Today I went to visit a friend who has a bright green thumb! His garden was filled with plump, purple eggplants that were begging to be devoured.
I left his house with three medium size eggplants and hurried home to try out a new recipe. Since I have been surrounding myself lately with people of Middle Eastern culture, I decided upon a Middle Eastern style dinner.
The menu...Baba Ganoush, Fattoush, and toasted pita chips. Baba Ganoush is a paste made primarily of eggplant and tahini (sesame paste), while Fattoush is a light, refreshing salad made with pita bread chunks.
For the Baba Ganoush, I started by warming up the oven and pricking the eggplant. Next I placed the eggplant on a sheet pan and baked them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. After they cooled, I cut the tops off, peeled away the skin, and placed the flesh into a food processor and added lots of yummy ingredients. To lessen any bitterness in the eggplant you can add a bit of organic sugar as well.
While the eggplant was baking I toasted the pita chips and began working on the Fattoush. When all was complete, I sat down and enjoyed an aesthetically and physically pleasing meal. And, to top it off, it felt nice knowing that I was enjoying food that was hand grown by my friend.
Between love and pride put in the labor to grow the vegetables to the love and pride put in to the cooking, the meal satiated my body and spirit.
Baba Ganoush - makes about 3 cups
3 medium sized eggplants
1/2 cup tahini
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tablespoon fresh cilantro
Pre-heat oven, prick eggplants with a fork and place whole on a baking sheet. Bake about 30 - 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool. Cut off tops and skin. Place flesh and the rest of ingredients into a food processor and blend well.
You may adjust salt, lemon juice, and garlic to your preferred tastes. Experiment with spices and herbs. Parsley is a very popular ingredient in Baba Ganoush and can be used instead of cilantro. Or you can also try using mint instead. Garnish with olive oil and serve with toasted pita chips.
Fattoush - makes about 3 servings
1 large pita bread toasted and cut into small chunks
1 tomato, diced
a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 red, yellow, or green pepper, diced
2 stalks green onion or chives, sliced
2 leafs of romaine or green leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
Mix above ingredients together and toss with dressing.
Dressing - 1 clove crushed garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape), 2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix ingredients together, adjust flavors to taste, and drizzle on Fattoush.
Fresh basil....mmm, I just can't get enough of it. Its piquant aroma, vivid green color, and Italian roots puts me under its spell.
Tonight I decided to make a pesto from the basil I picked up at the farm stand the other day and serve it on top of zoodles (raw zucchini noodles). Pesto is incredibly easy to make, but seems so gourmet. I beefed up the gourmet factor by using macadamia nuts and a drizzle of white truffle oil. Yessssss...I love you Pesto!
Pesto - makes 2-3 servings
1 bunch of fresh basil, washed and dried
1 clove garlic (or 1/2 garlic scape)
salt to taste
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
(if not vegan, 1/4 cup vegetarian parmigiano reggiano cheese)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
drizzle of white truffle oil
In a small food processor puree basil, garlic, and a sprinkle of salt. Add macadamia nuts and blend. Add optional cheese, olive oil, and truffle oil and blend until a creamy consistency. Adjust olive oil and salt amounts to taste and texture.
If you are vegan and not using the cheese you could try a tablespoon or more of nutritional yeast to get that cheesy umami to the pesto. Toasted sesame seeds also add some interesting flavor.
Serve over zucchini noodles, warm pasta, roasted veggies, with a hot toasty baguette and fresh tomato, or straight from the bowl. Divine.
Ok I admit it, I have a serious sweet tooth. So when I have a craving for something sweet I sometimes indulge and other times try to find treats that will appease my craving, but nourish rather than diminish my body.
Some obvious nourishing craving appeasers are fresh fruits, dried fruits, or low sugar sorbets. Others that take a little bit more effort include raw vegan desserts like truffles, brownies & cakes.
These are usually made with a combination of nuts, dried fruits, cocoa/carob powder, coconut, spices, and maybe a little sweetener added in. The combinations are endless!
Try out this batch, but experiment with different nuts, spices and dried fruits to see what flavor combos you come up with. Really, you can't go wrong with this because any combo you make most likely will taste awesome. And these sweets are much healthier for your body than the traditional standby of Oreos, cupcakes, ice cream, cookies, etc.
Your taste buds and body thank you.
