Saturday, November 30, 2013

God of All Harvests: a Thanksgiving poem + Kale-Apple-Lemon Salad with Honeyed Sunflower Seeds

God of all Harvests
By Barbara Molinari Quinby, MPS
©2013 Catholic Relief Services,, used with permission

God of sun and God of rain,
In you, there is no dryness.
In you, no weed chokes the root.
No blight withers the leaf.
No frost bites at the blossom.
And, so, we pray for farmers and their harvests everywhere.
In you, seeds of tears yield a bountiful harvest of joy.
May the rice farmer in Madagascar know such bounty.
In you, seeds of truth and courage yield a bountiful harvest of justice.
May the coffee farmer in Honduras know such bounty.
In you, seeds of compassion yield a bountiful harvest of wisdom.
May the cacao farmer in the Philippines know such bounty.
In you, seeds of hope yield a bountiful harvest of fulfillment.
May the vegetable farmer in Haiti know such bounty.
In you, seeds of love yield a bountiful harvest of forgiveness and reconciliation.
May the cassava farmer in Zambia know such bounty.
In you, seeds of the Gospel yield the glorious harvest that is our salvation.
God of all harvests, bless all planters everywhere:
All who sow and all who gather,
All who nourish and all who weed,
All who thresh and bundle and bring to market.
And bless all harvests.
Sprinkle your living water on our fields, on our relationships, on our communities, on our hearts.
And kiss us with the light and warmth of your undying sun.
May all our harvests reflect the Harvest that is to come.


Oh, kale. You are just like the rest of us. You start out prickly and tense and tough.


And then after a little TLC, you're soft and sweet and ready to be friendly.


Who are we getting friendly with? Lemon dressing, honeyed sunflower seeds - though a cup of granola instead worked just fine at the Thanksgiving brunch I hosted this week - some fresh herbs and a chopped apple or two.


This is basically autumn in a salad bowl.

Massaging kale is impressive. It reminds me of how blessed most of us are to have hands.

My salads classes love this salad.

My brunch guests devoured it more aggressively than they tackled Aunt Judy's Egg Casserole and some superyum pumpkin muffins.

I wish I could eat some right now but instead I'll settle for popcorn.

Kale-Apple-Lemon Salad with Honeyed Sunflower Seeds
Yield: 6-8 servings

For lemon dressing (which, by the way, tastes great on just about anything), stir together:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil or sunflower oil
1 tablespoon honey (or agave nectar or 2 teaspoons sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For seeds*:

In a dry skillet, toast 1 cup raw sunflower seeds (or pumpkin seeds). When aromatic and slightly golden in color, add 1 tablespoon honey and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stir until well coated and then transfer them to a plate to cool.

For salad:

Clean, remove stalk, and shred or tear up one big bunch of kale (any kind of kale will work). Place torn leaves into a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice, and massage with your hands until it is soft and almost cooked in appearance and texture, 2-4 minutes. Add 1 or 2 apples or pears, chopped into 1/2" chunks, the seeds (which might be all stuck together in one clump, but once you toss them with dressing and massaged kale, they'll break up nicely). Optional additions: a couple tablespoons of chopped mint, chives or scallions. (At brunch and in class I usually do a mix of mint and scallions.) Enjoy and feel healthy! Happy belated Thanksgiving!

* In case you skipped my ramblings at the top - note that a cup of granola is a lovely substitute for the sunflower seeds. That's what I added for crunch on Thanksgiving and it gave the salad a decidedly brunchy flare.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

For Rhiannon: Fall Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Chickpeas

Rhiannon! I've been thinking about you this week. I hope the transition back to work has been smooth and that the soup challenge is paying off. I also wanted to tell you that I am obsessed with my homemade moisturizers, so thank you for inspiring me.

The rest of you! This is the best thing I've eaten in a long time. It's not a one pot meal, or a quick weeknight meal, or anything decadent. But it's DELICIOUS. And flexible (I've embedded a few alternatives into the recipe, but you know your kitchen and palate better than I do). Also, please note that this is a clever combination of all whole foods. And with the exception of the roasted vegetables, everything is theoretically do-ahead. And this is the time of year when using your oven is totally a good idea - doesn't your furnace need a little rest now and then?


So here are the main parts:

A couple cups of cooked quinoa. Maybe the costly multicolored kind because it's pretty. (They cook the same. Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.)


Spiced, roasted vegetables. I used broccoli and sweet potatoes. I think parsnips and cauliflower would be good too. You want about 2 pounds of whatever vegetables you like; use common sense or the google machine to sort out your cooking times. I inadvertently charred mine and everything still ended up crazy good.


