Lisa on June 29th, 2015
Dill-Pressed Salmon

Dill-Pressed Wild Salmon

Ever seen herb-pressed ravioli? It’s gorgeous! Being able to see fresh herbs embedded into the pasta almost feels like an optical illusion. Sheets of pasta dough are rolled super-thin, fresh herb leaves are carefully placed on the dough, and another super-thin sheet of pasta is laid on top of that. Simple concept, but very tricky to carry out, even when you’re working with high-gluten dough that stretches easily. Trying to replicate the process with gluten-free dough — or even with 100% whole-wheat dough — is nearly impossible.

This salmon doesn’t capture that almost-see-through, optical-illusion quality, but it comes close … and it’s foolproof! All you need is a fresh filet of wild salmon and and herb of your choice. To me, dill is the ideal choice, but basil would also work well with rich flavor of wild salmon, or you could opt for cilantro or chives. It’s easiest to use large-leaved herbs or sizeable sprigs of thin-leaved herbs. As long as you press the herbs firmly onto the top of the filet before cooking it, they should stick to the salmon beautifully when you flip it over in the pan. It’s an instant herb pressing!

Dill-Pressed Wild Salmon

When purchasing your wild salmon, figure on about 1/4 to 1/2 pound of raw salmon per person depending on if/what kind of sides you’ll be serving with it. (You’ll lose some of the weight during cooking, of course, and most people discard the thick skin. Others consider the skin a delicacy.) If you prefer a stronger salmon flavor, go with a filet cut from the tail end of the salmon; if you prefer a milder flavor, choose a filet cut closer to the head. That’s because the main muscles in any given fish are concentrated more in the tail end, and more muscles are used, the more flavor they’ll have. They’ll be darker, too, due to the presence of increased iron-carrying hemoglobin. So when the fishmonger asks “The head or the tail?” choose whichever best suits your taste buds.

Rinse your salmon filet and pat it dry. If the filet is larger than the skillet you’ll be using, cut the salmon into pieces so that it will fit into the skillet. Gently but firmly press your choice of fresh herb(s) onto the non-skin side of the filet. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt a generous knob of butter or ghee. Place the salmon in the skillet herb-side-down. Cook for 5 minutes or until the herbed side of the salmon is turning golden brown. Very carefully flip — using two spatulas is a good idea if the filet is too large to fit comfortably onto one — and cover the skillet.

Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until the filet is fully opaque and flakes apart easily at its thickest part. Serve immediately. Leftover salmon can be refrigerated for 3 days. It makes a great hash when lightly smashed into chunks and fried with eggs! Or use it in place of tuna to make sandwiches, wraps, salads, and pasta dishes.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on June 25th, 2015
Tuna & Goat Cheese Salad

Tuna & Goat Cheese Salad

With interest in seafood rising, more and more people are looking for affordable options that are healthy, sustainable, and delicious. And as people become ever more aware of the importance of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, shoppers are starting to prefer seafood that includes “high in omega-3s” in its list of attributes, too. Enter the humble can of tuna.

Unfortunately, because of the high mercury load that tuna often carries, a time-honored staple is becoming less popular. Many brands of canned tuna are also packed in low-quality oil high in inflammatory omega-6 fats, which detracts from the omega-3 nature of tuna. And many producers overcook the tuna during processing, which results in dry, tough fish that resembles papery fibers more than a fish filet. The rare exceptions to those scenarios are generally international companies like Spain’s Ortiz, where canned seafood has traditionally been held to a higher standard.

Recently, I was delighted to discover that an American brand has taken up the cause of top-notch tuna. Safe Catch tuna is tested for mercury, it’s sustainable, and — as a culinarian obsessed with flavor, this is possibly my favorite part — it’s cooked right in the can so that the liquid you see is tuna juice, not water or cheap oil. You’ll also notice that Safe Catch tuna is super-chunky and actually looks like a fish filet. That’s because it’s not overcooked into stringiness! What a refreshing surprise. Make sandwiches with it, serve it with pasta, or enjoy it with a few tomato and avocado slices. Or do as I’ve done here and toss the tuna into a salad for a quick and satisfying meal.

Tuna & Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 2, but feel free to double or triple the recipe.

