Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sea Palm and Tofu in Coconut Milk


Sea palm is a form of kelp that is found only off the coast of Northern California. (It is available from the Mendocino Sea Vegetable Company—I don’t know where else to get it.) I feel fortunate to live in the “home” of sea palm and so I have it readily available. If you are skeptical about eating seaweed in anything other than sushi, then try this recipe. You will likely find yourself pleasantly surprised. Because the recipe includes coconut milk, honey, and apple, it is a little sweet and so it might appeal to children who otherwise would have nothing to do with a seaweed dish. For those who find the texture of the sea palm jarring, I suggest that you cut the strands down into smaller pieces. The flavor (and nutritional value) of the sea palm is sensational. 

Ingredients


½ oz. dried sea palm
¼ c. apple juice
5 oz. firm tofu (cubed)
1 c. coconut milk
¾ c. grated carrot
1 medium apple, cored and grated
¼ c. chopped scallions
2 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
2 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. tamari sauce (non-wheat for the gluten-free)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp. chopped fresh Thai basil
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ c. slivered almonds 

Directions


Soak the sea palm in the apple juice for 20 minutes to rehydrate it. Grate the carrot and apple. There is no need to peel the apple. Remove the core but leave the skin on.

Combine the scallions, ginger, honey, tamari, chives, basil, and nutmeg and simmer them together for 8 minutes in the coconut milk (moderate heat). Add the sea palm and apple juice and simmer for another 8 minutes (low heat). Then add the grated carrot and apple and the cubed tofu and simmer over low heat for another 10 minutes. Additional apple juice can be added (a little at a time) to keep the dish from becoming too dry.

Sprinkle with slivered almonds before serving. This dish is especially delicious when combined with a wild rice, such as black japonica or red rice.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Sauce


Spaghetti squash is an extraordinarily satisfying substitute for pasta. This is good news for those who wish to avoid pasta to lose weight or reduce consumption of grains for other reasons. The recipe that follows can be made with your favorite tomato sauce (as written) or with other types of sauces, such as pesto or simply olive oil with crushed garlic. I have not provided a recipe for tomato sauce here since there are so many varieties of tomato sauce to choose from. Just pick one of your standards.

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash
3 c. (24 oz.) tomato sauce of your choice
2 tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. baby Portobello mushrooms (chopped)
1 tsp. oregano
1 garlic clove (crushed)
6 oz. grated parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and the first layer of strings. The spaghetti squash is a tricky squash to “clean” prior to baking because it is stringy by nature. You want to remove the tough strings at the core, but you don’t want to dig out the flesh of the squash, which is what you will bake and eat. Put the squash halves upside down on a cookie sheet with a little water in it (up to about ½ of an inch). Bake at 350˚ for 30-40 minutes (depending on the size of the squash) or until the squash is clearly soft when pierced with a fork. Check frequently after 30 minutes in the oven so as not to overcook. Once the squash has cooled enough to handle, scoop out the squash meat and toss it in a large bowl. Separate the strands so that it resembles spaghetti.

While the squash is baking, cook the mushrooms. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan for one minute on high heat and then turn the heat down to medium. Sauté the chopped mushrooms, crushed garlic clove, and oregano in the olive oil, drizzling in a little water as needed to prevent the mushrooms from drying out. The mushrooms will cook for approximately five minutes, until soft but not rubbery. Stir frequently.

When the spaghetti squash is done, warm the tomato sauce in a pot over low heat until it is hot. Add the mushrooms to the sauce and fold them in. Pour the tomato/mushroom sauce over the spaghetti squash and serve. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Kale Chips

Lately it seems like kale chips are the next big thing. I confess that I love them but I won’t buy them since they’re so expensive. I tried making them in my oven and they sometimes work and sometimes don’t, depending on how wet they are. The most reliable and efficient way to prepare kale chips is in a food dehydrator. Here’s a simple recipe.

Ingredients


2 bunches of leafy kale
6 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. tamari
2 tbsp. Braggs Amino Acids
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. black pepper
salt (optional and to taste)
¼ c. nutritional yeast

Directions


Clean the kale and remove the stems. Put the kale through a spinner and/or blot dry with dish towels to be sure it is dry. Tear the kale into pieces. I tear the kale away from the stems in what I judge to be bite-sized pieces. Put the kale into a very large bowl with plenty of room. Set the kale aside.