Even my children enjoyed their deconstructed portions. (Except for the quinoa. They used to like it but I stopped making it for a while so now it is weird to them. Take note, parents! Sadie tried, literally, two grains of quinoa and declared it was too spicy for her. There was no spice in it whatsoever.)


Roasted chickpeas. These are super yummy. Their texture is best the day they're made (and better if you're using fresh cooked chickpeas instead of canned ones), but I wouldn't kick 'em out of bed on day 2. They're oddly reminiscent of corn nuts.


Quick cooking lesson: you want to use your two biggest roasting pans/baking dishes for the veggies and chickpeas, respectively, and you want to spread out your vegetables and chickpeas so that there is as much space as possible between pieces. Here's why: when vegetables and legumes (and anything you plan on eating) hit heat, the moisture that can be found in all (most?) organic matter is released. When food is crammed together on a pan, this moisture results in a steaming effect, rather than roasting. More space = less steaming = more dry, crunchy bits = good. 

Not pictured:

Dressing. You want something really bold and punchy that's going to tie everything together and brighten up the smoky spices (and, perhaps, "charred" flavor profile) you went for with your veggies. I used Smitten Kitchen's carrot-ginger-miso dressing, omitted onion and added 1 clove garlic and more water than she calls for in her recipe (at least 2 extra tablespoons, maybe up to 1/4 cup), subbed apple cider vinegar for rice vinegar (resourcefulness at its best). This dressing, even with necessary modifications, is fabulous - original source is Gwyneth Paltrow, so how could it not be? - and lasts a good week in the refrigerator (mine was at least 5 days old when I dressed my quinoa bowl with it). But you've got options if you don't have all those Asian pantry ingredients at hand. I've included three alternatives in the recipe below because I super love you.

Feta cheese.

Fresh mint.


You're welcome.

Fall Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, and Chickpeas
Yield: 3-4 servings

2-3 cups cooked quinoa*
1 large sweet potato (~1/2 pound), scrubbed and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 large head broccoli (or, in my case, 3 small ones), florets broken up, stems chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 cups cooked, drained, dried chickpeas**
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt, pepper, other spices you like (I used Penzey's 4S seasoned salt on the sweet potatoes and broccoli, and then big pinches of ground coriander, smoked paprika, Golden Fig's Smoky Habanero Salt (available at a Local D'Lish near you! hey, while you're there take a class!), black pepper, and ground fenugreek seeds on the chickpeas; you could use a good curry powder that you like if you want less heat, or for more heat some cumin and a lot of cayenne, chipotle, aleppo, or freshly ground black pepper plus some fresh lemon or lime zest during the last 20 minutes of roasting)
Dressing options: Carrot-Ginger or Cranberry Miso or Garlicky Peanut Sauce or recipe at bottom of this post***
Feta cheese (optional)
Fresh mint or cilantro (optional)
(Oh wait, everything is optional, this is a grain-veggie bowl!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. You'll need two large roasting pans for the vegetables and chickpeas. (See cooking lesson above.) Toss sweet potatoes with 1 tablespoon of oil and salt, pepper, and some spices you like. Spread them out on one of your roasting pans and place pan in oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until starting to soften but you don't want them to be browning yet, so check on them early and often. In a bowl, toss broccoli with 2 teaspoons olive oil and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and spices. In your other roasting pan, toss chickpeas with 1 tablespoon olive oil and about 2-3 teaspoons of combined spices of choice + 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add broccoli to the sweet potatoes on roasting pan and return to oven, on lower rack. Place pan of chickpeas in oven on the rack closer to the burner. Cook for 18-22 minutes more, tossing with a spatula every 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven when everything is just starting to brown nicely and chickpeas are crunchy.

Scoop 1/2 - 1 cup quinoa into each bowl. Top with a cup of vegetables, a good amount of dressing, some crumbled feta, chickpeas (or nuts or seeds - see note below), and some fresh herbs if you've got some. Happy healthy dinner! Happy fall!

* How do I cook quinoa? I'm so glad you asked. Like this: Toast 1 part quinoa in a dry saucepan for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1.5 parts water, bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Allow to rest, covered for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

** Ultimately, the roasted chickpeas are just there for some crunch and protein (and, you know, they're a bit of a novelty item). You could easily omit them and substitute some toasted, spiced nuts or seeds (or, heck, corn nuts, I won't judge). Probably about a cup of them.

