Thursday, March 10, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I have loved baking since I was a teenager. Now, I try to make as many healthful substitutions as I can without compromising taste and more importantly, texture. This means, that I will use organic butter, free range eggs, organic cane sugar, honey or maple syrup instead of the bleached white stuff. But, I will never use applesauce instead of butter or eggs, I won't cut out fat to make a "healthier" baked good, because usually sacrificing the fat usually means sacrificing the flavor.
I truly believe in everything in moderation. So, if I am going to have a cookie, or a piece of cake, I want it to be the best possible version. I don't want a random mix of sugar, just for the sake of sweet. I want a quality product. Quality over quantity is my motto. Having said all of this, one of my clients recently gave me this recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies. To be perfectly honest, I didn't have high hopes for the recipe, but I figured I would be a sport and give it a go. I was really surprised to find that these cookies were really good-not just good for a vegan cookie, but really good.
Replacing ordinary flour with oat flour and ground nuts make these cookies a good source of fiber and healthy fats (from the nuts). Maple syrup is a lot less sweet than sugar and is a lot less processed. I used dark chocolate which has some antioxidants and far less sugar than milk chocolate. Just because these cookies are healthier than traditional chocolate chips, doesn't mean you can eat six of them. Remember, everything in moderation.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups oat flour
1 teaspoon aluminum free baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups raw walnuts
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
12 ounces dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Mix together oat flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl and stir together.
Blend walnuts in a food processor into a fine meal. Add oil, maple syrup and vanilla and blend until the mixture has the consistency of natural nut butter.
Combine walnut mix with oat flour. Fold in two cups of rolled oats and chocolate chips.
Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scooper or tablespoon measure, form dough into balls and place on baking sheets. Flatten cookies slightly, then bake for 13-15 minutes or until cookies begin to brown.
Cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Meatless Monday is a campaign to reduce meat consumption one day per week. According to the website, "cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change." Many top restaurants are also adopting the Meatless Monday campaign. I totally support this campaign and encourage you to as well. Here's a recipe to get you started.
I love Indian food. This is my twist on one of my favorite Indian dishes, Saag Aloo. The addition of the garbanzos give this dish a protein boost making it a complete meal.
1 pound frozen chopped spinach*
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 fresh green chilli (serrano or jalapeno), minced
1 small onion, diced
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons cayenne (optional)**
1 tablespoon oil (any flavourless)
1 cup water or stock
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Ad the garlic, onion, green chiles and the spices.
Stir until the onions are translucent, then add potatoes. Stir until they are coated with the spices, but be careful not to let the garlic brown. If it starts to get brown, lower heat. Add frozen spinach and water or stock to the pan. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with a tablespoon of butter.
* I like frozen spinach in this dish because the texture is better, in this dish than fresh and much better than baby spinach.
** We like spicy, so I add the cayenne in addition to the chiles, if you don't like heat, omit the cayenne and use only one chile
Friday, January 14, 2011
Last night was a clean out the fridge type meal. I have had scraps of vegetables leftover from various clients, not enough to make their own side dish. So, I combined all the orphan veg into one happy side dish, well, two really. The first was a combo of julienned carrots, asparagus, zucchini, and of course, kale. The second was a combination of spinach, collard greens and kale that I pureed with a little cheese. The two accompanied two different main courses, one for my husband and one for me.
Normally, I am not in the habit of making separate meals, but I really wanted seafood and he is not a huge fan. Both dinners were exactly the same, with the exception of the protein. I am at the end of a two week cleanse and have been trying to incorporate way more vegetables into my meals. This was pretty quick and easy and most importantly, delicious.
Monday, January 10, 2011
½ cup all purpose flour plus additional for dredging
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thighs*
4 chicken drumsticks*
4 ounces fresh chanterelle mushrooms
2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1/4 cup crème fraîche
Melt butter with oil in heavy large deep skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Cook chicken until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate. Add mushrooms, carrots, and shallots to skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon thyme and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add wine; bring to boil. Add broth; bring to boil.Return chicken to skillet, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes. Turn chicken, cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer chicken and vegetables to platter. Whisk crème fraîche into sauce in skillet; bring to boil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over chicken, sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon thyme, and serve.
*Legs and thigs are better suited to this recipe than breasts which have can be a little dry.
