Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blueberry Tea Cake

I got some beautiful wild blueberries from Maine last weekend and decided to make a tea cake with them. I played with a basic recipe to "sharon" it is what I came up with.

1/2 cup coconut oil
2 TBS Earth Balance vegan butter
3/4 cup evaporated palm sugar (Sweet Tree Sustainable Sweeteners)
1 1/4 cup sprouted wheat flour
1/2 cup raw oat flour
1/4 cup raw flaked oats
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 egg whites
1/3 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup wild blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 and oil/flour an 8x8 cake pan....
1. In a large bowl, cream together the coconut oil, vegan butter and palm sugar until light and fluffy.
2. In a medium size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (sprouted wheat flour -> vanilla powder).
3. In a small bowl blend the egg whites, almond milk and vanilla.
4. Add the ~ 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the creamed oil/sugar and mix until just combined; add ~ 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the creamed oil/sugar mix and mix until just combined.
Repeat with remaining dry and wet ingredients taking care to not over mix.
5. Gently stir in the blueberries and turn out batter into prepared pan.
6. Bake in center of oven until done, approximately 30-35 minutes.

The cake was delicious and moist. I will definitely be making this tea cake again (and soon) :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Anatomy of a Soup

It's uncanny, really, that when Labor Day comes and goes, it's as if Mother Nature knows to turn off the HOT switch and turn on the COOL switch...
This season, once that switch turned, I had an immediate desire to make soup.

I had a chicken carcass in the freezer, ready to make stock with....some dried chickpeas and some beautiful kale....add in some potatoes and we've got a hearty soup. Last night I soaked up the chickpeas and decided that I was going to use them to make a Kale Chickpea Soup.
Both the chicken and the produce I used today came from my CSA from Stillman's Farm, Lunenberg, Ma.

Anatomy of the Soup
Step 1: Soak the dried chickpeas
Dried chickpeas should really be soaked overnight for a couple reasons. The first is to rinse away any enzyme inhibitors that might be held with in the bean. All beans, nuts and seeds have enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from sprouting or growing in unfavorable environments. A soak in water is enough to rinse them away. The second reason is to soften them up in order to shorten cooking time. After an 8-10 hour soak, here is what the chickpeas look like:
Step 2: Cook the chickpeas
I chose to cook the chickpeas separate from the soup itself. I actually used a pressure cooker to cook them up; the pressure cooker is one of my favorite tools in the kitchen. By cooking foods under pressure it reduces cooking time and is notorious for softening up tough cuts of meat. I put the chickpeas in the pressure cooker with water, garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs and a touch of olive oil. You can cook the chickpeas on the stove as well, but it will just take a bit longer.
The cooked chickpeas:
Step 3: Make the chicken stock
While the chickpeas cooked, I set up a basic chicken stock with the chicken carcass, cut up onions, garlic, carrots and celery. I added water, a bit of cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and a couple bay leaves. After it came to a boil the heat was reduced and impurities were skimmed away. The longer you let a stock cook, the more flavorful the it will be. I let it go for an hour and a half before straining it.
Step 4: Make the Kale and Chickpea Soup
I started the soup by sauteing minced garlic and diced onions in a bit of coconut oil.
After the garlic and onion softened up, I added in diced white potatoes and chopped rosemary and cooked them for a bit.
To that I added just enough stock to cover the potatoes.
I cooked the potatoes until softened, then I used a potato masher to mash them up and thicken up the soup a bit.
At this point, I added in the cooked chickpeas and raw kale, brought the soup back to the boil and then reduced heat to a simmer to cook kale and blend flavors.....all along the way, I seasoned with salt and pepper.....

After about 15 minutes the soup was done, and was delicious....

The heartiness of the chickpeas with the texture from the potatoes, the earthiness from the rosemary and the texture of the kale worked so well together. It hit the spot, in more ways than one.