Tag Archives: berries

Chocolate Raspberry Tart

9 Feb

Self-discipline implies some unpleasant things to me, including staying away from chocolate and keeping my hands out of women’s pants.
~Oleg Kiselev

When a dear friend asked me to make “something chocolatey” for his birthday, I immediately thought of my Rich Chocolate-Blackberry Torte with Raspberry Sauce. But since going flexi-vegan-vege-pescatarian, I’m reluctant to have animal products in the house. Luckily, my recent Christmas gift to myself – a vegan pie cookbook – provided a good solution.

I decided to make Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s chocolate raspberry tart with the almond crust variation. Since I had a cocoa-cinnamon-nutmeg mixture leftover from her chai spice cupcakes recipe, I decided to mix that into the crust as well.

food processor doughCrumbly, delicious almond crust is so easy to whip up in the food processor!

In her book, Ms. Moskowitz garnishes the tart with raspberries. But it’s not raspberry season, and I’ve already had a three-layer cake ruined by raspberries that molded the next day – in the summer! Since I was using frozen raspberries, I took the sauce from my former recipe and drizzled it over the top instead.

half-eaten tartThis is how the tart looks, half-decimated.

The coconut milk and coconut oil lent this ganache such an amazing creaminess, you’d never know it was non-dairy. And fear not, coconut-haters, there was no coconut flavor co-mingling with the chocolate. This tart was quickly devoured by the dozen guests at the party, super easy to make, and cruelty-free – I couldn’t be happier with it!

cafe & tartPairs well with Bailey’s coffee!

RECIPE – Chocolate Raspberry Tart

Adapted from Vegan Pie in the Sky.
Makes one 10-inch tart.

PRESS-IN ALMOND CRUST
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons canola oil
3 or more tablespoons cold almond milk

CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING
3/4 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons water
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen
extra fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)

RASPBERRY SAUCE
4 oz raspberries, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Chambord
2 teaspoons sugar

Prepare the crust.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Pour the almonds into a food processor and pulse into a fine meal, then add the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and salt, and pulse to combine. Continue to pulse and stream in canola oil, then pulse in 3 tablespoons of the almond milk. The mixture should hold together when pressed between your fingertips; if it still feels too crumbly, mix in one additional tablespoon of almond milk at a time.

Lightly spray a tart pan with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle in the crust mixture. Press it into the bottom and sides of the pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until crust is lightly browned, then set aside to cool.

Prepare the ganache.
In a small (2-quart) saucepot, bring the coconut milk, coconut oil, and water to a rolling boil.

Place the chocolate chips in a mixing bowl. In a separate small bowl, mash the raspberries into small pieces with a fork.

When the coconut milk mixture comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Cover the bowl with a place or lid and let sit for five minutes. Then, whisk the mixture together to create a thick ganache. Fold in the raspberries.

Pour the ganach into the baked tart shell. Smooth with a knife of spatula, if needed. Let chill for at least two hours before cutting. If you like, add fresh raspberries to the circumference of the crust to decorate. Or, combine all recipes for raspberry sauce into a food processor until liquid, then drizzle over the tart.

Slice the tart into 16 thin slices, dipping a knife into warm water and wiping it clean after each cut.

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VegWeek Day 1, Breakfast Quinoa

25 Sep

VegWeek - Pledge to go Veg, Sept 25-Oct 2, 2011

It’s that time of year again, time for Veg Week! Since last year’s blogs, I’ve grown to love veggies in a big way, learned to eat more simply, and simply eat less. I’m still firmly in the “flexitarian” bracket, but more conscious than ever. I have gotten to the point where eating meat more than once a day feels weird. I’d like to get down to eating it once or twice a week.

The thing I really struggle with, though, is dairy. Dairy in all its many forms – butter, heavy cream, yogurt, and cheese (okay, and the occasional ice cream) are staples in my diet. I have a sneaking suspicion that I don’t process them well, but with the exception of almond milk, the vegan alternatives haven’t really interested me. So to challenge myself this week, I’m going to do just that – go vegan.

Besides recipes, I’ll be sharing useful websites, books, documentaries, and other information about animal rights and the vegetarian lifestyle. I’ll also be sharing resources on humane farming, for those who want to make conscious choices but aren’t ready to go vegetarian yet.

