Vegetables that delight.

Date and Honey Coconut Ice Cream

Sweet, decadent, honey and date ice cream, made with a combination of coconut milk and the most decadent of coconut yogurts. So creamy, so smooth, and so good for you!

The funny thing about cooking is that once you think you have it all figured out, you discover something new that resets your perspective and makes you question how you done things in the past.

Take ice cream, for example. In my first of that kind, I wrote about a cinnamon flavored ice cream made with the traditional sugar, cream, and eggs. It was tasty, but it wasn’t perfect. Though creamy, it was a bit icy, and definitely not comparable in texture to what you get from a factory. Since then, not only did I accept my lifelong lactose intolerance, but I have learned new techniques and discovered new ingredients that allow me to indulge in ice cream. Back then, I thought I understood the process of making ice cream, but I was completely wrong.

 

The thing is, making ice cream at home is tough and there are so many places that can turn a batch awful, but I know homemade is always best and kept on experimenting. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I started making ice cream with other kinds of milks and incorporating alternative techniques. Then, I hit jackpot.

There is this woman, lets call her Anita, who came up with a delightful recipe for coconut yogurt. I discovered her through one of my favorite storytellers, Liza de Guia, and immediately fell in love. Her passion and determination, led to a coconut yogurt that is made with only three ingredients. Though originally skeptical, all claims of glory about this yogurt are completely accurate, I fell head over heals in love. Super rich, super creamy, this yogurt is just perfect. Nowadays, I am just looking for excuses for copious yogurt consumption. This ice cream is one of them.

 

The science behind this ice cream recipe is simple. Take a creamy-fatty base (the coconut milk), add a super rich, decadent yogurt (vegan, if accessible), and sweeten with the natural sugars found in honey and dates. Whip these ingredients together for a super rich ice cream that never curdles, ices, or lets you down. Slightly acidic and delicately sweet, this ice cream is a perfect harmony. Kind to the belly, delicious for the soul.

Date and Honey Coconut Ice Cream

Makes about 2 cups

Cook time, about 2 hours, mostly inactive

  • 1 can 14oz. best quality light coconut milk
  • 1 cup, best quality coconut yogurt, such as Anita’s Creamline Coconut Yogurt, alternatively, use really good full fat cow’s milk yogurt
  • ¼ cup raw local honey, or maple syrup if vegan
  • 4 dates, pitted 

 

Place coconut milk from one can of coconut milk in a large pot. Place over very low heat. Stir in honey. Whisk until honey dissolves into the milk. Remove from heat. Add 1 cup of coconut yogurt and whisk together. Add four pitted dates into the coconut mixture. Refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour. Transfer mixture into blender. Blend at high speed for a minute or so, until dates have been fully incorporated into coconut mixture. Pour coconut mixture into pre-frozen ice cream machine, turn on at the lowest speed and leave running for approximately 30 minutes, depending on how cold or hot your kitchen is. Once the mixture looks like a thick milk shake, remove and freeze in a container until hardened. Serve frozen.

Crazy-Good Cauliflower Lasagna

This vegetable abundant lasagna is drenched in a mind blowing Spicy Tomato Sauce, and interlaced with the creamiest homemade Ricotta you will ever taste (and yes! It is made using chickpeas, not milk). Heirloom tomatoes float between layers of crispy cauliflower steaks, oozing with the sweetest of juices, popping with each bite. The lasagna is reinvented, for the better, at last!

I must have watched too many Molto Mario episodes during my early teenage years. Now that I think of it, I must have been brainwashed then, because I am pretty sure the cooking mantras I follow today came directly from Mario Batali’s teachings. Though his recipes were very Italian (meat heavy, pasta heavy, and cheese heavy) I rejoiced in watching him cook enthusiastically; throwing heavy “pinches” of salt into bubbling pots, reserving just enough pasta water to flawlessly dress the pasta, pouring streams of olive oil onto dishes until glistening, and talking about Italy, as if it where the one and only place we should all live in.

If I were to transform Mario’s teachings into a list of three principles, which are of course based on the authentic Italian ways of cooking, I would articulate them to read something like this: (1) good cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or cumbersome, enjoy the process, have fun!; (2) a recipe is just a concept, and you should be motivated to adapt it to use the right, fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients you have at hand; and (3) food is cultural, therefore eating should happen in the company of good friends and family, always with a glass of good wine.

