks below.  But being the tourists we were, we kept ours (see the photo below). You may have noticed that iced chai drinks are very popular right now, especially with almond milk.  They can be very pricy in the grocery store or at specialty markets, not to mention the glass and plastic waste that goes along with it.  I also find them to be overly sweet at times, so with this recipe not only will you save lots of money but you can also control the sweetness.

This is the same method as the almond milk post.  Your leftover almond meal with be nicely spiced so make some chai energy balls!

If you want to take it a step further, add some cold brewed coffee to your morning cup of chai.  Hot or cold, it's the perfect flavor combination.  Cold-brewing your coffee is so much better than brewing a cup and pouring it over ice (which is what most coffee shops do).  It's smoother, less bitter, and sweeter so you will never go back once you've tried it.  Cold brew does have more caffeine than your typical coffee or latte so if you are sensitive, use less than the amount called for.

 

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Almond Chai

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients:

3 cups water

1 cup almonds, soaked about 4 hours or overnight

1/4  cup raw agave (or sweetener or your choice)

1 tablespoon (or a thumb-sized knob) fresh ginger, peeled

1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

1.  Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high speed for about 20-30 seconds or until very smooth.

2.  Strain mixture through a nut milk bag and squeeze out as much milk as possible.  Serve over ice or heat on low flame for a hot chai.

 

Cold Brew Coffee

makes almost 2 cups

Ingredients:

1/3 cup coarsely ground coffee

1 1/2 cups water

1.  Combine coffee grinds and water and let sit overnight.

2.  Strain through a coffee filter and keep refrigerated.  You can also freeze them into ice cubes and add to almond milk.

 

Coffee Chai

1 cup almond chai

1/2 cup cold brew coffee

Mix and pour over ice.

 

 

Black Sticky Rice with Coconut and Mango

I would normally shy away from any rice-based dessert.  My thinking is that if it doesn't have chocolate, it's not dessert.  But this is a one-off.  It has plenty of sweetness with the sugar and ripe mango, and the nuttiness of the toasted coconut compliments it perfectly.  I first had this in Bali and for some reason it took me seven years to make it for myself.  This recipe makes quite a bit, but it will keep in the fridge for several days.  When you want to heat some up, just scoop it into a saucepan and add a splash of water.  Heat on a low flame, stirring, until warmed through. A word on coconut milk: I know there are people who freak out at the amount of fat in a can of coconut milk.  No, you will not be consuming the entire can in one go, so please, for me, do not buy the low-fat version.  It is completely flavorless and lacks any richness.  This goes for curries or anything calling for coconut milk.  Your taste buds will thank you.

 

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Black Sticky Rice with Coconut and Mango

makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup black rice

1 1/2 cans full-fat coconut milk

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

toasted unsweetened coconut flakes

ripe mango, sliced or diced as desired

 

1.  Combine rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and salt in a sauce pan and place over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cover.  Cook for about 30-45 minutes, stirring often and making sure it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot.  If the rice seems dry before it is cooked through, add more water as needed.

2.  To serve, top rice with mango slices and toasted coconut.  Rice can be eaten hot or warm.

Pistachio Kale Pesto

I think you can make a pesto out of almost anything, although some might argue you can't call it a pesto unless it's the classic basil, pine nut, Parmesan combination.  I encourage you to experiment with different greens, herbs, nuts, and acids.  Think mint, cilantro, tarragon, spinach, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts...Here's my latest version:  

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Pistachio Kale Pesto

makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:

10 kale leaves, lacinato (dino) variety preferred over curly (see photo), ribs removed and chopped

1 cup pistachios

1/2 teaspoon honey

juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if desired)

2 tablespoons water

1/4 cup olive oil

salt to taste

 

1.  Add all ingredients except olive oil into a food processor.  Process to a smooth paste and add the oil in a slow, steady stream with the motor running.

2.  Taste for salt and add more if needed.  If pesto is too thick add a bit more water or lemon juice.

Stuffed Tomatoes and Tomato Vinaigrette

This is another two-in-one recipe.  After making the stuffed tomatoes I didn't want to throw out the flesh and seeds that I had scooped out.  My super-smart husband suggested making a salad dressing out of it.  And it's delicious!  I have also been using it as a dip for bread.  It's so good you can even eat it on it's own like gazpacho.  The most important part of this whole endeavor is finding great heirloom tomatoes.  This dish just wouldn't turn out as well if you didn't use beautiful, ripe tomatoes, in season.  

