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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Walnut-Crusted Cod with Lemon and Herbs

GLUTEN-FREE 


This flavorful fish dish is full of healthy fats. Instead of a flour-based crust, I made a paste made of raw walnuts, garlic, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. It's easy and fast to prepare.

I used wild Alaskan cod, but wild Alaskan halibut would also be good. Or you can use this topping with baked or broiled clams. Vegetarians can crumble it over portabella mushroom caps before they broil them.

I picked walnuts because they are highest in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats but you could substitute another raw nut, like almonds or pine nuts. I used fresh herbs from my window garden, a combination of oregano, rosemary, and thyme, but you can use any herbs you like.

The nut mixture can be made in advance for fast and easy meal preparation. If you want, make extra topping and store it tightly wrapped in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for several months.


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 organic lemon, zested
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, not tightly packed but not loosely either
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
  • Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 pound wild Alaskan cod fillets at room temperature

Directions:
  1. In a food processor or with a mortar and pestle, grind together until smooth the walnuts, lemon zest, herbs, and a pinch each of sea salt and ground pepper. Add the butter and mix again until the ingredients stick together.
  2. Place a small amount of olive oil on the bottom of a baking pan. Season the skin side of the fish fillets with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and place them skin-side down inside the pan. Distribute the nut mixture evenly over the top of the fish fillets, smoothing with a rubber scraper if you wish.
  3. Broil the walnut-crusted cod until the tops are browned, about 5 minutes, then turn off the broiler. Allow the fish to rest inside for five minutes or more, allowing them to finish cooking with residual heat so they don't become tough and over-cooked.
  4. Serve immediately with a colorful salad.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tomato Jam

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Make this savory spread while fresh, local tomatoes are still in season. Cinnamon, ginger, and clove add some warmth while chiptole adds a little smoky heat.

Most tomato jam recipes call for lots of sugar, but my recipe can be eaten unsweetened or slightly sweetened. You should try it unsweetened before you add the (small amount of) honey at the end. It's good unsweetened, but it's also good with a touch of honey to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and lime juice.

This jam is full of healthy antioxidants, thanks to the tomatoes and turmeric (which also has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer activity).  I used fresh turmeric because I happened to have some, but you can use dried ground turmeric instead.

If you don't have chipotle peppers or if you don't like the smoky flavor, substitute another dried chili pepper. If you don't like your sauce spicy, leave it out entirely.

Serve this sauce for brunch with scrambled eggs or eggs on sprouted whole grain toast.


Or serve it as a condiment for sautéed tempeh strips and roasted meats.

4 large tomatoes, about 3.5 pounds, cut into uniform wedges
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, first cold pressing
Sea salt
Freshly ground peppercorn
Juice of 1 lime, about 3 tbsp
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated turmeric or 1 tsp dried ground turmeric
Pinch cinnnamin
Pinch ground cloves 
Pinch ground cumin
Pinch ground chipotle
2 tbsp honey (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Toss the tomato wedges with the olive oil and arrange them in two shallow baking dishes. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, then stir. Continue roasting until the tomato wedges start to brown, about 15 minutes more, depending on the size of your wedges. Cool to room temperature.

Transfer the cooled tomatoes to a small saucepan. Pour the lime juice in the empty baking dishes and use a rubber scraper to stir up any brown bits before you transfer it to the saucepan with the tomaotes. Stir in the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and chiptole.

Use an immersion blender to purée the mixture until smooth. Cook over lowest heat until the mixture thickens and releases as much moisture as possible, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust any of the seasonings if necessary. Add honey if desired.

Serve the tomato jam immediately or cool it to room temperature before transferring it to an air-tight container. Store in the fridge for a week for in the freezer for several months.

Yield: 1½ to 1¾ cups

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Campfire Dinner: Aromatic Salmon Pouches

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Late summer and early fall are some of the best times to enjoy the great outdoors. There are fewer mosquitoes, the sun is less intense, and the weather is mild. Day are still warm but no longer hot and humid, and nights are cooler and more comfortable, sometimes even a bit chilly. Conditions are perfect for a campfire.

My friend Juliah and I made this dish on a recent camping trip in the California redwoods. It's an easy meal to prepare while camping, either on-site or in advance. Just add the contents to a foil pouch and cook them in the campfire when you're ready for dinner.

We used fresh turmeric (the antioxidant, anti-cancer super spice) because it was available at the Berkley Bowl when we went shopping. If you don't have it, use ground turmeric instead, which is widely available.

Fresh turmeric
Fresh turmeric grated

If your lemon isn't organic, omit the zest.

Cold-pressed coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 wild Alaskan salmon fillet, cut into 3- to 6-ounce portions
1 red bell pepper, cut into long, thin strips
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces and split lengthwise into halves or quarters
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 3-inch piece of ginger root, cut into long, thin strips
Sea salt
Freshly ground peppercorn
1 organic lemon, zest and juice
1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric or 1/4 tsp ground turmeric

For each pouch, start with a piece of aluminum foil about a foot long and spread some coconut oil in the middle.

Add the aromatics to a medium bowl: red pepper, lemongrass, onion, and ginger. Season them with salt and pepper and toss them together. Divide the mixture in half, and distribute one half evenly among the pieces of foil.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest and turmeric with enough salt and pepper to season the whole piece of salmon. Stir in just enough coconut oil or olive oil to make it into a paste. Spread it all over both sides of the salmon pieces and place one piece of salmon on each piece of foil, on top of the aromatics. Divide the remaining aromatic mixture among the pieces of salmon, arranging them on top.

Lengthwise, fold the bottom third of the foil down and the top third up to meet in the middle. Fold the top edges down a centimeter, and then another, to create a seal, then fold the flap down flat.  Fold the right and left sides over the contents and in toward the center. Keep the salmon pouches cold until you're ready to cook them.

