Lisa on July 30th, 2015
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Hazelnuts & Cilantro


Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Hazelnuts & Cilantro

With the price of pine nuts continuing to skyrocket, I’m always eager to try making pesto with other nuts. (Although technically, pine “nuts” are the seeds found within pine cones. Mediterranean stone pines and Korean pines lead the pack in terms of pine trees that bear seeds big enough to bother eating.) Cashews are probably the closest match to pine nuts in terms of having a creamy flavor and smooth texture, but you can use a wide variety of nuts and seeds and still call your concoction “pesto.” The word stems from Italian and means “crushed” or “pounded” — for the etymology buffs out there, “pestle” has Latin roots and a similar meaning — so really, pesto can be any blend of herbs, nuts/seeds, and garlic crushed into a toothsome paste.

Seeing as I was already tinkering with the basic ingredients quite a bit (I also swapped out basil for cilantro because I had cilantro on hand and wanted to use it), I went ahead and added sun-dried tomatoes to the pesto to give it an extra oomph of savoriness. You could toss the finished pesto with fresh tomatoes, too, but sun-dried tomatoes provide a deeper undertone of flavor. Or use them both!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Hazelnuts & Cilantro
Makes enough for 4 servings of pesto as a garnish. Recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Depending on how much you like sun-dried tomatoes, start by soaking 1/2 ounce to 1 ounce of sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for at least 30 minutes to soften them. (I prefer to use sun-dried tomatoes that have already been cut into strips because those are easier to blend later.) Avoid sun-dried tomatoes jarred with oil — the oil used is almost always highly processed oil that’s better avoided than consumed. You’ll be adding your own top-notch extra-virgin olive oil to the pesto, anyway. Drain the tomatoes well.

Dry-toast a double handful of chopped hazelnuts in a medium skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the pan occasionally and keeping an eye on the nuts to make sure they don’t burn. It only takes a few minutes for them to turn golden brown! Scoop them into a food processor.

Add a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil to the same skillet. Stir in 5 chopped cloves of garlic and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until the garlic is beginning to turn golden brown. Add them to the food processor along with the drained tomatoes. Add a double handful of cilantro leaves, rinsed well and drained.

Process the pesto until you have coarse crumbs, adding more olive oil until you’ve reached your desired consistency. (More oil makes a smoother paste.) Taste and see if you’d like to add a pinch of sea salt. Blend again.

Toss the pesto with freshly cooked pasta, serve it with homemade flatbread as I did, use it as a garnish for poultry or fish dishes, or blend with ricotta to make a savory, creamy dip. Pesto offers endless opportunities!

Enjoy!

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Lisa on July 27th, 2015
French Vanilla Custard Tart

French Vanilla Custard Tart

Scrambled eggs and poached eggs are easy, but when you start whisking eggs into cream and milk and then making custards and puddings, that’s a different story, because heating eggs tends to make them clump. And while fluffy clumped eggs are exactly what you want when you scramble them, you don’t want clumpy custard. So how do you make sure your custards and puddings are silky-smooth? You heat the eggs very gently and gradually, and you don’t stop whisking. (And if all else fails, you do some strategic straining with a fine-meshed colander.)

“French” vanilla typically refers to vanilla-scented, egg-enriched custards, pastry fillings, and creams, including ice cream. The latter is made by making a custard and then freezing it. (Some folks call that a frozen custard.) In this tart, the custard is made on the stove top and then baked in the tart crust.

Although traditional custards are made with cornstarch, I find using whole-grain flours like brown rice flours to be just as easy … not to mention more nutritious and more flavorful! Opting for eggs from pastured hens makes custard-making easier, too, since stronger eggs are easier to separate into whites and yolks.

What kind of fruit you put on top of the tart is entirely up to you, but fruit that can be cut into thin slices and fanned out makes an especially attractive dessert: pears, apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, etc. The only caveat is that fruit with purplish skin may start to bleed its pigments into the custard, so a plum-topped tart may start looking rather tie-dyed two days later. (The pink-skinned nectarine I used did precisely that, albeit on a lighter-hued scale.) Hence, a word to the wise when choosing your fruit — tan/orange/yellow skins are a better color match for vanilla custard than any fruit with reddish/purplish skin.

