Saturday, May 1, 2010

Crispy Basil Leaves & Marinade for Tofu or Chicken

Basil crispy

My CSA box came with a glimpse of summer a few weeks ago: a small bag of beautiful basil leaves.  It was a bit unexpected, and I was at a loss for a clever way to prepare the beautiful leaves.  Pesto seemed too obvious and my husband vetoed that idea.  He suggested a Thai basil dish--something I had never made at home before.  I started to do some research and decided to crisp half the leaves in an oven instead of frying them.  I decided to use the remaining basil for a lovely Asian style marinade.

The recipe below was excellent with tofu but would work as well on bite size pieces of chicken.  If you are gluten free or wheat free, please be aware that soy sauce is a common source of hidden wheat. 

By the way if you are looking for an excellent CSA in the Seattle area: Jubilee Farm is a great one to support.   I am as hooked on the fresh produce they send me as I am on farmer Erick's weekly newsletter which is included in every box.  They've started their own blog as well: The Growing Revolution .

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basil-crispy tofu with rice

Crispy Basil Leaves
Wait until serving time to add the crispy leaves to your dish to retain the contrast in texture between the leaves in the marinade and the ones you've crisped.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Oil two cookie sheets.
  • Coat basil leaves with vegetable oil of your choice and lay flat onto the cookie sheets.
  • Sprinkle sea salt on top.
  • Bake for 10-13 minutes or until crisp.  Remove and let cool.
  • Reserve to top your cooked marinated chicken or tofu.

Basil Asian Marinade for Tofu or Chicken
This recipe will make enough marinade for 1 lb of firm tofu, or bite size pieces of chicken tenders.

1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp GF soy sauce 
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp chili sauce
1 cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp of brown sugar, or maple syrup

  • Mix all the ingredients in a large dish. 
  • Add your protein of choice and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  You can leave it marinating all day or overnight for convenience.
  Print this recipe

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

So Many Fishes In the Sea

I've been very busy at school, a condition that's likely to persist for awhile.  I'll be posting less frequently until things quiet down a bit.


If you're like me, you may find the vast amount of food and nutrition information out there to be a mixed blessing.  You can learn about almost anything, but there's a lot to wade through and what you find is often inconsistent. 

Fish is a perfect example.  We're told that we should eat lots of it because it's such a great source of important omega-3 fatty acids.  Other sources tell us that we should limit our consumption because of mercury contamination, unsustainable fishing practices, and already-depleted fisheries.   What's a girl to do?

In this particular case, the good folks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium do the homework for you.  Their website provides a geographically targeted guide to which species are okay to eat and which should be avoided.  You just click on your area on the map and out pops a printable wallet size guide to what you can safely buy.  Simple, reliable and easy!
Seafood Watch

Here are some delicious fish recipes for you to try:


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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh My...Flourless Brownies

Flourless brownies crumbs

These completely flourless brownies are what memorable dessert dreams are made of:  every bite is moist, rich, intense, and completely delicious.  You'll not only take little nibbles to make the pleasure last just a little bit longer but you'll most likely commit to making another batch before you reach the end of the first one.

I found this recipe idea over at Elana's Pantry.  She always inspires me with her clever use of gluten free and wholesome ingredients. I altered her original recipe just a bit:  maple syrup and a little evaporated cane juice instead of agave nectar, a little extra water, a little easier on the dark chocolate chips.  The result was a batch of very addictive and decadent brownies, blissfully free of (cow) butter or flour.

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flourless brownies

Flourless Brownies
(makes a 9 x 13 dish)

16 oz almond butter, smooth and roasted
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup evaporated cane juice
3/4 cup room temperature water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnut pieces, optional

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
    Place the almond butter, eggs, maple syrup in your mixer and blend until smooth.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (except for the walnut pieces)
  • Mix again to combine .
  • Oil a 9 x 13 ovenproof dish.
  • Pour the batter into it and sprinkle with walnut pieces.
  • Bake at 350F for 20-30 minutes (20 minutes will yield some seriously gooey brownies, so leave them for 30 minutes instead if you like yours more dry).


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Food for Thoughts

I thought I'd share this short trailer for Joel Salatin's new documentary: Fresh the Movie.  Joel and his unique sustainable farming practices were featured in Michael Pollan's book The Omnivore's Dilemma and Robert Kenner's movie Food, Inc.  Works like these do the important job of educating us all about where our food comes from and why we should care.  

Today I discovered evidence that the message is having an impact:  a new Bill the Butcher store opened up in my Greater Seattle neighborhood.  They offer a wide range of meat and poultry (and other gourmet items), all of which were produced locally using sustainable farming practices.  The local store is managed by Scott, a classically-trained chef who eagerly plies you with delicious samples while telling you about where they came from.  We left with some grass-fed beef that became our dinner--it was intensely flavorful, a cut above anything we could have bought at any of our usual places.  Bill's is going to be our butcher from now on.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Gratin Dauphinois--Scalloped Potatoes French Style

gratin dauphinois 4
 I've decided to give you a break from all the chocolate recipes and go back to something savory.  For this recipe, I reached back to childhood memories of my mother's Gratin Dauphinois: a casserole made from layers of potatoes, crême fraiche (french sour cream) and cheese. 

