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gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

gluten-free chocolate chip cookies

Ignore the “gluten-free” in the title. These are not some saintly cardboardy cookie things.

And I’m really not trying to be All About Baking here. Honestly.

And I’m not trying to be all health nut vegetarian gluten-free, either. FSM knows I’m a crappy vegetarian and an even more piss-poor health nut.

But you know what? These cookies are really good. I don’t even care that as far as cookies go, they are on the saintly side. They’re vegan. They’re whole grain. They even have ground flax seed.

These cookies have no right to be as yummy as they are. They should taste like nice healthy cardboard, but instead they have some kind of awesome nutty oaty crunchy thing going on.

I ran across them a while back when I didn’t have eggs, and I didn’t have the time or the patience to wait for butter to soften, but wanted chocolate chip cookies. You know when that is. At night, in winter, when some horrid wind is howling outside and PMS is prodding you to find something sweet and chocolate now or it’s going to get really cranky and take you along with it.

my little helper and some cookie dough

Oh, look. I had a helper. This is why these cookies happened today. Little voices.

“AUNT AMY, CAN WE MAKE COOKIES? I WANT TO MAKE COOKIES. LET’S MAKE COOKIES. I WANT TO HELP. I CAN HELP. LET ME POUR THAT IN. I DIDN’T SPILL IT ON PURPOSE. I DON’T KNOW HOW THE DOUGH GOT ON THE FLOOR. THIS LOOKS FUNNY. HOW CAN YOU MAKE COOKIES WITHOUT BUTTER?”

Let’s see. These chocolate chip cookies bake pretty flat. They aren’t fluffsters. They are also better crunchy; when you bake them til they are medium brown. They’re good with nuts but I also think they’re good without nuts, which is rare — I tend to prefer nuts in my chocolate chip cookies. The recipe only makes about 18 cookies, so double it up if you want lots.

To be sure about the gluten-free-ness, make sure to use gluten-free vanilla, and check your canola oil and oats. Oats are naturally gluten-free but apparently some cross-contamination can occur or something in processing bla bla. Read more on gluten-free chocolate chip cookies…

June 25, 2009 in soup / chili2 comments

chilled corn and coconut soup

chilled corn and coconut soup

The only cold soup I’ve been a fan of is gazpacho, and I haven’t had it in years because I can’t find any place around here or any recipe that makes it the right way, with bread.

Other than Sevilla-made gazpacho, spooning a cold pureéd liquid into my maw just has never been a thrilling thought. What’s the point? It’s cold, drippy, and lacking texture.

This corn and coconut milk soup from June’s Martha Stewart Living, however, has me rethinking that position a bit. I realized a chilled soup does indeed have a reason to exist, and that’s as an appetizer or side dish. A chilled soup is never going to make the center of a meal, but with a salad or sandwich, or if you have people over and you’re feeling fancy, soups like this fill a niche.

And the simplicity of this particular recipe helps. The only fussy part is straining the soup after pureéing, and I learned the hard way that the straining does need to be done, unless you like gumming on detached corn kernel hulls (yum!).

This chilled corn and coconut milk soup is rich, punctuated by diffuse heat from the jalapeño, and tempered with some balancing tang by a bit of lime juice. Permeating it all is, of course, the sweet aroma of corn blended with the oh-so-subtle base of coconut milk.

Best of all, however, is the cool palest green color the soup takes on from the jalapenõ. I feel like I’ve had a dip in the pool just looking at it, calmed and refreshed. I used white-kerneled corn and encourage you to seek it out if you want the same pale green; yellow corn will make the soup pale yellow.

Corn is ready or nearly so in the warmer parts of the country, and we’ll have it here in a few weeks. In the meantime, frozen corn works just dandy in this.

Have a cup of this with a loose-leaf lettuce salad lightly dressed with vinaigrette, or, when entertaining, as a prelude to a fish main course, such as asian salmon on quinoa. It will pair well with a sandwich on hearty whole-grain bread, too. Read more on chilled corn and coconut soup…

June 20, 2009 in how to6 comments

how to prepare strawberries for shortcake

strawberries

Otherwise known as: kind of mashed, kind of sweet strawberry yumminess.

This how-to might seem pretty basic, and it is. It’s not hard, but there are a few things that are still nice to know. For instance, you might as well hull the berries before washing them. Inevitably you run into a mushy spot here or there, plus then you don’t have to worry about getting all the sand that may be lurking under the green leaves on the blossom end — without the hulls it will rinse right off.

