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Saturday, August 30, 2008

CRABAPPLES-- THE FORGOTTEN FRUIT

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Crabapples are tart and tangy, and beautiful to look at. Their red or pink skins turn any product you make with them a gorgeous hot pink, too! They also grow well in my area (Western BC, Canada). Unfortunately, you need to have a tree growing in your yard, or know someone who does, because they are an old-fashioned fruit and you can't find them in stores. I sincerely hope that they come into fashion again, because I see lots of possibilities for this fruit beyond jelly and spiced or pickled crabapples-- chutney, pies, sauce, fillings, juice....

The trees evidently do well even when stressed for water. It's hard to find information about the nutritional and/or medicinal benefits of crabapple, but I was sure there would be some. After all, they contain pectin, which is excellent for helping clear arteries, and fiber, and that pink color must be a source of antioxidants! Apples are one of the best sources of antioxidants, so it stands to reason that crabapples would be, too.

Brazilian researchers place apple second only to cranberries in phenolic content and antioxidant activity, so crabapples would also fall into that category. In other research, when several fruits were tested ‘in vitro’ on human liver-cancer cells, apple rated third in antiproliferation activity. They concluded that “dietary cancer prevention is proposed to provide a new alternative biomarker for future epidemiological studies in dietary cancer prevention and health promotion.”
‘Antioxidant and antiproliferative activities of common fruits.’ Sun J, et al. Dept. of Food Science, Cornell Uv., Ithaca, New York, USA. J Agric Food Chem. 2002 Dec 4; 50(25):7449-54.

That tartness in crabapples indicates lots of vitamin C, as well.

A friend gave me a big bag of crabapples last week, and I finally got around to using them. I don't like making jelly and I was short on time, so I just picked through them and cooked them all, whole, in two large pots with some water until they started to burst. Then I ran them through my trusty food mill and ended up with a 20 cups of hot pink pulp! (Unfortunately, I didn't weigh the bag before I cooked them!)





I decided to use 12 cups to make a batch of crabapple butter in my slow-cooker, 2 cups to make a sorbet, and I froze the remainder for later. Both experiments turned out very well! So, if you can find someone who wants some crabapples taken off their hands, take them up on it!


The crabapple butter mixture before cooking





Printable Recipe
BRYANNA'S MAHOGANY SLOW-COOKER CRABAPPLE BUTTER

Yield: 12 cups/ 6 pints
This is the most beautiful, tangy, mahogany-colored fruit butter! It would be delicious as a change from cranberry sauce with seitan roasts and cutlets, or on sandwiches and wraps. It's east to make in a slow-cooker because it doesn't require much attention and it will not scorch. I go easy on the spices because they can get too strong after long cooking.

12 cups raw crabapple pulp (see text above)
5 cups sugar
2 medium organic oranges, grated zest and juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/8 teaspoon ground fresh nutmeg
3/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice

Combine all of the ingredients in a 6 qt. slow cooker and turn to HIGH. Cook with the lid off for 8-10 hours, or until the mixture thickens and cooks down by half.

Stir the mixture throughout the cooking, every hour or so.

When done, the mixture should mound gently in a spoon, and when you place a spoonful of it on a plate, no liquid should exude from it. The mixture will be shiny and mahogany-colored.

You can water-bath can the butter for 15 minutes in half-pint or pint jars.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 2 Tablespoons):
55.6 calories; 0% calories from fat; 0.0g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 0.7mg sodium; 29.8mg potassium; 14.4g carbohydrates; 0.5g fiber; 10.4g sugar; 13.9g net carbs; 0.1g protein; 1.0 points.


Sparkling Crabapple-Cider Sorbet  and fresh green grapes from my stepson's garden, sprinkled with rosewater


Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S SPARKLING CRABAPPLE-CIDER SORBET


Servings: 8
Yield: 1 qt. 

This is super-easy to make and not only beautiful, but tangy and delicious, too!

