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Saturday
Sep172011

Cinnamon Pear Pancakes with Spiced Honey

Earthy, bold flavors are what come to mind when I think of Autumn. Toasty hazelnuts, spices, pumpkin, beets, and fennel are a few favorites, not to mention fruits like figs, persimmons and apples. I was home last weekend to find my mom’s tree overflowing with pears, so I gathered as many as I could carry to bring with me back to the city. I let them sit in the fruit basket for the week to ripen some more, and come Saturday morning they were ready to be devoured.

 

Instead of maple syrup, I topped the cakes with a spiced honey that was so good I could barely contain myself. I actually don’t think you should make these pancakes unless you’re going to serve them with the spiced honey! The gluten and grain-free batter uses almond flour, which adds a heartiness and buttery flavor that satisfy much more than the refined flour and sugar-filled breakfast of stomach-pains past. 

 

CINNAMON PEAR PANCAKES WITH SPICED HONEY :: Makes about 10

Be sure to use pears that are not overripe, otherwise they’ll turn to mush when you try and grate them. If you have some super soft pears that you’re just dying to use, puree them in a blender with the eggs before mixing with dry ingredients. You may need to add less water or milk to the final batter. 

2 cups almond flour 2 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 tsp. salt 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 ripe but firm pears, cored and grated 3 eggs water or milk to thin the batter, as needed 1/2 cup honey 1/8 tsp. each cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves 1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil more butter or coconut oil, for the pan

In a large bowl, combine almond flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add grated pears (about 2 cups). 

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, and stir until moistened. Add water by 1/4 cup until desired consistency is reached– not too thin, but not too sticky.

Heat a griddle or nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add a tablespoon of butter or coconut oil. Scoop batter by 1/4 cup onto the griddle, and gently shape with the back of the spoon to help them spread. 

Cook for 3-4 minutes each side– you want to wait for bubbles to form before flipping them. They burn easily, so keep the heat lower than you think you need to, and be patient with them.

Meanwhile, combine honey, spices, and butter or coconut oil in a small saucepan over very low heat. Stirring occasionally, warm until honey is smooth and resembles the consistency of maple syrup. Keep warm until ready to serve.

When pancakes are finished cooking, pile onto a plate and drizzle with warm spiced honey. Accompaniments: broiled pears and a slice of bacon.

Wednesday
Sep142011

Labor Day Chili-Lime Chicken

I’ve never posted anything with meat before, but my diet and lifestyle constantly evolve as I read the newest health research, and I think the blog should reflect that. 

Having not cooked or eaten anything flesh-like (other than fish) in several years, the transition was slightly awkward. But now that my taste for it has returned full force (um, bacon? yes thanks) I’ve become a sizzling meat-searing machine, and some of the recipes to emerge from my kitchen lately have been too good not to share. Since I had been preparing meat for Elliott anyway every night, dinnertime is a whole lot easier when I’m not cooking two separate meals.

We finished up Labor Day weekend with a super easy spread of Chili-Lime Chicken, guacamole and roasted veggies. The peppers, onions and zucchini get tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and go into the oven at 400’ until desired roastness is achieved. The guac is a simple mash of avocado, lime juice, cilantro, salt & pepper. All together, it was a fresh, delicious and satisfying meal.

 CHILI-LIME CHICKEN :: Serves 2

2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (free range & organic preferred) juice of 3 limes 3 Tbsp. olive oil 1 large clove garlic, chopped 2 tsp. chili powder shake or two of cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes 1/4 tsp. dried oregano small handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped (cilantro would be a great substitute) freshly ground black pepper

In a small food processor or blender, combine lime juice through basil until well mixed and emulsified. Add more olive oil if dressing is too thick. Pour over chicken in a large bowl and coat well. Marinate covered, in the fridge, for an hour (or more, if you have time). Grill or bake until cooked through. Serve with roasted seasonal vegetables and fresh guacamole. 

Saturday
Sep102011

Lemon, Lavender & Olive Oil Crackers

I promised you recipes, and I’m not one to go back on my word. These crackers, my friends, are a sight (and taste) to behold. They are delightfully crunchy and flaky and nutty, sturdy enough to withstand even the most viscous of spreads (although it depends on how aggressive a dipper you are). Their texture lands somewhere between shortbread cookie, Triscuit, and graham cracker crust, without even butter or wheat in their composition.  

The smell of them is sharply lemon, but the olive oil comes through the background and cuts any hint of sour or bitterness. The fumes from the oven are warming and intoxicating, like something devilishly dessert-like is cooking instead of wholesome crackers. Surprisingly, the lavender isn’t very bold – I used a lavender salt that I found at the farmer’s market, but you could easily use regular salt and a bit of crushed, dried lavender instead. Or leave it out entirely (but not the salt). 

A word about olive oil: If the thought of removing it dashed across your mind, please reconsider. Also, use the good stuff. Break out your most expensive bottle, and you won’t be sorry. One tablespoon is all it takes to turn these crackers from great into glorious, delectable into divine.

I would highly recommend blueberry preserves as an accompaniment. Also, I made little towers of cracker, Greek yogurt and blueberry preserves for lunch one day, and the resemblance in taste to blueberry cheesecake was uncanny. Just a suggestion.