I do not recommend using a blender or food processor for macerating strawberries. No matter how careful you are, the berries will get chopped too finely, ending up close to a strawberry purée. With shortcake, you aren’t pouring on a purée, you’re ladling on sweet bits of strawberry in their own juice. Read more on how to prepare strawberries for shortcake…

June 18, 2009 in cake, desserts, vegetarian2 comments

strawberry buttermilk shortcake

strawberry buttermilk shortcake

Strawberry season is full-bore, yay! We don’t grow them in our garden, though my grandma used to. Sis has a patch in her garden, though. The only thing fun about picking strawberries is popping them in your mouth while you do it. Otherwise it’s hunched-over, hunt-and-peck labor.

So we order them from a local grower. How do we know when they’re ready? When the ad appears in the local weekly announcing they are taking orders. Then I wind up with 4, 8, 16 quarts or more and knowing what I’ll be doing with some but not all.

And the first thing that gets done with them is to make strawberry shortcake. The recipe is from my dad’s mom, though I can’t guarantee old-world charm: It wasn’t until I was grown up that I discovered their special chocolate chip cookie recipe was the same as the one on the Toll House chocolate chip bag.

It’s a biscuit-like cake, not a sweet, spongy one. Those discs you see in the grocery store? Pure heresy. If you’ve never had a biscuit-like shortcake, you have to try this one. The combination of the barely-sweet buttermilk-scented crumbly cake with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream is to die for. Read more on strawberry buttermilk shortcake…

black bean and couscous salad

black bean and couscous salad

Ohnoes. A pantry meal — in June!

It may be spring — almost summer — but the garden’s getting a slow start around here. A very wet spring kept us from planting until late May. We’ve already burned past the asparagus and rhubarb, and strawberries are due any day now, but normally at this time we’d have lettuce and radishes at the very least.

But it was not to be. The radishes are just about big enough to snack on, but there just isn’t a lot going on yet. I’m not in the mood for hot, heavy, stick-to-your ribs food now, though, so I turned to a main-course salad and dug out this black bean and couscous salad recipe.

Couscous is one of my favorite pastas/grains. I like whole-wheat couscous (obviously!) and it’s one of the whole-grain products that doesn’t seem any different from non-whole-grain variety. It isn’t even prepared differently; perhaps a touch more water or broth when making it, but it turns out fine without such watchfulness. Couscous also pairs amazingly with beans, and I’m partial to black beans. A lot of which goes to explain why I enjoy this salad so much. Read more on black bean and couscous salad…

June 13, 2009 in main course1 comment

asian salmon on quinoa

asian salmon on quinoa

After several years as an ovo-lacto vegetarian, I came back to fish. I love fish, particularly salmon. It’s pretty, delicious, and full of protein and omega-3s. There are a few things to watch out for when purchasing salmon, though, if you’re being conscious of where your food comes from and how it impacts our environment.

There’s “good” salmon and there’s “bad” salmon. This refers not to freshness but to whether it’s farmed or wild. Alaska has robust wild salmon fisheries and that is the kind of salmon to look for. Look for the terms “wild” or “Alaskan” when buying fresh or frozen salmon.

“Bad” salmon is farmed. They’re treated with pesticides and antibiotics, are low in omega-3s due to their diet, pollute their local environment due to so many being raised in a small area (sewage), and reduce the supply of other fish — salmon are carnivorous, and it takes 3 pounds of other fish to raise 1 pound of salmon. Farmed salmon will often say it is farmed, but usually more prominently displayed is “Atlantic.” If your’e buying Atlantic salmon, you’re buying farmed salmon.

Buy wild and/or Alaskan salmon. It’s no more expensive than farmed, and it’s much better for you and everyone else.

Right now is sockeye salmon season — it usually shows up fresh in markets in June. Sockeye eats only plankton, which gives it a richer taste than other salmons, and a deep reddish pink color. If you see sockeye at your market, snap it up.

This salmon recipe puts filets in an soy sauce-tinged, slightly sweet marinade for an hour, then on the grill or under the broiler. It’s my go-to recipe when I want really flavorful salmon. Served on a bed of broth-infused quinoa, it’s even pretty enough to serve to other people. Read more on asian salmon on quinoa…