2 cups raw crabapple pulp (see text above)
12 oz (341 mL) dry (alcoholic) or sweet (non-alcoholic) sparkling apple, peach or pear cider
2/3 to 1 cup sugar (light organic granulated) (amount depends on how tangy you like it!)
Optional: 2 teaspoons Instant Clear Jel OR 1/4 teaspoon Xanthan gum or Guar gum  (See this post about Instant Clear Jel.)

Blend all of the ingredients in the blender until smooth. If the mixture is not cold, refrigerate it until it is. Process in your ice cream maker according to the directions in your manual. Scoop it out of the machine and place in a covered container. Freeze until firm before serving.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup serving)
: 112.9 calories; 0% calories from fat; 0.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 2.6mg sodium; 101.4mg potassium; 29.1g carbohydrates; 0.8g fiber; 16.7g sugar; 28.3g net carbs; 0.1g protein; 2.1 points.


Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

EATING HOMEGROWN

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Denman Island corn and our own tomatoes and basil for lunch...




BC blueberry pancakes (made with my vegan pancake mix)


Zucchini Bisque-- delicious and uses up 2 1/2 lbs. of zucchini in one recipe!

MAKING APPLESAUCE THE EASY WAY:

I use a food mill or mouli. There are a variety of them on the market-- mine is this one. Here's an all-stainless-steel one.

For smooth applesauce, you just wash the apples and cut them into quarters-- no peeling (unless there are bad spots), not coring, not stemming, even! Toss them in a big pot with a little water and cook until soft.

Then you place the food mill (I use the plate with the larger holes) over a large pot or bowl and feed the cooked apples through, cranking the handle (it's not hard). When you're done, you have the seeds, stems (if any) and skins left in the mill and a big pot of smooth applesauce! Sweeten if desired and can or freeze. (I freeze mine in little containers to use primarily in low-fat baking.  (In recipes that call for oil, you can use use approximately 3 parts smooth unsweetened applesauce to 1 part oil, but be sure to use pastry or cake flour, or low-gluten or GF flours, for best results. This doesn't work as well in recipes calling for solid fats, but you can experiment. You can also experiment with using no oil, but sometimes the baked goods come out a little too chewy that way!)






What's left behind...


The results!

Here's one of the recipes I mentioned in my blog the post before last:



Printable Recipe

SUMMER BULGUR AND GREEN BEAN SALAD (with my changes--BCG)
by Tyler Florence for Food & Wine magazine
This was a lovely salad and simple to make. I made some changes according to what I had in the house.

2 cups boiling water
2 cups medium (#2) bulgur (11 ounces)
1 pound thin green beans
Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved (I just used slightly larger red tomatoes, cut in half-- BCG)
1/2 cup roasted salted almonds, coarsely crushed (I used toasted unsalted slivered almonds--BCG)
1/4 cup coarsely shredded mint leaves (I had no mint, so used fresh basil instead-- BCG)
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large, heatproof bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgur. Cover the bowl and let stand until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil over high heat until just tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water, then pat dry. Cut the green beans crosswise.

In a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice and olive oil. Fluff the bulgur with 2 forks. Add the green beans, tomatoes, almonds, mint (or basil) and lemon dressing. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Transfer the bulgur salad to a large serving bowl and serve lightly chilled or at room temperature.

The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Add the tomatoes, almonds and mint (or basil) just before serving.
Servings: 8

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
237.8 calories; 37% calories from fat; 10.2g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 12.1mg sodium; 371.0mg potassium; 33.9g carbohydrates; 9.4g fiber; 2.1g sugar; 24.5g net carbs; 6.8g protein; 4.8 points.

Hope you're having a good summer!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

BIG CHEWY CHOCOLATE CHUNK & PECAN COOKIES (WHOLE GRAIN!)

