Saturday, September 29, 2012

Us vs Udon Round 1

Even though the farmer's market is full of autumn delights like apples, squash, and pumpkins, I just haven't felt like that stuff quite yet. Instead, I'm holding on to the cucumbers and tomatoes while I can.

I was given these veggies from a home garden the other day, and it wasn't hard to get rid of those carrots which we just washed off and ate raw. So sweet and earthy! However, for the cucumbers I had to get creative. I tried this recipe, but I wasn't thrilled with the result. I think cucumber salads really need a creamy dressing to take away some of the acidity.

Round 1 of Us vs Udon

Udon Noodles taken from this blog

1 1/4 C unbleached bread floor
5/8 C unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
1/2 C water

Step 1: This is the most important step. Get some fun dancing music and crank it up loud.

Step 2: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and knead until the dough starts to stick together.

Step 3: Here is where the real fun begins. Place the ball of dough in a ziploc bag and wrap the bag in a thick towel.

Step 4: Put the towel on the floor and start dancing, stepping or whatever on top of it until it is flattened. I did the running man. Be careful. I almost slipped a few times:)

Step 5: Remove dough from plastic bag, fold into a ball, and repeat. Do this a total of 4 times.

Step 6: On the last time, leave the flattened dough in the bag wrapped in the towel, and let sit for about 4 hours.

Step 7: Remove dough from bag, and fold into a ball, and guess what? It's dancing time again. This time you only have to do it once. We "knee"ed it this time:)

Step 8: Roll the dough out until it is about 1/8 of inch thick, then fold into thirds as shown below. Cut into thin strips.

Step 9: Place in boiling water and cook until noodles are translucent. It's supposed to take 6-7 minutes, but we never got to this stage because our noodles were just too thick. We ate the extremely thick noodles with the rest of our Asian feast anyway.

Score Udon: 1 Us: 0

Here are the other recipes worth trying:

Raw Spring Rolls adapted from this recipe on My New Roots

2 medium carrots
1 small sweet potato
1/4 C sesame seeds
1 tsp oil for stir frying
2 Tbsp chopped fresh gingerroot
1 Tbsp sugar
Squeeze of lemon juice
1/2 cucumber
3 green onions
1/2 avocado
handful of cilantro
1/2 C purple cabbage thinly sliced
About 12 rice paper wraps

1. Julienne the carrots and sweet potato
2. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan for about 5 minutes ( until golden)
3. Add the oil, ginger, and sugar to the pan, and cook slightly. Add the carrots and sweet potatoes and stir fry for about 5 minutes just to take the edge off.
4. Remove from heat and add squeeze of lemon and stir. Set aside
5. Chop other vegetables into long thin strips and set aside
6. Fill a shallow dish with warm water.
7. Using one wrap at a time, place the wrap in the warm water until it becomes soft (about 1 minute)
8. Remove from water and place on clean surface.
9. Add some of carrot mixture and other veggies to center of wrap and fold as below. Resist the temptation to add too much to each wrap. I did this, and they were much harder to wrap. I made 8 wraps, but I think 12 would have been better.

10. If you want to make them look nice for a platter or something, cut them in half on a diagonal. Enjoy with a dipping sauce such as the peanut sauce below.

Peanut Sauce adapted from this recipe from the Sprouted Kitchen

2 tsp oil
1 small onion finely chopped
1 large clove garlic minced
1/2 C Peanut butter
1/2 C Light Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup water
1 Tbsp Tamari
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
2 tsp lime Juice
2 Tbsp Sugar or honey

1. Saute the garlic and onion in the oil in a sauce pan until they are translucent.
2. Add all the other ingredients except lime juice and stir until smooth and warm.
3. Remove from heat, and add lime juice.

Enjoy warm. You can reheat in the microwave for about 30 seconds if you have left overs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Like Winning the Lottery

I made these cookies for a neighborhood party we had the other night. One of our neighbors is following the Paleo diet, and I wanted to bake something that everyone could enjoy, so I tried some Paleo cookies. They were a hit even in the non Paleo eaters.

