Thursday, 11 April 2019

Easy Creamy Hummus

Soak:

1-1/3 cups of dry Chana Dal (split and peeled yellow chickpeas) in water for 6-8 hours.

Drain the soaked legumes and put them in a slow cooker with enough water to cover.

Cook:

Cook the chana dal on high for 3-4 hours until soft. Drain the cooked legumes, reserving the liquid.

Process:

Put cooked chana dal in a food processor with

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 3 small cloves of garlic
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice, freshly squeezed if available
Process until light and very smooth. Add a little of the cooking liquid if needed. Garnish with paprika and olive oil before serving if desired. 

Variations and notes:
  • Use whole chickpeas and increase soaking/cooking time. Peel the skins off the cooked chickpeas if you want a super-creamy result
  • Add cumin or other spices as desired
  • Use an Instant Pot for cooking chickpeas
  • I let the chana dal cool overnight in the crockpot and did not have to add extra liquid to the food processor.
Nutritional Information (1/4 cup serving)



Thursday, 21 February 2019

Ash Reshteh (Persian Vegetable and Noodle Soup)




This hearty vegetarian soup is easy to make with a little planning. There are several versions online and this recipe contains personal tweaks. It is the type of recipe that tolerates "tweaks" very well. You can use alternate legumes, including canned ones if you are in a hurry. 

Soak 1-1/2 cups of dried beans in water for 8-12 hours. I used 1/2 cup each of garbanzos, navy beans and small red beans. Black beans, small fava beans, and green or brown lentils would also work well but I would cook the lentils separately.

Rinse the beans and cook in fresh salted water until they are tender. I used the Instant Pot (manual setting x 12 minutes with natural release).  This makes about 4 cups of cooked beans if you prefer to used canned beans.

In the meantime...

Use a large soup pot.
  • Dice 2 onions, 3 cloves of garlic and soften in a tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat
  • Add 8 cups of vegetable broth. I used Better than Bouillon paste and water.
  • Add 1 generous cup each of chopped parsley, chopped dill, chopped cilantro and fresh spinach or baby kale to the broth. Bring to a boil and simmer until greens are wilted
  • Add 200- 225 g of pasta like bucatini or linguine
  • Add the cooked beans.
Simmer for 15 minutes until pasta is cooked.

Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric, 1 teaspoon of cumin, salt and pepper to taste

If you have some preserved lemons, finely dice the peel of 1/2 a lemon and add it to the soup. You could squeeze some fresh lemon juice in the soup instead. 

Add a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt to serve. 

Serves 6-8


Saturday, 9 February 2019

Cornbread Biscuits


I tweaked this recipe from Smitten Kitchen for drop cornbread biscuits. They are drop-dead delicious! I added a little more liquid, some whole wheat flour and baked them at a lower temperature. I think making 16 smaller biscuits is the way to go if you are serving them with soup or stew or a big dinner. If you wanted them as a main item for breakfast with something like eggs, dividing the recipe in 8-12 would be preferable. They are fast and easy to make.

Preheat oven to 425 F

In a large mixing bowl combine

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 2/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1-2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Cut in with a pastry cutter until mixture is crumbly
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (cut in cubes to make the blending easier)
Add
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup of water
Mix the dough lightly until it is all moistened. Pat the dough into a circle in the bottom of the bowl and cut into 8, 12 or 16 sections. Drop the portions of dough on an ungreased baking pan. You could use a biscuit cutter if you prefer.

Bake for 14-18 minutes.

I baked 16 biscuits for 14 minutes and they were done perfectly.  

Nutrition Information for 1/16 of recipe


Thursday, 7 February 2019

Banana Oat Granola Bars



These granola bars are fat-free, sugar-free (unless you add chocolate chips), egg-free and gluten-free. They are surprisingly delicious for such a healthy treat.


Preheat oven to 350 F
Line a 9x13 inch pan with parchment paper.

Mash 3 large bananas or the number of bananas to equal 1-1/2 cups. It does not matter if you add a little extra mashed banana

Add 2 cups of large flake rolled oats

Add 2-1/2 cups of a combination of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, trail mix. We used a bag of trail mix, some hulled hemp seeds, roasted and ground flaxseed, and a handful of chocolate chips.

