Friday, January 27, 2012

Caribbean Millet Croquettes

It turns out, 40 lbs. of sweet potatoes is quite a bit. Sitting in my pantry, they dare me to sneak them into every dish I make, which is really never a mistake. I'll take what I can get for local produce these days, and sweet potatoes have always been one my absolute favorites (maybe that is why I got a little (over) excited with this purchase).

It was only natural that they made their way into my croquettes this week, adding a Caribbean flair that I could not resist nudging along further with some creamed coconut and sweet corn. Croquettes are typically fried dumplings, often filled with rich cheeses and coated in delicate bread crumbs (also known as "what I survived on" during the year I lived in Spain). This version uses nutty toasted millet along with ground nuts and seeds, yet still bursts with flavor and satisfying texture. Think croquette meets miniature veggie burger. Severely enhanced by a well paired sauce or spread, these were served with Coconut Whipped Yams. In the past (when not so Caribbean), they have been perfect alongside an edamole spread or mushroom gravy.

Rich in magnesium, fiber and vitamin A, sweet potatoes are a nice alternative to their popular white counterpart. Great sliced into wedges, tossed with a tablespoon of oil and a sprinkle of chipotle chili powder and roasted until golden and soft, there aren't too many these spuds can't charm. 

Caribbean Millet Croquettes
Serves 8

1 cup millet
2 cups vegetable broth or water
½ cup sunflower seeds, soaked
1 small sweet potato, finely grated
½ bunch scallions, minced
2 cups corn kernels
1 tbs. creamed coconut (I used this brand)
1 tbs. arrowroot
2 tbs. tamari, or to taste up to ¼ cup
½ bunch cilantro, minced
1 garlic clove, minced


Toast millet until fragrant and popping, about 4-6 minutes. Add 2 cups broth and keep at a simmer for 15-30 minutes, until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, drain and rinse sunflower seeds. Pulse seeds, sweet potato and scallions in a food processor until minced and well blended. Put in a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Remove from heat and puree half the millet 1 cup of corn, creamed coconut, arrowroot and tamari in the food processor to make a paste. Add remaining millet, corn, cilantro and garlic and pulse several more times to combine. Add to the bowl with the seed mixture and stir to combine. Taste, and add additional tamari if needed. Using circular molds, or clean hands, form croquettes and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

Relax. Eat Well.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pistachio Goji Bombs

I think it time for a dessert post. As you might have noticed, I particularly enjoy desserts that can also cross over to the breakfast world (they are consecutive meals after all).  We aren't talking cinnamon buns here, I mean wholesome sweetness: with a nice does of fiber, healthy fat and protein to boot. Something I can feel good about, day or night.

I like a little sweetness in my morning, because it goes well with coffee, and starts my day off with a smile. These delicious "bombs" are rich in anti-oxidants from the crimson goji, sweet with the land's natural sugars, and decadently nutty. If I were making them as a specific morning treat, I might even sneak some ground flax seed in there as well. Store them in the fridge, so that there is no way you won't finish them off before the delicate oils start to turn.

Pistachio Goji Bombs
Makes 8

1/2 cup pistachio
1/4 cup dried goji berries
1/4 cup coconut flakes, unsweetened
2 tbs. raisins
1 medjool date, pitted and sliced
juice of 1/2 a clementine
a nice pinch of salt
Additional coconut flakes for garnish


In a food processor, pulse pistachios, goji and coconut until blended to the texture of sand. Add raisins, date, clementine juice and salt. Pulse to combine.

Press and form mixture into roughly 8 balls. Roll in additional coconut flakes to garnish. Store in fridge or freezer.

Relax. Enjoy.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Avocado, Roasted Squash and Tempeh Sushi with Homemade Pickled Ginger

These days, a meal just doesn't seem complete without some sort of root vegetable or winter squash involved. This is truly a winter sushi roll: grounded and hearty balanced with a nice dose of fresh. I used Kabocha squash, but you could easily use buttenut, parsnips or yams as well. It is really the rich sweetness we are after.

To me, avocados are pivotal to the successful vegetarian sushi roll, as they lend a certain unmatched creaminess and ability to satisfy the tongue. Another option might be some sort of flavored cashew cream drizzle (cilantro or basil?). The cucumber offers a crunch factor, and the tempeh a nuttiness, which all roll together into quite the flavor and texture burst. 