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As you might have noticed, I haven't done many desserts lately. I'm trying not to eat them very often! However, last night, despite the heat, I had a craving for a big, chewy cookie with chocolate chunks and whole pecans in it. So I made my recipe for chocolate chip cookies from my book "The Fiber for Life Cookbook" (it contains less fat than most recipes and is made with wholegrain flours), but I made fewer, larger, thicker cookies and I used whole chocolate couvertures (round "buttons" of chocolate for bakers and candymakers-- I used Camino organic, fair trade chocolate couvertures that I got from a wholesale supplier) and whole pecan halves. You could use chunks of your favorite vegan, organic, fair trade chocolate instead.(Chart of available fair trade, organic chocolate.)

I baked a small batch of them in my little countertop Cuisinart Brick Oven and it was just what I was craving! I baked the rest of the cookies early this morning, while it was cool.

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S BIG CHEWY LOW-FAT, HIGH-FIBER CHOCOLATE CHUNK AND PECAN COOKIES
Yield: 16 large cookies 

6 tablespoons vegan butter (not whipped)-- try my palm oil-free vegan "Buttah"
3/4 cup light organic granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar or Sucanat
1/2 cup water blended for several minutes with
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
(this makes a "gloppy" mixture like eggs-- use a blender)
2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
DRY MIX:
3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran
1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
ADDITIONS:
1 1/3 cups semisweet or bittersweet dark organic chocolate chunks or couvertures
1 cup pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with cooking parchment. Beat the Earth Balance, sugars, flaxseed egg replacer, non-dairy milk, and vanilla in a food processor or with an electric mixer until smooth.

In a medium bowl, mix the Dry Mix ingredients, whisking thoroughly. Add the processed mixture and and the chocolate and pecans, and mix well to make a firm dough. Chill the dough (covered) until firm enough to handle.

Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces, and roll them roughly into balls with damp hands. Place 8 on each cookie sheet, leaving space between. Press them down to about 3/8" or 1/2" thick. Bake 10 minutes, then turn the pans around from front to back (and, if necessary, shift the ones on the lower shelf to the top and vice versa) and bake 10 more minutes.

Remove from pans and cool on racks. Store airtight after cooling thoroughly, and  freeze if you aren't using them up within a day or two. Low-fat cookies don't keep as well as the high-fat variety.


Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per cookie):
294.7 calories; 36% calories from fat; 12.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 229.7mg sodium; 173.9mg potassium; 44.9g carbohydrates; 4.6g fiber; 19.8g sugar; 40.2g net carbs; 4.7g protein; 6.2 points.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

WHAT WE HAD FOR LUNCH TODAY (FATTOUSH!) AND SOME PREVIEWS

Best Blog Tips It has been a very busy week, so, for this blog post, I'm giving you one favorite recipe and some photo previews of other meals and dishes we've been eating, the recipes for which I will post very soon!




"Fattoush (Arabic: فتوش ), often pronounced "fadash", is a Levantine salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread. Fattoush salad allows cooks to use seasonal produce by mixing different vegetables and herbs according to taste, and also to make use of pitas that have gone stale. The vegetables are cut into relatively large pieces compared to Tabbouleh which requires ingredients to be finely chopped. Sumac is usually used to give Fattoush its sour taste." From Wikipedia

I first tasted this salad at a Lebanese restaurant in Montreal and I was hooked for life! (Though usually encountered in Lebanese restaurants in North America, the salad is popular also in Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Israel and Iraq.) It is perfect for summer meals. The ingredient that makes it special is ground sumac, which is a berry from the Mediterranean Sumac tree. Sumac is deliciously tangy and sour with hints of lemon. Because of its flavor it is used as a souring agent instead of, or in addition to, citrus juice or vinegar. Sumac is found in Middle Eastern cuisine and it is an essential ingredient in Za'atar (a delicious spice mixture of sumac, sesame, thyme and sometimes other herbs).

Printable Recipe

BRYANNA'S FATTOUSH (LEVANTINE PITA BREAD AND TOMATO SALAD WITH HERBS)
Servings: 6
(Adapted from recipes in my books The Almost No-Fat Holiday Cookbook and The Fiber for life Cookbook.)

