28 June, 2010

Rainbow Salad


Four more sleeps until we leave the scorching heat of Dubai and go on our 4-week holiday to Germany. The fridge has to be emptied. The vegetable shelf is pretty much my department, as I love to salads for my lunch. I decide what's for dinner and which veggies go on my kids' lunch or dinner plate. In other words, I am in charge of cleaning out that fridge thoroughly. In the one and only food magazine that I read (BBC Good Food (Middle East) a "Crunchy Detox Salad" caught my eye. It included raw red cabbage which I didn't have in my fridge, but all other ingredients.
It was worth buying as this salad kept what it promised: vibrant colors, textures and flavors. According to the magazine, this salad keeps in the fridge for up to three days. I cannot comment on that as mine only lasted one, and I ate it all by myself.
Beside the red cabbage, it contains just slightly steamed broccoli and green beans to maintain a crunch, chickpeas to add some substance and vegetarian protein. I recommend using home-cooked chickpeas as the canned once are normally a little too soft, especially if they are supposed to go into a crunchy salad. The dried apricots are, in fact, my favorite ingredient. They provide just enough natural sweetness that satisfies my sweet tooth enough to skip dessert. I love the ginger in the dressing as it adds some subtle spice to the salad.
By the way, I don't believe in detox foods. The body detoxes whatever there is to detox. As long as you don't put processed or junk food into your body, there won't be much to detox. This salad is as fresh as it can be, full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You'll feel good afterwards because your body is not busy detoxing crap foods. Just as a thought on the side that I like to share....
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RAINBOW SALAD


1 cup cooked chickpeas (about 1/2 cup dried chickpeas)
1 cup broccoli florets
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
 4 tablespoons mixed toasted seeds

Dressing
1 thumbsize piece fresh ginger, grated
1 orange, juice of
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons olive oil

Serves 4
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Steam broccoli and beans for 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl with ice cold water to cool, then drain.

In a large serving bowl, combine red cabbage chickpeas, green  beans, broccoli, apricots and seeds.

Combine all ingredients for the dressing and pour over the salad. Toss to combine. Ready to serve.
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25 June, 2010

Tomato Zucchini Tart with Herbs and Parmesan

It's zucchini season!! Because this stuff always grows in abundance, there can never be enough zucchini recipes. Here is my contribution.
I enjoy making light vegetarian tarts for weekend lunches. Whatever vegetables are in season, will find their way into my tarts. The tricky part with vegetarian tarts is their seasoning. Many vegetables are quite bland, and I don't just want to put tons of salt in it to get some flavor. This tomato zucchini tart gets its flavor from layers of Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs between the zucchinis and tomatoes.
The cheese melts nicely into the veggies as there is just enough egg to hold everything together, but not drown the veggies. The crust is my favorite crust from my spinach tart. The toasted sesame seeds in there give it a lovely twist.
This tart just screams SUMMER at me. The vibrant colors of it make me want to have lunch outside in the garden.

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TOMATO ZUCCHINI TART WITH HERBS AND PARMESAN

Crust
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup whole  wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup water

Filling
4 cups zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Serves 4
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Preheat oven to 180C.

Tart Crust
Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats and sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and process until the oats are finely ground.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and oil. Mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Put the dough in the tart pan. Press it  down evenly, making sure to fill in the fluted sides of the pan. Trim the tart of any excess dough. Cover with foil or damp towel and keep refrigerated for 30 minutes.
 
Tart Filling
Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves and toss in olive oil. Combine the Parmesan, herbs and garlic.

Take on third of the cheese and herb mixture and sprinkle it over the bottom of the tart pan. Arrange the zucchini slices  in one layer over the cheese to cover it. Season  to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle another layer of the cheese herb mixture on top followed by one more layer of zucchini slices. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the second zucchini layer.
Combine the egg and milk. Pour egg mixture evenly over the top and let it sink into the tart. Top with last third of the cheese and herbs.