Add a double handful of your favorite lettuce to a large mixing bowl (I opted for Romaine out of my garden) and toss in a few quartered cherry or grape tomatoes, some chopped pitted olives, and some freshly crumbled soft goat cheese. Two large handfuls of lettuce should serve 2 people, but the other ingredient amounts are up to you. Add a can of Safe Catch tuna, liquid and all. (If you’re using a brand packed with oil or water, press out the liquid before adding the tuna.) Toss well.

Drizzle 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice onto the salad and toss well again. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on June 22nd, 2015
Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Pumpkin Chocolate Muffins

Pumpkin may be a fall ingredient, but these muffins were too tasty not to share! And if you wanted to make them super summery, you could use pureed zucchini instead — after all, pumpkins and zucchinis are both squashes. Butternut squash works in place of pumpkin, too, and has a similar lightly sweet flavor. No matter which squash you choose, the big advantage to using pureed squash over pureed/mashed fruit is that squash has very little sugar and therefore a very low glycemic impact. (Bananas, on the other hand, are quite sugary.)

Pureed squash also has a very mild flavor that allows the chocolate flavor to shine through. For maximum flavor, use un-Dutched or natural cocoa powder. This type has not been processed with an alkaline to soften the impact of the natural acid found in cocoa beans — in other words, it tastes more like chocolate. It also has a faintly reddish hue as opposed to being dark black. Perfect with pumpkin! And in terms of culinary application, since baking soda needs an acid to react and create its puffing action, using naturally acidic cocoa powder makes it easier for the baking soda to do its job.

Pumpkin Chocolate Mufffins
Makes 12 muffins.

1/2 cup millet OR brown rice flour*
1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour OR sorghum flour*
3/4 cup cocoa powder, preferably non-Dutched or natural
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. clovves
Dash of sea salt
1 stick butter at room temperature, preferably from grass-fed cows
4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup palm sugar OR sucanat
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 3/4 cups pureed cooked pumpkin

Preheat oven to 375F and line muffin tin with parchment paper cups. (They work oodles better than the standard cups — parchment cups mean zero crumb loss.)

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and soda, spices, and salt. In a large bowl, cut the butter into rough chunks. Cream for at least 2 minutes or until fluffy, then beat in eggs one by one, adding the vanilla with the last egg. Beat in the palm sugar and sucanat, then beat in the pumpkin.

Beat the flour mixture in the pumpkin mixture and scoop into the waiting muffin cups. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops are cracking and a toothpick inserted into the center of the center muffin comes out clean and warm. Let cool on wire rack.

Leftover muffins can be refrigerated for a week or frozen for 2 months. You might want to warm the leftover muffins in a toaster oven before serving — their chocolate aroma and flavor will be much more pronounced when they’re warm.

Enjoy!

* These flours are gluten-free flours. If you’d prefer to make a wheat-based version, use 1 cup of spelt, kamut, or whole-wheat flour. But note that buckwheat flour has a lower glycemic impact than wheat flour does — you may want to stick with the buckwheat. Keeping blood sugar levels steady is always a good idea!

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Lisa on June 18th, 2015
Blueberry Almond Cake

Blueberry Almond Cake

It’s peak season for berries! Time to make cakes, muffins, pies, or whatever else strikes your berry fancy. For a hearty nut-and-berry breakfast, give this easy cake a try. It’s naturally sweet thanks to the berries, so I only added two tablespoons of palm sugar, but if you want to serve it as a dessert, you can add more palm … or top it with freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of maple syrup. Yum!

If you stick with the minimum amount of palm sugar, you’ll have a hearty, non-sugary breakfast that will get your day started off right — the flour is 100% almond flour, so no starch there, and berries are lower in sugar than non-berry fruits. Just add eggs, vanilla, and baking powder, and you’ll have a week’s worth of breakfasts! And if you have sliced almonds and a coffee grinder, you can make your own almond flour by grinding the sliced almonds for about ten seconds. Homemade almond flour is delightfully fresh and fluffy.

Blueberry Almond Cake
Makes an 8″x 8″ pan.

1 1/4 cups almond flour
1 tsp. baking powder
Dash of sea salt
3 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 tsp. vanilla
2 T. palm sugar
1 pint of fresh blueberries, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8″x 8″ pan thoroughly with butter (I like to save my butter wrappers for doing just that) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs for at least 5 minutes — you want them thick, foamy, and turning pale. Pastured eggs will whip faster and higher than conventional eggs. Beat in the vanilla and palm sugar, then beat in the flour mixture. Fold in the blueberries with a wooden spoon. (Or beat them in, but be aware that the blueberries may start to fly out of the bowl.)