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Stuffed Tomatoes

serves 4-5

Ingredients:

5 heirloom tomatoes (the may vary in size)

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 bunch parsley, minced

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400º.

2.  In a bowl, combine panko, salt, Parmesan, and parsley.  Set aside.

3.  Cut tomatoes in half around the middle (not through the stem end).  Using a spoon, gently scoop out the seeds and flesh from the inside of each half and place in a bowl to use later for the vinaigrette.

4.  Place tomatoes cut-side up in a baking dish.  If some of them will not sit flat, slice a small bit off the bottom so they have a flat part and sit upright.  Using a spoon or your fingers, add the panko mixture to each tomato, but do not press it down.  The filling should be a bit rounded on top.  You may have some panko leftover, depending upon the size of your tomatoes.  It will keep in the fridge for about a week.

5.  Bake tomatoes for about 30 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown.  You may have to rotate the dish halfway through the cooking time to assure even browning.

 

Tomato Vinaigrette

makes about 2 cups

Ingredients:

juice and flesh from 5 tomatoes

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

a pinch of salt

 

1.  Take the bowl with the tomato flesh and juice and use your fingers to separate the seeds from the large pieces.  Add those large pieces to a blender.  Pour the remaining juice containing the seeds through a fine-meshed sieve placed over the blender.  You should have about 1/2 cup liquid and 1 cup tomato solids.

2.  Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

 

Indian-Spiced Stuffed Baby Eggplant

I couldn't resist the cutest little eggplants at the farmers market.  Some are white, some are purple, and some have green stripes.  I knew they would have to be cooked whole to take advantage of their beauty and for some reason I had a feeling I could find the perfect way to cook them using traditional Indian methods and flavors.  I was right. When I'm starting out with an unfamiliar ingredient or coming up with a recipe idea, I will search through my cookbooks and look online to get a feel for what other people are doing.  There are some amazing blogs out there written by Indian women containing a wealth of knowledge passed down through generations.  This recipe is inspired by two of those blogs.  It may look a bit daunting and labor intensive, but it's actually very simple and straightforward.  I use a food processor a few times in this recipe.  If you don't have a large one, I recommend getting a small food processor.  They are inexpensive, take up very little space, and are indispensable in the kitchen.

If you can't find baby eggplant at your supermarket, try an Asian grocery store.  You can also try this recipe with regular sized Japanese eggplant or a globe eggplant.  Simply cut it and stuff it the same way.

 

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Indian-Spiced Stuffed Baby Eggplant

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (canola, sunflower, peanut)

12 baby eggplants

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1 teaspoon amchoor powder (found in Indian grocery stores, leave out if you can't find it)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

3 tablespoons shredded, unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup water

 

1.  In a food processor, grind together the spices, salt, peanuts, and coconut to a coarse powder.  Do not grind it so long that it turns to peanut butter.  Place mixture in a bowl.

2.  To cut the eggplants, start with an X at the bottom and cut almost to the stem end but stop about 1/2 inch from the stem (see photo above).  Gently holding open each cut part of the eggplant, sprinkle the peanut mixture in.  You don't have to stuff it too much or force more in than it seems to hold.  After stuffing all the eggplants, you should have about 2 tablespoons left over.  Put it aside for the sauce.

3.  Chop the onion into large pieces and add it and the garlic to a food processor.  Grind to a smooth paste.  If you don't have a food processor, try using a blender but you may need to add some water to make it blend.  You can also chop the onion and garlic by hand.

4.  Set a pan large enough to hold all of the eggplants in one layer (I used a wide, enameled cast iron Dutch oven) over medium heat and add the oil.  When the oil is hot, add the eggplant and cook for about 5 minutes.  Depending upon the strength of your stove, you may need to turn the heat down.  You want the eggplants to brown but keep an eye (and nose) on it to avoid burning.  Add a few tablespoons of water if this happens.  Once one side is browned, using tongs flip the eggplants over to brown on the other side, another 5 minutes or so.

5.  Once the eggplants are brown, remove them from the pan and set aside on a plate.  They do not need to be cooked through at this point.  Add the onion and garlic mixture to the pot.  It might sputter so keep an oil screen handy to cover.  Once the sputtering stops, keep stirring the mixture for about 5 minutes until it reduces and thickens a bit.

