Saturday, July 24, 2010

Strawberry Clafoutis

When we got back from vacation, the strawberries were weighing down their stems. Huge, red, fragrant strawberries calling out to me from across the garden. There were enough ripe for me to pick six of them right then, and still leave many to ripen to perfection on the stems. Heart-pumping, for this amateur gardener! Though they were luscious enough to eat immediately, I actually had enough to make a recipe!

With the Nourished Kitchen's Blueberry Clafoutis fresh in my web-browsing memory, I headed to the kitchen.

Don't let the French name intimidate you. This is a very simple custard that is so easy to make. It seems like a treat or even a dessert, but with the cream and eggs, it's nourishing enough to be a filling breakfast (though very difficult to share... ;-). Drizzle with a little extra cream, or, to take it the next level ~ brunch with friends or dessert, pile fresh-whipped cream on top.

Strawberry Clafoutis ~ for 2 or 3
(using strawberries and eggs from our own backyard. that feels really cool. :-)
With ingredients like these, how can you go wrong?!

Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a baking dish or pie pan with lots of butter.
Arrange artfully in the dish:
about 2 cups ripe strawberries, halved, then sliced
Whisk together:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
whole milk to thin the batter, as needed ~ it should be like crepe batter: thin.
3 pastured eggs
1/3 cup sprouted spelt flour
1 tbsp arrowroot powder
2-3 tbsp sucanat
1/4 tsp seasalt
1/2 tsp vanilla
Pour to cover strawberries.
Bake till golden and crisp around the edge, firm in the center ~ how long depends on the size of the dish; ours took about 30 minutes.
(I rarely include photos of finished foods. A) because I am busy eating, and B) because I don't like how the photos usually come out. This one is passable; I like the arrangement of the strawberry slices most.)

Organic dairy is recommended;
from a local, small dairy's better;

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wholesome Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies. And what's more satisfying and comforting than homemade cookies fresh out of the oven? I'm not sure. After I bake a few to eat, I scoop the rest out onto parchment-lined cookie sheets. Then I freeze them, and store the frozen cookie dough blobs in a ziplock bag in the freezer to have just a few at a time whenever I want. Since I haven't eaten sugar in such a long time, it doesn't take much to get my fix. Understandably, Anjali loves cookies, too, so I have been adding the chocolate to individual cookies (for me) right before bake time so that she can have some chocolate-free. Come to think of it, she would probably love the addition of a few raisins in hers! Baking small frozen cookie dough blobs takes hardly any more minutes to bake than room-temperature dough. But, oh! How gratifying!

Here is my more wholesome version of the Joy of Cooking's "Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe.
Whisk together dry ingredients:
1 cup sprouted spelt flour (or bulgar wheat, freshly ground!)*
1/2 tsp baking soda
Blend till fluffy:
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup (or more, to taste; remember: I don't like food very sweet) Sucanat or Rapadura sugar**
Add, and blend till well combined:
1 pasture-raised egg
1/2 tsp seasalt
1 tsp vanilla
Add, in increments, dry to wet ingredients.
Drop by the spoonful onto a greased, or parchment lined, cookie sheet.
Press into each cookie dough blob right before baking
(or after a few minutes in the oven, if the cookie dough blobs are frozen):
1/2 square (or more) high quality chocolate per cookie, chopped into pieces ~ right now for cookies I love Alter Eco's Dark Chocolate Velvet, with its "delicate touch of milk"
Bake at 375 until golden ~ soft in the middle and a little crisp around the edges.

*Even whole grain flours are not nutritiously sound unless they have been soaked overnight with an acid (like vinegar or whey), sprouted, or soured, as in sourdough. Taking the grain through these processes mimics germination. This activates the seed to release its nutrients and de-activates its anti-nutrients, called phytates. When eaten, phytates can spark or exacerbate digestive problems, reactions and sensitivities, and actually pull nutrients out of the body to process the grain. (Scientific details about that here.)
Sprouted flour is really nice to work with ~ it's light and fluffy, not heavy and sawdusty like some whole grain flours, and works well when converting many regular recipes to healthier versions. It doesn't compromise texture. It can be found online, but is rather pricey (though not bad if used only for the occasional cookie or biscuit recipe; for other things, like breads, just soak non-sprouted flour overnight). I use spelt instead of wheat much of the time for health reasons since it doesn't have as much gluten. For cookies and biscuits it doesn't seem to matter. But fortunately, if you don't already have sprouted flour in your freezer, bulgar wheat ~ used to make tabbouleh ~ is sprouted, too. And you can find it at most natural food stores; grind it at home for this recipe using a good coffee grinder (or grain mill or high-quality blender).
**These sweeteners are cane sugar with the natural minerals left intact (Rapadura is a brand name), making the occasional sweet treat more nutrient dense.

As always, I recommend organic ingredients. If you can buy them from people you know and trust, all the better!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

another try at sourdough

My sourdough culture is nice and bubbly and active these days. I haven't made any full-on sourdough in a while, as it takes more planning than I've been able to muster; I usually end up supplementing with some dry-active yeast. This loaf was in honor of our chickens ~ I used a couple cups of their seeds in the dough. They eat a wholesome mix of millet, flax, spelt, wheat, and sunflower seeds (maybe and sometimes others) ~ all whole grain and organic. I ground some into flour that I added to the starter, and I soaked some whole in water with whey for several days, and added it to the final dough, which was largely spelt and (whole) wheat. Then I covered the loaves in sesame seeds (because I love sesame seeds). Although the starter was very active, the dough didn't expand as I expected, and the loaves hardly expanded at all. Despite this (including how long I let it sit in hopes of rising), the final product tasted delicious, though ~ the sourness was distinct, but not overpowering. The whole seeds, however, which I expected to be totally soft and chewy, were as hard as if I'd never soaked them! They felt like little bits of gravel ~ so much so that Austin asked whether I'd accidentally included some of the oyster shell that the chickens also eat! As tasty as the bread was, I couldn't eat much because it felt as if I might break a tooth.
So, sourdough = good; seeds = bad, and I'm really not sure why.
But the photo is nice, don't you think?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Farmers' Market Love

Here's another shout-out to the farmers' markets. I still love them and they are still a highlight of my week. Sometimes I attend all three Berkeley farmers' markets in one week. It's just that good. Here are some outrageously red radishes I saw at Blue Heron Farm's booth, where I get my weekly fix of baby lettuces.

Outrageous, no?