Chocolate Coconut Cashew Raw Vegan Truffles
3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 T cocoa or carob powder
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups pitted dates
In a food processor fitted with a S-blade, blend all but vanilla and dates until it is a powder. Add in the vanilla with a cup of the dates and process. Add the other cup of dates and process until the mix forms a dough. Add more dates or a tiny bit of water if it is too dry.
Roll into little balls and optionally roll in cocoa powder, chopped nuts, or shredded coconut. This is also delish pressed into a loaf pan to make a "brownie". Optionally top with fresh strawberry or raspberry jam for an added taste boost.
Refrigerate until firm, eat and enjoy. These could last a couple weeks if you don't eat them first.
The gratification one gets from creating a fresh, warm, comforting loaf of bread from scratch is one of indescribable measure.
Amazingly hard working yeasts, fluffy flour, sweet maple syrup, soothing oats, and a little salt of the earth are the basic ingredients in one of the culinary delights of man. Combine these with the raw element of hand mixing, kneading, and rolling the dough, and one feels like a true creator.
Slicing into the bread yields a gentle puff of steam and a whiff of that insanely delicious fresh bread smell. One taste makes your mind stop for a moment to enjoy this simple pleasure of life. Ahhh, and this is the end result of your love, patience, and hard work.
To try your hand at bread baking simply follow the recipe written on the back of a King Arthur bread flour bag, or you can check out their website at http://www.kingarthurflour.com/. They are a great resource for all things baking.
Bread is easy to make. It just takes a little love and patience.
Baking bread from scratch, and I mean no bread makers or Kitchen Aids, is something that everyone should try at least once. The main issues are to make sure your yeast is alive and fresh, that the water you use to dissolve the yeast in is the proper temperature, and that you have patience.
After you mix the ingredients you have to knead the dough by hand for about 10 minutes, or until it becomes as smooth as a baby's bum. Then you let it rest and rise. Next you may have to punch it down and knead it again or simply shape it into a loaf and put it in your bread pan.
Then you let it rest and rise. Once it has risen about two inches over your loaf pan it is ready to bake.
Don't be scared of the dough. Just follow the directions, experiment, release some stress, and most of all have fun!
There are many products on the market that are pre-made for our convenience and budget, but not for our health. These foods generally contain preservatives, food colorings, added salt and sugars, low quality ingredients and many other miscellaneous additives in order to make them tasty and inexpensive.
Most of these pre-made foods are actually quite easy to prepare, and all it takes is little bit of time, initiative, and knowledge. So, let me educate you on some common pre-made foods that are incredibly ease to make and will leave your body, tastebuds, and wallet happy.
Store bought salad dressing is a common item that I see at many friends and families homes. Have you ever stopped to look at the ingredients label in one of these?
One commercial raspberry hazelnut vinaigrette had the following ingredients in it: water, raspberry juice, soybean and olive oil, sugar, corn syrup, vinegar, salt, hazelnuts, onion powder, xanthum gum, sodium benzoate, sorbic acid, calcium disodium EDTA, propylene glycol alginate, citric acid, caramel powder, natural flavor, red #40 and blue #1.
Do you really want to be eating this stuff when you can make your own at home with all natural ingredients?
There are many recipes available on the Internet but one recipe for this dressing is as simple as mixing olive oil, a vinegar, and raspberry jam. Salad dressing is silly simple to make. The Italians simply dress a salad with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and I must say that it is divine.
Basically salad dressing is made with olive oil, a vinegar, maybe Dijon mustard or lemon juice, spices, and a pinch of sugar. Why ingest chemicals to save a few minutes?
Another item I see in a lot of pantries is pre-made trail mix which contains added sugar and salt, food coloring, artificial flavors, and even added oils. Save your body and make your own by purchasing the ingredients separately, from bulk bins at the grocery store, and mixing them together.
It takes a couple more minutes, but you can make a big batch and it will keep for a while. Try mixing nuts, dried fruits, seeds, and high quality chocolate chips for the sweet tooth. Simple and healthy.
I could blog for days on make your own pre-made foods, but that is another project. There are many recipes available on line for easy to make foods such as hummus, pesto, salsa, spaghetti sauce, pizza, hot cocoa, granola, frosting, and cake just to name a few.
I hope to one day have a searchable database on this subject. Until then, feel free to email any questions you have regarding recipes for pre-made foods and I will be happy to help.
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.