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Adaptability is, not surprisingly, the ability to adapt. I think this is an important skill when it comes to cooking. It's a good skill to have in life, in general. You might notice that a lot of my recipes are vague, or use approximates. This is because I never use recipes. Maybe I refer to them from time to time to check ingredients, or oven temp but for the most part I use recipes as merely a guide. I want you guys to realize that as well. Don't be too concerned with following a recipe to a T, sometimes, this isn't even an option. How many times have you been in the middle of making a dish and realize you are missing a major ingredient, or two? That happens to me often.
Today, I was going to make the spinach cake I posted a few weeks back for a client, along with several other recipes. I headed to Whole Foods just before I was supposed to be at the client's house and...they were out of spinach. I couldn't believe it. I guess I could have used frozen, but that would have added a couple of steps and I had a lot to cook in a short period of time. I didn't want to add any steps. Instead of freaking out, I just grabbed what looked good-mustard greens. Oh I love them so, not as much as kale, but a lot. I also picked up a few bunches of watercress. Now, this was a pretty easy substitution, but it's a good example of not being too stuck on what a recipe says. Sometimes I go to the store with a recipe in mind and they either don't have the ingredient I'm looking for or maybe the ingredient looks bad. This happens a lot, especially when it comes to fish. I stopped specifying fish when cooking for clients, instead, I buy what looks the best (of course, taking into consideration the client's likes and dislikes).
Understand that changing the ingredients, will obviously change the recipe, but that could be a good thing. A word of warning, though with the actual recipes, if you change it, make sure to write down the changes-if it's really good, you want to be able to recreate it. We can think of life as a recipe as well. We can either obsessively focus on the plan, as we see it and risk being disappointed often, or we can use the recipe as a guide making substitutions and tweaks based on the ingredients that come our way.
Monday, January 3, 2011
Ever since a trip to London nearly eight years ago, we have been obsessed with Indian food. It is our favorite!! Everyone knows that England is famous for its Indian food. When we got back from that trip we tried tons of Indian places. We found a few good ones but I really committed to making my own Indian food at home. Tonight's inspiration came from Madhur Jaffrey's book, "Quick & Easy Indian Cooking." This is a great book if you want to try some Indian recipes. They really are quick and easy and she explains all of the different ingredients commonly used. It is not intimidating and it's totally accessible for a beginning or experienced cook.
I tried out the pressure cooker that my landlord was kind enough to lend to me, for the first time tonight. I was terrified that it would explode, so I think I had the heat a little too low, but after some tinkering I think I have it down now. The urad beans went in there with some tomato, onion, mustard seeds, cumin, mint and cilantro. I love the lentils and beans in general, but I love the flavor from Indian spices. Legumes are a good source of cheap protein and also fiber-something that most of us don't get enough of from our diets. The pressure cooker is pretty cool too, so I'll have to give it another whirl this week.
I should point out that I had nearly all of the ingredients on hand, except the shrimp and I did run out of cilantro, but I chose this menu based on what was hanging around. We love spicy and this cauliflower did not disappoint. Fresh jalapenos and cayenne gave it a nice little kick, some ginger, garlic and mustard seeds rounded out the flavors.
Shrimp is always really easy to make, because it takes no time at all to cook. Simply sauté in a pan and then add a sauce that includes, tomato paste, coconut milk (full fat, none of that lite nonsense), cilantro, cumin, more chile and cayenne, garam masala and some curry leaves. Done.
So there's my home made Indian feast. I prepped all of the ingredients for each dish, then cleaned up my little mess. The actual cooking time for each dish was no longer than 15 minutes. So in less time than it would take me to pick up takeout, I had my own version on the table.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
I had a mushroom salad at one of my local favorite spots the other day. It was a special and it was delicious! Ever since, I have been dreaming of it, and knew that it was just a matter of time before I recreated it. The weather has been kind of miserable, not really salad weather, so I opted to make it a side and not a main course. I paired it with a grass-fed beef burger on a sprouted grain bun, which I felt was hearty enough to stand up to the pouring rain. If you'll notice, the salad really takes up most of the plate. This is the bonus to eating loads of veg, you can eat a ton of food.
2 portobello mushrooms, sliced
4 shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/4 pound crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 head of frisee, root end removed
1 small head of romaine or little gem lettuce, torn into pieces
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, then add mushrooms. Cook until they are golden. Season with sea salt and pepper.
While mushrooms are cooking, combine the lettuces in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and toss. Top with cooked mushrooms and grated parmesan cheese.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Happy new year to everyone. Welcome to the first blog of the year. I am not really one to make resolutions. I mean who really sticks to them for more than a few days anyway? But, I do like to start the new year clean and healthy.