French Vanilla Custard Tart
Makes a 9″ tart.

For the custard:
4 egg yolks, preferably from pastured hens
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup cream, preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup sucanat
1/4 cup brown rice flour
4 T. (1/2 stick) butter, preferably made with cream from grass-fed cows

For the crust:
1 cup raw buckwheat flour OR sorghum flour OR brown rice flour
Dash of sea salt
1 stick butter, well-chilled, preferably made with cream from grass-fed cows
1 T. sucanat

For the topping:
2 medium nectarines, peaches, pears, or any fruit you can cut into thin slices (although see recipe head note about fruit with reddish/purplish skins!)

You’ll need a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom. Grease the bottom and sides generously with butter.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks with the vanilla. In a medium pot, whisk the milk, cream, sucanat, and flour. Bring it to a gentle simmer over medium heat, whisking and watching for the tell-tale wisps of steam to start rising from the pot. (This is easiest to see if you have a black-topped stove.) As soon as you see the tendrils, remove the pot from the heat and trickle the cream into the yolks in a thin stream, constantly whisking. Gently pour the whisked cream and yolks back into the pot and heat on low, still whisking, for 2 or 3 minutes or until the mixture thickens and starts taking on the glossy look of custard. Remove from the heat and whisk the butter into the custard. Keep whisking it occasionally to help the butter melt as you make the crust.

To make the crust, place the ingredients into a food processor, cutting the butter into large chunks. Process until coarse crumbs form. Add 1 tablespoon of cold water and continue to process until the dough forms a ball and goes whump! against the processor bowl. Press the crust into the tart pan, making sure it goes up the sides of the pan, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Keep occasionally whisking the custard. Preheat the oven to 350F.

Bake the fresh-from-the-fridge crust for 20 minutes or until it’s starting to turn golden brown. During the final few minutes of baking, cut the fruit into thin slices. Whisk the custard again and check to make sure it isn’t lumpy. If it is, you may want to strain it through a fine-meshed colander to strain out the lumps before pouring it onto the crust.

Pour the custard into the baked crust and top with the sliced fruit, laying them out in concentric fans (start from the outer edge and work your way to the center). Bake for 30 minutes at 350F or until the fruit is turning golden brown. Note: if you have too much custard to pour into the tart, enjoy the leftovers as custard! Pour over fresh fruit for a luxurious dessert or snack, or just pour the extra custard into a pretty glass and enjoy it as an extra-thick eggnog kind of dessert drink.

Cool on a wire rack. Leftover tart can be refrigerated for 4 days. If the tart stubbornly sticks to the sides of the tart pan when you try to cut a slice free, use the tip of a sharp knife to loosen the crust from each individual crenellation — slip the knife between the pan and the crust to help the crust unstick itself.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on July 23rd, 2015
Fig Cheesebread

Fig Cheesebread

Creating bread with an open crumb is notoriously difficult when you’re making gluten-free bread, because the crumb is usually formed by gluten strands expanding and trapping the bubbles of gas that the yeast or baking powder (or whatever leavener you added to the bread) gives off as it reacts to the sugars/acids/liquids that are in the dough. Without those elastic gluten strands, it’s tricky to get lift. And when you make your bread with 100% whole-grain flours, getting that open crumb is even trickier.

Enter egg whites! Whipped eggs form an airy structure, too, so they can somewhat take over gluten’s role. This flatbread, for example, while not as airy as a loaf of standard bread, is somewhat like focaccia in terms of texture. I also added oil to the dough — another commonality with focaccia — so that when you toast the bread, it browns beautifully and becomes slightly crispy. It’s the perfect candidate for making into cheesebread.

