Monday, November 29, 2010
I made the caramel by reducing palm sugar and coconut oil and a splash of coconut milk. The cake is made of eggs and almond flour and sweetened with palm sugar and honey and of course chocolate. The icing looks like it's really bad for you but it's 85% dark chocolate, coconut oil and a touch of honey and vanilla.
Friday, November 19, 2010
When entertaining a crowd keep it simple and prepare in advance so that you can join in on the party. I used to find entertaining a large group overwhelming but it's easy if you prepare in advance a few simple and healthy nibbles.
Here are a few ideas:
- Meat platter - Bison sausage, smoked salmon, smoked oysters, other types of sausage based on your preferences. Anything will work here. Pate's are great as well as cold shrimp.
- Cheese plate - Look for raw cheese and there are a lot of good choices out there. Go to a specialty cheese shop and ask for some help. You will not get the same quality of cheese at your local grocery store so make the trip, its worth the effort. Choose a variety; Purchase a cow, sheep and a goat cheese. The number of people you have determines how many cheeses you will buy. I like to have at least one or two hard cheese and one or two soft cheeses.
- Crackers - I could go on forever about this. There are so many bad choices of crackers lining the grocery store shelves and they have been there for who knows how long. DON'T BUY THEM. Make your own and they are really easy to make.
- Olives, Pickles and Tapenade, Dips - Use a variety of olives, black and green. I love fig compote and olive tapenade. Hummus is a great dip and top it with a good quality olive oil and toasted pine nuts.
- Fruit - Keep it simple. There is no need to go buy a ginormous fruit tray that was made two days ago with every kind of melon and other stuff you won't eat. Get what is in season and TASTES the best. Look for great smelling apples and fresh berries. Pears are usually a good choice in the winter as well.
- Crudite Platter - There has to be some sort of vegetable. Slice some peppers and carrots, cucumbers and celery. It is important to get good quality vegetables here. After all you are eating them raw. You don't want them to taste like the bag you just took them out of. Spend some time and go to the farmers market. Buy local if you can.
- Warm Tapas - Bacon wrapped dates, grilled prosciutto wrapped asparagus, chicken skewers, grilled shrimp, grilled beef tenderloin. Roasted fresh figs wrapped in prosciutto and a blue cheese is also great.
- Nuts and Dried Fruit - Add a small plate of dried figs or cranberries. Any dried fruit.
- Sweets - Include something sweet. It's really easy to dip fresh strawberries in a 70% dark chocolate and plate a few cookies. Keep your cookies free of sugar and white flour. This IS completely possible.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Last night I made this butternut squash bisque with a curry kick. I stocked up on squash at the farmers market this weekend and decided that I would make this soup with some of the squash. I love curry and spice so I added two types of curry to the soup but use whatever curry you have.
I make this recipe often and it is adapted from The Barefoot Contessa's original recipe. I love her cookbooks for the simplicity of the recipe and everything I have made always tastes great. I added toasted coconut, sliced green onion and a diced banana for a little sweetness. I finished it off with a drizzle of chili oil and a precooked chicken breast. A complete meal.
Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
1 butternut squash, diced into cubes about 1 inch
4 apples, peeled and diced
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
good quality olive oil or coconut oil
salt and pepper
Place diced squash, apple, onions and garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Bake at 425 degrees until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a stock pot and add:
1 carton, organic chicken broth
1-2 tbsp mild curry powder (I like curry so you may want to start small and work your way up)
1 can full fat coconut milk
Bring this mixture to a simmer and using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. If you don't have one of these, than you can puree mixture in batches in a food processor or blender. You may need to add more chicken stock but I like mine thick like a bisque. Check for seasoning. You may need to add more salt and pepper.
Top with toasted coconut, green onion and diced banana, cooked chicken and cilantro. Toasted cashews are also really good on this.
I had this leftover for lunch today and I did not have chicken so I topped it with leftover baked ham and cilantro and it was yummy!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I have been dreaming of coffee cake. I love fall and crave comfort food. Stews, soups, cinnamon, roasted meat and vegetables, rosemary crackers, baked brie with caramelized nuts, braised kale, sauteed brussel sprouts and squash. The list goes on and on and as I type, things pop into my head like fireworks going off. I love hitting the farmers market on the weekend and this weekend I found beautiful pears. Today I whipped up this pear flan with cinnamon and palm sugar and it was definitely pure satisfaction with every bite.
Have you ever heard of palm sugar? I came across it recently at one of my favorite suppliers of raw food. I have been experimenting with it ever since. I like it because it's low in fructose and it has a delicious flavor, almost like brown sugar but with caramel and butterscotch undertones.
Palm sugar is a low glycemic, crystalline sweetener that looks, tastes, dissolves and melts almost exactly like sugar, but it's completely natural and unrefined. It's made from the flowers growing high on coconut trees, which are opened to collect their liquid flower nectar. This nectar is then air-dried to form a crystalline sugar that's naturally brown in color and naturally rich in a number of key vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, including potassium, zinc, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6.
Palm sugar's glycemic index is about 35 whereas honey is 55-60. The fructose level for palm sugar is 3-9 % depending on the batch. I do not use agave nectar primarily because it is composed of fructose- I will get into the why's another day.
Having said all this it is still in the end, sugar. I cannot tolerate sweets very well so I only used a very small amount in this flan. I don't get the same crash from palm sugar as I do other sweeteners.
Aidan devoured it upon arriving home from school today!
1 large pear, sliced thinly
1 tbsp palm sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp honey
Mix palm sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and honey together in a small bowl. Place this mixture in the bottom of a well buttered 8 inch springform pan and layer pear slices on top.
1 cup almond flour
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp palm sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
Mix dry ingredients together. Mix wet ingredients together with palm sugar and add to almond flour mixture. Pour this on top of the pears and spread to cover pears. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
When the cake is done, remove from the oven and turn pan upside down onto a serving plate. This would be really yummy with coconut ice cream.....another day.