 

Though I might not be as interested in pasta, or cheese, or meat, I am still interested in the beautiful techniques and principles of authentic Italian cooking, because, hey, who says I can’t eat a lasagna if I want to?

As I thought about what makes a good lasagna, and searched for recipes of all different kinds, I came to the conclusion that the most essential components are: (1) a delicious sauce that holds everything together, (2) a creamy ricotta like spread that would make each bite sinfully delicious, (3) some sort of layering device (traditionally pasta, but I would have to use something different), and (4) another ingredients that would give the lasagna personality.

 

The Sauce

Made using garlic, shallots, cumin powder, chili flakes, ginger, of course, roasted tomatoes. Ginger, though untraditional here, brightens the sauce, giving it refreshing undertones that cut through the tomato’s acidity.

The Creamy Component

Coming up with a plant-based component to substitute the cheese wasn’t as difficult as you would expect. Us vegetarians have an arsenal of delicious spreads (hummus, baba ganoush, pea pesto) that can be modified to fit ricotta’s creamy texture and tangy flavors. To achieve the umami undertones always present in lasagna, the chickpeas are mixed into a combination of miso paste and tahini, olive oil and water. Pureed until smooth, this chickpea ricotta is rich, salty, flavorful, and most importantly, creamy.  Sandwiched between layers of cauliflower steaks, the chickpea ricotta just burst out to coat everything, making it sultry and sublime.  

The Layer

I already told you that the “pasta” in this “lasagna” is cauliflower steaks. Because cauliflower keeps it shape, is fairly neutral in flavor, and can stand up to bold seasoning, it is the ingredient of choice. You could use eggplant rounds, but it just would not have the body to hold itself together, like cauliflower does. I quickly cooked each steak in a hot pan with olive oil, until the edges start to brown. This allows the cooking process to begin while simultaneously adding flavor through caramelization. Another win for cauliflower!

The wild card

It is Fall. It is getting cold outside. Tomatoes season is almost done, and these tasty heirloom cherry varietal are the bomb. Case closed.

Layered on top of each other, these ingredients come together for a dish that feels familiar, though unique enough to keep you asking for more. Each bite an explosion of flavors that will fill your belly and warm your soul

This lasagna is robust, this lasagna is beautiful, a harmonious combination of late summer and early fall flavors that pairs well with a bottle of good Pinot. This lasagna kicks traditional lasagnas ass, and this is not just my opinion. Just invite a couple of friends over, put some music on (maybe some Molto Mario), and have a feast while making this lasagna, starting with chopping shallots, sandwich it between several delightful bites of this dish, and finish with a sip of a bottle’s last drop. 

 Enjoy!

 

Spicy Tomato Sauce

 Makes about a cup and a half

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ½ knob fresh ginger
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 dried chili pepper or 1.4 tsp. chili flakes
  • ½ tsp. salt

Place a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and shallot. Sauté, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add minced garlic and knob of ginger. Stir for another couple of minutes. Stir in can of cooked tomatoes, cumin powder, 1 chili pepper, and salt. Stir. Add I cup of water and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Transfer into blender. Puree until smooth. Set aside. 

 

Chickpea Ricotta

Makes a little over a cup

  • 1 8 oz can chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 tbsp. miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. water

Drain and fully rinse chickpeas. Place in a food processor with tahini, miso paste, olive oil and water. Pulse until smooth. Set aside until ready to use.

Cauliflower Lasagna

Serves 4

Cook time: 45 minutes, approximately 

Cook time 

  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 1 cup fresh tomatoes
  • ½ cup chickpea ricotta
  • 1 cup spicy tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Optional garnishes:
  • Shelled pistachios
  • Sesame seeds
  • A fresh herb of choice (parsley, cilantro, oregano)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice Cauliflower into ¼ inch vertical slices. You should have 5-6 cauliflower steaks at a time. Heat a large skillet. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook cauliflower, one steak at a time, until golden brown on the edges about four minutes for each steak. Set aside. Repeat until all steaks have been par cooked.

