Monday, April 27, 2020

Flavor Matching Cardamom

When I worked in retail food service, cardamom wasn't a spice carried by our primary vendor. I had to buy it at the grocery store and was surprised that the price was more than most other spices. I learned that a little can go a long way.

Cardamom is widely used in Scandinavian and Indian Cooking. It can be purchased in the pod or ground seed form.  Once ground, the seeds loose their essential oils and full flavor. The warm and sweet flavor pairs with desserts, rice and seafood. My meal tonight features two recipes with cardamom.

Steelhead Trout with Cardamom Drizzle

(Serves 3-4)

Place trout on a baking dish greased with olive oil spray.
12 ounce steelhead trout
Mix the liquids and cardamom. Pour over seafood. Bake at 350 F. for 20 minutes. 
2 tablespoon coffee
2 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

For this recipe, I used the pod form of the spice. I broke the pod, peeling it from the seeds and ground the seeds in my seed grinder. There are about 15 seeds in every pod.

Hot Cross Buns

(20 Servings)

Raisin, date and spice mixture
Grind raisins and dates in mini food processor. Soak in hot water and rum for 20 minutes.
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoon rum
Drain raisins and dates. Mix in orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.  Set aside.
2 teaspoon orange zest
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Combine whole wheat flour, dry yeast (active dry or bread machine) and sugar in bowl of electric mixer with dough hook in place.

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 tablespoon yeast

2 teaspoon sugar

Slowly add warm milk to the bowl and beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.

1 cup skim milk, heated to 125F.

Add  raisin, date and spice mixture, flour, oil, egg and salt to bowl.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl down.

Dried fruit and spice mixture 
½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup olive oil

1 egg (warmed to room temperature)

1 teaspoon salt

Gradually add additional flour to the mix, beating on low speed after each addition until the dough forms a ball and leaves the side of the mixer.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula throughout the process to combine the flour.

1 cup whole wheat flour

Mist a large bowl (twice the size of the dough ball) with an olive oil spray.  Turn the dough ball so that all sides are greased.  Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Grease a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with olive oil spray. Punch dough down. Using a 2 tablespoon scoop, portion dough balls and place in pan, 4 wide X 5 deep. Cover and let rise until double.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix egg and water. Brush tops of rolls with egg wash using pastry brush.
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon water
Bake 20 minutes.

Cool on wire rack.

Mix sugar, vanilla and juice.  Pipe icing cross on each roll.
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 teaspoon orange juice

The above meal was served with corn pudding.





Tuesday, April 21, 2020

A Salute to Local Farmers on Earth Day

I have never seen people work harder in my life than the farmers. A small family with big hearts, dreams and the strongest of work ethics reach an even bigger community through the animals they raise and the foods that they sell. In many ways, it can be said that the farmers help others to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  

Customers seem happy and support wellness in the community.  The farmers can feel a great sense of accomplishment when folks line up for their home grown products. That's easy to see viewing the line of cars lined up for weekly curb side pickup during the COVID-19 closings. 

I'm already a believer in local foods, the freshness of the products and safety in knowing the grower.  "Real food is food we trust to nourish our bodies our farmers and our planet."  This was the theme of Kimbal Musk's keynote address at the Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo 2017.  In many communities, the local farmers market is the place to find real food. Farmers markets may be the best venue to unite folks wanting fresh, local, whole foods to nurture their families. 

What I value most from the Farmers Market are the friends I have made.  Everyone smiles, thanks you and remembers your name.  I'm lucky to have connected with individuals that I can talk, (even if it's electronic), learn and shop.

I'm so encouraged by the sustainable meat and array of vegetables that our local farmers grown and sell.  I applaud the few local farmers who are expanding their fields to include whole grains.

So on this Earth Day 2020, here are tips for merging health, agriculture and wellness.
  • Act locally.  As much as possible, buy sustainable meat, produce and whole grains grown or purchased locally.
  • Prepare healthy foods at home. Choose recipes based on the season with ingredients that use whole foods.
  • Emphasize nutrient rich foods.   "The food we feed America should make people healthy."  Choose recipes rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained. 
  • Feature animal protein. "Animal agriculture is part of a sustainable diet." Locally raised animals are treated with tender loving care by our farm family friends.
  • Minimize food waste.   43% of Americas food waste is in the home. Utilize leftovers when planning meals.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Chicken Tortilla Casserole-Good Today or Make Ahead

Tonight this recipe was enjoyed fresh out of the oven by two senior citizens. Before retiring, we served this in the health sciences cafeteria I managed. In the past month, my husband and I helped pack and deliver meal kits for the couple thousand school students not in school due to the COVID-19 virus. Due to the circumstances, the kits are full of ultra-processed packaged and frozen foods. While the families are so appreciative. . . they would have been just as appreciative of a made-from scratch healthy meal.  This one should fit the bill.

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

(Serves 3)

Bake chicken in a 325F oven for 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165F. Dice.
9 ounce chicken breast, boneless, skinless

On stove-top, heat tomatoes, spices, peppers and onion.
2/3 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon cumin
2/3 teaspoon chili powder
Dash oregano
1/3 cup sweet peppers, diced
2 tablespoon onion, diced

Add corn and cooked diced chicken breast to pot.
1/2 cup corn
Cooked, diced chicken breast

Mix cornstarch into milk. Add milk to pot.  Heat over medium low heat until mixture begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
2/3 teaspoon cornstarch, non GMO
1/2 cup skim milk

Cut each tortilla into quarters.  Arrange 1/2 of tortillas in bottom of baking dish, greased with olive oil spray
3 corn tortillas
Add 1/2 of vegetable-chicken mix.
Top with 1/2 of cheese.
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Repeat layers.

Bake in 325 F for 1/2 hour.

