Archive for SOS Kitchen Challenge

Zatter Dip, Spread, or Sauce for a Casserole

    It’s time for another SOS Challenge recipe hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs  and Kim at Affairs of Living.  This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge for October. Sesame seeds are a fantastic choice for this month’s SOS Challenge ingredient. Sesame seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients and rightfully deserve to be an SOS featured ingredient!
    My sweet-tooth had a nifty recipe planned out before seasonal allergies hit and left me dizzy, headachy, and spending most of my time in bed with my eyes covered. A savory recipe came to mind while I was dozing in a Benadryl induced semi-coma. It would not only taste good but it would be very helpful to my queasy stomach. All the requisite ingredients were in the pantry and so began the experiment – in ve-ry slow stages.
    First, I soaked the dried beans that would be the base of the sauce. Our mothers prepared dried beans by soaking them overnight or longer. Then one day someone started doing a ‘quick-soak’ and beans have not been the same since then. Soak and rinse several times over the course of 24 hours to remove a number of unpleasant compounds and your beans will cook more evenly, be cleaner, save energy and taste better. For a complete explanation -> bean prep.
    Then I thought about the zatter spice mixture. My zatter was not especially fresh but the ingredients are so simple that I decided to make it up on the fly. Zatter is an ancient mixture that in its simplest form is toasted sesame seeds, thyme, and salt. It is often mixed with olive oil, spread on pita bread and served with hot tea. So I pulled out the olive oil, sesame seeds (bought in bulk), thyme, and sea salt.
    I toasted the sesame seeds in olive oil over low heat after the beans were cooked and cooling. The beans went into the old faithful blender followed by the cooled sesame/oil mixture, sea salt, and thyme. The fragrance of the warm sesame seeds was validation enough for choosing to put it together this way. The resulting mixture was thick and rich with flavor.

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

Toasting the Sesame Seeds

    Part of my ‘delirious dream’ recipe was pasta! I had cooked up some Tinkyada brown rice shells while the bean/zatter mixture was in process. It was resting in an ovenproof dish and ready for the sauce. I had to add some water to thin the bean/zatter paste to sauce which had me thinking down the road to other uses for this tasty bean mixture – like a dip for veggies or as a sandwich spread.

Zatter Casserole
Zatter Casserole

The result is tasty, nourishing, soothing and a very different spin on rice and beans!

Zatter Casserole
2 cups of cooked white beans
1 cup dry Tinkyada brown rice sea shells pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon thyme

    The beans should be well soaked and cooked until tender. Cook the pasta according to package directions until ‘al dente’ or softer if you prefer. Transfer the cooked, drained pasta to a baking dish. Measure the beans into the blender jar.
    Pour the olive oil into a small skillet and add the sesame seeds. Cook over low heat stirring occasionally until the seeds look toasty and you can smell their savory goodness. Remove from the burner and allow it to cool for a bit so as to avoid a splattering hot oil incident. Then add the cooled sesame mixture to the blender jar. Measure the salt and thyme into the jar and process until smooth. You may need to add a bit of liquid if the mixture is too dry to process smoothly.
    Once the sauce is processed it can be stirred directly into the pasta. The pasta may have cooled somewhat by this time. The casserole can be stored in the fridge until needed or used immediately. It can be reheated in a microwave or conventional oven. This recipe makes about two grown-up servings.

Gretchen (Mom)

Comments (3)

Microwave Baked Apples

    The SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient for September is apples.  There are so many varieties of apples in the market right now. Choose your favorite or one of the weekly specials.  Usually I go for Golden Delicious but the Pink Lady variety is relatively new and entirely wonderful.  Ricki at Diet, Dessert and Dogs and Kim at Affairs of Living.  Be sure to check out the SOS Kitchen Challenge for September site for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

    This is a naturally gluten-free treat that Don and I have enjoyed over the years. It began as apple pie with crust, canned pie-sliced apples, and lots of sugar, raisins, and cinnamon. The recipe morphed into baked apples after we received a set of individual ceramic baking dishes and decided that as a regular dessert it was better not to have all of that crust.
    After a while those convenient water-packed pie–sliced apples were no longer available so we alternated between baked apples from scratch or baked apples from pie filling enhanced with raisins and more cinnamon. The high-fructose-corn-syrup in pie filing always tasted like glue to me so I only ate baked apples when we used fresh apples.
    We began to experiment with the current recipe about ten years ago – while we were still living in the country. It was there that we settled on this mix of fresh, partially peeled apples, no-cal sweetener (I really was sneaky about the switchover), plenty of cinnamon, good vanilla to enhance the fruit flavor, and raisins. I always liked raisins. But no one I’ve ever known likes them as much as Don. His motto is ‘too many raisins is not enough’ – there is a song that goes something like that but it is not really about raisins.
    When we started using the microwave to cook in we switched from the ceramic bowls to inexpensive microwave-safe glass bowls so we prepare, bake, and serve all in the same easy-clean dishes.