The seasonings of this salad will remind you of Tabbouleh, however it is distinctly different, and uniquely delicious! While it was originally invented as a way to use up stale pita bread, you can toast fresh bread for the same effect (sort of like making croutons). I often make a whole meal of this salad. Ground sumac can be found in Middle Eastern grocery stores (or see "Cooking Tips" below for online sources). If you can find it, add the optional arugula (a peppery green leafy vegetable also known as rocket) and purslane (you may have to grow the last two yourself-- they are easy to grow), for a more authentic taste.

Dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice(or bottled organic)
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tsp. ground sumac (see "Cooking Tips" below for where to buy online)
Salad:
1 large (10") wholewheat pita bread (or two smaller ones, 5-6" each), split and toasted, and broken into bite- size pieces (my recipe here)
1 medium English (burpless or hothouse) cucumber, diced (the kind with an edible skin), or the equivalent in small yellow lemon cucumbers
(see here for types of cucumbers that don't need peeling)
2 large firm, ripe tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (Italian or flat-leaf, if possible)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 head crisp Romaine lettuce, washed, dried and torn up
OPTIONAL: 1 red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped or sliced
1 cup chopped purslane
1 cup torn arugula or watercress leaves, or a mixture
(other greens to use in place of purslane and/or arugula would be Belgian endive, escarole, young dandelion leaves, young mustard greens, kale, chicory or radicchio-- or even an organic baby salad mix)

To make the Dressing, mix the dressing ingredients together with a blender, or with a whisk, or shake them in a tightly-sealed jar.

Just before serving the salad, place the lettuce in a large bowl. Add the remaining vegetables and herbs, and the broken-up toasted pita bread. Add the Dressing and toss well. Divide the salad between 6 plates and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
184.9 calories; 47% calories from fat; 10.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 307.2mg sodium; 610.0mg potassium; 22.5g carbohydrates; 5.5g fiber; 4.6g sugar; 17.0g net carbs; 4.8g protein; 3.7 points.

Cooking Tips
SUMAC

Sumac can be purchased at North African or Middle Eastern markets, or online spice vendors, and: amazon.com

In Canada:
www.thespicetrader.ca/


PHOTO PREVIEWS OF DISHES AND MEALS WE'VE HAD THIS LAST WEEK (Some recipes to come)--



Bulgur and Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes


Curried Soy Curls™ and Mango Salad


The salads pictured above with homemade pita bread


Bumbleberry (mixed berries) and Merlot Sorbet (a Julie Hasson recipe)


Ingredients for Vietnamese Summer Rolls (salad rolls) made with barbecued tofu and served with spicy peanut sauce


Some new ways to froth soymilk for cappuccinos!

Hope you're having a great summer!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

GREENS, GREENS, GREENS, AND SOME LENTILS, TOO!

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The Italian "black kale" (sometimes known as "Tuscan kale" or "dinosaur kale") patch in our tiny garden

I have to confess-- I am a terrible gardener! I love harvesting the fruits of the garden, but not growing them. However, we live on an island of gardeners, so there's no problem getting fresh, organic produce this time of year. But, DH (who also doesn't like gardening much) always grows tomatoes and a few other things in our small garden. This year, the greens are just unbelievable! The kale and chard (2 kinds of each) are unstoppable! We are eating them almost every day, in large quantities. That's a good thing-- in my opinion, you can't eat enough greens!

I usually just stir-fry ribbons of either one with a little olive oil, salt and garlic (no liquid-- they exude their own) until wilted-- absolutely divine! but yesterday I wanted to try something different. So I found an unusual recipe for a pilaf with more greens than grains ( 1 lb. greens) in it and decided to give it a try.

The recipe is from Food & Wine magazine, but created by Paula Wolfert, author several books, two of which are well-loved-- "The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean" and "Mediterranean Grains and Greens". These books are not vegetarian, but there are lots of recipes and ideas for vegans, and the books are highly readable.