Finally, a big hearty thanks to Animal Protection and Rescue League for sponsoring San Diego’s VegWeek! Check them out online or make friends on facebook. You might want to sign up for their daily VegWeek newsletter or join the facebook event, and you can also support them by shopping/donating at their awesome thrift store!

I’m so honored to have recently met some of the great people who make this organization happen. Your passion, love, and kindness move me.

piggie piglet

Image by whiskersnaps.com, via cute overload

Breakfast Quinoa

To kick off VegWeek, I thought it would be appropriate to share a recipe that kicks off a lot of my mornings – breakfast quinoa. Like the Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl I blogged previously, this concept is versatile and can be applied to any number of grains. I like quinoa for the nuttiness and the texture. Plus, it’s super quick-cooking and I can make it fresh before work.

Here’s what I do for about 4 servings:

Boil 1 1/2 cups water
Rinse 1 cup quinoa
Turn heat down to low, add quinoa
Cover and simmer for 15 minutes

quinoaI buy it in bulk.

Next comes the fun part – add-ins! I mix and match ingredients from the following categories:

*lube*
vegan margarine, almond milk, nondairy yogurt, peanut butter, almond butter, fruit preserves

*sweetener*
honey, agave nectar, brown sugar

*spices*
cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom, orange zest

*nuts*
walnuts, pecans, slivered almonds

*fruit*
fresh – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, banana, mango, kiwi, apple
dried – raisins, cranberries, apricots, currants, dates apples

Here are a few of the concoctions I’ve devised so far:

Red, White & Blue

red white & blue quinoa - strawberries, blueberries, bananaspat of butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, strawberries, blueberries, banana

Banana Bread

banana nutplain yogurt or almond milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, banana, walnuts

Apple Cinnamon

apple cinnamon quinoaalmond milk or heavy cream, apple butter, sauteed and fresh apples

Trail Mix Quinoa

trail mix quinoaalmond milk, vanilla extract, agave nectar, cinnamon, dried cranberries, walnuts, shredded coconut, mini chocolate chips

yet-to-be-photographed…

Maple-Date-Pecan

plain or vanilla yogurt, maple syrup, nutmeg, chopped dates, chopped pecans

Tropical Quinoa

coconut milk, sweetened flaked coconut, mango slices, chopped macadamia nuts

Chocolate Chip Cookie Quinoa
(okay, maybe not for breakfast…)

plain yogurt, vanilla extract, brown sugar, mini chocolate chips, walnuts

Holiday treats: Sparking Cranberries & Spicy-Sweet Roasted Nuts

21 Dec

Recipe source: Sparkling Cranberries – 101 Cookbooks
Recipe source: Spicy Sweet Roasted Nuts – slashfood

Sparkling Cranberries

This post is written with many thanks to Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, for posting this recipe in the first place, and for her dedication to finding the just-right sugars for every step of the process. Better you than me, sister.

As with so many of my recipes, I found these little gems about a year ago and bookmarked them, only to forget about them. Then while I was scouring through my recipe-labeled emails to find an appetizer for Gourmet Friends, I discovered it again in an email I’d sent to myself. Thank you, Ghost of Christmas Past! These are a beautiful festive treat for a winter party, and very unique.

I’ve given only half the quantities of the original recipe here, because most people will only pop one or two each, for the novelty and intrigue. In general, people don’t go crazy over natural cranberries, and they’re sure to get some puckers from the kids, who think they look like candy. (Ha ha, suckers!) Rolling these berries perfectly is also incredibly time-consuming and laborious, and I think once you get to one cup, you won’t miss the second.