Individual Baked Apple Desserts
1 apple per serving
1-2 tablespoons seedless raisins per serving
1 packet Truvia per serving (this is equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar)
Cinnamon to taste
About 6 drops of vanilla per serving

    Start with freshly washed and dried apples. Quarter, seed, and peel or not peel to your preference. I like a little more peeling and Don likes less. Cut each quarter into small bites and place a cut up apple in each microwavable serving dish.

A Quick and Easy Preparation

A Quick and Easy Preparation

    Add the raisins – here Don likes more and I like less. Then sprinkle the Truvia crystals over the fruit. Shake some cinnamon on top of the crystals and add the drops of vanilla. Stir to distribute then raisins and seasoning. Add some more cinnamon – almost always.
    Place the desserts in the microwave and set the timer for two minutes. Stir and cook for another minute. The apples will have started releasing juice and getting tender. The cinnamon, sweetener, vanilla, and apple juice are blending into a delectable coating for the apples and raisins. Microwave the mixture for one more minute. Remove the desserts to a rack and cover until somewhat cool. Right out of the microwave it will burn your tongue and that is not fun.

Baked and Ready to Serve

Baked and Ready to Serve

    This dessert is really good plain. The tart bites of apple with the sweet bits of raisin do not need embellishment. Top with a handful of chopped walnuts and you have breakfast.
    A tiny bit of fresh sweet cream, whipped cream, ice cream, full fat coconut milk, or a non-dairy frozen dessert makes an acceptable topping. One of those frozen-synthetic-low-fat-imitation-whipped-toppings is an insult to a good apple but if that is what rocks the boat for someone you love then you keep a tub of it in the freezer for them.
    Apples are in season and it is time to enjoy them!

Gretchen (Mom)

Comments (5)

Rhubarb-Date Pecan-Crumble Cake

This recipe is submitted to the SOS Kitchen Challenge hosted by Ricki at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs and Kim at Affairs of Living
    The choice of rhubarb for the June SOS Kitchen Challenge was – well, challenging. First, I have never tasted rhubarb. And possibly because I have never purchased rhubarb I have never noticed any at the farmer’s market or grocery stores. After reading the descriptions and warnings I went off looking for a huge bundle of poisonous green leaves hiding red rhubarb stalks. This is what turned up after searching several stores:

Rhubarb from the Grocery Store

Rhubarb from the Grocery Store

    This was a surprise, although a good one – the poisonous leaves were already eliminated and I refuse to speculate on that. After a thorough washing it was time to dice. I had a recipe for an applesauce coffee cake that was my baseline for this attempt and dicing the rhubarb into 1/2” – 3/4” pieces was the first step. But what’s with all the string? This is way stringier than my beloved celery.

Not Sure About All That String

Not Sure About All That String

    Most of the string was stripped off during the dicing process while I worried about whether losing it would affect the color. That turned out to be the least of the issues. (It was great to discover that rhubarb does not stain the counters and surroundings like beets.)

Somewhat Under Control

Somewhat Under Control

    So into the saucepan it went; along with some chopped dates to sweeten it up, a bit of water and agave syrup for the cake. It simmered gently until the rhubarb was coming apart.

    I had failed to note that the original recipe included tofu and my system can’t handle that. So then began the mental scramble that usually results when substitutions are necessary. There were also flour modifications in keeping with my whole ‘no-grass-plants-allowed’ mindset right now. It became an all-out juggling act.

Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

    Plus my square pans are all 8” so several cupcakes took up the extra batter and crumble topping. The crumble topping is messy and umm, crumbly. Maybe next time a layer of batter, crumble for filling, and the batter on top, kind of like the once popular sock-it-to-me cake.

Fresh Out of the Oven

Fresh Out of the Oven

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped, 1/2”-3/4” bits
3.5 ounces pitted dates, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave syrup
1 teaspoon ground chia seed
1/2 teaspoon fruit pectin
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Dry Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups quinoa flour
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup milk, optional (Almond Breeze)

Pecan-Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup agave syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup margarine (Earth Balance)
3/4 cup chopped pecans (use your favorite nuts or crispy cereal for crunch)
(I thought about crumbling a rice cake but already had too much going on)

Put the rhubarb, dates, water, and syrup in a saucepan and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes. The rhubarb should be very soft by then. Remove the pan from the stove and allow to cool. Stir in the chia seed, pectin, coconut oil, and vanilla and set aside.

