Kid notes…

Summer fudge pops…(vegan even!)

This recipe was a happy discovery on a hot Southern California day.  We wanted to make popsicles but had very limited ingredients in the fridge/freezer.  I knew it was a hit when my husband raided the freezer multiple times in one night, and they are guilt free for kiddos to eat! No story behind this one, just happiness on a family’s face. 

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Summer fudge pops…

3 ripe bananas, mashed

¼ cup coconut milk (or any milk you have! Almond, soy, dairy all work just fine)

¾ cup coconut BUTTER, not oil (recipe to follow)

¼ cup cocoa powder

1 tbs honey

½ tsp vanilla

For coconut butter, you need about 2-3 cups of dried coconut flakes, and process in the food processor until smooth and creamy.  It is delicious as a dairy free spread on toast or anything in which you would normally use dairy butter.

Add all ingredients in the food processor and blend until smooth. Fill up popsicle holders. I used shot glasses and vintage mini cutlery for an adult flavor, and we also did a batch with Bailey’s Irish Cream in place of milk, super yummy too.

 

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


pasta salad with greens and beluga lentils…

Cooking for my daughter is such a privilege, especially now since she has taken an interest in the kitchen…we cook together and my heart is full every time.   I think her constant presence in the kitchen, on my back as a baby and now on a step stool as a little girl, has lead to her surprisingly open minded eating habits and curiosity about food.  Food is such an amazing medium with which to teach. Food is art, science, math, craft, history, family, love, nourishment, celebration, and more recently for us conservation.  She is craving independence and autonomy right now in her life, and cooking (well…and playing dress up), has been such a free way for her to express and address those internal needs.

 For the past school year, we have been attending Branches Atelier, a Reggio inspired pre-school. The conversations with the teachers, fellow parents, and the children, helped to create the space (and patience for that matter) in my mind to have the confidence to allow my daughter to explore cooking.  We talk about the science of boiling, absorption, emulsification, we talk about color palettes of food, what colors can say about nutrition, we talk about smells, taste, and ripeness…and we talk about her Mormor, who passed down this passion of ours to bond in the kitchen…which I hope lasts a lifetime. 

Sadly, we had our last day at Branches, and we are going to miss our community more than we realized.  For our potluck my daughter created this dish.  Her artistic eye called for “only greens mama”.  She was in charge of the esthetics of this dish, and we worked together on developing the flavors.  We love you Branches Atelier Toddler A program, the “terrible twos” were not so terrible with you. 

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pasta salad with greens and beluga lentils…

salad:

4-6 cups (1 16 oz package) of dried farfalle pasta noodles (we buy in bulk)

1 ½ cup dried beluga lentils

2 crowns of broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces

10-12 stalks of asparagus, rough ends cut/snapped off

 

dressing:

¼ cup fresh cilantro

juice of 2 lemons (4-6 tbs)

3 green onions, sliced

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

olive oil to emulsify

salt and pepper

**I will preface these directions in that so much of this recipe is by taste and feel rather than specific directions. Trust your instincts and have fun.

Begin by cooking the noodles and lentils.  Cook farfalle in salted water until al dente (7-9 minutes).  Cook lentils until tender (10-15 minutes). Drain mix together and set aside.  Gently steam vegetables, careful to maintain crunch (5-7 minutes).  Toss into salad.  Then make dressing. Puree cilantro in blender of food processor until paste like consistency and move to a large bowl.  Add juice of lemons and spices.  Then while whisking, gradually add olive oil.  Should be 1:1 ratio with lemon juice.  Pour over salad. Toss, and season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate overnight to let flavors absorb into salad, and serve cold. 

