February 25th, 2014
Granola bars have always presented somewhat of a challenge to me. I haven’t been able to find a wholesome store-bought granola bar that doesn’t taste like cardboard or isn’t too sweet. Have you? I’ve also had a hard time coming up with a good granola bar recipe myself, they often come out bland and overall boring. Still, I have been determined to have one delicious granola bar in my repertoire and these Sweet Potato Buckwheat Bars with cardamom have got to be it.
I can talk about my love for cardamom for hours – in my opinion, almost anything can benefit from its flavor. No wonder that it is one of the most expensive spices in the world, its taste is absolutely heavenly. A little cardamom goes a long way though – those little green pods are like little ticking bombs of flavour. I just learned about the existence of smoked cardamom, from here, and will surely include it the next time I make these bars.
The preparation here is quite simple – a few scoopfuls of very nutritious grains, nuts and seeds mixed with a kind of sweet potato ‘caramel.’ The bars are not only incredibly tasty but also densely nutritious and filling. Also, they are very flexible in preparation. My older daughter, Masha, who takes most of the photos for Golubka and lives in NYC, treats my recipes as any recent college grad would – simplifying them and using only the ingredients that fit a tight budget. She made these bars without cardamom, brown rice syrup and no nuts – just sunflower and pumpkin seeds, which are cheaper, all to very good results. She also tried baking them and loved what she ended up with. As variations, you can add cocoa nibs, dried coconut, dried fruit, hemp hearts, maca powder, sesame seeds, toasted rolled oats or quinoa flakes, different grain puffs, chia or flax seeds, and various nut butters. Just make sure to keep the dry to wet ratio the same.
I talked about my love for winter Olympics in the last post, and it has been an incredible two weeks. Having these bars on hand (I made a double batch!) for the whole family to snack on and to include in Paloma’s lunchbox has been helpful, as my attention has been guided away from my kitchen and straight into Sochi.
Sweet Potato Buckwheat Snack Bars with Cardamom
1 1/2 cups raw buckwheat groats – soaked in water for a minimum of 1 hour, rinsed and dried completely, or quinoa puffs
1 small or 1/2 large sweet potato
1 heaping cup assorted nuts/seeds (I used 1/2 cup hazelnuts, 1/4 cup each almonds and pecans)
1/2 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or a mixture of both
4 cardamom pods ground in a mortar and pestle
1/2 cup sesame tahini
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons honey
pinch sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C). Prick sweet potato skin with a fork several times and bake for about 40 minutes or until soft throughout. Cool, peel and mash with a fork.
2. Lower the oven temperature to 350 F (180 C). Place nuts on a baking tray and toast for 10 minutes. Transfer onto a kitchen towel and remove the skins. Then toast your seeds for 5 minutes.
3. Add nuts to a food processor and pulse until broken into small to medium pieces. Combine the nuts, seeds and buckwheat groats in a large mixing bowl.
4. In a small saucepan, warm the brown rice syrup with honey, tahini and almond butter, mixing until well combined. Add in the sweet potato mash, salt and cardamom. Combine into a caramel like homogenous sauce. Pour it over the granola mixture and mix well.
5. Cover a 9 x 9 baking dish with parchment paper, extending it to the sides of the dish. Scoop the mixture into the dish, pressing it inside in a compact and even layer. Place into a freezer for about 30 minutes or until firm.
6. Remove from the baking dish and cut into bars. Keep refrigerated or even in the freezer – the bars will never be completely frozen, just perfectly chewy and crunchy at the same time.
February 9th, 2014
All politics aside, I love the winter Olympics. As the daughter and granddaughter of athletes, I grew up in a household that payed very much attention to all important sporting events. Winter Olympics was always our ultimate favourite, when all other things in life came to a sort of standstill and the whole family would be glued to the television, biting our nails and cheering (it got very loud at times!). This year’s Olympic games are even more special to me than usual. Sochi, the summer getaway town of my youth, where I stayed with my aunt in her ancient house with an outdoor shower and palm and fig trees in the backyard, holds an incredibly special place in my heart. I still dream about the cool, deep blue waters of the Black Sea and its pebbled beaches. The fact that the Games are taking place right there fills me with so much excitement, nostalgia, and pride. My cousins still live in Sochi and I get many daily, detailed, first-hand reports. I’ve always thought that Olympics should be about the olympians who invest their entire lives into this one time opportunity, and it saddens me when politics get in the way.
Now to the recipes. To me, this Russian-inspired comfort dish is the most appropriate one to make during the winter Olympics in Russia. If I absolutely had to choose my most beloved Russian dish, potato pancakes (draniki as we call them) would be the one. Traditionally fried, they don’t often appear on our table for obvious health reasons. This time I tried baking the latkes and was amazed by the little to no difference in taste. Great news for those of you who, like me, have an aversion to frying – goodbye to the greasy mess, smoke and achy stomach. And I can still indulge in my most beloved dish, once in a while.
