Afternoon project: chocolate hazelnut biscotti . . . thank you, Martha Stewart, you’re the best! Biscotti are “twice cooked”: the dough is initially formed into long flat sausages and baked until firm. Once the mass has cooled, the loaves are then sliced into quarter inch slices and baked again, which gives them the crunch. You’ll find many different recipes for biscotti. They’re easy and inexpensive to make, and your friends will be wowed. This recipe came from Martha Stewart’s “Baking Handbook”. I love her recipes – they’re easy to follow and always turn out well. Stay tuned for a fabulous gluten-free version . . .
. . . on a limited budget?? Yes – it’s completely possible – think rice and beans. Look for organic grains and beans sold in bulk at places like Whole Foods and Berkeley Bowl. The combination of grains and legumes provides lots of protein (all the essential amino acids), and other nutrients, at a bargain price. In one form or another, it is the staple diet for much of the world.
Boring? Naw, not with your prolific imagination . . . your options are endless. Experiment with familiar grains like rice, bulgur (cracked wheat), barley, quinoa, maize – or try something different, like faro or millet. The variety of beans is seemingly endless – and the best prices are always in the bulk section. Soak the beans overnight, rinse, and then cook in fresh water until the beans reach the desired consistency.
A favorite of mine is Mujadara, a delicious Middle Eastern dish which combines rice and lentils, and is seasoned with toasted cumin, garlic and caramelized onion. For optimum effect, cook the onions slowly over low heat in olive oil and sea salt. Mujadara can be served as a side dish, or it can be a meal in itself – perhaps with a dollop of plain yogurt and chopped cilantro.
Not sure what to serve your vegetarian guests at your Holiday Table?
Polenta is always a wonderful choice on a cool day – filling, comforting and gluten-free! Try this version with a Latin twist:
- Cook the polenta according to package directions and pour into an oven-proof serving dish.
- Sauté thinly sliced onion, garlic, chilies, bell pepper in olive oil, and pour over cooked polenta.
- Add fresh chopped cilantro, cream, fresh cheese (queso fresco or feta), and pecorino. Place into a hot oven until heated through
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Whatever you call them, Mexican Wedding Cookies, Russian Tea Cookies, or your own pet designation — they’re easy to make and always a hit. Here’s the trick.
Mixing the cookies with soft butter is most efficient, but the dough will be sticky. Some recipes suggest refrigerating the dough and then forming the cookies into 1” balls . . . but that’s a pain in the you-know-what.
Do this – form the cookies into 1” balls while the dough is soft, and then place them into the fridge (or freezer) until they’re hard. Place the hard cookies into the pre-heated oven, and the cookies will stay round. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
12 oz. fresh cranberries
½ c parsley
2 Tb lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
½ jalapeno chili, chopped
1 small red onion
½ c fresh orange juice
2 Tb orange zest
5 Tb honey
1 Tb cilantro
Finely chop the red onion, chili, parsley and cilantro and place it in a bowl.
Coarsely chop the cranberries in the food processor and add to the onion and parsley mixture. Fold in the orange and lime juice, honey, and zest. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Sugar-laden holidays right around the corner appear to be inspiring my obsession with desserts at the moment! Here is another fab vegan treat, this one made from rice. You may be familiar with kheer, a popular Indian rice pudding, made with milk and flavored with cardamom, saffron and raisins. My favorite rice dessert is Burma Superstar’s fabulous black rice and coconut pudding, which I’ve been able to approximate in my own kitchen. Here’s how:
Start out with sticky Thai black rice, e.g. Lundberg Black Pearl Rice. I usually soak the rice in salted water for a few hours, before draining and cooking according to package directions – but you’ll need to reduce cooking time and cooking liquid. Rice should be soft but not mushy. Drain and place in a heavy bottom pan with coconut milk and simmer until rice is creamy; sweeten, to taste, with organic sugar (try Billington’s dark Muscovado sugar). Toast some unsweetened coconut flakes in a dry pan, until toasty brown and fold into the rice; save a few sprinkles for the top. Serve warm, with fresh raspberries or slices of mango, and a scoop of Coconut Bliss vegan ice cream . . . heavenly!
With corporate Holiday gatherings right around the corner, a great way to show employee appreciation is to make allowances for people’s dietary preferences and multi-cultural backgrounds.
A great menu is one that delights and surprises – with options that offer variety and take special dietary needs into consideration, e.g. gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. While many Holiday offerings can pack on the calories, how about offering a menu that’s healthy AND delicious? Try it – you’ll like it!
In our haste for convenience, we often overlook some of the delightful ways of “repurposing” left-over foods. Many of our comfort foods had their origins in creating something tasty from food that had lost its freshness, e.g. over-ripe fruit, old bread, etc. Over-ripe fruit gets turned into jam, compote, cider or hard alcohol. Stale bread can be turned into bread pudding or plum pudding. In Switzerland, my grandmother used up old bread to make “Rösti” with apple or plums. Here’s how: the sliced fruit is steamed in some butter, with a little added sugar. Remove the fruit from the pan, add more butter and toast the thinly sliced hard bread, until brown and crisp. Add the fruit back to the pan, with a pinch of sugar, lemon zest and juice. Serve warm, with a splash of cream.
. . . what more could you want? This fabulous “chwockwat” mousse (as my granddaughter calls it) is high in fat and calories, made with real butter, eggs and real cream. It’s a treat – so you eat a small portion and savor it. There is no comparison between REAL FOOD and processed low-fat, low-everything STUFF! Try it, you’ll like it . . .
Chips and salsa, anyone?
Here’s a summer recipe that’s guaranteed to be a hit at your next party – Avocado-Mango Salsa!
3 ripe, firm avocados
1 lb fresh or frozen mango, cut into chunks
1 medium size jicama, cut into large chunks
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 small chili, jalapeño or serrano (finely chopped)
½ bunch cilantro, finely chopped
Juice from 2-3 limes
Sea salt, to taste
Place the jicama in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not puréed. Add the avocado and mango and pulse until blended. Fold in the minced garlic, chopped chili, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Makes about 3 cups. Serve with corn chips, quesadillas, or fish tacos.