Add some flavouring and 1/2 tsp of salt. You can flavour with 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon or a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract.

Mix everything together well and spread ingredients evenly in the baking pan.

Bake for 25 minutes. Cool and cut in squares.  (32 squares)


Nutrients for 1/32 of recipe

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Avgolemono Soup


I was recently introduced to this Greek soup with an egg-lemon thickened broth. Apparently there are many variations of this recipe served in Mediterranean and Baltic countries. It is easy to make and the soup is comforting on a cold day like today.

Here is a version with chicken as well as a vegetarian option. Each recipe makes about 4-6 servings.

In a large saucepan add

  • a little olive or cooking oil
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 celery stalk (optional)
  • 1 diced clove of garlic
Cook for about 5 minutes until vegetables are softened.

Add 
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup white long-grained rice (I used converted rice)
  • a little dried thyme, marjoram, and/or parsley if desired
Simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is cooked. Turn off the element.
In a separate bowl whisk together until thoroughly blended and frothy
  • 2 eggs
  • juice of 2 lemons- approximately 1/3 cup lemon juice (use 1 lemon for a milder flavour)
Put a cup of hot soup in a measuring cup and add to the eggs, a tablespoon at a time, whisking the eggs so they do not curdle. Once the egg-lemon mixture is warmed, add it to the soup, whisking the soup as it is slowly poured in. Add
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken
  • salt and pepper to taste
Do not allow the soup to boil when heating it up for serving. Other vegetables can be added at the start such as a diced carrot, 1/2 cup of peas, and mushrooms. I used enoki mushrooms which added a noodle-like texture that worked well in the soup.

Vegetarian option:

Sauté onions, celery, garlic as described above but add one diced carrot, 1/2 cup of peas and mushrooms. Add 1/2 cup diced firm tofu if desired.

Add 4 cups of vegetable broth. I used 4 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon in 4 cups of water. Add the rice and cook as above. Mix the eggs and lemon as described and finish the soup according the the previous directions.

This recipe is versatile and you can experiment with other add-ons as desired.



Sunday, 6 January 2019

Waffle Falafel


Falafel made with red lentils

I make falafel frequently using a rotation of legumes including chickpeas, fava beans and red lentils. 

Here are the recipes on this blog for chickpea falafel and lentil chili patties.

I put about 1/2 recipe of falafel on a lightly oiled, heated waffle maker and cooked it on medium for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before cooking if desired. The results were very gratifying!

I cut 1/4 of the falafel waffle and sandwiched it between 2 quarters of a multigrain waffle adding some tahini sauce and fresh sprouts. It made a filling and tasty "fawaffle" sandwich.







Very Nutritious Multigrain Waffles


We bought a small, inexpensive waffle maker at a recent Boxing Day sale. I am not a huge waffle fan but daughter #1 told me about alternate uses of this appliance so a $20 expenditure seemed worthwhile for some experimentation. The first recipe I tried was a super healthy, low fat concoction that tasted, well...very healthy. I tweaked the recipe and made it again today and was happier with the outcome. The nutrient profile is amazing!!

1. Assemble wet ingredients:

  • Beat one egg with beaters until frothy, OR, if you want to take the time, separate the yolk and egg white. Beat the egg white in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Beat the yolk in the bowl you will use for liquid ingredients.
  • Add 1-3/4 cups of milk. I used plain, unsweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or the equivalent amount of mashed banana (replaces fat)
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla or almond flavouring if desired
Let this sit for at least 5 minutes until the chia seeds swell.

2. Assemble dry ingredients:
  • 1-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 rolled oats
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • seasoning of choice- I used 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. If you want a savoury waffle you could add rosemary, parsley, or anything else that sparks your imagination
Combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix together. Fold in the beaten egg white if you separated the egg. 

Add batter to a preheated waffle maker according to the manufacturer's directions. I used medium heat and each waffle took 5 minutes to cook.