Beet salad is also a very common Russian side dish, usually made with mayonnaise and sometimes cheese. I replaced traditional mayo with an avocado ‘mayonnaise’ and eliminated the cheese. Another pleasant surprise, the taste is very similar, and even better!
My two favourite sports to watch are Ice Skating and Biathlon, back to that!
Baked Potato Latkes
Note: The amount of pancakes you end up with somewhat depends on the type of shredder that you use. I use a very sharp mandolin, with a shredding attachment that produces more volume than a regular box grater. For me, this recipe yields 30 small pancakes.
I make my baked latkes in a muffin pan, if you don’t have one, see #6 for alternate baking directions.
2 lb Yukon gold potatoes (or you can mix it up, I used Yukon and purple potatoes)
1 small yellow onion
1/3 cup oat flour (grind rolled oats in a blender or food processor)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
olive oil for brushing
1. Peel and shred the potatoes. Place them into a colander and thoroughly rinse with cold water. Leave to drain in the colander, while peeling and shredding the onion.
2. Shake the water excess off the potatoes as much as possible and transfer them into a large bowl. Add in shredded onion, egg, flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.
3. Squeeze the mixture between your fingers, one small portion at a time, and try to make it as dry as possible. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
4. Thoroughly grease a muffin pan(s) with olive oil. Distribute the potato mixture between muffin holes, firmly pressing it into the bottom to achieve a regular pancake thickness. Brush with olive oil and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing pancakes from the holes.
5. Serve with sour cream/Greek yogurt and Beet-Avocado salad.
6. If you don’t have a muffin pan, preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly grease it with olive oil. Form 12 pancakes with your hands, placing them on the sheet as you go. Press with a spoon to flatten them and brush with olive oil. Bake for 12 minutes, flip and brush the other side with oil as well. Bake for another 8 minutes, flipping one more time and bake for additional 5 minutes.
Beet Salad with Avocado Mayonnaise
4 small to medium beet roots
2 ripe but firm avocados
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
1 garlic clove – minced
about 1/3 cup minced parsley and dill
handful walnuts – chopped
1. Bake, boil or steam the beets until fully cooked. Cool, peel and shred them, placing into a large mixing bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mash flesh of 1 avocado with a fork. Squeeze the juice of 1/2 lemon over it. Add olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
3. Add the avocado ‘mayo’ into the shredded beets, along with the garlic, herbs and walnuts. Mix well to incorporate. Adjust salt and pepper.
4. Right before serving, cut another avocado into cubes, squeeze the juice of the remaining 1/2 lemon over it and add to the salad.
January 31st, 2014
I must admit that I’m not very skilled when it comes to proper cake making. I could tell you about several disasters, like that time when my cake unexplainably exploded all over the refrigerator, or that other time when the cake fell on the floor right as I opened the refrigerator door, or I could mention many of my multilayered cake creations that sadly leaned to one side like the Tower of Pisa, or about the beautiful pink icing (Paloma’s birthday request) that discolored and became brown right before serving. Each time these kinds of things happen, I swear to never make cake again but never stick to my resolutions. And every time a cake I make actually comes out well, I find it to be enough reason to celebrate and dig right in.
Carrot cake is the darling of the cake world, what’s not to love? It’s classic and simple. But how about parsnips, the carrot’s albino cousins that show up among other hearty winter root veggies this time of year? I grew up snacking on raw parsnips right from the garden, and they were a mandatory ingredient in my mom’s famous borsch. I also love a good parsnip mash as a side dish to anything. This time the parsnips went into a dessert – a fairly simple cake topped with home candied kumquats.
I find the candied kumquats essential to experience the full flavor of this cake. If you can’t find kumquats, substitute with Meyer lemons, sour oranges or any other candied citrus. This was my very first time working with kumquats, and I can attest to their perfect balance of sweet, sour and orangey notes that make for a beautiful cake topping or marmalade. And take a look at more kumquat recipes over at my latest food blog crush, Princess Tofu, here, here and here.
Many thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments on the Wholistic Chakra system giveaway. It has now been closed and the winner (The Rose Journals) has been emailed. Elena of Wholistic drew the winner herself!
¾ cup honey
½ cup water
1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped out
2 pints (about 4 cups) of kumquats – sliced
In a small to medium saucepan, combine honey with water, vanilla seeds and bean, bring to a gentle boil. Add in the kumquats and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool down and keep the kumquats in the syrup, refrigerated.
