Vanilla Coconut Popcorn

So, did you survive the biggest cooking day of the year? Anyone scald their arm or slice their finger wide open? I’ve been there – done that, but this Thanksgiving I remained safe and whole. And for that I am thankful.

If you’ve had your fill of cooking for the week, I won’t judge if you decide to just pop up some sweet and salty popcorn and call it lunch like I did (shh, don’t tell my mother…) In this super quick snack (meal?) I tossed stovetop popped corn with toasted coconut flakes and a honey/butter/vanilla drizzle. Vegans, I bet coconut oil and agave would be just as magnificent.

Vanilla Coconut Popcorn

1 T. coconut oil (or olive)
1/4 c. corn kernels
1/4 c. large flake coconut (if you can only find the finely flaked stuff, just use a little less)
2 T. butter (or more coconut oil)
2 T. honey (or agave)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
sea salt to taste

Heat the oil and 2 or 3 of the corn kernels in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium or medium high heat. When the kernels pop, add the rest of them to the pot and cover. Let them sit and they’ll begin to pop. Shake the pot every now and again and wait until you don’t hear any popping for about 10 seconds. Turn off the heat and let it sit and finish popping if it wants to.

Meanwhile, place the coconut in a small skillet over medium low. Toast the flakes until they turn a bit brown and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Don’t let them burn! Set them aside.

In the same skillet, heat the butter until melted. Add the honey and vanilla and stir to combine. When it starts to bubble, turn off the heat.

To serve, combine the popcorn and coconut in a bowl, and pour the butter mixture over. Salt to taste. Feel free to double the recipe for a family movie night.

serves 2 for a snack (or one if it’s lunch…)

Thanksgiving Ideas

As a kid, my Thanksgivings consisted of a long drive to and from Grandma’s house, canned green bean and cream of mushroom soup casserole, and a large, rambunctious Italian family yelling at the Cleveland Browns on TV. And two bowls of cereal. One before we left and one after we got home at the end of the day, so that I didn’t starve.

Boy, I do love being an adult, because now I can cook some delicious meals for myself, family and friends. If your Thanksgiving meal plan hasn’t yet been set in stone, here are a few more ideas from around the web.

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes - from 101 Cookbooks

Mini Apple Galettes - from Naturally Ella

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash - from Love and Lemons

Roasted Butternut and Coconut Soup - from Green Kitchen Stories

Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower – from My New Roots

Garnet Pilaf – from Sprouted Kitchen

Fall Vegetable Slaw with Hot + Sweet Ginger Dressing – from The First Mess

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad – from Happyolks

Cider Punch – from Not Without Salt

Truffled Delicata and Wheatberry Salad - from Me!

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Chai Spiced Apple Crisps

5 Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water. Each element has 2 corresponding organs and a whole host of other characteristics associated with it. Today, this week, in fact, for the next few years for me, it’s all about the Earth element. It’s organs are the Spleen and the Stomach. It’s in charge of things like nourishment, sowing and reaping. It’s associated with the sweet taste, a fragrant smell and all intellectual pursuits.

So, what does all this have to do with me? (and you?) As a student, I’m pretty much always engaged in some intellectual pursuits as of late. Overthinking, according to Oriental medicine, can lead to weak Spleen qi. To counteract that, while studying, people tend to crave something sweet. (See how these are all riffing off the list of Earth-y things). This is why, so my teacher informs us, many students gain weight. Too much sugar. I’m working on counteracting that with these apple crisps. Just a touch of sugar and spice, but most of the sweetness comes from the apples. They are great to grab as a quick snack while studying, or doing most anything else. And if you want your house to smell like Fall, I recommend baking up a bunch.

The idea for these came from Kimberly’s Cocoa Pear Crisps. I had to make many adjustments as I went along. Maybe because my mandoline doesn’t say 1/8 inch (just thin), maybe the temperature of my oven is off, maybe apples are different than pears…who knows. In the recipe I gave a range of options, just to be on the safe side. So keep your eyes and nose open so you don’t burn anything!

Chai Spiced Apple Crisps

3 apples (I used honeycrisp)
2 T. sugar
1 T. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cardamom

Preheat the oven to 275. Slice apples to 1/8 of an inch thickness with a mandoline and pull out any seeds. Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet or 4, with either a cooling rack or parchment paper set inside. I had to do this in a few batches since I only have a half size stove and 2 baking sheets.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a bowl and sprinkle over the apple slices. Slide them into the oven. Check up on them after about 15 minutes. If you are using parchment, flip them once they are shrunken. Keep a close eye out, and remove them as they start to pull away from the pan. It could take 30 minutes, or up to an hour. If you get them too early they’ll be more like fruit leather and not crisp, and if you wait too long you get charcoal.

Let them sit and cool to crisp up.

 

Spiced Blueberry Galette

You may think by the contents of this blog that I’m not much of a dessert girl. You’d be wrong. It’s just that if I’m going to go to all that effort to make something in the kitchen – there’d better be dinner at the end of it. Or ya know, breakfast or lunch. Thankfully, this galette has enough goodness in it to make it breakfast worthy. Or dessert. Or snack.

A galette, as I informed my sister last night, is a kind of rustic tart. A free form pie if you will. It is a rustic, free-form pie tart. It’s all the flaky dough and sweet fruit of a pie, but without the hassle. No tart pans or latticing necessary. The rustic part means all the rough edges are supposed to be there.

