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.

 

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Chili

It’s been a while. I promise, I haven’t forgotten about you, I’ve just been so busy learning. It turns out that going to school, and working, and taking care of kitties, and blogging, is a lot of stuff to do. I wish I had a ton of cool Oriental Medicine tidbits to share, but so far it’s been mostly learning where all the muscles are – where they attach to the bones, and what they do. Plus lots of memorizing of acupuncture points. Cause no one wants an acupuncturist who puts the needles in the wrong place!

Somewhere, in the midst of all this craziness, I whipped up a pot of very special chili. Sweet potatoes and bell peppers and black beans. A bit of cinnamon (like they do in Cincinnati), cocoa, beer and a tiny drizzle of maple syrup. I promise this isn’t a sweet chili,  all this just adds a great complex flavor. You’re gonna love it.

Oh, and I have managed to pick up one fun fact that I can’t seem to work into a cute story that ultimately leads to dinner. In Chinese Medicine, the lungs are associated with the skin; and the skin is even sometimes referred to as the third lung. After all, it does do a bit of breathing through your pores. So, a very insightful teacher of mine suggested that if you have lung trouble, then you shouldn’t get tattooed.

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 small chilies (a jalepeno is good for less heat, a serrano or 2 for more), minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds (or ground)
1 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1-2 lbs. sweet potatoes (2 medium, or 4 baby), in 3/4″ to 1″ dice
1 bell pepper, diced
1 c. lager, stout, or other beer
1 28 oz. can or crushed tomatoes (fire roasted if you can find ‘em)
1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed (about 1 1/2 c.)
2 T. maple syrup
for garnish: creme fraiche or sour cream, or avocado for vegans, chopped fresh herbs

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium. Add the onion and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, chilies, cumin, cocoa, cinnamon and salt. Cook for a minute, until everything smells amazing, then stir in the potatoes and pepper, and stir to coat.

After a few minutes, pour in the beer to deglaze the pot (use your wooden spoon to scrape the stuck bits off the bottom). When it comes to a boil and starts to thicken a bit, add the tomatoes. You may need a little water to cover the vegetables, add it in now. Bring the whole thing to a boil, turn down to low, and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Stir in the beans and the maple syrup. If it’s too thick for you, add some more water. Taste and adjust the seasoning – keep adding pinches of salt until the flavor pops. It will depend on your salt and how much water you had to add. Cook for another few minutes to marry the flavors. Serve topped with the creme fraiche and chopped herbs.

serves 4-6

Thai Curry Squash Soup

There’s nothing more exciting about changing seasons than finding the new produce at the farmer’s market. Well, except maybe the wardrobe changes. It’s a toss up. For so many of my friends, this is their favorite season; for the weather, the boots, the apples, scarves and squashes. This one is for you.

Red Thai curry paste gets mashed with garlic and coats big chunks of butternut (or whatever your favorite is) squash. In goes the stock – cook til tender. Puree and add coconut milk. Easy peasy. I bet you can come up with way more exciting garnishes than this, I just threw on some cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds. Have at it, and if you come up with something great, please share with us. I can imagine this would be great with a small kabocha or a few delicata squashes, both are quite sweet and have edible skins, which eliminates the most time-consuming part of this recipe, peeling the squash.

Thai Curry Squash Soup

1 T. coconut oil
1 T. red Thai curry paste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small-ish butternut squash, or another squash you like – about 2-3 lbs., peeled and cut into chunks
3 c. vegetable stock
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk (not lite)
sea salt to taste
toasted pumpkin seeds and chopped cilantro to garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the curry paste and squish around for about a minute, then add the garlic. Keep stirring for another 30 seconds, then add the squash. Toss to coat the chunks in the curry mixture, then pour in the stock. Bring to a boil, turn to low and simmer, covered, until tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree – I used an immersion (stick) blender, which makes pretty easy, fast work of this, but if all’s you’ve got is a regular blender, fear not. Just transfer the soup in batches, making sure to vent the blender. When all the soup is smooth and back in the pot, add the coconut milk. Turn the heat back on, to about medium low, and cook for a few minutes to work in the milk. During this time, taste, and depending on the saltiness of your stock, you may need to add more salt. Keep adding, pinch by pinch, until the flavors pop.