To assemble lasagna, start by adding a couple tablespoons of the tomato sauce onto a small cast iron. I used an 8 inch long oval cast iron pan. Place one or two cauliflower steaks, making sure it covers most of the surface area. Add three tablespoons of chickpea ricotta, 5-6 tomatoes, sliced in half. Repeat twice cauliflower steak, chickpea ricotta, tomatoes and tomato sauce, picking the cauliflower steaks that fit and cutting them accordingly so that they do. But don’t worry too much about it being perfect, this is dish should feel rustic.  Place in oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven.

Add several cilantro leaves, a drizzle of olive oil, and pistachios, sesame seeds or sunflower seeds to garnish.

To serve, slice into quarters and serve while seeping hot.

Maca & Banana Power Pancakes

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My sister and I are complete opposites when it comes to eating: I like chia seed pudding, she likes Pop Tarts; I eat kale, she prefers pasta; she eats meat, I don’t, I love bananas, she hates them. Nonetheless we grew up watching our mother cook and rejoiced in dinning out with our parents since age one. At age ten we were watching the Food Network together and making cheesecakes for the whole family. We both developed a deep appreciation for good food, and while our food preferences are nothing short of opposite, our minds tend to work alike.

When she sent me a recipe for gluten-free, sugar-free, protein packed, paleo pancakes, I knew she would never like them, but I was not surprised. It turns out, my sisters knows me better than I know myself, and even though we haven’t lived in the same city in over ten year, she just knows me.

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At the time when my sister sent me a variation on this recipe, even though I told nobody other than my husband, I was experimenting with eliminating both sugar and grains from an already dairy-free, meat-free, gluten-free diet. It felt like a challenge that would help me eliminate all processed foods, if only for a couple weeks, maybe a month. I took it as a personal challenge, and an opportunity to test how I would feel. (Well worth it if you are wondering). While I could indulge in both tasty lunches and dinners, breakfasts were problematic. Because I work out, eating just fruits wouldn’t cut it, and neither would the fried egg I would rather eat with dinner. When my sister sent me this recipe I was crashing through a sugar detox humdrum. Like godsend, this recipe started fueling my body with intent. The combination of bananas and eggs was just what I needed after burpees and box jumps.

Three months later, I am still obsessing over this recipe. I make it at least twice a week, as a recovery, post workout breakfast, which fuels my mornings and keeps me in a good mood until lunchtime comes around. What makes this recipe so special has nothing to do with the fact that it is simultaneously paleo friendly, gluten-free, and healthy, or whatever. What makes this recipe special is the fact that it is made using only two ingredients, three if you want to get fancy, and comes together in minutes for a perfectly decadent guilt-free meal that is both sublime and nurturing. The addition of maca powder, while completely optional, makes these pancakes’s taste nuttier, with caramel and floral hints.

This recipe will not claim to be a pancake impostor, since neither the flavor and texture mimic that of a traditional pancake, but I am not lying when I say that these Maca Banana Pancakes are just perfect.  Super moist and rich, with a delicate crumb that is nothing short of delightful.

Serve with fruits, nuts, nut butter, and maple syrup or honey, these Maca Banana pancakes are the breakfast to crave. Sweet, filling, easy, guilt-free, glorious pancakes.

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Maca & Banana Power Pancakes

Serves 2 

  • 1 banana
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. maca powder (optional, but highly recommended)
  • coconut oil, for cooking

Place peeled banana, two eggs, and a tablespoon of maca powder in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated and smooth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add about half a teaspoon of coconut oil to skillet and swirl around until evenly distributed around the pan. Once pan is hot, pour about ¼ cup of batter per pancake onto skillet (my skillet can comfortable hold three pancakes at a time). Once burst bubbles appear on surface of the uncooked side, about 2-3 minutes, flip to cook until underside until browned, about another two minutes. Transfer cooked pancakes onto a baking sheet, and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. Repeat until all batter, about 12 4” in diameter, pancakes has been cooked, adding more coconut oil onto the pan as needed. 

Alternatively, for two single serving pancakes, place half of coconut oil in a small sauté pan (8” in diameter in ideal) over medium heat. Pour half of the batter and cook until burst bubbles surface. Carefully flip to cook underside for a minute or two. Serve immediately. Repeat with second half of batter, or save until later use.

Served pancakes stacked with a drizzle of either maple syrup or honey, seasonal fruit (figs and bananas pictured with this post), and nuts (pistachios pictured with this post) for crunch.

Uncooked batter keeps for a day in sealed refrigerated container. 