*** Another dressing idea is this zippy ginger-maple dressing that my friend Amber made for me and now I make it for my classes (with a little acid added (lemon/lime juice) because I like a lot of acidity in my food). Blend everything together: as much grated ginger as you can handle (1-2 tablespoons, by the way: no need to peel the ginger, especially if you use a microplane to grate it), 2+ large garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey or agave nectar or apricot preserves), ¼ cup olive oil or melted coconut oil, juice of half a lemon or lime.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cookies again! But of an entirely different sort: Hippy / Breakfast / "Healthy" Cookies

In my classes, I often ask people a couple things about how they relate to recipes. I've found, through my ongoing v. scientific study, that about 30% of people really, really, really need a recipe and need to follow it to the letter in order to be comfortable in the kitchen, about 25% of people like to start with a recipe that they follow precisely the first time around but if it's worth making again they'll own it a little the next time, about 25% of people like a recipe to look at but are comfortable immediately modifying it to make it taste like something they know they'll like, and about 20% of people literally cannot follow a recipe to save their lives. Which category do you think you fall into?

Personally, my relationship with recipes is in flux. Historically I've been among that last 20% - I can't leave well enough alone so I'll improve a recipe before I even try it as written once. Often that means I'm not following the recipe at all. The recipe is just one of many ideas at play as I make dinner or sweet rolls. After a year of lessons learned the hard way, however - and by "the hard way" I mean the expensive way, because alternative grains and starches and egg replacers and sunflower seed butter can get quite pricy - I've taken a different approach. If a recipe that is safe for my family intrigues me, it's probably a gamble. So I usually make it as written first, to figure out if the source is even trustworthy, and then if it turns out awesome I'll stick to the recipe in the future with perhaps minor adjustments, and if it turns out decent but in need of improvement, I'll have a good sense of how to improve it based on the taste and texture of the followed-recipe-as-written version. I continue to learn without reinventing the wheel. I get to be creative and apply my own culinary skills and knowledge with some actual method.

Here are some of the sources I go to over and over again, for those of you who might be in a similar situation in terms of food restrictions (nuts, eggs, gluten, dairy, some legumes):

My New Roots. The things one woman can do with some ground oats and chia seeds. Her "Life Changing Loaf of Bread" is indeed a revelation; her fig-carob muffins are a tutorial in minimalist vegan, gluten-free baking. She's my hero. 

Baby Cakes Covers the Classics. This cookbook's not perfect and there are some angry reviews of it out there on thesehereinternets. But if you really want sweets to be a part of your life and you can't eat any allergens and you are willing to commit to Erin McKenna's ingredient preferences once and then experiment a bit the second time around... this book is pretty great. We really like her waffles and chocolate chip cookies (I make it according to her "thick and chewy" recipe adjustment guidelines). Her pastry dough recipe, which I used to make cinnamon rolls, is flawed but by no means unpalatable. (Non-allergic visitors went back for seconds.) Furthermore, amidst all the negative reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, people consistently say that her madeleine and thin mint cookie recipes are foolproof. They are on my list but I can't vouch for them yet.

The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook. Again, with vegan/gluten-free baking there are no guarantees. But the now famous Cybele Pascal's recipes seem pretty well-tested and I make the following on a regular basis, with a few modifications because I avoid Ener-G egg replacer as much as possible and she doesn't: cornbread, chocolate sandwich cookies (like homemade Oreos, but softer), thumbprint cookies, dark chocolate cake, brownies (these really are the best brownies, but I use 2/3 the amount of sugar called for), and all the muffins (literally). Her chocolate chip cookie recipe failed me, however, and I've found better cake recipes than hers from... next please!...

Living Without Magazine. This magazine truly changed my life, and it is the source of the recipe which I've modified and am sharing with you in this post.

To a lesser extent, and a little quirky/more radical, but still really helpful and inspirational for me:

WholeMade, most recent favorite is these pumpkin cookies
Purely Twins, especially these

More resources become accessible as you accrue more weird ingredients. Different cooks have different pet ingredients. (I sometimes think I should have a note on my bio at Local D'Lish that says, "Oh, and if you don't like sweet potatoes and cilantro, maybe you should take a class with Kate instead.")

Today's recipe is for some healthy cookies. They have chocolate chips and puffed cereal in them but otherwise no highly refined products. To me, and my children, they are just enough sweet. (But if you want them sweeter you can always add sugar; start with 1/4 cup.) Even the first time I made them, when they were kind of weird and in need of something (and I worked hard to think of what that something could be besides straight up sugar) they were strangely addictive. Now - after adding some puffed flax/rice cereal for crunch, the oats for substance, cinnamon for depth, and upping the amount of salt for *ahem* some actual flavor - they are awesome, still addictive but less strangely. And I don't feel bad giving them to my children for a snack (or second breakfast) because they have only 4 grams of sugar in each cookie, and good amounts of fiber and protein. (But can still pass for cookies.) They are also way cheaper than a box of Enjoy Life cookies, which is the most readily available treat for my son.