Serve topped with the pumpkin seeds and cilantro.

serves 4-6

 

Grilled Eggplant Pizza with Sesame Crust

The other night my boy Darren and I were talking about where to get the best pizza in the neighborhood when he mentioned an old pizza joint that he loved that put sesame seeds in the crust. I’m not sure what else he said, because by that time my brain had already come up with a handful of toppings for said sesame crust. Asian-inspired? Mediterranean? How about Middle Eastern? I ended up combining a few and came up with this gem.

I used Joy the Baker’s version of Jim Lahey’s no knead pizza dough, subbing spelt flour for the whole wheat, and of course adding sesame seeds. Then I grilled some eggplant slices on my grill pan (it’s gotten a bit cold to grill outside – not that I have anywhere to grill outside…), added feta cheese and thin garlic slices. Straight out of the  oven I added fresh cilantro and a dukkah-like seed/spice blend. If you’ve never had dukkah, you’re really missing out! Two of my favorite food bloggers have recipes for it here and here. I totally dig it with a hunk of crusty artisan bread dunked in olive oil, then into the dukkah. With this recipe, though, I simplified – and made a not-quite-traditional version to sprinkle over the pizza for extra flavor. Don’t leave it off or you’ll be sorry!

Also, this crust recipe uses a decent amount of yeast which makes it rise during cooking. Keep this in mind, and if you’re not a huge fan of thick doughy crust, roll it out really thin. And sine it makes enough for two pizzas, you can freeze or refrigerate the extra dough and make a super quick easy dinner later on.

Grilled Eggplant Pizza with Sesame Crust

2 3/4 c. bread flour
1 c. spelt flour
2 1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
3/4 tsp. fine grain sea salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 c. sesame seeds
1 1/2 c. warm water

1 small eggplant, sliced in 1/4″ to 1/2 ” slices
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
olive oil
2-3 oz. crumbled feta
2-3 garlic cloves, sliced as thinly as you can get ‘em

2 T. pine nuts
1 T.sesame seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. sea salt

a big handful of cilantro, chopped

Combine the flours, yeast, salt, sugar and 1/4 c. seeds in a large bowl. Pour the water over and stir until it all comes together into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for at least 2 hours.

Lay the eggplant slices out in a colander and sprinkle 1 tsp. salt over them. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to drain the excess water.

At least 30 minutes before you’re ready to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 and place a baking stone, or an upside down baking sheet in there to heat up.

Pat the eggplant pieces dry and coat them in a thin layer of olive oil. Lay them out on a grill pan (or in a skillet if you don’t have a grill pan) and cook them for 10 minutes until they get nice brown marks. Set aside.

Lay a piece of parchment out on your work surface, and with wet hands, transfer the dough onto it.  Divide the dough in half and wrap the half you’re not using in plastic wrap. Put it in a plastic bag and into the fridge or freezer, depending on how long you need it to keep. Take the other half and roll it out using a flour dusted rolling pin. Remember, keep it extra thin because it will rise more in the oven.

Top the pizza with more olive oil, the eggplant slices, garlic slices, and the crumbled feta. Transfer the pizza, parchment and all, to the baking stone/sheet in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set.

While the pizza’s in the oven, toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet for about 1 minute, then add the sesame seeds and all the rest of the seeds. Toast for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and lightly crush.

Slide the pizza out of the oven and slice. Top with the cilantro and the crushed seeds and serve.

serves 2-3

Smoky Tempeh & Peppers

As the cold weather creeps in, bit by bit, our bodies start to crave more build-up foods. More protein and fat to keep the heat in and prepare for the Winter (what? already? I think we’ve got a while, but it never hurts to plan ahead). This dish fit the bill for me. Hearty tempeh and the last of the summer’s sweet peppers simmered in a paprika-chipolte-maple marinade and served with light but protein-rich quinoa. Quinoa, small as it is, is pretty mighty in this respect. The highest amount of protein of all the grains resides in this little guy (though he’s technically a seed…).