Even if you aren’t in the mood to make your own bread, try making this simple cheesebread by combining fresh figs with a smooth, nutty aged cheese like Emmentaler. It’s a traditional Swiss cheese and is aged in a manner similar to Gruyère — in caves that provide the ideal temperature and humidity for creating a deeply flavorful cheese. Unlike pallid domestic Swiss, Emmentaler is a rich yellow and is often flecked with white dots, which I think of as “flavor crystals.” They’re actually concentrated amino acid formations. Translation? They’re little umami explosions (and they’re pleasantly crunchy, too, in contrast to the smooth cheese) that make the cheese super savory. Ideal for pairing with sweet figs!

If you already have some flatbread on hand, simply cut Emmentaler cheese into thin slices, top the bread with the cheese and some sliced figs, and bake or toast until the cheese is melted. If you’d like to make this gluten-free flatbread to go with the cheese and figs, keep reading.

 

100% Whole-Grain & Gluten-Free Flatbread
Makes a 12″x 17″ pan of flatbread.

1/2 cup corn flour (not cornstarch!)
1/4 cup oat flour (be sure to use gluten-free oat flour if you’re making gluten-free bread)*
3/4 cup buckwheat flour, preferably raw buckwheat flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil OR unrefined pecan oil
4 egg whites at room temperature, preferably from pastured hens
Dash of cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed 12″x 17″ jellyroll pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours and salt, then whisk in the milk and oil. Keep whisking until the batter is completely smooth.

In another large bowl, whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff, glossy peaks form. (Be careful to not clonk the counter while you’re working with the egg whites — you don’t want them to fall.) Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the flour mixture, then scoop into the waiting jellyroll pan. Do not tap the batter or smooth it with a spatula, because again, that will make the batter fall. Instead, just jiggle the pan very slightly to encourage the batter to spread the length of the pan, then get it into the oven pronto.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is turning golden brown. Let cool on wire rack. You’ll be able to easily peel away the parchment paper as soon as the bread is completely cool. Make cheesebread with it, toast squares of it and slather them with butter, or even use it as a pizza crust for a deep-dish pizza. So many possibilities!

Enjoy!

* To make your own oat flour, run rolled oats through a coffee grinder for a few seconds. So simple!

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Lisa on July 20th, 2015
Summertime Tortilla with Gruyère & Tomatoes

Summertime Tortilla with Gruyère & Tomatoes

As one of the most popular garden plants in the country, by the time midsummer hits, many home gardeners are enjoying a bumper crop of juicy, ripe tomatoes. The pomme d’amour (or “apple of love” in French) is a quintessential summer ingredient — its tart-but-sweet nature brightens nearly any dish, even sweet ones. Tomatoes really shine, though, when you pair them with savory, creamy ingredients like cheese. It’s no surprise that so many Italian dishes feature tomato-based sauces smothered in mozzarella and Parmesan! Classic is classic for a reason.

For this easy lunch or snack, I skipped the traditional fresh-milk mozzarella in favor of an aged cheese with a more savory, almost nutty character: Gruyère, specifically Emmi’s cave-aged Kaltbach Gruyère from Switzerland. Traditionally used in dishes like fondue, Gruyère is a perfect partner for sweetly ripe tomatoes. And as an aged cheese, Gruyère can be stashed in your fridge for weeks rather than just a few short days, giving you even more opportunities to enjoy one of Switzerland’s signature cheeses. If you’ve only ever had American Swiss cheese, you’re in for a surprise — this is the real deal, folks! And for an extra summery kick, opt for a stone-ground corn tortilla. Tomato + corn = summer … and in this case, a Swiss-style summer!

Summertime Tortilla with Gruyère & Tomatoes

First, crisp the tortilla: melt a generous knob of ghee or butter in a small skillet just big enough to hold the tortilla (preferably a stone-ground organic corn tortilla). Add the tortilla and adjust the heat to medium-low. Use a pair of tongs or a spatula to press the tortilla firmly into the melted ghee to coat it completely, then flip over the tortilla. Cook for 2 minutes or until the bottom is just beginning to turn golden brown. Flip over and cook for another minute or two, just long enough for the second side to also begin to brown.