Sift the dry ingredients into your mixing bowl and set aside.

Prepare the crumble topping by mixing the flour and cinnamon together. Cut in the margarine (or cold coconut butter) with a pastry blender. Lightly stir in the syrup with a fork. Then add in the nuts.

Turn the oven on to 350*F.  Lightly oil or spray a 9” square pan and set aside.

The rhubarb mixture should be fairly cool by now.  Stir it quickly into the flour mixture.  If the batter is really thick then add the 1/4 cup of milk.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread out evenly to the corners.  Then carefully spoon the crumble mixture on top and spread evenly also while pressing gently into the surface of the batter.

Bake for about 35 minutes.  If it still seems a little too moist then turn off the oven and let it remain to bake for 5-10 more minutes in the residual heat of the oven.

Allow the cake to cool thoroughly.  As with many of these stronger flours it will be better the longer it cools.  It is really best if you can make it a day ahead.

Mom (Gretchen)

Postscript: The Sit ‘N Stitch ladies were at Barb’s house today and I brought this over for taste testing.  This little cake went over very well.  So the question is: if people appreciate the taste of nutritious food then why doesn’t the food industry provide it?  It could be done . . . .

Comments (3)

Spinach Mushroom Pie Goes Vegan

   
SOS Kitchen Challenge
SOS Kitchen Challenge

 This month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient is spinach.  The choice of spinach as the challenge’s ingredient really kick started my efforts to makeover my long time favorite recipe for Spinach Mushroom Pie. There is nothing like a challenge for motivation – thank you Ricki and Kim! Be sure to check out their sites for lots of other healthy recipe submissions by other bloggers.

   There was such wonderful feedback from my taste-testers on the texture of the Sweet Potato Pie ‘Cheesecake’ at the end of March that I printed out both of my recipes and started splicing. It always helps to have a plan of attack even if you eventually deviate from that plan.

    The blender and I had another ‘go-round’. And the red spatula lost a few more bits. The red shows up and is easy to pick out of the blended mixture so from now on all of my spatulas are going to be red!

   The cashews were soaked for well over twenty-four hours. The spinach was leftover from a batch of sautéed fresh spinach with garlic. The mushrooms were fresh. There was cooked quinoa on hand to use somehow in place of ricotta but I wasn’t too sure about how that would work out. And hazelnut meal was ready to stand in for grated Parmesan to provide taste and texture. Whew! That’s a lot of ingredients to bring together.

Gathering the Ingredients

Gathering the Ingredients

   So the first order of business was to prep the mushrooms. Clean, slice, sauté and put them in the mixing bowl with the spinach. Add 1/2 of the quinoa, hazelnut meal, and seasonings.

Saute the Mushrooms

Saute the Mushrooms

   Drain and rinse the cashews, warm in the microwave briefly (so they don’t solidify the coconut oil) and place them in the blender jar. Pulse the blender gently to begin the breakdown process. Add the warm coconut oil and the remainder of the quinoa also slightly warmed – and work the blender pulse control. This is where I had to improvise. The mixture became too thick sort of like super library paste so I warmed a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk (I was out of almond milk) and added it to the mixture. This was better but still way too thick. So in went another two tablespoons of warm coconut milk (how did we ever function without a microwave?). This was still incredibly thick but at least it was manageable. This is where I considered adding more liquid but the spinach and mushroom mixture had its own liquid going so I just dumped and scraped the nut mixture into the spinach mixture and stirred it all together.

   The pie plate was previously prepped with a coating of hazelnut meal stuck on with coconut oil (far left in the ingredients picture). Next all of the filling was carefully spooned into the ‘crust’, smoothed over, and moved into the 350*F oven where it baked for 45 minutes. I had no clue as to ‘how long’ to bake it – the ‘cheesecake’ had taken an hour. The pie was tested at 30 minutes with a thin knife and returned to the oven for another 15 minutes. After that test I returned the pie to the oven with the heat turned off so that the remainder cooked on residual heat. So it took a full hour like that ‘cheesecake’. Did I mention that the kitchen now smelled deliciously of all the herbs?
  
   After removing from the oven (total oven time was 60 minutes) the pie sat on a cooling rack while my guilty conscious drove me out into the yard to pull weeds and cut back the stems on the bloomed-out irises. Plus I was afraid of burning my tongue if I tasted this experiment too soon and all of you know what that is like! Finally it was cool enough to put in the fridge so I could ignore it for a while longer and allow the seasonings to mellow. And it was so worth the wait . . .