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Roasted Golden Beets & Fig Fall Slaw

I must have been with my good friend Nate when I discovered beets for the first time: real beets, out of the earth, not a can, roasted to perfection, alongside (you guessed it!) goat cheese and greens. I must have immediately lost my mind with that first taste, because there are few flavors as unique as the contrasting combination of sugar and dirt exemplified in this deeply hued root vegetable.

 

While roasting remains the best way to cook beets, I have thought a lot about what could go well with beets better than super creamy, super rich goat cheese. Carrots were delicius, chocolate was a good contender, but the hunt was not complete until this beautiful Fall slaw salad I have prepared for you today.

If beets are the sexiest of root vegetables, figs rein the fruit category. I mean, come on, figs are dark, mysterious, and hard to get. But once you get your hand on a basket full of fully ripe, beautiful figs, there is just nothing better.

 

This slaw, above any other I have made, banks on a series of contrasting elements: Sweet and tart, soft and crunchy, earthy and crisp. Coated in a light, tangy lemon vinaigrette, every ingredient works together for a perfect, happy mouthful of bright, sweet deliciousness. 

This slaw is easy to make, beautiful to the eyes, and perfect to the soul:

Refreshing

Sweet

Tangy

Tart

Crunchy

Light

PS. If you don’t have fresh figs, swap for the dried version. Try reconstituting (moistening them) in orange juice for a couple of minutes before serving.  

 

 

Roasted Golden Beets & Fig Fall Slaw

Serves 3-4

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Zesty Lemon Vinaigrette

  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tbsp. raw local honey, or maple syrup if vegan
  • salt to taste 

Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until incorporated. Set aside until ready to eat.

Roasted Golden Beets & Fig Fall Slaw

  • 2-3 golden beets
  • tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ small cabbage, shredded thin
  • 4-6 figs cut into quarters
  • 1 large handful cilantro, parsley or even mint
  • ½ cup sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove skin off beets, then cut into thin slices. Place in a baking sheet with one tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Toss until beets are evenly coated in oil. Roast for 35 minutes. 

Place shredded cabbage in a large bowl. Add a hefty pinch of sea salt. Toss, then let sit for 5 minutes. Add roasted beets, figs, cilantro, and sunflower seeds. Pour Lemony Vinaigrette into salad and stir until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat. If eating later, I would hold adding the sunflower seeds until ready to eat, to preserve crunch.

Market Frittata

I had a hard time coming up with something insightful to say alongside this recipe. A year ago, I wrote a post on frittata. If I weren’t so honest, I could have done a quick copy-paste and gotten away with it. My feelings about frittata haven’t changed at all.  Yes, it is delicious. Yes, it is versatile and seasonally friendly. And yes, if you use the right ingredients, it could make your day significantly tastier.  But, is a frittata life changing? Definitely not.

As I grasped for words, trying to make this post a little more exciting and a little less Monday-y feeling, I realized something very important, something I tend to forget when I get carried away, making complicated recipes that use “strange”, healthy ingredients only available to us Brooklyn dwellers. I realized that this post should be about keeping things in perspective by offering an affordable, easy-to-make recipe that can help you become a better cook and a healthier person.

So there, here is a recipe for an ordinary, weekday dish, which is healthy, seasonal, delicious, and above all do-able. Here is a dish that probably will not change your life, but it will make it tastier and easier.

 

Frittata is one of those recipes that will never fail you.  You can make throughout the week, on a budget, with whatever ingredients you might have at hand. It is perfect for dinner alongside a salad, great for breakfast, and a good enough even for lunch. It reheats well, and lasts for days in the fridge.

Because eggs go well with almost every single vegetable, frittata is above all a blank canvas that can adapt to the seasons flawlessly. Give it to me in winter with potatoes and onions, and I will be happy, with tomatoes and eggplant in the summer, and I will be happy then too.

This frittata is composed of sweet summer tomatoes, herbaceous tatsoi (which can be easily be substituted for spinach or bok choi), and a delicious Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. The flavors are fresh and  aromatic, the colors, bright and sunny enough to uplift the spirits, even at 9 PM on a fall Tuesday night. This frittata is energetic and vibrant, satisfying and robust. A meal that delights, even the most ordinary of days.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce

Makes about a cup and half, depending on size of peppers

Cook time 45 minutes

  • 2  red bell peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional, add more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 

Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Place peppers on a baking sheet. Roast for 30-40 minutes, turning once. Peppers are ready when skin in blistered black. Remove from oven and cover with aluminum wrap. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Once peppers have cooled, remove foil, cut stem out, then remove skin, by peeling away from flesh. Place flesh in food processor alongside garlic, sea salt, chili powder and olive oil. Pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning, then add more salt if necessary. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. Keeps for 4-5 days. (This is great on quinoa, pasta, or other egg dishes!)

