Brazil Nut and Date Bread with Honey Butter

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Brazil Nut and Date Bread with Honey Butter

(Serve for breakfast, snack, cheese plate or dessert!)

Yield: 1  9-inch pie

Unsalted butter, to prepare the pie pan
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup finely chopped Medjool dates, pits removed
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 cup raw brazil nuts, chopped roughly
3 large eggs

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 325ºF.

Butter a 9-inch pie pan, then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.

Mix together the flour, cinnamon, salt, cocoa powder, zest and baking powder in a medium-sized bowl.

Add the dates, milk, nuts and eggs and mix very well using a wooden spoon. Get in there with some elbow grease, and really stir until well combined. It’ll be thick and chunky, but that’s a good thing.

Pour the date batter into the prepared pie pan and or use the back of the wooden spoon to level off the batter.

Place the pie pan on a sheet pan and transfer to the oven.

Bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is light to golden brown and the center springs back when pressed.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan. Once cool enough to handle, remove from the pie pan, slice (using a bread knife) and serve with a slathering of honey butter.

Honey Butter:

1/2 stick unsalted butter (4 tablespoons), softened
2 tablespoons honey, preferably orange blossom

Mix the butter and honey in a small bowl until thoroughly combined.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

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Watercress and Spinach Soup with Cheesy Thyme Crisps

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

1 (16-ounce) bag chopped frozen spinach
8 ounces fresh watercress
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)
1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon)
4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
8 medium fresh mint leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of half a lemon)
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
Crème fraîche, for serving

Fill a small pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.

Add the spinach and cook until spinach is thawed, approximately 2 minutes. Add the watercress and continue to cook an additional 2 minutes. Drain into a strainer over the sink, and cool quickly with cold running water. Continue to drain in strainer and squeeze out as much of the water from the spinach and watercress as possible.

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and ¼ teaspoon of salt to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and beginning to color.

Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock to the saucepan, raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.

Remove from heat. Add the spinach, watercress and mint to the blender.  Pour the chicken stock mixture into the blender as well. Blend until smooth.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, lemon juice, and butter; continue to blend until fully incorporated.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of crème fraîche and a few cheesy thyme crisp. (recipe below)

Cheesy Thyme Crisp

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated on a microplane
1/2 cup grated Gruyere, grated on a microplane
1/2 tablespoon white whole wheat flour, sifted
3/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, then preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Toss to combine in a large bowl, the cheeses, flour, thyme and pepper.

Place 6 1-tablespoon mounds of the cheesy mixture, evenly spaced apart, on a parchment lined sheet tray. Pat the mounds of mixture, using your fingers, into 3½ to 4-inch rounds.

Bake for 8 minutes until crisps are light brown in color. Remove from the oven and allow cheesy crisps to cool on the sheet tray for 5 minutes. Using a metal spatula, transfer crisps to a cookie rack and let cool completely.

Using a cool sheet pan, repeat the process until all crisps are cooked off.

Photo: Ronald Tsang

P.S. This recipe was recently featured in an issue of Clean Eating Magazine and my new online cooking course with Clean Eating Magazine, “Clean Cooking & Nutrition: The World’s Healthiest Proteins & Advanced Vegetable Prep” will be starting on April 3! It’s gonna be so. much. fun! Check out the course trailer/preview to see for yourself!

Apple and Fennel Salad

Stay healthy in 2017 with this crisp and bright salad!

apple-fennel-salad

Apple and Fennel Salad with Shaved Parmigiano and Black Currants

Yield: 4 servings

 

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 medium shallot, peeled and diced small (3 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 large apple, unpeeled (preferably Braeburn, Fuji, or Honeycrisp)

1 large fennel bulb

¼ cup black currants

⅓ cup toasted, salted walnut pieces

¼ cup finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

In a small container with a tight fitting lid, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot and olive oil, close the lid tightly, and shake well to combine. Or, whisk to combine the ingredients in a small bowl.

Slice the apple and fennel bulb into French-fry strips on a mandolin (or cut into matchsticks), for approximately two cups apple and two cups fennel.

