Wow, it’s been a crazy few weeks since I returned back to work on March 1st. My, my–where has the time gone? Last night marked a true melding of my work with my avocation, with the first ever college-sanctioned tweet chat for my classes. The students loved it (and I must admit I had fun), but it meant that this post was deferred until today. And I’ve been itching to share this recipe!
So, are there any Mad Menfans out there? On the season premier last Sunday, the ineffable Don Draper–that raven haired, steely eyed, cut-throat ad man with the not-so-washboard-abs–shocked his co-worker Peggy by doing something. . . nice. To what can we attribute this sudden transformation in Don (nee Dick)’s persona? Well, rumor has it, the kinder, gentler Don is most likely due to his new French-Canadian bride, Megan. Love heals all psychic wounds! (Well, and it doesn’t hurt to have a killer body in a micro-miniskirt, either).
The show got me thinking about that age-old concept of yin and yang. You know the one–the ancient Chinese notion positing two complementary forces in our lives (and all of nature), which are natural opposites of each other: Yin is known as the calm, docile, damp, female aspect; while Yang is the fiery, passionate, bright, excitable, male one . When I first learned about this theory, I was outraged at the ostensible sexism inherent in the ideas: as usual, females were pegged as “docile” and “calm” and “powerless.” However, more research revealed that the traditional definition proposes both yin and yang in each of us; and, in an endless circle, they come together, move apart, come together again, all the while supporting each other. Each is necessary for the other to exist. In other words, a perfect symbiosis bewtween equals.
When you think about it, there’s evidence of yin and yang all around us in the natural world: Morning and evening. Vinegar and oil (which actually go together well in salad dressings). Charcoal and Chalk. Sugar and salt (which go together in many desserts). Summer and winter. Sweating and shivering. Elsie and Chaser. Corvette and Volvo. Love and marriage (which go together like a horse and carriage). The HH and me.
You get the idea.
So, despite her cheesy, ratings-booster rendition of Zou Bisou Bisou during which she twitched and flitted around the room like a boozed up butterfly, Megan, I’ve decided, is the perfect foil for Don. She’s impassioned, fiery (definitely some ”masculine” yin in that lady) and unaffected; while Don is rendered calmer and more benign because of her presence, suggesting that he’s more of a complex human being and less of a wax figure at Madame Tussaud’s (albeit one with great hair). It’s a win-yin situation all around.
Before I wrote up this recipe, I posted a teaser photo on Facebook (above) and asked readers to guess what these were. I was tickled to see how many people guessed “dessert” for this recipe (I guess my reputation precedes me). My favorite response came from Bob: “If it has to do with all 3 [parts of this blog's name], then I guess its a rice cake with a carob spread on top but tastes terrible so you give it to the dog!” Too funny, Bob. In fact, The Girls do tend to “test” almost everything I create (unless it contains onions, chocolate, raisins, or other dog-antipathetic ingredients).
(“We love being your taste-testers, Mum! Your food is delicious! Then again, we never bother to chew anything before we gulp it down, so we don’t actually know what it tastes like.”)
I consider these crackers a perfect embodiment of yin-yang principles in one food. The black nori sheet provides the necessary backbone for the crunchy, spicy cracker portion to maintain its form. Alternately, the grain- and nut-free, seed-based cracker is the perfect flavor foil to the seaweed: savory, spicy, and nubby-textured, the yang to the subtle umami nori (which also offers amazing nutritional properties, mega-mineral content and Omega 3 fats). And, of course, each triangle visually evokes the yin-yang opposites beautifully with its black-and-beige color contrast.
I must admit that I blatantly copied the concept for these crackers from one of my favorite product lines, Live Organic Raw, which are produced alongside their restaurant of the same name here in Toronto. The HH and I both adore them, but at more than $1.00 (Cdn) per cracker, we just can’t buy them as often as we’d like. My version isn’t raw simply because I no longer have a dehydrator; but they could easily be made that way if you’re willing to dehydrate long enough to achieve the same effect.
If you’re feeling impatient for these snacks to bake, tap into the yin side of your personality (calm, slow, still) while you wait.
