Sunday, July 31, 2011
Paloma has her own basil plant and takes care of it with pride and a funny crinkle of seriousness on her forehead. She planted it and painted the pot green with the help of her daycare teacher. Things like these always leave me wishing for a big backyard and a garden for her to play in and learn from. Sometimes, when she is not looking, and when I want to give my bigger basil plant a break, I sneak some of her herb for our meals. I did for this pad thai.
I'm not sure why I didn't share this recipe earlier. It has been a staple dinner for us for a while now, very quick and easy in preparation. I don't always make it with white crab mushrooms, but found them at an Asian market the other day and couldn't pass them by with a name like that.
Kelp noodles, something I always have in my pantry, are made out of sea vegetables, which automatically makes them very nutritious. They are neutral in taste, noodle-like in texture, and absorb any sauce they are in. Overall, a great way to enjoy the benefits of seaweed.
Here, the flavours of coriander, almond butter, and coconut oil work wonderfully with fresh herbs and baby bok choy, making one of my favourite dinners.
White Crab Mushrooms and Bok Choy
1 bunch of baby bock choy or several leaves of regular bock choy - thinly sliced
1 package of White Crab mushrooms or any other kind you like - separated
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sprinkle the mushrooms and bok choy with olive oil, salt, pepper, and toss to coat. Spread on a Teflex-lined dehydrator tray, and dehydrate for 1-2 hours at 95F.
2 tablespoons raw almond butter
1/3 cups coconut oil
1 tablespoon Nama Shoyu or Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 jalapeno pepper - seeded
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup purified water
1 package kelp noodles
In a high-speed blender, combine all the ingredients with the exception of kelp noodles to a smooth, sauce-like consistency.
Drain and wash the kelp noodles, and cut them into shorter pieces if you like. In a large bowl, combine the noodles with mushrooms and bok choy. Pour the sauce over and mix thoroughly. Optionally, add fresh green peas, basil, and/or mint leaves. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios or hazelnuts and enjoy.
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I love visiting Asian markets - they are always full of surprises and things that to me are unknown and curious. As a result, I often leave carrying many more items than I originally plan to buy. This particular time, there were dragon fruit - ripe, hot pink, as if aflame, and absolutely irresistible. I had never tried dragon fruit and didn't know what kind of dish I will use it in, but just had to buy a bunch. I also couldn't pass by my favourite persimmons, which have been unusually abundant this summer at the same markets.
The idea for this salad came later, on my drive back home. It was a total experiment, an attempt to combine soft textures and mild taste of dragon fruit and avocado with sweet persimmon, crisp and tangy pickled roots, and sour cherries. Plus a touch of fresh mint and sesame dressing to complete the bouquet. I wanted to see all those colours and textures layered to make a beautiful, multicoloured dish, similar to a lasagna we posted about last summer.
As for sour cherries, they are another summer fruit from back home that I miss very much. I heard that they are sometimes available fresh at markets up north, but have never seen them here in Florida. Whenever I can hunt them down frozen at Eastern European markets, I usually grab as much as I can. They preserve nicely and taste almost the same as fresh, once thawed. Just like black currants, another rarity here, sour cherries have a unique taste and colour that make it difficult to find any good substitute for them.
Pickling the cherries together with jicama and Daikon radish, turns the root slices a beautiful pink, which gives the salad additional tones of colour. In fact, those pickles go well with almost any green salad, if you happened to make more than you need for your dragon fruits.
The preparation here is simple, while the finished product is impressive in looks and taste. Just pickle, mix the dressing, slice, layer, and you are in business.
Paloma couldn't get enough of dragon fruit, which is interesting, considering its neutral taste. She ate a whole one by herself, bringing me the cleaned out pink skins to throw away. I'm always excited when she enjoys a new food.
Pickled Cherries, Jicama, and Daikon Radish
1 cup or more fresh or thawed sour cherries - pitted
1/2 medium sized jicama - sliced
a few slices of Daikon radish
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons raw agave nectar or another sweetener of choice
In a small bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar with agave. Pour over the rest of the ingredients and let it sit for thirty minutes. Drain and keep refrigerated in a covered glass container until ready to serve.