Each serving contains 1/2 cup vegetables, 3 ounce meat, and 1 whole grain bread equivalent.

When we prepared this in the cafeteria we arranged 12 servings in a half size steam table pan and cut 3 X 4 to serve. 


Saturday, April 18, 2020

No Need to Discard Sourdough Starter Excess

Every week I pull the sourdough starter from the refrigerator, take a small amount of it to "feed" and ferment again. It takes just a little over 1 tablespoon of starter to begin renewing or feeding, so the excess can be discarded. The discard is compostable, as it's just flour and water. I prefer to make something with it. There are numerous recipes for doing just that.

For those with gluten insensitivity, fermentation (as in sourdough starters) and germination (sprouting) helps with breaking down gluten. (No wheat is safe for those with Celiac disease).

My favorite recipe for using the discard is one for pancakes. We'll usually eat those with an egg, then applesauce, when first made. My favorite breakfast to make with the leftovers is pancakes with peanut butter and bananas. Here's my go to recipe for the pancakes.

Sourdough Pancakes

(Serves 6)

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and soda, sugar and salt.
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a separate bowl, beat egg into starter. Add milk and oil. Stir in dry flour mix.
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup & 2 tablespoon skim milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil

Drop by 2 tablespoon scoops onto hot griddle greased with olive oil spray. Cook until the pancakes start to bubble on top, then flip. Cook an addition 1-2 minutes.

Once a week I feed my starter. I pull the starter jar from the refrigerator at bedtime. In the morning, I stir the starter with a spatula, then remove about 1 1/2 tablespoon of the culture to a clean jar. To that jar, I add 50 grams flour (mine is a rye starter, to I use fresh ground whole rye flour) and 75 grams water. I mix it good with a spatula, tighten the lid, and allow to sit at room temperature for a few hours. Then the fed starter is refrigerated for 1 week until the feeding starts all over.

For lunch today, I made Sourdough Crepes with the sourdough discard. My technique was not perfect, but our lunch was quite tasty.  Here's that recipe:

 Sourdough Rye Crepes

(12 crepes-4 servings)

Mix together all ingredients. Batter will be very thin.
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup whole grain rye flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk

Spray a non-stick skillet (mine was 7 inch) with olive oil spray. Heat pan over medium heat. Remove pan from burner. Tilting the pan, add 2 tablespoon batter to one end of pan, then tilt it the opposite way to cover bottom of the pan with batter. Place pan on burner. After about 2 minutes, loosen the edges of crepe with a spatula, then flip and cook for one minute more. Make all the crepes and reheat in microwave as needed when time to eat.

My crepes are filled with scrambled eggs and ham-a perfect combination with the rye flour!  Bob enjoyed a few of the extras with butter and honey!





Friday, April 10, 2020

Millet Muffins filled with Strawberry Mascarpone

Social distancing here in my hometown, I found a small ethnic food mart near the trail I was walking. An African-Caribbean store with a friendly owner and no other patrons, I quickly found some dry fava beans to purchase and then asked what the package that said "Kumba" was. "Millet" she said, and I added it to my finds. This millet was dark, smaller than the yellow grain often found in bird seed, yet bigger than teff. 

Loving all whole grains and my counter top flour mill, I ground some of the millet to make a sponge cake type dessert I've made with teff. The cakes were made in muffin pans, with only 2 tablespoons of batter per muffin. Baked and sliced in half horizontally, I filled the little cakes with a mascarpone, strawberry and almond cream. That cream was the perfect addition to a cake that tends to be a little dry and crumbly.

Millet Muffins filled with Strawberry Mascarpone

(20 servings)

Sift cocoa in bowl.  Mix with flour.
5 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa (not the Dutch processed kind)
1/2 cup millet flour

Combine eggs, sugar and salt in bowl of electric mixer with whisk attachment.  Beat on high speed 5 minutes.  
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat buttery sticks, melt and pour into deep reserved bowl.
3 tablespoon vegan buttery sticks

Remove mixer bowl with whipped egg-sugar-salt mix.  Fold in 1/3 of the flour-cocoa mix.  Repeat with half the remaining flour, then the rest of the flour.  

Scrape 1/4 of the batter into the hot butter.  Fold until butter is completely blended.  Scrape batter over the remaining butter and fold just until blended. 

Dip a 2 tablespoon scoop of batter into muffin pans greased with olive oil spray.

Bake at 335 F for 15 minutes.  While the muffins are hot, run a spatula around the inside of each tin, pressing against the sides of the pan.  

Remove muffins onto cooling rack.  

I cut and filled each with cream just before eating.

Strawberry Mascarpone Filling

Whip all ingredients together.  Refrigerate.
8 ounce mascarpone
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, chopped in food processor
2 tablespoon almonds, ground
Fill each muffin with 1 tablespoon cream.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Chicken Tortilla Soup

The corn tortillas are blended into the soup creating that delicious masa taste. The recipe from Food Network is modified substituting sweet peppers for our tastes, and the results are delicious too.  This recipe is a keeper.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

(Serves 4)

Chop onion, peppers and corn in food processor.  Saute in olive oil for 5 minutes.
1 medium sweet onion, peeled
3 mini sweet peppers, seeded and cut in chunks
1/2 cup corn off the cob
1 tablespoon olive oil

Stir in spices and corn tortillas and cook 1 minute.
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
3 corn tortillas, torn in small pieces.

Add chicken broth.
3 cups low sodium chicken broth.

Add chopped tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes.
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

Add chicken breast.
4 ounce skinless, boneless chicken breast

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken.  
Working in batches, blend soup.
Return soup to pot.

Shred chicken and return to pot.
Add remaining corn.
1/4 cup corn, cut off the cob

Mine is garnished with Ricotta Cheese.