They really are pretty, though. I swear.

sparkling cranberries

To start, you’ll measure out a cup of fresh cranberries, making sure to pick out any shriveled or otherwise funky berries. Soak these overnight in a simple syrup (Heidi recommends making it with raw sugar, which gives a really nice molasses flavor).

cranberries

The next day, drain the berries. They should stay a little sticky and they’ll look really shiny and gorgemous. *ooooh, shiiiiiny*

While the berries are still wet, it’s time to roll them first in organic, unbleached sugar (a slightly bigger grain than your normal refined), and then in refined sugar. To set up a little station for yourself, you’ll need a bowl with your cranberries, a small bowl with organic unbleached sugar, a small bowl with regular refined sugar (and reserves of both), a slotted spoon, and the serving bowl for your finished cranberries. You’ll also want a comfy chair, ‘cuz this is gonna take a while.

cranberry rolling station

To coat, drop a berry into the organic sugar, shake off excess by tapping a slotted spoon against the bowl, then repeat in the refined sugar.

cranberry in sugar

Note: the sugar level in these bowls is too much. As you work through this process, some of the simple syrup will stay behind, creating lumps in your sugar. And that means lumps on your berries, which looks less like freshly fallen snow and more like the sludge the ice truck has pushed to the side of the road. You can see it starting a little in this picture, where I have attempted to roll entirely too many berries at once.

too many cranberries

In the end, though, with a little patience, you’ll get this very lovely result. I found that leaving these out, uncovered, made the sugar crunchy while keeping the inside delightfully juicy. Storing them in a covered bowl will soften the sugar some, and it’s not as nice. Over a couple days, the sugar will also start to clump and congeal, creating a weird cranberry-blob monster. So it’s best to roll these the same day you plan to serve them.

sparkling cranberries

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Nuts

This is a tried-and-true recipe I’ve made several times now, and it’s always a hit with a group of friends, or when I’m huddled away in my little work cubicle, storing up nuts for the winter. It’s also extremely easy to make.

nuts in measuring cup

You can use any combination of nuts for this, so long as they are raw. I usually buy raw nuts in bulk, but Trader Joe’s sells them as well, and for a decent price. My personal favorite mixture is cashews, almonds, pecans and walnuts. Sometimes I’ll use a few more cashews than almonds, as they seem to be the mildest and absorb flavor the best. And almonds are dry and they catch in my throat. *cough*

toasting nuts

Begin by dry-toasting the nuts in a large pan over a medium flame. Be sure to keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, and stir often. Eventually you will notice brown or black spots begin to appear; this is how you know they’re done.

In a small saucepan, melt butter and maple syrup together, then mix in fresh chopped rosemary and cayenne pepper to taste. Immediately pour this mixture over the toasted nuts, stir well to coat, and spread the nuts over a foil-lined baking sheet for easy cleanup. Sprinkle the nuts with sea or kosher salt and bake in a 350-degree preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Voila – you have it, a great party dish or gift.

spicy sweet roasted nuts

~ Happy Winter Solstice! ~

RECIPE – Sparkling Cranberries

For the simple syrup, raw cane sugar or real brown sugar lends a nice molasses flavor to the cranberries, but regular granulated sugar (or a blend of brown/white) will work.

1 cup cranberries, picked over
1 cup water
1 cup sugar (see head notes)
More sugar for coating: I do a mix of medium-grained organic sugar for the first coating, and then a second toss with regular granulated white sugar. You don’t want a huge grain for that first toss, just something larger than standard sugar, smaller than most turbinado sugars.

Place the cranberries in a medium glass bowl and set aside. Make a simple syrup by bringing the water and sugar just to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Let the syrup cool for a couple minutes and then pour it over the cranberries. If the syrup is too hot the cranberries will burst, so be careful. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the cranberries and toss them with larger grained sugar until they are well coated. I only use a scoop of sugar at a time, and small batches of cranberries, so the sugar doesn’t get too damp. Place the coated cranberries on a baking sheet to dry for a few hours.

Do a second toss with the regular granulated sugar, this typically takes care of any sticky spots on the cranberries. Let dry another hour.

Makes 1 cup of sparkling cranberries.

RECIPE – Spicy Sweet Roasted Nuts

4 cups of raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, pecans)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less depending on your taste
2 teaspoons sea salt

In a large skillet, toast the nuts over medium heat, stirring occasionally so that they don’t burn. In a small saucepan, melt butter and maple syrup together. Once melted, add rosemary and cayenne. When the nuts are toasted (when the vast majority have darkened spots), pour the butter mixture over the nuts and toss to coat.