2 or more dragon fruits - sliced
1-2 avocados - sliced
1-2 persimmons - sliced (optional)
few sclices of fresh jicama and Daikon radish
pickled cherries, jicama and Daikon radish
fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped ginger
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup mirin (find it at an Asian market)
1/4 cup agave syrup
Blend all ingredients until smooth.
Arrange your layers in any order you like, alternating the ingredients and colors. Carefully pour some dressing over the salad. Optionally, serve with additional greens, like watercress, or arugula, and sunflower sprouts.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
Everyone has that one particular place where they feel most inspired. Where ideas rush into the mind, after which comes excitement and the urge to do and create. For me, this place has always been the kitchen. All the things I see and like in life somehow end up influencing our meals. During my day job, I often think about the foods I will prepare and the ways we will present and photograph them.
And like most inspired cooks, I am very influenced by the season and weather. We come home from the beach, Paloma covered in sand from head to toe, salt in our hair. This is when I can't help but picture what should be on our table after a day in the water and sun.
One of our mandatory stops in Paris was Berthillon ice cream on the Île Saint-Louis. Never mind the long line, we returned to it twice. We knew ahead of time exactly what flavours to try, but jet lag made us silly, and we showed up not knowing their French names. After a short communication with a very efficient server, we got what we got, and it wasn't what we planned for, but it was better. Among those unexpected treats was a heavenly grapefruit sorbet that I've been thinking about ever since.
At home, I attempted to make it the way I've done every other sorbet before. But grapefruit behaved differently once frozen, it turned into hard ice. After some investigation, I realized that this specific fruit requires a small amount of alcohol in order to retain a creamy sorbet texture. The alcohol does not freeze and prevents the sorbet from turning hard. (Do you know of any other ways?)
The idea to combine grapefruit with carrot came from one of our favourite juice combinations - carrot, grapefruit, and ginger. I didn't add ginger to the sorbet, but served it with these crunchy ginger snap cookies instead. So good, especially if you don't mind the bitter notes of grapefruit. And how can I not mention the brilliant orange colour? To me, that's the hue that best represents summer, sun, and heat.
Talk about being influenced by the season.
Grapefruit Carrot Sorbet
4 grapefruits - pulp and juice (about 3 cups)
1 cup fresh carrot juice
1/4 cup raw honey or agave
1 cup purified water
3 tablespoons vodka
Blend all of the ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Chill well and put into an ice cream maker for 25 minutes or however long your brand of ice cream machine suggests. Freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.
2 cups ground raw almonds - preferably soaked and dehydrated
1/2 cup sprouted pecan butter or almond butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw honey or another sweetener
3 teaspoons ground ginger or more to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt - optional
In a mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients well to form the dough. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment paper or Teflex sheets, forming an even thickness. Cut out the cookies of desired shape, and carefully transfer them to screened dehydrator trays. Reform the dough that remains after cutting, then re-roll and re-cut again. Dehydrate the cookies at 115F for about 16 hours or until nice and crunchy.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
There are not many dishes as desirable on a hot summer afternoon as a well chilled gazpacho. This particular one stands out as one of my first culinary memories in this country. It was about twelve years ago, when I wasn't very familiar with any other types of cooking other than Russian. I tasted a smooth and well spiced tomato soup with an unexpected pop of perfectly sweet, cold and juicy watermelon pieces right in the middle of it all. That gazpacho left a long lasting impression. That's what one ought to eat in the summer, I thought.
Since then, I've discovered and tried many gazpacho recipes. Some were good, some - not so much, but none were ever as tasty and refreshing as that first gazpacho. Finally, years later, I decided that it was time to recreate that dream of a soup.
Before, I've tried making a watermelon-based gazpacho, but didn't much agree with the way the watermelon behaved once pureed. I realized that the success of this dream soup was in its smooth tomato base, while the watermelon is present only in pieces, which surprise with additional bursts of chilled sweetness on your tongue.