Or, you could just sing a few bars of Zou Bisou Bisou.
3 sheets of raw or toasted nori seaweed (the kind used for sushi)
Preheat oven to 200F (95 C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place the onion in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to chop it up. Add remaining ingredients except for nori sheets and blend until you have a chunky paste, stopping when it’s almost smooth but some bits of sunflower seed (about the size of sesame seeds) remain for texture.
Place the 3 sheets of nori on the parchment-lined sheet. Carefully spread 1/3 of the paste evenly over each sheet (using a silicone spatula to pat down the mixture is useful).
Bake in preheated oven about 1 hour, until the tops are starting to dry out. Cut each sheet in half on a diagonal, from one corner to the opposite corner to create two triangles; then cut each in half again to create 4 triangles. Separate the triangles and return to the oven for another 2-3 hours, checking every 30 minutes, until dry, crisp, and barely browned. If some of the pieces are ready before others (due to uneven seed mixture), remove those first and continue to bake the remaining crackers until they are done. Cool before consuming. Makes 12 triangles. Will last up to 10 days in a sealed bag at room temperature.
[Sometimes, you just want a dish that's quick and easy--no fuss. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
[Just a friendly reminder: today is the LAST DAY to enter the four-book giveaway! Check out three fabulous cookbooks plus a wonderful literary coffee table book here. And enter! Then come back tomorrow to see who won!]
I’m aware that a common term for seaweed (ie, arame, nori, dulse, wakame, etc.) today is “sea veggies,” but every time I hear the term, I think of that old joke. Then again, there’s nothing wrong with eating sea veggies!
Seaweed is actually a stellar source of Omega 3s, those essential fatty acids (EFAs) that help feed the brain, decrease inflammation, prevent chronic degenerative diseases such as arthritis and heart disease (and even lupus), and basically just keep us healthy. Because our bodies can’t manufacture EFAs on their own, we need to eat foods that contain them. For many people, salmon or fish oil is a key source, but those of us following vegan diets need to find other means. For many years, flax seeds were the stars in the Omega 3 arena, but recently chia has taken over that first place position (walnuts are also great sources).
But guess what? All those salmon and fishies people consume for the high Omega 3 content have to get their O-3s somewhere, too–and their source for EFAs is–seaweed!
The toasted nori craze has been around for a while, but I came rather late to the bandwagon (or, in this case, submarine). I was delighted to be a guest this week on the Rogers TV show In the Know with Julia Suppa. Our topic was “The Problem with Sugar,” and as an example of a sugar-free snack, I brought some toasted Sea Veggie bites with me. The ones I brought were store-bought, but I knew they wouldn’t be hard to make at home. So I pulled out my nori and got baking!
I consulted this recipe for inspiration, but in the end made my version quite differently (except for folding the nori in half before baking). Compared to standard sea veggie crisps, these strips are thicker and crunchier because of their double thickness. I will warn you, though, they are incredibly addictive! It’s very easy to eat the entire batch on your own.
In fact, if you see these nori snacks, you may just eat these nori snacks–all of them. Well, there’s nothing wrong with getting some extra Omega-3s, right?
Quick Spicy, Salty, Crunchy Nori Snacks (ACD all stages)
I originally wanted to make these with wasabi powder, but realized we were out, so I used Thai Green Curry Paste. It worked beautifully. For the spice element, you could use hot pepper sauce, Sriracha, hot chili oil, or another type of curry paste that suits your fancy. NOTE: You need a pastry brush for this recipe.
1-1/2 heaping tsp (8 ml) Thai green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen)*
9-10 sheets nori (the kind you buy to make sushi at home)
Preheat oven to 250F (120 C). Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, mix together the curry paste and oil until you have a smooth paste. Add the Bragg’s and water and whisk until well combined.
Take the nori sheets one at a time and lay out on a cutting board. Fold in half along the long edge, then unfold. Using a pastry brush, brush one half of the inside with the curry paste mixture, then fold the nori back in half to cover it. Brush the top of the rectangle, flip it over and brush the bottom so that both outside surfaces are coated. Cut the nori into 6 relatively even strips (cutting perpendicular to the fold). Gently lift the strips and place on the cookie sheet in a single layer (they can be close together as long as they’re not overlapping). Continue until all of the curry mixture is finished (you should have enough for 9 or 10 nori sheets).
Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes, rotating the sheets about halfway through, until the strips are dry, beginning to curl up on the edges, and almost brittle (they can have a bit of flexibility left in the middle; this will dry out as they cool).
Remove the strips to a plate to cool. Store in an airtight bag or container for up to 3 days. Makes 27-30 nori crisps, about 3 servings.
* For ACD Stage One, use about 1/4 tsp (1 ml, or to taste) cayenne pepper instead of the curry paste.
A very heartfelt “THANK YOU” to everyone who left birthday wishes on Facebook, twitter, and via email! I loved hearing from all of you, and your comments and good wishes made this birthday one of the best ever. So thanks, everyone, for making my day that much brighter!
[Okay, so maybe mine look more like sausages than cigars. . . but they still tasted great!]
My, it has been a while since I posted a recipe on this site! And where the heck have I been for the past week or so, you ask? Imagine this scene:
Evening. Ricki is at home, sitting in front of the computer in her PJs, a cup of steaming herbal tea by her side. She is focused on her computer screen, when the phone rings. She grabs the receiver.
Ricki [slightly distracted by the blog she's reading]: Hello?
Babe: Okay, so here’s the story: my job is sending me to New York for 2 days, and I have a free hotel room to share. It happens to fall on your birthday. Are you interested in meeting me there? We could have dinner, see a couple of plays, you’d have the daytime to yourself. . . what do you think? [Pause]. Ric? Are you still there?
Ricki [hyperventilating]: ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? Are you–KIDDING. ME–?? Whoo hoo! Whoopee! Yahoo! Yayyyy! New York! New York! NYC!! The Big Apple! The City of Light! The—
Babe: So do I take that as a “yes”?
And that, dear readers, is how I ended up spending my birthday last week in New York City, at this hotel. . . for free. (Well, okay, the airfare and meals weren’t free, but let’s not nitpick).
It had been quite a while since I last visited NYC, and I was just as enchanted this time round. Ah, New York, city of Broadway and global business, offering up a panoply of cultures and cuisines from at least fifty countries in a two-block span.
New York, where everyone–whether sporting runners or stilettoes–walks pretty much everywhere (apparently, the average New Yorker walks 5 miles a day). Where taxis will slow down, ask where you’re going, assess the income potential and then take off again if it’s not worth their economic while.
New York, where sleepy eyed denizens shuffle along the early morning streets with their dogs on plaid leather leashes, or sporting doggie booties, or doggie Burberrys for their morning walk, stooping and scooping as the canines do their business wherever they can, which usually means right on the concrete sidewalks (no green to be found for blocks at a time); where locals are so friendly that they’ll not only answer your touristy questions, but will also walk two blocks out of their way to lead you to your destination, advising you as you go that it’s pronounced “HOW-ston,” not “HEW-ston” so you won’t distinguish yourself as a redneck among the locals.
New York, where every attire you can think of graces the crowded streets in a welter of color and texture, highlighted by the current uniform du jour (riding boots, patterned tights, mini skirt or long sweater). Where celebrities can dine unaccosted at public restaurants with nary a glance from passing citizenry.
New York, where Times Square at midnight shines brighter than the blazing sun of noon; where a (mediocre) agave-sweetened, gluten-free cupcake can sell out at $4.50 a pop; where street buskers draw a crowd in the middle of lunch hour; where the energy is as palpable as a heavy fog as you stroll along Broadway, or Madison Avenue, or 47th Street–or just about anywhere, really.
Yep, that was New York for me this past week. New York, where I walked more in 1-1/2 days that I probably had in the previous week, where I indulged my inner glutton with abandon and still lost 2 pounds at the end of it.
All that–and being able to meet up with two of my favorite bloggers in less than two days!
Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. First, observe this:
Sorry for the blur (squint really hard and you can almost make it out). . . that’s T.R. Knight and me! (Okay, so I didn’t know who T.R. Knight was before I got him to sign my Playbill and take a photo after Babe and I watched him on Broadway in David Mamet’s A Life in the Theater. But apparently, he was quite the little heart-throb on Grey’s Anatomy.)
