Friday, August 31, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Chai Truffles

I am a member of the Slow Food Urban San Diego Food Justice Committee. As a committee we try to meet once per month to discuss projects we’re working on, what the community could use our help with, upcoming events and of course food! Each member generally brings a treat, beverage or dish to pass. These meetings are always a great excuse to spend time whipping up something new and exciting in the kitchen. Last week I made these delicious chocolate coconut chai truffles and they were (not to toot my own horn J) Ah-MAZING!

16 oz of organic dark chocolate chips, chopped (70% or darker)
1 cup of coconut milk (full fat not light)
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of cloves
½ teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more if you would like them spicier)
2 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut
Small muffin wrappers

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a double boiler. Have the chocolate in the top part of the double boiler, but not over the heat yet.

In a small saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a boil and then pour it over your chopped chocolate. Using a wooden spoon, stir the chocolate mixture and then set it over the heat. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted completely and has a smooth creamy texture. 

Add the vanilla and spices and stir again until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. This will take approximately two - three hours.

Rolling Truffles:
Time to get your hands dirty!

First, pour some of the coconut on a large piece of parchment paper. Make sure to allow yourself plenty of space to roll the truffles through the coconut.

Now that your truffle mixture has cooled, and is firm enough to handle, grab yourself a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. The goal is to make one-inch, spherical truffle balls - working as quickly as possible. The warmth of your hands will melt the chocolate making this a rather messy, but FUN, process.

Once you have created your spherical truffle, roll it through the coconut, and then place it on the lined cookie sheet. Keep rolling until all of your chocolate mixture is gone.

What’s next?! Lick your hands! You wouldn’t want to waste all of that delicious chocolate!

Place the truffles in the refrigerator for approximately thirty minutes…or until they firm up again. Once you can handle them, transfer them to individual muffin/truffle cups. Store in a sealed container.

These truffles will keep in the refrigerator for approximately two weeks or in the freezer for up to three months.

* This recipe makes approximately 24 truffles.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Stuffed Balsamic Portabella Mushrooms

The other night my fiancé had to work late. When he works late, that means I get to cook, create, and eat anything that I want! Since he despises mushrooms and figs I decided to enjoy this one without him :)

You see, I absolutely LOVE figs! They can be added to sweet and savory dishes. They are wonderful fresh and dried, warm and cold. Figs are just tasty no matter what you do with them. I actually just read an article about figs and one man's mission to save unusual figs. Did you know that there are more than 100 varieties of Figs?! Check them out here.

* This recipe is for two servings

2 large Portabella mushrooms
2 cups of fresh baby spinach
½ cup of quinoa
¼ cup of raw whole hazelnuts
5 black mission figs cut into small pieces (fresh – if you can get your hands on them)
¾ cup of water or stock
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (approximately 1 ½ tablespoons per shroom)
2 tablespoons of EVOO + a little extra
Sea salt

Remove the stem from the Portabella mushrooms and place them on a large plate. Drizzle with EVOO and the balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle the mushrooms with sea salt and let them rest so the balsamic can seep into the mushrooms.

Start the grill. Once it gets nice and hot, place the portabellas on the grill, top-side down. Let them cook for approximately 5 minutes. Using a tongs, flip the mushrooms and let them cook for an additional 5-10 minutes – or until tender and “meaty.”

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, cover, and simmer for approximately 15 minutes, or until no water remains and the quinoa is tender but slightly crunchy.

Add the hazelnuts to a hot skillet and toast them for approximately 3 minutes. They should start to smell “nutty.” Transfer the hazelnuts to a small dish and set aside.

Place the spinach in the hot skillet (that you just used for the hazelnuts), drizzle with EVOO, stir and cook until spinach is slightly wilted. Spinach wilts quickly so try not to overcook it.

Add the spinach to the quinoa and stir.