Bake the tart for 35-40 minutes. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.
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22 June, 2010

Buttermilk Banana Bread


A few days before my blog's 1st birthday (9 July), I must admit that this little one is pretty much ruling my ways of cooking. Here is today's story: I had two almost rotten bananas and a very ripe mango in the kitchen that were begging me to use up in some cake or bread. When I decided to make a fruity bread with buttermilk, I decided it would be better with just the banana, so I could call it Buttermilk Banana Bread. Three Bs. Easy to remember. No space for mangoes starting with M.
Am I losing my marbles? Or is this a normal development after one year of blogging about food recipes? Please, veteran food bloggers: I need some reassurance on this.
I actually find it hard to call it a bread since its texture is cake-like, although there is no butter and only a tiny amount of oil being used in the recipe.Very moist and spongy, lots of walnut crunch and a slightly indulgent frosting make this banana bread a perfect coffee cake.
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 BUTTERMILK BANANA BREAD

1 egg
5 tablespoons agave syrup
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon canola oil

2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream Cheese Frosting
5 tablespoons cream cheese
4 tablespoons agave syrup
4 tablespoons chopped walnuts

Yields 1 loaf
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Preheat oven to 160C. Grease or line loaf tin with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg. Add agave, buttermilk, vanilla extract and canola oil and mix well. Stir in mashed bananas.

In a big bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well. Combine wet ingredients and dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in walnuts.

Pour batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake for about 60 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Take out of the tin and let cool completely.

When cool, combine cream cheese and agave syrup in a small bowl. Put an even layer on top of the banana bread. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
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19 June, 2010

Sweet Raisin n' Seed Bread

  
I have never been lucky when baking breads with yeast and whole meal flour.  I just don't get it right, or perhaps those two ingredients are hard to become friends in general. I don't know. I actually gave up on it.
Therefore, for quite some time, I had planned to bake a sweet soda bread with whole wheat flour. As these breads have to be eaten as as fresh as possible, actually even warm straight out of the oven, I found the perfect occasion when a friend announced she would come over with her kids the same afternoon.
The base of this bread is that of a typical Irish soda bread. I sweetened the dough with a little agave syrup and threw in some raisins to make it a coffee-cake-style bread. Just without the butter that distinguishes bread from cake. It was delicious plain as long as it was still warm, a little later some butter on big chunks just torn off the the bread were as good.
I have realized that I like the rustic kinds of breads and cakes, the outdoor and kids friendly no-fuss on-the-go stuff. This one was 100% my kind of style, naturally sweetened with dried fruit and agave. The seeds can easily be substituted by chopped nuts of your choice.


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SWEET RAISIN N' SEED BREAD


1 cup raisins

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup agave syrup

5 tablespoons toasted mixed seeds, divided

Serves 8-10
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Preheat oven to 180C. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over the raisins and let sit for 10 minutes, until raisins have plumped up. In a big bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in 4 tablespoons of toasted mixed seeds. In another bowl, combine agave syrup and buttermilk.
Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients. Knead the dough a few times.
Drain the raisins, then fold them into to the dough. Knead in until evenly spread. Form the dough into a round log, cutting a deep cross into the middle. Sprinkle the remaining seeds over the log. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Let cool on wire rack. Serve as fresh as possible.
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16 June, 2010

Barley Salad with Kidney Beans and Tuna


I am convinced that our bodies often tell us what nutrients they need. One just needs to listen carefully. For instance, in winter I often feel like eating tinned tuna. The craving is so big that I eat it straight out of the tin. The whole tin. It makes me almost as happy as eating a whole bar of chocolate at other times (oh oh, not sure what my body is trying to tell me at those times...). I am sure my body needs something that it knows can be found in tuna.
The other day, I bought 2 pounds of barley grains and left the bag on the kitchen counter. An Indian friend of mine saw it and commented that she loves barley in summer because it has cooling properties, under the concept of the Chinese Yin (Cool) and Yang (Hot). In fact, barley is being used for cooling teas and other beverages in the Far East.
With that in mind, I just cooked a pot of barley, thinking that I'd make a light lunch salad out of it the next day. And so I did.
I added some freshly cooked kidney beans, to add some vegetarian proteins to the salad. Kidney beans have a high fiber content that prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal. I added some canned tuna, which is full of Vitamin B and omega 3 essential fats. Now we just needed some raw veggies in it: I simply chopped a green bell peppers, rich in vitamin A and C. Dressed the whole salad with some lemon juice and olive oil and sprinkled some toasted seeds. That's it. A perfect summer salad, great for lunches or light dinners. Easy to be made in advance. Definitely a keeper!!
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BARLEY SALAD WITH KIDNEY BEANS AND TUNA

