Sunday, May 25, 2014

rosemary sea salted brownies

gluten-free, refined sugar-free





If I was to worry about posting seasonally appropriate topics and recipes I would probably be looking for .... not this post. I defend my choice thusly: chocolate is never out of season. It is the food equivalent of fashion's black - goes with everything. Should I need to hedge my bet I would point to the rosemary I picked from my garden which must surely confirm seasonal appropriateness. If I was to need to justify myself.

Last spring in Vancouver Jonathon introduced me to the pleasures of Beaucoup Bakery. The very first treat that caught my eye was a beautiful chocolate cookie with rosemary. It was even better than it looked and I mentally filed the concept for future reference. This spring Jonathon has a shop of his own and a few weeks ago he had an order of very special chocolate from Mexico, including this beautiful bar of rosemary dark chocolate. I had been fine-tuning a recipe for spicy brownies when he sent me a bar of the rosemary chocolate and as good as the spicy brownies were I suspected there was a better direction. I was right - the time on the spicy version was not a waste because it simply meant that these were perfect from the first batch. I love the piney, minty-ness of rosemary and it is a perfect partner to good dark chocolate. Toss is a bit of cinnamon and top it with a sprinkle of flakey salt and I dare you to stop at one. I made a batch for last week's Sunday dinner dessert and on Friday Eden told me she couldn't stop thinking about them. Pretty much says it all.

I have made this with butter twice and once with coconut oil replacing the butter. Both versions are very good so if you and dairy do not get along well by all means make it with the coconut oil, but my strong preference is to use good butter. Taste and texture were both superior.

rosemary sea salted brownies

1/2 cup almond flour
3 Tbsp coconut flour
1 Tbsp cacao
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
4.5 oz chopped dark chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary 
leaves stripped from a 3" sprig of rosemary
1 tsp flakey sea salt (such as Malden's)

Line an 8 inch square pan with a parchment paper sling and set aside.

In a bowl combine almond flour, coconut flour, cacao, cinnamon and fine sea salt. Set aside.

Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until almost melted then remove from heat and let stand for a few minutes - this will finish the melting without burning the chocolate. Add the honey and coconut sugar and stir gently to combine. Gently stir in the eggs being careful not to over-beat. Add the chopped rosemary and stir the mixture into the dry ingredients, mixing just until everything is incorporated. Push into the parchment lined pan. Sprinkle with the rosemary leaves and sea salt. Bake at 350 degree F for 28 minutes.

Easy and fast - to make and to eat :)




Sunday, May 18, 2014

no-bake chocolate cookies : re-invented

gluten-free, refined sugar-free




This story wanders a bit - or maybe a lot. Kind of like a new puppy, easily distracted.

I grew up on no-bake chocolate cookies. No-bakes and chocolate puffed wheat squares were my kryptonite - I could and would eat either one without discipline and to the point of illness. Needless to say the next generation (my children following my shining example) was no different. No-bakes are the obvious answer to every question. Or they were.

Health issues introduced our family to a new eating paradigm and I hadn't even looked at that well-exercised recipe for a good long time, long enough to have forgotten exactly what was in them. A week ago our family grew by one (we now have an adorable grand-dog) an event certainly deserved to  be celebrated. Celebration = food so I offered to bring a treat when we went to meet Mark and Tiffany's puppy. As time was short my mind inevitably went to our fail-safe, no-bake chocolate cookies. Then I looked at the recipe. I may have gulped and certainly grimaced - 2 cups of white sugar!!! 2! I just could not do it. I argued with myself and still couldn't. Really, two cups of white sugar in roughly 30 cookies. That's a lot of sugar. A lot of plain not good sugar. Tasty, easy, gluten-free and full of sugar. Bah! 

Not one to be undone by a couple of cups of sugar I determined that although I may be tempting fate by playing with a recipe as sacred as this one, it had to be done. That or toss the recipe entirely. It seemed a worthy gamble and at the end of the effort all agreed that it was. In fact, the reinvented cookies were universally approved as the preference. Lest anyone be mislead these cookies are not healthy doppelgängers for the originals - they are chewier in texture and deeper in taste. More dark chocolate than milk. But even the littlest of our clan loved them.

