Friday, April 30, 2010

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

4 ounces (100 g) dark chocolate, chopped

2/3 cup milk
2 medium-sized ripe bananas cut into chunks
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Puree the bananas in food processor. In a double boiler melt the chocolate with the milk and cinnamon. Mix in mashed bananas. Pour into a container, cover, and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Granola with Almonds, Apples and Cranberries

3 cups oats
1 apple, grated (you can do it in a food processor)
1 cup almonds, chopped
1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
½ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup honey

In a large bowl mix all ingredients with wooden spoon.

Transfer the mixture onto a large greased baking sheet. Bake at 325F for 30 minutes. Stir once after 15 minutes. Cool on tray.

When completely cool store in an airtight container. Serve with yogurt and/or fresh fruits.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Candied Lilac and Violets

Lilac and Violets blossoms (use only unsprayed flowers from your garden or the place you can trust)
1 egg white (at room temperature)
1 cup superfine granulated sugar
A small, soft paint brush
A tray or a baking rack covered with waxed paper

Separate flowers from the stem; wash them thoroughly in cool water, rinse and dry them well.

In a small bowl beat the egg white with a fork until the white just shows a few bubbles. Place the sugar in a plate or shallow dish.

Dip a paint brush into the egg white and gently paint the flower. Cover the flower completely but not excessively. Don’t immerse the flower in the egg white. Sprinkle sugar evenly all over the flower on both sides. Place the flower on the waxed paper to dry. Continue with the rest of the flowers.

Let the flowers dry and harden completely. This could take a day or two.

Store the dried, candied flowers in airtight containers until ready to use. They will keep for as long as a year.
The candied flowers are beautiful decorations on cakes and cupcakes. Lilac florets look especially nice on dark chocolate. They are also surprisingly fragrant when dried.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Polenta Pizza with Black Beans

This is one of those super-easy and quick meals that would please both children and adults. It serves 4 persons but you will probably have some leftovers which you can have even the next day. Cold polenta pizza is actually a great school lunch as it is easy to pack.
2 cups polenta (corn grits)
6 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 tbls butter (optional)
Can of black beans (15.5.OZ, 435 g)
Ground chili

In a large, deep pan bring water and salt to boil. Gradually stir in polenta. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring frequently to prevent sticking until mixture is very thick (about 15 minutes). Stir in butter if you use it. Grease a big pizza pan or a large cookie baking sheet with olive oil. Pour hot polenta on it and spread it with wooden spatula to form a pizza-like base. Sprinkle with beans and grated cheese. Add salt and pepper as desired, basil, few drops of olive oil and ground chili if you like it. Bake in the oven preheated at 400F for 15 minutes or until polenta is golden brown and cheese bubbled. Let it cool just a little bit so that polenta can be cut into squares and serve warm with salad.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Black Olive Pizza (No-Knead)

1 ½ cup all purpose flour
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbls brown sugar
1½ cups warm water
2 tbls of polenta flour
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup water
1 tbls high quality olive oil
Molasses or honey (optional)
10 big black olives pitted and cut into circles
2 cups grated mozzarella or other mild and pale cheese
Fresh oregano
Salt, pepper and olive oil to taste

In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir with wooden spoon until blended. Cover the bowl and put it in the oven at lowest temperature. Let it rise for an hour.
Grease two pizza pans or baking sheets with some olive oil and sprinkle with polenta flour. It will prevent pizza from sticking and make it crunchier.

Place the dough on a well floured surface and sprinkle the top with flour. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and fold each piece into a ball. Pat and then stretch the dough to fit into a baking sheet. Repeat with second piece of dough. Cover the dough with kitchen cloth and put on a warm place while you are preparing the toppings.

Mix tomato paste with water and olive oil to make a sauce. Taste it and add a little bit of molasses or honey if the tomato is not nice and sweet enough. Cover with chopped olives and grated cheese. If you like it spicier add some more salt, pepper and sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil. Bake at the highest temperature (but not higher than 500 F) for about 10 minutes. Decorate with fresh oregano leaves and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Friday, April 9, 2010

Salted Chocolate-Covered Graham Crackers

A sophisticated combination of dark chocolate and sea salt was a breakthrough for me. It is addictive and visually beautiful. I loved taking photographs of salt crystals on a dark smooth surface of chocolate. The better chocolate and salt you use the better results you will have. I used Caribbean Sea salt that I have just got for a present from my friend. I guess you could use any high quality sea salt. I prepared very simple and mild graham crackers that I am usually making for my children. I think they emphasize the (bitter)sweet and salty combination really well.
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 8 tbls) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup and 1 tbls whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves

100 g dark chocolate (72% cacao)
1tsp freshly grated good quality sea salt

In a bowl combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, baking soda, salt, honey and spices. Gradually adding milk, mix and knead by hand until you form dough to a ball. Cover it and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven at 350F.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, first pat the dough and then roll it into a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick. Trim the edges and cut 2.5 x 1 inch crackers. Gather the scraps together. Repeat with the leftovers of dough. Place the crackers on two parchment-lined baking sheets (it will make about 50 grahams in total).

Bake in the upper third of the oven at 350 F for 13 minutes or until brown and slightly firm, rotating the sheets halfway through.

When the crackers are completely cool, melt the chocolate in a double boiler (never add water to the chocolate!) dip each cracker into a melted chocolate. Just before the chocolate is set sprinkle each cracker with sea salt. You would have to use freshly grated high quality sea salt.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Carrot Halwa

First Ayurvedic carrot halva recipe I found in LAYoga magazine /december2008/january2009/. It said that “according to ayurveda the fall season is the time when the vata dosha (air and ether elements) are on the rise, making our body and skin cold, dry and rough and our mind restless and anxious. We want to eat something that will help us feel grounded, well-lubricated and calm. Sweet, warm, heavy and moist foods have qualities exactly opposite of vata dosha, reducing dryness and roughness. It’s no wonder that we gravitate toward sweet and heavy foods around the holidays. Root veggies growing in the ground have a grounding effect so the ingredients in the carrot halwa encourage balance during sometimes stressful holiday season.”
I made carrot halwa many times and experimenting adding rose water, almonds and coconut puree to suit my taste. I hope it will suite yours too.

2 cups grated carrots
3 tbls ghee (use butter if you don’t have ghee)
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup chopped almonds
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup coconut puree
1 tsp rose water
1 tsp cardamom powder (you can use cinnamon instead)

In a pan sauté carrots in ghee for a few minutes. Add sugar and cook until all liquid is absorbed. Stir in coconut puree and cook for few more minutes. Remove from heat and add rose water, cardamom, almonds and raisins. Leave it to cool a little bit. In original, carrot halwa should be eaten warm, but because it is quite sweet, I usually serve it cold in paper candy cups as shown on the picture above.