Thursday, May 14, 2009

Who would like a great Vegetarian Cookbook for 1 cent?

Book Review: Vegetarian Four Seasons - Rose Elliot

I have been meaning to write a review on this book for a long time - among all the cookbooks I own and have owned - I have to go through a purge every so often or they would take over my kitchen - this one is of the kind where the pages are splattered, the book is coming apart by the seams and yet I keep coming back to it time and time again.
Rose Elliot strikes an amazing balance between simple and elegant recipes and slightly more daring ones.
The photographs are amazing and very inspiring. I have found that I rarely use cookbooks that don’t have nice pictures in them, and the recipes I use most often are usually the ones that are featured in the pictures.
One of the best features of this book is that it is organized by seasons - so if you shop at your local farmer’s market or you are a member at a CSA this book really comes in handy.
Also quite useful are the full menus for special occasions, for example the spring section features suggestions for a Late Spring Picnic and the Fall section features a hearty full menu for a Halloween party for twelve.

Outstanding recipes include:

Mango and Cardamon Parfait
Salad Nicoise with New Potatoes and Scallions
Pumpkin and Goat Cheese Gratin
Spaghetti Squash with Gorgonzola and Walnuts
Pear and Almond Tart
Christmas Wreath with Cranberries - a great holiday vegetarian main dish

and many more.

And how can you buy this marvelous book for a cent you ask - well Amazon of course: Link

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What’s in season now: May & June

Gas prices are going up again - I know we all remember last summer too well - and immediately the price of produce creeps up as well. It pays off to shop local - the farmer’s markets are about to open in the Northeast and it also pays to shift over to recipes that use what’s in season now.


Fruits: apricots from California, first berries(careful), Florida mangos, citrus(end of season - careful), fresh figs, pineapples from Hawaii (end), cherries (end of month maybe! - really short season - so grab!)

Veggies: green beans, bell peppers (first), cucumbers, summer squash, celery, sugar snap peas, vidalia onions, asparagus (end - careful!), endive (end- careful!)


Fruits: Cherries (short season - grab!), berries, cantaloupe, apricots, plums

Veggies: green beans, bell peppers, carrots, beets, garlic, summer-squash, swiss chard, basil

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The trouble with flaxseeds and how to find a way to love them

By now I’m sure you have heard it numerous times: we should all eat more flaxseeds. They regularly are featured in the top ten lists of foods to include in a healthy diet.Their healing properties curing everything from constipation, arthritis, cramps, skin problems, heart disease and many other ailments are widely proclaimed. They are the single richest source of the ever elusive Omega 3s, contain lignans which function as antioxidants and also provide us with 60 other essential nutrients. However, the trouble is - they taste absolutely awful. When you chew flaxseeds they become somewhat mucusey and their overall taste is nothing to write home about.
Flaxseed oil is not too bad tasting - a bit nutty maybe, but if you want the full benefit of what flaxseeds have to offer you, the actual seeds are the only way to go. Ground up in a coffee grinder and sprinkled over oatmeal, granola or salad works quite well but is a bit boring. The absolute ultimate flaxseed recipe I have come across can be found in the Raw Food cuisine: Flaxseed crackers.
A lot of crackers claim to have flax seeds in them - which is usually in a forgettable amount and at that point absolutely useless since it has been toasted, baked or fried to high heaven, but RAW flax seed crackers keep the omegas and all the other nutrients intact and make an absolutely delicious powerhouse of a cracker.

They are featured in many raw food books and I have tried many different recipes but I think the simplest crackers - with just three! ingredients are the best.
The technique sounds a but complicated at first but once you have the hang of it you can whip up a two week supply in 15 minutes, which is the crackers other great feature -unlike other raw food concoctions these keep really well.

Raw Flax Seed Crackers:

You will need:

3 cups flaxseeds
½ cup sun dried tomatoes - soaked in hot water to soften - about 10 minutes
1½ tablespoons nama shoyu - or soy sauce - low sodium is fine I use the wheat free version

1. Grind about ¾ of your flaxseeds in a blender. They grind up very easily and a couple of pulses should do.

2. Empty your ground seeds into a bowl and mix in the un-ground seeds.

3. Blend the softened sun dried tomatoes - add a little of the soaking water and reserve the rest of the soaking water.

4. Mix the ground sun dried tomatoes with the flaxseeds and add the soy sauce. Stir and let sit for a couple of minutes. Because of the oil in the seeds the mixture will be quite gooey. You could also add herbs or garlic at this point, but that’s optional since they taste quite fantastic without any additions.

5. Meanwhile prepare your baking surface - if you have a dehydrator this is easy - if not an oven will do - just put it at its absolute lowest setting and leave the door propped open to lower the temperature. It should not go over 125ยบ. If you have teflex sheets for your dehydrator, they work really well for this otherwise use parchment paper. Cut the parchment paper to line your dehydrator trays or cookie sheets and oil slightly with some quality oil - coconut, olive or flaxseed work well - use very little and spread over the paper with your hands or a brush.

6. Here comes the tricky and ingenious part - after doing this many times I found a way to make crackers so thin you can almost see through them. Using one oiled sheet (teflex or parchment) as a bottom spread a good handful of the dough and place a second oiled sheet on top of the dough. With a rolling pin - spread the dough evenly working towards the edges. Once you have a nice flattened square of cracker remove the top sheet - it will peel right off and place in the oven or dehydrator.

7. Repeat until all the cracker dough is used up. It will take anywhere between 5 to 12 hours to fully dehydrate your crackers - it depends on the humidity in your house, whether you use a stove or a dehydrator and also on your personal preference - some like a more flexible cracker others want theirs bone-dry. So experiment and have fun!