Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Iron Skillet Brussels Sprouts




Iron Skillet + Brussels Sprouts + Heat + Oil 

This minimalist recipe requires only four ingredients and proceeds from beginning to end in a heavy black cast iron skillet, an inexpensive, indestructible and versatile kitchen tool. The thick bottom and sides of the skillet conduct and radiate heat evenly and intensely, making it ideal for oven roasting.

Brussels sprouts need little adornment to taste great, and roasting them brings out their sweet flavor. Select fresh, compact, brightly colored Brussels sprouts which are relatively uniform in size. 



Trim off the stems if they are very thick or gritty, then slice sprouts in half. If sprouts are large, make a small additional cut at the base of each half to facilitate cooking. Leaves which separate during slicing can be sprinkled on top of the cut halves before they go into the oven.

Ingredients:

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed, stemmed and halved
3- 4 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste
cracked black pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Heat olive oil in skillet on medium flame and place sprouts cut side down in pan.
Saute for about 3 minutes or until cut sides are lightly browned; stir gently with a fork and add a bit more olive oil if needed.
Place skillet in oven and roast for roughly 10 - 15 minutes until sprouts are tender and browned to your taste.
Remove skillet from oven and allow sprouts to rest for a few minutes to develop their sweetness.
Serve straight from the pan, garnished with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.














 


Friday, October 20, 2017

Spicy Turmeric- Cardamom Nut Milk Drink




Spicy Turmeric- Cardamom Nut Milk Drink

This warming delicious drink was inspired by the first cool days of autumn, when I was craving something hot but more substantial than tea. Spicy nut milk makes a nourishing light morning meal and is satisfying as a savory or sweet treat. The recipe can be adjusted to your taste, and according to what's in your pantry. Use only the best quality spices, which have not been stored in your spice rack since the dark ages. Makes one serving, but you'll want more!

Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
3 or more grinds black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder*
1-2 pinches sea salt
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (optional) 
1 cup plain unflavored nut milk (almond or cashew)

Method:

Place all ingredients except nut milk in a mug and stir well.
Heat nut milk gently, without boiling.
Pour nut milk into the mug and stir.
Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.

*Note: I prefer to use whole cardamom straight from the pod. Break open one or two pods, remove the small black seeds, and crush with the back of a tablespoon on a cutting board. Incomparable flavor!



 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Something Sweet: Toasted Maple Glazed Almonds with Pink Himalayan Salt




Sometimes, a body just needs something sweet. Toasted maple glazed almonds are nutritious,  satisfying, and can be made in minutes. The toasty almond flavor is deliciously enhanced by a rich maple syrup- olive oil glaze and a sprinkling of salt. I use a heavy cast iron skillet to toast the almonds on top of the stove- much faster and energy efficient than doing it in the oven.


Ingredients:

1+1/2 cups raw almonds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 pinch pink Himalayan salt (or plain sea salt) 


Method:

Place almonds in a cast iron skillet (or other heavy pan) over medium heat. Shake pan frequently while almonds toast; once the pan heats up the almonds can burn quickly. Have a stainless steel or ceramic bowl within easy reach. 





When almonds are fragrant and take on a nice toasted color, pour immediately into the bowl. Add olive oil and maple syrup; toss well until almonds are coated.  Return almonds to the pan and heat gently over a low flame for a minute or two, stirring constantly. The glaze will quickly become sticky and adhere to the almonds. As soon as this happens, remove pan from heat and spoon the almonds in one layer onto a platter or a sheet of waxed paper to cool. Sprinkle lightly with salt.




Pink Himalayan Salt
For a very decadent treat, serve with small pieces of your favorite dark chocolate.

Monday, July 10, 2017

On Perfection, Evolution & Summer Pleasures





Though human perfection does not exist, Homo sapiens is imbued with the evolutionary drive to seek perfection in all things.  Perhaps this  impulse is linked to the survival instinct which pushed our species to hunt for the best food, partners, comrades and environments. 

There is tension inherent in this search, for ultimately, one must make a choice.  Certain choices are crucial, and will resound in our lives for decades. Other choices are simpler; which sunflower, which artichoke, which peach shall we select?  

Such are the small, weightless pleasures of summer, when there is an abundance of nearly  perfect produce to enjoy.
  











***
inanimate perfection?


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Meditation on a Black Radish

Black Radish

The black radish, with its rough thick outer shell and pure white pungent bitter interior, is the dark horse of the radish universe. Cultivated by farmers since the days of ancient Egypt, Raphanis sativus var. sativus tolerates extremes of climate, grows to a generous size and contains considerable quantities of vitamin C.

