Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gluten Free Crackers

This is another recipe introduced to me by my lovely friend and cousin, Sylvie.  I got to spend a weekend with her a few weeks back and had a great time watching her get messy in the kitchen.  She has a fearless and experimental approach to cooking that I love, and lucky for us, she loves to share what she knows.
Even if you're not trying to cut out gluten, these are great crackers that beat the crap out of just about anything you can find in the store when it comes to flavor, price, ingredients, sodium, packaging, and how good you feel after eating them.  Plus they're fun and easy to make.  

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Quinoa Minestrone and the state of the nation

Hello people, friends, friendly people.  I hope that wherever you're reading this from you're warm and dry and well fed.  If you're two of these three things you're in good shape.  If you're all three, all the better.  If you're all three AND have someone you can do nice things for, well then my friend, you may consider that you're in better shape than most of the people on the planet and thank your lucky stars.  If you have all those things AND no one's dropping bombs on your homeland or holding a loved one of yours indefinitely without charge or promise of a trial, well then it becomes hard to complain about those few extra holiday pounds, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sprouted Lentil Loaf

Served here with dressed arugula and Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Here's another special something for that holiday table.  I tried to keep the ingredient list manageable and open to substitutions.  I used carrots, onions and celery as the main vegetables because most people have these around during the holiday season (did someone say stuffing???).  Feel free to experiment a bit though - maybe throwing in some mushrooms or a bell pepper.   I used almonds for a topping because that's what I had, but this is excellent with hazelnuts, and not too shabby with walnuts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Avocado, Beet and Feta Terrines

I'm not sure if these are technically "terrines," but terrine sounds much nicer than "mold."  I put these together under the orders of my friend Raphaelle the other night at a dinner party she hosted and they knocked everyone's socks off.  They're beautiful, flavorful, and perfect for the holidays.  They're also easy to make and they'll impress all your friends.  Give it a shot!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Iron Packed Citrus Ginger Quinoa

This is one of my absolute favorite dishes, I could eat it every day.   Not only is it delicious and beautiful, but its's a nutritional home run.  Quinoa, parsley, beets and walnuts are all great sources of plant iron.  As you may know, iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the world, much more common than protein deficiency, so it's good to pay a little attention to your iron intake.  

Plant iron isn't as easily absorbed as iron from animal sources, but there are things we can do to boost absorption.  An easy trick is to add a source of vitamin C to your meal when eating iron rich foods.  Adding a bit of vitamin C to a meal can increase iron absorption up to six-fold.  Who knew?  So what we have here is a dish that contains a complete protein (quinoa), lots of iron, loads of vitamin C, plenty of fiber, and a wide array of other important micronutrients.  What more could you ask for?  Oh yeah, AND this looks beautiful on a holiday table.   Enjoy!

Provençal Hummus

This is something of a cross between a tapenade and a hummus - an olivey, lemony, garlicy spread that packs serious flavor.  I love tapenade, but you can't really go to town on it because it's highly caloric, salty and fatty.  It's one of those things that has to be used sparingly, lest you develop gout on the spot.  This dip, introduced to me by good friend and cousin, Sylvie, takes the ingredients of tapenade and spreads them out with the addition of black and kidney beans.  She made us a batch and promptly had to make a second because we ate it like hungry beasts.

The original recipe calls for anchovies and I have to say - if you're a little bit adventurous and not a vegetarian - you really should try throwing one or two in.  Too many and they quickly become overpowering.  As it stands, this is already a very rich spread, and as usual - if you find the use of raw garlic too intense, try roasting your garlic first. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ring of Fire Granola

I originally set out to make something I was going to call "subtly spicy granola," but subtlety is not my forte and I ended up with this instead.  Every now and then using tablespoons instead of teaspoons pays off.  This granola is not so subtle.  It's pretty spicy.  

Eaten by dry handfuls it's spicy enough to make your mouth tingle, paired with a bowl of fresh fruit it's perfect.  You can tone down the amount of cayenne if you're afraid, but I strongly recommend going all in.  You can always bring the spice down a notch by adding soy/almond/oat/etc. milk or yogurt to the finished product.  

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hot Artichoke Dip - you've never had it so good

This one is for all you dip lovers out there, especially the ones who have special pot luck shirts that say, "I'm here for the dip."  You know who you are.  If prepared for a small enough group, or in large enough quantities, this dip is sure to spoil your dinner, as any good dip should.  It also makes for a great addition to a brunch table - something for your vegetarian friends at the lox and bagels party, though all the lox eaters will probably still try to hog it all anyway.

This concoction came about because I love artichokes and I love hot dips, but can't get down with eating something comprised mainly of mayonnaise.  This is vegan, naturally low fat, cholesterol free, and has been served to many people who have loved it and never suspected that it's made from tofu.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lemon and Mint Asparagus Quinoa

Quinoa is a great source of protein and iron, and whether prepared sweet or savory, it's one of my favorites.   I typically soak it for an hour or so before cooking, but have recently read that to properly soak it (and all whole grains for that matter) it should be soaked overnight in warm water with 1 tablespoon of acid (apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, etc) per cup of soaking liquid.  Did you know that?  I had no idea.  All this time I've just been soaking stuff in plain water.

Then again, I'm finding plenty of sites that say you don't need to soak quinoa.  Here's a good one with some tips on preparation.  Nourishing Traditions also has great information on why and how to soak grains, and this site has a blurb from Nourishing Traditions and a rant on oat soaking if you're curious.

To soak or not to soak.  What's a person to do?  The interwebs are so confusing.  So much information, so difficult to get to the bottom of it all.

Winter Spring Rolls

Holidays are upon us and I have so many things I want to share with you all for holiday party ideas.  Sadly, it's getting dark here now around 4:15 in the afternoon and the artificial lighting in our kitchen makes food pictures look yellowed and sweaty.   As a result, anything I want to photograph and post has to happen between 9 and 3.  I had big plans today to get the sprouted lentil loaf up here but ended up with a sprouted lentil mush that's tasty, but not exactly something to share with others.  Try and try again.  I've been trying to make a loaf without eggs and can't quite get it to hold together, I just may have to put the eggs in unless any of you have some suggestions...?

What I DID manage to get done today were these winter spring rolls.  I wanted to make something that could be easily taken to a potluck or a holiday party that utilized the flavors of the season.  So, I took the classic Vietnamese spring roll and winterized it.  The result is a rice paper wrap filled with roasted root vegetables, lemony shredded kale, bell peppers, and sprouted lentils for added crunch.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Flax Corn Bread - vegan & gluten free

I have a few friends who are taking a break from gluten, and a few others who don’t eat eggs. This one is for everyone; a cornbread that will please vegans and meat eaters, wheat eaters and wheat avoiders. It took a few trial runs, and I’m not entirely sure why it works, but it’s a great basic cornbread that could go in many directions – I think next time I’ll try adding some orange zest, dried cranberries, and a bit of coconut for a sweet bread. As it is, it’s a great accompaniment to sweet or savory dishes.

What I like the most about this recipe is that it doesn’t call for all the tons of buttermilk, butter, and eggs that most cornbreads do. A cup of applesauce replaces most of the oil, flax seed meal replaces the eggs and adds fiber. Good stuff.  I hope you enjoy it.