November 28, 2011

Recipes for Peaceful Holidays

Simplify your diet and ground yourself by cooking food ahead to have ready for yourself and your loved ones when you come home.

Quinoa “Stuffing”
You will need:
1 Cup Quinoa, Cooked 
1 Cup Celery, Finely Chopped (about 4 stalks)
1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley, Minced
2 Carrots, Finely Chopped
1 Teaspoon each Salt and Black Pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 Tablespoon Apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 egg
1 Tablespoon stone-ground brown mustard


Prepare quinoa: rinse well through a fine-mesh strainer. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, add salt and black pepper. Cook for 15 minutes or until the water is gone. Set aside.

As quinoa cooks, chop vegetables. Add olive oil to skillet. Add onions and sauté on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add carrots and celery. Sauté for 5 more minutes.

Turn off heat. Add quinoa, minced parsley, and vinegar.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8x8 baking dish with olive oil.

Whisk egg, mustard and 1/4 cup water together.

Place quinoa in baking dish. Pour egg mixture over it and bake for 15 minutes.

White bean or turkey stew with root vegetables 
You will need:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 stalks celery OR 1 small celeriac root, chopped
1 turnip, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 yellow potato, chopped
1/2 pound grass-fed ground turkey OR one 12 oz. can organic, salt-free canellini beans
1 teaspoon each: rosemary, thyme, black pepper
4 cups beef OR vegetable stock
sea salt to taste
In a soup pot, sauté onion and garlic 1-2 minutes on medium heat.

Add celeriac/celery, turnip, carrots and potato and continue cooking 2-3 minutes.

In a separate frying pan, heat a small amount of oil and sauté the beans or ground turkey until lightly browned. Season with spices and sea salt.

Add to the soup pot with stock and salt.

Bring to a boil.

Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Savory Pumpkin Oatmeal Soup
You will need:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large pumpkin OR 1 can pumpkin puree
1 large onion, loosely diced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, chopped
1 tsp. each: cinnamon, cumin, coriander
1/4 tsp. each: nutmeg, cloves, allspice
3 c. water or broth
1 Tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame butter)
1 cup rolled oats
Salt and pepper to taste

Chop pumpkin into 6-8 sections. Scoop out the seeds and set them aside.
Place in a soup pot with 3 inches water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and steam until soft.
Run cold water over it. Peel off the skin. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep sautee pan.  
Add onion and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat until onion is clear and soft.
Add steamed pumpkin. Sauté for 7-8 minutes or until ingredients turn golden brown.  
Reduce heat to low, add garlic, and cook 10 more minutes, until vegetables are a caramel color.

In a separate soup pot, add 1 Tbsp. oil, ginger, and the spices.  Sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat, until the spices are fragrant.  
Add broth/water and vegetables to soup pot. Add tahini. Add oats.

Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered, until the pumpkin is tender.

Meanwhile, rinse pumpkin seeds and toast in a skillet with olive oil, cumin and coriander. Set aside.

Puree soup with immersion blender or mash with a potato masher.   
Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve.


November 6, 2011

Drinking Chocolate and Breakfast Spice

Santa Fe is a food destination, and its pioneers are constantly inventing delightful combinations based on traditional ingredients. While walking the sunny city streets, watching locust leaves turn golden and clouds roll off the snow-capped Sangre De Cristo mountains, I noticed a shop I have never visited before: Kakawa Chocolate House

Guadalupe Church
in Santa Fe
Stepping inside was like walking through time into a colorful and richly scented landscape in Oaxaca, Mexico. Altars honoring ancestors covered the mantle above the adobe fire place; purple, turquoise and gold depictions of the Virgen de Guadalupe made from thin silver adorned the white stucco walls. Without a moment of hesitation, I stepped up to the counter and started sampling their chocolate "elixirs", from pre-Colombian blends to modern European ones. Needless to say, cacao's unique flavor transported me to a euphoric place. 

Drinking chocolate is simple to prepare as long as you have the correct ingredients. For a simple version, you will need 85 to 100% bitter dark chocolate and sweetner. These chocolatiers use agave nectar. You can choose maple syrup or honey if you prefer.

Drinking Chocolate:
On medium heat, melt 1 ounce of darkest chocolate in a small pot with 6 ounces of water.
Once chocolate is melted, whisk it briefly. Add 3 Tablespoons sweetener and a pinch of salt.
Altar at Kakawa

Kakawa crafts combinations such as: red chile and rose; damiana and cacao nibs; caramel and nutmeg.

I can't help but think that this incredible drink would combine well with the sweet and spicy flavors of Northern New Mexico. I am proven correct when I take local ingredients to bake a chile cornmeal muffin. I visit the farmers market, where bakers are making delicious breakfast treats while signing up visitors for cooking classes. I gather some simple staples: roasted green chiles, mesquite honey from the hills above Dixon, New Mexico, and cornmeal from the nearby town of Chimayo. When combined and transformed through the oven's alchemy, these foods create a delicious breakfast or snack. Try them with drinking chocolate to warm your soul on a chilly winter day.

Green Chile Cornmeal Muffins

Dry ingredients:
1 cup coarsely ground cornmeal
1 cup flour (rice, spelt, or whole wheat)
1 teaspoon each: baking powder and baking soda
pinch salt

Wet ingredients:
1/4 cup peeled, seeded and chopped green chiles (look for Hatch Green Chiles in a can if you cannot find fresh ones)
1/4 cup local honey
1 egg (or 2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds for a vegan version)
1/4 cup milk (almond, goat or cow milk)
1/2 cup oil (sunflower or olive oil)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center, add the wet ingredients, and whisk them briefly.
Incorporate dry into wet and mix until just barely blended.

Pour into greased muffin tins or a loaf pan.
Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, or until edges are golden.

Take a deep breath and savor the scent of your food before you taste it. Imagine how you can taste with your sense of sight and smell before you sample a dish with your tongue. This practice will help refine your palate to choose your own personal flavor combinations.

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