Thursday, December 9, 2010

Spice Balls (Dutch Pepernoten)

This cookie ball is eaten all over the Netherlands from November through December. Santa's elves throw them to kids in their parade, they are stocked in every grocery store aisle, bowls appear in every office. You just can't get enough. They are a small, dry cookie that crunches in your mouth. This is by far the best and simplest recipe I know for a great winter treat.

Kids of all ages love to roll them into balls. I try not to coach the rolling too much, and just adjust later so that there are tiny ones and huge ones on the same tray. Feel free to add as much of the spices as your palate prefers. Watch out for too much clove or cardamon as too much will taste soapy.


500grams flour ( As always, I use spelt. A mix of whole and white)
1 tsp (coffee spoon) cloves (girofle)
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
Optional-pinch of anise powder, 1/2 tsp cardamon, 1-2 tsp cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp seasalt

200 ml maple syrup
150 ml vegetable or corn oil

Mix all dry ingredients into a big bowl.
Place wet ingredients into a tall cup or bowl and mix with a staf mixer (Braun) until emulsified.
Add wet to dry. Mix.
It can be a very dry batter. It is often easiest, and more fun, the mix it with your hands. If you wet your hands first it won't stick to them so easily.
Push the batter into a ball like shape in the middle of the bowl. Cover well with
plastic wrap. Refridgerate for 1 hour or overnight.
Take out and make into hazelnut size balls. This is the size that can get nice and crunchy. But when kids (or I!) are making them, they end up more the size of walnuts. Its OK, just try and arrange similar size balls on the same cooking tray.

EAT and distribute liberally among your friends!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cracker Jack! Or Sweet Caramel Popcorn

Cracker Jack still reminds me of being little, being at the circus and licking sticky fingers. My Granddad would also bring it as a treat on Sundays, when he remembered.
This is a non-nut recipe, but you can add roasted almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds. I personally don't like to use sesame seeds as they make it to earth, but its all in your taste!

4 TBLs corn kernels
1 TBL cooking or frying oil
5 TBL mix of any of these syrups- barley malt, rice syrup, organic corn syrup
pinch of seasalt

Pre heat oven to 350F/175C
Oil a small pyrex or glass baking dish.
Heat syrup and pinch of seasalt on lowest heat on stove, until more liquid. DO NOT boil or overheat.
Take it off when it is liquidy.

Meanwhile, air pop your corn.
Or pop in a large pot with just a 1 TBL (soup spoon) of vegetable or sesame cooking or frying oil.
Start with 4 kernels and when they pop you know the pot is hot enough to pop the rest. Keep the pot moving on the burner so they don't burn. It's done when you don't hear the popping sound anymore.

Drizzle liquified syrup(s) over popcorn.
With a metal spoon, stir, stir and keep stirring an tossing like a salad until the syrups have covered the popcorn. Add nuts & seeds at this point if using.

Press into the baking dish. Place in oven for +/1 15 minutes. This dries it out abit and gets it crispy again. Remove and let cool a few minutes so you can touch it.
Serve by "cutting" with a kitchen knife.

Store in an airtight container. Place back in oven spread out on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes to re-crisp the next day.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This Year's Summer Drink

A hot day, and tall cool glass of MINT water. That's the ticket. Mint Water you ask!?
Try it. Incredible fast. Incredibly easy. Incredibly delicious.
You'll need to find liquid STEVIA. A sweetener from the leaf of the Stevia plant. The only sweetener that doesn't negatively effect the body. You can find it at the health food store, and lately at many grocery stores in the health food section.

Summery Minty Water

Half gallon/1 liter of filtered water
3-4 long sprigs of fresh mint
10+ drops of Stevia liquid, to taste.

Place mint sprigs in bottle, fill with water and a few ice cubes. Add Stevia drops.
Drink. Sit back in your chair and smile.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

2 more things money can't buy...
true love and........
home grown tomatoes...

Summer Tomato Pie

Don't you just wait for the taste of a sun-filled, grown-in-the-dirt, summer tomato. We eat so many raw, I am always looking for another way to use them.
Here is an English (as in the country) adapted classic French recipe I adapted again!
Great as a starter or a meal with a huge summer salad tossed with freshly made, mustardy vinaigrette...

Summer Tomato Pie

One pre made pastry shell, or you can make your favorite recipe.

3Tbl (soupspoons) sour cream or creme fraiche
2Tbl (soupspoons) Dion mustard (yes, it is different)
10-12 large tomatoes, cored, peeled and sliced
sea salt
ground black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
olive oil to drizzle on top

Pre-heat oven to 375F/190C.

Line with baking paper a 12inch/30 cm push-up-bottom tart pan. Or use a quiche pan. Place rolled out pastry in pan.

Mix together creme fraiche/sourcream with Dijon mustard. Spread over pastry base.
Arrange in a fold-out-card fashion the tomato slices around the pan to fill. I usually start at the outside edge and work my way INTO the center in a circular fashion.
Season with seasalt and pepper.
Strip thyme leaves off stalks. Scatter leaves on top.

Bake for 40 minutes.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Serve warm or cold. But don't leave overnight or the pastry will get soggy!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


A french spring & summer favorite full of zucchini/courgette, eggplant/aubergine, onions and tomatoes...

1 large eggplant/aubergine, chopped large
4 large zucchini or 8 small ones (I prefer the small ones), chopped large
2 onions, chopped large
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 pound/1.5kg tomatoes, chopped large
1 bunch fresh parsely,and/or basil, leaves and sprigs
olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat a large, heavy bottomed pot, over medium heat. Fry chopped onions until they begin to get translucent. Stirring, add minced garlic.
Layer on top of this all the chopped eggplant/aubergine, parsley/basil & salt then zucchini/courgette, more parsley/basil (whole) & salt, then tomatoes.
Move to a small burner on LOW heat.
Let simmer slowly until liquidy and all vegetables are soft, about 1-2 hours. This can simmer for hours and hours. Some say, the longer the better. If it simmers for a very long time it will oxidize and get a brownish color. This is more than OK, it is sought after... although we can never wait that long to eat!

