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 ├╝nlocked". 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 d├│evre, 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...