Monday, December 29, 2014

Sunrise Smoothie

Persimmons start popping up at the farmer's market and grocery store this time of year. They are delicate and sweet in flavour. Fuyu persimmons (short and squat like a tomato) can be eaten when they are still firm. Hachiya persimmons, on the other hand, must be eaten when they feel like a water-balloon in your hands. If not, they will taste bitter and soapy. Either variety is ideal for this smoothie. Should you use the firmer kind, remember to balance it out with ingredients that will make the drink just as creamy - perhaps 1/4 of an avocado. 

- 1 very ripe persimmon 
- 1 very ripe frozen banana
- 1/2 a mango 
- small chunk of grated ginger 
- 1/2 scoop any vanilla protein powder
- 1/2 tbs psyllium husk 
- 1/4 avocado *optional
- stevia to taste 
- water 
- lots of ice 

Blend everything together. Voila! 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Orange Angel-Cake with Orange Syrup

What does one do when their place of employment sends them home with 12 leftover egg whites? (I know, awesome right?! Best job ever). ...Making large batches of creme brulee has a way of really screwing with one's morning omelet plans. The answer? Angel food cake! Except, I wanted to amp up the flavour and make the whole dessert orange scented, orange flavoured, and oozing with orange-y syrup. I made a standard angel food cake with a meringue, cake flour, sugar, vanilla, cream of tartar, but with the addition of orange zest. When it was hot out of the oven, I poked it violently with a knife. It was an angel-cake massacre. I then poured over a simple syrup I had made while it was baking: fresh orange juice, water, sugar, and a hint of peppermint extract. Reduce all of those ingredients in a pan until it forms a glossy, thicker liquid. The syrup will soak into all of the cake wounds and make things extra tasty. Pop it onto a cake platter and top the cake with orange segments, and any seasonal fruit. It's the holiday season so I opted for pomegranate. This cake will be a special finish to a girl's night in. It better go well with red wine...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Green Smoothie

I challenge anyone to come up with a better green smoothie! In an effort to out-do my boyfriend's rather fantastic version, I have perfected my own magical green sludge. It's packed with everything nutritious and uplifting, which is much appreciated during school's exam season. I drink one every morning, followed by a few cups of water. It doubles as a phenomenal meal-replacement too, if work leaves me pinched for time. One of these per day, for two months, and I can report how much whiter my eyes have become, along with stronger nails, softer skin (even in the dead of winter), etc. ...Of course, green smoothies work in combination with a clean diet, and natural moisturizers like coconut oil. They are definitely an acquired taste - and might as well be made in a bubbling cauldron because they're one ingredient short of "eye of goat" - but super yummy once you get into the routine.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Souped-Up Hummus

Once or twice a week I will make a large batch of hummus to store in the fridge, for use in lunches and snacks on busy days. Eat it on its own with vegetables, smear it into the stalk of romaine leaves and roll it up like a tortilla, use a dollop as a garnish on vegetarian dishes, or water it down into a dressing for salads. I love the traditional chickpea, tahini, lemon, corriander, olive oil, salt and pepper combo, but lately I've been tossing other ingredients in to make things interesting. Add one or two of these to the basic recipe for a twist: cinnamon, sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, fresh basil, garahm masala/cumin, cooked beets (to dye it purple), roasted garlic, avocado, thai chili paste, olives, greek yogurt, artichoke hearts, lime (instead of lemon), chipolte peppers and their adobo sauce, hemp seeds, etc.

Healthy Mint Chocolate-Chip "Ice Cream"

In a food processor combine: 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 scoop of vanilla whey powder or what I use, 1/2 tsp peppermint extract, 1 tsp spirulina (for colour), a sprinkle of cacao nibs, a few drops of stevia, and a pinch of salt. Blend until smooth, with little pieces of chocolate left, and eat like a soft-serve yogurt. If you want to get technical and scoop your attempt-at-junk-food into a pretty bowl, pop the mixture in to the freezer for 15 minutes before serving. If you can't find cacao nibs, use another natural, dark type of chocolate. I've heard of a similar recipes being made with durian, a pungent tropical fruit, and that would result in a much more decadent dessert. If you have access to a durian, and can handle the smell, by all means go for it! I love the stuff, as you can see from my adventures in Thailand here, but am limited to Canadian winter produce. Nevertheless, this is a really tasty treat, and funky alternative to a post-workout protean smoothie.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Beef Cheek, Pumpkin, and Chickpea Stew

Nothing's better, when it's cold outside, than curling up on the sofa with a bowl of spicy tagine, a well-paired red wine, and an equally compatible loved-one. Stewing is my favourite wintery cooking method. As the braising aroma fills the air, your kitchen slowly heats the house, and when the sun sets and company arrives, you can enjoy the taste of patience. Slow cooked beef-cheek, pumpkin, dates, and chickpeas were the main components of this stew; but the real winner was the slow-cooked tomato-y beef broth that collected around the edges of the bowl. It had reduced so long in the dutch-oven that it transformed into a beef jus meets sweet aged balsamic vinegar deal...
I didn't follow this recipe, but the idea is the same. Just feel it out as you go. I love adding lots of dried fruit because it's unexpected and tastes really exciting. If you like your stews saltier or richer, up the salt or umami factor. Remember though, with salt, always season at the end of cooking. You can always add salt, but it's hard to take it back; and, adding more liquid to dilute an over-salty stew will un-do the richness you've previously built in with time.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Zucchini "Fettuccine" with Raw Creamy Pesto

I hope my Italian Nonna doesn't see this... Achieving a mock Alfredo/pesto/whatever you want to call it sauce, totally raw, is made possible by richer ingredients like nuts, oils, and avocados. Thanks to purchasing a cheap, handheld spiralizer, I don't feel so bad about eating heaps and heaps of the stuff for dinner. It's still quite rich, so once a month is a nice treat.