And the co-star of Mamet’s play, here:
["Make it so!"]
Yes, it’s Jean Luc Picard himself, Captain of the Enterprise–aka Patrick Stewart! As a die-hard Star Trek fan, I was beyond thrilled to snag an autograph and snap this pic as he exited the theater. I am such a groupie!
That same evening, my friend Babe and I dined at Agra in celebration of the day of my birth. During the day, I wandered on my own and managed to trek to the Upper West Side, Columbus Circle and a new Whole Foods; SOHO; the Fashion District (had to check out the Manhattan Mall); Central Park; along with expeditions along Madison Avenue, Lexington, Park Avenue, and Times Square. Not bad for 36 hours!
But two high points of the visit, as I mentioned above, were meeting in person with a couple of fellow bloggers.
Lindsay of Happy Herbivore fame and I met up for a vegan breakfast. Lindsay’s blog is full of approachable fat-free recipes (some of which will appear in her upcoming cookbook). She’s also one of the best tweeters in twitterdom! We had planned to eat at Teany’s, but due to a scheduling glitch found it closed when we arrived. No matter: Whole Foods was a fine replacement instead.
After reading Lindsay’s blog for almost 3 years now, I felt as if I were greeting an old friend as we hugged hello. Our lively chatter was punctuated by giggles and guffaws as we gabbed about blogging (of course!), healthy eating, social media, and moving to exotic locales (hope the packing is going well, Lindsay!). Before I knew it, we’d spent over 2 hours together and it was time for me to head out. Lindsay was also kind enough to lead me to BabyCakes (a place I’ve been dying to visit since I first read about them in 2004 or so) and then guided me through the New York subway (a trip I am quite certain I would not have taken without her). Thanks for your vitality, your openness and your humor, Lindsay! (And I can’t believe it didn’t occur to me to snap a photo of us together–I am so sorry!).
[Does this photo look familiar? Then you must also have read Gena's post. . . thanks for the photo, Gena! ]
The following day, I was equally delighted to meet up with Gena of Choosing Raw for lunch at Bonobos, one of several raw food establishments in the city. Although I had been dreaming about a meal at Pure Food and Wine for ages, after examining the menus of both places, I knew that Bonobos was the better choice for me. And it was: Gena and I began by taking full advantage of the free samples on the counter. I loved the nori “cigars” (tightly wrapped nori rolls filled with nut or seed pâté, twisted at the ends to resemble cigars) and practically drenched myself downing one too many of the warm coconut chai drinks and incredible raw soups.
For lunch, I enjoyed sushi rolls while Gena feasted on soup and salad. I’ve been a huge fan of Gena’s blog, Choosing Raw, since she began writing it a few years ago. And Gena is a true inspiration for many with her engaging, welcoming and articulate approach to gaining and maintaining good health. Her affability shines through whether she’s posting about raw versus cooked foods, explaining why we shouldn’t use labels to describe our eating habits, considering whether agave nectar is friend or foe, or sharing some of her incredible recipes (I mean, who hasn’t tried Gena’s chocomole or banana soft serve?) With a few years of blog reading, comments, and emails behind us, we dove right in and started chattering like two teenagers, on topics as diverse as blogging (of course!), conferences, veganism, twitter, relationships, and our two cities. Before we knew it, her lunch hour was over and she had to return to work. Thanks so much, Gena, for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet up!
And while it was over all too quickly, I couldn’t have had a better birthday gift than my visit to the Big Apple. The only downside was that the HH couldn’t be there with me (darned job!), but we’ll be celebrating together here at home.
So long, New York, and thanks for the memories. . . . I won’t wait so long to return next time.
These are my take on the filled nori cigars that Gena and I sampled at Bonobos. The pumpkinseed filling, as I remembered it, was tangy with lemon, with just a hint of fresh parsley. If you have a sushi mat, you can probably make them much thinner than mine (as they were meant to be), but even if they’re a bit thick, they’re still delightful. I’d also recommend allowing the cigars to sit for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator, uncovered, to allow the nori sheet to firm up a bit for easier slicing.