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Homemade Kettle Corn…

There were two universal forces working to make this simple recipe pop (pun intended) into my mind. The first being that we are working toward making our home, and in particular our food purchasing habits, plastic or package free.  Thus, we buy a lot out of the bulk bins and store our goods in mason jars and always end up having a ton of corn kernels hanging around.  They look so inspiring just sitting there. A blank canvas of sorts.  Moving towards a plastic free kitchen has pushed us to find new recipes, but more on that in another post. The second force is my effort to return to my pre-partum self and needing alternatives to chip and cracker consumption.  To do so, I have been snacking on homemade popcorn with a little olive oil and finely ground sea salt. But this time, I had a hankering for something sweet for an after dinner treat.  So, this is what I came up with. I used a coconut oil not only for sweetness, but also because I try to stay away from the highly processed vegetable oils, but I imagine they would work just fine if that is all you have in your pantry.   But the coconut oil give such a nice subtle sweet flavor with the hint of caramelized sugars, each kernel a little pillow of  sweet/salty heaven. We made this for a movie date night at home, and it was the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and we ended up making two batches.

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Homemade Kettle Corn…

½ cup corn kernels

1 tbs coconut oil, heated to liquid

2 heaping tsp brown sugar

2 heaping tsp organic cane sugar

½ tsp finely ground sea salt (you can do it yourself in a food processer or coffee grinder)

 

Mix all ingredients together in one bowl. Then pour mixture into a simple paper lunch bag.  Fold over the top 3-4 times.  Pop in microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds- 2 minutes or until popping slows.  Careful not to burn.  Remove from microwave, shake the bag, and season with salt again if necessary.  I always end up with a lot of kernels left un-popped no matter what method I use…and no family PLEASE do not send us a popcorn popper. We are trying to get rid of our kitchen clutter.  I just fold the bag up and re-pop them, easy and no waste.  Crunch away and enjoy!

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Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy!


Braided Swedish bread with cherry preserves…

Not sure if you believe in spiritual guides or not, I usually am a grain of salter regarding spirituality in general. I do, however, spend a lot of time thinking about these things, especially when it comes to food. There is a theory of a “collective voice” being heritable, generations of knowledge passed down biologically, that we then feel and label as intuition. We somehow figure out how to make things work without explicitly being taught. I find some comfort in the hybrid of a spiritual voice and a biological pathway. It gives people the freedom to interpret these feelings in any way they choose.  Hey, if it works for migrating butterflies, why not with humans?

I can always feel the “collective voice” of the women in my family guiding me with food and through the kitchen. This bread in particular came very easy to me.  For some reason with this bread, I just knew what to do.  I saw this basket of cherries at the farmer’s market and instantly knew they belonged in a sweet Swedish dough, braided, and wrapped up for the eating.  You can do a simple icing to make it more of a dessert, but it is delicious as a coffee cake.  This recipe makes two loaves (which was a nice surprise!), play around with the fillings and find what speaks to you at the market. Give one to someone whose heart needs a little love, and indulge in one yourself. 

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Braided Swedish Bread with cherry preserves…

Bread:

1 ½ tsp yeast

¼ cup warm water

 

4-5 cups flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground cardamom (optional but I LOVE)

 

1 ½ cups plain yogurt

¼ cup butter (room temperature)

1/3 cup sugar

1 egg

Egg wash:

1 egg

splash of water to thin slightly

 

Topping:

Handful of raw sliced almonds

 

cherry preserves:

2 cups pitted cherries

1/3  cup sugar (I like mine tart) adjust sugar to your liking

Dash of bitter almond extract

¼ tsp agar agar flakes dissolved in ¼ cup water (optional) or ¼ cup orange juice

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Prepare dough. Mix together yeast and water set aside.  Mix together flour, salt, and cardamom and set aside. Then in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine yogurt, butter, sugar, and egg.  Then slowly add yeast mixture.  Then cup by cup, add flour mixture and once tacky switch to a dough hook attachment.  Keep adding flour little by little until dough forms a nice ball.  You may not use the whole amount.  Transfer to a floured surface and kneed gently for 1-2 minutes, then form into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour.