I used some cute little sweet peppers I found at the farmers market, but bell peppers will work just as well. And you won’t normally see me stirring delicate fresh herbs into a dish that is still cooking. The oils in the leaves that make them so fragrant and delicious dissipate quickly when cooked, so I almost always use them raw. However, in this dish I used the cilantro as more of a vegetable than an herb, and since I used a ton, I figured it was ok if a little of the flavor escaped. There’s still plenty to go around.

Smokey Tempeh & Peppers

2-3 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz. tempeh
1 lb. sweet or bell peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. shoyu
2 T. maple syrup
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or more if you’re feeling brave)
1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the tempeh and  cook for 10 minutes, flipping once, to brown on a few sides. Stir in the peppers and cook for a few minutes while you prepare the marinade.

Combine the garlic, shoyu, maple syrup, lime juice, the other tablespoon of oil, paprika and chipotle in a liquid measuring cup that holds at least 1 cup. Quickly whisk together with a fork. Add water to make 1 c of marinade. Pour the marinade over the tempeh mixture. Simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes, until everything is tender and most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until tender and all the water is gone. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Serve the tempeh mixture over the quinoa, and top with some extra cilantro.

serves 4

Chickpea & Kale Stew

According to Chinese Medicine, insomnia and low self-esteem are both partly caused by weak blood (go figure). The traditional remedy is to drink/eat some blood…uh, no thanks. How about nourishing the blood with a warm filling stew instead? This one has hearty chickpeas for protein, tahini for iron and kale for, well, everything!

This might not be the meal to make if you’ve gotta get dinner on the table in a hurry – though with the shortcuts below we can get it down to less than an hour. But if you have the time, and especially if you’re going for that super nourishing thing, cooking the chickpeas from scratch is really worth it. Not only are they way cheaper, but they taste so much better, and the cooking liqueur acts as a vegetable stock and flavors the whole pot. If you don’t have time to wait though, you can use canned. Just start with cooking the onions, spices and garlic right in the soup pot, then add stock and the potatoes. When the taters are almost done add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the pot with the kale. Speaking of kale, I really love lacinato in this. It’s not a requirement, but be aware if you use regular kale that it will take a bit longer to soften in the pot.

Chickpea & Kale Stew

2/3 c. dried chickpeas, soaked for at least an hour (to use canned, see the note above)
1-2 lbs. small potatoes, cut in big cubes
1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sea salt
2 T. tahini
1 small bunch kale, finely chopped
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts

Drain chickpeas from their soaking liquid and place in a large soup pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn down, cover and simmer for about an hour. Keep in mind the cooking times for beans is approximate, depending on the age of your beans.

After an hour your chickpeas should be starting to soften (if it happens earlier, then don’t wait the whole hour). Don’t wait until they are completely cooked because they still have another 1/2 hour to go. Add the potatoes, make sure the stew comes back up to a simmer, and keep cooking for another 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are fairly soft, but not totally done.

After 10-20 minutes of the potato cooking, heat the olive oil in a separate skillet over medium low. Add the onions and spices and cook until the onion is soft, 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and salt and stir, giving the whole thing another minute or so. Scoop out about a 1/4 c. of the cooking liquid from the pot into another container. Whisk (I used a fork) the tahini into the liquid until it has dissolved. Pour it back into the pot.

Add the onion mixture to the soup pot. Be aware that beans get tough and take more time to cook if there is salt in the cooking liquid, so only add this when the chickpeas are mostly tender. Also stir in the kale at this time.

Let the whole thing cook for another 5-10 minutes. It is done when the chickpeas, potatoes and kale are all tender to the bite. Serve topped with the toasted pine nuts.

serves 4.

Lentil & Pepper Salad

Today I walked outside and the air smelled crisp and clean. It was still warm, and the breeze felt good on my bare arms. It’s the first day that really feels like Fall. Gone are the salads of light, crisp greens and bright lemony dressings, and in it’s place stand brightly colored harvest vegetables, hearty grains and beans, and creamy dressings.