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
2 packages of plain Tofutti cream cheese
fat from 1 can full-fat unsweetened Thai coconut milk
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
generous squeeze of lemon juice
Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight. The fat and water should separate and fat should accumulate on top. Carefully scoop it out and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat it with a hand mixer until well combined and fluffy. Keep refrigerated while baking the cake.
Gluten Free and Vegan Parsnip Cake
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ cup ground chia seeds or flax seeds
¾ cup (105 g) buckwheat flour
¾ cup (90 g) millet flour
¾ cup (90 g) tapioca flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup coconut sugar
1 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
about 3 cups grated parsnips
1 ½ cups walnuts or pecans – chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Bring almond milk to a boil, mix with ground chia in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.
2. Combine all the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices in a mixing bowl, set aside.
3. Add sugar to the milk-chia mixture and mix using a hand-mixer. Continue by adding in olive oil and vanilla extract, then orange zest and juice. Mix to combine thoroughly with a hand mixer.
4. Add dry ingredients into the wet, mixing them in with the mixer.
5. Fold in the parsnips and walnuts.
6. Prepare a 6-inch cake pan or a spring form. If using a cake pan, cover it with parchment paper. I using a spring form, generously grease it with olive or coconut oil.
7. Spoon ⅓ of the batter at a time into the pan/form and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Repeat with the other two thirds. You can also bake two 8-inch cakes if you don’t have a 6-inch pan, or even bake all the batter at once like a thick cake (you may need to increase the baking time in this case) and then cut the cake into layers horizontally. Make sure that the cakes are completely cool before cutting or frosting them.
8. Place one layer of the cake onto a cake stand or plate. Generously cover with a layer of cream cheese frosting and a thin layer of candied kumquats. Carefully place a second layer of the cake on top following by another frosting and kumquat layers. Finish with the third cake layer and frost the entire cake.
9. Garnish with candied kumquats and let the cake rest in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Slice and serve with more candied kumquats.
Note: Candied citrus is essential to the flavour of this cake. If you can’t get kumquats, candy Meyer lemons, sour oranges or other citrus.
January 20th, 2014
It may sound strange to some, but from time to time I truly crave tofu. I used to cook with it a whole lot years ago, during my discovery of vegetarian cooking. Although I’m well past that stage, I still like go back to a good, fresh slice of tofu once in a while. It’s a bit like a rare treat, since I don’t eat it often but when I do, I enjoy it immensely. My favourite way of preparing tofu has always been marinating and then lightly grilling it, which is what I do in this recipe.
We’ve also been taking full advantage of the citrus season and can’t get enough of grapefruits, Florida oranges and, of course, the most beautiful of the bunch – blood oranges. This marinated tofu with citrus salsa could definitely brighten up the most gloomy of January days.
In other news, recipes from the Golubka kitchen were featured in several printed publications this winter, including the Swedish Sofis Mode, Elle India and Taste of Australia. If you are in Russia, pick up a copy of Seasons of Life, it has a big interview with me in the January-February issue.
And don’t miss your chance to win the Wholistic Chakra System by leaving a comment in our previous post no later than January 27th, 6 pm EST.
1 grapefruit – segmented
1 orange – segmented
1 blood orange – segmented
1 ripe but firm avocado – peeled, pitted and chopped
⅛ small red onion – finely chopped
½ large or 1 small jalapeno chile – seeded and minced
large handful fresh cilantro leaves – chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
1. Segment your citrus over a bowl, collecting the juices. Set the bowl with the juices aside.
2. Chop the citrus segments into about 1/4 inch pieces. In a separate bowl, combine them with avocado, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and pepper. Squeeze the lime juice over it and mix gently.
Ginger Marinated Tofu
1 package non-GMO firm or extra-firm tofu
citrus juices collected from segmenting the citrus (from the salsa recipe above)
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon mirin wine (available at Asian markets)
small squeeze of honey – optional
1-inch piece ginger – finely grated
1. Drain the tofu and wrap it in several layers of paper towels. Place on a plate, cover with another plate and place something heavy on top (a jar filled with water works great). Leave it to drain for about 20 minutes.
2. Add lime juice, tamari, mirin, honey and ginger to the bowl with citrus juice from the salsa and whisk to combine.
3. Unwrap tofu and slice it into your preferred shape. Place in a dish that is big enough to hold all of the tofu and the marinade. Pour the marinade over, turning tofu pieces to make sure that all are evenly covered with the marinade. Leave to absorb the flavors for 30 minutes or longer, even overnight.
4. Grill for several minutes on each side until golden brown (time will differ depending on the type of grill you’re using). You can also bake the tofu at 425 F for about 20 minutes. Brush with marinade during grilling if you wish. Serve with citrus salsa and wilted spinach or other greens and enjoy.