Category Archives: Recipes

Persian Ghormeh Sabzi: A Real Food Recipe for Spring

To say ghormeh sabzi is a popular dish in Iran would be an understatement. The recipe is so old it is said that it was served to Alexander the Great by the ancient Persians and he fell in love with it. I really can’t say enough about this stew; even young children love it (after they get past the green color). A Persian friend of mine once told me that ghormeh sabzi is the equivalent of mac and cheese in North America: it’s Persian comfort food.

Fortunately, this is the perfect time of year for this dish since fresh herbs are the key ingredient. But it’s also great in fall when you have lots of extra kale from your garden. You will be chopping a lot of greens because once sauteed, they reduce significantly in size. However, don`t count on all the green leafy vegetables in this stew to provide you with loads of calcium and iron and stuff. Most of the nutrients will be destroyed in the long cooking process. The delicious flavors it develops are well worth the trade-off, though. I have slightly altered the traditional recipe to make it more real-food-friendly. Soaking the beans overnight is an important part of the preparation.  That said, this recipe could easily be made paleo by omitting the beans and serving it over cauliflower rice.

Oh, and it’s fantastic as leftovers.

ghormehsabzi

Real Food Ghormeh Sabzi

 

Persian Ghormeh Sabzi

  • 1 bunch spinach or kale
  • 1 bunch green onion (or garlic scapes, or leeks, or 2 bunches chives)
  • 1 bunch parsely
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 bunch mint
  • 1 onion
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 lb stewing meat (I like bone-in)
  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 5 dried limes
  • 2 cups beef bone broth (optional)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • salt
  • pepper

1. Finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, add onions and garlic and cook until slightly soft.  Increase the heat, add the meat and sear on all sides. Add the spices, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour in the water and bone broth (or 4 cups of water), the dried beans and the dried limes. Stew on medium for about 1 hour, or in a slow cooker on high for about 2 hours.

2. Finely chop the fresh greens and saute in butter until dark green and about one fourth the volume. Add to the stew and cook for another 3 hours or until the meat is tender, the beans are cooked and the greens turn very dark. In a slow cooker, it will be about 6 hours on low (or longer-it only gets better).

3. Serve over white basmati rice that has been pre-soaked for at least an hour.

 

 

 

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Vegan Burgers

These falafel burgers are lightly fried, and then baked. This makes them much less greasy, but maintains the delicious crunchiness. We served them on fresh organic blue corn tortillas, to make them gluten-free. Most traditional Mexican tortillas are made with nixtamalized corn (a process of soaking the kernels in wood ash), which releases its nutrients and rids it of toxic phytic acid. Organic corn is the best because it is free of GMOs. (Assuming that pesky wind didn’t cross-polinate any of the crop with some frankenpollen).

Falafel Burgers*

The recipe for the burgers depends on your preference. The basic ingredients are chickpeas, fava beans, onions, garlic, parsley, and thyme. These get blended in the food processor. To this you can add an egg for stickiness and grated potato sweet potato.  The result should yield a doughy mix that can be formed into patties. Lightly fry them on either side, then continue cooking in a 350° oven until crispy, about 15 minutes.

*Another lovely photo by Kaela Greenstein.

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Danish Apple Pancakes (Ebelskiver)

Danish pancakes are made in a special cast-iron pan with small half-circles. If you don’t have one, you can find it here. I use mine for many recipes besides the typical breakfast pancake- cheddar corn cakes, teff flour chocolate desserts, even small potato latkes. The pancakes shown here are like tiny muffins, perfect for eating right out of your hand or dipping into hot coffee.

The wonderful thing about these pancakes is you can stuff them with brie or chocolate chips to get a delicious melted center. Traditionally, they were served with a fruit or jam inside. The recipe that follows calls for a pecan in the middle, making them a little more substantial.

Danish Apple Pancakes

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted until liquid
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal, soaked
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
  • handful of pecans

Mix together the dry ingredients, except the pecans. Add the buttermilk, oil, apple, and the egg yolk. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the batter. Allow batter to sit for 10 minutes.

Add a little butter to the ebelskiver pan and fill each hemisphere with batter. Place a pecan in the middle of each pancake and press down with a spoon until it is submerged. When the batter begins to bubble, flip the pancakes using wooden chopsticks or a plastic spoon. This takes a little practice; you can start by turning them 90 degrees first, then 90 degrees again until they are fully inverted. Serve warm with jam.

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Simple Hummus Recipe

Hummus is very easy to make, but if you really want to start from scratch it takes some time. Sure, you can just open a can of chick peas and throw them in the food processor. But soaking or sprouting your own makes them much easier to digest, not to mention the avoidance of BPA. (For a great sprouting how-to, see Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Tradions).