6.  Add the tomatoes, water, and a teaspoon of salt.  Bring to a simmer and place eggplant back on top of the sauce.  With the mixture simmering, place a lid on the pot and simmer for 30 minutes, giving a gentle stir every so often and making sure it's not boiling.

7.  The dish is done when the eggplants are soft (a knife could be inserted very easily).  Check for salt and add any if needed.  Garnish with cilantro if desired.  Serve with jasmine rice, naan, or roti.

 

 

Herb-Roasted Onions

We don't have cable in our house so whenever we are staying somewhere else and I see a TV with cable, I immediately find a cooking show.  This happened a few weeks ago and I stumbled upon Ina Garten.  I'm not a fan of most of the popular cooking shows, but her recipes are always simple, approachable, and turn out wonderful every time.  She was making these roasted onions and they looked gorgeous so I thought I would share them with you.  Three onions may seem like a lot for two portions, but they roast down to be sweet, soft, and caramelized.  My version is similar to Ina's, and I can envision taking it in several directions.  Try using coconut oil and garam masala for an Indian twist, or cumin and lime for a southwestern flavor.  This recipe would work any time of year; it would be perfect both on a Thanksgiving table and at a summer pot luck. A note on herbs: I prefer to use fresh herbs whenever possible.  This recipe would not be the same if you used dried thyme.  Fresh thyme may look different at different times of year.  When it's young, the stems will be very soft and green.  At this point you can go ahead and use the stems, just chop it finely, no need to take the small leaves off.  When the stems are brown and woody, you want to remove the leaves by stripping them off with your fingers.  It's a little labor intensive but once you get the hang of it it goes quickly.  Just make sure to wash and dry your thyme in advance.  It's a mess if you are trying to strip off wet leaves.

 

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Herb-Roasted Onions

serves 2

Ingredients

3 small red onions (you can also use white or yellow onions)

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 lemon

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400º and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a silpat.

2.  To prepare onions, cut off stem end and a small part of the root end, just the part that bulges out.  Leaving most of the root on will help keep the onion wedges in tact.  Next, halve the onion by cutting down through the root end and remove the outer, papery layer.  Continue cutting wedges until you have 8 wedges from each onion.  Gently toss the onions with the oil, thyme, salt and pepper.

3.  Spread the onions out on your baking sheet and place in the middle of your oven.  Check them after 20 minutes and gently flip them over.  Roast another 5-10 minutes, making sure those around the edges of the pan don't burn.

4.  Add the onions back to the bowl where they were tossed with the herbs.  Add a squeeze of lemon and give them another toss.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Vegan Chocolate Almond Muffins

This is the follow-up I promised to the Savory Almond Flour Muffins.  I decided to make it vegan because...why not?  Flax seed is something I always have on hand and eggs are not so this can be made with all pantry items.  It's insanely easy to throw together and you can modify it however you want: no nuts, almonds instead of hazelnuts, adding dried fruit, etc.  Just as before, use this as a base recipe and experiment to create your own flavors.  These muffins don't rise and get a rounded top like conventional flour and egg muffins, but they are moist and delicious just the same.  

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Vegan Chocolate Almond Muffins

makes 10

Ingredients

3 tablespoons ground flax seed

9 tablespoons hot water

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup neutral oil (canola, sunflower, peanut)

1/4 cup non-dairy milk (if you don't have any you can use water)

2 cups almond flour

1/3 cup good quality cocoa powder (I like Dagoba)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts

 

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flax meal and hot water until it is thick and egg-like.  Add sugar, oil, and milk and whisk until combined.

2.  In another bowl, mix together the remaining dry ingredients.  Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until completely combined.

3.  Line a muffin tin with muffin cups or using baking spray.  Fill cups 3/4 full.  Bake 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

 

Coconut Crèpes

These delightful crèpes are simple to put together but take just a few minutes of practice to perfect. They go great with Southeast Asian flavors, either soups or salads. Tips on perfecting your crèpes:

-use a steel crèpe pan or non-stick sauté pan

-put some neutral oil (canola or peanut) on a paper towel and wipe that around the pan.  That should be all the oil you will need, although you may want to use that towel several times if making many crèpes.

-start the pan on medium heat then bring it down to medium-low.  You do not want the edges of the crèpe to get too brown before the rest of it is cooked.

-when flipping, use a spatula to run around the edges of the crèpe to loosen it before putting it underneath to flip.  Don't worry if the crèpe gets a small tear in it, after it's flipped you can gently pat it down and it should seal back up.