Serve with a topping of your choice. I used apple butter and some Greek yogurt and then tried a falafel sandwich with sprouts and tahini dressing. (see next post)

My waffle maker holds about 3/4 cup of batter and the recipe made 5 large waffles. The nutritional facts are for 1/5 of the recipe using soy milk. The waffles freeze well once they are cooled. Reheat in toaster oven or microwave.


Thursday, 3 January 2019

Tofu Collard Rolls


After the overindulgences of the holiday season, we are making an effort to eat healthier meals. These collard rolls are high in protein and calcium and I can feel my body thanking me for good fuel. Like any rolled item;- cabbage rolls, fresh rolls, sushi, etc, some organization of ingredients is required and there are several steps to complete them. They keep well for several days in the fridge and can be made ahead for lunches.

Method:

Cut a 350 g block of extra firm tofu into 12-24 rectangles depending on the size of the leaves. Some collard bunches have very large leaves and make larger rolls which can be cut in half after they are assembled.

Marinate the tofu in 2-3 tbsp of soy sauce1 tsp of garlic powder1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes, 5 minutes a side

Meanwhile, trim the stems and any thick veins from one bunch of collard greens. Blanch the leaves, 2-3 at a time, in boiling water for 1 minute and then place the leaves in a bowl of cold water.

Brown the marinated tofu in a frying pan with a small amount of sesame oil.


Prepare the peanut sauce. Mix together until smooth
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 1-2 tbsp sriracha sauce according to your preference for heat
  • juice of one lime
  • Approximately 1/4 - 1/2 cup water (depends on how much lime juice you have) until you  have the consistency of a paste. If there is left over tofu marinade, I add it to the peanut sauce.


Cut up the vegetables you want to use. I used cucumber sticks, grated carrot, sliced sweet onion or green onion, basil leaves, (Thai basil if possible)


Assemble the roll: Spread some peanut sauce along the centre vein of the leaf. Place 1-2 sticks of tofu on  top of the sauce. Add the other vegetables as desired. Fold the bottom and top of the leaf toward the middle and then roll the leaf up from one side to the other. 

Today I used a bunch of collards with smaller leaves and made 16 rolls. Some collard bunches make only 8 large rolls. You can use small inner leaves to place over holes in larger leaves or double up 2 smaller leaves. Chicken can be used instead of tofu if desired.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Yule Log or Chocolate Roll


Someone in the household wanted a Yule Log to celebrate winter solstice today. It would be good any time of year as a chocolate roll.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 11x15" jelly roll pan with greased parchment paper. Sprinkle a clean tea towel with icing sugar and set it aside.

In a medium bowl mix together
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
In another medium bowl beat 4 eggs until creamy. Add and stir well
  • 1/2 white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or oil
Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture until well combined.

Spread the batter on the parchment paper. I don't spread the batter to the edge of the pan but leave a margin of about an inch. Bake for 11-14 minutes until the top is set but not overdone.

Lift the cake from the pan by picking up the parchment paper. Turn it upside down on the tea towel. Roll the cake up in the towel from the short end and leave it to cool completely.

Filling: 

Put 1 cup of whipping cream, 2-1/2 tablespoons of icing sugar and 2-1/2 tablespoons of cocoa in a food processor and whip until stiff. This took only 30-60 seconds in my food processor. You could also use beaters.

You can use plain whipped cream or cream cheese icing if you want.

Unroll the cake and remove the tea towel. Spread the filling evenly on the cake and re-roll it. Sprinkle with icing sugar if desired. Keep the cake refrigerated. It can also be frozen.



Sunday, 2 December 2018

Sugar Plums



I have made sugar plums several times over the years with varying success. These historical Christmas treats mentioned in the poem "The Night Before Christmas" feature ground nuts and dried fruit rolled in balls and dredged in sugar. This version is the best I have made and the soaked nuts made a difference in their consistency. The recipe is very versatile and you can use the following method as a guide.

Soak 1-1/4 cups of walnuts (or other nut) in salted water overnight. Drain, rinse and pat dry.