1 cup dry barley
1/2 cup dry kidney beans
3 medium green bell peppers
2 cans tuna chunks, drained

1/4 cup mixed toasted seeds (e.g. sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds, buckwheat, sesame or flax seeds)

Dressing
4 tablespoons olive oil 
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of one lemon)
1 teaspoon salt

Serves 4-6
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Soak kidney beans for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.  Drain. Cook in fresh, slightly salted water until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain and rinse.
Cook the barley in 3 cups of slightly salted water until tender and chewy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and rinse. If you want to shorten the cooking time, soak the barley grains overnight in water. Drain and cook in fresh water.
Deseed and devein the bell peppers. Cut them into thin strips, each about 1 inch long.
In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the dressing.
Combine cooked barley, kidney beans and bell peppers in a salad bowl. Add the tuna chunks. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix until salad ingredients and dressing are well mixed. Sprinkle the toasted seeds over the salad. Serve at room temperature.
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14 June, 2010

Sesame Oat Bread Sticks

 
I had the idea for these bread sticks when I made the tart crust for the Spinach Tart. I have been  so infatuated with that crust, its crunchiness, its amazing taste by ingredients like oat, sesame seeds and olive oil. 
It didn't need much experimenting to get the bread sticks right and I made them several times since. I must admit I had never made bread stick myself before. It is as easy and fast as it can be. I love their rustic shapes, none looking like the other. And they even survive several days in the open without getting stale and or losing their crunch.
They go well with dips as a starter. My kids like them as a snack to go. And I, of course, like all the healthy ingredients that make these fantastic bread sticks.

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SESAME OAT BREAD STICKS


1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil

Yields 15-20
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Preheat the oven to 175C.

Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats and sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and process until the oats are finely ground.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and oil. Mix it into the dry ingredients to form a dough. Use the water oil mixture little by little. Make sure the dough does not become too wet. Knead the dough thoroughly, then roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into rectangular shape. It should be as flat as possible, about 1/8 inch. Cut the dough into stripes of about 1/4 to 1/2 inch width. Twist the strips several times before placing on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 175C for about 25 to 30 minutes. The bread sticks should not be soft, but crisp. They should be about to turn golden brown at this stage. Let cool completely. Serve as fresh as possible.
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12 June, 2010

No Guilt Brownies

Currently, I have one of those stretches in my life where I already think about dessert while having the main course.  I can't deny my sweet tooth, although I've been trying to cut out refined sugars totally from my diet for the last two years. A contradiction in terms, I know. I found some compromises that work for me (and my conscience), like sweetening my sweets with dried fruit, honey or agave.
Those sweet stretches usually happen when I am tired, worn out and simply ready for a holiday. Now, that 1-month-holiday of ours is only 3 weeks away. I. Just. Can't. Wait. My 4 year old son has got a countdown calendar. Each morning he crosses out another day. 20 sleeps left.....
Until then I have to feed myself comfort food. Here is my try on brownies: little butter, dark, dark chocolate, agave, whole wheat flour and lots of nuts made these dense and chewy brownies. In fact, I made them twice last week, and didn't really share them with my family. Husband and son were lucky to get to try a slice and both approved, the rest I ate myself while I kept telling myself, that all ingredients were actually good: little butter doesn't do much harm, dark chocolate is full antioxidants, agave has got a low GI, two eggs can't do much harm either, and whole wheat flour is a better alternative to white one. Nuts are always good anyway. Any more questions? I guess one of the main reasons for this justification is that I don't feel 100% comfortable with the fact that I ate the whole thing myself, as opposed to sharing it with my family.....
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NO GUILT BROWNIES