Enter this salad. Actually, I’m not sure that it can be defined that way, as pretty much everything is cooked, and it is still warm – but it includes a dressing, so I’m sticking to my guns here. Diced sweet bell peppers, which you can use raw or cooked to your liking, peppery french lentils, some toasted nuts and seeds, all tossed with an orange-y creme fraiche dressing and topped with lots of fresh basil. I’m gonna go ahead and say you can use any type of lentil you’ve got, except for red, but I just happen to adore the grassy, peppery bite of frenchie here, especially with the sweetness of the peppers and orange, and the creaminess of the dressing.

Lentil & Pepper Salad

2/3 c. french lentils, rinsed and picked over for rocks and such
1/4 c. slivered almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
3 T. olive oil, divided
2 bell peppers, diced

2 T. creme fraiche
1/4 c. fresh squeezed orange juice
salt and pepper to taste
a big handful of basil, chopped

Add the lentils to a large pot and cover with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn to low, and simmer, covered, until tender but still with a little bite, about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes to finish cooking. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the almonds and seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing every once and a while, until toasty, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in the same skillet, and add the peppers. Cook until they are the texture you like them, 3-5 minutes for a firm, crispy pepper, up to 10 minutes for a softer, sweeter pepper.

Now make the dressing. Combine the creme fraiche, orange juice, and the rest of the oil (2 T.) in a small bowl and whisk. Add salt and pepper until you’ve got a strong tasting dressing – the flavor will disperse when it’s mixed with the salad.

Combine the lentils, peppers and half the nuts/seeds in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and toss to combine. Garnish with basil and the rest of the almonds and sunflower seeds.

serves 4

Summer Squash Mini Flatbread

My plans for Labor Day involved a frittata, some “Mars” grapes, a big loaf of fresh baked bread, and a picnic near the water. Unfortunately my picnic companion didn’t get home until after sunset, and I wasted 5 cups of beautiful local spelt flour trying to rescue a wad of dough and make it into bread. We ended up with a late, intimate dinner of room temperature eggs and some biscuits, at the dining table. Still good, but not quite what we had in mind.

After that bread fiasco I decided that the “pizza crust” for this recipe had to be easy, no rise, and flatbread-y. I used a recipe Jeanine posted a while back  to make some yogurt flatbread. Of course, I had no more spelt flour, so I had to use the whole grain pastry flour I had on hand. Between that and the 110% humidity we’ve got right now, I ended up using almost double the amount of flour called for. Still, it ended up turning out ok {phew!} so I’m thinking it might be time to go back to the drawing board on that bread loaf. Be on the lookout for the recipe. Eventually.

This recipe may look a bit time consuming, but a lot of the time is waiting around, checking email (or taking pictures) and it’s not too difficult. Plus, you end up with a no-fail, mini pizza kind of deal, with homemade crust. I used the pesto I had leftover from this, but you can use your favorite pesto here.

Summer Squash Mini Flatbread

Dough:
1/2 – 1 c. flour (spelt or whole wheat would be best, but I used whold wheat pastry)
1/2 c. yogurt
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Toppings:
1/2 c. pesto
1 T. olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 small summer squash or zucchini, sliced paper thin
a few oz. goat cheese (optional)
chopped fresh basil, for garnish

Combine all the dough ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or so until smooth. Start with 1/2 of flour, then add more as needed to get rid of any stickiness. Wrap in plastic wrap and slip into the fridge for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour.

While you’re waiting, slice those onions. Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat and cook the onions until brown and sweet, this could take up to 30 minutes, but don’t skimp, you’ll love that caramelized flavor. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Once the dough is ready, unwrap it and place it on that floured surface again. Divide in half, then in half again to form 4 hunks of dough. Roll each piece out with a floured rolling pin and place them on the baking sheet. Spread some pesto on each piece, then top with the caramelized onions, squash and goat cheese. Slide into the oven for about 15 minutes, until the crust gets the faintest hint of brown.