Spread the glazed nuts out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet (makes for far easier cleanup) and roast in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on your desired level of roast.

When you take the nuts out of the oven, sprinkle the salt over the top, so that it adheres to the still-sticky nuts. I like to use the flaky Maldon sea salt for these nuts, but in a pinch, kosher will also do just fine.

Waffles with Melba Sauce

26 Jul

“Sleep ’til you’re hungry, eat ’til you’re sleepy.”
-Author Unknown

Recipe source: Waffles – Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book (c) 1989
Melba sauce – David and myself

Breakfast can sometimes seem like one of the toughest meals to make both healthy and interesting. Traditional restaurant fare ranges the gamut from super fatty to super sugary, and many healthy options can be bland.

David and I used to indulge in the occasional weekend waffles or pancakes, topped with Aunt Jemima Butter-Lite syrup, which is made of I-don’t-know-what. So then we started substituting jams for the the syrup, but it can be hard to find jams that aren’t equally loaded with sugar, and besides that, the taste was still missing something. Then one day David had some berries lying around that needed to be consumed.  He whipped them up in an immersion blender, and a new favorite was born.

melba sauce

Our recipe lately has been raspberries, blueberries, a squeeze of lemon juice and a spoonful of sugar. We’ve used strawberries as well. This sauce is great with fresh fruit, but could just as easily be made with frozen berries in the winter.

fresh fruit

To make the whipped cream, I like to blend 1/2 cup of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon or cardamom. This, too, goes wonderfully fast in an immersion blender.

fresh whipped cream

Unless you’re married and didn’t know what to add to your registry, or the son of restaurateurs, there’s a good chance you don’t own a waffle maker. But fear not, this sauce can also be used as a topping for pancakes, crepes, English muffins, or swirled into oatmeal. It’s a great sweetener without being too sweet, and a good way to get in a serving of fruit. My stomach is notoriously fussy in the morning, and I feel fine after eating this, which makes it a winner in my book!

waffle makerThis waffler has seen a few things!

Whipped cream and melba sauce on a warm waffle… heaven. You can add any other fruits you like. Here we also had a nectarine on hand and decided to slice it on top. Muy delicioso.

waffles with melba sauce

RECIPE – Waffles with melba sauce

Waffles

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoons salt
2 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 egg whites

In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl beat egg yolks slightly. Beat in milk and oil. Add egg yolk mixture to flour mixture all at once. Stir just till combined but still slightly lumpy.

In a small bowl beat egg whites till stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Gently fold beaten egg whites into flour and egg yolk mixture, leaving a few fluffs of egg white. Do not overmix.

Pour 1 to 1 1/4 cups batter onto grids of a pre-heated, lightly greased waffle baker. Close lid quickly; do not open during baking. Bake according to manufacturer’s directions. When done use a fork to life waffle off grid. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes 3 or 4 waffles.

EASY WAFFLES. Prepare as above, except do not separate eggs. In a mixing bowl beat whole eggs slightly. Beat in milk and oil. Add to flour mixture all at once. Beat just till combined but still slightly lumpy.

CHOCOLATE WAFFLES. Prepare as above, except reduce flour to 1 1/2 cups. Add 1/3 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder and 1/3 cup sugar to the flour mixture. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla to the egg yolk mixture.

CINNAMON-NUT WAFFLES. Prepare as above, except add 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon to mixture and sprinkle about 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts or pecans over each waffle before closing lid to bake.

BANANA-WHEAT WAFFLES. Prepare as above, except reduce all-purpose flour to 1 cup and add 3/4 cup whole wheat flour. Add 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg to flour mixture, reduce milk to 1 1/2 cups, and add 2/3 cup mashed ripe banana to egg yolk mixture.

BUTTERMILK WAFFLES. Prepare as above, except substitute 2 cups buttermilk for milk.

CORN WAFFLES. Prepare as above, except reduce flour to 1 1/4 cups and add 1/2 cup cornmeal. Add 8 3/4-oz can cream-style corn to egg yolk mixture. Makes 5 or 6 waffles.

Melba sauce

1 cup blueberries
6 strawberries or 1 cup raspberries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar, honey, agave nectar, etc.