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 squares (30g) dark chocolate (I used Lindt with 85% cocoa, unsweetened baking chocolate will do)
1/3 cup agave syrup, honey or brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup walnuts or pecan nuts, chopped

Serves 8
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Preheat oven to 180C. Grease or line 20x20cm baking tin with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Melt in a hot water bath and whisk when soft. Stir in the vanilla and agave (or other sweetener of your choice). Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Stir in the flour and the nuts, keeping some aside. Transfer batter to baking tin. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top.
Bake 20 minutes for fudgier brownies, otherwise 25 minutes. Let cool before cutting into squares.
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10 June, 2010

Chicken Asparagus Salad

 
Before the asparagus season is over, I must share this salad recipe with you. I haven't made any cold non-vegetarian salads for ages. Last weekend, we felt like having something light for any of our meals. It wasn't quite there yet, but during these days our whole family fell sick (mama, papa and both kids at the same time....we never had THAT combination before). I made this Chicken Asparagus Salad, and have made it another two times since.
It's so easy, it's so light, it's so tasty. Just look at the colors. Doesn't  it scream HEALTHY and GOOD FOR YOU at you? Yet it's tasty and filling at the same time: the right balance between protein-loaded lean chicken breast, raw veggies and some seasonal steamed asparagus. I especially like the dressing, as it is just enough to coat the salad, and it's being made from low fat mayonnaise and yogurt. A pinch of curry and some lemon juice is all it needs to give it some flavor without drowning the flavors of the other ingredients. Just the way I like it.
This is an easy dinner or lunch, thrown together in even less time if you have some leftover chicken or if you pick up some rotisserie chicken on your way home. Bon Appetit!!

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CHICKEN ASPARAGUS SALAD

3 cups mixed salad leaves
2 chicken breasts (ca. 1 1/2 cups)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup green baby asparagus
1 red bell pepper

Dressing
2 heaped teaspoons mayonnaise (light is fine)
2 heaped teaspoons yogurt (low fat is fine)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Serves 2
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Season chicken breasts with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Grill in the oven for about 15 minutes, until just cooked through, turning the pieces halfway. Take out and let cool. Cut into bite sizes.
Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Steam the asparagus for 2-3 minutes, until tender but left with some crisp to the bite. Set aside. Deseed and devein red bell pepper and cut into 1-inch strips. Wash the salad leaves and pat dry.

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients of the dressing. Mix well. 
Combine chicken pieces, bell pepper and asparagus. Stir in the dressing until chicken and vegetables are evenly coated.

Arrange salad leaves on a serving plate. Put chicken and vegetables with dressing on top. Serve immediately.
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08 June, 2010

Wheat Berries with Roasted Vegetables and Red Pesto

On Friday, the Soccer World Cup in South Africa will begin. I am not a big soccer fan, but when it's World Cup I do enjoy it and get into it for those 4 weeks. As the Germans are always one of the favorites, I feel obliged to stand up for my country.
We will have friends over to watch the opening game. My husband generously let me set the menu for the late lunch/buffet meal that we will have before and during the game.
Temperatures in Dubai have reached 35-40C with high humidity, so it would be quite cruel for the BBQ master to get the grill going outside. I think I will do some salads, breads, dips and cold seafood dishes. The advantage of these is that they can be made in advance. And guests always bring dessert, don't they?
This vegan salad is to become one of my favorites, hearty and still light, it will most probably make it onto the Friday menu. I made it for the first time today, as I needed to use up some almost forgotten veggies in the fridge. The first nicely arranged plate never got to see my camera for the picture. I chomped it down with great appetite. The flavor combination is just to die for: nutty wheat berries, light and sweet roasted vegetables, hearty red pesto and some toasted seeds for the crunch. Perfect and filling all by itself or as side dish. Good for potlucks, BBQs or In-Front-Of-The-TV meals when major sports events are happening.......
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WHEAT BERRIES WITH ROASTED VEGETABLES AND RED PESTO
1 cup dry wheat berries (or farro, barley, spelt)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1/2 cup butternut squash
salt to taste

4 tablespoons mixed seeds, toasted 

Red Pesto
3 tablespoons of sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

Serves 4
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Cook the wheat berries in slightly salted water until tender and chewy, about 45 minutes to one hour. Drain and rinse with warm water. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 200C.
Peel the butternut squash. Chop squash, pepper and zucchini into bite size chunks. Transfer to baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the veggies and stir until they are coated. Season with salt. Oven-roast for 15-20 minutes.

