October 3, 2012

Sweet, Sour, Salty: Fall Flavors

Ayurveda, the 'science of life', is a centuries-old healing modality from India, which highlights food as medicine. This traditional method is still practiced widely today. Cooking classes at the Ayurvedic Center of New Mexico highlight the importance of changing the way we cook and eat in accordance to the seasons. Fall is a time to focus on foods that are sweet, sour, and salty in nature.

Maple Macaroons
You will need:
2 organic egg whites
1/2 cup maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons spelt OR rice flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the egg whites, maple syrup and salt in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until just warm, about 1 minute. Add the coconut, flour, vanilla, and cardamom and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture just begins to sizzle and is slightly dry, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Using a teaspoon and your fingers, form the dough into 24 small mounds on the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.

Get creative: chop your favorite dark chocolate and place it in a dry metal or glass bowl and set it over a pan of gently simmering hot water (or use a double boiler if you have one). Stir the chocolate constantly until just melted. Remove it from the heat.
Dip the macaroons into the melted chocolate, then place them on a pan or plate lined with wax or parchment paper. Chill in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens. Enjoy!

Greek Lemon Soup
You will need:
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 shallots, or 1 small red onion, peeled and chopped
6 1-inch pieces of unpeeled fresh ginger, minced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon each: thyme and coriander
½ teaspoon each: turmeric and paprika
Pinch cayenne

1 organic/free range chicken breast half, cut into 1/8-inch-thick diagonal slices
OR 1 cup cooked white beans (I like canellini)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
2 tablespoons sliced scallion, cut thinly on the diagonal, for garnish

Coat the bottom of a soup pot with olive oil. Combine the shallots, ginger, carrots, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and sautee over high heat for 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Stir the thyme, coriander, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne into the soup.

Simmer for 3 minutes, then add the chicken or white beans and simmer for an additional 10 minutes, until the chicken/beans are tender and thoroughly cooked. Stir in the lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and taste. Add more maple or salt as needed.
Serve garnished with the cilantro and scallion.

Get creative: to boost your immunity, add 1 cup of stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms when you add the chicken or white beans.

Spelt Gnocchi with Caper Sardine Pesto
Choose 4 medium potatoes with dry flesh. Boil the potatoes in water until soft.

Trying to keep them warm without burning your fingers, cut the potatoes into chunks and pass them through a vegetable mill or smash them with the back of the fork.

Add just enough spelt flour to give the dough consistency, about 1 1/2 cups. It needs to be supple without being too sticky.

Roll the dough into inch-thick ropes. Cut the rope into small chunks.

Roll each chunk off the edge of a fork to create grooves on one side and a hole in the other side.

As you are shaping the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the gnocchi in small batches and remove them from the boiling water with a slotted spoon when they rise to the top. Place them in a deep baking dish and keep them in a 250 degree oven to stay warm if desired.

Caper Sardine Pesto
In a food processor, mix:
½ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ Tablespoon lemon juice
Blend at highest speed for 2 minutes.

Turn the off processor, add enough basil to fill the bowl, and blend at lowest speed, stopping occasionally to tamp basil down into blades and add more as needed.
While blending, mixture may become too thick with basil leaves. If so, pour additional olive oil in a small stream through the opening of the food processor while it is blending.
Keep adding basil until you have used about 2 cups fresh basil.
Remove from food processor and place in a large serving bowl.
Add 2 Tablespoons capers and 1 can sardines.

Add cooked gnocchi to the bowl, mix and serve with grated parmesan cheese as garnish if you like.

Get creative: instead of potatoes, use roasted, de-skinned winter squash to make gnocchi.

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