Monday, November 25, 2013

Sour Cherry Scones

These little morsels are satisfying, just sweet enough, packed with nutrition, and easy to make if you have a good supply of this and that in the kitchen. You could replace the dried sour cherries with something else, like cut up dried apricots, or even raisins or pieces of dates. The dried sour cherries add an element of depth and character that a totally sweet thing doesn't. In fact, dried blueberries might be another good example of that sweet-tart layering in a scone. I decided to try something totally new and use coconut water (the less sweet type, about 7g sugar in 8 ounces) for liquid, since there was already some protein from the chickpea flour etc. Nice omega 3's from the chia, plenty of good stuff here, and tasty! I also used a bit of jam to finish up a jar in the fridge... and you can do that too with any flavor you have around, or just add a bit more sweetness with honey or maple syrup or some form of sugar if you use it.

Sour Cherry Scones (makes 6)
pre-heat oven to 375F

1/4 cup golden flaxmeal (or grind your own flaxseeds)
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup chick pea flour (I wonder if ground quinoa would work here? maybe next time)
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 TBLS chia seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp lemon zest

1-2 TBLS jam of your choice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup coconut water (NOT MILK)

1-2 TBLS dried sour cherries
1/2 cup walnuts

Mix all the dry ingredients (1st 7on the list) plus the lemon zest.
Mix jam, vanilla and coconut water in a small bowl.
Add wet to dry, mixing sparingly.
Toss in the dried cherries and crunch up the walnuts into the size bits you like to find in your scones.  Mix this all together until it is consistently textured, but don't overdo it.

Plop extra large tablespoon ovals onto a non-stick silicone baking sheet, on a cookie sheet or other pan. Allow 35-40 minutes for baking but set your timer for 25 minutes and test for doneness, being ready to put them back in for up to 10 more minutes.

They will begin to brown and crisp a bit on the outer edges, but remain a little moist inside. These are scones -- not muffins -- and go well with marmalade, honey, or nut butters.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Oat Bran Muffins, with fresh & dried fruits

Our first prolonged snow flurries decorated the fallen apple leaves when I got up this morning, calling out for morning muffins. I had one ripe banana and decided to try oat bran muffins, with flecks of carrot for color, crunch of walnuts, sweetness of raisins and freshly grated apple. With a little help from maple syrup and apple jelly syrup (a failed jelly experiment that has been great for baking), these were even sweet enough for my husband to eat them without the usual dab of honey. If you use no oil, like I do, you will need silicone non-stick muffin cups. The combination of chick pea, brown rice, oat bran, flax and all makes for a nutritious vegan muffin without trading away anything at all in the way of texture or flavor or satisfaction.


OAT BRAN MUFFINS WITH FRESH & DRIED FRUITS

1/4 cup chick pea flour
1/4 cup brown rice four
1/4 cup potato starch
1/3 cup oat bran
1/2 cup sorghum flour
2 TBSP ground flax seed
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 TBSP apple jelly syrup (or use more maple syrup)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 mashed ripe banana
1 grated carrot
1 grated (peeled/seeded) apple
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 400F.  (You will turn this down after a few minutes of baking.)

Mix all the dry ingredients (first 9 on the list).
Mix all the wet ingredients (the next 6), leaving the raisins and walnuts out for now.
Stir the wet into the dry, making sure you moisten all the dry into a thick spongy texture.
Now stir in the raisins and walnuts, saving out 7-8 walnut pieces to stick one in the top of each muffin.

Using a big spoon (serving spoon or tablespoon) put large blobs of batter into each non-stick silicone muffin cup, sticking a walnut piece into the top for crisping and decoration. Place these on a baking sheet and put into oven for 5-10 minutes SET THE TIMER!!  TURN DOWN THE OVEN TO 350F and BAKE for another 20-25 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool a few minutes before popping out of the silicone cups -- cool a few more before eating. ENJOY THEM WARM. They can be quite moist inside from the banana... but ought to taste fully baked, not undercooked. That crisped walnut adds an important element!