When you're ready to eat, prepare red hot coals. Move any active flames aside and place the salmon pouches directly on the hot coals.


Leave them there about 10 minutes, until the salmon is just cooked through. Do not over-cook the salmon. Discard the lemongrass and cool slightly before eating.

Campfire Dessert: Dark Chocolate Bananas

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE

Late summer and early fall are some of the best times to enjoy the great outdoors. There are fewer mosquitoes, the sun is less intense, and the weather is mild. Day are still warm but no longer hot and humid, and nights are cooler and more comfortable, sometimes even a bit chilly. Conditions are perfect for a campfire.

My friend Juliah and I made this recipe on a recent camping trip in the California redwoods. It's easy to prepare on the spot or in advance, before you leave home. Just seal the ingredients inside a foil pouch and cook it in the coals until it's hot.

For a dairy free version, use coconut oil instead of butter.


Each serving requires:

1 tbsp organic butter or coconut oil
1 ripe banana, sliced
1 to 2 oz dark chocolate (72% or higher, 85% preferred), chopped
2 tbsp raw shredded coconut

Spread the butter or coconut oil in the middle of a piece of aluminum foil about a foot long. Arrange the banana slices in the middle of the foil and top with the coconut and chopped chocolate.

Lengthwise, fold the bottom third of the foil down and the top third up to meet in the middle. Fold the top edge down a centimeter, and then another, to create a seal, then fold the flap down flat.  Fold the right and left sides over the contents and in toward the center. Set the banana pouches aside until you're ready to cook them.

Once you're ready for dessert, prepare red hot coals. Move any active flames aside and place the banana pouches directly on the hot coals.


Leave them there about 10 minutes, until the coconut is toasted and the chocolate is thoroughly melted but not long enough that the contents burn onto the foil. Cool slightly before eating.




Saturday, September 8, 2012

Purslane Salad with Figs and Walnuts

GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY OPTIONAL

This simple salad makes an elegant starter or side dish. If you want to make it a main course, top it with sliced grass-fed steak or shredded roasted chicken.

Purslane is a succulent, leafy green vegetable with paddle shaped leaves and more anti- inflammatory omega-3 fats than any other plant. It's also a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Purslane has a mild, slightly sour flavor and its leaves, stems, and flower buds are all edible.

Here I toss it in a salad but purslane can also be used in soups and stir fry. It's in season now, so get it while you can. Forage for it (if you can identify it correctly and collect it away from roadsides and other sources of pollution) or find it at your local farmer's market. If you don't have purslane, substitute another green leafy vegetable.



Walnuts also contribute healthy fats to this dish and figs add fiber and antioxidants. If you don't have figs, you can substitute other seasonal fruit like organic peaches, nectarines, cherries, or pears. Next time I'll add thinly sliced red onion or shallot.

I dress this delicate salad lightly with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, then top it with goat cheese. For a dairy-free version, substitute olives for the goat cheese.

For 2 appetizer portions or 1 main course portion, you'll need:

1 cup fresh purslane leaves, tender stems, and flower buds
4 fresh figs, halved or quartered
Handful of raw walnuts
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 oz goat cheese, crumbled, to garnish (optional)

Add the purslane, figs, and walnuts to a large mixing bowl and toss together. Transfer the mixture to a serving plate.

Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil to the mixing bowl and whisk together briefly, leaving the vinaigrette slightly broken. Drizzle it over the salad and garnish with crumbled goat cheese.

Serve immediately.



Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chocolate Cherry Clafouti

Traditional French clafouti is a baked fruit dessert with a texture that falls somewhere between a custard and a pancake. I love to make it when fresh local fruits are in season.

In France, clafouti is traditionally made with cherries. I often break tradition to take advantage of other seasonal fruits like peaches or blueberries in the summer and pears or bananas in the winter.

This time I kept the cherries and changed the batter. I always make a vanilla batter but this time I thought: Why not chocolate?

I could even argue that this version is healthier than the regular version because compounds in cocoa powder (polyphenols, flavonols, proanthocyanidins, and catechins) have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer. Be sure to avoid Dutch-process or alkalinized cocoa powder because alkalizing agents destroy healthy antioxidants.

Cherries are also a good choice because they contain powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are being studied for their ability to improve memory and sleep, prevent cancer, treat gout, and protect muscles against exercise-induced damage.

Remove the pits from the cherries if you'll be serving this dish on a formal occasion or to anyone who may choke on them (like children).
I wasn't, so I left the pits in because it was a lot less bother. It's easy to spit out the pits while you eat it, but be sure to let people know before they take a bite.

This dessert is usually served at room temperature, but on hot summer nights it's nice to eat it cold from the fridge. Just make it ahead and chill it for several hours or overnight.

Organic butter to coat baking dish
1 pound cherries, stems and pits removed
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (non-alkalinized)
Pinch sea salt
1 cup organic whole milk yogurt
1 cup organic whole milk
1/4 cup honey
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Coat the inside of a 10-inch baking dish with butter. Arrange the cherries inside in a single layer.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and sea salt. Push the mixture toward the sides of the bowl, leaving a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, milk, honey, and eggs until very smooth. Stir it into the flour mixture until all ingredients are just combined. Do not over-mix batter.


If you have time, allow the batter to rest for up to an hour, then gently whisk it once more. Pour the batter over the cherries.


Use a spoon to gently nudge the cherries, loosening them from the bottom which will allow them to rise during baking.

Bake the clafouti uncovered until a knife comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Do not over-bake it.

Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool to room temperature.


Serve the clafouti alone, with a fresh fruit garnish, or with a dollop of unsweetened, freshly whipped cream.