Carefully arrange thinly sliced Gruyère cheese on top of the tortilla. Add sliced tomatoes and a sprinkling of dried oregano and/or basil, then cover the skillet and reduce heat to the lowest setting. Cook for 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Voilà! It only takes a few minutes to make the perfect summertime snack.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on July 16th, 2015
Beech Mushrooms with Feta & Dill

Beech Mushrooms with Feta & Dill

More fun mushrooms! This time it’s beech mushrooms, which are also known as shimeji due to the beech’s popularity in Japan. But since they often grow on beech trees, English speakers call them beech mushrooms. They look like the quintessential mushroom: cute, dainty, and with perfectly round brown caps. Like many mushrooms, beeches grow in clusters, but it’s easy to slice off the common base to separate the individual mushrooms. (Unlike maitakes, which grow in clustered layers rather than from a central base. Lots of mushrooms resemble jutting shelves!)

Not only are beech mushrooms ultimately cute, they have a pleasant nutty flavor and crunch, especially when browned in butter or ghee. For this simple side dish, I paired their earthy flavor with creamy feta and aromatic dill, but you could just as easily go with Parmesan and basil or mozzarella and thyme. Cooking shallots along with the mushrooms lent them a smooth, almost nutty flavor undertone.

The bite-sized nature of beech mushrooms makes them ideal for tossing with other veggies for a mushroom-based salad, plus their not-quite-plant, not-quite-animal nutrient profile makes mushrooms of all types a hearty addition to any side or main dish. Look for beech mushrooms in well-stocked produce markets or Japanese grocery stores.

Beech Mushrooms with Feta & Dill

First, trim the beech mushrooms by cutting off the base where the mushrooms join. (Beech mushrooms are typically sold pre-washed; look for Hokto Kinoko organic beech mushrooms, which are grown in California and shipped throughout the U.S.)

Melt a generous knob of ghee or butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, then add the mushrooms and half as much thinly sliced shallots. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for another 5 minutes to give the mushrooms a nice browning effect. The covered cooking time will slightly steam and soften them as they release their water content, while the uncovered time will allow them to slightly crisp. They should be turning golden brown.

Serve the mushrooms with a sprinkling of feta and dill. So simple! Leftover mushrooms can be refrigerated for 4 days.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on July 13th, 2015
Raspberry Clafoutis

Raspberry Clafoutis

Summer is when berries are at their peak, so take advantage of them! Berries are plenty sweet enough to make refreshing pies and cobblers, yet they contain less sugar than just about any other fruit (tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples contain the highest amounts of sugar). Translation? Desserts based on berries can be downright healthy.

In this twist on the classic French clafoutis, for example, I replaced cherries with raspberries, used buckwheat flour instead of all-purpose wheat, and opted for 1/4 cup maple syrup instead of the typical 1/2 cup of white sugar used in most recipes. I also used a higher percentage of milk and eggs to give the clafoutis more satisfying oomph. No reason why you can’t have this for breakfast! Beats the heck outta most boxed cereals in terms of the ratio of sugar to protein and unprocessed fat (to mention just a few nutritional attributes).

I added leavener, too, in the form of baking powder. That little bit of lift makes all the difference — your clafoutis will be pleasantly light and airy, and the raspberries will be especially pretty since they’ll be able to settle comfortably into the batter rather than sinking all the way through to the bottom of the pan. And scattering the raspberries on top of the batter after it’s already in the pan means the raspberries remain attractively whole, plus you can space them apart to prevent clumping. Every slice of this clafoutis has juicy, sweet raspberries!

Raspberry Clafoutis
Makes a 9” pie pan.

1/2 cup raw buckwheat flour OR sorghum OR brown rice flour*
1 tsp. baking powder
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
1/2 stick (4 T.) butter, melted, preferably from grass-fed cows
1 tsp. vanilla
Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon, preferably organic
1/2 cup whole milk, preferably from grass-fed cows
6 oz. raspberries, rinsed and drained well.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9” pie pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour with baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the maple syrup, eggs, butter, vanilla, lemon zest, and milk. Add to the flour mixture and whisk again to thoroughly blend. Pour the batter into the pie pan. Scatter the raspberries evenly onto the batter. (They’ll partially sink.)