When ready to eat, stir well, take out sprigs of parsley and/or basil.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Serve warm. It is great with rice or lentils or meat, and Red Cabbage Salad!

Remember "Sun Tea"?!

Sun Tea
Lipton's answer to Nestea. I remember these ads from my childhood. Then one summer I went home and my Mum was making... Sun Tea! Pitcher of tap water, throw some tea bags in it, cover top with a plastic bag and put in the sun for a few hours.

Recently I brought Sun Tea into today's generation...

Use your favorite Yogi Tea, I used 3 bags of Sweet Chai plus 1 bag of Classic. Put in a glass pitcher, fill with filtered water. Let sit in sun for a few hours.
Sweeten with liquid Stevia.

Stevia is a sweetener that is merely powdered leaves. Or, if in liquid form, made liquid. Unlike Agave syrup, the other natural sweetener, it will not play with your blood sugar, and it is indeed an alkalizing, raw product. I use it everyday in my coffee too. Use it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can really call these "healthy indulgence"... which is another musing for another time. I thank my friend Laura for that beautiful description of my "type" of cooking. Just look at the ingredients and see that they are harmless, harmless, harmless yet again I had kids asking me to give the recipe to their Mums. Love that, and so will you....

1 cup (200ml) coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled
2 eggs
1 1/4cups (155 grams) organic cane sugar
1 cup (125 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp/coffee spoon sea salt
2 Tbl/soup spoons vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) flour
1 tsp/coffee spoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips or one large dark chocolate bar broken/cut into small pieces

Pre-heat oven to 325F/160C.
Line 2 baking sheets with baking/parchment paper.

In medium bowl, whisk together wet ingredient - oil, eggs and vanilla.
In another medium bowl mix dry ingredients - flour, baking soda,sea salt, cocoa powder, sugar.
Using a rubber spatula, carefully blend wet ingredients into dry.
Gently fold in chocolate pieces/chips until evenly distributed throughout the dough.

If the batter seems to loose or liquidity to make cookie, keep adding 2 spoons of flour until it gets to a firmer consistency. (I'll adjust this measurement in my future trials).
With a spoon, scoop onto cookie sheets 5 cm/1 inch apart. You can gently press with the heel of your hand to flatten OR round them a bit into little balls with your fingers to make a puff-ier" cookie.

Bake cookies on center rack for 12-14 minutes, rotate pan 180degrees after 9 min., if you can remember.
Let the cookies stand on the sheet for a good 10 min before moving to a wire rack to cool- if they aren't eaten already.....

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

For a egg & gluten free version of this recipe, ask!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fill your self up. Feelin'the Love.

I have a friend who inspires me. Well, actually I have many. The one I am thinking of someone who is so often full of love, and talking about it, it is inspiring. This person is not a soft, wisp of a woman either. He is a "man's man" if one can still use that term.

Recently I was back in Massachusetts for my 25th college reunion (MHC). Where I was with 100 women who inspire me. Just before I was at my parents home, loving up my 77 yr old Dad, after his multiple hip injuries. I saw this friend, and his wife a few times, and each and every time I came away thoughtful about how I put forth myself in the world. What energy do put out there? Is it loving? Understanding? Helpful? Caring? Light or heavy? And how do I receive? With pleasure or pain? As always when I leave him I get the salutation "Feel the love."

So then I end up at my pre-reunion dinner. 25 of the MHC Goodtime Girls. And you know what? ALL of us, each an every one of we 47 yr old women-married or single, with or without kids, partnered with men or women, employed or not, social worker or business exec., were talking about the same thing. Being filled up. And I am not talking about our wine glasses, although they were full too!

We were so filled up with love and understanding, and inspired by one another that it was a powerful force that left that small college campus and went back out into the world. Now the question has arisen- how do we keep ourselves "filled up"?
We can, it is universally, emotionally and spiritually possible.

SO, what fills you up? A smile from someone you love? Giving a smile to some you love or maybe someone you really do NOT love in that moment. Hearing the wind in your newly planted bamboo? Making a new recipe? Helping someone who needs you. Suddenly realizing that you are in this moment with this person for this reason. Discovering, yet again, that YOU are in control of where you want to go and who you want to be.... no one else, no matter how important they are to you. Only from within you do you realize the peace, happiness, and fulfillment that is already there. And the best kind of inspiration, that knowing that comes from deep down that this moment is right.

You only get what you give. At reunion, and with my friend, we all gave and gave and gave... and so, we were filled up. Think about it.

MHC Goodtime Girls, this one is for you. Thank you. You lift me up and remind me how high I soar.

2010's Summer "Salad"

Every summer my family and I seem to choose our favorite "salad' that usually serves as a meal in itself. Last year it was the previously posted Quinoa Salad. Still my, and our friends' kids favorite, but my family is tired of quinoa. As with the Quinoa Salad this salad is also incredibly flexible. Subsitute any cooked meat or any other type of cheese you have on hand. I'll give you my first "invention" of this meal, when I had 3 kids under 4 eating it in huge spoonfuls, and asking me to give thier Mom's the recipe! (Thanks Louise, Lucas and Alexis!)

Ham, Tomato &  Green Bean Salad

4 large handfuls green beans
3-5 thick, large slices of ham, or enough to feed your group based on the size of your slices
3 medium sized tomatoes
A good sized piece of hard sheep (brebis) cheese- You can also try feta, cheddar, emmental/swiss. We try to keep to sheep and goat cheese in our house.