Wash fruit and quarter strawberries, if using. Blend with lemon juice and sweetener of your choice using any type of blender (smoothie, hand-held, immersion, food processor, etc.) to a liquid consistency.

Rich Chocolate-Blackberry Torte with Raspberry Sauce

5 May

A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch.
-James Beard

Recipe source: unknown

In the spirit of calories and tarts, check out the fabulous dessert I’m making for the second anniversary with my man! I’ve had this recipe for so long, I don’t even know now where it came from. My apologies for plagiarizing. The one and only other time I’ve made this dessert was for Bosses Day circa 2002. I was working in an office and our boss had taken us out for a beautiful Italian lunch at a very authentic restaurant where he knew the chefs and they made us custom dishes. We didn’t order anything from the menu, except for dessert. There were eight desserts to choose from, and the three of us could not decide. So he said “get them all.”

It was such a great gesture that we decided to do something equally great for him in return. We brought in linens, fancy dishes and silverware from home, and spent most of the morning cooking rather than working. I made a goat cheese bruschetta (hmmm, I should find that recipe again) and this dessert. My mom helped me and at the time… well, let’s just say I didn’t have the confidence then that I have now. We even had to borrow a food processor for the crust! How our kitchens have evolved… So I’m hoping the recipe will be less terrifying this time around, because it’s so, so worth it. (Jump to recipe.)

To start, you’ll make the crust in a food processor by blending unsalted butter, superfine sugar, salt and vanilla extract until creamy, then adding in unsweetened cocoa powder, then flour until you have a crumbly dough.

crust prep

Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form into a flat, round disk with your hands, and wrap. Refrigerate for one hour. Then remove from fridge and allow dough to warm on counter for 10 minutes. Unwrap, place another piece of plastic wrap on top, and roll with a rolling pin into a 13-inch circle. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap and flip into an 11-inch tart pan with removable base. Then peel off the remaining wrap and piece together the oops pieces with your fingers. Prick crust with a fork and refrigerate for another hour.

crust

Around the 50-minute mark, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. When crust has been chillin’ for an hour, remove it from the fridge. Make a piece of wax or parchment paper to cover the bottom by tracing around the tart pan and cutting just inside the line. Place the paper into the crust, then top with pie weights or raw, dry beans. And when I say beans, I mean beans. Not popcorn, which I almost did… for an inevitable, yet comedic popcorn-throughout-the-oven disaster – and not lentils, which I did… and ruined, as they don’t require the pre-boiling that beans do.

Bake crust for 10 minutes, remove beans and parchment paper, and bake for another 5 minutes. Then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely. And when I say use a cooling rack, I mean… not a small, round trivet which will press the removable base up and out of the pan and crack your crust. Like I did. Thank you.

Now you can make the ganache filling and berry sauce. For filling, boil heavy cream and seedless preserves. I decided to use blackberry this time, but you can use any berry of your choice. Then remove from heat and add in semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli, yum) and unsalted butter, to melt. Pour into cooled crust. (You will likely have a little extra, so be careful… like I wasn’t.)

torte

For the berry sauce, you will process fresh or frozen berries of your choice (I used raspberries), lemon juice and superfine sugar.

Then place a strainer over a bowl, pour the sauce into the strainer, and add berry-flavored liqueur (I used Chambord). Doing it this way will add a little more liquid to help in straining through the seeds. If necessary, you can also add a little water.

berry sauce

And lastly…. (drumroll please)… serve up that puppy! Remove torte from pan by lifting up removable base and holding on to the edges. Arrange fresh berries on torte and serve with sauce on the side, or in an artistic drizzle over the top.

Whew…

finished torte w/ berries & sauce

RECIPE – Rich Chocolate-Blackberry Torte with Raspberry Sauce

Raspberries, blackberries, wild strawberries, boysenberries, loganberries, or any combination can be used to top this torte. Likewise, the sauce can be made with the same berry or from a berry with a complementary flavor.