The filling here is thick jammy blueberry, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. And the crust is vegan! I used spelt flour, but any whole grain flour you’ve got hanging around will be equally delicious.  I served it with a dollop of creme fraiche (sorry, not vegan…) but use whatever you’ve got. Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, you get the idea. Make sure you plan ahead and slip your jar of coconut oil in the fridge now, if it’s not already there. And while you’re at it, you’ll get a better result if everything is cold, so get to it.

Spiced Blueberry Galette

1 1/2 c. whole grain flour
scant 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. very cold coconut oil
2 T. maple syrup
1/4 c. (or less) ice water

1 pint fresh blueberries
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the coconut oil and pulse until it beads up into tiny peas. Pulse in the maple syrup, then the water, a tablespoon at a time, until everything is damp and crumbly. You may not use all the water, I only used 3 tablespoons.

Transfer it all to a piece of plastic wrap laid out on your work surface. Knead it a few times until it comes together into a dough. Wrap the whole thing up in the plastic wrap and move to the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Now you can make the filling by stirring everything else, from the blueberries down, together in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. Transfer your dough onto the parchment and roll out into approximately an 1/8 thick circle. I rolled, then pinched the edges a little, then rotated and rolled again. When you’ve got a nice round, thin piece of dough, pour in the blueberry mixture. Spread it evenly, leaving about 2 inches around the outside. Fold the edges up around the filling.

Slide the galette, parchment and all, onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust starts to brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve as is, or with a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, ricotta, ice cream, etc.

serves 4-6

adapted from My New Roots Plum Yummy Galette

Sugar Plum Granita

When I hear the words “sugar plum”, my mind automatically jumps to Christmas. Yours too? Turns out, sugar plums are just small, adorable plums, and not really sweeter than regular ones. And around here, they only grow in the Summer. Which is fine by me because they make a great 4 ingredient, no cook, frozen dessert.

Granita is Italian for “frozen slushy” – or something like that. They are can be made with fruit, juice, or other things, like coffee and chocolate. This one here is pretty tart, just how I like it, but feel free to add more honey if you like things a bit sweeter.

We’ve been in a pretty major heatwave over here in Brooklyn, and this is one of the few things that was actually worked at cooling us off (taking a ride on an over-air-conditioned subway works too). And hopefully this crazy thunderstorm we’re having will cool things off a bit, too. Mom comes to town next week, and heat is one of her least favorite things.

I used sugar plums because I saw them at the market and just HAD to have them, but if you don’t have easy access to them, regular ones will be just fine. Also, here are a few other ideas off the top of my head:

  • Strawberry + Balsamic Vinegar
  • Peach + Basil
  • Blackberry + Sage
  • Blueberry + Lemon + Thyme (lemon thyme…!)

 Sugar Plum Granita

1 pint sugar plums, pitted
juice of 2 limes
3 T. honey (or more to taste)
a handful of mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in blender. Let it run for a few minutes. Transfer to a shallow dish and freeze. Every 30 minutes, for about 2 hours, take it out of the freezer and scrape the outside into the middle with a fork. At some point it will all be frozen, then just scrape the whole thing until it gets fluffy.

Serve

makes 4 small bowls

 

Cherry Chocolate Cake & Brunch with Harriet

This weekend I had a really lovely brunch with my boy Darren, friend Betty, and cat Harriet. Harriet used be free to roam the countryside, but since we moved to Brooklyn she’s become strictly an indoor cat. So as a treat for her (and us!) we took a trip to Betty’s garden apartment and let her run wild. Meanwhile, the humans had omelets, beermosas (hoegaarden and o.j. – mmm) and this cherry chocolate brunch cake.

I was going for “healthy brunch cake” with this recipe. But don’t be scared off – it’s also really delicious. I took one of Deb’s genius cakes and subbed spelt flour for the all purpose, and sucanat (evaporated cane juice) for the sugar.  If you’ve never used sucanat you should start. It’s a tad bit more expensive than regular sugar, but it’s got a deep, caramel-y, complex flavor that you just don’t get from sugar. It’s just sweet enough, and doesn’t give you that sickly sweet stomachache. And it’s one of the few healthy sweeteners that is granulated (as opposed to liquid, like honey, maple syrup, etc.) so it behaves just like sugar in baked goods recipes. I used the spelt flour cause that’s what I had. It makes for a dark, but moist crumb. White whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour would both be great here. I don’t recommend regular whole wheat, it’ll give you a heavy, wheat-y tasting cake – not really what I was after here. Also, feel free to experiment with whatever fruit you find in season.

The cherries and chocolate combo was inspired by this weeks Food Matters Project. You can find the original recipe here.

Cherry Chocolate Brunch Cake

6 T. unsalted butter
scant 1 c. sucanat
1 large egg
1/2 c. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. hazelnut or almond extract (or more vanilla)
1 1/2 c. spelt or other whole grain flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. sea salt
3.5 – 4 oz. of the darkest chocolate bar you can find, cut into chunks
1 pint cherries, stemmed, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350. Beat butter and sucanat with an electric mixer in a large bowl until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg, milk and extracts and beat until just combined. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until just smooth. Stir in the chocolate by hand.

Pour into a 9 or 10 inch cake pan (or deep dish pie pan) and spread to an even layer. Press the cherry halves into the top of the cake batter. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 and bake for another 50-60 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.

Let cool in pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

makes 8 wedges