1/2 cup (70 g) raw pumpkin seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp (10 ml) light miso
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw cashews
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coarsely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp (5 ml) finely ground flax seeds
salt and pepper to taste
2 nori sheets (for sushi)
In a medium-sized bowl, cover the pumpkin seeds with water. Allow to soak at room temperature for at least 2 hours, up to overnight. Drain well.
Place the seeds and remaining ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a thick paste. Add water only if necessary to create a spreadable pâté; you don’t want it too watery (a mistake I made with my filling), or the rolls will be too thick.
Place one nori sheet on a cutting board or clean countertop and spread with half the filling, leaving a 1/2 inch (1 cm) border on both longer sides and one shorter side. Starting with the short side with no border next to you, roll toward the other short side as tightly as you can. When you reach the edge, moisten it with water and seal across the “cigar,” then twist each end to seal those as well. Repeate with second nori sheet and filling. Cut into 8-10 pieces each. Makes 2-3 servings. Best served fresh.
Dogs really are creatures of habit, aren’t they? I mean, every morning at precisely 7:02 AM (about 1-1/2 minutes after the HH slams off his alarm), Chaser bounds into our bedroom and lays a wet sloppy one on the HH’s ear (translation: “Dad, it’s time to get up! Get up, Dad, we need to go for our walk! C’mon, Dad! Let’s go! Just hop outa bed and take us! C’mon, what are you waiting for? C’mon—” etc.).
Then, at precisesly 1:15 PM every afternoon, Elsie saunters over to my desk and plants herself at my side, glaring (and if you’ve ever seen a Border Collie stare, you know the power of “the eye.”). If I continue to focus on the computer screen and tap away at the keyboard, she will tentatively and ever-so-gently poke me on the thigh with her moist, cold nose (more startling in summer when I’m wearing shorts, to be sure). Translation: “Mum, I feel I must inform you that the hour has arrived for our afternoon walk. Seriously, Mum, it appals me that you could forget this important hour of the day. After all, do we not go for a stroll each and every day of the week at this time? And are we not reliant upon you to take us? Now, please, offer us the courtesy of rising up from your chair and coming downstairs so that we may embark–right now.”
Yep, like I said, creatures of habit. Later, at precisely 4:53 PM every day, both Girls heave themselves off their respective pillows to pad into the office and station themselves on either side of me as I work, staring intently in a silent summons like bookmarked lawn gnomes. Translation: “Mum, it’s almost dinner time. Where the &%$!@ is our food?” (Okay, perhaps they weren’t as profane as that. But it’s always fun to imagine dogs cursing, isn’t it?).
Given that I was born in the Year of the Dog myself, it makes sense that I, too, am a creature of habit. Or, at least, I used to be. Before I met the HH.
Like South Park’s stance with Canada, I tend to blame the HH for my current shortcomings. Long before we met, in my twenties (also known as the Decade of Firsts, in which I first went to university, first lived on my own, and first met not one, but two true loves), I was incredibly organized and even followed an hour-by-hour schedule every day, permitting me to live through an entire university career without ever missing a deadline. Subsequently, during the Decade of the Dinner Party, I still managed a schedule jam-packed with socializing, full-time work, sewing my own clothes (!), and regular trips to and from Montreal.
Enter my 40s and the HH: not only did I meet my true love, but my lasting love. It was around that time–when the HH and I first moved in together–that chaos erupted. Okay, not chaos, exactly, but certainly the reorganizing of closets. And–even while continuing to throw dinner parties–going to bed without washing all the dishes first (gasp!). And being open to unplanned activities. And (and here’s where I blame the HH) the eschewing rigid schedules.
Well, despite his disdain for pre-planning or scheduling, the HH is his own uniquely habitual creature. Unlike me, he eats the same breakfast every day* (I prefer to rotate through 25 or so different options). The HH takes the dogs to the same park every morning (I switch it up between the park, the baseball field, the Mill Pond, and trail). The HH can listen to the same symphony over and over, sometimes for hours (I rarely listen to the same CD twice in a row–unless it’s a new, incredibly talented singer that I adore, of course).