Photo by Kaela Greenstein*

To cook dry chick peas, start the night (or better a full day) before by soaking your beans. Add lots of water, as they will expand a lot. A cup of dry beans will yield two cups or more when cooked. Rinse them well. You can then cook them in a crock-pot on high for about 4 hours (for a big batch), or on a low setting of your stove. A small batch should only take a couple hours. They are done when they are almost falling apart, but not quite.

After the beans cool, for each cup add the following and blend:

  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 clove of garlic

My favorite way to serve hummus is to spread it on a plate with copious amounts of olive oil, olives, thyme, and chili flakes. You can also add more lemon at this point as the tartness of the lemon sometimes recedes in the mix.

*Check out more of Kaela’s delicious photography

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Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Two Ways

This is a quick, simple recipe involving my favorite vegetable: the squash. Winter squash were first cultivated in North America, grown in many beautiful varieties of which the pumpkin is perhaps the most ubiquitous. My favorite, however is the boston marrow squash, a bright orange hubbard squash with a strong lemony flavor and hardy flesh.

Instead of chucking the pumpkin seeds you scoop out while carving your gourd, you can make a sweet or savory treat with the nutritious seeds which are full of minerals. These recipes work equally well with any winter squash seed. To clean them, soak well and drain, picking out the flesh as you rinse. Dry them the best you can by patting them with a towel.

Coat the seeds in coconut or vegetable oil, and then salt to taste. Spread out on a baking sheet and sprinkle on one of the following spice mixtures:

Smoky Garlic Pumpkin Seeds

(I make this one in large batches, and use it for just about any roasted vegetables. The proportions are up to you, equal parts of everything is fine).

Smoked Spanish paprika

garlic powder

onion powder

mustard powder

black pepper

oregano

cumin

sage

Sweet Chai Pumkin Seeds

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon (more if cinnamon is not strong)

Pinch: Cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, ground black pepper, ginger

Place in a 350° oven and turn off. Check in about 30 minutes, the material of your baking sheet will affect how quickly the seeds toast. Seeds are done when they are golden and the shell is crispy.

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Chocolate Amaranth Cookies

I was inspired to make this recipe by the abundant nourishing foods that come from America. (The two continents, not just the united states of). With the globalization of trade, we can now get food that looks the same anywhere in the world. While the ingredients in this recipe aren’t exactly local (Central America is just about as close to Toronto as London, England), I think foods indigenous to America are too often overlooked. Imagine how different Europe would be without potatoes, tomatoes, corn, coffee, or chocolate. These are not only native to America, but the techniques for their breeding, cultivation, and preparation date back thousands of years.

 

The pecans in this recipe are native to North America, cacao was first cultivated in Mexico, and amaranth is an ancient American (super-)grain that is especially high in protein, iron, and calcium. Only the orange zest originates across the ocean, but this could be omitted, leaving the vanilla extract (another Mexican food) to complement the chocolate.

 

 

Chocolate Amaranth Cookies

Mix together in a large bowl:

3 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil

1/4 cup honey or agave syrup

3 tablespoons warm water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine in a medium bowl:

1 cup amaranth flour

1/3 cup tapioca flour

1/4 teaspoon gum arabic*

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

*(A binding agent which comes from the sap of the acacia tree. This can be substituted for one egg).

Add dry ingredients to honey water and stir. The consistency will be somewhat pastey. Add to this:

1 cup chocolate chips

3/4 pecans

zest from one orange

Form the dough into small cookies (about 1 heaping tablespoon each) and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment. Top each cookie with a pecan half.

Bake at 350° for 12-15 minutes, until cookies have slightly darkened on the bottom.

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chocolate checkerboard cake

My grandmother used to make this cake for our birthdays. Because it is so rich with buttery, gluteny, betty-crockery goodness, it’s something to make only for very special occasions. I had been waiting impatiently for one such day, when finally a good friend of mine had a birthday.  And coincidently, this friend happens to love chocolate, butter and sugar! I would like to share this family recipe with you, but with a warning: it is incredibly thick, making it easy  to form the checkerboard shape. Make sure you have lots of people to share it with you.

 

Chocolate checkerboard cake

1 1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. all purpose or cake flour
1 c. milk
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder

 

 

Grease and flour the bottom of each cake tin. Beat together sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla until fluffy. Sift flour and measure.  Add baking powder and salt to flour and mix. Add 1/4  of flour to mix and beat.  Add 1/3 of milk to mix and beat. Repeat until all milk and flour are added to the mixture.

Divide batter in half and 1 1/2 squares of chocolate to half of the cake mix.

pour the batters like a target....I don't know how my grandmother made it look so even

Divide in round pans by creating three circles with each tin as follows- first pan:  chocolate, vanilla, chocolate, second pan:  vanilla, chocolate, vanilla. Bake about 20 minutes at 35o°.  Cool before removing from cake tin. For icing, I used a basic chocolate and butter recipe and added orange zest.