Toss together the apple, fennel, currants, walnuts and parsley in a medium bowl. Add vinaigrette and gently fold to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide the salad among 4 large plates and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over each salad. Lastly, using a vegetable peeler, top each serving with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Cinnamon Sweet Potato Purée

This Thanksgiving, forgo the marshmallows, lighten your mash and make my Sweet Potato Puree. Your stomach, taste buds and guests will thank you! (Okay, if you still want those marshmallows, I can attest that they do pair well with this dish ;-))

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Cinnamon Sweet Potato Purée

Yield: 4 to 5 servings

3 medium sweet potatoes (2 pounds), peeled and diced into 2-inch cubes

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup, preferably Grade B

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated on a Microplane

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Place the potatoes in a small pot filled halfway with cool water.
  1. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a knife, then drain well.
  1. Add the drained potatoes to a food processor with a metal blade attachment (for a super smooth texture) or large bowl (for a more rustic texture).
  1. Process in the food processor or mash with a potato masher, then add the remaining ingredients and continue processing or mashing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Cilantro Puree

It’s 2016 and California is in the midst of our rainy season with the addition of El Nino weather. Although we have gotten a bit of rain, we are still in a drought and conservation efforts continue. Super Sous and I created our Drought Friendly Recipes project last year and released a handful of recipes that make the most of California water.

Continuing with this project, we have a new recipe, perfect for one our favorite root vegetables, carrots. This recipe uses not only the carrot, but the carrot tops (for the most part the tops are discarded (unless you have a pet rabbit you are feeding)). Carrot tops can be bitter and fibrous, but this method of preparation – turning the tops into a puree mixed with herbs – might just change the way you think about carrots next time you see them in the store.

Enjoy!

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Roasted Carrots with Carrot Top Cilantro Puree

Yields: 2 servings

 

Roasted Carrots

 

1 bunch of large carrots, approximately 7 carrots, ¾ pounds, with tops

1 tablespoon grapeseed oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

 

Place an oven rack to the middle position. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper. Place sheet tray on rack and preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove carrot tops and reserve for puree (recipe below). Peel and cut carrots in half, lengthwise.

In a medium bowl, mix together carrots, grapeseed oil, cumin and salt. Stir to coat the carrots.

When oven is preheated, removed sheet tray and place carrots in one layer on top of the parchment-lined sheet tray.

Roast for 30-35 minutes, until carrots are nicely caramelized, flipping carrots once after 20 minutes.

Serve roasted carrots atop carrot top cilantro puree and garnish with some fresh cilantro leaves.

Serve immediately.

 

Carrot Top Cilantro Puree

Yield: 1 cup

 

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil, divided

1 small onion, peeled and diced small (1½ cups)

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and rough chopped (3 tablespoons)

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder

Tops from 1 bunch of large carrots, rinsed and chopped roughly (1 packed cup)

1 cup vegetable broth

1 packed cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

kosher salt, to taste

 

Place 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil and onions in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are lightly caramelized, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic, coriander and chipotle. Stir and cook until fragrant, approximately 1 minute.

Add carrot tops. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add vegetable broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until broth has reduced and only 1/3 cup of liquid remains, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Transfer contents of sauté pan into a blender. Add cilantro, mint, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, pepper and 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil to the blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds. Scrape insides of blender down with a rubber spatula and blend again on high for 30 to 45 seconds until fully pureed.

Season to taste with salt and serve puree with roasted carrots.

Refrigerate any remaining puree; use extra for roasted veggies, fish dishes and sandwich spreads.

Sweet Summer Corn Soup

What is summer without corn?! Grilled, sauteed, boiled – it’s all delicious, but one of my all time favorite ways to enjoy corn is corn soup.

This recipe is packed with that sweet corn flavor because everything comes to a boil, including the otherwise discarded cobs. Even when you take all the kernels off, they still hold so much flavor! So, why not use that flavor to your advantage? This recipe is also drought friendly: not only because we use every last inch of that corn on the cob, but also because it’s creamy without using any butter or dairy. The trick? Throwing a potato into the mix to give it extra richness. Oh, and there’s also that dollop of avocado. Mmmm.

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Creamed Summer Corn Soup with Chopped Cilantro and Avocado Puree

Yield: 6 cups

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh thyme

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

4 ears corn, kernels sliced off the cob (2 cups), reserving cobs

1 medium yellow potato, peeled and diced medium (1 cup)

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1 large lime)

1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder (or more to taste!)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Avocado puree (recipe below)

 

Heat the grapeseed oil in a small pot over medium heat.

Add the onion, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the corn (and their cobs), the diced potato and the stock, then cover. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer for approximately 30 minutes until the potatoes are cooked through.

