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Archive for April, 2011

Since Rice Kernel came along, the world outside all-purpose and whole-wheat flours has come into clear view.  My latest exploration is teff flour, a gluten-free ancient grain.  Native to Ethiopia, teff has a nutty, earthy flavor and a beautiful chocolate hue.  Touted as a nutritional powerhouse, it is packed with protein, calcium, thiamin, and iron, among other nutrients. 

I found this recipe from the back of a package of teff flour and adapted the filling to include creamy, guilt-free yogurt.  Filled with a savory-sweet, ethereal yogurt and corn mixture, the teff crust is a hearty counterbalance in texture and flavor.  The dish comes together simply and is the perfect Spring or Summer recipe for a brunch, picnic, potluck, or lazy afternoon snack.

Corn Quiche in a Teff Crust, adapted from Bob’s Red Mill

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
3 tbsp butter or Earth Balance 
1 cup Teff flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/8 tsp salt 
2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen (thawed) 
1/2 cup yogurt (I used 2% Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%; cream or whole milk would add more body)
4 large eggs 
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt 
1/2 cup cheese (Gouda, Swiss, Gruyere, Monterey Jack or your favorite variety)
1 bunch scallion, chopped (or 2 tbsp basil or tarragon, chopped)
1/2 medium green bell pepper and/or yellow onion, minced (1/2 cup total)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cut softened butter or Earth Balance into teff and all-purpose flours. Add water and oil and combine until a soft ball of dough forms.  Roll between two pieces of plastic wrap (it will be delicate) and transfer to an oiled 9″ pie plate. (You can also press the dough directly into the pie plate.)
  3. Place corn, yogurt, and milk in blender and blend until smooth.
  4. Add eggs, pepper and salt, blend just to mix.
  5. Sprinkle all but 2 tbsp cheese in unbaked teff pie crust.
  6. Add corn mixture.
  7. Sprinkle green onion and vegetables over the surface of pie.  Top with remaining 2 tbsp cheese.
  8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until knife inserted into center comes out clean and center of pie is set.

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These are deliciously healthy, hearty – but still light – waffles.  Quick to whip up, it’s recommended you allow the batter to rest.  But with a chorus of hungry screams this morning (okay, it was just Rice Kernel, but he can be a one man chorus capable of producing a cacophony of shrieks and wails), I cooked the batter immediately.  In my haste, I made a glaring omission - baking powder.  Woops.  While not as fluffy as intended, the waffles were still tender, nutty, and buttery.  FHE said they were filling and satisfying, with unexpectedly crisp edges surrrounding a fluffy interior and a toothsome pop from the flaxseeds.  The perfect canvas for tart berries and kiwis and a light drizzle of sweet agave.   
 
(If you prefer, the same batter is excellent for pancakes.  We made half a batch of waffles and half a batch of pancakes – pancakes are just quicker!)
 
Agave Flaxseed Waffles with Berries, adapted from the Red Stag Supper Club in Minneapolis
 

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup whole unprocessed flaxseeds (or flaxmeal)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt
2 cups milk* (I used 1%, but I imagine you could use a thin yogurt or buttermilk as well)
1/4 cup melted butter (I used vegan Earth Balance)
2 large eggs*
2 tbsp agave nectar honey
Nonstick vegetable oil spray (for waffles) or melted butter (for pancakes)
Agave nectar or maple syrup, yogurt, and berries/fruit for serving

*For a vegan version, use soymilk or a thin yogurt.  To substitute eggs, I find flaxseed meal works.  For one egg, simply mix 1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water and let sit for 2 minutes. 

Directions

  1. Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl to blend.  Whisk milk, 1/3 cup melted butter, and eggs in medium bowl to blend.  Gradually whisk milk mixture into dry ingredients.  Allow batter to rest at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  2. For waffles, spray iron with nonstick spray and preheat.  Pour batter into center and spread almost to edges.  Close waffle iron.  Cook waffles until crisp.  Repeat with remaining batter.
  3. For pancakes, brush large griddle or skillet with melted butter and heat over medium heat.  Working in batches, pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle and cook until bubbles form atop pancakes and bottoms are golden, about 2 minutes.  Turn pancakes over and cook until golden on bottom, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
  4. Top with agave nectar, fruit, and yogurt for serving.
  5. Note: To keep warm, place in a 300 degree F oven until all the batter is cooked.

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Yellow Cake

I’ve been on a quest to make homemade versions of my childhood / adolescent / collegiate box favorites.  Following in the footsteps of Biquick pancakes and Wheat Thins, my carb cravings led me to the box yellow cake mix.  (It didn’t hurt that I happened to have egg yolks and buttermilk on hand.) 

