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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turkey Salad with Pomegranate and Pear


This colorful and healthy salad makes good use of leftover turkey. Serve small portions as an appetizer or larger portions as a main course.

I use my mandolin to make quick work of the pear (with a julienne blade), bell pepper and onion (with a thin slicing blade). You can use a sharp knife if you don't have a mandolin.

To the vinaigrette I added some of my dad's Choke Cherry Jelly, made in small batches using hand-picked Minnesota choke cherries. Since I don't eat a lot of bread, I use the jelly in sauces and vinaigrettes, like this one. You can use any all-fruit jelly or jam instead, made with cherries or another dark red fruit like blackberries.

1 to 2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 pomegranate, arils removed
1 Asian pear, cut into julienne
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup parsley leaves plus more to garnish
Choke Cherry Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Toss together the turkey, pomegranate arils, pear, bell pepper, onion, and parsley leaves.

Stir in just enough Choke Cherry Vinaigrette to coat the ingredients lightly but thoroughly. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl or plate and garnish it with parsley leaves.

Choke Cherry Vinaigrette

I make this dressing with my dad's Choke Cherry Jelly, made in small batches using hand-picked Minnesota choke cherries. You can use any all-fruit jelly or jam instead, made with cherries or another dark red fruit like blackberries.

This recipe makes more than enough for a large bowl of salad. Double or triple the ingredients to make more if you want to keep some in the fridge for future use.

1 tbsp Deed's Choke Cherry Jelly (or other all-fruit jelly or jam)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon Mustard 
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Whisk together all of the ingredients until smooth.
(An immersion blender works great for making bigger batches.)
Serve it immediately or store it in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid in the fridge for future use.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Custard with Dark Chocolate Ganache


This sweet and savory seasonal custard is like pumpkin pie without the crust. It's healthier than pumpkin pie because it doesn't contain flour or sugar (just a small amount of honey).

It's not only gluten-free, but it's dairy-free too because I used coconut milk instead of cow's milk. The coconut milk and pasture-raised eggs add healthy fat and protein. Pumpkin adds fiber, antioxidants, B vitamins, trace minerals like copper and manganese that are essential for healthy bones, and disease-fighting nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. Warm spices like cinnamon and fresh ginger have medicinal effects too, like reducing inflammation in the body.

This custard can be served warm or at room temperature the day you make it, but I like to bake it ahead and chill it thoroughly. The combination of cool custard with warm dark chocolate ganache is really a winner.

If you prefer a more traditional garnish and don't need a dairy-free dessert, pecans and freshly whipped unsweetened cream work well too.

2 cups or 15 ounces unsweetened pumpkin purée
1 cup coconut milk (full fat)
2 eggs
¼ cup honey
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated ginger

¼ tsp cloves
Pinch nutmeg

Pinch cardamom
¼ tsp sea salt

2 ounces 72 to 85% dark chocolate
2 tbsp organic heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare enough boiling water to make a water bath.

In a mixing bowl combine the pumpkin, coconut milk, eggs, honey, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, and salt. Mix untiil smooth.  Pour the mixture into 5 half-cup ramekins.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish and add enough hot water to come at least half way up the sides. Take care to not splash any water into the custard. Place them in the oven and bake them for one hour.

Remove the custards from the oven but don't remove them from the water bath. Allow them to cool inside the water bath and remove them once they come to room temperature.

Serve the pumpkin custards within two hours of taking them out of the oven or cover them and place them in the fridge.

Just before serving, make the ganache: Warm the chocolate in a double boiler until just melted, then stir in the heavy cream until fully blended. Spoon the ganache over the custards and serve immediately.

Alternative topping: Arrange raw pecans on top of each custard and add a dollop of freshly whipped unsweetened organic cream.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Home-Made Cranberry Chipotle Mustard


Making your own mustard is easy. There are only three basic ingredients: mustard seeds, vinegar, and salt. I always add turmeric for color and also because it contains potent antioxidant and anti-cancer compounds. And then I flavor it how ever I like.

This time I added dried cranberries and freshly ground chipotle (smoked jalapeno) pepper, making this mustard spicy, smokey, and just slightly sweet.

It's better to use unsweetened cranberries and a touch of honey, so you can control the sweetness, but if you can only find sweetened cranberries, omit the honey. If you like your mustard more warm than spicy, use freshly grated ginger or ground cinnamon instead of chipotle pepper.

You can serve this seasonal mustard with your Thanksgiving turkey, or on other occasions with chicken, duck, or pork. Vegetarians can serve it with grilled portabello mushroom caps, sautéed tempeh or tofu triangles.

1 cup red wine vinegar
½ cup dried mustard seeds, pre-soaked in the vinegar
½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries
1 tsp honey
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp blood orange sea salt or regular sea salt
⅛ tsp ground chipotle pepper

Add the vinegar and dry mustard seeds to an air-tight glass container 2 cups or larger (because the mustard seeds will swell as they absorb the vinegar). Set it aside for 24 to 48 hours.

Once the mustard seeds have fully re-hydrated, transfer them with the vinegar to a food processor. Add the cranberries and pulse until the cranberries are roughly chopped.

Add the honey, turmeric, salt, and chipotle. Pulse to incorporate the spices thoroughly, then set it aside for half an hour to allow the cranberries and spices to re-hydrate as well.

Process the mixture until smooth. Serve the cranberry mustard immediately or transfer it to an air-tight glass jar and store it in the fridge, labeled it with the contents and date. It will last for several weeks.

Yield: 1½ cups mustard

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pomegranate Pear Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette


Full of the fall harvest, this seasonal salad is a stunning dish. It's so simple to make that you could eat it every day, but it's also elegant enough to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. Either way, it's a colorful and healthy addition to any meal.

Pears give this dish a crisp and juicy texture while walnuts give it a creaminess. Antioxidant-rich pomegranate adds bright color and a sweet-tart flavor.

To give it some protein and healthy fat, I topped it with slices of raw milk cheddar ($5.49/lb at Trader Joe's).

You can substitute crumbled blue or goat cheese, or omit the cheese completely for a dairy-free vegan dish. You can also substitute any any pear in season for the Asian pear.

I used a mandolin to thinly slice the pear and red onion, but you could use a knife instead. Cut up the pear however you wish.

This recipe serves one or two people as a main course, or three to four people as a starter or side salad (pair it with soup or roasted chicken). You can stretch it by adding more salad greens, but you may need more vinaigrette.

Several cups of salad greens
1 Asian pear or other pear, thinly sliced, core removed
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small pomegranate, arils removed
1/2 cup raw walnuts
4 thin slices of cheddar cheese
Apple Cider Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Arrange the salad greens on a plate (or plates). Arrange the pear slices on top of the greens. Scatter the red onion, walnuts, and pomegranate arils on top of the pears. Arrange the cheese slices on top of everything. Drizzle Apple Cider Vinaigrette over the top of the salad or serve it on the side.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
Sea salt
Freshly ground peppercorn

Whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (vinegar, salt, pepper). Serve it immediately or store it in the fridge for future use.