Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whole Grain Goji Cocoa Nib Crisps

These cookies are adapted from the book, Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy: Melt-in–Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich. I tweaked the recipe quite a bit, substituting whole wheat for all-purpose flour, dark brown for granulated sugar, and adding cocoa nibs. I also added goji berries, which gave the cookies nice tartness to counter the richness. Goji berries are delicate and burn quickly, however, so keep that in mind (or omit them entirely) and don’t worry 'bout a thing. 

These crispy, toasty, buttery, tart, hazelnut and cocoa scented cookies are delicious and actually, as far as cookies go, kind of healthy! 

Hazelnut, Cocoa Nib, Goji Berry, Whole-Wheat Crisps…sort of healthy, right?!
Adapted from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich
2/3 cup raw hazelnuts (no need to toast or skin)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
1 teaspoon all natural vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons cold water
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
1/4 cup goji berries, roughly chopped (optional, currants or chopped raisins also work)

Line a baking sheet with foil. Chop the hazelnuts and mix them well with the other dry ingredients using your fingers to break up and combine everything. Cut in the cold, cubed butter with a pastry blender, forks, or your fingers until you have a coarse meal.  Add the cocoa nibs and goji berries. Stir the water and vanilla together in a separate bowl and add to the dough. It should be dry and crumbly but stick together when pinched.  You can use a food processor to pulse all the ingredients together as well.

Dump the crumbly dough onto your prepared cookie sheet. It should look-a-like-dis!

Press and shape into a square or rectangle of even thickness, around 1/8 inch thickness is ideal, with straight edges. Chill in the freezer for two hours (or refrigerate overnight).

Preheat your oven to 350F. Transfer the dough to a cutting board and cut the dough into sticks of your desired length/width. Mine were about 1 x 5 inches each and my yield came to about 26 cookies in total. 

Transfer them carefully back to the lined cookie sheet using a knife or other implement to support them. If they break, don't you worry, just firmly patch them together on the cookie sheet. Bake in the middle of the oven, one sheet at a time, for about 11 minutes rotating the pan at the halfway mark. Watch the goji berries because they burn quickly. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before storing. Enjoy!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gabe the Fish Babe - Fish CSA in the greater NYC area!

Fish CSA in NYC? Yes indeed!

Gabe the Fish Babe offers a fish CSA in the greater NYC area with pick-ups in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and even a home delivery option. To read more about it and find great fish recipes, visit her website and wonderful blog.

Back in Massachusetts (north shore represents!), my husband and I took part in a fish CSA through Cape Ann Fresh Catch, members of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). We got a share with Dave and Julia, our most inspiring sustainability advocate friends. It was a great opportunity to become more comfortable filleting fish and challenging ourselves to work with the whole animal rather than just a dainty fillet. If you love fish (aren't landlocked) and want to buy it sustainably and support your local fishermen (and fisherwomen) search for a fish CSA in your area!

Avoiding the pesticide laden "Dirty Dozen"! There's an app for that!

There are many handy apps available these days to help you decide which foods are the healthiest and most sustainable to purchase at the grocery store. And most are free! My favorite is this one...

The Environmental Working Group created the Dirty Dozen app for the iPhone and it is fabulous. It's a wonderful tool to use when you can't get to a farmer's market, don't have a garden, or when you are trying to save cash deciding which organic produce to buy. I try to buy only organic and/or local produce but sometimes cash is tight and I feel like I need to make a judgement call. This app helps me to make the healthiest decisions possible and save money in the process. Good stuff!

Simple Perfect Guacamole

This is my wonderful friend Josie’s favorite guacamole recipe in the world, which makes me very proud because she has a very discerning palate (i.e. she's super picky;-). I like to let the avocado speak for itself and just kick it up a notch with a few additions.