Combine all the other ingredients in a measuring cup, beginning with the olive oil. DO NOT include the nutritional yeast, which will be sprinkled on at the end; so set that aside. These ingredients will be the coating. Stir them together until well-blended.

Pour the coating over the kale and turn the kale with a large spoon repeatedly until it is entirely coated. Be sure to pull up coating from the bottom of the bowl and work it into the leaves.  

Place the kale on lined dehydrator trays and sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of the kale. Set the dehydrator at 105°. The kale does not need to lay flat. Allow to dehydrate for about 12 hours (overnight works well).

Store the kale chips in an airtight container or bag.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Applesauce Cake (and Muffins)


This applesauce cake is a fruit-full variation on the old-fashioned spice cake. It can be made with whole wheat flour or it can be made gluten-free as described below. You can also use this recipe to make applesauce muffins.

Ingredients

1 c. applesauce
½ c. honey
¼ c. oil (for a richer cake substitute melted butter)
2 eggs
2 c. whole wheat flour (for gluten-free use 1 c. brown rice flour and 1 c. teff flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. allspice or cloves
½ c. raisins (optional)
½ c. chopped walnuts (optional)

For topping (optional)
¼ c. wheat germ
½ c. applesauce
¼ c. chopped walnuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350° and grease a 9”x9” baking dish.

Beat the eggs. Combine the wet ingredients (applesauce, honey, oil, eggs) in a mixing bowl and blend well. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and allspice/cloves in a separate bowl. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and blend well. Once the ingredients are thoroughly blended, fold in the raisins and/or walnuts if you wish to include these.

Pour the batter into the baking dish. Using a tablespoon, gently dollop applesauce across the top of the mixture (do not stir down into the batter) and then sprinkle the wheat germ and chopped walnuts on top.

Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes at 350°. If you use this recipe to make muffins then bake them in a muffin tin for 20-25 minutes at 350°. (This recipe will make about a dozen muffins.) If you use the gluten-free version then baking time will need to be a little longer. Cake or muffins are done when a knife inserted comes out clean.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!



Saturday, May 25, 2013

Middle Eastern Classic Salad

This salad goes well with just about any meal. It’s ridiculously simple and sparklingly fresh.

Ingredients


1 cucumber finely chopped
2 large tomatoes or 1 enormous tomato finely chopped
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large lemon

Directions


Chop the vegetables and combine. Juice the lemon and add the juice to the vegetables. Add the oil. Let stand for 20 minutes (in the refrigerator so it stays chilled) to allow the vegetable juices to come out.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously! 

Mediterranean Salad and Tahini Wrap

This variation on salad makes for a perfectly satisfying lunch.

Ingredients


Salad greens
Crumbled feta cheese (or not, for a vegan version)
5 pitted Kalamata olives
3 tbsp. chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp. chopped cucumber
1 tbsp. olive oil
1½ tbsp. tahini
1 “wrap” (gluten-free wraps are now available)

Directions


A wrap is a version of a tortilla that is large and (usually) sturdy enough for this recipe. I prefer to use the spinach wrap for this purpose. I have seen spinach wraps, tomato and herb wraps, and plain wraps. As noted, gluten-free wraps are now available (try a specialty health food store if they don’t carry them at your grocery store). Warm and soften one wrap in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Spread tahini on the wrap. Pile on the salad greens, add the other vegetables and the feta. Drizzle the olive oil over the top. Roll the wrap up as tightly as you can. This is a bit of a messy meal! Plan to have some of the salad fall out the bottom onto the plate. You can finish it up with a fork. Simply made and simply delicious.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Garam Masala Yams, Cauliflower, and Chickpeas


This Indian vegetable dish is a complete meal in itself or it can be served over rice. The recipe makes a large quantity – perfect to take to a potluck. Cook it up in a big stew pot. I have divided the steps into three phases.