One of Rice Kernel’s favorite books is “It’s My Birthday.”  It’s a simple story about a little boy and his animal friends and their journey to gather all the ingredients necessary to make a birthday cake.  This yellow cake reminds me of that story – it is nostalgic and basic.  Simply flavored with vanilla and butter, the cake has a tender, soft crumb with a mildly sweet, vanilla and custard flavor – just like a box cake mix.  There’s nothing “healthy” or “rainbow diet” about this recipe (although I was inspired by my vegan friend and used Earth Balance, for what its worth).  It’s a butter-sugar-flour-eggs old-fashioned yellow cake – one that is fitting of birthdays and deserving of your most desired frosting. 

Yellow Cake, modified slightly from Baking Bites

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter or Earth Balance, room temperature
1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 cup buttermilk (I used low-fat)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line it with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. Cut butter into 4 or 5 chunks and drop into the bowl with the flour mixture.  Blend on low speed until mixture looks sandy and no large chunks of butter remain, 1-2 minutes.
  4. In a large measuring cup, combine egg, egg yolks, buttermilk and vanilla extract.  Beat lightly with a fork until combined.  With the mixer on low, pour 1 cup of the buttermilk mixture into the bowl.  Turn speed up to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.  Reduce speed back to low and pour in the rest of the buttermilk mixture. Continue to beat until liquid is fully incorporated.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
  7. Turn cake out onto a wire rack to cool completely and peel off parchment paper before frosting.  (Baking bites has a chocolate frosting recipe.  Enjoy with your favorite frosting or as is.)

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Kedgeree is based on a traditional Indian rice and lentil dish called kitchri, which was adapted by the British to be a breakfast dish containing fish.  This kedgeree offers an aromatic change of pace for a weekend brunch or picnic and is hearty enough for any main meal.  Spice lovers will enjoy the contrast of warm, earthy curry, sharp lemon, and fresh cilantro infused throughout the rice.  While the original recipe uses smoked whitefish, I had fresh salmon on hand and seared it separately.  Serve alongside a salad or some simple sauteed greens.  For a vegetarian or vegan version, consider cheese, cashews, lentils and/or chickpeas. 

Salmon Kedgeree

Ingredients

4 tsp canola oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp good quality curry powder (use less for a milder curry flavor)
1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (fish stock if you have it)
3/4 cup basmati or long-grain rice (I used a mix of brown, red, and wild rices)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs (I omitted)
1/3 cup green peas
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
7 oz canned salmon, tuna, smoked salmon or fresh fish

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion and carrot for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the garlic and curry powder and cook, stirring, for a minute.  Add the rice and cook for a minute, stirring to coat the grains.  Add the stock and salt, stir to combine, then bring to the boil and cover with a lid.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes without lifting the lid.
  3. While the rice cooks, place the eggs in boiling water and cook for 6 minutes until hard-boiled, then peel, cut into quarters and set aside.
  4. Remove the frying pan lid, and quickly place the peas and salmon on top of the rice, replace the lid, and cook for another 5 minutes.  (If using fresh fish, sear in a separate pan, bake or poach separately.)
  5. Add the lemon juice and cilantro and fluff up the rice gently with a fork to combine the ingredients.
  6. Serve the kedgeree on plates with the quartered eggs on top.

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My neighbor across the street has a beautiful orange tree.  Last year, we picked too soon and the fruit didn’t have a chance to mature.  Lesson learned.  My neighbor has been practicing her patience this year and, as a result, the oranges are sweet and succulent.  A few days ago, her boys spent the afternoon pulling their wagon full of oranges around the block, dropping off gifts.  Rice Kernel has consumed his share of our bounty, but I reserved a couple for this sweet, tangy, and refreshing vinaigrette.  Delicious on a spinach or delicate green salad, it also pairs well with fruit, chicken, fish, and, in this case, a vegetable pasta. 

Vegetable Orzo Confetti with Orange Vinaigrette (Mayo-free and picnic perfect)

Ingredients

1 cup orzo
2 oranges, zested
2 small oranges, juiced or 1 large orange, juiced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey (more according to taste and sweetness of oranges)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 – 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley or scallion
1/4 pine nuts or sliced almonds (optional)
1/2 pound cheese, such as feta or bocconcini (optional)
Vegetables of your preference, diced  (e.g. raw: cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, spinach, avocado, radishes, bell peppers, carrots or you can grill/roast vegetables such as asparagus, squash, zucchini, brussel sprouts, and eggplant).

Directions

  1. Cook orzo in boiling salted water in a large saucepan according to package directions, usually about 8 minutes.  Stir frequently, especially at beginning of cooking when pasta tends to clump.
  2. In a blender or by hand, combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Blend until smooth.  Add the olive oil in a steady stream until emulsified.  Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.
  3. While pasta is still warm, combine with vegetables and dressing.  Adjust seasonings as necessary.

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