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Archive for the ‘Apples’ Category

 

This was another farmer’s market-inspired combination.  Both of our minds boggled at the most gorgeous celery either one of us had ever seen the other day at a local organic farm’s stand.  It wasn’t the usual anemic light green that we’ve become accustomed to, but rather was a vibrant and deep green that begged to be consumed!  [Check out the color of the celery leaves in the photo above.]  We also picked up a couple large handfuls of some beautiful organic green beans from Pigman’s Farm. 

I’ve always loved serving steamed green beans with a sprinkle of celery seed and it occurred to me that I should combine the actual celery stalk with the green beans in a sauté.  To sweeten the combination I added some pan-seared apple and local figs and then added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to perk it all up.  This was delicious!

 

Figgy Green Beans with Celery and Apple

Ingredients:

8 figs, quartered

2 cups green beans, cut into inch-long pieces

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 apple, cut into thin slices

Olive oil

Fresh lemon juice

Celery seed

Sea salt

Directions:

Pan sear the apple slices until slightly caramelized in a drizzle of olive oil.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Add green beans to boiling water and cook for 4 minutes or until just slightly underdone.  While the beans are cooking, add the celery and another small bit of olive oil to the pan and sauté.  After a couple of minutes add in the fig quarters.  When the beans are ready, transfer with a slotted spoon into the pan with the celery and figs.  Return the apple slices and mix well until heated through.  Sprinkle on the celery seeds, salt and add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Serve warm.

 

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These flavors went so well together and that burst of heat from the chili peppers is tempered by the sweetness of the glaze.   This is a great way to celebrate summertime green beans which are overflowing at  farmer’s markets this time of year.

 

Thai-Spiced Tempeh with Green Beans in an Apple and Lemongrass Glaze

Ingredients:

8 oz tempeh

2 cups organic unfiltered apple juice

1 lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed and reserved, inner stalk sliced thinly

⅓ cup thinly sliced leek or onion

1 Thai chili, seeded and sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup cilantro

1 inch-long piece of fresh ginger, finely diced

Juice of ½ a lime

1 T ground flax seed

1 T light miso

¼ cup ponzu [without bonito] or tamari/soy sauce

Sesame seeds to garnish

Directions:

Place the apple juice on medium heat.  Add the outer layer of the lemongrass to the juice and reduce by one half.  

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

While the juice is reducing, add the leek, chili, garlic, cilantro, ginger and flax seed to a food processor and pulse until well combined.  Add the tempeh, ponzu and lime juice.  Pulse and use a spatula to reincorporate any of the mix that has climbed the processor walls.  Let stand for 10 minutes so the flax meal can hydrate.

Roll into marble-sized balls and place upon a non-stick baking sheet or Silpat.  Lightly spray with coconut oil and bake for 30 minutes until browned.

When the tempeh is halfway finished, put some water on to boil in a steamer.  Steam the green beans for 5-7 minutes until cooked through but still crisp.  Remove the lemongrass stalk from the apple juice reduction and stir in the miso.   Add the green beans and tempeh and toss gently.

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Cherries, especially the tart variety,  are receiving a great deal of attention these days in the athletic world due to their ability to mitigate pain after exercise.  This little fruit is packed full of anti-inflammatory anthocyanins as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which are important to the health of your vision. They are also, interestingly enough,  a good source of the calming antioxidant, melatonin.

I use a great deal of fruit and vegetable juices in my cooking to impart both flavor and nutrients to our food, so when Cheribundi approached us and asked if we’d try out their cherry juice, we eagerly agreed.  This sauce, coupled with the yuba, was savory and sweet, tangy and lip-smacking good.   In short, it had umami.   The slaw, absolutely necessary for any mustardy Carolina-style barbecue-sauced dish, was the perfect fresh and raw accompaniment. 

 

Pulled Yuba in a Cherry Barbecue Sauce with Sesame Slaw

Ingredients:

1 cup tart cherry juice [I used Cheribundi’s Tru Cherry juice.]

½ cup dried sour cherries

¼ cup yellow mustard

¼ cup Dijon mustard

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup dark brown sugar

3 T tomato paste

1 T Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

1 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper

6 oz dried bean curd sheets [1 package]

Peanut oil

Directions:

Add a drizzle of peanut oil to a pan and heat over medium.  Add the tomato paste and spread around the pan to caramelize and rid the paste of the tinned flavor.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the yuba and dried cherries, and bring to a low simmer.  Cook for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

While the sauce is simmering, soak the sheets of yuba in hot tap water to hydrate.  Once pliable, drain and roll into a tight bundle.  Cut into small shreds across the roll. 

Add the shredded yuba and dried cherries to the sauce.  Mix well to incorporate and set aside to marinate.  The longer you leave it, the more flavor the yuba will absorb.  To serve, simply return to the heat and warm through.  I served this sandwich-style on a toasted ciabatta bun.

 

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Sesame Slaw

Ingredients:

snow pea pods, julienned

red bell pepper, julienned

apple, julienned

golden beet, shaved with a vegetable peeler

tahini

fresh lemon juice and zest

dark sesame oil

black sesame seeds

Directions:

I did not include amounts because it depends upon how much you wish to make.  I simply added equal portions of each fruit and vegetable ingredient and then used a 2:1 ratio of tahini to lemon juice as the dressing with a few drops of dark sesame oil added.  Season with sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper.  Garnish with sesame seeds.

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We spent part of this past weekend in a cow pasture on an organic produce farm in the bucolic Nisqually Valley near Olympia, Washington.  The reason we, and a dozen or so others, were there was the offer to join a  nettle-picking with our local Co-op.  The full spectrum was represented in our motley crew of foragers; freegans, vegans and omnivores; college students,  post-grads and free spirits; Germans, Japanese and garden-variety American mutt.  Yet, as diverse as we were, we were also a collective that was solidly unified in our desire to gather greens from the Earth in order to feed ourselves well. 