 

While dough is rising, make preserves.  Pit and roughly chop cherries.  Place in a saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and stir regularly as the cherries breakdown.  When simmering, I added the agar agar flake mixture to thicken the preserves so that while baking, the preserves would not excessively ooze out of the bread. Sometimes the natural pectin just is not enough.  You can also add apple peel for another source of pectin.  Once thickened, and the preserves cover and stick to your spoon, they are done. Remove from heat and cool completely.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 

After bread has risen, punch dough down. Cut in half.  Roll out dough into ovals. With a sharp knife, make cuts along both long sides of the oval about 1/3 of the way into the oval.  Make sure they line up on both sides. Then spread preserves down the middle and wrap, alternating sides. Seal at the bottom with a little water. Brush with egg wash and top with almonds.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. 

 

Slice and serve warm with coffee.

 

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!

 

 

 

 


Eggplant Panini with summer tomato and herb dipping sauce…a little late

This recipe is awfully late, but a few things have delayed blogging these days. But alas, I am sitting here reflecting on our summer garden, which may have been small, but she was mighty…well at least in the eggplant department. Also, not in the true sense of productivity, but rather, we felt passionately productive when we could harvest any bounty from our 4×4 urban, shady plot…for which I am grateful.  We plucked a red strawberry here and there, some jalapenos, and plenty of summer herbs.  Things just seem to taste different when you grow them yourself, and I seem to handle them with much more care in the kitchen.  I let our Japanese eggplants sit on the vine, went and visited them just about every day, and all the while thought about how I could best prepare those beautiful fruit.  I needed them to be the stars. I had a flash feeling of myself embodying one of those horrible beauty pageant stage mothers, trying to best display her eggplant babies for their big show.  Not quite, but you know what I mean.  So, I came up with this beautiful eggplant Parmesan panini with a summer tomato and herb dip.  This dish just screamed summer, and my oh my was that eggplant tender. She also won in the beauty category as well. 

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Eggplant Panini with summer tomato and herb dipping sauce…

sandwich:

sliced cracked wheat bread

garlic

olive oil

1 Japanese eggplant, thinly sliced

organic breadcrumbs (Trader Joe’s has a nice consistency) or make your own

ground parmesan cheese

fresh mozzarella cheese

salt and pepper

1 tbs ground flaxseed and ¼ cup water (substitute for egg)

Combine ground flax seed and water, stir and let sit. 

Combine organic breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and spread on a plate. 

Then in a pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Begin dipping eggplant slices into water/flaxseed mixture, then into breadcrumb mixture, and then into frying pan.  Cook until crispy and then flip and repeat. 

Lightly toast slices of bread in a panini press (or in a pan with a heatproof, weighted, pan on top to flatten the bread). Rub a garlic clove onto the bread, giving it a bit of flavor.  Then assemble bread, eggplant, cheese, and some fresh herbs.  Place back into the panini press until bread is crispy and cheese is melted. 

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tomato sauce:

tomatoes

fresh parsley

fresh basil

salt and pepper

If you have an abundance of tomatoes in your garden, slice in half, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Oven roast until just wilted and most of their water has been evaporated.  Then in a food processor puree, add salt, pepper, and herbs.  Blend until smooth in consistency. 

If you do not have garden tomatoes you can use a can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes.

 


Serve along side sandwich for dipping. 

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Mini coconut animal crackers…

Animal cracker, cookie, biscuits…whatever your preferred nomenclature, all seem to jostle the same memories of shoving a chubby, little hand into a circus box of deliciousness, and then toting them around in their neatly assembled stringed box.  These stringed boxes were originally manufactured as a Christmas gimmick to hang on the tree and open and eat on Christmas morning, but the cookies became so popular that they became a regular, and now standard production.  I love the idea of classic childhood snacks, but I also believe in the quality of calories consumed.  I began experimenting with coconut flour and coconut oil, high in fiber and rich in essential fats, and after many recipe flops came up with these beauties.  They are fun to make, the kiddos love stamping the cookie cutters. Depending on the size of the cutters you use, this recipe makes a ton. Use half the dough and freeze the other half for a rainy day, or bake them all off at once for party/play-date snacks.  Little hands will enjoy with ripe, sweet, summer berries!

