Search This Blog

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Cranberry Nut Balls

These treats are a healthy alternative to holiday cookies.

Serve them as snacks with a mug of hot apple cider after an afternoon of sledding,
offer them as a host/hostess gift, and keep some in the freezer for unexpected company.

½ cup chopped raw walnuts
½ cup chopped raw cashews
½ cup chopped raw almonds
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, roughly ground
½ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup ground raw sunflower seeds
¼ cup ground raw flax seeds
½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup almond butter
1 tbsp honey
½ cup dried unsweetened coconut

Stir together all nuts and seeds with cranberries, coconut and cinnamon. Add almond butter and honey, mix again. Form 1 tbsp portions into little balls, roll in coconut and chill before serving. Or make in advance, freeze and thaw 15 minutes before serving.

Makes about 30 balls.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Sauté


More than the sum of its parts, this simple side dish will leave even the most adamant Brussels sprouts skeptics asking for more. Sautéed until caramelized and golden brown, these sprouts are both savory and slightly sweet.

One secret is slicing them thin, which can be done by hand, but a food processor will make preparation a snap. (In fact, this dish may be what I use my food processor for most often.)

The other secret is waiting until the end of cooking to add salt. If you add it too soon, the osmotic effect will draw water out of the sprouts and stop them from browning. It is helpful to add a little salt if they start to stick before they start to brown, when a bit more moisture is needed, otherwise season them once they have caramelized.

I always slice as many sprouts as will fit into my largest skillet to ensure leftovers, which make a nutritious and delicious lunch or snack. (This morning, they were my breakfast.)

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb fresh Brussels sprouts, or more, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground peppercorn to taste
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Splash of cream or half-and-half

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced sprouts and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and caramelized. (Don’t stir too often or they won’t have the chance to brown.)

Season to taste with sea salt, freshly ground peppercorn and nutmeg. Stir in add a splash of cream or half-and-half, not enough to make a sauce but just enough to coat the leaves. Serve immediately.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Beet Greens with Walnuts and Cranberries


The beets are beautiful at the farmer’s market this time of year. Buy bunches that have fresh green leaves in good condition and eat the whole plant.

Grated raw into salads, golden beet roots add a brilliant, bright yellow color. For an easy appetizer or salad course, grate raw golden beets, alone or along with carrots and/or radishes, and toss them with chopped fresh parsley and your favorite vinaigrette. (This is probably what I use my food processor for most often.)

Or chop beet roots into wedges (scrub the peel and leave it intact), toss them with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and roast them until they are caramelized and golden brown. Serve roasted beet wedges as a side dish, add them to salads, or stir them into brown rice risottos.

Save the greens for this simple sauté, a colorful and festive side dish or main course. Because raw greens wilt down to a fraction of their original volume, at my table, 1 bunch of greens serves 1 person as a main course, or 2 to 3 people as a side dish. Multiply the recipe below accordingly.

1 bunch golden beet greens
1 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, or more, thinly sliced, minced or grated
Sea salt
Ground peppercorn
1 lemon
½ cup raw walnuts (or toasted at home slowly over low heat)
¼ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Remove the stems from the leaves. Finely chop the stems and set aside. Chop the leaves into strips 1 centimeter to 1 inch thick and set aside.

Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Increase heat to medium, add the chopped stems and a pinch each of sea salt and pepper. Sauté until the stems are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped beet leaves and cook until wilted and tender, tossing occasionally, about 5 more minutes.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the greens to taste (about half a lemon), catching any seeds. Toss to combine, taste for seasoning, and add more lemon, sea salt or peppercorn if needed. Transfer to a serving plate.

Scatter the walnuts, cranberries and blue cheese over the greens. Serve immediately.

* Tailor this recipe to meet your needs: If you don’t have beet greens or prefer something else, substitute spinach, chard, kale, turnip greens, bok choi, etc. Aged balsamic vinegar can be substituted for the lemon juice. Instead of walnuts, try pecans, pistachios or almonds. Cherries or golden raisins can be substituted for the cranberries. Goat cheese would be a good alternative to blue cheese.