Friday, April 18, 2014

Flat Bread Pizza with Fennel and Sunflower Pesto

Fennel and Sunflower Pesto Pizza
Thin and Crispy
I often mention my place in the country it’s a small home Jeff and I purchased in PA about 65 miles north west of NYC. It’s a cozy home with one bedroom and an office upstairs, two baths and a finished basement. When we purchased the house it needed a lot of work, for instance linoleum tile lined the kitchen walls, the bathrooms were gray and pink with wall paper trim, the bedrooms had old blue carpet and the basement had the same linoleum flooring with a horrible musty smell and no charm. Fortunately, Jeff and I are quite visual and could see the beauty beyond the blemishes. What really sold us was the property, a long windy driveway lined with tall evergreens, beautiful green grass in the front and backyards, a wood pile wall and beyond that a creek, about 1.5 acres of land, and to top it off the deer were there to greet us providing additional charm to the location and of what’s to come. The kitchen too sold me, though not pretty at the time, it had a view of the backyard with a large deck leading out to a beautiful scene of trees and wildlife, and outdoor seating, I could see myself having dinner on the deck sipping wine at night, coffee in the morning watching the animals and smelling the trees.
This was the first day viewing homes in a town we had never visited. Two hours later we made an offer and that day we were owners of this quaint fixer upper. Nine years later and lots of elbow work this home is truly ours without the blemishes, (ok maybe some) Luckily, I have a man who can fix and build anything. He’s reworked the bathroom, basement and built beautiful furniture, and installed wide plank wood flooring in all the rooms.
We don’t live here full time but spend as much as we can, the winter’s keep us away most of the time while the other seasons this house steals me for weeks. We also have a small place near NYC where Jeff works and travels with a fashion photographer and where I run my photo business.

So here we are at the house, the kitchen a place I love to be other than outside in the yard, I like to cook a lot here as the space inspires me. This week I tried flat bread, it was unintentional really, instead I wanted to make pizza but didn’t have the yeast for the rise so I omitted it knowing I’d have flat pizza but what turned out was a fantastic thin crispy light crust. In fact, this may be our new pizza.  I made four pizzas out of this recipe. Jeff and I had one each and saved the other two for the next evening topping it with other ingredients.

Flat Bread
4 pizzas
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cup spelt flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp dry oregano crushed between fingers
1 cup warm water between 105-115 degrees
1 tbsp cold pressed olive oil
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
oil to grease bowl

Method Dry
Using a whisk, sift the flours and sea salt into a medium bowl, add the oregano

Method Wet
1. Add maple syrup, and oil to 1 cup warm water and pour into large mixing bowl, water should be about 105-115 degrees

2. Add the dry ingredients to the water a little at a time and mix well with a large spoon and then with your hands, it should start to form a ball. Knead the dough for 2 minutes you can do this in the bowl or on floured surface.   Put the dough back in a lightly oiled bowl and let sit for one hour covered.

3. Prepare your toppings and have ready

4. Preheat the oven to 425 with rack in middle and line a baking sheet with parchment paper

5. Divide the dough into 4 balls. Place each ball between two pieces of parchment paper and roll out into a circle or rectangle shape, flip the dough over and roll again, my rectangle size was about 12in.x7in.

6. Prebake the flat bread for 8 minutes, remove and add your favorite sauce along with toppings.

Fennel and Sunflower Pesto Pizza
Very thin slices of sweet white onion
Fennel sliced thin
Potato sliced thin, rinsed and pat dried
Cherry tomatoes halved
Kale chopped
1 clove garlic ground in mortar with sea salt transfer to small bowl add 2 tbsp oil
sunflower pesto

Add the garlic oil to the bread, top with chopped kale, onions, potato if using, fennel and cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with sunflower pesto and bake until tomatoes wrinkle and crust is golden about 15-20 minutes.

Sunflower Parsley Pesto
Use more oil if you want it runny, this is a crumble version, which I really enjoy. This is also great for sandwiches, wraps, soups, pasta, crostini
1 cup toasted sunflower seeds
large bunch parsley
¾ tsp sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove minced garlic

Combine everything to a food processor and mix it up!