Bake for 40 minutes or until top is turning golden and the center is set. Leftover clafoutis can be refrigerated for 4 days.

Enjoy!

* These are gluten-free flours, with buckwheat having the least amount of impact on blood sugar levels. If you’d rather make a wheat-based clafoutis, substitute kamut, spelt, or whole-wheat flour.

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Lisa on July 9th, 2015
Sushi Salad

Sushi Salad

Making sushi is fun, but sometimes you just want to toss everything into a bowl and skip rolling sheets of seaweed. (Or maybe you did what I did and forgot to buy sheets of seaweed. Oops!) That’s okay — just make a sushi salad instead. It has the same ingredients, but a sushi salad is much, much easier to assemble, and you don’t have to be as particular about the way you prepare the ingredients. Rolling, after all, is hard to do with clunky pieces of veggies and fish, but what’s clunky in a sushi roll is pleasantly bite-sized in a salad. And if you do want to include seaweed, you can crumble it into shreds and sprinkle it over the top of your deconstructed sushi roll. In this case, I garnished my salad with sesame seeds and fish roe.

The crucial part about making sushi or sushi salad is purchasing sashimi-grade fish from a reputable grocery store/fish market. I get mine from Noble Fish, a Japanese grocery store in Metro Detroit that has an in-store sushi bar but also sells a wide variety of sashimi-grade fish and seafood for making your own sushi. Do NOT consume raw fish unless it is specifically marked “sashimi-grade” and/or “meant to be eaten raw.”

Sushi Salad

Figuring on 1/4 cup of raw short-grain brown rice per person, prepare the rice. If you like, you can let the rice soak in the water for several hours or overnight to speed up the cooking process — presoaking whole grains cuts their cooking time by about 2/3. That means your brown rice will be done in about 15 minutes rather than 40. (The ratio of water to rice is 2:1 whether you’re presoaking or immediately cooking the rice.)

While the rice cooks, prep your sushi ingredients. I used cubed avocado (1/2 avocado per person), sashimi-grade salmon (1/4 pound or less per person) cut into chunks, and thinly sliced English cucumber (no need to go crazy on the cucumber unless you LOVE crunchy ingredients).

Once your rice is cooked, top it with the avocado, salmon, and cucumber, then garnish with toasted sesame seeds and fish roe if you like. I also drizzled my salad with a dash of gluten-free tamari (if you’re not making gluten-free sushi, go ahead and use standard soy sauce). If you’d like to add a hint of acidity to your sushi salad, drizzle on a small amount of rice wine vinegar. That’s usually stirred into sushi rice; you may want to recreate that effect in your salad. Sashimi-grade fish should be eaten immediately, so don’t plan on leftovers — just make what you plan to serve.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on July 6th, 2015
King Trumpet Mushrooms with Chard & Cucumbers

King Trumpet Mushrooms with Chard & Cucumbers

Having spent the last month happily researching mushrooms for a magazine article I’m working on, I’ve gotten intently interested in “weird” mushrooms. Buttons and creminis and portabellas are great, but branching out into maitakes and enokis and now king trumpets is even more fun. Turns out the latter is the largest example of an oyster mushroom, and like its smaller brethren, king trumpets have a mild flavor and silky, scallop-like texture when cooked. Their stems are much wider than their slightly curved caps, which gives king trumpets an interesting profile when sliced. They’re a great mushroom for stir-frys!

King trumpets (also called king oysters) are more popular in Asian dishes than American dishes, so you might have better chances of finding king trumpets in an Asian grocery store. I found mine at a Japanese market. It’s important to note that like many mushrooms, king trumpets have more than one name — in Asian markets, they often go by their taxonomic name, “eryngii.” King trumpets are easy to spot, though, thanks to their medium-brown caps perched atop bulbous creamy-white stems. The stems are just as tender as the caps, so when you prep king trumpets, just slice off the very bottom of the stems where they cluster at the base.

King Trumpet Mushrooms with Chard & Cucumbers
Makes 2 servings.