Almond Coconut Paleo Cookies adapted from this recipe by the Healthy Chef

1 C ground almonds
1 C slivered almonds
1 C dried unsweetened coconut
1/4 C honey
1/4 C Coconut oil
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp water
Chocolate chips (optional and technically not Paleo)

1. Combine the almonds and coconut
2. Put the honey and oil in a medium sized saucepan and heat on low just until coconut oil is liquid
3. Combine the baking soda and water in a cup, then pour into the saucepan, and stir until it begins to bubble. 
4. Add the dry ingredients to the saucepan and mix until combined. If the mixture is not sticking together, add the water and try again.
5. If you're going to add in chocolate chips, you can do that here. I added them to half of the dough. 
6. These cookies were very crumbly, so I think the next time I make them, I'll roll them into tight balls before placing them on the cookie sheet rather than just dropping them like I did this time. It should make 20-22 cookies
7. Bake the cookies at 250 F for 20-25 minutes ( until golden brown)

Cool and Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Decadent Sugar Free Chocolate "Torte" with Vegan Whipped Cream

Despite my tiny kitchen, I do have quite a few kitchen gadgets that I love, and I had the chance to use my newest one for this decadent chocolate dessert this week. The more recipe searching I do, the more recipes I come across that have measurements in weight as opposed to volume, so I thought it was about time that I bought myself a kitchen scale. This is not a fancy scale. It only cost about $10 and weighs up to 500g of stuff, but it's small and easy to store, and available in a variety of colors. It did the job well, so I can't complain.  

Here are a few of my other favorite kitchen tools that I use on a regular basis. I haven't included any of those tools that I think are standard in everyone's kitchen like pots and pans or utensils: 
KitchenAid Stand Mixer - this was that gift on our wedding registry that everyone wanted to give us

KitchenAid Immersion Blender with Chopper Attachment - my favorite Christmas gift last year. I use it at least once a week. It's great for making dips and creamy soups.

Pastry Cutter - I use this to make the topping for crisps and crumbles which are probably my favorite desserts

Garlic Press and Garlic Peeler - because chopping garlic yourself leaves you with stinky fingers for days

Bamboo cutting boards and spoons - so much better than wood. They don't hold the flavour of whatever you're making

Large Pyrex Measuring Cups - measure, mix, microwave, pour all with one bowl. Who wouldn't like that?

Coffee Grinder - because fresh ground coffee is so much better! I actually have two of these. I sometimes use the other one for grinding things like nuts or spices.

Pizza Stone - Pizza is one of the first things I ever made from scratch ( besides cookies and cakes) and its still one of favorite things to make. The pizza stone makes it more authentic. Lately I've even been tossing the dough - so much fun although it can be messy!!

Mortar and Pestle - Such a classy tool. It can be used as a decoration or for grinding spices. 

Tea Infuser - My cousin who worked for David's Teas got me hooked on loose teas. I have quite the little collection going now, and there isn't a day when I don't have a cup of tea. 

Ice Cream Maker - I actually only use this about once or twice a year, but it brings back wonderful childhood memories of making ice cream from scratch at Grampy's farm. This is much easier, but the end result is just as good. 

Pepper Grinder  - Freshly ground has more kick. 

Decadent Sugar Free Chocolate "Torte" adapted from this recipe by The Healthy Chef  

250g walnuts                                                                                                                            
1 heaping Tbsp Cocoa Powder                                                                                                     
1.5 tsp chia seed                                                                                                                             
1/4 tsp cinnamon                                                                                                                            
1/8 tsp salt                                                                                                                                        
8 pitted dates                                                                                                                                    
a little almond milk                                                                                                                       
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Vegan Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk                                                                                                             
1 tsp cocoa powder                                                                                                                        
1 tsp honey
Chocolate Infused Honey for Decoration
For tart:
1. Combine walnuts, cocoa powder, chia seed, cinnamon, and salt in food processor. 
2. Process until ground, but not extremely fine
3. Add dates and vanilla. Process again. Test to see if mixture sticks together. If it does, no need to use almond milk. If it doesn't, add almond milk 1 tsp at a time until cake sticks together (I didn't need to add any). 
4. Line a 9 inch round pan with parchment paper. 
5. Press mixture into pan, and store in fridge for 2 hours and voila...chocolate torte. No baking required. 
6. Carefully remove from pan onto a nice plate. Serves 10. 
Vegan Whipped Cream
If you're really well prepared, you can make some whipped cream for the tart. 
1. Place the can of coconut milk in the fridge and leave there overnight.
2. Open the can, and discard the watery solution (unless you want to use it for something else). Whip the creamy milk that's left just as you would dairy whipping cream, and in a few minutes, you will have vegan whipped cream. You can add in the cocoa and honey and whip again if you so desire. 
Drizzle with chocolate honey if you want to make it pretty. I got this honey from a local company To liquify honey so it was easy to poor, I boiled some water, then placed the jar of honey in the hot water for a few minutes. This liquified it enough so I could poor a thin line straight from the jar. 
Keep refrigerated. 
Note: Coconut milk does have saturated fat. The brand I used resulted in 1.75 g saturated fat and a total of 5.6g fat ( no trans) per serving. To compare with dairy whipping cream which would have had 5 g saturated fat and a total of 8g of fat (no trans) per serving. If you want to forgo the whipped cream all together, and just drizzle with a bit of honey, it would be equally delicious. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Healthy Pub Grub