Sunflower Parsley Pesto

Easy Tomato Sauce for base – good for two flat breads
3 tbsp tomato paste
Enough water to loosen it but still on the thick side
Sea salt to taste
Pepper if you like
Mashed garlic could be nice

Combine everything in small bowl and coat the pizza

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Carob Seed & Coconut Bites

Carob Seed & Coconut Bites
Yesterday morning was an icky wake up to dark gray skies and rain that looked slushy. Lunch was scheduled with a friend at The Butcher’s Café in NYC and I thought there’s no way I’m walking in this weather but two hours later the sky cleared up to a gorgeous blue with temperatures that allowed for less layering. Ever since trying the café last month I’ve been day- dreaming about the vegan rueben sandwich that was so tasty and dripping with sauce, needless to say I ordered the same wit a side of carrot ginger soup. It’s such a cozy café with large windows and swinging barstools and they have a hook to hang my purse, a plus if you ask me. Even the front entrance is glass so it feels very open and airy and against the walls are shelves of beautiful plants. My friend and I can easily spend two hours there chatting, eating and watching people go by.
After lunch I raced home to enjoy a gorgeous walk in the sun with my dog Alice, I could tell she loved it too as her big smile revealed. We sat for a while on a bench overlooking the Hudson river and NYC skyline, a great treat after this long winter.
When I got home I snacked on a carob sprilulina treat that I recently purchased from Whole Foods in the bulk section of the store, I love it, and every time I say to myself I’ve gotta make these. So I purchased some carob and created my version which closely resembles the taste and texture of the store bought one, the best part about mine.. it’s reasonably priced since I can make large quantities, and it’s home made! Oh, and the other plus… safe for Alice to give as special treat.

Carob is really under rated and unappreciated. Carob is a great alternative to chocolate for those who can’t have caffeine or are allergic to cocoa. Unlike chocolate, carob doesn’t contain oxalate, which is bad for kidney stones. Carob contains protein and calcium and is also safe for dogs, which I like.

These little carob bites are loaded with amazing ingredients and sweetened naturally. They’re not fudgy like a raw brownie but are moist nonetheless and incredibly tasty.
Have fun with the recipe and try other versions or additions such as citrus zest.

10 soft medjool dates pitted and chopped
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup hemp seeds
1/3 heaping cup raw cashews
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
½ cup carob powder
6 tbsp coconut butter melted
2 tbsp melted raw coconut oil
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all the nuts and seeds, salt, cinnamon and shredded coconut in food processor and combine until grainy, add the carob powder and pulse until combined. Empty the mix into a bowl.

Add the soft medjool dates, coconut butter, coconut oil and vanilla extract to the food processor and pulse until soft and blended. Add half the carob mixture and blend until combined, add the remainder and mix until very evenly combined, the mixture should hold together when pressed, if too dry add a tablespoon pure maple syrup or agave and pulse again.

Transfer the mixture to an 8x8 glass dish lined with parchment paper, add the carob mixture evenly and press firmly into dish, use the back of a spoon to smooth the top. Place in the freezer for one hour, remove and cut rows then squares to end up with 36, or choose your size. Transfer to airtight container and store in the fridge.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blueberry Orange Ginger Crisp

Blueberry Orange Ginger Crisp
Spending some time in the country this weekend, a place I love so much yet have avoided the last 3 months because of the terrible snow and ice everywhere, which makes it practically impossible to walk the property. However, inside it’s homey and cozy and perfect for cooking and playing with new recipes. From my kitchen I have a view of the back and front yard where deer is a common site. One of my favorite things to do on an early weekend morning is sit in bed with a cup of coffee looking through cookbooks, magazines or reading a good book with my honey and my dog snuggly warm next to me.
This morning I was inspired to make a warm dish of oats and fruit baked in the oven, a crisp really since the top layer is crunchy with softness from the blueberries. It’s quite a crumbly dish not one you slice and serve but rather spoon onto a plate, topping it with coconut whip is the perfect finish though nut cream or ice cream would also be great.

Serves 4
12 oz frozen blueberries thawed
1 tbsp unrefined brown sugar
1 tsp grated ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground allspice
2 tbsp fresh orange juice
zest ½ orange
1 cup rolled oats
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tbsp unrefined brown sugar
3 tbsp coconut butter melted – or 2 tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup chopped pecans
pinch sea salt

Preheat Oven to 350
1. In a medium bowl combine thawed blueberries, unrefined sugar, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, orange juice and zest and mix well.