Remove from the heat, then remove and discard the corn cobs.

Using an immersion blender, blend continuously until smooth. Add the lime juice, chipotle powder and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve warm and garnish each bowl with a dollop of avocado puree, a good sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a light grind of pepper.

 

Avocado Puree

1 large avocado (9 ounces), flesh scooped out, seed and skin discarded

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (juice of 1/2 large lime)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

A few good grinds of black pepper

 

In a small food processor combine the ingredients and puree until smooth.

Grilled Zucchini with Pumpkin Seed Romesco and Crostini

We are heading into the time of year when zucchini becomes the front runner of produce – bursting from backyard gardens and farmers’ fields.

With its versatile use, from raw salads to baked casseroles, zucchini offers a lot. One of my favorite preparations/cooking methods for zucchini is grilling. Getting those nice grill marks lends a depth of flavor that you don’t normally get when sauteing or baking.

For this recipe, another drought friendly one, Super Sous and I are grilling the zucchini and serving them with crositini and pumpkin seed romesco. Romesco is a sauce often made with almonds, but since the drought, we are exploring alternative nut/seed options, which makes pumpkin seeds, which take little water to produce, a great alternative. Taste wise, you won’t miss the almonds and price wise you’ll be happy too!

Enjoy this recipe and let us know what you think. Happy cooking!

Zucc slice

1/4-inch slices

Zucc Grilled

On the grill

Zucc and Crostini

Grilled crostini and zucchini

Zucc Final Crostini

Grilled Zucchini with Pumpkin Seed Romesco and Crostini

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

4 medium-sized zucchini, sliced lengthwise in ¼-inch slices using a mandoline or vegetable peeler

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 lemon, cut in half

Homemade Grilled Crostini (recipe below)

Pumpkin Seed Romesco (recipe below)

6 medium-sized fresh basil leaves, stacked, rolled, and sliced very thinly (chiffonade)

 

Preheat a grill to medium-high. Once hot, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in grapeseed oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil over the sliced zucchini. Using your hands, coat each piece evenly with the oil; season with salt and pepper. Taste a piece to see if it needs more seasoning, adding more to taste.

Grill the zucchini with the cover closed until nicely colored, 5 minutes per side. Do not move the zucchini slices for the first few minutes.

Once nicely caramelized, flip each piece and continue cooking until equally caramelized on the second side. Put your lemon, flesh side down, on the grill now.

Transfer the cooked zucchini and grilled lemon onto a plate until ready to assemble. Once the lemon is cool enough to handle, squeeze the juice over the zucchini.

To serve, top the crostini with some romesco sauce and then a few slices of the grilled zucchini, finish with the basil.

 

Homemade Grilled Crostini

1 loaf fresh bread, such as French baguette, sourdough, or ciabatta

Grapeseed oil, for drizzling

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Set your grill to high. Once hot, clean the grill, then, using tongs, lightly dip a cloth in grapeseed oil and wipe to coat the grill rack.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Using a bread knife, slice the loaf on a 25- to 45-degree angle (the greater the angle, the higher the surface area) half an inch thick.

Lay each piece, side by side, on the sheet pan in one layer, drizzle grapeseed oil over each piece, then season them evenly with salt and a few grinds of pepper. Arrange the slices on the grill and grill until lightly toasted with grill marks.

Flip the pieces and repeat.

Remove from the oven and transfer the crostini to a plate until needed.

Note: If using a round loaf of bread, be sure to cut the loaf in half first. Then, with the flat (cut) side facing down, starting from one side, cut straight down, making even slices. This method of slicing bread will prevent your slices from being smushed as you slice them.

 

Pumpkin Seed Romesco Sauce

Yield: 2 cups

 

5 tablespoons grapeseed oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced

¼ teaspoon red chile flakes

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes

1 roasted red bell pepper, diced medium

½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

2¼ teaspoons sherry vinegar

¼ cup grapeseed oil

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil and the onion to a medium sauté pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, chile flakes and paprika, stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes and bell pepper, stir. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has almost all reduced, approximately, 7 to 10 minutes.

Carefully transfer ingredients from sauté pan to a food processor and add the pumpkin seeds and sherry vinegar.

Process until well combined, scraping down the sides of the food processor as needed.

While processing, begin slowly streaming in the grapeseed oil. Continue until is combined.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.