Which brings me to today’s recipe (finally!). As you may recall, the HH and I used to keep a weekly date every Tuesday, wherein I’d meet him for a sushi lunch. But since the anti-candida regime I follow doesn’t permit sushi (no white rice, no vinegar, no sugar, blah blah blah), I’ve had to forgo our midday shared meal. Do I miss that sushi? You bet! (Well, and yes, I do also miss meeting the HH for lunch every week. . . but really, we do see each other every evening for dinner, and when we walk the dogs, and when we watch 30 Rock, and when we have brunch on Sundays, and when we tidy the house together before friends come over, and when we run errands on Saturdays, and when we. . . geez, maybe we’re overdoing this togetherness thing a bit, anyway).
I decided I’d whip up my favorite at-home sushi for lunch on my own. Since the original version wasn’t exactly ACD-friendly, I adapted; instead of the orignal sundried tomatoes (which are taboo on the ACD), I made my own semi-dried oven baked tomatoes. (Who says I can’t be flexible? No rigid recipes for this doglike gal!). Well, it worked beautifully. The rolls are (mostly) raw, grain-free, and reminiscent of salmon (in my memory, anyway). All I can say is, “domo arigato!” And it sure did feel great to get back to that old sushi habit, even if I shared it with The Girls instead of the HH.
“We enjoyed it, too, Mum. Thanks for sharing. But, um, didn’t I hear you say something about salmon?”
* A bowl of Raisin Bran with milk, if you’d like to know.
Raw Nori Rolls with “Salmon” Filling and Spicy Ginger-Miso Paste
A great recipe for those avoiding grains or anyone seeking a delicious variation on sushi. If you’re not following an anti-candida regime, go ahead and make the original. The Miso paste can be enjoyed by anyone.
cut vegetables for filling: zucchini, cucumber, carrots, avocado, daikon, green onion, etc.
2 sheets nori (sushi wrappers)
Spicy Ginger-Miso Paste:
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white miso
1/8-1/4 tsp (.5-1 ml) cayenne pepper, depending on desired heat
1 tsp (5 ml) toasted sesame oil
2 tsp (10 ml) finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
For the nori rolls:
Prepare the “Salmon” filling: Soak almonds in room temperature water for 8-12 hours. If you soak them longer, refresh the water after 12 hours and store in refrigerator for up to one more day. Drain and rinse before using.
Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes: preheat oven to 300F/150C (or, for a completely raw dish, heat to 115F/45C or use a dehydrator). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or grease with extra virgin olive oil. Cut each tomato in half and place cut side up on the baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 1-2 hours, checking every 20 minutes after the one-hour mark, until tomatoes exude most of their juice and begin to shrivel and brown slightly. (If using a dehydrator, dehydrate until shrivelled).
Place drained almonds, tomatoes, 2 tsp (10 ml) miso, 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice, Bragg’s and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until almost smooth. Set aside.
Prepare the Paste: in a small bowl, mix together all ingredients with a spoon until well combined and smooth.
Assemble the rolls: Spread about half of the miso-ginger paste over the nori sheet, spreading to the edge on 3 sides, leaving about 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) empty on one edge. Top with about half the salmon spread. Place 3-4 rows of desired vegetables along the edge opposite the empty edge, like so:
Next, use a sushi mat or just your hands, roll tightly starting at the edge with the cut vegetables. When you reach the empty stripe at the end of the nori sheet, moisten it with a bit of water and then roll up, leaving the seam down (against the table). Cut into 5-8 pieces. Repeat with second nori sheet. Makes 2 servings.
Totally unrelated note: One of today’s Google searches leading to my blog read, “Die Dessert Dogs.” Is that a typo, or just a really ticked off blog reader?
Odd. . . my Google Reader seemed to be filling up at an alarming rate, sort of like the rising waterline in The Poseidon Adventure. Then I remembered: Not only is October the official World Vegetarian Month, it’s also the Vegan MOFO (Month of Food)! This is the 31-day period in which vegan food bloggers worldwide pledge to blog at least 20 days of the month about, well, vegan food. And blog they have!