Sprinkle each piece with some of the basil, slice and serve.

serves 2 as a main, 4 as an appetizer

Tomato & Coconut Rice

A number of years ago, before that big economic downturn, I took a trip to Dubai. In mid August. It was hot. Really hot. Like, 40 degrees Celsius hot. I saw a lot of pretty amazing things, but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is a restaurant. It was an “Indian-inspired” place, like nothing I’d ever heard of before, or have seen since. They didn’t have your typical Saag Dal, or Chana Masala, or whatever it is that you always order when you get Indian. Instead, the chef took inspiration from the spice blends and flavors of India, and created a menu of unique, inspired dishes. They didn’t have many vegetarian things on the menu, and I honestly don’t even remember what I got, but the idea has stuck with me.

You’d think living in the biggest foodie city in the country I’d have stumbled upon a similar place here in the states. Unfortunately I have yet to find one. But if you know of a place, please let me know.

This is the kind of dish I imagine would be on the menu at a restaurant like this, especially if I was the one who ran it. A great mix of spices, juicy summer tomatoes, and brown basmati rice. It may not be authentic Indian food, but that’s not the point. Taking fresh, local, healthy food and giving a spicy twist – IS the point.

Tomato & Coconut Rice

1 T. ghee or coconut oil
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1″ knob of ginger, minced
1 chili pepper, minced (I used a chili d’arbol, serrano or jalepeno would be fine, too)
1 tsp. tumeric
3 big juicy red beeftsteak tomatoes, diced
scant 1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. coconut milk
3/4 c. water
1 c. brown basmati rice
1/2 c. large flake coconut, for garnish
chopped fresh herbs for garnish (all’s I had was basil, cilantro would have been my first choice, though – remind me to plant an herb garden next spring!)

Heat ghee or oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, and saute 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and chili and give it another minute or two before adding the tumeric, salt and tomatoes and all their juices you can save. Once it is well combined and the tomatoes have started to release liquid, pour in the coconut milk, water and rice. Stir, cover and bring to a boil.

Turn it down to low and let it simmer for 50-60 minutes. While you wait you can toast the coconut flakes in a dry skillet for a few minutes, and chop up your herbs. If you’re making something else to go with the rice, now’s a good time to do that, too!

When the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is done. Serve with coconut flakes and herbs sprinkled on top.

serves 4

 

Roasted Tomatillo Pasta

Happy September! I’m not quite sure where Summer went, but with the temperature in the 90′s here in NYC it sure feels like it’s still with us. But by this time next week it will have been more than a month since I almost cut my finger off, I will have started school, and it will officially feel like Fall. At least, I think it will.

However, in this last weekend of freedom I simply sliced a few vegetables in half, doused them in oil and salt, roasted, pureed, and ended up with this super simple pasta dish. It may involve turning on the oven, but I promise you won’t be in the kitchen for long. More time to enjoy your Labor Day festivities. Hey, what are you doing for Labor Day, anyways?

Roasted Tomatillo Pasta

8 oz. spaghetti
10-12 tomatillos, halved
2 poblano peppers, stemmed, seeded and halved
2 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 c. pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
juice of one lime
1 tsp. honey
crumbly cheese for garnish (feta, goat cheese, cojita, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 450.

Bring a pot of water to boil. Cook spaghetti according to the package directions (usually 10 minutes or so). Drain, reserving about 1/2 c. water, and set aside.

Meanwhile combine tomatillos, poblanos, oil and a few pinches of salt, and spread it out on a baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and just starting to brown. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium for a few minutes, until they start to pop.

Transfer the vegetables to the food processor along with half the toasted seeds (1/4 c.) lime juice and honey. Process for a minute or two then taste. I added about 1/2 tsp. more salt, but add a little at a time until the flavor pops.

Pour the pasta into a serving dish and stir in the tomatillo mixture. Add pasta water, a little at a time until a creamy sauce forms. Top with the cheese and the rest of the pepitas and serve.

serves 4