Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pepita Coconut Granola

Just pumpkin seeds and coconut chips.  Amazing flavor and crunch!
The grain-free life feels too good to go back to blood-sugar-spiking grains and sugars.  But now and then I grow nostalgic for something toasty and crunchy. 

When thinking about this recipe, I had planned to add other things ... perhaps nuts or spices.  But this two-ingredient granola was so perfect that I just stopped! 

Just like with other granolas, it can be used to top a bowl of berries and yogurt, or to add crunch to a sliced banana.  You can douse it with Pure Eire milk or cream, if you eat dairy.  Or just eat the dang stuff by itself!

You can adjust the amounts given to suit your taste.  Our local health food stores carry pumpkin seeds in the refrigerated section.  I find the coconut chips at Yokes in the Nature's Pantry section.

2 cups raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (also called coconut chips) or shredded coconut

In a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds, stirring/shaking frequently (read:  Don't walk away) until you hear one of the seeds pop

Add the coconut, stir, and continue toasting.  The seeds should continue to pop, and the seeds and coconut should become toasty golden brown.

Remove from heat and let cool completely. Store in covered container.

Alternatively, you can toast the pumpkin seeds and coconut separately, stirring watchfully until each reaches a perfect golden state.

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012: Winter CSA Boxes 6 and 7

Winter CSA Box 6

Winter CSA Box 7
Box 6 contained a gnarly horseradish root that I am still meditating about.  Beets, spinach, arugula, red delicious apples, chili peppers and lentils completed the lineup.  The lentils (petite brown) were gifted to a friend.

Box 7 delighted me with TWO bunches of organic lacinato kale. Kale chips, anyone? The farmer keeps experimenting with dried cannoli beans ... these are not too exciting.  But we have frozen tart cherries from a local orchard, a gorgeous selection of pear varieties, arugula, braising greens, and dried mint. 

After sorting and washing the braising greens, I tossed them into a pot with some ghee, chicken broth, store-bought spinach, and CSA kale, and simmered them for half an hour or so.  I love to tuck a little hank of cooked greens alongside a dinner entree on the plate!  Greens make me smile.

Some of the pears went into a new grain-free version of Leek, Pear and Goat Cheese Tart.  I altered the original recipe by using butter instead of olive oil, and a crust of nut flours and butter instead of wheat flours.

The arugula was snipped and tossed with a little bacon in a skillet of scrambled eggs.  Peppery, tasty and a beautiful.  And hey .... only a little over two months 'til the farmers' markets open!  I am hugely grateful for my CSA farmer, whose produce gets us through the winter so well. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kale Chips Redux

Lacinato kale chips baked to perfection.
The other day at the Northwest Food Hub, a new vendor stood proudly next to his baskets of organic kale chips.  Well, who can resist a kale chip?  One taste, and my mom and I experienced eyebrow-raising awareness that something about these kale chips was different.

I purchased a bag of the chips, and indeed, a perusal of the label showed that this creative chef, of Amerawcan Bistro, had used these ingredients:"Organic kale, organic yellow miso, organic garlic powder, organic onion powder, nutritional yeast."  Most notable was a missing ingredient:  oil.

One problem with kale chips I've made has been the greasy film they leave on one's fingers.  And oil oxidizes pretty quickly, leading to rancidity.  I thought oil was crucial to keep the seasonings on the chips.  But these new chips were liberally coated with seasonings that appeared to adhere just fine.  Closer inspection showed that the seasonings adhered in a somewhat droplet-like fashion, so I decided the seasonings were applied to wet kale leaves, and the moisture evaporated during baking but left the seasonings securely fastened to the kale. 

All these conclusions and prognostications proved correct.  So herewith a new and improved kale chip recipe.  As a general rule, I eschew soy in all its forms, and thus did not use miso; instead, I added some salt.

The only remaining problem with kale chips is their tendency to leave diminuitive pieces of kale in one's teeth, which can be a problem at social gatherings.  Does this mean kale chips should only be eaten when one is alone?  No!  Eat them with other kale chip afficianadoes, and all will be well.


2 bunches lacinato kale or curly kale

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (from the health food store)
1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder

Mix the seasonings thoroughly in an empty spice bottle with shaker holes. 

Hold the kale firmly in its bunch form and slash off the bottom few inches of stem ... to just below where the leaves start.  Cut the thick stems from the center of each leaf.  With lacinato kale, this will give you long, thin chips.  With curly kale, your chips will be stubbier.

Rinse the trimmed kale pieces thoughly, with at least two changes of water.  Do not dry the kale leaves.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Place wet kale leaves in a single layer (they can be very close together, but not overlapping) on two Silpat-lined baking sheets.  Sprinkle seasonings liberally over the kale.  You don't have to use all the seasonings, but the more you use, the tastier the chips will be.  Don't worry about puddles of water/seasonings on the kale.  It will dry in the oven.

Place baking sheets on two racks placed as near the middle of the oven as possible.  Bake for 15 minutes, then switch pan positions and bake 15 minutes more.  When most of the kale pieces are crispy (some may still be a tiny bit damp), turn oven off and let the pans sit in the oven for a while until all the chips are crispy.

Lacinato kale will take less time to bake and crisp than curly kale.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Grain-Free Almond Pancakes

Once you try these, you may begin to see the merits of eschewing grains.  Tender and satisfying, these pancakes actually are reminiscent of IHOP's famous Harvest Grain 'n Nut pancakes, with a slightly crunchy texture and an oh-so-nutty flavor.

Cinnamon, grated orange peel, cardamom ... plenty of room for creativity here in spicing things up! 

2 cups almond flour
5 local grassfed eggs
1/2 cup coconut milk, milk or yogurt
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or not)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder (I use Hains or Rumfords)
Back four pancakes have been flipped; front four have not.
1/4 teaspoon salt

In medium mixing bowl, thoroughly whisk together almond flour, eggs, milk of choice, optional maple syrup, and vanilla. 

Heat griddle over medium heat, and swish some butter or coconut oil over it if desired.

Stir baking soda, baking powder and salt into batter.  Drop about 1/4 cup batter onto griddle; you want to aim for about 4-inch diameter pancakes. 

The pancakes won't take very long to bake.  After a couple of minutes, lift gently to check for browning.  I usually let a few bubbles form and begin to burst before checking.  When turning the pancakes, use two smallish spatulas ... one to flip and one to stabilize. 

Serve with berries or other fruits. I sometimes serve them with pineapple and sliced banana. 

Makes 16 4-inch pancakes.