2. In another bowl combine rolled oats, shredded coconut, brown sugar, chopped pecans and sea salt, mix to combine, add the melted coconut butter and mix again coating the entire mixture. Add this to the blueberries and gently combine.
Transfer to an 8 inch baking dish and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 350 rack in middle

Serve warm and top with coconut whip (if using coconut whip, omit the cardamom and add sprinkle of cinnamon) or nut cream or ice cream with additional nuts and zest.


Xox Diana

Inspired by Quinoa Revolution

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chickpea, Red Lentil & Herbed Falafel

above is lightly fried in coconut oil

above is baked which causes some cracking but very moist
Chickpea, Red Lentil & Herbed Falafel
As much as I love falafels I can’t get over the idea that a traditional one is deep fried, something I prefer not to witness. Having said that, I attempted the deep fry, a bit unlike me, and the result a disaster. First I had to fill my small pot with two inches of oil, not attractive, then I had to heat up to 350 degrees which took quite a while, then I dropped my falafel in the hot oil and watched my temp drop drastically to 150. The falafels fell apart in the oil and were a soggy mess, I’m not interested in attempting again and will continue to make the healthier version using just a tad oil or baking them, still great and less guilt not to mention my home doesn’t smell like hot oil, but instead spices.
This chickpea lentil falafel is a revision to an earlier post, this one is a bit firmer but please don’t make burgers out of these, I have a recipe for chickpea burger, these are intended to be enjoyed small. I have two variations below the only difference being the spices used and one has lemongrass. These are delicious little falafels that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, along side salad, alone with dressing, in cabbage leaf or in a pita loaded with lots of goodness, which is my favorite. Since I have so many dressings and sauces posted on my blog I’ve linked them below so you decide which is best.

Note: Baking these always result in cracking of the falafel but the inside is very moist, and once the sauce is added, it doesn’t matter. The other option is to lightly fry them in coconut oil until both sides are golden brown. I’ve taken images of both versions so you can see. If baking try covering them, that might help with the cracking, I didn’t try this.
Xoxo Diana

Chickpea, Red Lentil & Herbed Falafel
20 falafels
3/4 cup cooked red lentils
1 ½ cup water
14 oz can chickpeas rinsed and drained
1 medium onion chopped small
1 shredded carrot about ¾ cup
3 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 ½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
¾-1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp fresh cilantro
3 tbsp fresh parsley
¾ cup panko
small pita pockets

Omit paprika
add ½ organic lemon zest
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tbsp lemongrass – sauted with onion and carrot if using

1. Rinse the red lentils using a strainer under running water until it is no longer foamy. Add the lentil to a medium pot with water. Bring to a boil then turn down heat to very low and simmer covered for 13 minutes.

2. In a small bowl add the cumin, and paprika into a pan and toast until just fragrant, remove from the heat and transfer to a small bow – add the ground cayenne pepper.

3. Sauté the onion and carrot in oil with pinch of sea salt until soft about 4 minutest, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Transfer to a large bowl

4. Using a food processor pulse the chickpeas until broken up but not mushy. Add the spices, sea salt, parsley and cilantro and pulse to combine, add cooked red lentils and onions and pulse to combine, if mixture is too big for processor divide the mixture in half and pulse, transfer to a large bowl and add the panko and stir very well.

5. Transfer the mixture to fridge and let set for 30 minutes, balls should form and hold together easily, if too wet add more panko if too dry add 1 tbsp of water at a time until mixture holds when forming.

Option 1: Baking 
pre heat oven to 375 rack in middle
Make golf sized balls then flatten slightly. Place them on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 18 minutes. They will crack a little and look dry but the inside is moist. You can cover the patties while baking, which might prevent cracking but I haven’t tried this.

Option 2: 
Lightly pan fry
Add coconut oil to a pan and cook the patties on each side until golden brown.

Enjoy with a side of salad, in cabbage leaf, or my favorite, on top small pita

Suggested Toppings
Tahini dressing, or dill dressing, ginger dressing,
Green onions
Additional herbs

Suggested Creams