Does that gooey, shiny stuff on the right look like something you want to eat with a spoon? That's because it is something you do want to eat with a spoon. It's like not-too-bad-for-you candy.


Hippy / Breakfast / "Healthy" Cookies
Adapted from Living Without Magazine, December/January 2014 (recipe by Kelly Brozyna at
Yield: ~ 40 cookies (more precisely: 42 cookies)

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup thick rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut (or use more thick rolled oats - total of 1 cup)
1/2 cup Crunchy Flax cereal or other crunchy puffed rice (or other grain) cereal
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sunflower seed butter or other nut/seed butter (you want a whole jar here, basically: 1 lb)
1 cup coconut milk (canned kind, full fat)
1/2 cup liquid sweetener (so far I like 1/4 cup maple syrup + 1/4 cup brown rice syrup best, and all honey least)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet or line it with a Silpat.

In a large bowl, stir together flax seeds, coconut flour, salt, coconut, oats, chocolate chips, cinnamon, and cereal.

In a separate bowl that can be used with an electric mixer, or in your blender or food processor, combine sunflower seed butter, coconut milk, and sweetener and mix until there are no clumps of any one thing and the consistency is that of caramel. This mixture, by the way, if you allowed it to firm up a bit or reduced the amount of coconut milk, would make a great cupcake topping or a drizzle for some homemade Samoas. (I'm on it. I inspire MYSELF!)

Toss dry ingredients into wet and combine with a spatula or spoon or your hands. Using a tablespoon measure (or, better yet, a cookie scooper - those things are so great), dollop batter onto your prepared baking sheet. You don't have to space the cookies apart very far, as they don't really spread at all. Wet your fingers with water and press down on the tops of the cookies to flatten them a bit (the shape they're in when they go into the oven will be the shape they maintain when they come out of the oven). Bake for 18 minutes, rotating pan 180 degrees after 9 minutes, for even baking.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

You Asked. Spiced Whole Wheat Ricotta Cookies.

Hello friends. I baked you some cookies. And then - what do you know - you wanted the recipe. So here it is. Enjoy and try hard to not eat them all in one sitting. They are soft and cake-like and just barely sweet. The whole wheat flour gives them a texture that your inner hippie will adore. I like them and love them and am glad they are gone. I'm making them with my Mambo Italiano class on Sunday as well, so if that's why you are here - welcome and enjoy the rest of the site!

Love and cookies,

P.S. 11/10/13 - Ricki, Scott, Angela, Raela, Jeni, Kelly, Katie, and Jessi!* You are the best! I had a wonderful afternoon with you and I am sleeping with your notes under my pillow tonight. I hope that's not creepy. Here you are looking really cute and skilled in the kitchen. Thank you for making my family's dinner. My husband was v. pleased. Buonanotte. I hope to see you all again soon.

P.P.S. Everyone else: Kelly's new favorite cookie was made with L.C. Finn's Anise Extract and zest of one lemon.


Spiced Whole Wheat Ricotta Cookies
Adapted from this
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

3/4 cup sugar
Zest of half an orange or whole clementine/tangerine/blood orange
1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg (see note)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cardamom extract, anise extract, almond extract, or vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour, spelt flour, whole wheat pastry flour, or all-purpose flour (see note)
1/4 cup milk (maybe: see note in recipe)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Note: Whole wheat flour hydrates differently than more refined flours. If some extra liquid isn't used in a baking recipe where whole grain flour is used as a substitute for refined flours, whole wheat cookies and pastries can end up crumbly or sandy. My rule of thumb is, if I'm substituting whole wheat flour where all-purpose flour is called for: add 2 tablespoons milk per cup of flour (4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup, so in this recipe we are using 1/4 cup milk to hydrate 2 cups whole wheat flour). An extra egg can sometimes help with texture and binding as well - so if you like a firm, soft cookie, go ahead and use 2 eggs in this recipe, and maybe just 2 tablespoons of milk. If you are using all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour, omit the milk. The butter, ricotta, and egg will sufficiently hydrate all-purpose flour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, (ideally the one that goes with your stand mixer), use either a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment of your mixer to cream together the sugar, orange zest, and butter. Add ricotta cheese and milk (if using - see note) and stir to incorporate. Add egg and stir to combine, followed by flavored extract of choice (or convenience anyway). Add in the flour mixture and stir until you've got a nice soft, tacky, pliable dough. Measure out tablespoon-sized balls onto a baking sheet (no greasing or Silpat required), leaving at least a couple inches between (they expand a lot). Bake for about 15-17 minutes, rotating pans 180 degrees after 8 minutes for more even cooking. Cool for at least 5 minutes on baking sheets and serve. Allow them to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container (where they will get softer over time).

* I hope I got everyone's name right.