Chocolate Fudge with Fresh Sage and Goji Berries

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December 19th, 2014

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I want to wish you all a happy holiday season and thank you for your readership, for trying our dishes and for buying our book (in English and in French)! Hope you enjoyed this year of recipes, we have many more coming to you in 2015. Stay happy and healthy.

fudge

Even though I often use sage in my savory dishes, this fudge marks the first time I tried it in a dessert, and it was a revelation. The combination of rich, dark chocolate and earthy, piney sage makes for a very festive treat. I added goji berries for their brilliant red color and medicinal properties.

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I imagine sage would also be a great addition to cookies, crumbles and other baked goods. A word of warning: you should like the taste of sage in order to enjoy this fudge, and if you’re not sure, try to add less at first. You can also completely omit it, the fudge stands very well on its own.
Happy Holidays!

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Chocolate Fudge with Sage and Goji Berries
(inspired by Emma’s Raw Chocolate Fudge)

3/4 cup dark chocolate – finely chopped
1 1/2 cup (12 oz) sesame tahini
1 tablespoon cocoa powder (preferably raw cacao)
1 tablespoon maca powder – optional
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of sea salt
about 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus more for sprinkling on top
handful of goji berries

Melt chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a double broiler, add tahini and stir until completely smooth. Add cocoa, maca (if using), vanilla extract, salt and sage. Continue to mix to incorporate. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper, extending it to the sides. Pour the chocolate-tahini mixture into the dish, smooth with a spoon on top. Sprinkle with sage and goji berries. Place into the freezer until set completely. Take the tray out and remove fudge by the extended edges of parchment paper. Cut into bars and keep in the freezer, covered. Enjoy straight from the freezer, they melt fast.

Tags: chocolate, dessert, fudge, goji, sage

Lemongrass Mung Beans over Spaghetti Squash

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December 15th, 2014

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Before we share our holiday dessert for the year, here is a dish that I’ve been hooked on lately. It will make for a light and nourishing lunch or dinner between those big celebratory meals.

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Spaghetti squash has been in high demand in my kitchen this fall, I love it for its versatility and convenience. It never ceases to amaze me how a little yellow squash produces delicious natural ‘noodles’ after some time in the oven.
Something magical happens when coconut milk mixes with the spice of ginger and chili, citrus, lemongrass and tamari into a creamy sauce. Mung beans, and later spaghetti squash absorb the flavors of the sauce, while broccoli and carrots provide a freshness and crunch. The garnish of toasted sesame seeds and herbs adds a bold finishing touch.

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I recently rediscovered mung beans and have been experimenting with them in the kitchen (I even managed to make this fettuccine, stay tuned). For this recipe, you can either cook or sprout the mung beans, I’m a fan of the latter. Sprouting them is very simple: cover with filtered water overnight, then drain and keep in the same bowl, covered with a damp kitchen towel for about two days, until satisfied with the size of your sprouts. Rinse every 8 hours. For this dish, one day of sprouting is plenty.
And if you are looking for a light seasonal dessert for your holiday table, grab the recipe for Earl Grey Poached Pears and Hazelnut Panna Cotta from our cookbook over at Chalkboard Magazine.

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Lemongrass Mung Beans over Spaghetti Squash

for the spaghetti squash
1 medium spaghetti squash
coconut oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the lemongrass mung beans
(inspiration credit)

1 tablespoon coconut oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 stalks lemongrass – bruised with the back of a chef’s knife and chopped finely
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
2 cups sprouted or cooked mung beans
2 teaspoons sriracha
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons brown rice vinegar
sea salt
2 cups broccoli florets
2 large carrots – julienned
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons tamari
toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped green onions
basil or cilantro leaves

to cook spaghetti squash
Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Rub the flesh with coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, cut side down. Bake for 30 minutes or longer, until soft throughout. Let cool.

to make lemongrass mung beans
Warm up coconut oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add lemongrass, ginger, mung beans, sriracha, lime juice, rice vinegar and a pinch of salt. Saute for 4-5 minutes. Add broccoli, carrots, coconut milk, remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir over the heat for another 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

to assemble
Scoop out the spaghetti squash and distribute between bowls. Spoon lemongrass beans and veggies over the squash. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds, green onion and basil/cilantro leaves.

Tags: broccoli, carrots, lemongrass, mung beans, spaghetti squash, squash, vegan

Double Chocolate Layer Cake and a Giveaway

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December 7th, 2014

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Today I’d like to talk about At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen, a book I’ve been cooking from non-stop since getting my copy. You may be familiar with author Amy Chaplin’s work through her beautiful blog, where she shares some of the most practical and creative natural foods recipes around. As for her cookbook, I feel as if anything I say about it will be an understatement: it’s wise and useful beyond words, as well as visually stunning, with photography by Johnny Miller. The book’s vastness and wealth of fascinating recipes and tips has me reaching for it daily.
Some of the dishes I’ve made include Cherry Coconut GranolaCauliflower and Celery Root SoupEggplant CurryAlmond Butter BrowniesChocolate Hazelnut Layer Cake.

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To complete my love serenade for Amy’s book, I made this decadent cake. I played with the original recipe a bit, making the ganache white, while Amy’s is chocolate. I also added chocolate into the batter, while the original recipe only calls for cacao. I also previously made the original one and loved it as well.
Amy and I share the same publisher, and the nice people at Roost Books were generous to send me an additional copy of At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen to give away. To enter, leave a comment here until December 14th, 2014. Good luck to all!

