Monthly Archives: June 2013

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!

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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!