Spaghetti Squash with Anytime Fresh Tomato Sauce


The bowl on our early November table has two pale tomatoes waiting to turn into something resembling summer tomatoes. The farm markets continue to offer beautiful cool weather greens and winter squash in every variety. So the dinner plan formed around a round lovely spaghetti squash, and my husband suggested that a fresh tomato sauce would be lovely. "Fresh tomato sauce?" I thought looking at him sideways.  Then I remembered my strategy at summer's end -- I had thrown piles of ripe plum tomatoes into plastic freezer bags and plopped them into the freezer. I use these in soups and chili and they taste as fresh as summer. As soon as the cold tomato hits the heat of the broth or whatever, the peelings pop right off, leaving just the succulence of the tomato. Of course they turn to mush -- but isn't that what we want in a sauce? So this evolved into another instant favorite -- sweet spaghetti squash well saturated with fresh tomato, garlic, slivered kale leaves and herbes de Provence. Oooh la la! This is a beautiful dish that takes less than an hour to make fresh.


SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH ANYTIME FRESH TOMATO SAUCE

1 medium large spaghetti squash
6-10 cloves fresh garlic roughly chopped
8 or so fresh-frozen plum tomatoes (you could use a can I suppose)
5-8 medium kale leaves, destemmed
1/2-3/4 c water
1/2 - 1 tsp salt (your taste...)
1 TBLSP herbes de Provence
Freshly ground pepper
Sesame seed gomasio (if you want to imitate a finishing sprinkle on top)

FIRST BAKE THE SQUASH:
Heat the oven to 350F. Cut the spaghetti squash in half length-wise (from stem to end). Open the squash and scrape out the seeds and seed goop with a large strong tablespoon. Place the squash halves on a baking sheet covered with tin foil and leave in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until you can press into the peeling side and it feels soft.  This is just the right amount of time for making the sauce.

MAKE THE SAUCE:
Plop the frozen tomatoes into a sauce/stew pot with roughly chopped garlic and the water and salt. You can start with less salt and always add more as it simmers, or on the table.  Cover and heat a few minutes, turning the tomatoes once or twice so that you can pick up each tomato and squeeze off the peelings. Then add the kale, cut into slivers. I wad the leaves up on a cutting board and cut thin slices through the wadded leaves. This is not a precise science. Stir in the kale with the herbes de Provence, a bit more salt, and let this simmer covered for at least half an hour.

JOINING SQUASH AND SAUCE:
When the sauce has simmered for at least 15-20 minutes, take the squash halves out of the oven, turn them over carefully. Let them cool a little (5 minutes at least), then hold one half in one hand with a well protected hand (using an oven mit is a good technique), while scraping out the squash flesh into a large bowl. Break up the squash flesh into its spaghetti like strands with a fork. Do both halves.

Pour the sauce over the squash in the bowl and serve. People can fish down into the bowl to pull the squash out, with the beautiful layer of sauce all over the top (and the juiciest part of the sauce filtering down into the bowl through the squash).  Serve with a choice of fresh pepper grinder, sea salt, and sesame seed gomasio as possible at-table finishing touches.

Note: You can roast these squash seeds if you like. Clean off the debris, rinse them, sprinkle them with Tamari, layer them on a baking sheet and let them crisp up, turning with a spatula at least once in about 15 minutes.

Brussels Sprouts with mustard sauce

Lately my husband has been enamored with mustard. There is a tang and a depth added to a dish with just the right amount of mustard in addition to the usual ingredients. Yes, there are patterns and habits in making vegan meals every day, and mustard quite simply adds a bit of spice to life! So when I was planning a fairly common combination of brussels sprouts, onion and mushrooms as a major side dish, I chose to add a stone ground mustard to the Bragg Liquid Amino, water and dash of black pepper. It was well worth it, and turned this one-pan dish into an instant favorite.






BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH MUSTARD SAUCE

2 torpedo (or other pungent red) onions
10-12 medium button mushrooms
2-3 cups or 1.5 pounds Brussels sprouts
2 tsp Bragg Liquid Amino
2 TBLSP stone ground mustard of your choice
1/2 c water
dash freshly ground black pepper

Slice the onions in thin slices, separating the rings in the bottom of a wide non-stick pan.
Clean the Brussels sprouts (cut off the tough stem ends and peel away any yucky leaves, washing off any dirt), and slice them in half vertically - cutting through from the stem end through the floret.
Brush the mushrooms and cut in quarters if large enough, or in half if smaller (use more of them if they are small).

Layer the Brussels Sprouts over the onion layer, putting the mushrooms on top. Pour 1/2 c water, Bragg's, and mustard over all of this and cover with lid. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Then turn off and leave covered, allowing the Brussels sprouts to steam and soften further, while not overcooking the mushrooms.

You can serve just like this, or cook a couple minutes without the lid to further reduce the mustard sauce onto the veggies.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sorrell soup

I think of sorrell as a tart lemony early spring green so I am delighted to see our little patch of sorrell rejuvenated by recent cooler nights. There could easily come a time in the next couple when the hard frost will banish that bright green for the winter. I broke off a couple good handfulls of leaves and headed for the kitchen with sorrell soup on my mind.  If you search for recipes you will find the French version and the Eastern European version, but every one calls for butter and/or cream. So here's my no oil, no dairy invention that was the centerpiece of a lovely lunch today and could easily be the start to a gourmet dinner. We ate this as a leftover with a heaping tablespoon of brown rice in the center, which was delicious and a bit more substantive.



SORRELL SOUP (serves 4)


2 handfuls (about 3 cups sliced) sorrell leaves
3 small potatoes with skins
1 medium red onion (I used half a huge torpedo onion)
1 medium green zucchini
4-5 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
dill sprigs (decoration & to eat)

1) Slice the onion very thinly and then chop it into bits. Cut the zucchini into small pieces (1/2 inch) and put all of this into a soup pot with about 1 cup of water. Let this simmer quietly with a little of the salt.

2) Cut the potatoes into slices and then rectangles and then little squares. Throw the potato pieces into the pot and add the rest of the water, deciding if you need a little more water in order to cook the potatoes and still have some broth. Cook this for about 10-15 minutes until everything is soft.

3) Wash the sorrell and break off the stem parts up
to the leaf --you can leave the stem part attached to the leafy part. Pile this up on a cutting board with the leaves all going longwise. Cut across into little ribbons.

4) JUST BEFORE SERVING, stir the sorrell into the hot soup, mixing and stirring until the sorrell begins to change color. Remove from heat and using a hand blender, puree the whole thing.

5) Salt to taste, serve into bowls, grind a little fresh pepper on top with a sprig or 3 of fresh dill leaves. This looks beautiful and tastes great. The subtle balance of substance from the potato with tang from the sorrell is blended with the sweetness of the zucchini and given depth by the onion. The dill gives a counterbalance to the zing of the sorrell. What could be simpler or more yummy Spring or Fall?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Brussels Sprout Balls


We bought a stalk of first of the season Brussels sprouts. When I steamed them to turn them into the main beautiful course for a dinner plan, it turned out that they just didn't have the flavor I hoped they would. They were immature, a little bitter, and quite plainly, not up to being the star of the show. I cooled them, put them in a bag in the fridge and regrouped dinner around spiced tempeh and quinoa. That all went fine but I was left contemplating what to do with a stalk's worth of young not-so-interesting Brussels sprouts. Today I came home from teaching and decided to just throw them in the blender, chop them into bits and turn them into something yummy. It would take lots of other ingredients with flavor to offset them, but they could definitely provide a texture that could make an interesting dinner. These are nice with any kind of sauce you like. They are good with both applesauce and kimchi!

Not expecting greatness, I didn't photograph the process -- but you can imagine how it looked.