Coarsely chop 2 to 2-1/2 cups of dried fruit. I used dried apricots, soaked figs, dates, and prunes.

Measure spices as desired. I used 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom and some freshly grated nutmeg. You could use other spices if you prefer.

Add the grated zest of one orange.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until it comes together in a coarse paste. Roll in balls with your hands (1 tbsp/15 ml) and then roll the sugar plum in granulated sugar. Alternately, they could be rolled in coconut or hemp seeds.

Makes about 2 dozen gluten free, grain free, fat free (other than the nuts), vegan treats. Nutrients calculated for 1/25 of recipe with sugar coating.


Sunday, 10 September 2017

Pumpkin Spice Latte




Heat one cup of milk of choice over medium heat until it is steaming, but not boiling.

Add to blender

  • 1-2 tablespoons of pumpkin purée, 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, 
  • sweetener- 1-3 teaspoons to taste
  • vanilla extract- 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
Add the hot milk to the blender and mix on high until milk is frothy.

Put the milk mixture in a latte mug and add 6-8 ounces of strong coffee or a shot of espresso. 

Serves one.

DIY Pumpkin Pie Spice

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves  (optional)

Store in small jar and use in everything!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Our Favourite Sourdough Bread Recipe


My sourdough starter is a mature 3 years old now and I have tried a number of bread recipes. This is our favourite and I bake 2 loaves a week. The entire process takes about 18 hours depending on the room temperature. It is possible to speed or slow down the rising time by using a slightly warm oven or by letting the dough rise in the fridge. (slow!) The recipe is versatile and bread is moist, slices easily and resists mould due to the acidity. 

I feed the starter once a week and keep it in the fridge after it has bubbled. I use cold starter for the recipe and feed it with equal parts of flour and water before putting it back in the fridge.



The basic recipe is 3/4 cup of starter, 1-1/4 cups water, 1 tsp salt and 3 cups of flour. 

I use a combination of flour types and like to add flax seeds, poppy seeds and/or hemp seeds. Because I use the sourdough infrequently, I add 1/2 tsp baking soda to counter any excessive sourness in the dough. 


I use half whole grain flour and half unbleached white flour for the bread. Sometimes I use some whole rye flour or whole oat flour along with the whole wheat flour but keep the total amount at 1-1/2 cups. 


The total amount of flour needed depends on several factor that are beyond my control such as humidity. After making the bread a few times, it becomes easier to know when there is enough added flour. It is not necessary to knead the bread for 10 minutes as the sourdough starter does that work in the extended rising period.


Put the dough in a covered container and leave for 8-12 hours. (I oil the container) If I am in a hurry, I heat the oven to 100 F, turn it off and set the container in the oven. This is helpful to give a good start to the rise, especially in the winter if the house is cold.  After the first rise, I place the punched down dough in parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper, coat the dough in flour for the second rise. 

The second rise is faster and takes 2-4 hours depending on the room temperature. I use a 4 or 5 litre cast iron pot with a lid for baking. You really can use any pot you want as long as it has a lid. The bread is less crusty in a lighter pot. Alternately, you can put some foil over a pot if you do not have a lid. 


Heat the pot in a 450 F oven for 30 minutes. Carefully lift the parchment paper and dough into the pot and put the lid on. The bread is basically steaming for the first 15 minutes. Remove the lid for the last 15 minutes of baking time. 

I have made this bread with 100% white flour and it rises higher due to larger air bubbles in the dough. I would recommend slashing the top of the dough with a sharp knife in a couple of places if you use predominately white flour. This allows some of the air out so the bread is not too "holey".

Some notes about the starter:
I use the starter weekly, but if I was unable to bake bread, I would remove 1/2 cup of starter and feed it with 1/4 cup flour and 1/4 cup water. I use a quart jar for my starter but if it is filled too full, it can overflow once it starts to work. I prefer to use whole wheat or whole rye flour for my starter. Sometimes the starter gets too sour. From time to time I get a clean jar, add a cup of flour and a cup of water and just a couple of tablespoons of the sour starter. Leave the jar at room temperature until the fresh starter starts to bubble.