-after each crèpe is finish, place on a plate then cover with another plate or foil to keep it warm until you have used up all of your batter.

-your first several crèpes will be disasters.  It's the unspoken law of crèpes.  Just snack on them until you get the hang of it.  You may want to double or triple the recipe if it's your first time, just to make sure you have enough that come out fully formed.

 

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Coconut Crèpes

Makes about 7 8-inch crèpes

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice flour

1 tablespoon all purpose flour

1 egg

1 cup coconut milk (full fat)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.  Let sit for 30 minutes for the mixture to thicken a bit.

2.  Place your pan on medium heat and use an oiled paper towel to wipe it.  Using 1/4 cup of the mixture, pour into the pan and swirl the pan at the same time to evenly distribute the batter.  The batter should sizzle when hitting the pan.

3.  Lower heat to medium-low and cook for about 3 minutes or until edges get slightly brown.  Run a spatula around the edges to loosen then carefully flip the crèpes (see above for more detailed tips).

4.  Cook for about 30 more seconds then slide onto a plate and cover.

5.  Repeat with remaining batter.

 

Peach, Mint, and Honey Smoothie

Peaches are in their prime right now and I can't get enough.  I have my Wednesday and Saturday peach run at the farmers market, making sure to get several in different stages of ripeness so during the week there will always be one ready to go, instead of them all getting ripe at once. This recipe can use fresh or frozen peaches.  If you use fresh peaches, simply add some ice to the blender, starting with about 10 cubes, and adding more if needed.  Ice cubes may make the smoothie melt sooner whereas frozen peaches will create a more creamy texture and hold up a bit longer.  If using frozen peaches, no need for the ice.  I froze my own peaches by cutting them in quarters, removing the pit, the placing them on a tray in the freezer until they were hard.  If you want to do this on a larger scale, they will need to be put in a plastic bag when they are hard to prevent freezer burn.  Your could of course use frozen peaches from the grocery store.  Two cups of frozen pieces equals about two peaches.

A note on keeping herbs fresh: place herbs in a container with the bottoms covered by about an inch of water, then wrap a plastic bag loosely around it and keep in the fridge.  Change the water every few days, removing any leaves that seem to be going bad.  Herbs should keep for at least a week, usually longer.  For heartier herbs like rosemary or mint, wrap them in a plastic bag and keep in the drawer of your refrigerator.  They should keep for several weeks.  If they start to look a little dry wrap them in a damp paper towel and put back in the bag.

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Peach, Mint, and Honey Smoothie

makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

2 peaches (see note above for fresh vs. frozen)

3 sprigs of mint, leaves only

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (unsweetened and unflavored)

 

1.  Add all ingredients to a blender (including ice cubes if using fresh peaches) and blend until smooth.  Add more liquid if mixture is too thick or if blender will not turn.

Cucumber Avocado Dill Soup

This recipe couldn't be easier.  Blend, chill, and eat.  Serve this soup as an appetizer on a hot summer night or for a light afternoon lunch.  Be sure to use perfectly ripe avocados, the ones that give just a little with a gentle squeeze.  

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Cucumber Avocado Dill Soup

Makes about 4 cups

Ingredients

1 1/2 cucumbers

1/2 large, ripe avocado

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

juice and zest of 2 lemons

1 1/2 cups water

1 teaspoons salt

 

1.  Peel the cucumbers, slice lengthwise, and scrape out the seeds with a spoon.  Chop into large pieces.

2.  Add cucumber and remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  If you would like a thinner consistency, add a bit more water.  Taste for salt and adjust as needed.  Refrigerate until cold and garnish with chopped dill or your favorite croutons.

Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant

Japanese eggplant is in abundance right now at my local farmers market and I've been wanting to figure out this dish for quite a while. Many people cook with globe eggplants; the large, round, dark purple kind that is in most grocery stores. I've strayed from that variety in recent years, mostly because of the flavor and lack of seeds in the Japanese kind. They each have their place, but sometimes globe eggplants end up being more seed than flesh, and that makes them quite bitter.  I have never had to salt a Japanese eggplant like I might do with a globe. Miso is fermented soy bean paste.  There are several varieties and it's just a matter of picking the right one for your flavor profile. I mostly use the mellow white and red kinds, and occasionally chickpea miso which I find in the bulk bin of my natural foods store. White miso isn't very strong and can be added to soups, sauces, and dips for a more earthy, complex flavor. Red miso is much stronger and saltier and a little goes a long way. I sometimes blend the two in recipes, such as in this one. If you are a miso virgin, I suggest starting out with mellow white miso, which can be found either in the refrigerated section of your local grocery store, or in the ethnic foods isle.  You can always find them at Asian grocery stores as well.  Miso lasts nearly forever in your refrigerator so don't worry if it takes you a while to finish a container of it.  You can learn more about miso here.