BRUSSELS SPROUT BALLS (makes a dozen golf-ball sized crisp balls)

2 dozen (at least) small sprouts - a stalk's worth,
  chopped in a blender to make about 5 cups
3 small potatoes, grated
1 good sized carrot grated
1 small onion chopped fine (or several Vidalia slices)
3-4 sundried tomatoes chopped fine
3-4 garlic cloves smashed and chopped fine
2 tsp Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 tsp white Miso
1/3 cup buckwheat groats, ground fine
1/2 cup chick pea flour
1/8 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp cumin
salt to taste

1. Grate and chop all the veggies putting them all together in a good sized bowl.
2. Put the flour-like materials together with the spices and add to the bowl, mixing in the Bragg's and miso and combining until it is mostly uniformly mixed.
3. Heat oven to 375F, put a sheet of parchment paper in a baking pan (or use a silicone sheet).
4. Form 12 golf ball sized balls with your hands, and lay them out on the paper, lightly salting them. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until just as crisp and nice as you like!

Spicy Tempeh Quinoa & Apple Potato Salad


It is no longer as common as it once was that my little family gang has dinner together. It was our tradition the entire time the boys were in school, living with us, that we tried to settle at the table once a day for what has now become officially "Family Dinner." It was an important time to look each other in the eye, hear the tones of voice, check in with the states of mind and relationship. With the prospect of having a long day myself, my husband's first day back at school meetings, and my now 20-something sons assembling for dinner, I knew I had to figure things out before heading over to teach my evening class. This combination of garlicky quinoa with pieces of spicy tempeh really hit the mark for a main dish and was easy to put together ahead of time. I also made an apple-onion-potato salad in advance and put sliced fresh cukes in the fridge to absorb a tarragon-vinegar treatment. Dinner was completed by quickly chopping and assembling a room temperature tomato-peach-avocado-basil-balsamic vinegar salad and providing brilliant green on the table by quickly steaming garden fresh haricot verts and squeezing on fresh lemon juice with a splash ume plum vinegar.   Not surprisingly, there were no leftovers, though the spicy tempeh quinoa and the potato salad would have made a lovely lunch the next day.

Spicy Tempeh Quinoa

2 cups red quinoa
5-6 large garlic cloves
5-6 mushrooms (cremini, white, whatever)
1 slab of tempeh (I used flax tempeh but any will do)
1 cup frozen petite peas
3-4 tsp Bragg Liquid Amino
1-2 tsp Sriracha chili sauce

1. Cut the tempeh into 2 long halves, then into small rectangles. Put these in a shallow wide soup bowl and drizzle with 2 tsp Bragg's and the Sriracha.  Put in the fridge and let sit for at least an hour.
2. Meanwhile, dry roast the quinoa for about 5-10 minutes in a large flat pan, shifting the grains now and then to avoid any uneven heating. Add about 2 cups of water and chopped garlic. Cut the mushrooms into quarters and throw them into the quinoa as well. Cover the pan and let the quinoa cook for about 10-15 minutes, adding at least 1 tsp Bragg Liquid Amino to the quinoa.
3. As the quinoa is cooked, fluff it up, throw in the peas and add the spicy Tempeh. Stir this gently and serve!

Apple-Onion-Potato Salad

4-5 small potatoes (white and red)
half a Vidalia onion, or 1 medium sweet onion
1 large Honeycrisp apple (or whatever you like)
1/3 cup Tahini
1 Tblsp Tamari
3 Tblsp water
1 tsp agave syrup
1tsp finely grated carrot
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp stone ground mustard
1-2 tsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Cut the small potatoes into bite-sized pieces -- about 4-6 per potato -- and boil for about 10-15 minutes until just softening.  Pour out into a colander. Chop up about half a Vidalia or sweet onion into little pieces though not minced.  Peel, core and chop one large Honeycrisp apple into small pieces.  In a cup or bowl, pour 1/3 cup tahini, add 1 Tablespoon tamari, 3 Tablespoons water, 1 tsp agave syrup, 1 tsp finely grated carrot, 1/4 tsp grated ginger, 1-2 tsp Dijon mustard and 1-2 tsp stone ground mustard. You can also add 1-2 tsp cider vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt. Mix well and pour over the chopped vegetables and apple and mix gently. Chill and serve!