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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mushroom broccoli mini quiches

This is the perfect recipe for winter because you can literally substitute any vegetables in and it tastes great, thanks to all the cheese. The more vegetables you add, the more exciting each serving will be. My favorite variation includes brusell sprouts cut into fourths, green onion and  bacon. Needless to say, this recipe can be quite easily converted to fit an herbivore diet. I like an egg-heavy quiche, but if you want something a bit lighter, add an extra 1/2 cup of milk and leave out a few eggs.

The crust comes from one of my favorite food blogs: chocolate and zucchini. To make the mini-crusts, follow the dough recipe*, divide the dough in half, roll it out and cut it into twelfths with a sharp knife. It takes a little bit of manipulating, but each piece will fit it into a muffin hole (muffin cavity?). This recipe will make crusts for 24 mini-quiches.

*It calls for 250 g of flour, but 2 cups is pretty close.

 

Mini-quiche filling:

  • 7 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 3 slices of prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup broccoli flowers
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower flowers
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • dried sage
  • salt and pepper

 

Lightly fry the vegetables in butter, salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sage or oregano right before you turn it off. Lightly beat the eggs, milk and nutmeg. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add most of the cheese, and the prosciutto.

 

 

Arrange the vegetables in the crusts and pour the egg mixture on top. Here, I used less shredded cheese and put chunks of soft cheese in with the vegetables. Sprinkle that extra cheese you put aside on top. Bake for 25 minutes at 400°.

 

 

 

 

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winterlicious salad

Ever wonder what vegetables are in season in February above the 41st parallel (north)? You are not the only one. After much first-hand research (read: grocery shopping), I realized that fresh local food in winter consists mostly of root vegetables, some hardy squash, and cabbage. Apples are also known to over-winter in root cellars, as long as they are not touching. Luckily, these are some of the sweetest foods our corner of the earth has to offer. This delicious salad combines all local vegetables with a few exotic imports (read: lemons) as dressing.

Winterlicious Salad Recipe

 

  • 1 beet
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 small turnip
  • some cabbage (about the size of your fist)
  • raisins
  • dried redcurrants
  • walnuts (optional)

 

dressing:

  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon tahini (or hummus)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • dried mint
  • salt and pepper

 

Grate or very finely chop the vegetables. Add the dried fruit and nuts. Mix the dressing in a cup and toss into the salad.

 

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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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olive rosemary focaccia

For our inaugural post, we chose a recipe that represents our cooking philosophy: simple, gourmet food made at home. The dough (which is actually a modified pizza dough recipe) gets better with age, so if you have the luxury of planning three days ahead your bread will be soft and chewy. However, if you let your dough rise for at least an hour, it will taste fine.

 

 

Olive Rosemary Focaccia

Dough:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 packets (1 1/2 tablespoons) dry active yeast
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

Toppings:

  • Olive oil or olive juice
  • Olives
  • Feta Cheese
  • Rosemary
  • Tomatoes
  • Any vegetable in season

 

Making the dough:

Dissolve the sugar in the water and add the yeast. Allow yeast to activate (you will see bubbles) for 1-2 minutes. Mix the flour and salt together. Add the yeast mixture and oil and stir until a ball forms. Sprinkle a flat surface with flour and knead the dough for about 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, cover with a wet towel or greased plastic wrap and allow to rise one hour, or until doubled in size. Punch down the dough, cover, and place in fridge to rise at least overnight.

 

When the dough is ready:

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Place on a greased baking sheet and poke some holes with a fork. Add whatever toppings you like (plain olive oil, salt and rosemary taste wonderful) and place in a 550° oven for 9-11 minutes- until cheese melts.

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