Crispy Tofu/Chicken Nuggets and Sweet Potato Fries
adapted from this recipe by Angela Liddon

1 package firm tofu and 3 chicken thighs or 2 pkgs tofu or 6 chicken thighs
1/2 C almond milk
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 C cornmeal
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large sweet potatoes
oil for spraying
salt and pepper to taste

1. Drain tofu: Remove tofu from package and wrap loosley in clean dish towel. Place the wrapped tofu on a plate and cover with something heavy. I used 4 cookbooks here. Let tofu drain for about 30 minutes.
2. While tofu is draining, wash the potatoes and cut into fry shaped pieces.
3. Spray 2 baking sheets lightly with oil.
4. Put the fries on one of the trays and lightly spritz with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Feel free to use other spices here as well. I prefer the more naked sweet potato taste.
5. Once tofu is drained, cut it into 9 equal strips.
6. If you are using chicken thighs, cut them into nugget sized portions.
7. Preheat oven to 400 F
8. Whisk together the almond milk and cornstartch in a shallow dish.
9. In another bowl mix together the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, and spices.
10. Using one piece of tofu and/or chicken at a time, first dip in the milk mixture and then the cornmeal mixture, making sure that the pieces are well covered with crumbs.
11. Place tofu and/or chicken on 2nd baking sheet.
12. Place fries on lower rack and nuggets/strips on middle rack in oven. Bake for 40 minutes, flipping both the fries and tofu/chicken half way through. After 40 minutes, remove the tofu/chicken from the oven, and broil the sweet potato fries for a few minutes to charr them a bit.
13. Enjoy with a fresh salad and dipping sauce of your choice.

This was delicious and so healthy. It's a great meal for someone who is trying to be a vegetarian but lives with a carnivore. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raspberry Jam

One of the reasons, I've hesitated making preserves up until now is that I am scared of making some mistake and causing bacterial contamination or something. The nice thing about this jam, is all you need is a clean jar(s) - no sterilization required. Apparently it keeps for up to 2 months sealed in the fridge. I'll let you know if this is actually true ( if we don't eat it all before then:)

Raspberry Jam

8 cups raspberries ( fresh or frozen)
4 cups cane sugar

You can make as much or as little as you want. Just use half as much sugar as berries. You can not use different types of berries here. Raspberries have a high pectin content which allows them to naturally gel, but this won't happen with other types of berries. 

1. Place berries and sugar in large saucepan and stir to combine. 
2. Turn heat on med high and stir occasionally. 
3. Once berries start to simmer, turn down to medium low and continue stirring occasionally for 50 minutes. It should be thick. 
4. At this point, you can remove the seeds if you like. Carefully pour about 1-2 cups of liquid into a sieve and drain. Remove seeds from sieve, then repeat until finished. I did this with about 2 cups of mine, but felt like I was losing too much of the berries along with the seeds so stopped there. 
5. Allow jam to cool, then pour into clean jars and refrigerate for up to 2 months. 

Makes about 2 large jars of jam. 

For those of you who are thinking, "this isn't a healthy recipe! It's full of sugar.", here is my take on healthy. I do not have any one thing that I don't eat. I'm not gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, or vegan. However, I do eat a diet that contains lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, tofu and fish. I do eat meat, but try not to eat it more than a couple of times per week mostly for ethical and environmental reasons. I eat a diet that makes me feel healthy and maintain a healthy weight. I do eat sweets, but in small portions. I believe that everybody is slightly different, so if there is something that doesn't make you feel good, don't eat it. After all, you know your body better than anyone else. So on this blog, you'll find all types of recipes - gluten free, vegetarian, sugar free, vegan, etc - because I'm game for trying anything.