Place the portabella mushrooms on two separate plates. Spoon the quinoa and spinach over the mushrooms and then top with figs and hazelnuts. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Farmer's Market Salad

There is a new restaurant in town called True Food Kitchen and the menu was created based on Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Diet. I have been to the restaurant twice and both times had to wait 20-30 minutes. It fills every cell in my body with joy to know that a “healthy” restaurant is in such demand! We are moving in the right direction folks!

The menu is filled with delicious salads, grains, wild-caught fish and organic grass-fed beef. Additionally, the kitchen uses seasonal ingredients so the menu is bound to change frequently. The first time I dined at True Food Kitchen I enjoyed the farmer’s market salad. The second time I dined at True Food Kitchen I ordered the Farmer’s Market Salad again because I fell in love with it the first time! Next time I will try something new. For now, I will share this magnificent salad with you (that I whipped up in my own kitchen).

* Note, this recipe makes enough for 4 entrée sized salads (or 4 smaller side salads)

Salad Ingredients:
½ bunch of chopped romaine
½ bunch of chopped lacinato Kale (massaged with a drizzle of EVOO and sea salt to tenderize the leaves)
½ cup of cold yellow corn
½ cup of cold sweet green or English peas
½ cup of sliced artichoke hearts
¼ cup of fresh mint, julienned (click here for health benefits)

Lemon Vinaigrette Ingredients:
*Makes about ¾ cup of dressing
½ cup of EVOO
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon of minced shallot
1 ½ teaspoons of whole Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of raw organic honey

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the Vinaigrette and set aside.

Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl. Top with ¼ of the vinaigrette and toss. Continue to add dressing based on your preference and toss. (True Food Kitchen serves this salad with little squares of Manchego cheese. Feel free to add the cheese if you eat dairy). Dish up and serve!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Lemon Raspberry Frozen Yogurt

Do you ever feel like there are flavors that are just meant to go together? Chocolate and caramel, tomato and basil, watermelon and mint, AND lemon and raspberry. After a wonderful, carefree day like today – this seemed even more obvious.

Yesterday was the kind of day that everything seemed perfect. The weather was absolutely amazing - perfectly sunny, 72 degrees, birds chirping, and a gentle breeze. It was the kind of day where you lay a blanket down in the grass, grab your favorite book, and enjoy nature’s beauty and all it has to offer.

After some much needed, and well deserved, vitamin-D I headed off to my favorite neighborhood food cooperative. The fresh, organic berries looked outstanding! Once the raspberries made it in my basket, my mind instantly moved to the ripe lemons growing in my backyard. Lemon and raspberry – a match made in heaven J. The question was what would I do with this lovely pair?  Muffins, smoothie, ice cream? The answer…lemon raspberry frozen yogurt! The best part? No ice cream maker needed! :)

* Serves 6-8 (depending on serving size)

1 – 12 oz. package of soft Silken Tofu
1 cup of vanilla Greek yogurt (option to substitute cultured almond or coconut milk)
Zest from one large lemon
Juice from one large lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla
3/4 cup of raw honey (or sweetener of your choice)
2 – 8 oz. packages of organic raspberries (for nutrition facts, click here)
¼ cup of water (option to use lemon juice or orange juice instead)

Add the silken tofu, Greek yogurt, lemon juice and zest, vanilla, and ½ cup of honey to a blender and mix until silky and smooth. Pour the frozen yogurt mixture into a large glass bowl and set aside.

Next place one package of raspberries, water and ¼ cup of honey into a small saucepan. Muddle or mash the raspberries until it resembles sauce or jam. Over low heat, simmer the raspberry mixture until it thickens and the water evaporates. Remove from heat.
Using a spoon, transfer small amounts of the raspberry sauce and swirl it through the frozen yogurt. You will begin to create pretty pink ribbons. Continue this fun artistic project until the entire saucepan of raspberry sauce is gone. Place the mixture in the freezer until frozen. I would estimate that it took approximately five hours for a soft-serve consistency. At this point we indulged.

 Top with a couple of fresh whole raspberries and a slice of lemon. Enjoy!!!