Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Grandma’s Iron Skillet Roasted Brussel Sprouts

With cruciferous veggies being all the health rage, “Brussels sprouts” as they are now known, contain sulforaphane, a phytochemical with anticancer properties. Although boiling reduces the levels of sulforaphane, stir frying as in this recipe does not result in significant loss, and everything tastes better in a cast iron skillet! A food I would normally associate with the United Kingdom, Brussels sprouts is native to the Mediterranean region along with other cabbage species and widely cultivated in Northern and Continental Europe, and the United States. When I saw this lovely traditional winter stock vegetable (considered sweetest after a frost) fresh in the market and still on the stalk, I couldn’t resist. Finish with a hint of balsamic and a bit of shaved hard Parmesan or Romano cheese, keeping in mind that, like fine wine, not all balsamic is created (or aged) equally. Bon appétit!

1 pound of Brussels sprouts
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (the best is from Greece!)
4 cloves garlic, pressed
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Parmesan, Romano or other hard grating cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim bottom of Brussels sprouts and slice in half, bottom to top.  Heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add pressed garlic and stir until infused in olive oil. Place sprouts cut side down in skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little extra olive oil. Cook undisturbed until sprouts begin to brown on bottom. Transfer pan to oven and roast, shaking and turning every 5 minutes until sprouts are quite brown and tender, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from oven and add more salt and pepper as needed. Stir in balsamic vinegar and serve warm.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Spiced Indian Dal

Many years ago, in the early 1970s, I had the privilege of hanging out in an ashram kitchen with Gurucharanand, an Indian Mahatma (“Master of Wisdom”) who had come to the West with Guru Maharaji to reveal Knowledge of the Truth through life changing meditation techniques. Gurucharanand loved to sing and he also loved to cook. After learning from him how to make Chai from scratch, and cook with various Indian spices, a life-long love of Indian cookery began. Once exposed to the taste of authentic Indian cuisine and a vegetarian lifestyle, food and spirituality have become intimately entwined.   

Certainly, there are as many versions of dal as there are Indian cooks and this is just one of mine influenced by Mulligatawny, a South Indian soup originally known as “pepperwater” or Rasam, and used as a cure for indigestion. The warming and carminative spices contained in the garam masala are what lend a healing quality to this soup.

OM, to the Mother of all cooks…
“May the Ocean of Salt, the Ocean of Honey, the Ocean of Wine, the Ocean of Ghee, the Ocean of Curd, the Ocean of Milk, the Ocean of Sweet Water sprinkle thee with their consecrated water.” – from a consecration manta

2 cups red or brown lentils
2 large onions, chopped or thinly sliced
bay leaf
4 Tablespoons ghee, or sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons ginger, minced
2 Tablespoons garam masala
1 quart vegetable stock and additional water as needed
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup coconut milk
(optional garnish: lemon, rice, cilantro leaves and sour cream)

Wash the lentils and soak over-night or for 3-4 hours. Drain, rinse, cover with water and simmer with bay leaf until soft. In the meantime, heat ghee and sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger until golden. Add garam masala and sauté a few minutes longer. Add some of the stock to sauté pan to losen spices and add to the dal with remaining stock and salt. Simmer until lentils start to fall apart 1- 3 hours. Add coconut milk at the end, warm through and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice with lemon. You can also garnish with cilantro leaves and a dollop of sour cream.

A little music from Gurucharanand to accompany your meal: Open Your Hearts and Listen

Indian Vegetarian Cookery by Jack Santa Maria, published by Samuel Weiser, Inc. New York. Printed in Great Britian 1977.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hearty Vegan Lentil Stew

2 cups brown lentils soaked overnight
2 quarts vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
¼ cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp thyme
1 tsp turmeric
¼ tsp white pepper
1, 14 oz can organic fire roasted diced tomatoes (Muir Glen)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1 medium size potato, cubed
1 cup broccolini, chopped
2 Tbs parsley, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste

Drain lentils and add with veggie broth and bay leaf to large soup pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer. Stir regularly while cooking. Add olive oil, onions, garlic and spices and simmer for 20 minutes. Add spices, tomatoes, carrots, celery, pepper and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add potato and broccolini and simmer for another 20 minutes. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add vinegar at the end.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Maple Pumpkin Pie

1 ½ cups pureed pumpkin
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup whole milk
½ cup maple syrup
1 ¼ tsp cinnamon*
1 ¼ ginger*
¼ tsp nutmeg*
¼ tsp cloves*
(*or 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice)
½ teaspoon salt

1 nine inch, deep dish whole wheat pie crust

Blend all ingredients and pour into pie shell and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 50-60 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

This is an original recipe developed over time out of an undying love of pumpkin pie and a desire to reduce my sugar intake. Since whole wheat pie crusts are not easy to make, I always make at least two at a time and double the recipe for the filling. You can also buy very good whole wheat, spelt or gluten free pie crusts already made in the freezer section of your health food supermarket. When making from fresh pumpkin, cut into chunks and simmer until the skin is soft. This makes them easier to peel. Puree in food processor.
The secret to this pie is the pumpkin itself. The heirloom Long Island Cheese Pumpkin is one of the oldest varieties cultivated in America. Ever since I purchased one in the store and threw the seeds in my compost, they come up every year as volunteers and every year I return the seeds to my compost. And we can thank Ken Ettlinger, a local Long Island seed saver and natural science educator for establishing a regional seed bank in the late 1970's to conserve the genetic resources of Long Island including this variety.