For the red pesto, combine all ingredients in a food processor. Mix until smooth.

Stir the red pesto into the wheat berries. Make sure you don't use too much, as the flavor is very strong and can be overpowering. Stir in the roasted veggies and sprinkle the seeds on top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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06 June, 2010

Low Fat Cocoa Cherry Granola

 

I grew up in a small town. During my college years I earned some pocket money by working in the local ice cream parlor. I had a great time, as my best friend from school also jobbed there. Since it was only a small town, everyone would come to visit during the course of the day, to either meet us or just have ice cream.
In summer during the holidays I would work from mid-morning til evening. My meals would consist of ice cream creations. During that time I developed a weakness for the combination of chocolate with cherries. I'd have lots of chocolate ice cream topped with sour cherries. Until today I love it.
Recently, I got a little I tired of my all-time favorite granola which I have been eating daily for the last three or four months.  So I tried and get the chocolate and cherry flavors into my breakfast granola. I put in hazelnuts instead of my usual almonds. It turned out simply amazing. I love to have this granola just with milk, which soon turns into chocolate milk as the cocoa dissolves.
By the way, after those years in the ice cream parlor, I was off  ice cream for a very loooong time. I wouldn't touch it for at least five years.

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LOW FAT COCOA CHERRY GRANOLA


4 cups regular rolled oats
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup chopped hazelnuts

1/2 cup cherry juice
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup cried currants
1/2 cup dried cherries
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Preheat oven to 150C.

In a small pan, combine cherry juice, agave, molasses, cocoa powder, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Bring to boil. Take off the heat and let cool a little.

In a big bowl, combine oats, sesame seeds and hazelnuts. Pour the molasses cherry mixture over the oat mixture and stir until oat mixture is well coated. Spread the granola evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn over the granola and add the coconut flakes. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Let cool. Add currants and cherries. Keep in airtight container.
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03 June, 2010

No Bake Granola Bars


I cannot repeat myself often enough when it comes to a no-added sugar diet. A couple of years ago I would have never thought that this is possible without sacrifice. I am not saying that my diet is 100% sugar free, but on most days I get to at least 90%. It makes me feel so good in two ways. The fact that I changed my diet that way permanently, and the fact that I feel much better without refined sugars and flours in my system.
Now what could make me even happier? Recipes like this one: No Bake automatically reads  Few Dishes To Wash Afterwards!! No Bake also reads  No Need To Watch Stuff In The Oven. No Bake means it's done quickly in the evenings before you settle on the sofa. No Bake means it's easily compatible with other things that need to be done at the same time. All mothers of this planet will know what I am talking about. You want to know what I am doing while I am writing this post? 1. Cook children's lunch 2. Changing, washing and drying bed linen and carpets as my daughter has been throwing up several times since last night 3. Getting ready to see the doctor 4. Having maintenance people in the house to repair water pump and servicing the air-conditioner. 5. Have a bite to eat myself and the upteenth cup of coffee....... Hopefully I get to put on a thick layer of make-up around my eyes before we leave the house to hide those dark circles. Then grab one or two of these nutritious and delicious granola bars and off we go to see the doctor.....Yippie Yay.....