Bring salted water to a boil. Cut off ends of beans and cut inot small pieces (1/4inch/1 cm). Place in boiling water and cook green beans until they are to the consistency you like (we like them soft but holding thier shape well). Drain and leave to cool.
Cut ham, tomatoes and cheese into small pieces and place in big serving bowl.
Add green beans.
Drizzle a generous amouont of olive oil, don't be shy. I use around 1/3 cup.
Sprinkle with seasalt to taste.
Serve. I usually serve with bread or a tortilla or romaine salad leaves to wrap it in... Use your imagination and make sure you give the kids a spoon to shovel in thise greens beans!

Cocktail/Aperitif Meatballs

These aren't the lightest or healthiest things I have ever posted, but they sure are good. They are, once again, served at cocktail hour to my French neighbors & friends in my quest to open the french world to great American cooking! I adapted these, out of necessity of lack of ingredients, from my friend Tani's recipe.

Tani's Meatballs

1 lb (500grams) ground lamb or beef, with a bit of fat on it, not too lean
(You can choose to mix this with sausage/farci meat if you like)
1 cup grated (rape) emmental or swiss cheese
1 package feta cheese, broken or cut into as small pieces as you can cut
Old/hard bread or breakfast biscuits,to make 1 cup ground -you can substitute fine polenta or semolina in a in a pinch
1 tsp (coffee spoon) flax seeds or 2 tsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp seasalt

Pre-heat oven to 350F/175C.
Grind up bread and flax in food processor to make it inot fine crumbs.
Combine all ingredients in large bowl, by HAND. Squeeze into 1 inch/2 cm balls. It is important to squeeze them well so they don't fall apart in the cooking.
Place on a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Artichoke Dip ("Almost fat-free"!!)

I dont know about you, but I stopped eating Artichoke Dip when I was around 18. It was then i started to literally feel all that mayonnaise inside me. For me, it came out as greasy skin! Having now been living in France close to 3 years (OMG!) I have found a new interest in these American favorites. The French are always looked at as a race that appreciates good food - true, good taste - true, and good quality ingredients... not always true. What I have found is that French families, like American families, are looking for good healthy food, and the time to make it. Maybe this interest is a pride of American cooking, taste and innovation, while I add my own quality and time standards.

This is a take on a low fat Martha Stewart recipe. I'll soon post another non-mayo version! Serve this with raw veggies (crudites) and/or small toasts of baguette. Actually serve it whatever you have, it will be eaten!

Artichoke Dip

2 cans of artichoke hearts, drained & rinsed
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 1/4 cup + 1 Tbl grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbl (soupspoon) fresh lemon juice(keeps it from oxidizing and turning brown)
1 clove garlic, chopped fine or grated
1 scallion/green onion chopped

Pre-heat oven to 425F/210C.
In blender or food processor, place 1`can of artichokes, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, garlic and puree.
Add 2nd can of artichokes and scallions. Pulse only to combine. Leave in small chunks.
Place in a 1 quart/1 liter baking dish (I used glass), top with another 1 T of Parmesan.
Bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and bubbling.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coconut Macaroons

These look like sweet little clouds, and indeed they taste like a piece of heaven. And when you read the recipe, you'll be floating on air with how 'light"they are!

12 oz/400grams (about 4cups) shredded dry coconut
1/3 cup unflavored soy or cow milk
2/3 cup 10 TBL or soupspoons rice syrup

Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
In a bowl, mix together milk and coconut with your hands. Moistening all the pieces of coconut.
Add the rice syrup and mix with a wooden spoon.
Take a walnut sized handful and really SQUEEZE into a kind of ball, just to get it to really stick together. Then you can gently shape into a ball or triangle. I like triangle shapes as I dip the tips in chocolate!
Bake on baking paper/wax paper lined baking sheet for 12-15 minutes until edges are golden.
Allow to fully cool on baking sheet before removing. Otherwise they will crumble apart.

I then melt dark chocolate in a double boiler (bain marie) and dip the tips of the macaroons in it. Place bake on baking paper for the chocolate to harden.

I recently made this for school bake sale (in France, for the French).... they were gone first! And my kids only wanted to buy the cookies and heart-shaped wacky cake that I made! See recipe for Wacky Cake under "Cakes".

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Give the Sponge a Squeeze

You know what I mean, right?
The sponge that stays wet and when you pick it up it squeeze and use it, well, it stinks. It is also full of germs that belong nowhere near food, clean dishes or maybe your kids dirty faces!

It doesnt take much, when youare finished rinsing it, just GIVE THE SPONGE A SQUEEZE.

Enough said. Be happy in your kitchen.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Roasted Sesame Seeds

This doesn't sound like a special recipe. But great roasted seeds are incredibly satisfying in any salad, on tofu, rice,veg, or any other grain. They add loads of calcium and good oil to your meal. When my kids were babies they would get teaspoonfuls of ground up roasted sesame seeds every day, and then they never needed a calcium supplement!

1 cup raw sesame seeds.

Place sees in a small-holed sieve. Rinse well in cold water.
In the meantime, have a skillet on the stove on a medium fire, heating up.
When skillet is hot, place seeds in it. If you want to add salt to the mix, add 1 tsp of seasalt now.

Here is the patience-part... you have to stir it almost constantly. It will take some 5-10 minutes to get to golden brown. Maybe a bit longer if your fire is low enough. It is important NOT to heat them on HIGH heat, they can easily burn.

You will be able to smell a wonderful nutty sesame-u aroma, watch closely then. they get light golden any minute. Put on a plate to cool. YUM.
Just keep stirring just keep stirring.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

As my first child started to grow up... it took her all of 2 years to rebel against having no sugary things in the house! So, I started baking in a new way, relying on my history of macrobiotic study rather than my Mum's good Canadian fare (although that still has its place on our table!). This is one of my first ever recipes without eggs, butter or sugar! After we ate them, I kept going, so they must be good!
These can easily be changed into Chocolate-Chocolate Chip by replacing 1 cup sliced almonds for 3/4 cup cocoa powder.