I think we should christen them Bailey cookies in honour of the new puppy. They are good enough to have a name of their own (not just 'the healthy no-bakes, you know...') and Bailey (the Brittany) is cute enough to warrant a cookie named after her.

David liked these well enough to stand jealous guard over them. Deacon liked them well enough to request a blog post a week after the fact. The pictures are reflective of no intention to post but I cannot withstand a request from a 10 year old. Really, I cannot :) What grandmother worth her salt could?!

bailey cookies
(adapted from my mom's recipe for no-bake chocolate cookies circa 1960)

3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk of your choice, I used coconut milk
6 Tbsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
 3 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine the honey, palm sugar, butter, milk of your choice, cocoa, and vanilla in a large heavy saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and immediately add the oats, coconut and chopped pecans. Mix well. Using a 1" cookie scoop drop in mounds onto parchment paper (or foil) to cool and set - about 1 hour. (A brief stint in the fridge will shorten that time somewhat.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

morrocan super salad




It has been a while. 'Nuff said. 

Tonight for dinner I made a salad so full of virtuous super-foods that I really feel like I should charge up a mountain or something ridiculous. Sweet potatoes, beluga lentils, red quinoa, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pomegranate seeds, chickpeas all tied together with a spicy/sweet dressing to give it a kick. One of the best things I have put in my mouth in a while. I made a mountain of dirty dishes in the process and really can't think of any shortcuts in that regard but the making is simple if multi-stepped and well worth the dish washing. The recipe advises it will feed 6. I would add that would be six very hungry people who love quinoa and lentils and all the rest of the good stuff. But that is all to the good because it means left-over salad for a lunch or two. I served our salad over a bed of baby kale, chard, and spinach because I have decided if you don't eat leafy greens for breakfast, lunch, and dinner there is just no way you are going to eat enough of them in a day. Besides, it looks pretty and tastes better.

I found the recipe yesterday morning. One of my most beloved personal indulgences is reading - anytime really - but specifically reading a magazine while I eat breakfast. While I was thus indulging yesterday morning (and finally catching up on the important business of getting up to date with my publications) a very pretty salad caught my eye. Thinking that fresh pomegranate seeds would be as scarce as hen's teeth this time of year I didn't expect to experience the salad any time soon. Short story: I was wrong - but about as happy to be wrong as I have ever been. If you can be as lucky as I, make the salad with pomegranate seeds. If not, try blueberries. (That's my plan for next time - and I know that next time will come soon here.) The original recipe called for fresh mint but what little mint is managing to show its brave self in my garden is just to small to snip so I subbed some mint tea leaves I have in the pantry. Fresh would be better but the dried was good.

I probably won't be charging up a mountain tonight but I feel virtuous enough to justify eating something wild and crazy for a treat. Plus having a tube of Harissa paste in the fridge just makes you cool. That and beluga lentils.

morrocan super salad
(from Style at Home magazine, renamed and ever so slightly adapted)

honey harissa dressing:
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp old-fashioned seedy Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 tsp orange zest
2 tsp harissa paste
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

salad:
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 540-ml can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup beluga black lentils
1 cup red quinoa
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup pecan halves, chopped
1 tsp dried mint leaves (or 1/4 cup chopped, fresh mint)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Toss 1/4 cup of the dressing with the diced sweet potatoes and spread the potatoes out on one of the baking sheets. Toss 2 Tbsp of the dressing with the chickpeas and spread those out on the second baking sheet. Put both sheets into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Fill a small pot with 4 cups of cold water and the beluga lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender - about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse.

Fill another small pot with 4 cups of water and the red quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes. Drain and let dry in the sieve for a few minutes.

While all of this cooking is happening add the green onions, pumpkin seeds, pecans, mint leaves, and cranberries to a large bowl. When the sweet potatoes are done remove them and the chickpeas from the oven and add to the large bowl along with the cooked lentils and red quinoa. Drizzle with the remaining dressing, add the pomegranate seeds and toss to combine. Serve over leafy greens. Or don't.