Market Frittata

Serves 2

Cook time 25-35 minutes

  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 cups raw tatsoi, bok choy or spinach, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 5-6 heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp. turmeric powder
  • ¼ cup Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Thinly slice shallots and tatsoi, or spinach or bok choi. Place in a 10 inch sauté pan over medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add a pinch of salt. Sauté for five minutes. Tatsoi should have reduced in size by three quarters and shallots should be translucent. Stir in tomatoes. Sauté for another couple of minutes.

In a large bowl whisk eggs, until whites and yolks are mixed in together, then add turmeric and a pinch of salt. Pour eggs over vegetables. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for five minutes. Transfer to oven and cook for another ten minutes, checking every two to three minutes for the top of the frittata to set. Remove as soon as eggs are fully set. Flip Frittata onto a serving plate and either serve immediately, at room temperature, or cold. 

Baba Ghanoush

I am not ready to let summer go, neither are the skirts, dresses, and shorts, or the sunglasses I stole from my husband. I am not ready for shorter days, when the sun sets before the workday ends, the brisk morning air, or the falling leaves.

My farmer’s market bag is definitely not ready to transition into the hearty stuff either, it wants to keep holding the ripest of tomatoes, the crispest of lettuces, the most aromatic of herbs, the most colorful peppers, and most importantly lots of eggplant of different shapes, sizes, and hues.

 We are not letting go, and we don’t care. Winter can wait, and so can Fall.

Inspired by a good friend’s family recipe, this baba ghanoush (meaning pampered daddy in Lebanese) is one if the most perfect of foods. Complex and rich, this roasted eggplant, cumin scented, lemony spread, is as easy to make as hummus, but much more interesting. Middle eastern in origin, baba ghanoush doesn’t just celebrate eggplant beautiful, creamy texture; it heightens it to its fullest potential. Slow roasted in a hot oven, the center cooks until collapsing flat. The skin is then removed, it’s flesh blended with lots of garlic, tahini, cumin, and lemon; a combination of flavors that simultaneously make this dip hearty, and light. If I could, I would eat this baba ghanoush with every meal, spread over bread, spooned over a crisp vegetable, or alongside quinoa or rice.

Silky smooth and utterly delicious this baba ghanoush makes summer ending worth it, or at least bearable until there are no more eggplants to eat.

 

Baba Ghanoush

Makes a cup and a half

Cook Time, about an hour 

  • 1 pound eggplant (about 2 medium sized eggplants, or 5 small round ones, pictured)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • juice of 1 ½ lemons
  • small handful of cilantro
  • pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice eggplants into vertical quarters. Place in a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with pinch of sea salt and one tablespoon of olive oil. Toss until evenly coated. Roast for 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Peel skin off, should be easy once eggplant is fully cooked through and soft.

Place cooked eggplant flesh in a food processor with cloves of garlic, tahini, cumin powder, lemon juice, and cilantro. Pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. I added another small pinch of salt. Serve over bread, as a dip, or by itself. Keeps for a two to three days in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Fried Quinoa with Crispy Eggplant and Bok Choy

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This is the kind of meal you make after a grueling day at work that turns into an even longer night of a few too many pre-dinner drinks to compensate the above stated stress. Whether overworked, over stressed, or hung-over, this is the perfect recovery food salty, fatty, lip smacking delicious, that also happens to be good for both your body and soul.

I have never been a late-night-Chinese-take-out food kinda gal, but several months back, I got home to an from a long day turned into night to an empty fridge, with nothing but leftovers quinoa, a bag of frozen peas, eggs, and soy sauce. Without much hesitation, or a plan mapped out, everything magically landed on the pan and came together beautifully in minutes, though as messy as I felt. Every single craving I might have been having was immediately satisfied, one bite at a time. Sweet peas popping one after the other coated in salty miso and soy, laced in velvety egg and spiked with spicy ginger. Delicious.