1/2 cup (125 ml) vegetable oil/melted coconut oil
1/4 cup (75 ml) almond butter, preferable white bu tit is more expensive
1 cup (250ml) maple syrup
1 1/2 TBS (1 1/2 soupspoons) vanilla extract

3 cups flour (I use whole or white spelt/epeautre)
1 cup sliced almonds, roasted or not (optional)
1 cup chocolate chips (or more!)
1/2 tsp (1/2 coffeespoon) sea salt
1/2 TBS (1/2 soupspoon) baking powder/cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325F/160C.
Oil cookie sheets and put parchment paper on them.

In a large bowl combine all DRY ingredients.
In a separate bowl whisk together all WET ingredients.
Mix wet into dry. Let sit for 15-30 minutes if you can!
Place in spoonfuls on cookie sheet and press down with back of a wet spoon.

Bake for 12-17 minutes. Until the edges start to change color.

Egg Replacers

I love to find recipes without any eggs. We have no allergies to them, especially when they are baked into cakes & cookies! It is just fun to mess with my husband's taste buds! He is your image of a frenchman who loves good cakes... cream, sugar and butter please~! I have found some good replacements. They most often work, but not always. So don't try them for the first time if you are baking for 20! I got these from an old Vegetarian Times!

1/4cup coconut milk per egg.
Coconut milk naturally has a high fat content, so you don't need to add extra oil. It will add flavor.

1 tablespoon flax meal or 1 tablespoon flax seed pureed with 1/4 cup water
If you choose the flax you may have to add a bit more liquid to your batter if you are baking. Do this at the end. I have used this in meatballs to get them to stick togther!
Watch out for adding too much sharp-nutty flavor. You recipe needs to have enough flavor to mask the taste.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, almond butter or tahini mixed into 1/4 cup soy milk.
Great in cookie recipes. Most of the cookie recipes on this blog are no-egg. As a matter of fact, I will post our favorite right now!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Gratitude, Rainbows & St. Patty's Day

We are getting ready to paint a HUGE Rainbow to tape onto our window... with a pot of gold at the end. Each 'piece of gold" will represent something we/I/each kid is grateful for. I am sure the"gold" will quickly be turned into Easter Eggs!

This is an exercise in PURE JOY. Last Thanksgiving we made a Gratitude Tree. The leaves being where we wrote our 'what fors"on. It is amazing how kids embrace doing this. Mine are 4 and 7, and they had a ball. Not only coloring, but in having place to actually be grateful for "pasta & cheese!" We even include all the kids who came into the house. When they enter, they color and tape the leaf or gold or (Easter) egg.

Kids GET this. It gives then space and joy to experience gratitude. They have so many emotions for which they have no definition, or only the definition their parents give them. There is nothing that one cannot be grateful for. Nothing. No matter how material, small or grand. It works.

For us, it reminds us of the everyday things we are actually grateful for, and maybe we just forgot to remember that. This effects how I feel everyday.

As I write, I grateful for a venue in which to share this. I am grateful for the hope that someone is reading it! The hope that it will give someone an idea of their own. And for my kids who embrace my ideas....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Amazing Coffee Cake

I love Coffee Cake. For years I have had an image of coffee cake in my mind that I have never found. Well, yesterday I found it, and you can love the healthful ingredients! For you Europeans, 'Coffee Cake" is a sweet, moist cake that is made specifically to be eaten with coffee or tea. Usually it has alot of cinnamon.
FYI, if you want to make it purely vegan, you can make "soy buttermilk"by adding 1 tsp apple cider vinegar to a cup of soy milk and let it sit for 10 minutes!

Amazing Coffee Cake

-New, Improved Recipe!-

1 1/2 cups (300ml) coconut oil, melted
(or 1lb (4 sticks of butter))
2 tsps (coffeespoons) liquid vanilla extract
1/2 cup ground flax seed (or 4 eggs)
2 1/4 cups maple Syrup or 2 cups packed raw cane sugar
4 cups flour (I use whole spelt flour)
2 TBL (soupspoons) baking powder or cream of tartar
2 tsps (coffeespoons) baking soda
1/2 tsp seasalt
1 TBS (soupspoon) ground cardamon
2 cups sour cream, fromage blanc or plain/nature yogurt

Nut Mixture, mix all together in separate bowl, do not add to batter.
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 TBS cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350F/170C. Butter or oil a 'tall" cake pan or bundt pan.

In a small mixing bowl, mix all dry ingredients, except flax meal..
In a large bowl, whisk all liquid ingredients except sour cream/fromage blanc/yogurt/buttermilk, but DO whisk in FLAX MEAL.
Add dry ingredients to dry to wet, 1/3 at a time, alternating with sour cream/etc. Each time mix until just barely combined do not in any way over mix.
Batter will be very thick, almost like cookie dough. You really have to spread it into the pan.

Into greased cake pan spread in 1/3 of batter. Then sprinkle in 1/3 of nut mixture. 1/3 more batter, 1/3 more mix. Finish with rest of batter on top, and sprinkle on rest of nut mixture. Smooth nut mixture into batter a bit.

Place in oven for 45minutes. Check with knife or skewer, if it comes out clean it is ready, if not keep in oven 10 minutes more until knife comes out clean.
Let rest in pan 20 minutes. Let cool at least 30 minutes after you take it out of pan.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Conversions - US to Metric

Liquid and Dry Measurements
1/4 teaspoon(tsp)/coffeespoon = 1 ml
1/2 teaspoon(tsp)/coffeespoon = 2 ml
1 teaspoon(tsp)/coffeespoon = 5 ml
1 Tablespoon(TBL)/soupspoon = 20 ml

1/4 cup = 60 ml = 30 grams
1/3 cup = 80 ml = 40 grams
1/2 cup = 125 ml = 75 grams
2/3 cup = 170 ml
3/4 cup = 190 ml
1 cup = 250 ml = 125 grams
1 quart = 4 cups = 1 liter

Temperature Conversions

Fahrenheit Celsius
250 120
275 140
300 150
325 160
350 180
375 190
400 200
425 220
450 230
475 240