Promptly scoop batter into the waiting pan and bake for 40 minutes or until the top is golden brown and cracking and the blueberries at the edges of the pan are bursting. Let cool on a wire rack. Completely cooled cake can be refrigerated for a week. If you like, serve with freshly whipped cream (or a dollop of whole-milk plain Greek yogurt) and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on June 15th, 2015
Fried Butternut with Dilly Poached Egg

Fried Butternut with Dilly Poached Egg

Squash is such a great category of vegetables for so many reasons! It’s available year-round — hence you’ll hear of “summer” squash like zucchini and cucumber and “winter” squash like butternut and pumpkin — and it’s inexpensive year-round, too. Winter squash varieties have a fairly long shelf life compared to other veggies, and even summer squash is less perishable than lots of other produce. But the best attribute of squash is that they are incredibly versatile. When you cube and simmer butternut squash as I’ve done here and then pan-fry it the same way you’d pan-fry potatoes to make hash, you get a naturally sweet, soft-but-crunchy result that tastes an awful lot like a potato…but without the starch component, which is a nice bonus.

Summer squash is refreshingly crisp and best enjoyed raw, but winter squash is best when sauteed, baked, or simmered. Prepped winter squash can be refrigerated for a week, too, so feel free to stow extra raw cubed squash in the fridge so that you can whip up this non-starchy hash in minutes. It makes a great breakfast or lunch when topped with a poached egg!

Fried Butternut with Dilly Poached Egg

Figuring on about a cup of cubed butternut and one egg per person, first prep the butternut by cutting it in half, scooping out and discarding the seeds and stringy flesh, and trimming away the hard outer skin. (It’s easiest to cut a winter squash in half by using a meat mallet to pound an 8″ chef knife through the squash to cut it in half. Once it’s halved, the squash will be easier to trim and cube.) Cut the squash into 1/2″ cubes.

Fill a medium pot halfway with water. Bring it to a boil and add the cubed butternut. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain well. In a medium skillet, melt a generous knob of ghee or pat of butter over medium heat. Add drained cubed squash and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until squash is turning golden brown. Remove to a waiting plate.

While the squash cooks, refill the pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Crack an egg into the pot and immediately reduce heat to medium-low. Gently twirl a heat-proof spatula or slotted spoon around the edges and bottom of the pot so that the egg doesn’t stick to it.

Simmer for 3 minutes, then lift out the poached egg with a slotted spoon and gently set it atop the squash. (If you’re poaching 3 or more eggs at once, use a large pot. Those eggs need room to float about!) Sprinkle generously with dill and serve immediately. If you like, sprinkle the egg and butternut with grated Parmesan. Any leftover squash can be refrigerated for a week.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on June 11th, 2015
Salmon Stir-Fry with Maifun Noodles

Wild Salmon Stir-Fry with Maifun Noodles

Thanks to well-managed fishing practices in Alaska, wild salmon is one of the food treasures of the United States, and thanks to various food-preserving techniques, you can find wild salmon all year long: it’s frozen, canned, smoked, even made into jerky. The best salmon, though, is fresh salmon, and it’s in season from roughly May through October. Get it while you can! When you feature salmon as part of a stir-fry like this one, you can figure on about 1/4 pound of salmon per person. At about $22/pound, that means each serving is about $5. At a restaurant — assuming you can find one that serves wild salmon rather than farmed salmon that are only pink because they’re fed pink dye — you’ll pay a LOT more than $5 for wild salmon. Cooking is incredibly cost-effective!

Not only is wild salmon rich in flavor and hue, according to the Alaska Seafood folks, each 3.5-ounce serving of wild salmon — that’s about 1/4 pound — contains between 1,100 and 1,700 mg of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. (The amount depends on species, with King salmon clocking in at 1,700.) In comparison, wild Alaskan cod contains 280 mg of omega-3s per 3.5-ounce serving. Still delicious, but if you’re aiming for anti-inflammatory deliciousness, go with the King salmon! Sockeye, Coho, Keta, and pink salmon are also fantastic in this stir-fry. I opted for ultra-thin brown rice maifun noodles — aren’t they elegant? — but you could use any whole-grain spaghetti or angel hair pasta.