The recipe has an unusual, but easy, cooking method. Very little water (1/2 a cup) is added, but the mixture steams slowly and uses the natural liquid from the greens to moisten the dish, so it's very nutritious, as well as delicious. I believe it's a Turkish dish.

One of the ingredients needed for the dish is a Turkish red pepper paste, and I used a quick recipe of Ms. Wolfert's.

I wanted something to go with the pilaf, so I chose a recipe for Turkish Red Lentil "Burgers" (patties, really), that I had made before, from fatfreevegan.com. I added a sauce utilizing the red pepper paste. (Recipes below.) It was a wonderful summer dinner!



Not a great shot-- sorry! When I microwaved the leftovers today for lunch, the bulgur expanded some more, so maybe I should have let it cook longer. But it was good both ways!

Printable Recipe

PAULA WOLFERT'S BULGUR PILAF WITH MIXED GREENS AND GARLIC (FROM FOOD & WINE magazine)
Serves 4

NOTE: Unless you have some ready-made, make the Quick Red Pepper Paste (recipe below) before starting this recipe.


The ingredients

1 small head of garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
salt
1 lb onions, finely chopped (I used a food processor--BCG)
1 lb mixed sweet and earthy greens, stemmed and finely shredded (such as Tuscan kale, Swiss chard and beet greens)
1 cup coarse bulgur (#3)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you might be able to get away with less--BCG)
2 1/2 teaspoons Turkish red pepper paste (see below)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
green onions and lemon wedges, for serving

In a flattish bowl, mash the chopped garlic with 1 teaspoon of salt, using a fork.

In a large, deep pot, combine the mashed garlic with the onions, mixed greens, bulgur, olive oil, red pepper paste, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Season with salt.

Using your hands, work the water into the bulgur until it is absorbed. Scoop the mixture into the pot.



Cover the greens with a paper towel.

Set the saucepan over low heat, cover and steam the greens and bulgur until they're very tender, about 30 minutes. (My stove controls have numbers 0-9. I cooked this on #8 for part of the time, and then #7. I stirred the mixture halfway through, since the bottom layer was cooking faster than the top. The bulgur should have expanded quite a bit. BCG)

Serve the pilaf hot or cold, garnished with the green onions and lemon wedges.

Printable Recipe

PAULA WOLFERT'S QUICK RED PEPPER PASTE (FROM "COOKING OF THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN")

Makes about 3/4 cup

1 1/4 lbs. red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
1 small hot pepper, trimmed, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch sugar

Grind everything in a blender or food processor until as smooth as possible.

Scoop into a medium Pyrex bowl and cook on HIGH for 5 minutes. Stir and Cook 5 minutes more. Repeat until it reduces to about 3/4 cup. It will keep about 4-5 days in the refrigerator, but you can freeze "blobs" of it and store them in the freezer in a zip-lock bag.


Red Lentil patties ready to cook

Printable Recipe

KIRMIZI MERCIMEK KOFTESI (RED LENTIL BURGERS), MY WAY
Adapted from http://oldsite.fatfreevegan.com/Meat_subs/kirmizi.shtml

1 cup red lentils
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 vegetable bouillon cube (enough for 1 cup water-- this might be half a cube depending on the brand) OR 1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
1/4 cup fresh, chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Simmer the lentils with the bouillon and water for about 15 minutes. When the lentils are cooked, all the water should be absorbed. If the lentils are watery, let them sit to absorb the rest of the moisture. When the lentils are cooked and relatively cooled (I scooped them onto a plate and put them in the freezer for a little while--BCG), add the parsley, garlic, onion, and spices. Shape the lentil mixture into small patties.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with oil from a pump-sprayer. Cook the patties at medium heat until crusty on both sides. Be careful turning-- they are fragile. I served these with a mixture of my low-fat vegan mayonnaise mixed to taste with some of the Quick Turkish Red Pepper Paste (recipe above).

Enjoy!