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Because my immediate crush on this newly discovered recipe was not going naway, I decided to build on it and develop a recipe that was as delicious but slightly more complex. I wanted to explore the potential of using different vegetable combinations to achieve a layered flavor experience. Since the end of summer is upon us, eggplant was the vegetable of choice. To balance the eggplant’s creaminess I incorporated bok choy for crunch and freshness. The perfect balance of earthy eggplant and herbaceous bok choy served as the perfect foil to the salty combination of soy and miso. 

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This recipe is flexible, and you should feel empowered to work with whatever ingredients the season brings as long as that soy-miso-ginger to egg and quinoa balance remains intact. I can’t wait to try a version during fall with cauliflower and some sort of squash, or even carrots and sweet potatoes could be amazing, or during early spring a combination of wild leeks and peas. The key here being to keep it simple, while still experimenting with the flavor profiles and textures you like.

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Fried Quinoa with Crispy Eggplant and Bok Choy

 Serves 4

Cook time, about 35 minutes

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth or water

1 pinch of salt

1 cup eggplant cubed small, from half a large eggplant

2 tbsp. vegetable or sunflower oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced

1 small onion, diced small

2 tbsp. tamari, or soy sauce

1 tbsp. water

1 tbsp. miso paste

1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 bunch Chinese cabbage (bok choy)

2 eggs

1 handful fresh cilantro

2 green onions, sliced

1 tbsp. roasted peanuts or sunflower seeds

To cook quinoa:

Place quinoa in a large bowl with enough water to cover it by an inch. Using your hand stir quinoa a couple times, then drain through a sieve. Rinsing removes quinoa’s subtle bitter taste. In a pot, place 1 cup of vegetable broth or water with 1 cup of quinoa and a pinch of salt. Bring water to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium high. Simmer until most of the water has been absorbed. Turn heat to low, cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Quinoa is cooked when translucent, a small white ring will emerge around the grain when ready. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to use.

To make Fried Quinoa:

Place a cast iron* pan over high heat. When cast iron is hot, add a tablespoon of oil and eggplant. Cook stirring occasionally for about ten minutes. Eggplant should be soft throughout and crispy on the edges. Add another tablespoon of oil if necessary. While eggplant cooks place another large sauté pan over high heat. Add another tablespoon of oil, diced onions and garlic. Reduce heat to medium and sweat vegetables out until translucent and soft (about 5-8 minutes). In a separate cup whisk together soy sauce, miso paste, and ginger. Add soy-miso paste into the pan and stir. Reduce heat to low.

Add cooked quinoa and eggplant. Stir until well incorporated. Thinly slice Chinese cabbage and add to pan, cover for a couple of minutes, until cabbage starts to wilt. Whisk two eggs together then pour over quinoa. Stirring constantly for two minutes until softly scrambled and well incorporated into the quinoa. Remove from heat. Add Chopped cilantro, green onions and peanuts over quinoa. Serve immediately with a side of soy sauce.

*I like to cook the eggplant in a cast iron pan, to ensure crispy edges and deep roasted flavor. Nonetheless, if you do not have a cast iron, cook the eggplant in a regular pan with the onions.

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Deep-Dark-Chocolate-Nutty-Tahini Raw Chocolate Pudding

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I am heading out of town for the week, and as a token as my affection for all you food lovers out there, I made this quick post as I pack the last few items required for a week in the desert…

This Deep-Dark-Chocolate-Nutty Tahini Raw Chocolate Pudding comes together in minutes, using a few basic ingredients that are both incredibly delicious and downright good for you. Bananas, avocadoes, tahini, and dark chocolate are whipped together in the food processor until silky smooth. The pudding is then refrigerated, for a refreshing bite.

This totally addictive pudding is the perfect late summer dessert, a transition into fall as days get shorter and chocolate cravings more intense. Rich and decadent, this beautiful dessert might seem dainty and delicate, but the deep-dark-chocolate-nutty-tahini combination is for keeps.

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Deep-Dark-Chocolate-Nutty Tahini Raw Chocolate Pudding

Serves 2-3

Cook time: 5 minutes

  • 2 ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1 ½ large ripe avocado, peeled
  • 3 tbsp. good cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. tahini (optional)
  • 1 pich salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth. If you want to get extra fancy, pass the pudding through a sieve to remove any little lumps that the food processor might have not gotten to. Place in the refrigerator until ready to eat. Top with sea salt and cacao nibs, chocolate chips, or olive oil. 