 LEMON, LAVENDER & OLIVE OIL CRACKERS 

(lightly adapted from Roost) Note: The edges might brown faster, but you can remedy this by covering them with any extra parchment or foil around the perimeter, like you would for a pie crust.

1 1/2 cups almond flour 1/4 tsp. lavender salt (found at gourmet shops and the farmer’s market) 1 Tbsp. good quality olive oil 2 Tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 350’. Cut two large pieces of parchment paper. In a bowl, combine almond flour with lavender salt. Combine olive oil with water in a smaller bowl and slowly drizzle into flour mixture, stirring to incorporate. You may decide to add the liquid in two batches, as I did. Mix until flour is evenly moist, and mixture comes together like a dough. Form into a patty and place between the two sheets of parchment, on a cutting board or counter top. Roll out to desired thickness. Remove top sheet and place the flat dough and bottom piece of parchment onto a baking sheet. Score dough to desired cracker size. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool before breaking apart and serving.

Wednesday
Sep072011

This month, I’ve decided to become a domestic goddess.

That’s right, I said it. I like household stuff. Cooking, cleaning, making my bed every morning, keeping things in tip top shape. Nesting, you might call it. 

I especially love cooking dinner for, and with, someone other than myself. A delicious meal is so much more satisfying when shared, don’t you think? But, like most of you out there, cooking every single night (and something healthful, for that matter) is next to impossible for me unless I plan ahead. 

This I’ve been practicing for quite a while now, and so far I’ve been able to consistently cook 5-6 nights of the week. One night is usually reserved for trying a new restaurant, and one might be leftovers or dinner with family. Along my path to becoming a domestic goddess (of sorts) I’ve picked up a few tricks here and there that I think will be useful for you too. That’s why, in this month’s column, I divulge what I’ve learned from experience, mistakes, friends, and family advice that has helped tremendously… And helped put delicious, healthy meals on our table almost every night. Check it out here!

All of that being said, far too much time has passed since I’ve shared with you one of our everyday recipes. Thus, please don’t expect as long of an absence this time around. Haven’t I just declared that meals are meant to be shared? You’ll see much more of me in the coming days, weeks and months, rest assured. In the meantime, you can find the delicious Autumn Medley Salad (pictured above), with fresh figs and pears, here. Enjoy!

Thursday
Aug112011

This month, I’m baking for power

In this month’s column, I introduce you to my world of baking without flour and sugar. What?! Blasphemy, you might be thinking. This is tricky terrain, no doubt about it. Don’t think that I haven’t had my fair share of bitter chocolate cupcakes and unsalvageable cookies by trying to make them more virtuous than they are by nature. This has surely been the case! 

However, I’ve slowly learned my way around the flour-free kitchen and I have some tricks to share. My reason for bending the baking rules? I love a good breakfast treat. Who doesn’t? But when the usual suspects are laden with refined grains and tons of sugar, they don’t help us out nutritionally – and that also means mentally, physically and spiritually, if you ask me.

TRICK #1: ALMOND FLOUR.

Elana’s Pantry is my go-to resource for all things almond flour, closely followed by Caitlin of Roost. Both of these ladies make do wonderfully on a grain-free diet, and every single recipe is an inspiration. I’ve learned to really love the texture and flavor almond flour brings to baked goods and pancakes, but I’ve found in my own kitchen that it works best when used in combination with other flours. Therefore….

TRICK #2: MILLED FLAXSEED.

Flaxseed meal! Who would’ve thought? I first discovered the magic of flax in these pancakes, where the little pulverized nutritional powerhouses turned into fluffy, cakey goodness on a hot griddle. My guess is that because ground flax absorbs so much liquid and reacts especially well with beaten eggs, there’s almost no need for flour at all. Make sure to buy milled flaxseed, rather than just ground flaxseed – the finer consistency will give you more of a flour-like texture. I bought a small coffee grinder just for this purpose, and it makes the perfect flax for baking.

TRICK #3: DATES INSTEAD OF SUGAR.

Don’t get me wrong – I love sugar. I just hate what it does to my body and mind. The solution? Dates! Dates are incredible. They are packed with vitamins and minerals, fiber, and a carmely, toasty sweetness that reminds me of brown sugar and molasses. The best way to use them is soaked in warm water, pitted, chopped, and blended in with the liquid ingredients. You could also eat them with a smear of peanut butter. Delish!

These three tricks are what helped me create the following recipe for DATE & ORANGE POWER MUFFINS. You can forget ginormous cafe muffins and sugary pastries that leave you hungry an hour later, because just one of these muffins has a crazy amount of protein, healthy fat, fiber, vitamins, and deliciousness that will keep you satisfied in every sense of the word. Please make these, and don’t forget to head on over to the column for more fun tidbits!

DATE & ORANGE POWER MUFFINS :: MAKES 10

1 cup almond flour 1/2 cup flaxseed meal 1 tsp. baking soda 1/2 tsp. sea salt 6 dates, pitted and chopped 3 eggs 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil or butter 1/4 cup orange juice 1/4 cup sunflower seeds 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (Pepitas) 1 Tbsp chia seeds

  • Preheat oven to 350’ and line 10-12 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a large bowl, mix almond flour, flaxseed meal, baking soda and sea salt.
  • In a blender, mix dates, eggs, oil and orange juice on medium speed until smooth.
  • Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Fold in sunflower, pumpkin and chia seeds.
  • Divide batter among muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Serve, or let cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.