Rich in color, very sweet and arguably the best choice for pumpkin pie I would like to quote D.D. Tooker from an 1855 issue of Michigan Farmer: "The sweet pumpkin or pie squash is the only true article in my opinion for making the most delicious of Yankee notions - pumpkin pie - and I am not alone in my opinions, for I have yet to see the individual who would not agree with me in this matter."

You can purchase seeds and start your own tradition at: Rare Seeds

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Awesome Gluten-Free Carrot Cake

Celebrating our daughters is an honor and a blessing. So when my daughter turned 36 this year I offered to make a birthday cake for her celebration. I love to bake but she has become the baker in our family and a master gluten-free baker at that. Since the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree she does credit me with introducing her to alternative flours as a result of my own love of healthy baking. She, however, has taken the art to a whole other level. Baking is in her DNA inherited both from me, and the Italian women on her father’s side.
So when I asked her what kind of a cake she wanted, she replied, “gluten-free, dairy-free*, low sugar, carrot cake with butter cream frosting and no pineapple!” Yum. Carrot cake is one of my favorites and she had given me a challenge. As I began looking in earnest through my shelves of cookbooks and at online recipes I was shocked at how hard it was to find a good, healthy, sheet cake recipe, sin the pineapple and too many cups of sugar. Luckily one of my older cookbooks, The Deaf Smith Country Cookbook: Natural Foods forFamily Kitchens, by Marjorie Winn Ford, originally published in 1973, had a basic recipe that I was able to adjust. This resulted in an awesome carrot cake recipe that will hopefully save you time searching for something better. The gluten-free mix of flours comes directly from my lovely daughter, who as I mentioned earlier, is a master gluten-free baker.
*eggs AOK
Yield: 1 sheet cake (9X13)
4 lg. organic carrots, grated fine (approx. 3 C.)
1 cup organic white rice flour
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons almond meal/flour
¼ cup combination of flax seed meal and coconut flour
½ tsp guar gum
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup golden raisins
4 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup cold-pressed sunflower oil
1 teaspoon fair trade cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cardamom
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp fair trade vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp aluminum free baking powder
¼ cup almond or coconut milk

Mix dry ingredients separately from wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir well until evenly moistened. Pour into an oiled and floured 9 X 13 cake pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350º. Remove from oven and cool completely on rack before frosting.

Sin-full Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8oz. package of organic cream cheese, softened
½ cup (1 stick) organic butter, softened
Confectioners sugar to taste (approx. 1 cup)

Whip until smooth and creamy. Frost liberally!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Perfect Pumpkin Soup

As winter is waning, yet the season still upon us, the last of the winter squash, a Long Island Cheese pumpkin begged to be cooked before being turned into compost. So, on this very cold and icy day in the Appalachian Mountains, deceptively headed for Spring, I made a pot of this perfect soup developed over time and now a family tradition from the beautifully rich and tasty orange flesh of this very tasty variety.

4 cups pumpkin, peeled and diced (may substitute half with butternut squash)
1 medium red onion, chopped
1-2 large jalapeños, chopped
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bouillon cube
1 teaspoon dried rosemary crushed
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
dash all spice
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (1 Tbs. fresh if you can get it)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
salt to taste
1 cup heavy cream

toasted pumpkin seeds, course ground

Combine all ingredients except last three. Simmer covered until pumpkin is mushy and soft (approx. 25 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool. Puree in a blender or food processor. Return to pan and stir in cream, nutmeg and salt. Heat on low. Serve with toasted pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

Give thanks for your health for it is indeed your wealth and don't be afraid to spend a little extra money or time to buy organic, or make your food from scratch. Late Winter Blessings.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Traditional Cuban Black Bean Soup

Photo courtesy of Heather Homemade

16 oz. Frijoles Negros, dried black beans
Bay leaf
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic
I Spanish or yellow onion
1 green pepper
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ cup dry white wine

Soak beans overnight in 4 cups water. Drain and rinse. Cook beans in 8 cups water with bay leaf and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low, cover and simmer for one hour or beans are tender.

In the meantime press garlic into a little bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and salt mashed together, set aside. Then make a soffritto by frying (sautéing) chopped onions, garlic mixture, chopped green pepper, cumin, oregano, black pepper, sautéing until onions are translucent.

Add to cooked beans and simmer 15 minutes uncovered or until soup thickens. Add sugar, vinegar and white wine toward the end. Remove from stove, let cool slightly, puree half of the soup in a blender and add back to the soup. Heat through and serve with fresh chopped onion and fresh lime over white rice. Be careful of the brand of white rice. Asian white rice has been tested high in lead. I like to use American long grain white rice cooked in chicken broth with butter, salt and pepper.

Disfrútate de la comida

This recipe was inspired by Nydia's Kitchen.