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Rosemary & Peach Pound Cake

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I have been going through a serious baking hump. It has been months since I turned the oven on, whisked some sugar and fat into a luscious, sultry dessert to devour after dinner. Months of struggling with the idea of baking without wheat, without almond four, without a clue as to how to make a moist fluffy cake without the ingredients I had made myself familiar with. I kept thinking about it, over analyzing the situation, feeling sorry for myself like a big loser. I was dreaming up ideas of fruity summer cakes oozing with ripe peach juice, delicate and sweet, but I couldn’t find a recipe that I could eat, so I left it at that; powerless and without cake.

Maybe the seven peaches sitting on the counter, temping me with their scent convinced me to stop being a wimp. Maybe it was the lack of anything better to post, or all the yoga I have been doing, but something stirred up inside me when I woke up on a cloudy weekend morning ready to bake, no matter how many times I had to try, or how hard I would fail. I was ready to just close my eyes and trust my instinct, go with my gut not my brain, let go and trust myself.

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Right then and there, groggy eyes and in pajamas, I started mixing oats with rice and tapioca flour, I whisked some eggs, I poured out maple syrup. I sliced those same peaches that had been tormenting me, and carefully laid them out on a loaf pan. I sprinkled them with rosemary and sea salt. I poured the batter over the peaches, placed the pan on the oven and crossed my finger as hard as I could, hoping for a miracle.

For what seemed the longest forty-five minutes of my life, I waited, anxiously. I checked maybe once, or twice, or thirty times, with my fingers still crossed. But when that cake came out of the oven, I knew it would be a winner. The air thick and dense haunted the apartment walls with a rich peach and rosemary cloud of summer goodness, every breadth overwhelmed.

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This Rosemary and Stone Fruit Pound Cake is the perfect combination of the sweet flavors of summer fruit and aromatic rosemary, coated in a moist cake, with a delicate crumb. Made with maple syrup and dark brown sugar, the batter bakes into a dark hued delicacy that tastes nothing short of sublime. When paired with perfectly cooked peaches each bite tastes almost boozy, and definitely unique. A struggle worth resolving by going with my gut.

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Rosemary & Peach Pound Cake

 Cooking time 55-60 minutes

  • 6 large peaches, apricots, or a combination of both
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • ¼ cup arrowroot or tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup rice flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned gluten-free oats
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • juice of half a lemon
  • ½ cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut a piece of parchment paper that is the length of your loaf pan and wide enough to have at least three inches of overhand along each side of the pan. Grease the pan with a little bit of coconut oil, then place parchment paper on pan.

 Wash and pat dry your stone fruit. Cut stone fruit into thin (about 1/8 inch) slices, but don’t worry about them being too perfect. Line the bottom of the pan evenly with the stone fruit slices. Sprinkle fresh rosemary leaves and a tiny pinch of sea salt over fruit slices.

In a food processor place tapioca flour, rice flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Pulse until oats resemble coarse flour. Set aside. In a large bowl mix maple syrup, brown sugar, and coconut oil. Whisk until evenly distributed. Add eggs, and whisk. Add flour, milk and lemon juice. Stir until just incorporated. Pour batter into baking loaf with peaches. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes. Cake will be ready when after inserting and removing knife into center of the cake it comes out clean. Let cake cool slightly out of the oven, then invert pan into serving place, and carefully remove parchment paper.

Let cool.  Serve with ice cream, sorbet, or summer berries for dessert, or as is for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. 

Enjoy!

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Hot Green Chili Sauce and a Monster Stacked Sandwich

I found myself over the kitchen sink, skin on fire, burning hot and steady, under a refreshingly cool stream on New York tap, when the obvious realization that chili pepper should always be taken seriously popped into my head, especially these farm fresh, just picked, angsty jalapeños.   Mind you I had been taking all the necessary precaution of washing my heads vigorously and continuously, scraping under each fingernails for any stubborn fiery chili juice, but it still got me. And, it burnt hard. Each fingertip turned bright red, screaming for relief. I kept ignoring it as I kept cooking, over a pot of hot, green, hot sauce.