Every now and again, I scroll through my photos and realize there are dozens of dishes I’ve cooked and photographed, but never blogged about. It may be that they were less than stellar in their final form, or that my woeful skill as a photographer resulted in a photo that, ahem, didn’t quite do the dish justice. More often than not, however, it’s just that I ran out of time and went on to blog about something else–and then, weeks (or, in some cases, months) later, I stumble upon the photos and rack my brains to remember what the heck it was. And so, here’s but a brief sampling of some of the things we’ve been sampling here in the DDD household.
As Heidi mentions in her post about this, this deceptively simple dish is incredibly addictive. I made it once to try it out, then repeated the venture three days in a row. Stupendous. (And this is one of those aforementioned cases in which the photographer is not up to par with the quality of the recipe!).
Hannah’s Crumb-Topped Brownies are everything you’ve heard they are, and more. As I mentioned a while back, I recently found myself with some soy yogurt in the house, so I finally had the means to try these out. They were superb–soft, gooey, and with a moist, almost custard-like texture that literally melted in the mouth. Even without the white sugar or flour, these were fabulous, and irresistibly decadent.
My favorite scrambled tofu recipe. With just a touch of curry paste, a hit of jalapeno, the requisite turmeric–this dish provides a spicy, juicy, eggy and convenient scramble. I could eat this every day (and I do, for about 3 days after I make it, since the HH will no longer indulge with me).
As Lucy mentioned in her original post about this condiment, it may be just a tad too pungent for some tastes on its own; but these taste buds thoroughly enjoyed it roasted with russett potatoes. Yes, it does sound quirky, and yes, it does resemble the habitat of plankton, but it is, nevertheless, uniquely appealing!
Rich. Chewy. Chocolatey. Totally indulgent. All that, even though I made my usual substitutions of Sucanat for sugar, spelt for regular flour, coconut oil for margarine, etc. The HH almost scalded his tongue eating four of these babies straight out of the oven. What are you waiting for? Go bake some, pronto!
And coming up. . . .got any coconut of your own?
I deliberately ended this list with these coconut cookies as a segue into my next post, which will introduce a new Lucky Comestible series–on coconut! I’d love to include any recipes you may have made featuring this ingredient as well. While I’m not quite ready for my own blog event, I will happily provide links to your posts at the end of each Lucky Comestible recipe in the series.
So feel free to send along those URLs for your coconut-based recipes (and I’m already planning to feature at least 2 of your recipes in the batch. . . but you’ll have to wait to see which ones!).
“Oh, Mum, talk about MoFo! You’re so cruel to keep us all waiting. . .especially when you’re cooking all those yummy coconut dishes just a few feet away. . . *sigh*. . . “
“Chaser, don’t you use such language! And don’t worry, when she’s done, we’ll get to polish off the extra coconut milk.”
In my short stint as a raw foodist (very different from an “in-the-raw” foodist, which, for obvious reasons, I’d never do) I was determined to try out every variation of living foods imaginable. This meant foods I’d otherwise probably never eat, such as raw fennel (basically just don’t like it); raw cashews (okay, but too bland on their own for my taste); raw cacao nibs (not bad when ground up and incorporated into some form of dessert); and raw sushi.
What? Sushi is already raw, you say? Ah, but I’m not talking about fish. Rather, I’m talking about fish-y, or fish-like, sushi, composed of raw nuts and veggies. And waaaay better than slimy, slippery, dead tuna!
This recipe pairs almonds and sundried tomatoes for a magical synergy that results in a filling reminiscent of saltwater and salmon without actually being salmon (or John Malkovich, for that matter). You enjoy the essence of the sea without having to eat any fish! How cool is that?
I have to admit, however, that I might never have ventured to try this particular dish if not for my beloved, the carnivorous HH. In fact, before we met over a decade ago, nary a nibble of sushi in any form had passed my lips. I had steadfastly refused to join all my friends when, throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, sushi reigned supreme as the Favorite Form of Yuppie Sustenance (and I suspect that, even today, it would attain runner-up status, at least). You see, I’ve seen raw fish; my dad used to bring home a whole fish occasionally from his butcher shop, and my mom always refused to touch it. Me? Eat raw fish? No, thanks.