I am not sure how this one compares to my mom's--memories have a way of making something special even more so-- but it was very tasty and a thumbs-up from my little diners.  It's a real treat paired up with grilled fish or with a colorful salad.

Gratin Dauphinois 1

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Gratin dauphinois 2

Gratin Dauphinois--Scalloped Potatoes
I like to use organic potatoes so I don't have to peel them. The nutritious benefits of potatoes are concentrated in the skin.
(serves 6-8)

8 medium size organic rose potatoes, washed, dried and sliced thin
Sea salt, to taste
Garlic Powder
2 cups Parmesan or Swiss cheese, shredded
1 cup creme fraiche
1 1/2 cups lowfat or whole milk
+ 1/2 cup more of milk
1 large egg, beaten

  1. Oil a 9 x 13" dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F
  3. Place one layer of the sliced potatoes on the bottom of oiled dish.
  4. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the layer and then a pinch of garlic powder (1/4 tsp).
  5. Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese over the potatoes.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until all the potatoes are used or until you have 1/2" of space left in your dish. You should have 4-5 layers.
  7. Mix 1 1/2 cup of mix with the crême fraiche and pour over the potatoes.
  8. Sprinkle with the leftover cheese.
  9. Bake for 1 hour
  10. In a bowl mix in the additional milk with the beaten egg, add a pinch of salt and carefully pour over the baked dish.
  11. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  A golden crust should have formed on top.
  12. Remove from the stove and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Print this Recipe

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

chocolate hazelnut spread2

I grew up on Nutella and pain brioché (a rich and buttery bread popular in France). My family could empty a jar at light-speed, no problem. Once looked at as a gourmet product, it is now everywhere: on the shelves of Costco and at your local grocery store.  These days I prefer to make my own concoction.  I favor flavor over sugar and I like my own palette of ingredients much better than what you get in the store-bought kind.

chocolate hazelnut spread apple

My kids loved this creation.  My husband agreed that it was really good but he would have liked it better sweeter--he was outnumbered.  The good thing about making it at home is that you can adjust the sweetness according to your taste.  It always turns out just right!

I am about to enter a week of finals and I know that this spread will get me through the long hours of studying--just like Nutella used to do all those years ago.  Only this spread is healthier!

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chocolate hazelnut spread1

Chocolate Hazelnut Spread                       
I used both a food processor and a blender for this recipe.My blender could not handle the hazelnuts at the beginning and then I switched to the blender to make the spread smoother. If you don't mind a chunkier spread you can make it entirely in the food processor.  Or if your blender is powerful enough to handle it, you can make it entirely in the blender.

1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
2 tbsp roasted hazelnut oil
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp cocoa powdered, unsweetened or more to taste
2 1/2 tbsp evaporated cane juice (sugar)
1 tsp GF vanilla extract
1 tsp agave nectar or honey (optional)

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process for five minutes, scraping the sides as needed. Transfer to a blender to obtain a smoother paste.  Taste and adjust the sweetness to your liking.  Transfer to a jar with a lid and store in the refrigerator.

Print this recipe

Monday, March 15, 2010

Amazing Teff Chocolate Chip Cookies

Teff cookies in jar

These unusual cookies came about out of necessity:  we were in the middle of our weekly family night pizza dinner when I realized that we had forgotten about dessert.  Within fifteen minutes, and with the help of two of my children,  a big batch of scrumptious cookies was baking in our oven.  The whole house smelled wonderful by the time the timer beeped.

Teff tastes nutty and earthy.  It goes really well with almond or peanut butter and (as I found out) dark chocolate as well.  These vegan cookies are quite addictive but full of wholesome ingredients.  They are sweetened with maple syrup, which adds a buttery sweetness that does not overwhelm.  The dark chocolate chips are less sweet than regular semi-sweet chocolate chips. I prefer it that way, it allows the flavors to really come through.  My teenage son thought they were even better the next day.

My next post will feature a sinful hazelnut-chocolate spread.  Nutella doesn't stand a chance...

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Teff cookies

                                                                                        Print this recipe

Amazing Teff Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup roasted almond butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 oz unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 1/2 cups teff flour

1/8 tsp salt
dark chocolate chips

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Oil two cookie sheets.
  • In a food processor, place the almond butter, vanilla, apple sauce and maple syrup.  Mix to cream the ingredients together (2 minutes scraping the sides as needed)
  • Add the Teff flour and salt to the food processor and pulse until combined.
  • Scoop batter to make balls 1 1/4" in diameter and then arrange in rows--leave an 1" of space around each one.
  • Flatten with the back of a fork each ball of batter.
  • Arrange dark chocolate chips evenly on top of each cookie.
  • Bake for 13 minutes in the center of the oven.  The bottoms should be slightly golden but the tops will still be slightly soft.
  • Let cool on a rack.
  • Keep in an airtight container in your pantry or on the counter for a few days.

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