 

Mini coconut animal crackers…

 

1 ½ whole wheat flour

¼ cup coconut flour

¼ cup rolled oats, coarsely ground in food processor

¼ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

¾ cup unrefined coconut oil

1/3 cup (or less) organic cane sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg

2 tbs apple sauce (chunky homemade if possible)

*Make sure wet ingredients are all room temperature or the coconut oil with seize.

 

Sift together dry ingredients, except sugar.  Then blend sugar with wet ingredients. Then slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring by hand.  Then kneed a couple times and form in to a small round disk.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.  Portion dough as you like.  Roll out dough to 1/8” thickness and stamp with cookie cutters of choice.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes depending on size of cookies.  Let cool, and serve.

 

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Simple summer salad with a harissa vinaigrette…

Everything about life has been on vacation mode until this week.  We have been slow to rise, late to bed, seeing the world, tasting the world, beach time, pool time, splash time, snuggle time, books, and baking.  Recently we have been spending a lot of time in our new garden, tending to our seedlings, but mostly just watering and staring at our plants.  We have been pruning our herb garden in hopes of bigger, thicker bushes…and I am hoping “green thumbing” runs in the blood. My father is a plant whisperer.  I have many memories of walking through my hometown woods with my father as a kid. He pointed to plants and gave me both their botanical and common names, taught me how to identify poison oak in all four seasons, and explained the differences between lichen and moss.  We have beautiful oak trees dripping in Spanish Moss (which is neither a moss nor a lichen) of an almost earthy teal if that makes any sense, and a salty fog that feels like home in those woods.  So…I am hoping that gardening, like cooking, and be heritable.  Happy bleated father’s day dad, I love you so.

This salad is dressed with the herbs from our garden, and I will hopefully make it again with our own peppers and cucumbers.  It is super easy to make and tastes like summer.  I might add this tastes super with a cold, Mexican beer out of the bottle.

I apologize for the quick phone photos!

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Simple summer salad with a harissa dressing…

Salad

1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight and cooked until tender (or 1 can of black beans, rinsed)

two ears corn, grilled and kernels removed (or Trader Joes sells a nice frozen roasted corn)

2 cups dry quinoa, cooked and tossed

1 cup toasted pepitas

2 vine ripened tomatoes, diced

1 large red pepper, diced

two small cucumbers, diced

handful of fresh cilantro, minced

handful of fresh parsley, minced

cumin, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients together.

dressing

equal parts olive oil and lime juice, amount will vary, just go little by little.

Harissa (homemade or bought) or harissa powder (you can also use a mixture of Cayenne Pepper and chili powder if you don’t have easy access to harissa)

Salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together adjusting the spices as you like, and pour over salad, and toss. 

Serve salad with some crumbled queso fresco over the top.

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Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Swedish almond cake…

So much good news! So little time!  So many babies coming, so many milestones, so many careers changing, so many creative projects moving forward, so many birthdays. I feel so lucky to be able to share in all these moments with the people who move and shape my world.  What I really wish however, is to be able to sit down with every, single, person…over coffee and cake…and just listen to their voice and hear the excitement and nervous energy…moving and shining forward. On this fantasy day we would probably start with a stroll along the sea because walking and talking are soul mates, then maybe we would dust our way through some antiques because…well…treasure hunting is about the journey. Finally, we would rest in the afternoon glow and through twilight and chat over strong Swedish coffee and some almond cake…then maybe switch to wine…because these moments are friendship.  I am missing your faces and selfishly want you all near all the time.  Cannot wait to welcome some new humans and and meet those who are already here, and mostly to share in your process.  Love! Congrats!

Swedish almond cake…

preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 ¼ cup flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

sift together and set aside

¾ cup organic cane sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp bitter almond extract*

1/3 cup almond paste (recipe follows)

1/2 cup melted butter, room temperature (I used salted)

cream ingredients together

Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.  Pour batter into a round 8” greased cake pan.  Bake until toothpick comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes.  Serve to friends over coffee or tea…and don’t forget to smile and gossip.

almond paste:

1 cup sliced, blanched almonds (skin on is fine)

¾ cup powdered sugar

½ tsp bitter almond extract

1 egg white

pinch of salt

combine all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth paste is formed, similar to an organic peanut butter texture.  Add more almonds as necessary to thicken up.