 

IMG_1010 IMG_0996 IMG_1043 Miso-Glazed Japanese Eggplant serves 4

Ingredients

4 Japanese eggplants 2 tsp white miso 1 tsp red miso 1 tbsp sake 1 tbsp mirin 1 tbsp rice vinegar 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger (microplanes work best here) white and black sesame seeds for garnish

1.  Preheat oven to 425°.  Cut tops off eggplant and slice in half, lengthwise. 2.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place eggplant cut-side down.  Bake about 35 minutes or until soft.   While eggplant is baking, whisk together the remaining ingredients to form the miso glaze. 3.  When eggplant is done, remove the pan and set the oven to broil.  Turn eggplant cut-side up and, using a pastry brush, brush on miso glaze, evenly distributing it onto each piece, using it all up.  If you do not have a pastry brush, use a spoon to carefully place and smooth mixture onto each piece. 4.  Place pan back under broiler and cook until the glaze starts to bubble and brown.  Keep an eye on the eggplant and turn the pan as needed so each piece is perfectly browned and not burned.  To serve, sprinkle with white and black sesame seeds.

Savory Almond Flour Muffins

I am by no means gluten-free.  I absolutely love bread.  But this recipe just happens to be gluten-free by way of using almond meal instead of flour.  It's savory, chewy, and has a crumb just like a regular muffin.  You can use this base recipe in a variety of ways and add your own flavorings to keep it savory or make it sweet.  In the future I will post my chocolate coconut version.  Stay tuned...  

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Savory Almond Flour Muffins

Makes 7 muffins

Ingredients

3 eggs

1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil such as canola or peanut

¼ cup milk (dairy or milk alternative)

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 cups almond flour

1 cup chopped fresh spinach (do not use frozen spinach, it will be too wet)

Feta cheese

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚.  Line a muffin tin with muffin papers or spray thoroughly with baking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, milk, and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, which together baking powder and almond flour.  Add this to the liquid ingredients.  Stir well to combine.
  4. Add chopped spinach to the mixture and stir again.  Fill muffin cups 1/4 full with the mixture.  Place some feta crumbles in the middle of each cup and top with the remainder of the batter.
  5. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes or until baked through.  Let cool on a wire rack.

Fennel and Asparagus Soup with Mint

I love making puréed soups.  There really isn't anything quicker and easier for a weeknight meal.  You don't have to spend time chopping your onions perfectly, getting the vegetables to the same state of tenderness, or overcooking the main ingredient.  Just chop, sauté, add your liquid, and blend.  Puréed soups can be made in any season, hot or cold, spicy or sweet, thin or thick, topped with crunchy bits or sopped up with a slice of your favorite crusty bread. If there is one rule I stick to when making puréed soups it is this: don't add too much liquid in the beginning.  Once you add all of your ingredients to the pot, add just enough of your liquid to cover by about an inch.  Too much liquid will ruin the final product, and you can always add more as you are blending to get the exact consistency you want.

This soup pays homage to the strange season between winter and spring.  There are still hard squashes and root veggies lingering but asparagus appears at the markets out of nowhere and doesn’t last very long.  I try to use it as much as possible during its short run.  The fresh mint here adds a bright herbal note but is not overwhelming.

 

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Fennel and Asparagus Soup with Mint

Makes 6 cups

Ingredients

1 Tbs olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 large bulb fennel, core removed and chopped

1 Tbs salt

3 cups water

1 bunch asparagus

1 Tbs fresh mint

1 Tbs lemon juice

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, add the oil, onion, fennel and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.  If the ingredients start to brown, turn down the heat and add a bit of water.
  2. Add the 3 cups of water and bring to a simmer.  Cook 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
  3. Remove the bottom 1 inch of the asparagus and chop the remainder of the spears into large pieces.  Add to the pot along with the mint and stir for a minute.  The residual heat will cook the asparagus.
  4. With an immersion blender or regular blender, purée the soup until completely smooth.  Add the lemon juice and more salt if desired.  Top with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Honey, Cardamom, and Lime Spritzer

I know a lot of people don't drink plain water and like to jazz it up with either some lemon or cucumber.  My obsession with all things cardamom has turned into this drink which is great for summer time.  Make a batch of the syrup and add it to either still or sparkling water, or try it out with some champagne or even vodka if you are feeling festive.  