In Toronto, you can find a sushi bar on almost every corner of the downtown core, plus most streets in the suburbs (that’s almost as many sushi restaurants as there are donut shops!). For years, whenever I planned to meet a girlfriend for drinks after work, join colleagues for a quick bite after class, or share a dinner with my book club, mine would be the lone voice demurring across a vast sea of sushi.
And then, the HH invited me to lunch. Well, technically, he invited me to lunch, again. One of the more pleasant aspects of my particular work schedule is that I have the freedom to run errands, do laundry, or anything else during the afternoon and work all evening instead, if I choose. Once a week, I exercise that freedom to meet the HH for lunch. It’s our way of keeping the romance alivegetting our 5 to 10 a dayescaping the ”kids” checking in and staying connected with each other.
One particular day, after much pleading and cajoling, he finally convinced me to join him at his favorite sushi restaurant.
“They’re bound to have vegetables, right?” he theorized. I had to agree. “And they’ve definitely got rice.” So far, so good. “Well, I’m sure they know how to roll it in a nori sheet, so I bet they can put together some vegetarian sushi for you.” How could I object?
I’ve been thanking him ever since. When I explained what I wanted to the shop’s petite hostess, she cocked her head, smiled and nodded, then returned a moment later proffering a platter of nori rolls, futo maki and hand rolls filled with various combinations of carrot, cucumber, umebosi plum, buttery avocado, and daikon. In addition to being visually impressive–each unique spiral mosaic of orange, green, and creamy white a testament to the chef’s culinary artistry–the rolls also served up that classic melding of sweet, salty and umami, which, when accompanied by pickled ginger and fiery hot wasabi, was enough to hook me for life. How, I wondered, had I ever allowed myself to miss out on such an indulgence before then?
I still love vegetarian sushi, and these days, the HH and I eat it exclusively at our weekly lunch date. Still, there are times when I’m snowed under with marking, or the HH has been summoned to an unexpected conference call, and we defer until the following week. On those occasions, I try to make this raw version instead. Completely grain-free, it nevertheless contains a similar satisfying blend of flavors and textures to the real thing. And the inclusion of ground nuts here actually renders this version almost as protein-packed as its fishy predecessor. Like all sea vegetables, the nori is replete with minerals, particularly iodine, necessary for proper thyroid functioning. It also provides Vitamin K, essential for healthy blood.
And, best of all, it’s completely fish free.
Given that these darlings are uber-healthy, I thought they’d be a perfect contribution to Cate at Sweetnicks‘ ARF/5-A-Day weekly event. You can check out the roundup every Tuesday.
Raw Nori Rolls
I got this recipe from a raw foods class that I took a few years ago. The rolls require a little planning in order to prepare the nuts and sundried tomatoes, but once those iare ready, the remainder of the dish comes together quickly. These are best served soon after they’re made.
1-1/2 cups raw almonds, soaked in room-temperature water for 8-10 hours
1/3 sundried tomatoes, soaked 4-6 hours
1 Tbs. Mellow (or white) Miso
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
1/4 tsp. black pepper
4 sheets nori (buy untoasted if you wish these to be entirely raw)
Vegetables for filling: carrot and cucumber matchsticks; grated daikon; thinly sliced green onions; thinly sliced avocado
pickled ginger, as needed
wasabi paste, as needed
Prepare the filling: in a food processor, whir together the drained almonds and drained tomatoes until you have what looks like a fine meal. Add the miso, lemon juice, tamari and pepper and process until the mixture forms a smooth paste (add reserved tomato water if more liquid is required).
Prepare the rolls (you can use a sushi mat, but it’s not necessary): spread about 1/4 of the paste onto each nori sheet, leaving 2-3 cm (1 inch) at the end farthest away from you.
Fill the end close to you with the strips of fresh vegetables.
Moisten the empty edge of the nori sheet with water. Roll the nori into a long cylinder over the veggies and toward the empty edge. Place on a plate or tray with the seam side down; let sit 5 minutes before cutting into 8 uniform pieces.
Serve with additional tamari, pickled ginger and wasabi as condiments. Serves 4.