Serves 10

DOUGH
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup superfine sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla extract
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 ½ cups flour

CHOCOLATE GANACHE FILLING
2 cups heavy cream
½ cup seedless blackberry/raspberry preserve
8 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces

BLACKBERRY/RASPBERRY SAUCE
8 oz fresh or frozen blackberries/raspberries, plus extra for topping
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp superfine sugar
2 tbsp blackberry/raspberry-flavor liqueur, such as Chambord

Prepare pastry. In a food processor fitted with metal blade, process butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla until creamy. Add cocoa and process for one minute, until well blended; scrape side of bowl. Add flour all at once and using the pulse action, process for 10-15 seconds, until just blended. Place a piece of plastic wrap on work surface. Remove metal blade and turn out dough onto plastic wrap. Use wrap to help shape dough into flat disc and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for one hour.

Lightly grease a 11-inch tart pan with removable base. Soften dough for 5-10 minutes at room temperature. Roll out dough between two sheets of waxed paper or plastic wrap to a 13-inch round, about ¼-inch thick. Peel off top sheet of plastic and invert dough into prepared pan. Ease dough into pan. Remove plastic wrap.

With floured fingers, press dough onto base and side of pan, then roll rolling pin of edge of pan to cut off any excess dough. Prick base of dough with fork. Refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line tart shell with foil or parchment paper; fill with dry beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes; lift out foil with beans and bake for 5 minutes more, until just set (pastry may look underdone on the bottom, but will dry out). Remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Prepare filling. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring cream and blackberry/raspberry preserve to a boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate all at once, stirring until melted and smooth. Stir in butter and strain into cooled tart shell, smoothing top. Cool torte completely and refrigerate to set.

Prepare sauce. In a food processor combine blackberries, lemon juice, and sugar and process until smooth. Strain into a small bowl and add blackberry/raspberry-flavor liqueur. If sauce is too thick, thin with a little water.

To serve, remove torte from pan. Place on serving plate and arrange with the berries on top of the torte. With a pastry brush, brush berries with a little of the blackberry/raspberry sauce to glaze lightly. Serve remaining sauce separately.

[blue] Fountain of Youth Smoothie

16 Apr

Today begins the final challenging trio of ROYGBIV Week; blue, indigo and violet. Blue food is especially difficult to find, unless we’re talking about M&Ms or “blue razberry” flavored whatever. (What IS that flavor, anyway?!) So today I’m taking it easy on myself with a smoothie… while eating leftovers from the past four days. Since the blue chakra governs the throat, what better food than a refreshing smoothie to slide right down on a warm Spring day?

Today’s chakra: Vissudha – With Purity (Throat)
Color: Blue: inspiration, expression & loyalty
Location: Along the spine behind the pit of the throat
Associated body organs: Throat, ears, thyroid & parathyroid
Controlled emotions: Communication and self-expression

[For an explanation of the chakras, see Sunday’s post.]

———————————–

But fear not, loyal readers! I’m not just giving you *any* smoothie, this is my absolute favorite smoothie of all time. The final color is actually magenta (womp, womp)… but the recipe involves blueberries, thus – blue food.

cherry yogurt, cranberry juice, cherries & blueberries

Blend it all together…

Ta-da!

One disclaimer I feel compelled to make, for your health: I used Yoplait Cherry Orchard and regular Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail in this recipe. Use of these brands will result in astronomically high sugar content – 21 grams per serving, or the equivalent of 5 sugar packets. The Yoplait also contains high fructose corn syrup (boo, hiss). I bought them because I’ve used them before, but it would be worthwhile to look into other brands. The frozen berries are unsweetened and healthy for you. Substituting plain yogurt would even be enough to cut down the sugar calories.

From Super Smoothies: 50 Recipes for Health and Energy:

Cherries, blueberries, and cranberries are all fantastic sources of vitamin C and anthocyanins, antioxidants that may protect against some types of cancer.

Vitamin C supports the growth of strong collagen fibers in soft connective tissue and bone, which may help prevent some of the ravages of age. Enjoyed on a regular basis, this smoothie just may be one of the secrets to staying young.

1 cup low-fat cherry yogurt
1/2 cup cranberry juice (*original recipe says 1/4 cup)
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
3/4 cup frozen unsweetened blueberries

Combine the yogurt and cranberry juice in a blender. Add the cherries and blueberries. Blend until smooth.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups; serves 2.