If you are making these rolls ahead for an impressive potluck contribution, store uncut and slice just before serving, to minimize "dryout".

Avocado, Roasted Squash and Tempeh Sushi with Homemade Pickled Ginger
Serves 6


5-inch peice of ginger, fresh
1/2 cup brown rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbs. unrefined sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup short grain brown rice
1/2 cup amaranth
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 cups water
tamari to taste

9 nori sheets
1/2 small kabocha squash, matchsticked
1tbs. coconut oil, melted
8 oz. tempeh, sliced thinly lengthwise
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed
1 tbs. wasabi paste
1/4 cup tamari

To pickle ginger, slice as thinly as possible with a mandoline, or careful knife. Bring vinegar through salt to boil in a small saucepan, and add ginger. Turn down heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and marinate for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until serving.

To roast squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss cut squash with coconut oil and salt, spread flat on a baking sheet, and roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring after 15 min, or until soft and beginning to crisp on the edges. Cool completely.

In a large pot, bring rice, amaranth, water and coconut milk to a boil. Turn down to a simmer, covered, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 25-40 minutes. Stir, add tamari to taste and cool.

Slice tempeh, cucumber and avocado.

Place a sheet of nori, shiny side down on a sushi rolling mat. Place about 1/2 cup of rice mixture on bottom third of nori sheet, and spread to reach both sides, ending with an even rectangle. Lie avocado, cucumber, cilantro stem and tempeh on top (for a visual, check the title picture). Using wet fingertips, wet the length of the end of the nori sheet. Carefully roll, tucking nori as it meet, into a neat and tight roll, moving away from you. Press to seal. Store if saving for later, or slice with a slightly wet knife into 6 if serving immediately. Serve with cooled and drained pickled ginger, as well as wasabi and a small dish of tamari.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Socca Flatbread

The cold weather has moved in, and my instinct to retire after dark, curled up on the couch with a mug of tea has as well. Oh Vermont, you do know how to turn a 26 year old into an old lady. The good news is that IT has arrived.  You guessed it: soup season. 

I could eat a bowl of soup all by itself, but it is also nice to have a big hunk of bread to carry it to my mouth once in awhile. Trying to avoid refined flour, and often gluten in general, I have developed a new love for whole grain flatbreads. Often multigrain and always loaded with herbs and spices, they are my perfect solution. Wholesome, nourishing and comforting. That is my kind of carbo-loading.

This flatbread took a trip to India, loaded with bits of toasted cumin and ajwain seeds, chopped cilantro and a nice smear of coconut oil. But it could easily go Italian, using fresh rosemary, bits of basil and topped with a smear of garden pesto. It is exclusive to chickpeas, but I could imagine substituting some out for brown rice, buckwheat or quinoa for some interesting twists. I like to grind my own grains to maximize nutrition and flavor, which can be done in a grain mill or high powered blender (another reason I love my Vitamix).  In a pinch, pre-ground flours works just fine. 
Try this flatbread served with a bowl of Red Lentil Dal or Mulligatawny Soup. It is also delicious as an appetizer with a smear of Babaganoush or your favorite hummus. 

Socca Flatbread
Serves 8

2 cups chickpea flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon ajwain seed (can substitute coriander seed)
1 tsp. salt
3 cups water
1 tbs. coconut oil
2 tbs. minced cilantro
additional salt for finishing


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

If doing so, grind approximately 1 3/4 cups dried chickpeas to produce 2 cups of flour (stick them in the freezer for an hour first so that when you go to grind them the motor and volatile oils stay cool). Mince the garlic and set aside. Heat a small pan over medium heat and toast the seeds until fragrant, only a minute or so. Grind to a coarse meal using a mortar and pestle or small coffee grinder.

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, minced garlic, salt and spices. Add water gradually, until you reach the consistency of heavy cream. 

Prepare a baking sheet with tall sides with a layer of parchment paper. Pour in batter and tip to create an even layer. Bake for 15 minutes, using a convection fan if you have one. Remove, spread with coconut oil and garnish with cilantro and salt. 

Relax. Eat Well.