Monday, February 25, 2013

Twice Baked Sw Potatoes

This month's theme for the Creative Cooking crew is Meat & Potatoes!

When thinking about this classic culinary combination, I couldn't help but think...  dessert ;)  I used a non-traditional meat (bacon) and sweet potatoes to come up with a dish that toes the line between savory and sweet (no surprise there).

While I made these sweet potatoes with only a hint of sweetness to serve as a side dish (or snack), these could easily pass as dessert with a little extra maple syrup in the filling and a dollop of coconut whipped cream on top!

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4 as a side

2 small sweet potatoes
1 1/2T creme fraiche
1t + 1T maple syrup, divided
dash of cayenne pepper (I imagine a little chipotle in adobo would also be nice)
2T rolled oats
2T whole wheat pastry flour (or white whole wheat)
3 slices cooked bacon, chopped
1T flax seed
3T chopped, pitted medjool dates
2T cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Using a fork, pierce each sweet potato 5-6 times in different places.  Rub with a little olive oil, and then place on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Bake 45-50min, until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender.  Set aside on a cutting board ~10min, until cool enough to handle.

Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise and gently scoop out the flesh, leaving ~1/8" layer of sweet potato.  Arrange sweet potato skins into a gratin dish or other oven-save serving dish.  Add the flesh to a bowl, along with creme fraiche.  Mash well, then season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper, a dash of cayenne and maple syrup (I used a little less than 1t).  Evenly divide sweet potato mixture between sweet potato skins.

To prepare the bacon streusel topping, add oats, flour, bacon, flaxseed and dates to a small bowl.  Mix well with a fork, making sure to break up any dates stuck together.  Add maple syrup and butter, then rub mixture together with your fingers to evenly distribute.  Top sweet potatoes with the bacon streusel and bake 15-20min, until warmed through and fragrant.

What is your favorite way to enjoy meat and potatoes?  Check out Lazaro Cooks for the roundup on Wednesday for more creative ideas!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fregola Salad

I have never had preserved lemons before, but somehow I had this overwhelming urge to make them with some meyer lemons.  And then they sat in my fridge.  For a year before I finally decided to even taste them!

What I discovered is that it tasted...  like a meyer lemon.  Ha.  I guess I expected it to taste a little more pickled, but it was quite mellow.  Maybe it's just my batch?  Either way, I'm looking forward to using the rest of them :)

Fregola w/Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemon
adapted from Dave Lebovitz
Serves 2 as a side

1c diced butternut squash
1/4 onion, peeled and minced
1/2c fregola
1/2 preserved meyer lemon
1T golden raisins
1T dried tart cherries
1/8t ground cinnamon
1/4c chopped flat-leaf parsley
2T chopped pistachios (or pine nuts), toasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 400deg.

Toss butternut squash with a drizzle of olive oil and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with coarse sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper.  Bake for ~20min, until tender.

While the butternut squash is roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add fregola and stir.  Cook until tender, but still firm to the bite, ~10-12min.  Drain and place in a medium bowl.

Heat a small pan over medium low heat.  Add onions and cook until transluscent, 3-5min.  Transfer to bowl with fregola.

When the butternut squash is done cooking, add 1/2c roasted butternut squash to bowl with fregola and onions.  (If there's any extra, go ahead and eat it!)

Remove flesh from the preserved lemon and rinse with water.  Mince the lemon rind and dried cherries, then add them both to the bowl.  Add raisins, cinnamon and parsley, then mix well to combine.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Top with nuts, if desired.

Have you ever tried preserved lemons??

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Tamari Almonds

Happy Thursday!

A little nod to Valentine's day, I just had to share this heart-shaped pomegranate seed I found :)  And now back to today's snack...

Have you ever tried tamari almonds?  Hopefully I'm not the only one who got hooked on them after one handful?  They're awfully easy to eat, but not easy on the wallet.  I finally got around to making them at home and whaddya know, they're even better!  (I know, I should not be surprised)

When researching some recipes, I came across a few that used a low and slow method for roasting nuts.  A little research brought me to this page and learned that roasting nuts at high temperatures can cause the breakdown of fats found in nuts.  I loved the way these came out so much that I haven't tried to roast at a higher temperature, but if you don't want the oven all day (or night), feel free to roast at 350deg.

Tamari Almonds
adapted slightly from Gluten Free Mommy

1lb almonds
1/2c + 2T tamari

Combine almonds and tamari in a bowl and stir to combine.  Let almonds marinate for 30min, stirring occasionally.

Strain almonds (I reserve the tamari for another batch of almonds) and spread into a single layer on a baking sheet.  You can use a Silpat if you like, but I've done it without as well.  Place baking sheet in the oven and turn oven on to 170deg.  Slow roast almonds for 5-7hours (or overnight if you like).  Let cool, then store in a tightly sealed container.

Have you ever tried tamari almonds before??

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Green Horchata

You know the song Kermit used to sing,  "It's not easy being green"?  :)  Fortunately, I find it quite easy to be green- there is often spinach, kale, basil in my kitchen to name a few.

As part of the It's Easy Being Green Contest, MarxFoods sent me samples of some unique green foods- bamboo rice, dill pollen, green eston lentils, mint herb crystals and green cardamom pods.  My task was to use two of these ingredients in a recipe.

I decided to make a twist on horchata using the bamboo rice and cardamom pods.  Instead of the traditional almonds, I played on the green theme and used pistachios.  I threw in a handful of spinach when I blended it up to keep the drink true to its roots and it worked like a charm!

Pistachio Cardamom Horchata
Yield ~3c

If you're not sure if you love cardamom, feel free to use only 1 or 2 pods and add a cinnamon stick.  You could also switch things up a bit and use brown sugar instead of the sugar!  I added spinach for to enhance the green color and you cannot taste it one bit (promise!!), but feel free to leave it out.

3oz bamboo rice
3oz shelled pistachios (raw or toasted will work, unsalted)
4 cardamom pods, split and seeds coarsely crushed
1 1/4c hot tap water
1/3c evaporated cane juice
handful of spinach, optional
1c almond milk
1t pure vanilla extract

In a large glass jar, combine rice, pistachios and cardamom seeds.  Pour in hot tap water.  Set jar aside and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

Transfer the contents of the jar (rice/pistachios) to a blender.  Add sugar and spinach, and blend on high speed for a few minutes until as smooth as possible.  Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a jar or other container.  Add milk and vanilla, mix well.  Taste and adjust with sugar or milk to achieve your desired consistency (I added about 1/2c more almond milk).  Refrigerate a few hours.  Serve ice cold.

This is definitely one to remember come St. Patty's Day :)

Disclaimer:  The bamboo rice and cardamom pods used in the creation of this recipe were free samples provided by Marx Foods.
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