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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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One of my best friends from college was visiting from Boston earlier in the week.  Sarah’s on her annual “Lenten diet” (giving up desserts/sweets for Lent) so when I gleefully happened upon this recipe, I figured there was enough goodness packed in them that she wouldn’t really be sidestepping her Lenten promise. 

Filled with whole grains and carrots, these little gems turn an indulgence into a justifiable snack.  Well, maybe.  The oats become golden and a bit crunchy on the bottoms and tops while the carrots and agave nectar keep the centers sweet and moist.  Overall, the cookie is of a softer variety.  I found the original recipe to be a bit too buttery so I think you could decrease it without compromising the cookie texture too much.  I’d also consider walnuts, shredded coconut, crystalized ginger or a fun chocolate-covered sunflower seed next time.  As written, though, they are delicious.  And you’d never guess they’re even a little good for you, too. 

(I haven’t baked up the vegan version but they were well-received by reviewers.)

Whole-Wheat Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip, and Carrot Cookies, adapted from Mad Hungry: Feeding Men and Boys

Ingredients

¾ cup whole-wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
 ½ tsp coarse salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened (maybe 3/4+ the amount next time? Let me know if you try!)
3 tbsp agave nectar
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup grated carrot, from about 1 large carrot
4-6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir to combine with a whisk
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla.  Beat on low speed until well incorporated.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine.  Add the oats, carrot, and chocolate chips.  Mix on low speed until combined.
  4. Important – Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or up to 1 hour.  (Otherwise they will spread too much.)
  5. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Scoop rounded spoonfuls of the dough.  Press lightly to create a flat top.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool on a cooling rack.  (They may be delicate right out of the oven.)

Vegan Version, from 101 Cookbooks

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup grated carrots, from about 1 large carrot
1/2 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
1/2 cup unrefined (fragrant) coconut oil, warmed until just melted
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and oats.  Add the nuts and carrots.  In a separate smaller bowl use a whisk to combine the maple syrup, coconut oil, and ginger.  Add this to the flour mixture and stir until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Drop onto prepared baking sheets, one level tablespoonful at a time, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.  Bake in the top 1/3 of the oven for 10 – 12 minutes or until the cookies are golden on top and bottom.

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 With Easter approaching and the boys finishing off this year’s carrot patch, I’ve had carrot cake on my mind.  Truthfully, carrot cake is often on my mind  because it is one of our favorite layer cakes.  I’d love to indulge regularly in the real deal, but carrot cake is one of the most egregiously over-the-top desserts.  It seemingly became the poster child for a healthy-sounding food but, let’s be honest, it is a fat and calorie nightmare.  One of these days, I will tackle the full-fat version at home.  But, for now, my family is resigned to my typical “cleaned-up” recipes.  And, by the looks of it, the boys were none the wiser.

This is my go-to, healthful and low-fat carrot cake recipe, courtesy of Elie Krieger.  More akin to a muffin in texture, they are pleasantly moist and lack the unappealing denseness and chewiness that is often associated with low-fat (i.e. applesauce-involved) baking.  The earthy, vibrant carrot flavor is highlighted by warm autumnal spices, delicate molasses-laced brown sugar, and nutty whole wheat flour.  This recipe is also a great canvas onto which you can add anything you’d like… or, keep as is. 

This will not be my last post about carrot cake.  As I stare at an empty plate before me, the search will soon resume for other (healthy or unadulterated) carrot cake recipes…. Care to nominate and share yours?

Carrot Cupcakes with Lemony Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

Note: This recipe makes 10 small cupcakes.  For larger cupcakes (or muffins), this recipe will likely yield about 6-7.  Double the recipe as necessary.

3/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar (I used 1/2 cup)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup natural applesauce
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups finely shredded carrots (about 3 medium carrots)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup shredded coconut (optional)
4 ounces 1/3 fat cream cheese (recommended: Neufchatel)
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted (I used about 3 tbsp of agave nectar instead)
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line 6 or 10 muffin cups with paper liners (see note above).
  3. Sift together the first 6 ingredients. 
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the oil, brown sugar and eggs until well combined. Whisk in the applesauce, vanilla and carrots.
  5. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts, raisins, and coconut (if using).
  6. Divide the batter between the muffin cups.
  7. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes (longer if you are making bigger ones).
  8. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. With an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar/agave and lemon zest until smooth and creamy.
  10. Frost the cooled cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts.

The cupcakes should be stored in the refrigerator for about 3 days.

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