Beans-Soaking, Seasoning & Cooking Timetable

Soft Beans
Green lentils, red lentils, mung beans, split peas
Soaking - not necessary (makes them into a mush)
Add seasoning - after 45-50 minutes
Total Cooking time - 1 hour

Medium Beans
Small/light azuki, pinto, kidney, navy, lima, black, turtle, and other medium sized beans
Soaking - 2 to 4 hours
Add seasoning - after 1h30min to 1h45min
Total Cooking Time - 2 hours

Hard Beans
Big/dark azuki, chickpeas, black, white, yellow soybeans, and other hard beans
Soaking - 6-8 hours or overnight
Add seasoning - after 3h15min to 3h30min
Total Cooking - 4 hours

Cooking Beans for Better Digestion

Eating beans does NOT have to mean you become musical, or suffer from bloating or cramps ... if you know what I mean. It simply necessitates a bit of pre-preparation AND/OR cooking know-how.


Beans can give g_s if they are not ünlocked". Beans stay locked until they are sprouted, when they sprout they are digestible. That is why we SOAK hard beans before we cook them. 'Firstly, if you don't soak or sprout them, they will take forever to cook, if they cook at all! Soaking or sprouting releases the oligosaccarides in the beans, which is what keeps them hard. I'll list recommneded soaking and cooking times below.

But before I do that, I'd like to talk about KOMBU. It is a dried deep water seaweed, readily available at health food stores. It not only increases digestibilty, it adds amazing amounts of trace minerals and vitamins. When my kids are sick and they only want to eat white rice, I cook it with Kombu to get those minerals back into them.

Use a 1 inch (5 cm) piece when you cook. Try and add it to the water before the other ingredients you are cooking to let it pre-soak a bit, but don't worry if you forget. Just push it down into the bottom of the pan under the other stuff before you put it on the stove.

Some people even love to eat it fried!


Pinto Bean & Carrot Stew/Soup

Let's talk about Beans! Beans do not have to cause g_s. :) The g_s comes not from the beans but from the way they are pre-prepared. Soak your beans overnight, rinsing and changing water as often as possible. This takes away the oligosaccarides. It is these that cause the g_s! OR, sprout your beans before they are cooked. Then, cooking them with Kombu aids in digestion AND adds tons of minerals and vitamins. Seaweeds are THE single best source for all these trace minerals & vitamins!

2 TBL (soupspoons) vegetable oil
1 leek, sliced, including green top
1 medium onion, sliced
6 carrots, chopped
1 tsp (coffeespoon) seasalt
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I use organic instant squares with NO yeast)
1 cup soaked-overnight pinto beans or 1 can
1 inch/ 5 cm piece of KOMBU seaweed
1 cup soy or regular milk
2 tsp dried sage or Herbs de Provence

Place Kombu in bottom of pan, fill with enough water to just cover. Put in uncooked pinto beans. Add 1 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover and put on low on smallest burner. Simmer until soft, about 1 1/2 hours. SKIP THIS STEP if you are using a canned beans! :) Once beans are cooked, take out Kombu, drain.

Now, put oil in a large pot. Sautee leek, onions, carrots, and salt until tender. add Vegetable broth. Add back in beans. Heat through.
Add soy milk, salt & Herbs de Provence. Puree with a hand/stick blender.
Serve with nice bread and salad.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chocolate Bread Pudding!

I know it sounds incredibly old fashioned. But, really, there is nothing quite like gooey bread surrounded by pudding (custard) and liquidy chocolate. Plus, it is a great thing to do with just stale bread! I always use whole grain bread to make it a bit more rich, you can brioche or that eggy/sweet easter bread. Try it cold, with ice cream... you'll not go back.

3-5 packed/pressed cups of cubed bread (OK it if is stale or frozen)

3 eggs (you can substitute 1/4 c finely ground flax seed, flax meal, for each egg)
3 cups milk or soy milk or coconut milk
1/2 cup raw cane sugar
1/4 tsp seasalt
2 tsp vanilla
1-2x 250g bar of chocolate or 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F/169C.

Cube bread. Grease a 9x13-sized pan. Spread cubed bread in bottom of pan.

In a bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients excpet the chocolate.
Sprinkle chocolate throughout.

With a fork, press bread down into liquid to make sure it is able to soak up the
liquid. If you are using a whole grain bread, let it sit and soak it in as long as you can. For a white bread or brioche, you can bake immediately.

Bake at 350F/160C for 35-45 minutes, until a bit firm.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Coconut Rice Pudding (just say "Mounds Bar")

Although I can no longer tolerate a real Mounds bar (too sweet), I am forever on the search for that perfect mix of coconut and chocolate. For me, there is nothing quite like it. Actually, tonight I made it for my birthday dinner!
This is a rice pudding recipe, modified for that. But you can easily make a truely wonderful vanilla version by replacing the coconut milk with regualr or soy milk and doubling the vanilla.

1 cup round white rice
2 cans of organic coconut milk, both the liquids and solids in the can. (Skip this for a vanilla pudding)
1 cup soy or regular milk (for vanilla pudding use 5 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp liquid vanilla (for vanilla pudding use 1 TBL)

Put everything in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and turn heat to low on smallest burner, use a flame protector if need be to keep it from boiling hard. Simmer covered like this for 1 hour. Check once in a awhile to make sure it still has liquid. You'll want extra liquid in it to keep it creamy.

I serve this warm, and for a treat, with a little chocolate. In small bowls put a few spoons of pudding, place a square of chocolate on top. Cover with a few more spoons to make the serving size you want. Then you diners get a great surprise when the dip in!

It is 2 days later and I just discovered that this pudding is even better served COLD, with optional, warm chocolate sauce top!! THIS is really a Mounds bar experience!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"Real"Italian'Tomato and Mozzarella Pie

I was served this simple meal at our nieghbor, who IS first generation Italian... living in France. Served with a light, crisp, sweet lambruscoa and a salad. I have used it as an hors dóevre, dinner or lunch. It is best kept really simple.