After all these years, it's hard to say how much my soup resembles the original one, but it's safe to say that we enjoyed it just as much.
Smooth Vegetable Gazpacho with Watermelon Pieces
about 11 heirloom tomatoes - skin and seeds removed (you might have to blanch them quickly so that the skin comes off easier)
4 small pickling cucumbers or 1-2 large cucumbers - peeled, seeds removed
1 cup packed basil leaves or more to taste
1 cherry pepper or another hot pepper to taste - seeded
1-2 garlic cloves (optional, if you like a more pronounced flavour)
1 small shallot (optional, same reason as above)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper - to taste
ripe, chilled watermelon - cut into bite-size pieces
In a high speed blender, combine all of the ingredients, with the exception of watermelon, until smooth. You may need to do it in two batches. Optionally, pass through a fine strainer to achieve a very smooth texture. Adjust the salt and pepper and chill well. Serve with watermelon pieces and fresh basil leaves.
at 12:42 PM
Friday, July 1, 2011
Hands down, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Every morning, I have to eat something to wake up and be ready for the day ahead. On a work day it's usually a quick one - a green smoothie or chia pudding, but today I'd like to talk about weekend breakfasts. The best kind.
When pot after pot of tea is made, when the refrigerator door swings back and forth many times, and when we allow ourselves to linger around the table before getting on with the day.
We like these breakfasts to be abundant, indulgent, and entirely weekend-like.
Ever since Lisa wrote about these maca pancakes (Corinne's recipe), I couldn't stop picturing them on our table on a Saturday morning. Lisa's site is always full of the freshest culinary ideas, and she is very generous about sharing them. Thank you.
My approach to pancakes has been a bit different, as I grew up eating the crepe-like variety. But these thicker, American style pancakes intrigued me. Almost anything that contains maca powder usually calls my name, and these guys just looked so good.
I've been on an Irish moss kick for a while now, and of course my magical ingredient ended up in the recipe, adding a fluffy quality to the texture. The yogurt cream was a try and see sort of thing. Luckily, it was a hit, and I've been using it in many other recipes since.
And so, one weekend morning, we assembled a tower of pancakes. Each layer was populated with a generous spread of yogurt sauce, berries, and honey-glazed apricots. Then a sprinkle of poppy seeds and one more drizzle of honey. It was a pretty mess, a leaning tower. Perfect for a lazy morning.
Tower of pancakes or not, we hope you have one of these mornings soon. Enjoy.
Honey Maca Pancakes
(For a vegan version, substitute the honey with your sweetener of choice)
2 cups cashews - soaked overnight
1/2 cup Irish moss - thoroughly rinsed and soaked in hot water for at least 10 minutes
1 cup water
1/2 cup raw honey
2 tablespoons maca powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sprouted pecan butter or other nut butter/oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds - optional
2 tablespoons ground almonds
3/4 cup ground flax seeds
In a high speed blender mix together all but the last three ingredients until very smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the ground almonds, poppy and flax seeds, mix thoroughly. Spread to a desired thickness onto Teflex covered dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 105F for about 6 hours, then flip over and dehydrate for another couple of hours until the pancakes are dry enough and ready to be cut into circles. We cut out the circles by using a bowl as a template.
1/2 cup macadamia nuts- soaked overnight
1/2 cup cashews - soaked overnight
1 tablespoon light agave syrup
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon raw honey
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon nutritional yeast
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons Bio-k acidophilus
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon sunflower lecithin - optional, really good for you
In a high speed blender, combine all of the ingredients until smooth and creamy.
Slice apricots, drizzle with raw honey mixed with small amount of coconut oil. Dehydrate at 115F for 1-2 hours.
Spread the yogurt cream on each pancake, top with fruits of your choice, sprinkle with poppy seeds (optional) and enjoy. You can keep all the components separately, or in the form of a cake, like we did. Either way, it tastes great and holds well.