 I am told that the black radish, which stores very well, was a staple food for my Eastern European ancestors during long cold winters when few fresh vegetables were available. It was peeled and sliced and eaten with raw onion, salt and heavy dark sourdough rye bread. In France it is known as "Gros noir d'hiver",  or "large black of winter".



                                             black radish
                                             your rhino hide shell
                                             protects a bitter snowy core
                                             from which the lovely
                                             green shoots spring




Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Black Lentils with Black Rice & Black Shiitake Mushrooms




Four exceptionally nutritious ingredients form the core of this simple but delicious meal, perfect for warming up the last chilly days of winter. According to the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine, these four foods have the ability to strengthen the "yang" energy of the body, which is created and nurtured in the area called the "Life Gate Fire", or  Ming Men Huo. 

Assembly is easy; simply measure the ingredients into a pot and cook for about one hour.  It's best to use a heavy pot with a thick bottom and tightly fitting cover. A simple kitchen tool called a flame tamer or heat diffuser is useful for cooking legumes and grains; it helps heat to penetrate evenly without scorching the bottom of the pot.  Slow, gentle cooking allows the grains and lentils to steam thoroughly and encourages the aromatic flavors to mingle.

 Yield: Roughly five servings.

Ingredients:

1 cup black beluga lentils
1 cup black "forbidden" rice
1/2 cup kasha (buckwheat groats)
2 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 bay leaf
5 cups fresh water
1/4 + teaspoon  sea salt
6 whole dried black shiitake mushrooms






Method:

Measure lentils, rice, kasha, water and sea salt into the pot; add garlic and bay leaf.
Carefully place mushrooms, stem down, in one layer on top of the other ingredients.
Cover pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Place a flame diffuser under the pot to prevent scorching.
Continue cooking on a low to medium flame for about one hour.  
Remove pot from heat and allow to rest without opening for fifteen or twenty minutes.
Open pot and remove mushrooms, garlic cloves and bay leaf.
Place mushrooms on a cutting board and slice into small pieces.
Peel garlic- it will be very soft- and return it and the mushrooms to the pot.
Toss all ingredients with a fork; add more sea salt to your taste if desired.
Serve with any lightly steamed dark leafy green.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Korean Comfort Food: Sweet Azuki Porridge


Azuki bean porridge, Pat Juk, is a traditional staple of Korean cuisine, eaten year round at all times of day. The sweet variety, Dan Pat Juk, is prepared and shared with neighbors and friends on "Little Lunar New Year" which takes place on the winter solstice. The reddish color of the porridge is meant to ward off evil spirits, and as in many cultures, eating sweet foods expresses the hope of a sweet year to come.

Savory or sweet, Azuki porridge is a sublime comfort food which is highly nutritious and simple to make. This interpretation of Dan Pat Juk requires few ingredients and the only active labor involved is the time it takes to blend the cooked beans into a smooth porridge. Traditional Korean recipes call for rock sugar as the sweetener; I've substituted medjul dates. For a sweeter dish, maple syrup may be added to taste.

Dan Pat Juk is very filling; this recipe yields roughly six modest servings. The flavor of the juk mellows with rest, so don't hesitate to make extra for later use. To store cooked beans safely, place in clean glass jars with tightly fitting lids while still very hot. I like to use small single serving sized glass canning jars for this purpose. Handled this way, beans will keep well in the fridge for up to five days.

Ingredients:

2.5 cups azuki beans, soaked for about 6- 8 hours*
fresh water
4-5 large medjul dates, pitted and sliced in half
sea salt to taste
1 or 2 tablespoons maple syrup to taste (optional)
mint leaves for garnish
pine nuts for garnish

Method:

Drain and rinse beans thoroughly in running water.
Place beans in a heavy bottomed pot and add enough fresh water to cover by about two inches.
Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over a medium- low flame for one hour or more.
Stir beans occasionally, adding water if they are not covered by liquid.
Beans are done when one is easily mashed between thumb and forefinger.
Remove pot from heat, stir in dates, cover and allow to rest until cool enough to blend.
Blend beans in batches in blender, adding cooking liquid or small amounts of fresh water as needed, until porridge is velvety smooth.
Return porridge to pot, reheat thoroughly and add sea salt to taste.
One or more tablespoons of maple syrup may be added to taste.

Serve dan pat juk  in small preheated ceramic bowls.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and a sprinkling of pine nuts.
Store remaining porridge in glass jars in fridge for up to five days.
Reheat thoroughly for a quick, warming and energizing meal.


*A note about soaking legumes:  Soaking legumes is not a complicated affair but it involves some planning. Soak beans overnight or put them in to soak early in the morning. If you've soaked beans for several hours but must postpone cooking, drain them and keep in the fridge for up to another day.