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top five things to do with leftovers

I am an avid composter. We currently have two compost heaps in our yard, and we give a lot away to the city of Toronto. But this is not enough. With the goal of self-sufficiency in mind, waste management standards (read: compulsions) must be higher.

I hate throwing away anything edible. This is why my co-chef and I have come up with many creative ways to use, even improve upon leftovers. These recipes will make you want to make extra portions just so you get to enjoy it again in a new recipe. This way, you get double the labor and attention in one dish.

Also, elderly and wilting fruits and vegetables should be considered valuable as their sugar content is higher. In fact, many people prefer deserts such as banana bread to be made with over-ripe fruits. This is why I usually make banana bread when we have old rejected bananas lying around. Thus, our list covers almost any food item that you may have in excess.

And now, to the top 5 list of our favorite recipes for surplus food:

 

5. Pasta salad

Cold pasta (unless it’s the long stringy kind) tastes amazing with a vinaigrette on a bed of leafy greens. Just about anything that’s not drenched in sauce or curry can be added to a salad the next day: potato chips or home-made fries, roasted vegetables, dry bread (heavily toasted and preferably brushed with olive oil), chicken, ham, beans, salmon…the list goes on.

 

4. Basic soup

Not so much for left-overs, but a great way to take care of all those extra broccoli stems and leaves. Cut the stems into small pieces and simmer for about 45 minutes in a stock mixture. Add some green lentils after about 15 minutes. Right before you eat, add some fresh vegetables such as peas or carrots.

 

3. Stir-fry

Great for leftover rice. Add sesame oil, any vegetables you have around, and stir. At the end, crack an egg in it and scramble it up. Possibly the most delicious thing you can do in under 5 minutes.

 

2. Frittata

This tastes great with pasta, vegetable dishes, any meat, or even rice. Heat left-overs in a skillet, beat 1-2 eggs person with a little milk and seasonings, pour into skillet. You can broil it for a few minutes to finish cooking the eggs. If you want to go all out, add some cheese on top right before broiling.

 

1. Crumble

The perfect place for soft fruit. Apples taste amazing baked. So do peaches and pears. Just toss with a little cinnamon and cardamom (maybe some brown sugar or maple syrup) and bake. You can add nuts such as hazelnuts, walnuts or pecans to the fruit. For the topping: 2 parts oats to 1 part butter or coconut oil. Add sugar or honey to taste. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350°.

 

We are curious about your creative recipes for surplus food. Please, leave us a comment!

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gluten-free banana super bread

 

 

 

Gluten-free banana bread


  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup teff flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 cups ripe mashed banana
  • 3/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 cup fig or apricot chunks
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix the dry ingredients first, then add the oil, honey and banana pulp. The last three ingredients can be substituted with just about anything that’s not too moist; oatmeal, raisins, candied ginger, sunflower seeds…You may also substitute 1 grated lemon rind for the cinnamon, maple syrup for the honey, or grated pear for the banana.

Bake for 50 minutes at 350°. For muffins, bake for 35 minutes. Makes two loaves or 24 muffins.

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how to make yogurt

Before diving into the fascinating fundamentals of yogurt-making, you may like to know why anyone would want to make their own yogurt when it is so readily available at the local health foods store/grocery store/walmart. Four reasons:

1) It’s much cheaper, especially if you buy your milk in bulk.

2) You can decide what kind of milk goes into your yogurt. Maybe you prefer hormone-free milk or maybe you are lucky enough to have a source of unpasteurized milk.

3) It’s more fresh.

4) Satisfaction. Or fun. Or maybe scientific interest.

 

Home-made yogurt recipe

  • 2-3 liters cow’s milk* (any milk will do, as long as its not  ‘ultra-pasteurized’)
  • 5-6 tablespoons plain yogurt

 

*we are still perfecting our goat yogurt recipe. I suspect it works better with raw goat’s milk.

In a large pot, heat the milk on low, stirring occasionally until it reduces about 10%. Be careful not to burn the milk on the bottom. This takes 1-4 hours depending on what heat you use. Lower heat preserves more nutrients, higher heat is faster. If you are really anxious, you can turn the heat up and stir constantly until the milk bubbles up and then turn the heat to low and allow it to reduce.

 

simmer milk on low

 

Remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool just until lukewarm (it should no longer be steaming). Add the plain yogurt (this is your cheat), stirring well until mixed. Cover the mixture.

Place somewhere draft-free with a constant temperature like your oven (turned off, of course) a closet, or just wrapped in a blanket in the corner. In about 18 hours, you will have yogurt. Leave it longer than that and you will have sour yogurt, great for doogh.

We refrigerate the yogurt a couple hours before eating, but this is just because we are used to cold dairy products. In the past, dairy was consumed at room temperature because it was always fresh.

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