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!

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

Try my delicious veg & fruit packed stew recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!

braised-spiced-chickpeas-with-swiss-chard-sweet-potatoes

photo by Ronald Tsang

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

 

Yield: 6 servings

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

2 small fennel bulbs, stems and bottoms removed, diced small (2½ cups)

¼ kosher salt, plus more to taste

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

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (3 cups)

3-ounces dried figs, tough stems removed and quartered (9 figs)

3-ounces dried apricots, chopped roughly (11 apricots)

3-ounces dried plums, chopped roughly (12 plums)

1 tablespoon honey

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 pound rainbow chard (leaves and stems), chopped roughly

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

 

Add the olive oil, onions, fennel and ¼ teaspoon salt to a 5.5 quart dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the sweet potatoes, dried fruit, honey, chickpeas and chicken stock. Cover and increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are barely tender.

Stir in the chard. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens are tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and top with fresh cilantro for a delicious garnish. (Pairs well with brown rice, quinoa, chicken, etc.) Tip: make this dish vegetarian by swapping out the chicken stock for veg stock.

Latte Panna Cotta

How do you sneak in an espresso beverage before bed? By hiding it in your dessert!

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Latte Panna Cotta

Yield: 8 servings

 

Nonstick spray

1 packet powdered unflavored gelatin (2 teaspoons)

3 tablespoons cold water

2 cups heavy whipping cream

⅓ cup granulated sugar

1 cup half-and-half

2 ounces (2 tablespoons) brewed espresso

 

Prepare eight 4-ounce ramekins by lightly spraying nonstick spray into each and wiping gently with a paper towel to distribute the spray evenly along the sides and bottom.

Add the gelatin to the cold water in a medium bowl, and allow to bloom (soften) for 5 minutes; do not stir.

Meanwhile, stir the heavy whipping cream and sugar together in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is fully dissolved at just barely a simmer.

Slowly add the warm sugar cream to the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is fully dissolved.

Pour the half-and-half into a large bowl (or a large pitcher for easier pouring) and, stirring continuously, slowly pour the warm cream mixture into the half-and-half.

Stir in the espresso.

Fill the ramekins equally and refrigerate uncovered for approximately 5 hours until chilled and completely set.

To unmold the panna cotta, dip the bottom of each ramekin into very hot water for 45 seconds, or until you can see the panna cotta just beginning to melt around the sides. You may also take a knife and run it around the inner circumference of each ramekin. Place a dessert plate on top of the ramekin, then holding both the ramekin and plate, simply invert.

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.

Spaghetti with Spicy Sausage Marinara

Keep things hot and spicy this Winter!

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Spaghetti with Spicy Sausage Marinara

Yield: Serves 4

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ pound spicy Italian pork sausage

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

12 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (¼ cup)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped finely

1 dried bay leaf

¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning

⅛ teaspoon crushed red chile pepper (chile flakes), or to taste

½ teaspoon ground fennel seed

¾ pound spaghetti

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated

¼ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves

 

For the pasta, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil.

Add the olive oil, sausage, and onions to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a wooden spoon as it cooks.

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

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes more.

Add the remaining ingredients and continue cooking, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, reducing the heat to low and stirring more often as the sauce thickens.

Once thick, remove the bay leaf and, season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the pasta, once the water has come to a rolling boil, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Stir the penne into the boiling salted water and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente (almost done, or “to the tooth”). Drain (do not rinse), reserving 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Toss pasta with spicy marinara sauce, adding some of the reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce, if needed.

Divide onto plates and top with the freshly grated cheese and parsley.

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

It’s cozy, flavorful and healthy… a perfect combination for a happy new year!

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Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

4 cups vegetable stock, divided

1 cup bulgur

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

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

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon double concentrated tomato paste

½ teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ancho chili powder

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground chipotle, or to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste

2 (15-ounce) can beans (combination of red kidney beans, black beans, and/or pinto beans) rinsed and drained

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream, optional

 

Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock and 1 cup bulgur to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 12 to 15 minutes until bulgur has absorbed the water and is al dente. (You may need to drain water out to prevent overcooking or add a little water to prevent undercooking.) Set aside when finished cooking.

Add 3 tablespoons oil, the onions and thyme to a small pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, ancho powder, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, chipotle, 1 teaspoon salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomatoes, Worcestershire, vinegar, remaining stock, and beans. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any brown bits.

Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, while the chili simmers slowly.

Stir in 1 cup of the cooked bulgur and remove from heat. Remove the thyme bundle and season to taste with salt, pepper and an additional dash of apple cider vinegar.

Divide into bowls, top with a dollop of crème fraiche and serve.

Other topping suggestions: fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, avocado…