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Honey, Cardamom, and Lime Spritzer

serves 2

 Ingredients

2 tablespoons honey

5 whole green cardamom pods, crushed with the back of a spoon so the pods are open and seeds are visible

1/4 cup water

1/2 lime

 

1.  Add honey, cardamom pods, and water to a small pot and place over low heat.  Stir to dissolve and make sure honey does not burn.  When honey has melted down and the mixture just begins to simmer, turn off heat and let sit until it has cooled to room temperature.

2.  Strain honey mixture through a sieve to remove cardamom, and keep mixture in a glass jar in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, add 2-3 tablespoons of mixture to a glass (depending upon how strong you want it), squeeze in the juice of half a lime, and fill with still or sparkling water and ice cubes.  Double or triple this concentrate to have on-hand throughout the week.  Cheers!

Dal

When I think of quick, easy, inexpensive, flavorful weeknight meal, I always think of dal.  Dal is an Indian dish of legumes cooked with spices.  My pantry is always stocked with channa dal, which I like because it holds its shape a bit more than red lentils yet it still cooks quickly.  Like most of my recipes, it is also a fridge-cleaner.  If you have any bits of vegetables leftover you can toss them in at the end to add some texture to the dish.  Most of the time spent with this dish is inactive, so you can choose to make some rice to go with it or toast some naan.  Check out this wonderful exploration into the world of dal. The key to flavor in this dish is the cooking of the seeds in the oil before the dal goes in.  Popping the mustard seeds is something every Indian cook does.  It flavors and perfumes the oil.  I once heard the great cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey speak and she mentioned doing this with cinnamon sticks as well.  Now I start off almost every Indian dish that calls for cinnamon this way.  You get the effect of the cinnamon without it being cloying.  It is a beautiful thing to watch the cinnamon unfurling in the oil, and when I'm cooking for clients, this is always the moment they wander into the kitchen wondering what smells amazing.

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Dal

Makes 10 cups

Note: if using red lentils instead of channa dal, you may need less water.  Start with 6 cups and add more if necessary.  If adding vegetables, chop into small pieces and add during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon neutral oil such as canola, or coconut oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

6 whole green cardamom pods, crushed lightly so they open

1 whole cinnamon stick

2 cups channa dal, rinsed

1 Tbs curry powder

9 cups water

1/2 cup coconut milk (optional)

 

1.  Heat a heavy-bottomed pot, such as an enameled cast iron or stainless steel, on medium heat and add oil.  When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, cardamom pods, and cinnamon stick.  Be very careful as the mustard seeds will sizzle and pop right out of the pot.  Try to cover the pot with an oil screen or momentarily hold a lid over the pot.  Let seeds pop for about 10 seconds.

2.  Add the dal, curry powder, and water and bring to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure it is not sticking to the bottom of the pot, or until dal is soft.  You may need to add more water if dal too thick.  It should be a porridge consistency.  Stir in coconut milk and vegetables if using, and season with salt to taste.

Two Recipes In One

Milk has always been a turn-off for me.  I never drank it as a child and its only use seemed to be for my morning cereal.  As I started exploring milk alternatives, my first stop was rice milk.  It was thin, like skim milk, and lacked any real flavor. I would use soy in my coffee since that was what most coffee shops carried, and I still use hazelnut milk in my chai and tea at home for a unique flavor.  I've now made it to almond milk.  After years of buying the cartons, I finally started making my own and the difference is amazing.  Not only does it taste better, but it's easy to make and you can use the almond pulp for a variety of other dishes.  Mine usually gets turned into energy balls or bars which, just like my mish mosh soup and salad (see previous post), can be flavored millions of ways using whatever you have in the cupboard.  You can explore different nutmilks by using hazelnuts, cashews, or a mixture, making sure to soak them for a few hours before blending. iphone 052  iphone 053

Almond Milk

Makes 4 cups

Note: you can find nut milk bags at most natural grocery stores or online.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw, unsalted almonds, soaked 4-6 hours, or overnight

2 pitted dates

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups water

a pinch of salt

1.  Blend all ingredients on high speed for about one minute.

2.  Place a nut milk bag over a pitcher or other container.  It is easiest if the opening of the bag can fit around  the mouth of your container to hold it in place.  Pour the milk in and squeeze the bag until you have wrung out as much of the milk as you can.  Set bag containing the pulp aside.