You see, we had just gotten back from a trip to the market, when one of our favorite vendors insisted on us purchasing the most beautiful basket of chili peppers. No, we could not buy just one, or two, but the full basket, which contained about twenty peppers, of three or four different kinds, most of which I had never heard of. Seduced by the bright green color and intrigued by the challenge of cooking with a new “very spicy” set of ingredients I left the market feeling eager and encouraged, with a tad too many peppers in my bag.

 

Us Puerto Ricans, we don’t really eat spicy. Aside maybe from the pique we pour over fried street food, we lean towards the meaty and aromatic. Our peppers are sweet and harmless, and are usually part of our version of a Trilogy. Nonetheless, here I was standing over cutting board, slicing chilies, removing their seeds, one pepper at a time, and running my fingers through the spiciest of foods. 

I chopped into one, two three, maybe five peppers when a wave of heat seeped into my eyes, then my lungs. One cough, two. Tears. Shit! What did I get myself into?

After transferring the chilies into a pot, the cloud became thicker, more potent, creating a seven-minute chili flavor force field, impenetrable and thick. Then like magic everything softened and sweetened. These peppers finally gave in; only to become the best chili sauce I have ever eaten in my life. Sorry Sriracha!

Complex. Sweet Spicy. Herbaceous. Delicious green goodness. My kind of food.

When you taste this Hot Green Chili Sauce you will know what I mean. As soon as you take a bite, you get an immediate hit of heat that is robust and fierce, then  it mellows out, giving way to the sweeter side of summer peppers. Mixed in are ton of shishito peppers, herbaceous, sometimes sweet, sometimes hot, but always delicious. These add a layer of flavor usually foreign to spicy sauces. With a plentiful handful of the always present cilantro and garlic to spare, this chili sauce in unique and refreshing as it is hot and feisty. 

It tastes good with about anything, and when I mean everything, I am talking about savory summer dishes like grilled vegetables, fish, and meat; or on top of tacos, tamales and quiches; with eggs, cooked over easy, scrambles, or soft boiled. This sauce is delicious!

To prove its potential as an everything sauce, I made a sandwich that would stand up to this sauce’s complexity. Stacked and rich, this full flavored sandwich is no wimp. It is neither your boring turkey sandwich nor your childhood PB&J. This sandwich is as kickass as the sauce it is paired with.  Layers of pea hummus, greens, avocado, and eggs stand up this Hot Green Chili sauce with finesse. Both the creamy hummus and the dreamy avocado are a match made in heaven, paired beautifully with an oh so rich, oh so decadent runny fried egg spiced to perfection. Each bite as decadent as the first, filled with surprise; filled with delight.

Go ahead. Make this sauce. Pair it with this sandwich. I dare you. Just wear gloves (and maybe a gas mask).

 

Hot Green Chili Sauce

Makes about 16 oz.

Cook time about 10-15 minutes

  • 3 jalapeno peppers
  • 5 hot yellow hot pepper
  • 4 long hot green chili peppers
  • 10 shishito peppers
  • 1 small yellow or green bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. raw sugar

If you skin is sensitive, consider wearing gloves when handling all hot peppers. Wash and pat dry all chili peppers. Cut stems off and remove all seeds. Thinly slice and place in a large pot with one tablespoon of olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until peppers begin to soften, about 7-10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat. Add cilantro, vinegar, and sugar. Stir. Let cool completely. Transfer ingredients into food processor and pulse until smooth. Store chili sauce in an air tight container for up to two weeks.

Stacked Monster Green Sandwich w/ Hot Green Chili Sauce

Serves 1 

  • 2 slices of sandwich bread, toasted (I recommend Free Bread if GF)
  • 2 tablespoons Chimichurri Hummus or Pea Hummus
  • Handful spinach, or other green of choice
  • ½ an avocado, sliced
  • 1 egg, fried
  • 1-2 tbsp. Hot Green Chili Sauce

Place a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for two minutes. Crack egg directly onto the pan. Cook until whites are set and start to curl up on the side, about 4-5 minutes. In the mean time, toast bread. When toast is ready, add two tablespoons of the Pea hummus to one piece of toast. Place spinach leaves flat on top of the hummus, then the sliced avocado, followed by the fried egg. Drizzle Hot Green Chili Sauce over the egg. Serve open face or as a sandwich. Eat immediately. 

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