1 pre made pie pastry (NOT sweet, in French they call it Pate Brisee)
1 ball mozzarella (buffalo if you can get it)
1 tomatoes, preferably local and organic so they have flavor! (best is out of someone's home garden!)
a few slices of zucchini (courgette)
1 clove garlic

Spread pie crust out on lined cookie sheet or round pizza pan. Pre-bake for 5 minutes at 325F/170C.
Meanwhile, slice mozzarella thin, keeping it in rounds. Slice tomato and zucchini/courgette in thin slices, and place on paper towel to absorb some of the moisture, while you wait for the crust to come out.
Chop or grate garlic.

Once pastry, which serves as the crust, is out of the oven, arrange mozzarella around it. It will not cover all of the pastry but it will melt and be perfect. Then place tomato slices and few slices of courgette/zucchini. Sprinkle crushed garlic around and seasalt to taste.

Return to oven for about 20 minutes. Check it and see if you'd like it crisper or the tomatoes cooked longer.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mashed "Potatoe" Puree

As I have said before, veg with every meal. Unfortunately for you potato lovers, they don't actually count as a vegetable. Potatoes are really in the carb group, along with rice, bread and pasta. So here is my feel good, taste good solution for Mashed 'Potatoes".
The trick is to use a staff/had mixer. It breaks down the gluten in the potatoes and makes it smooth, smooth, smooth....

1 tsp seasalt
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in large pieces
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in large pieces
1/4 medium celery root (celeriac), peeled and cut in large pieces
1/2cup +/- greek yogurt or ricotta cheese or soft goat cheese
2 TbL butter or milk or soy milk

Boil all vegetables & potatoes in water with seasalt.
Add butter or ricotta or other cheeses in pot on top and cover to let it melt a bit.
When ready to puree, add a TBL milk or soy milk. Using stick mixer (immersion mixer) blend until smooth (this is the secret to restaurant mashed potatoes, blending like this breaks down the starches that hand mashing does not.)
Season with salt & pepper to taste.

If you really want to "sell it" sprinkle with grated Emmental cheese, cover to let it melt. Make sure you show it to the diners before you serve!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Chocolate Wacky Cake

CAKES-IN-SHAPES, more specifically. These are my greatest joy to create. they make everybody smile. And anyone, yes, anyone can follow these step-by-steps. We'll start with this basic recipe and I'll post the photos soon of the shapes it has ended up in, like Monkeys, tractors, whales, cats... you get the idea!

Wacky Cake (vegan)
This will satisfy any chocolate cake lover!
1 1/2 cups flour MINUS 2 TBL (soupspoons) (I always use spelt)
1 cup unrefined sugar
5 TBL cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 tsp (2 coffeespoons) baking soda (aluminum free)
1/2 tsp seasalt
6 TBL vegetable oil (I use unflavored sunflower oil or corn oil)
1 TBL white or apple cider vinegar
2 TSP liquid real vanilla
1 cup cold water

If you are making layers or shapes you'll need to double or triple the recipe. However DO NOT increase the amount of vinegar. Always use 1 TBL (soupsoon) of vinegar- no more, or you will be making a sweet vinegar tasting cake. And that is NOT very pleasing on anyone's palate!

Sift (yes, you must sift or the cocoa stays lumpy!) all dry ingredients into large bowl. Make 3 "holes" in the flour mixture. Pour into separate holes- oil, vanilla, and vinegar. Pour cold water over all. Mix just enough to blend well. Do not beat.
Pour into ungreased 8 inch cake pan.

Bake at 350F/175c for 30 minutes. But watch and smell for that strong chocolate aroma. When you smell it, check the cake with a skewer, no matter the time. too often out ovens are too hot or not hot enough, and we over cook. When it comes to chocolate cake, that is just so sad. Let the smell of chocolate be your guide. Call me Ms. Wonka...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

French Lentils

"French Lentils" are only called "french" due to the simplicity in which they are cooked, and the type of lentils you choose to cook with. preferably, you choose what is called "French Dupuy Lentils" They are a dark green/brown color. The reason is that they keep their shape when you cook them. Different than the yellow or red lentils which disintegrate and form the more Indian style Dal soups. You can use brown if you can't find "Dupuy" or Green lentils.

Now, a word on "kombu". This is a type of deep ocean seaweed in a dried form. I use it always when I cook any kind of beans. Why, it changes the chemical composition of the skin of the bean and makes it...well, you won't ...fart. :) It also adds tons of minerals to anything you cook it with! If you don't have any or don't feel like buying it, it is easily omittable.

French Lentils

2 TBL (2 soupspoons) sesame oil (NOT roasted)
1.5 cups Dupuy or green or brown lentils
1 inch (5cm) piece of kombu
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped fine (depends how much you like, the cooking time will take away alot of the flavor potency)
seasalt & pepper (to add after cooking)
2-3 TBL (soupspoons)or soy sauce or tamari instead of seasalt

In a medium pot, heat, add sesame oil. Medium heat. Add onions and garlic. Fry until onions are transparent. Watch the garlic does not burn, then it is bitter.

Then layer kombu, bayleaves,and carrots. Cover with water 1/4inch+ (3cm) above level of the ingredients in the pot. Bring to a light boil, turn heat to VERY LOW. Use a heat diffuser on the smallest burner of you have it. You want these to cook really slowly. Even then, they will only take about 1 hour, max.

After 40 minutes, taste beans.... are they still a bit hard, then cook them some more. Add 1/2 cup more water so there is always a bit of water in the pot. It's great for serving.

Once the lentils are cooked, adjust flavoring with seasalt or soy sauce or tamari. Then continue to cook 5 minutes more.