3.  The milk will keep in a covered container in the fridge for 4 days.  You will need to stir it when using as it tends to separate.

 

Then...

 

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Almond Energy Balls

Makes 16

Note: the amount of dates you will need will depend upon how well you have squeezed all the milk from the almond pulp.  The drier the mixture the more dates you will need to hold it together.  Alternatively, you can try using peanut or almond butter as a binder.  If you don't have a food processor, chop the dates as finely as possible and mix everything together in a bowl,  kneading with your hands if necessary.  Try adding your favorite dried fruits, nut pieces, spices, and seeds.

If you have made your almond milk but don't have the right ingredients on hand to make energy balls, you can freeze the almond pulp in an air-tight container for up to a month.  Place plastic wrap directly on top of the pulp to prevent ice crystals and freezer burn.

Ingredients:

almond pulp from making almond milk

1/3 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

1/2 tsp cinnamon

10 pitted dates

2 Tbs good quality dark cocoa powder

2 tsp hemp protein powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salk

1.  Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until dates are broken down and mixture comes together, scraping down the sides as necessary.

2.  Using a tablespoon, scoop out the dough and roll into balls.  Alternatively, you can press the mixture into a pie plate and cut out pieces as needed.  Store for 4 days in the fridge.

Kale Salad

In my house, we often eat what we call "mish mosh salad."  This is just a quick, thrown-together dish of whatever ingredients I happen to find in the fridge or pantry (mish mosh soup is popular as well).  The base is often kale because it is so hardy and keeps forever in the fridge.  I only use dino kale (aka lacinato kale) or red Russian kale.  Large curly kale can be too overwhelming and doesn't break down easily.  The mix-ins are usually a combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and/or roasted vegetables.  Use the following recipe as a base and add whatever you have on hand.  As the kale sits in the acid and breaks down, gather your other ingredients and you will have a hearty, healthy dinner salad in no time. A few things to know about massaged kale salads:

-You can use any type of acid to break down the kale.  Pick you favorite vinegar or citrus juice.  Lemon juice works great, as  does cider vinegar or red wine vinegar.  Play around and pick the flavors that speak to you.

-The longer you leave it to sit, the softer it will be.  Massaging with the acid should be the first thing you do so you can set it aside and prepare you other ingredients.  Don’t be afraid to really rub the leaves together, a gentle toss of the salad isn’t as effective.

-Salt also helps in the breakdown.  I like to use large-crystal, unrefined gray salt.  You only need a little sprinkling.  If you are on a low sodium diet, you can leave it out.

 

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Red Russian Kale Salad

Serves 2 for a dinner-sized portion

Ingredients

1 bunch red Russian kale

3 lemons (Meyer lemons if possible), juiced

1 tsp grey sea salt

1 bunch asparagus, bottom 1 inch removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

5 sprigs mint, leaves only

3 Tbs pumpkin seeds

1 Tbs sundried tomatoes, sliced

3 Tbs sunflower seeds

1 Tbs olive oil

  1. Thoroughly rinse the kale and shake off the excess water.  While holding it in a bunch, try to roll it together in a tight mass.  Start at the top of the leaves and thinly slice to get ribbons.  Cut the entire bunch, leaving the bottom, thicker stems behind.
  2. In a large bowl (anything but aluminum) add kale ribbons, lemon juice, and salt.  With clean hands, massage the kale firmly for a minute or so, tossing to make sure it is covered with the juice.  This will work to break down the leaves and make it very tender.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium heat.  Add pumpkin seeds and toast, stirring often, for about 3 miuntes.  The seeds will puff and pop.  When brown, set aside in a bowl.
  4. Using the remaining heat in the pan, add the asparagus and toss to cook until just bright green.  Add to kale.
  5. Roughly chop mint and add to kale.
  6. Add remaining sundried tomatoes, sunflower seeds, and oil to kale and toss.  Add pumpkin seeds on top when serving so they stay crunchy.

 

 

 

 

Vegetarian and Vegan Personal Chef
Serving San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Marin, South Bay/Peninsula
info@onepotkitchen.com
© 2014 One Pot Kitchen Personal Chef