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NO BAKE GRANOLA BARS


1 ripe banana
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried dates
1/2 cup toasted almonds

1 cup granola (I used homemade one) OR
1 cup toasted rolled oats 
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons coconut flakes

Yields about 12 squares/bars
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Blend banana, cherries, apricots, raisins, dates and toasted almonds in a food processor until coarse.
If you don't have granola at hand, mix the oats, coconut and sesame and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 150C. Transfer the fruit nut mixture to bowl and stir in the granola.
Press the mixture into a baking pan and keep refrigerated for at least 12 hours to allow flavors to spread. Cut into bars or squares. Keep refrigerated.
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01 June, 2010

Spinach Tart with Sesame Oat Crust


Don't you think that the word "adapting" (as in "adapted from XYZ cookbook") is just a nice term for "stealing someone else's recipe but having the decency to acknowledge him"? Or does it just sound funny to me because English is not my first language?
This Spinach Tart recipe is adapted from the vast archives of 101 cookbooks. Or is it just based on or inspired by the original recipe, since I renamed it and made slight changes?
Heidi Swanson calls this tart Spinach Mushroom Quiche. It is not so much a quiche, since it does not contain any eggs, dairies or butter. In fact, it is vegan. The filling is made with tofu, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I don't really know why I am trying so hard to like tofu. But the occasional recipe gets me into trying it again. And a tofu-based quiche recipe definitely got me curious.
What Heidi totally understated in her post was the uber-sensational sesame oat crust made with olive oil or sesame oil. It is the best crust I have ever eaten in my whole life. The slightly thicker edges stayed crumbly even after 45 minutes in the oven (my other pie crusts always got somewhat hard there). And the sesame seeds gave it a wonderful twist. This will be my one and only tart crust recipe from now on.
Now about the filling:  I swapped asparagus for the mushrooms, to make it a little more seasonal. The texture of the filling was very quiche-like. The tofu taste was quite predominant, and I wasn't sure if I liked it when I had the first bite. But it grew on me very quickly, and I actually enjoyed this tart very much.
Another note, for those who read Heidi's post: it did not take 3 hours to make this tart. From start until I put the thing in the oven, it took me exactly one hour, plus another 45 minutes for the tart to bake. Not to bad actually, for something extraordinary like this. The tart can be prepared in advance and kept int he fridge for a few hours before baking.
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SPINACH TART WITH SESAME OAT CRUST
based on a recipe from 101 Cookbooks

  
Crust
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup olive oil

Filling
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
1 onion, finely diced
8 ounces fresh green baby asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons dry white wine or water
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
3 garlic cloves, slice crosswise into 1/8-inch rounds
10 to 12 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
Pinch hot red pepper flakes
1 pound firm tofu, rinsed and patted dry
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 pounds fresh spinach
Paprika for dusting

Serves 4-6
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Preheat the oven to 175C.

Tart Crust
Spread the oats and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 minutes. Transfer the toasted oats and sesame seeds to the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper, and process until the oats are finely ground.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water and oil. Mix in the dry ingredients to form a dough.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Put the dough in the tart pan. Press it  down evenly, making sure to fill in the fluted sides of the pan. Trim the tart of any excess dough. Cover with foil or damp towel and keep refrigerated while you make the filling.

Tart Filling
In a wide saute pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and asparagus, raise the heat to high, and saute for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring and shaking the pan until the vegetables are caramelized. Add the wine and scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and continue to cook until dry. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the vegetables into a mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the remaining 5 tablespoons of oil. Add the garlic, basil, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Simmer gently for 3 to 4 minutes or until the garlic is golden. Do not let the garlic brown or it will become bitter. When done, transfer the garlic oil mixture into a food processor. Crumble the tofu into the bowl of the food processor. Add the lemon juice, vinegar, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and puree until smooth. Add the tofu puree into the mushroom-asparagus mixture.

Remove and discard the tough stems of the spinach. Wash the leaves. Cook the spinach leaves in a covered pot of boiling water until just wilted, 2-3 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold water to arrest the cooking. Drain well and squeeze dry. Transfer the spinach to a cutting board and chop fine. Add the spinach to the rest of the filling and stir well to combine.

Fill the tart shell with the tofu and vegetable mixture and smooth the top with the back of a spoon. Dust with Paprika. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until firm. Let the tart cool for 8 to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Super Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking 
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