Serve with a bit of fresh paisley sprinkled on top. With some basmati or brown rice or quinoa or bulgur. It is GREAT with a sesame-red cabbage salad!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mussels with sausage

OK, I live in one of the worldwide centers for mussels, oysters and wine...and, I am not a real shellfish fan, nor do I prefer the wines of this region of France! Also,even though my mother grew up on Canadian lobster, I have never cooked shellfish before this recipe. Of course, I decided to cook this for 20 French locals... and they all wanted the recipe. :)

4 TBS (3soupspoons) butter, divided
1/2lb (500grams) ground sausage or farci meat (with herbs)
(you can links instead just break open and crumble the meat out)
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup dry white wine
juice of 2 lemons ( i just squeeze them by hand, into the pan)
3 lbs (2 kgs) mussels, cleaned (you can ask your fishmonger to do this)
2 TBS (2 coffeespoons) thyme
ground pepper (opt)
bunch of fresh parsley (opt)

In large pot melt 1 TBS of the butter. Add sausage/farci meat and cook stirring it into bits (try not to eat it all...) until cooked through.

Add shallots & garlic, stir until you smell them. About 1 minute.
Add wine, increase heat to high, cook until liquid is reduced to half. Reduce heat to medium and stir in rest of butter and lemon juice.

Add mussels, place bunch of parsley, still tied in a bunch on top. Cover. Increase heat to high. Stir now and then until mussels are cooked- meaning they are all open and come out of their shell easily. About 5-6 minutes.

Take out parsley. Stir in thyme and pepper.
Serve immediately.

You will need no utensils to eat. Use an empty shell, still attached to its other side, as a pincher to get out the other mussels from their shells. You will need a fork for the sausage, and.... don't forget the bread....

Monday, January 25, 2010

MMMM... Guacamole

I was taught to make guacamole by real So.California family. Then was introduced to a new version, by them, at a beach side hotel in Rosarito. MMMMMMM.... Guacamole is all about sunshine. When I make my Guacamole I can feel the sun on my face and the sea breeze on my skin, as I sit drinking a margarita on the terrace of a graceful old Mexican resort hotel. That must make it taste better don't you think? In any case, there is only joy and delight by those who eat it! Even if you have kids who don't usually eat green food. Try it.

I'll make the recipe using only 1 avocado, so it suits 4 people as a side dish or dip. It doesn't keep to well, so make what you need. I usually use 2 avocados, and double the other amounts.

1 large, ripe avocado (not brown inside, but just soft)
1 tsp (2 coffeespoons)mayonnaise
2 TBLs (2 soupspoons) hot salsa (any brand)
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 small fresh tomatoes chopped fine and squeezed in your hand so some of the juice gets out (opt)
1/2 bunch of fresh cilantro (coriander), chopped fine (opt)

Cut avocado in half the long way and scoop out the meat into the serving bowl. With a fork smash avocado until it is smooth. Do not use a mixer or blender or processor for this. It needs you to do it by hand.
Add in mayo. Then add salsa one spoon at a time to make sure it doesnt get 'too liquid.
Squeeze in juice of 1/2 small lemon.
About 1/2 tsp salt.
Stir in, gently chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
Adjust salt.

VIOLA! Easy, quick. Amazing.
Serve with plain, not flavored, corn chips.

BTW. The real thing Freshest avocado, tomatoes and onion. Chopped big. On a plpate, served with a wedges of lime, plain corn chips, salt, a margarita...The Rosarito Beach Hotel, Baja California, 1983.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chick Pea Burgers

...with Greek Salad Topping

Even my french relatives love this recipe. Well, so far they love all the recipes shown here, and my mother-in-law is a retired restaurant chef!

1 cucumber, quartered, de-seeded, sliced
1 cup cherry, or reg. tomoates, quartered
2 green onions, sliced (optional)
2 Tbs (=2 soup spoons) lemon juice
1 TBS (=1 Soup Spoon) olive oil
1 package feta, cubed or crumbled

1 cup chickpea flour
2 tsp (2 coffee spoons) ground cumin (more or less to taste)
1 tsp (=1 coffee spoon)chili powder (i use less for kids)
1/2 tsp (=coffee spoon) salt
1 large (15oz) jar/can of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed (to get out all the extra salt)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 TBS (=2 soupspoons) lemon juice
1 TBS (=1 soupspoon) olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced fine (or to taste-I use less)

Topping: Toss all ingredients together. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

Burgers: Whisk chick pea flour, cumin, chili power, salt together with 3/4 cup of HOT water.
Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add 1 TBS (soup spoon) olive oil. ladle bater into pan. I use a 1/3cup measure, and fit 4 in a large skillet. Reduce to medium-low heat. Cook 4-5 minutes or until golden. Press a little, then flip, and cook 4-5 min. on the other side. I put them on a plate in them in a very low oven to keep warm 9as you would pancakes) while I cook the rest of the batter.

Seve with cuc-tom-feta topping.
Stir in chick peas, red peppers (if using), parsley.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Fig Tart

I adapted this recipe from an old Sunset magazine. It is unexpectedly one of my favorite recipes of the past holiday season!

Fig Tart

1.5kgs or 2 lbs of dried figs. Get the largest, softest, sweetest you can find. The original recipe calls for 2lbs of Mission Figs (Californian) but I can't get them often.

2 bottles (750ml) medium bodied red wine, like a Red Zinfandel, Shiraz, Cabernet etc.
1 cup maple syrup
2 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
8 peppercorns
1-2 cardamon pods (optional)

pastry for one open pie
quiche pan or pie pan
small square of cheesecloth

I use store bought pastry, the sweet/vanilla kind if you can get it, but any will do.
Place in quiche pan (as it is bigger than a pie plate) or pie plate. Cover with baking paper and fill with dried beans, this keep the pastry from bubbling up when you cook it empty.
Bake according to package directions.

Put figs in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 10-15 min.
Drain well. Place in a large pot.
Cover with red wine and maple syrup.