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Double Chocolate Layer Cake with White Chocolate Ganache, Tart Cherries and Pomegranate
Notes: In the original version, Amy frosts the entire cake with dark chocolate ganache. She crushes 1 1/3 cups toasted hazelnuts and presses them into sides of the cake like this.

for the ganache
2 13.5 oz cans unsweetened full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
5 tablespoons agar flakes
pinch sea salt
3 1/2 oz white chocolate, I used this brand (you can use dark chocolate as per original version)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the cake
2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts (original version calls for 2 cups)
2 cups whole spelt flour – divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup melted extra virgin coconut oil, plus more for oiling the pan
1 1/2 cups maple syrup
1 teaspoon unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (my addition to original recipe)

for the filling (my simplified version)
cocoa nibs – optional
frozen or canned tart cherries – thawed/drained well
1 large pomegranate

to make the ganache
1. Whisk together coconut milk, maple syrup, agar flakes and salt in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over high heat, whisk often. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, covered, whisking every 5 minutes.
2. Remove from heat, add chocolate and let it melt for 2 minutes in the covered pot. Whisk until smooth. Pour into a shallow bowl and allow to cool until it stops steaming. Put in the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or until cold and completely hard.
3. Roughly cut ganache into 1-inch pieces and add to a food processor with orange juice and vanilla. Blend until smooth, scraping down sides as necessary. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until cake is ready for frosting.

to make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil cake pans and line bottom of each with a parchment paper. (I used 7 1/2-inch spring form to bake 3 layers. Original recipe calls for two 8-inch layers.)
2. Add 2/3 cup of hazelnuts and 1/4 cup of spelt flour into a food processor and grind finely. Transfer into a medium bowl and sift in remaining 1 3/4 cups spelt flour, baking powder and baking soda. Stir to combine well, set aside.
3. Whisk cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth in another medium bowl. Add ground flax seeds, coconut oil, maple syrup, vinegar, vanilla and salt, whisk until thoroughly combined.
4. Add flour mixture to liquid ingredients and whisk to make a smooth batter. Fold in chopped chocolate. Divide the batter between prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

to assemble the cake
1. Invert first layer on a cake stand or a plate. Remove parchment paper. Cover with a layer of tart cherries. Scoop 1/3 of ganache on top of cherries, even it out. sprinkle with cocoa nibs (if using) and pomegranate kernels.
2. Invert second layer on top, remove parchment paper. Repeat with cherries, ganache, cocoa nibs and pomegranate.
3. Invert third layer on top. Frost with the last 1/3 of ganache and top with pomegranate kernels. Keep in the fridge until ready to serve, try to wait at least a couple hours before cutting the cake; overnight is great too.

Tags: cake, cherry, chocolate, pomegranate, vegan

Sorghum Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Cranberries and Grapes

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November 23rd, 2014

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Both my husband’s and my family live far away, so instead we celebrate Thanksgiving with the other family – our friends. This tradition of friends getting together at our house has developed naturally over the past ten years that we’ve called the West coast of Florida our home. I always look forward to that one Thursday in late November – usually, it’s cold enough to light a fire in our seldom used fireplace, and I have a bunch of new recipes ready for a test run.

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Our Thanksgiving table is never a traditional one – I rarely cook the same dish two years in a row and our international circle of friends assures plenty of exciting variety. This colorful pilaf is destined to join this year’s celebration.

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Up until recently, I had only heard of sorghum flour as a great gluten free option for baked goods. Then a bag of whole sorghum grains caught my eye in one of the isles of our health food store, and I had to try it out.
Sorghum is a nutritious grain native to Africa. It has a nice, pleasantly chewy texture and neutral flavor, which combines very well with roasted juicy cranberries and grapes, Brussels sprouts, nuts and aromatic herbs. If you are still looking for a flavorful veggie dish to complete your Thanksgiving table, this one is a winner.

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Sorghum Pilaf
Note: feel welcome to use different grains instead of sorghum, such as rice, barley, millet, farro, etc.

1 cup whole sorghum grains or other grains of choice – soaked in water overnight (important for sorghum)
1 lb brussels sprouts – ends trimmed and cut in half
about 3 cups grapes (I specifically love Thomcord grapes here)
8 oz fresh or frozen cranberries
large handful walnuts
3 tablespoons melted coconut or olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons each chopped thyme, sage and rosemary
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Drain and rinse sorghum. Place it into a large saucepan, pour 3 cups filtered water over it and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to simmer, add a pinch of salt and cook for 50-60 minutes or until soft (the sorghum will still be slightly chewy, but cooked).
2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of ingredients and toss to coat.
3. Spread on a rimmed baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, until brussels sprouts feel soft when pricked with a fork, but not mushy. Gently stir and turn the tray halfway through the baking.
4. Spoon the cooked sorghum into a large mixing bowl and add the roasted brussels sprouts with fruits, nuts, herbs and their caramelized juices. Stir gently to combine. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve immediately or keep refrigerated in an air-tight container and serve cold or at room temperature.

Tags: brussels sprouts, cranberries, grapes, salad, sorghum