*The extract I use is a Swedish extract called Bitter-mandel, it is very strong and you only need a few drops. You will need more if you use regular almond extract.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


Saimin with glass noodles and grilled veggies…

Our adventures on the Big Island- Hawai’i this past week falls somewhere between magical and breathtaking.  We hiked to volcanoes, across black lava flow, bathed in the sun on empty palmed beaches, and felt the mist of waterfalls on our faces.  We also ate without regret.  We ate at local fare restaurants and shopped at farmer’s markets. Beyond the plethora of fruit and veggies we found locally made goat cheese, local beer, and of course seafood.  Hawai’i understandably has a mission to grow and eat locally and minimize consumption of imported goods, you appreciate the effort of getting goods to these islands when standing on their shores, they are geographically truly remote.  With the diversity of micro-climates they grow very successfully and with bounty, and the markets leave you wanting for little.

One meal stands out in particular. It happened to fall on the last day of our vacation. As we headed to the airport with that little pang in our stomachs-already missing our vacation-we found comfort in this rustic little restaurant called The Red Water Café, in Waimea.  My husband had the local catch sandwich and I had the saimin. Saimin is a traditional Hawaiian soup that finds its base and roots in Asia. Full of eclectic flavor, yet hearty and comforting at the same time. Another perk, The Red Water Café makes all their broth from scratch,  and they use local, organic produce.  Take that.  So here is my effort to recreate this soup. This attempt was mostly a selfish effort to help our little family soothe the island withdraw, and ease back into mainland reality. Enjoy this little piece of island heaven.

Saimin with glass noodles and grilled veggies…

marinate (at least 1 hour):

½ package organic, firm tofu, cubed (keep separate)

½ Kobacha squash, cut in half through the equator, then cut into thin moons (really any hard squash you have works fine or even sweet potatoes/yams)

8-10 crimini mushrooms, quartered

in:

Soy sauce to cover the goods

Then about 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Then cook on grill either indoor or outdoor until nice grill marks appear and the squash tenderizes.

make broth:

8-10 cups vegetable broth (homemade if you can)

2 tbs miso paste

1 large clove garlic, shredded (microplane)

1 tbs fresh ginger, shredded (microplane)

2 tbs soy sauce

let simmer on low heat to bring out all the flavors

then add:

1 package of Asian glass noodles, hydrate per the package instructions first, rinse, then add to broth.

1 organic bok choy, roughly chopped

2 heaping handfuls of bean sprouts

marinated and grilled squash and mushrooms

marinated tofu

Let simmer to infuse all flavors.  Then add salt and more shredded ginger to taste.  At this point I used a specialty smoked sea salt for an extra dimension of flavor.  Williams and Sonoma sells one that is pretty nice.

Serve with a spoon and chopsticks.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


FoodNotes…

This marinated feta is actually a Greek spin on an Eastern European pub snack. It generates some nice memories of my travels through that area.  I remember being in the Czech Republic, snacking on some spicy marinated cheeses while sipping on a cool pilsner. Those flavors have such a nice balance, creamy vs. bright…with some effervescence to wash everything down.  Marinated feta cheese can go quite the distance when entertaining.  It looks and makes people feel special.  I like to serve this marinated feta with olives, marinated mushrooms, and maybe some hummus and pita as an appetizer for when we have company.  It is also great over pasta with some roasted seasonable vegetables or on salads.

Marinated feta cheese…

First, find a container that you like and think is pretty, and consider the size.

Measure olive oil into about 3/4 the volume of the container. The cheese will displace some of the volume.

Then over VERY low heat, warm the olive oil and add any dried herbs that you love, some thinly sliced garlic, and peppercorns. The goal is to cook the garlic ever so slightly, and let the flavor infuse into the oil. This only takes minutes.  Then set aside to cool.   While cooling, cube feta and place in your container.  Then, pour the olive oil over the cheese once cooled.  Keep refrigerated.

Eat together, toast to each other, and share!


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