Ingredients


PHASE ONE
2 tbsp. coconut oil or olive oil
½ onion, chopped (about ¾ cup) or 1½ tbsp. onion powder
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 tbsp. fresh ginger (peeled and chopped fine)
2 tbsp. coriander
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. turmeric
1 tbsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ tsp. clove
¼ tsp. cayenne or 1 tsp. chili pepper flakes (optional – see note about spiciness below under directions)
Salt to taste (or use none – can always be added later by individuals)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 14-ounce can stewed diced tomatoes (or 3 medium-sized peeled chopped fresh tomatoes)
1 c. water
PHASE TWO
1 c. coconut milk
1 smallish head of cauliflower broken up into pieces (no larger than 1½ inches)
3 sliced carrots (not thin-sliced, more chunky)
2 large garnet yams peeled and chopped into cubes (no larger than ¾-inch) – equivalent of about 3½ cups
PHASE THREE
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas
2 limes
1 tbsp. orange peel
½ c. raisins
8 ounces baby spinach (washed and chopped coarsely)

Directions


PHASE ONE. Heat the oil in a large stew pot until frying-hot then add the onion and fry it for a few minutes until it becomes transparent. Turn off the heat. Combine the water, tomatoes, tomato paste, and all the herbs and spices listed in Phase One in the stew pot. I usually do not put cayenne or hot pepper in anything I cook since it can always be added later and some people have trouble with spicy food. (Sambal Oelek is an excellent hot spicy addition that can be served separately.) I also do not cook with salt because that too can be added later and some people can’t tolerate salt. Turn the heat on low and simmer the spices and herbs in the tomato “soup” (covered) for about five or ten minutes. If you are not done cutting up the vegetables by then just turn off the heat until you are ready to add the veggies.

PHASE TWO. Slice the carrots. Peel the garnet yams and cut into chunks or cubes. Break up the cauliflower into bite-size pieces. Add these vegetables to the stew pot along with the coconut milk. Cook the vegetables over low heat, covered, for about 20 minutes (until the veggies are soft but still firm, not mushy). Be sure to stir the veggies frequently so that they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.

PHASE THREE. Juice 2 limes. Rinse the chickpeas with water in a colander. Coarsely chop the spinach. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the chickpeas, lime juice, orange peel, and raisins to the stew and mix them in. Then place the spinach on top and cover the pot. Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes to steam the spinach until it wilts.

I like to serve this dish with chopped cilantro and fresh mango. The cilantro can be sprinkled on top. Mango should be chopped into bite-sized pieces and served on the side. Additionally, yogurt or a raita of yogurt and chopped cucumbers goes very well with this meal.

 Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake


This is a classic “skillet cake” recipe. I have often made it in my big cast iron skillet, although it can also be made in a regular baking dish. My husband asks for this cake for his birthday just about every year. It reminds him of a cake his mother used to make when he was growing up. Note that this recipe will work with other fruit that can be substituted for the pineapple, so imagine and play. (A gluten-free variation is provided in the directions below.) 
Ingredients 

For topping:
¼ c. melted butter
½ c. honey
Approximately 6 sliced pineapple rings (a 15-oz. can should do it)
For cake:
1 c. whole wheat flour (see below for gluten-free alternative)
1 tsp. baking powder
¾ c. honey 
4 eggs (separated)
1 tbsp. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla 


Directions 

First make the topping. Melt the butter and pour it into the baking dish (or skillet). Add the honey and blend it well with the butter. Drain the pineapple and lay the rings in the butter/honey mixture.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

In a separate bowl combine the flour and baking powder. For a gluten-free version of this cake, substitute the following for the whole wheat flour:  ¾ c. brown rice flour, ¼ c. teff flour, 2 tbsp. flax seed meal. Set the flour mixture aside.

Separate the eggs and beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Combine the egg yolks, honey, 1 tbsp. melted butter, and vanilla. Then fold this mixture into the beaten egg whites. Finally, fold in the flour and baking powder mixture so that all the cake ingredients are combined.

Pour the cake mixture over the topping in the baking dish (or skillet), covering it completely, and bake for 30 minutes at 350°. The gluten-free version might take a few minutes longer to bake. Insert a knife into the center to test the cake if necessary (should come out clean). Immediately after removing the cake from the oven, turn it over onto a large serving plate. Beware:  the butter and pineapple juice will run down the sides so could get messy. Leave the baking dish over the cake for a few minutes to make sure that all the topping mixture drains down into the cake.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hamentashen


Hamentashen is a traditional Jewish pastry made for the holiday of Purim. In the Purim story (called the Megillah, there is a malevolent character named Hamen, who wishes to destroy all the Jews (a common theme in history unfortunately), and he wears a three-cornered hat. Hamentashen means “Hamen’s hat” and it is a triangular pastry. My Grandma Wachspress’s recipe for hamentashen, provided below in both a wheat version and a gluten-free version, uses the Hungarian Jewish kipfel dough. To make the hamentashen, first you prepare the kipfel. 