Wild Salmon Stir-Fry with Maifun Noodles
Makes 4 servings.

Double handful raw cashews, chopped
1 pound wild salmon
1/2 red bell pepper, flesh only, cut into thin slices
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
2 baby bok choy, ends and any limp leaves trimmed away, bok choy roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ginger
1 T. tamari (be sure to use wheat-free tamari if you’re making a gluten-free dish)
1 T. rice wine vinegar
4 servings brown rice maifun noodles*
Handful cilantro leaves
Toasted sesame oil for garnishing

In a medium skillet, dry-toast the cashews for 5 minutes or until they’re turning golden brown. Transfer to a cool plate.

Drizzle a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil or spoon a generous dab of coconut oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Place the salmon on the skillet with the skin side up and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just long enough to lightly brown the non-skin-side that’s touching the skillet. (You may have to first cut the salmon into smaller pieces to fit it into your skillet. That’s fine — you’ll be flaking it into bite-sized pieces, anyway.) Carefully turn the salmon over — using 2 big spatulas is best — and add the bell pepper, carrots, bok choy, garlic, ginger, tamari, and rice wine vinegar.

Cover the skillet and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 minutes or until the salmon is opaque when flaked at the center, using the 10 minutes to prepare the maifun noodles. Drain them well and place in a large bowl.

When the salmon is done, lift the meat off of the skin and add it to the bowl with the noodles. Slide in the cooked veggies and pan drippings and discard the skin. Add the cilantro leaves and toasted chopped cashews to the bowl and use 2 large spoons to toss everything well. (The salmon will flake apart into smaller pieces as you toss it.)

If you like, you can drizzle the toasted sesame oil directly into the stir-fry, too, or you can let each diner garnish their own dish. Warning: toasted sesame oil is very fragrant and flavorful, so a little goes a long way!

Serve stir-fry immediately. Leftover stir-fry can be refrigerated for 3 days.

Enjoy!

* Or use brown rice spaghetti. If you’d prefer wheat-based noodles, use your favorite thin whole-wheat, kamut, or spelt noodles.

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Lisa on June 8th, 2015
Egyptian Koshari

Egyptian Koshari

I’ve been on a chickpea kick lately — they’re just so ubiquitously delicious! Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Indian, European, and Latin American cooks all embrace the humble chickpea. In Italy, you’ll see them listed as ceci beans; in Spanish-speaking countries, they’re garbanzo beans; in subcontinental Asia, they’re often called chana or gram. Besan flour is chickpea flour, and it’s the basis for many flatbreads, including a French crepe known as socca. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t had chickpeas in one form or another. (Don’t forget that they’re the main ingredient in hummus!)

Koshari, the national dish of Egypt, also features chickpeas. Lentils are nestled in there, too, plus brown rice and noodles, all of which lend this vegetarian dish surprising heartiness. Pairing these earthy ingredients with a savory spiced tomato sauce and caramelized onions results in a gorgeous meal well worth the effort. (And well worth the designation of “national dish”!) You’ll have all four burners going to make the various components, but with some judicious stove top juggling, koshari is a snap to make. And the spice blend — while exotic to American taste buds — calls for four not-uncommon spices that you probably already have in your pantry. Bet you’ve just never combined cumin with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg before! You might start doing that more often now.

Egyptian Koshari
Makes 4 hearty servings (you’ll probably have leftovers, too!).

For the lentils and rice*:
1/2 cup long-grain brown rice
1/2 cup brown, black, or green lentils
1 large onion, sliced into rounds
4 ounces brown rice spaghetti, snapped into thirds to make short strands**
15 ounces cooked chickpeas, drained

For the tomato sauce:
4 cloves garlic, chopped
15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Dash of cayenne OR crushed red pepper (my favorite is Aleppo pepper)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves

To get the lentils and rice started, place rice and 1 cup water in a medium pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then promptly reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until rice has absorbed all of the water. Set aside.

While the rice cooks, place the lentils and at least 2 cups of water in another pot over medium heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the lentils have reached their desired tenderness. As the water evaporates, you’ll have to lower the heat; if the water gets very low, add more water and continue cooking. When the lentils have reached their desired tenderness, drain well as set aside.

Once you’ve gotten the rice and lentils simmering, drizzle a large skillet generously with extra-virgin olive oil. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is turning golden brown and is very soft. Set aside.