In square of cheesecloth, place the spices inside and tie up with string. Put in pot with figs and wine.
Simmer for 2 hours+ until you have about a 1/4cup liquid left. It usually takes me more like 4 hours, so I do this the day before or morning of for a dinner.

Take out the cheesecloth bag of spicess.
Drain the figs in a sieve, but SAVE THE LIQUID!!!
You can refridgerate seperately if you'll use it the next day. No need to refridgerate if you'll use it later that day.

When ready to serve, pour figs into pre-cooked pastry shell. Cover with as much liquid as you like. Serve with Creme Fraiche, or Greek yogurt. YUM.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Quinoa Salad

I learned this recipe from my dear alkalizing friend, Fiona. The 'salad" resembles a rice salad, but oh, so much better. Quinoa ("keen-wa") is a grain that doesn't get soggy with dressing.

1c quinoa (dry)
1tsp sea salt
4 TBL olive oil
1/2 - 1 onion (depending on how much raw onion you like)
1 clove finely chopped garlic (optional)
1 chopped tomato
1/2 chopped english cucumber (deseed it first- see note below)
1/2 bunch finey sliced or grated radishes
1 small block of sheep feta cheese (opt)
1/2 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro and/or basil and/or tarragon and/or mint (it depends on the flavors you like that day.)

Cook Quinoa:
First put quinoa in a sieve and rinse well, massaging it as the water flows over it. Quinoa has bitter flavor if not washed first.
Put in a pan with 2c water and 1 tsp sea salt.
Bring to boil on HIGH heat. Cover. Then turn to LOW heat on the smallest burner.
Cook for 15 minutes. Take off lid and fluff with fork to let cool.

As quinoa is cooking.
In serving platter/bowl put in olive oil. Finely chop onion and garlic(if using) and put into olive oil. Stir it around so they flavor the olive oil, which becomes the dressing.

De-seed the long english cucumber by 1)peeling, 2) cut in 1/2 the long way, 3) cut in 1/2 the short way, 4) with a spoon just scrape out the seeds.

Finely chop the cucumber and tomato. Thinly slice or grate the radishes. You can really add any raw veg, cut fine, you want to add flavor! Chop the feta, if using, into tiny, tiny pieces so you get lots of little pieces of white in the salad. Add finely chopped herbs.

Put quinoa on top of olive oil/onion/garlic (opt) dressing and let cool without stirring just yet.

Then put all the chopped veg and herbs on top, while the quinoa cools. Although you can do this all straight away if you need to serve it! Its great slightly warm too.

Finally, Stir all at the last minute to give the onions enough time to aromatize the dressing (this is an old Italian trick I learned from my friend Giuseppe!)

Serve! Bring it on a a picnic and you'll not have to worry about bringing home any leftovers! Even kids like this one.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Popcorn! Sweet or Salty

Somehow, as I äge" I love popcorn more and more. NOT the buttery movie kind, although it definitely has its place in palate, and definitely NOT the plain, air-popped kind. So bland. As a rule, I look for "good fats,' other than butter, if I can. Just yesterday I found the solution to my popcorn dilema. Coconut Oil. The magical fat that is not only good for your body to ingest (brain, joints, tendons, skin) but it actually pushes the bad fats out. Yup, you heard it right.

Coconut Oil is now widely available at health food stores. Although it is an öil"it has a very high melt temperature, so will be in solid form. I use it often for sauteing and also for baking.

ALso, please look for organic (bio) non-GMO popcorn kernels. Corn is THE plant that started the path of GMOs...

Popcorn, Sweet or Salty

Prepare your popcorn as you like, I air-pop mine.
In the meantime, melt as much coconut butter as you would normally melt butter. Or, if you usually go "plain", melt about 3 tablespoons. Pour it on the popped corn as you toss it, then toss on salt or unrefined sugar (kids LOVE this one- an such a better alternative than caramel corn!).

Pull up a comfy chair and put on a movie.....

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jenn's Tomato Sauce

Just a quick comment: this is one of those recipes created in efforts to simplify the family kitchen, and hold up my iron-clad rule.... veg with every meal (even for visiting kids!). In this case most especially the magical vegetable, jam-packed with vitamins & minerals- the Sweet Potato.

1/2 large sweet potato*
1/2 large or 1 small fennel buld
2 med. onions
2 large garlic buds
2 tablespoons (soup spoons) tomato paste, preferable organic
500ml (3 cups) tomato puree, perferably organic
olive oil
sea salt
dried or fresh oregano and/or basil

*Actually, all vegetables are preferably organic and locally sourced. If you can't have both, I choose based on the vegetable. High water based veg & fruits need to be organic, otherwise, GO LOCAL. If you think your family might not be ready for a taste change, start with a 1/4 sweet potato and build it up.

Usually the night before, but it also works well minutes before, boil up all the vegetables, on a medium flame, until soft. If you are doing this the night before, drain the veg but KEEP THE WATER you cooked in. Put the veg in a plastic container and the broth in something else. Refridgerate.

When you are ready to make the sauce, put the 1/2 the veg, and the fresh herbs if you are using them, in the blender, add a just enough tomato puree to get it blended. Then do the same for the rest of the veg.

In the meantime, in a large frying pan, on medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons (soup spoon) of olive oil and 1 teaspoon (coffee spoon) of sea salt. As the veg are blended, put them in the pan. Once all the veg are in the pan, add the rest of the tomato puree. Add the tomato paste. Stir well. The oil stirs in better a little later when it is all good and warm. Adjust thickness with more tomato puree or some of the cooking liqud from the veg.
Add the dried basil & oregano if you aren't using fresh.
You an always add some dried garlic and salt at the end to boost the flavor or make it closer to what you are"used to".

By the way, keep that leftover cooking water, youo can use it anytime, any recipe calls for vegetable broth.

Serve with pasta, parmeseam.. as you like.
Feel GREAT about all the great veg you and your family are getting!
The leftover sauce (if there is any, is great used as a pizza sauce 1-2 nights later!

Eat Well. Feel Great.