4 oz. brown rice spaghetti OR any whole-grain spaghetti of your choice
1/2 pound king trumpet mushrooms, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, cut into not-too-thin slices
8 large Swiss chard leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 of an English cucumber, sliced thinly and each round cut into quarters
1 T. tamari (be sure to use gluten-free tamari if you’re making a gluten-free dish)
Toasted sesame seeds for garnishing
Toasted sesame seed oil for garnishing (optional, but adds a welcome kick of warm nuttiness)

Prepare the spaghetti according to package directions and drain well. While it cooks, melt a generous knob of butter or ghee in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until mushrooms are softened and fragrant. Stir in garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until the garlic is also fragrant.

Stir in chard, cucumber, and tamari and cover. Continue to cook for 8 minutes. Slowly cooking and then steaming the sliced garlic will give it a roasted-garlic effect and will leave the cucumber pleasantly crunchy. Add the drained spaghetti to the pan and toss well to combine.

Serve each portion garnished with sesame seeds and a tiny drizzle of sesame oil — a little toasted sesame oil goes a long way. Leftover noodles can be refrigerated for 4 days.

Enjoy!

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Lisa on July 2nd, 2015
Chocolate Pistachio Loaves

Chocolate Pistachio Loaves

Looking for a new kind of flour to add texture and flavor to your baked goods? You can’t beat nut flours when it comes to either category, plus nut flours (with the exception of chestnut flour) are mostly protein and fat rather than starch. That means that nut flours are inherently more satisfying and don’t send blood sugar levels skyrocketing the way grain flours do. Almond flour is always a winner, but this time, I decided to grind raw pistachios into flour and see how that would work in baked goods.

Turns out that when you combine the slightly coarse pistachio flour — technically a meal — with lightweight cocoa powder and medium-weight buckwheat flour, you get nicely risen loaves with a nutty richness that fills out the chocolate flavor. And if you have a coffee grinder, you can make your own pistachio flour. No fancy equipment needed!

If you don’t have a mini-loaf pan, you can use a standard 8″x 4″ pan, but mini loaves rise much better and bake more quickly thanks to more of their surface area being surrounded by hot oven air … which means they’re more moist and rounded on top. These loaves are spectacular cut into thin slices and toasted, then topped with a slathering of butter. It’s the ultimate breakfast toast!

Chocolate Pistachio Loaves
Makes four 6″x 3″ mini loaves.

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably non-Dutched
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour OR sorghum flour OR brown rice flour*
3/4 cup raw pistachios
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Dash of sea salt
1 1/2 sticks butter (12 T.) at room temperature, preferably from grass-fed cows
4 T. coconut oil, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. coffee extract (optional, but nice)
1/2 cup palm sugar OR sucanat
5 eggs, preferably from pastured hens
3/4 cup buttermilk, preferably from grass-fed cows**
1/2 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a mini loaf pan (mine has space for four 6″x3″ loaves) and set aside.

Place the cocoa powder, buckwheat flour, pistachios, baking powder and soda, and salt in a food processor. Process until the pistachios have become meal and you have a mixture that is fairly fine-crumbed.

Place the butter, coconut oil, and extracts in a large bowl. Cream for at least 1 minute or until fluffy. Add the palm sugar and beat again. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add half of the cocoa powder mixture. Beat well. Add the buttermilk and maple and beat well. Add the remaining cocoa mixture and beat until smooth.

Scoop batter into the waiting pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until the tops are nicely cracked and an inserted toothpick comes out clean and warm. Let cool on a wire rack.

Completely cooled loaves can be kept at a cool room temperature for 4 days, refrigerated for 1 week, or frozen for 2 months. These mini loaves are especially nice cut into thin slices and toasted. They’re rather like sweet, chocolatey versions of pumperknickel.

Enjoy!

* These are gluten-free flours; buckwheat has the lowest glycemic load of the three (it’s far lower than wheat flours, too). If you’d rather make wheat-based loaves, substitute 1 1/2 cups of kamut, spelt, and/or whole-wheat flour.

** If you don’t have buttermilk, stir a squirt of fresh lemon juice into 3/4 cup whole milk and let it stand and thicken for 5 minutes before using.

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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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