Black Rice Salad with Curried Chickpeas, Squash and Swiss Chard

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February 22nd, 2015

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I’ve been on a forbidden black rice kick this winter. I love its pleasant texture, mild flavor and sweet aroma, and it also makes for some very pretty meals. We’ve been living off of variations of this salad for our lunches, but this version, with curried chickpeas, toasted pine nuts, squash or sweet potato and chard is my favorite. This recipe utilizes chard stems as well as leaves – I always think it’s a shame when recipes instruct to discard the stems, especially when they are as beautiful as on this rainbow chard I picked up. The key is to cook the stems a little longer than the leaves, so that they are soft and not too chewy.

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For this recipe, I made my own curry spice mix from Amy Chaplin’s book, and I cannot recommend this enough. Homemade curry tastes worlds better than any store bought curry mix ever will. It’s just a matter of toasting, grinding and mixing fresh spices (a fun process if you ask me) and is completely worth the extra effort.

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I developed this recipe for Natural Vitality, a line of premium quality natural supplements, see the recipe here.

Tags: black rice, chard, chickpeas, curry, pine nuts, salad

Black Sesame Matcha Rolls with Miso Lemon Glaze

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February 10th, 2015

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Call me crazy, but I’ve never been attracted to sticky cinnamon buns. I blame the fact that I didn’t grow up eating them, and that I enjoy cinnamon only in moderation.
The dreamy combination of matcha and black sesame has long been haunting me, and I’ve been searching for the right shape in which to marry them. After seeing yet another beautiful photo of glazed cinnamon rolls somewhere in the social media sea, I was inspired to join my two key ingredients in this green and black treat.

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I went with a spelt dough and a very simple toasted black sesame filling. For the glaze, I utilized miso, following the logic that ingredients from the same part of the world go well together. Turns out that matcha, sesame and miso are the perfect trio from the East. The buns came out to be satisfying on so many levels – soft, moist dough with subtle notes of matcha, followed by a chewy, fragrant filling, and complete with the sweet and sour, slightly salty glaze – it’s a heavenly combination.

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And just for fun, I’ve included a timelapse iPhone video of the whole process, I think that somehow these rolls seem less daunting after you see how they are made.
P.S. I finally made a Pinterest account (late bloomer, I know) – see it here.

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Black Sesame Matcha Rolls with Miso-Lemon Glaze
Note: It’s important to refrigerate full-fat coconut milk the night before for the miso glaze. I found that organic Thai coconut milk is the most reliable type for separating fat from water after overnight refrigeration.

for the matcha dough (adapted from Laura and here)
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3/4 cup unsweetened plant based milk – almond, hemp, coconut, etc.
4 tablespoons coconut oil – divided, plus more for oiling the bowl
2 tablespoons cane sugar
2 cups light spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2-3 tablespoons matcha powder

to make the dough
1. Line 8-10 inch baking dish with parchment paper, extending it to the sides (a cast iron pan would work well here).
2. Warm up milk with coconut oil and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until coconut oil is melted and incorporated into the milk and sugar is dissolved. The mixture should be warm to the touch, about 105F. Let it cool if it feels hot. Add yeast and leave it to foam for about 5 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt and matcha in a medium mixing bowl. Add foamy milk to the flour and stir to incorporate. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes. Leave to rise in warm place in an oiled bowl covered with plastic wrap. The dough should double in size in a about 40 minutes.

for the sesame filling (adapted from Cynthia)

1 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
1/3 cup honey

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast for 7 minutes. Place them in a food processor and grind into a paste. Add honey and continue to mix until smooth.

to assemble and bake the rolls
1. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a rectangle roughly 11 by 14 inches in size. Brush the entire surface with remaining 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil. Evenly spread sesame filling over the dough.
2. Roll up the dough from the longer side of the rectangle. Seal the sides. Cut into 8-10 even pieces. Arrange them in the prepared parchment covered baking dish/pan. Cover with plastic wrap, let rise for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden. Let cool before glazing.

for the miso-lemon glaze
4 tablespoons coconut fat (see below)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet or light miso paste
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons coconut water from the can – plus or minus (see below)

1. Place a can of full fat Thai coconut milk into the refrigerator the night before. The coconut fat should separate from the water and accumulate on top.
2. Make the glaze right before you’re ready to glaze the rolls, which should be at room temperature. Scoop 4 tablespoons of fat into a small mixing bowl, add miso paste and honey and mix until smooth.
3. Add lemon zest and juice, mix and add coconut water from the same can of coconut milk. The amount of coconut water will differ depending on the types of milk, honey and miso paste, so add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon at a time and watch for consistency. The glaze should be thick but pourable.
4. Pour the glaze over the rolls and enjoy!