Ingredients 

For the kipfel:
½ lb. butter (2 sticks) softened
½ lb. cream cheese softened
2 c. sifted flour (use whole wheat flour or, for a gluten-free pastry, use brown rice flour)
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt

For the hamentashen filling:
1 c. poppy seeds
¼ tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/3 c. honey
1 tbsp. grated lemon rind
¼ c. raisins 

Directions 

To make the kipfel dough, blend the ingredients well, working the butter and cream cheese into the flour. This dough has so much butter and cream cheese in it that it falls apart unless it’s chilled. Once you have it blended into a ball, put the kipfel in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or the freezer for 20 minutes before attempting to work with it. When you roll it out, only roll out half the dough at first, while leaving the other half in the refrigerator to stay chilled. Then roll out the other half of the dough.

While the dough is chilling, put the hamentashen filling ingredients  (except for the egg, leave that out for now) into a food processor and whirl them up for a couple of minutes. Honestly, the traditional way to make hamentashen requires that you grind the poppy seeds into a paste with a mortar and pestle, which Grandma W. did. I have done this and it makes the filling wonderfully flavorful; but I confess that I rarely have the patience to grind poppy seeds. Whirling them in the food processor works well enough for me, but for the gourmet version you can get out your mortar and pestle and go for it. After you whirl everything but the egg for a couple of minutes, then add the egg and whirl the filling some more to mix in the egg.

When the kipfel is chilled, roll half the dough out and cut it into 3-inch circles. I suggest using a drinking glass as your cookie cutter. For the gluten-free version, put a piece of parchment (wax paper works OK, just not quite as well as parchment) on the cutting board before you roll out the dough to prevent sticking. Rice flour dough tends to be more gooey, fragile, and harder to work with than wheat flour dough.

Drop a teaspoon of hamentashen filling into the middle of each round and fold up three edges to form a triangle (Hamen’s hat). Pinch the corners firmly to secure the dough and to prevent it from unfolding in the oven. You should be able to still see a little bit of the filling (about as much as the size of your pinky fingernail) in the middle of the pastry, but be sure to fold the kipfel tight or it will open up and flatten out while baking.

Bake the hamentashen on a greased cookie sheet at 375º for 20 minutes or until done. The gluten-free version needs to bake for a little longer than the wheat version – 25 minutes should do it.

It’s challenging to use up all the dough and all the filling in the hamentashen. I finish up this recipe by rolling out the last piece of dough into an oval and filling it with the last of the hamentashen filling, folding it over on itself and baking it for 20-25 minutes, then slicing it up (see my rugelach recipe).

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!

Rugelach


This version of the famous rugelach is not the fancy kind you find in a New York deli, but believe me when I tell you that this pastry is one of the seven wonders of the Jewish world. This is a simple way of making rugelach that has been passed down in my family. These rugelach are not individually rolled, as you shall see. The secret is in the Hungarian kipfel dough, which my Grandma Wachspress made with cream cheese and butter. I also offer you a gluten-free kipfel version. For rugelach you first need to make the kipfel dough so the following recipe is broken into two stages. First the dough, then assembling the rugelach. 

Ingredients

KIPFEL
½ lb. butter (2 sticks) softened
½ lb. cream cheese softened
2 c. sifted flour (use whole wheat flour or, for a gluten-free pastry, use brown rice flour)
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt

RUGELACH “FILLING”
Honey (indeterminate amount, see directions)
Cinnamon (indeterminate amount, see directions)
1/3 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1/3 c. chopped raisins (optional) 

Directions 

To make the kipfel dough, blend the ingredients well, working the butter and cream cheese into the flour. This dough has so much butter and cream cheese in it that it falls apart unless it’s chilled. Once you have it blended into a ball, put the kipfel in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or the freezer for 20 minutes before attempting to work with it. When you roll it out, only roll out half the dough at first, while leaving the other half in the refrigerator to stay chilled. Then roll out the other half of the dough.

Roll the kipfel (first half, then second half) out in an oval shape about 5 inches wide and a foot or more long. Try to keep the width as uniform as possible. The kipfel should be about ¼-inch thick. Spread the honey (generously) on the dough with a knife, covering to within about ½-inch of the edges. Sprinkle the cinnamon liberally on top of the honey. Then distribute the walnuts and/or raisins if desired. Gently roll the dough up like a rug, the long way. This is why we call it rugelach, which means something like “little-rolled-up-thing” in Yiddish.