[red] Spaghetti Bolognese, Strawberry Tarts

11 Apr

Hola! Today starts out ROYGBIV Week with red, which awesomely, is an easy color to find in the vegetable family. Red foods include strawberries, tomatoes, apples, red peppers, pomegranates, radishes, rhubarbs, cherries and raspberries, to name several.

I’m hardly an expert on the chakras, but here’s what I’ve come to understand. The theory comes from Samkhya philosophy, which influenced yoga and tantrism. In it, the human body has several hundred spinning chakras (chakra being the Sanskrit word for “wheel”) positioned throughout. These are part of the ethereal, not physical, body, although they have influence over the physical body. The chakras spin in a circular vortex, absorbing and radiating energy from the surrounding environment. Of the hundreds of chakras, seven have been identified as most important. They are stacked from the base of the spine to the crown of the head, and each is associated with a specific color and sound, as well as physical organs and aspects of the physical, emotional, mental or spiritual life. Chakras have been called lotus flowers, and when a chakra is healthy, the lotus is opened. An imbalance in any area of life can weaken the chakra system. One of the ways to nourish the various chakras is to eat foods associated with their color. A plant’s color is representative of the rays of sun energy that gave it life.

For a deeper explanation and test of your own chakra energy levels, check out ChakraEnergy.com.

Today’s chakra: Muladhara – Root of Tree (Root)
Color: Red: vitality, strength & courage
Location: Base of Spine
Associated body organs: Legs & feet, large intestine, adrenal gland, lymph & blood
Controlled emotions: Physical identity and self-preservation

———————————————————————————

For the first recipe of this week, I decided to go with a classic bolognese sauce. (I don’t think Indians eat beef, but…) I can’t say for sure if I’ve ever actually made one. My end result was a combination of a few different recipes I found online.

My mamma never put red wine in her spaghetti sauce, but when it occurred to me to do it, the choice was a no-brainer.

Two-Buck Chuck!

I also never would have thought to add carrots and celery to this sauce, but since I saw it in a few recipes, I thought what the heck.

Cook the meat and veggies together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain, then add wine, diced tomatoes and tomato paste, herbs and spices, and reduce to desired consistency. Also begin cooking pasta around this step.

Voila!

1 lb lean ground beef
1 cup white onion, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup dry red wine
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
grated parmesan to sprinkle on top

For dessert, I decided to make strawberry tarts, because we went to San Diego Desserts recently and got a tart that was to-die-for. What I ended up making was a modification of Ina Garten’s recipe; modification because I didn’t have time to make the tart shells from scratch, don’t own any kind of tart pan even if I’d had the time, and then couldn’t find frozen tart shells at the store. (Good grief, Charlie Brown!) So I bought frozen puff pastry shells instead. Was still delish. I like puff pastry. 🙂

The recipe for the shell is below. But if you decide to use puff pastry shells, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, then bake them for 20-25 minutes. They will go from looking like this

womp, womp

to this!

Magic!

Scoop out the “tops” out and let them cool.

For the pastry cream, I didn’t have cognac, so I substituted brandy instead. Unfortunately, step-by-step pictures of this process are conspicuously missing from this blog because I was napping while David did this part. But I can tell you that Ina Garten’s instructions are VERY good. Be sure to look at the link for scalded milk too, because we had no idea what that meant.

The pastry cream is a long process, but really does come out exactly like the Contessa says. The pre-whisking “curdling” part happens extremely fast – the cream went from liquid to chunking in “two seconds,” apparently, so just stick patiently with the stirring. Here’s the end result:

Beautimous

Cover the cream with plastic wrap placed directly on the cream and refrigerate until cold. Then scoop into shell and top with strawberries. Final product:

That's MRS. Tart to you!

Tart Shell
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons cold shortening (recommended: Crisco)
1/4 cup ice water
2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
1/3 cup apricot jelly
3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, halved, optional

TO MAKE TART SHELLS – Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into four (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides, or one 9-inch tart pan. Don’t stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Pastry Cream
5 extra-large egg yolks, room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups scalded milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cognac
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream

TO MAKE PASTRY CREAM – In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, cognac, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold. Yield: 2 cups

ASSEMBLE – Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.