Tags: black sesame, dessert, matcha, miso, rolls, spelt

Roasted Parsnip and Pomelo Salad

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January 31st, 2015

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This winter I rediscovered parsnips and have been roasting them weekly, unable to get enough of their unique, sweet flavor. Pomelo (the citrus) is in season right now, and Paloma (the daughter) and I like to play a game of who can find the biggest one at the Asian market. Some of them come almost as big as her head!

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The earthy and grounded flavors of parsnips combine well with the bright and juicy pomelo in this salad, but feel free to use grapefruit or orange to get a similar effect if you don’t have access to a pomelo. Walnuts and raisins toasted and plumped in spicy coconut oil add a nice finish, full of warming flavors, perfect for winter. This salad is very simple to prepare, and the parsnips make it filling enough for a light lunch or dinner. Enjoy!

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Roasted Parsnip and Pomelo Salad

3 large parsnips – scrubbed clean, cored, cut lengthwise into long wedges
coconut oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon paprika, depending on how hot your paprika is
2 handfulls walnuts – roughly chopped
2 handful raisins
1 pomelo – segmented
4 cups baby spinach

1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C). Add 1tablespoon of melted coconut oil to parsnips, toss to coat thoroughly. Arrange them on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, or until soft, flip at half time.
2. In a large bowl or in individual serving plates, combine spinach, roasted parsnips and pomelo segments.
3. In a medium pan, warm 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium low heat, add paprika, large pinch of salt and walnuts. Toast for 5-7 minutes, until golden. Add raisins at the last couple minutes to plump them up. Spoon nuts, raisins and spicy oil over the salad. Serve immediately.

Tags: citrus, parsnip, raisins, salad, walnut

Sweet Dukkah Cigars

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January 20th, 2015

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Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mix traditionally made of various nuts, sesame seeds, herbs and spices like coriander and cumin. It is typically served alongside bread as a savory dip, but can also be sprinkled on many dishes to add texture and spice – think salads, roasted vegetables and pasta.

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Having tried and completely fallen in love with traditional, savory dukkah, I had an idea to make a sweet dukkah mix. Mine consisted of pistachios, hazelnuts, black sesame and poppy seeds, with plenty of bright spices like cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and nutmeg, sweetened with dates.

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To stick with a Middle Eastern theme, I rolled up the dukkah into spelt dough cigars. The ‘cigar’ or ‘sigara’ is a traditional Turkish pastry shape, usually made with filo dough, cheese and herbs.

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The great thing about dukkah is that you can add or substitute nuts, seeds and spices based on your preference and what’s on hand. For this particular mix, I suggest to keep sesame seeds and cardamom as a constant, building around them. The result will be a fragrant, chewy, slightly crunchy, and subtly sweet pastry. A topping of chocolate is optional, but adds that perfect touch for all the chocoholics out there.

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Sweet Dukkah Cigars
makes 20 cigars

for sweet dukkah
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts or walnuts
1/3 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons poppy seeds – optional
4 green cardamom pods – crushed in mortar and pestle, green shells removed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
2/3 cup raw, unsalted pistachio nuts
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3 soft dates – pitted and chopped
pinch of sea salt

to make dukkah
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Spread hazelnuts or walnuts onto a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Add sesame and poppy seeds, if using, and continue to toast for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven.
2. Toast cardamom and coriander seeds in a pan over medium heat until fragrant, for about a minute or so. Grind them in a mortar and pestle.
3. Add hazelnuts/walnuts and pistachios to a bowl of a food processor, pulse a few times. Add sesame and poppy seeds, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, dates and salt to the food processor. Pulse to combine to the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.

for dough
1 1/2 cups sprouted or whole spelt flour
1 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup very warm water

to make dough
1. Put the flour into a medium mixing bowl, add oil and work it in. Make a well in the center.
2. Combine miso paste and 2 tablespoons water in a separate bowl and mix until smooth. Add the mixture into the flour well, followed by the rest of the water.
3. Start mixing with a fork, slowly incorporating flour into the liquid. Continue by kneading the dough with your hands until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

for cigars
4 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil plus more for brushing finished cigars
4 tablespoon honey
about 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate

to assemble and bake cigars
1. Melt 4 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil with 4 tablespoons of honey on a double boiler, combine well and keep warm.
2. Divide the dough into 2 even parts, keep one of them wrapped in plastic. Flour your working surface. Form a rope from the first part and cut it into 10 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a very thin wrapper, keeping the surface floured.
3. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Brush each wrapper with coconut oil/honey mixture and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of dukkah. Roll the cigar tightly, tucking the sides in as you go. Repeat with the second part of the dough.
4. Place cigars on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and brush with melted ghee or coconut oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. Melt chocolate on a double boiler and sprinkle the cigars with melted chocolate. Enjoy!

Note: although these pastries are delicious right away, I found them improving in texture after resting for several hours or even overnight.

Tags: cardamom, dessert, dukkah, pistachio, sesame seed