Before finishing the rice and lentils portion of the dish, move on to the tomato sauce. (Yes, you’ll be using all four burners to save time!) Add another drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to a medium skillet and stir in the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until the garlic is beginning to turn golden brown. Stir in remaining ingredients, increase heat to medium, and let simmer for at least 10 minutes so the flavors can marry. If the sauce starts to boil, reduce the heat back to medium-low.

By now, you should have a spare pot — the rice and/or lentils should be done. Cook the brown rice spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked drained pasta, rice, and lentils with the chickpeas. Add the the tomato sauce and caramelized onion and toss again (or top each portion with sauce and onion).

Leftovers can be refrigerated for 4 days.

* Note that you can make a very speedy version of this dish by starting out with precooked rice and lentils. If all you need to do is make the sauce and cook the onion and the spaghetti, your koshari will be ready in 20 minutes!

** Brown rice spaghetti is gluten-free, but if you prefer to make a wheat-based version, you can use whole-wheat, kamut, or spelt spaghetti instead.

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Lisa on June 4th, 2015
Peaches with Maple Ricotta

Peaches with Maple Ricotta

In the summer months, the best desserts involve fruit: parfaits layered with fruit, custards topped with fruit, ice cream garnished with fruit. Or you could go the simple-yet-sophisticated route of serving fruit with cheese. Creamy, fresh cheeses in particular pair well with fruit. I had some ricotta left over from making the Ricotta Raspberry Cake, so I decided to sweeten it slightly with maple syrup and enjoy it with fresh sliced peaches.

The lush texture of ricotta cheese makes it perfect for dipping, I found out, and its creamy mildness means you can serve ricotta with any fruit and sprinkle it with a variety of spices: nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves. (Although I would choose just one.) Or dust it with a pinch of cocoa powder. You could stir in just a hint of extract, too, whether that’s vanilla, hazelnut, almond, chocolate, coffee, or lemon. Fruit + creaminess = guaranteed hit!

Peaches with Maple Ricotta

Start with whole-milk ricotta cheese, figuring on about 1/2 cup cheese per person. Stir a drizzle of maple syrup into the ricotta and a very tiny dash of vanilla extract. Taste and see if you’d like to add more maple or extract. If you overdid it on either one, stir in more ricotta to even out the flavors.

Serve with fresh fruit of your choice. I opted for peaches, but nectarines, plums, any kind of berries, or even melons would be lovely. Garnish the ricotta and fruit with a sprinkling of nutmeg or cinnamon. Serve immediately.

Leftover maple ricotta can be refrigerated for 2 days. As with all fresh-milk cheeses, ricotta has a very short shelf life, so don’t let it get lost in the depths of your fridge.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on June 1st, 2015
Ricotta Raspberry Cake

Ricotta Raspberry Cake

Ricotta cheese isn’t just for lasagna! If you’ve ever had a ricotta cheesecake, you know that ricotta can hit the sweet spot, too. This coffeecake features ricotta as the main ingredient, and depending on how much palm sugar you include, it makes a great breakfast or dessert. For a showstopper version, top each slice with freshly whipped cream and more fresh raspberries.

Ricotta is a fresh-milk cheese, which is to say it isn’t aged — rather, it should be consumed within a few days of its transformation from milk to cheese. (Cottage cheese and cream cheese also fall into the “fresh-milk cheese” camp.) Look for whole-milk ricotta that is made with just milk, cream, whey, salt, and a coagulant like vinegar or lemon juice. Whey is the liquid part of milk that separates and rises to the top of yogurt and other dairy products, and acidic ingredients like vinegar and lemon juice cause the milk to form curds.

Small-scale ricotta producers typically only use dairy and vinegar/lemon juice, whereas commercial operations often add thickeners like carrageenan. (And they tend to shy away from whole milk, resulting in thinner, less flavorful ricotta.) Another bonus of small-scale producers: they’re more likely to use milk and cream from grass-fed cows, which makes creamier, sweeter ricotta that’s perfect for baked goods.

Ricotta Raspberry Cake
Makes a deep 9″ pan.