This Earth Day has me thinking about that pasture and the salad of diversity that grew there.  It was thriving with plants that we, as Americans, have declared war upon after deciding they were intruding upon our plasticized lives.  It’s a funny thing that we humans do.  We give something a name and so, therefore, it must be.  We have these teeth that are in the same position, spacially, as a carnivore’s fangs so let’s call them canines.  Would you depend upon these mock canines in a true tooth and nail fight to the death with a carnivorous foe?  We have this plant that is disorderly and won’t bend to our will so, therefore, we declare it to be a weed and seek to destroy it. 

Food for thought, literally.  Happy Earth Day.

 

 

Chilled Nettle Soup

This is a very nice and light springtime soup.  It’s packed full of phytonutrients and antioxidants that’ll nourish your body and set your mind to daydreaming of sunshine and the season’s bounty.

Ingredients:

1 cup blanched nettle leaves, packed [You could substitute spinach.]

2 cups vegetable stock

1/8 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg

sea salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Add blanced nettles to a blender along with the stock.  Blend until smooth.  Add nutmeg and season to taste.  Chill in the refrigerator or serve at room temperature.  [If you want a thicker soup, you could add some of the soft interior of a fresh baguette and blend along with the greens, as you would in a gazpacho.]

 

 

Apple Dandelion Slaw

Along with nettles, we picked dandelion flowers and greens.  I wanted to incorporate them into this weed-based meal and this is what I came up with.

Ingredients:

1/2 an apple cut into matchsticks

2 flower’s worth of organic dandelion petals

4 large organic dandelion leaves, cut into a chiffonade

2 tsp raw sunflower seeds

fresh lemon juice

sea salt, to taste

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Simply toss all ingredients together and squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the slaw.

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Apple and Pear Strudel

Ingredients:

1 apple, peeled and cubed

1 pear, peeled and cubed

juice and zest of one lemon [chop up the zest so there aren’t long strands]

⅓ cup turbinado sugar, divided

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup raw walnuts, chopped

¼ cup raw sunflower seeds

⅓ cup raisins

1 T whole wheat flour

6 sheets phyllo dough, thawed

walnut oil

pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Add cinnamon to the sugar and mix well.  Remove 2 T and set aside.

Add apple, pear, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon sugar, walnuts, sunflower seeds, raisins, flour and salt to a bowl and mix well.

Lay a sheet of phyllo upon a baking sheet and, with your fingertips or a brush, dot it gently with walnut oil.  Add another sheet atop the first and repeat.  Repeat once again and then sprinkle with 1 T of the reserved cinnamon sugar.  Add another sheet of phyllo atop the sugared sheet and repeat the oiling process.  Add two more sheets, oiling them the same way.  [You should now have 3 oiled sheets of phyllo on either side of a layer of cinnamon sugar.]

Spread the filling out in a line, length-wise about 3 inches from the bottom edge of the sheet.  Roll the phyllo over the top of the filling and tuck in the sides as you would while wrapping a present.  Continue to roll until all the pastry has been used.  Set the strudel seam side down and gently rub the entirety with walnut oil.  Dust the remaining cinnamon sugar over the top.

Bake for 30 minutes,  or until the phyllo is golden brown on the edges.

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Our largest local farmer’s market opened this past week and we ventured down there yesterday to prowl the produce.  The selection is still a bit sparse, given that spring has only just begun, yet we were able to find some interesting things.  The organic apples were gorgeous and crisp, as they should be considering that this is Washington state, and greens abounded.  We found some locally gathered stinging nettles and I couldn’t resist the novelty of them.  I’ve had nettle tea in the past but had never prepared, let alone eaten, a nettle.  The other food that made me stop and consider it was rhubarb.  I’ve always believed that I hated rhubarb because of a rather nasty piece of pie I once had, but I forced myself to gather up some of those gorgeous ruby-colored stalks and hand them to the vendor to purchase.  I knew that I could create something with these fearsome stalks that would be tasty, though I wasn’t sure yet just what that would be.  So there I was with organic Pink Lady apples, stinging nettles, rhubarb and Brussel’s Sprouts.  What to do…what to do?

Savory Rhubarb and Apple Sauce with Nettles

Ingredients:

3 apples, divided [2 grated and one diced]

8 stalks rhubarb [3 cups, sliced]

1 lb nettles* [You could substitute any green.  Spinach would work well.]

10 Brussel’s Sprouts

2 cups unfiltered apple juice

1 T light miso paste

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

salt and pepper, to taste

soba noodles

Directions:

Grate two apples and slice the rhubarb.  Transfer to a non-reactive pot and add in the apple juice.  Simmer until the apple and rhubarb dissolve.  Add in the miso paste and chili garlic sauce. 

Nettles should not be handled by bare hand until they have been cooked when the sting is no longer a worry.  Using gloves and kitchen shears, cut the leaves from the stalks.  Add to a pot of simmering water and cook for 10 minutes.  Drain. 

While the sauce is perking away, slice the Brussel’s sprouts in half and add to a pan containing a drizzle of olive oil.  Pan roast on each side until browned.  Add the diced apple to the pan and roast in the same manner as the sprouts. [If your pan is large enough, you can pan roast the sprouts and apple together.]

When the vegetables are about 5 minutes away from being ready, add the soba noodles to boiling water and cook.

Serve the noodles with the sauce and top with the greens, sprouts and apples.

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*I can now say,  with amazement, that stinging nettles are my favorite green.  They are incredibly tasty and have a great hearty texture.  It’s no wonder, these greens are 40% protein! 

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