For the gluten-free version, put a piece of parchment (wax paper works OK, just not quite as well as parchment) on the cutting board before you roll out the dough to prevent sticking. Rice flour dough tends to be more gooey, fragile, and harder to work with than wheat flour dough.

Bake the rugelach on a greased cookie sheet at 375º for 20 minutes or until brown and done. The gluten-free version needs to bake for a little longer than the wheat version – 25 minutes should do it. After taking the roll out of the oven, put it on a cutting board or plate and allow it to cool for a few minutes, then slice it in 1-inch-wide segments with a sharp knife.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously! 

Kipfel Dough (Hungarian Style)


This standard, rich Hungarian Jewish pastry dough can be used for rugelach, hamentashen, cookies, and other treats; and yes, I can offer you a gluten-free version. Here is the straight up recipe for the dough, right out of my grandmother’s kitchen. Check out my rugelach and hamentashen recipes for delicious ways to use this dough to make traditional Jewish pastries.

Ingredients 

½ lb. butter (2 sticks) softened
½ lb. cream cheese softened
2 c. sifted flour (use whole wheat flour or, for a gluten-free pastry, use brown rice flour)
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. salt 

Directions 

Blend the ingredients well, working the butter and cream cheese into the flour. This dough has so much butter and cream cheese in it that it falls apart unless it’s chilled. Once you have it blended into a ball, put the kipfel in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or the freezer for 20 minutes before attempting to work with it. When you roll it out, only roll out half the dough at first, while leaving the other half in the refrigerator to stay chilled. Then roll out the other half of the dough.

Once it’s chilled, this dough is quite versatile. See my rugelach and hamentashen recipes. You can transform this dough into cookies by rolling it out (about ¼ inch thick) and using cookie cutters or a glass (for rounds) to shape the cookies. To sweeten the cookies, brush them with honey and sprinkle cinnamon on top or spread jam on them. Bake the cookies on a greased cookie sheet at 375º for 20 minutes (until they brown and are no longer doughy).

For the gluten-free version, put a piece of parchment (wax paper works OK, just not quite as well as parchment) on the cutting board before you roll out the dough to prevent sticking. Rice flour dough tends to be more gooey, fragile, and harder to work with than wheat flour dough. The gluten-free version needs to bake for a little longer than the wheat version – 25 minutes should do it.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Persimmon Bread (Gluten-Free)


This gluten-free sweet bread is a terrifically satisfying baked treat. Unlike many gluten-free desserts that are a “decent substitute” for treats made with wheat, this moist and light persimmon bread is a strong contender matched against any wheat bread (with no explanations or excuses needed). Use soft-ripe persimmons (such as the Hachiya) rather than crunchy persimmons (such as the Fuyu). The persimmons must be very ripe and squishy (so that they are at their sweetest). Remember that the soft-ripe style of persimmons are astringent until they become ripe. Even overly ripe persimmons work well for this bread. You can use this recipe for making persimmon muffins too, just note the reduced baking time. 

Ingredients

2 c. soft-ripe persimmons (approximately 6 persimmons)
4 eggs
½ c. coconut oil
½ c. melted butter
1 c. honey
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1½  c. teff flour
2 c. brown rice flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. orange peel
½ tsp. salt
1½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. allspice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Peel the skin off the persimmons. Swirl the persimmon meat in the blender until smooth. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Melt the butter. Combine the oil, butter, and honey in a large mixing bowl. Add the swirled persimmons, beaten eggs, lemon juice, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients and blend them together well.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir them together (scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl) until they are fully blended. The mixture will remain a little lumpy because of the orange peel, but try mix in all “bubbles” of flour, without over-mixing (since over-mixing can cause the batter to become tough and make the bread heavier.

Divide the batter into 2 oblong standard-sized bread-baking dishes. Bake the persimmon bread for one hour at 350°. Bake muffins (in muffin tins) for 30 minutes at 350°. Bread or muffins are done when a knife inserted comes out clean.

You may wish to get creative by adding ½ c. of walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips, chopped dates, and/or crystallized ginger chunks to this recipe. Personally, I love this bread just plain with butter, soft goat cheese, or cream cheese spread.

Eat well, be well, live deliciously!