1 cup raw buckwheat flour OR brown rice flour*/**
1/2 cup teff flour OR sorghum flour**
1/2 cup palm sugar OR sucanat (or 3/4 cup if you want this to be a sweeter dessert vs. a not-so-sweet breakfast)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
Dash of sea salt
4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces or 3/4 pound) whole-milk ricotta, preferably made with milk from grass-fed cows
1 stick butter, melted, preferably made with cream from grass-fed cows
1/2 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
1 tsp. vanilla
6 oz. fresh raspberries, rinsed well and drained

Preheat oven to 350F and thoroughly grease a deep 9″ round glass baking dish with butter. (I like to save my butter wrappers to use for greasing pans.) Your dish should be about 2″ deep.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, spices, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, ricotta, melted butter, milk, and vanilla. (Tip for melting butter: if you have an electric stove, just place the butter in a small pot and let it melt slowly over the lowest possible heat setting.)

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, switching to a spoon once the batter thickens. Gently fold in the raspberries and scoop the batter into the waiting dish. Bake for 50 minutes or until the top and sides are turning golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and warm. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into the cake.

If you like, serve each slice with more fresh raspberries and/or freshly whipped cream or plain whole-milk Greek yogurt sweetened with just a hint of maple syrup. Or drizzle the slices with an unrefined nut oil like walnut or pecan. Leftover cake can be refrigerated for a week. Talk about satisfying breakfasts!

Enjoy!

* Buckwheat has a much lower glycemic load than brown rice, so I prefer to use raw buckwheat flour.

** If you’d prefer to make a wheat-based version of this cake, use 1 1/2 cups of kamut, spelt, or whole-wheat flour in place of the buckwheat and teff flours.

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Fried Egg with Spiced Chickpeas

Fried Egg with Spiced Chickpeas

Who doesn’t love chickpeas? They’re creamy, they’re pleasantly chewy/soft, and they’re a great springboard for just about any spice. Enter these Pakistani-inspired spiced chickpeas, often referred to as chana masala. (The “chana” part is the chickpea; the “masala” is the spice blend. Fans of Indian cuisine might recognize the latter from “garam masala.”) The secret to the lush texture of the sauteed ‘peas is simple: cook them in ghee. Not only does ghee handle high heat beautifully well — it’s a saturated fat, which means it’s stable — it imparts a deep buttery flavor to any food it touches. Not surprising when you consider that ghee is clarified butter! The blend of ultra butteriness and earthy, rich spices makes these chickpeas ideal for topping darned near anything, from salads to eggs. Or just enjoy them as a simple snack.

My favorite way to use chana masala is to fry an egg and then toss a few ‘peas into the pan. So simple and so flavorful! You can scramble your eggs and then top them, poach them and then top them, even hard-boil them and then top them. I like to make a pan-fried, neatly packaged, non-simmered-but-seems-poached egg that happily gives up its yolk as soon as you cut into it.

Fried Egg with Spiced Chickpeas

For the spice blend*:
2 teaspoons coriander
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon dried mustard
¼ teaspoon cardamom
¼ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon sea salt
Dash cayenne pepper

For the chickpeas:
Ghee for cooking
15 ounces canned chickpeas, drained well
4 cloves garlic, minced

For the eggs:
Eggs, preferably from pastured hens

To make the spice blend, place all spices in a glass jar. Close and shake until well combined. (Note: if you want to make more of the blend than you’ll need in this recipe, go ahead — it’s a great blend for meat and poultry dishes!)

To make the chickpeas, melt a generous knob of ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chickpeas are turning golden brown.

Add another knob of ghee and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in spice blend and garlic and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or until garlic is fragrant and turning golden brown. Transfer to a plate to cool. Once cooled, you can store the ‘peas in a glass jar at room temperature for a week.

To make the eggs, melt a generous knob of butter in a small skillet (use more than one small skillet if you’re making more than one egg; it’s much easier to give each egg its own pan) over medium heat. Crack an egg onto the butter and cook for a minute or two, just until the white is mostly opaque and bubbling around the edges. Nudge a thin spatula underneath the egg and gently fold the cooked whites up over the raw yolk in the center. Try to pull up each “corner” to create a square package.

As soon as you have your whites neatly folded up, quickly but surely flip over the entire egg. You might need to tilt the skillet towards the spatula to provide an easier angle for flipping without splatting. Add a handful of the spiced chickpeas and let the egg cook for another minute. Serve immediately, while the egg is piping hot.

Enjoy!

* If you don’t have any of these spices, omit them. Or visit a spice shop to explore new flavors!

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