Simple Perfect Guacamole
2 large ripe avocados, diced 
1 small clove of garlic, minced finely with ¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon diced onion (red, white, or scallions all work great)
juice of ¼ of a small lime
freshly cracked black pepper, about 20 turns
dash of cayenne pepper, optional
extra salt to taste

Mash the ingredients together and taste for seasoning. I like to leave good sized chunks of avocado for texture. Serve with tortilla chips, chili, or as a sandwich spread!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hearty Vegetarian Chipotle Cocoa Chili

We love this simple vegetarian chili so much that I end up making it a few times a month. I often vary the ingredients, adding additional veggies, swapping chipotle for fresh jalapenos, using lentils instead of kidney and black beans...really, anything goes here.

Yesterday it was snowy and frigid in NYC and we were too worn out from a week of work and houseguests to go to the grocery store, so this recipe is almost entirely pantry based. The cocoa powder adds a nice depth and the chipotle gives a warm satisfying heat. When I have avocados, I love to serve this with a simple guacamole, which adds a fresh, cool aspect to the dish. Adding tortilla chips, grated cheddar, and a dollop of low-fat Greek yogurt makes this chili into a hearty and nourishing meal.

Hearty Vegetarian Chipotle Cocoa Chili
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 chipotle chili in abodo sauce (canned), minced finely
2 15.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with their juice
4 cups water
1 28 ounce can black beans, rinsed well and drained
1 28 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed well and drained
2 cups fresh/frozen or 1 drained can of sweet corn kernels

Rinse the black and kidney beans well and let them drain in a colander. Feel free to use dried beans that you’ve soaked overnight, just be sure to add extra cooking time. Open the canned tomatoes so they are ready to add later in the recipe.

Set a large pot with a heavy bottom over medium/low heat.  Add about a teaspoon of olive oil and sweat the diced red onion, with a teaspoon of salt, until softened and translucent - about three minutes. Add another teaspoon of olive oil, if necessary, and sauté the minced garlic for about 30 seconds. Add the chipotle pepper, spices and herbs and sauté for another 15 seconds. Add the canned tomatoes and then the water. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all that good flavor integrated into the chili.

Add the drained beans and black pepper and bring to a simmer.  Simmer on low with the cover slightly eskew to allow the steam to escape. Stir occasionally, for about 45 minutes until reduced and thickened. Add the corn and cook for another few minutes so it warms through (I didn't have corn so you may notice that it's lacking in the photo above). Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.

Serve with guacamole, cilantro leaves, tortilla chips, a dollop of plain low-fat Greek yogurt, and grated cheddar cheese or queso fresco.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Roasted Vegetables with Rough Chopped Herbs

I made a big Thai dinner the other night (fresh spring rolls, Pad Thai, and herb salad) and ended up with a bunch of leftover herbs and vegetables that were about to expire. I decided to make a simple, roughly chopped herb oil and bake the veggies in it. The result was very light and delicious.

Preheat your oven to 425F.

Vegetables (add or subtract any you want)
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved or quartered
8 ounces button mushrooms, whole or halved
2 large Chinese eggplants, cut into inch thick rings
1/2 medium white onion (or any onion you have on hand)
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Rough Chopped Thai Herb Oil
1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
1 Tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, mined
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon chili pepper, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the vegetables and place them in a casserole dish large enough so they are in one layer, more or less. 

Chop the herb oil ingredients and add them to a bowl. Stir in the olive oil (or try sesame oil!) and pour the mixture over the veggies in the casserole dish, tossing them to coat. 

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until tender. Remove the foil and stir the ingredients. Bake for another 15 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes until browned and slightly crisp. Serve with rice, a salad, or alone as a simple lunch. 

Super Green BLT

After baking fresh whole wheat sandwich bread and making raw spinach and avocado dip I decided a take on the BLT was in order. 

Slice whole wheat bread and top with 1 Tablespoon of mayonnaise (I prefer Hellman's or homemade), 1 Tablespoon of raw spinach and avocado dip, salt and pepper, fresh baby spinach and crispy bacon. Feel free to add tomato, fresh slices of avocado or anything else you want. Enjoy!