Looks Good, Smells Savory, Tastes Yummy!

Looks Good, Smells Savory, Tastes Yummy!

Spinach Mushroom Pie Goes Vegan
3 tablespoons hazelnut meal
Cooking oil or spray to coat a 9” diameter pie pan

1 cup raw cashews, soaked for 24 hours (1 1/3 cup expanded)(138 g)
2 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut butter, slightly warm
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup cooked quinoa, warm
1/4-1/2 cup coconut milk, warm

2 cups chopped, steamed fresh spinach
or 1 package (10-16 ounces) chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and well drained
or 1 can spinach, well drained
1 8-ounce package sliced fresh mushrooms, sautéed
or 1 8-ounce can sliced mushroom, well drained
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground dried savory

Plan ahead: At least one day before put the cashews to soak and cook enough quinoa so that you will have 1 cup for the pie filling. Store the quinoa in the fridge and the cashews as well if they soak for more than the 24 hours (and that’s OK).

Begin:
Prepare a 9” pie pan by coating it with oil or spray. Sprinkle the 3 tablespoons of hazelnut meal into the pan and then tilt and rotate it to distribute the meal to create a very thin ‘crust’. Do this maneuver over the bowl for mixing the filling so that any spills are saved – set the pan aside. Turn the oven to 350*F.

Put the spinach and mushrooms in your mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa, hazelnut meal, and dried herbs. Stir well to distribute the seasonings.

Drain the water from the cashews. If they have been refrigerated then warm them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Dump them into the blender jar. Add the coconut butter, sea salt, the 1/2 cup warmed quinoa, and 1/4 cup coconut milk. Start the blender and begin to break down the cashews, pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed. Dial up the blender speed and begin to puree the mixture; again pulsing and pausing to scrape down the sides as needed.

Add the remainder of the coconut milk only if you really need it but do not hesitate if you do need it. The worst that can happen is that it takes a few minutes longer to bake. When the blender mixture is perfectly smooth like nut butter then add all of it to the vegetable/herb mixture and stir so that all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. Carefully spoon the mixture into the prepared pie plate and smooth down the top. Transfer the pan to the oven and set the timer for the first test (about 30 minutes). It will not be ready unless you have a really hot oven. Testing is similar to any other baked item – the knife should come out relatively clean. Add another 15 minutes and test again. If it is still not ready then put it back, turn off the heat, and go away for 15-30 minutes.

Cool the dish on a rack before cutting into serving portions. This recipe provides 4-8 servings depending on the rest of the meal. I cut it into 8ths so that it lasts more days for breakfasts and snacks!

Mom

Comments (5)

Tarragon Pickled Beets

   This month’s Diet, Dessert and Dogs SOS Kitchen Challenge ingredient is beets. My entry is really a two-fer; my adapted recipe plus the original one that inspired it. I never make the inspiration recipe anymore but I just wanted to share it as a hot vegetable option.
  
   The Tarragon Pickled Beets recipe is so simple it hardly qualifies as a recipe. It was adapted from a Harvard-style beet recipe to make one of my ‘Mason jar specials’ that were brown-bag lunch staples while I was working in the corporate world. There were 4-5 different ones that I made up for lunch treats. You don’t have to have a genuine Mason-type jar but you do need a jar with a tightly sealing lid. Fresh cooked beets, tender and sweet, are ideal if you have them. A 16-ounce can of sliced, diced or cut beets from your pantry will get you there also.

Tarragon Pickled Beets
Sweetener of choice, equivalent to 2 tablespoons sugar or more to taste (I use stevia)
2 T. apple cider vinegar (lemon juice for Candida diet)
1/2 t. dried tarragon
1 3/4 – 2 cups beets
Reserved beet juice

Put an ounce or two of beet juice in the jar. Stir in the sweetener, vinegar, and tarragon and then carefully spoon in the beets (so that red juice doesn’t splash and stain). Add enough reserved beet juice to cover your beets. Screw on the lid to make sure it is sealed and won’t leak. Shake to distribute the juice and seasonings evenly. Keep them in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Filling the Jar
Filling the Jar

Harvard Beets
(even then I was choosing gluten-free)
2 T sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 T lemon juice
1/3 cup juice from beets
1 16-oz can sliced beets, drained
Mix the sugar, salt, paprika, cornstarch, lemon juice and beet juice in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens. Add the beets and continue until beets are heated through.

Even though officially retired I still make the Tarragon Pickled Beets to jazz up lunch or garnish a salad every now and again.

Mom

Comments (1)