The end of summer’s harvest approaches, welcoming in a new wave of bounty; this week, it means an abundance of dirt cheap, gorgeous graffiti eggplant for making baba ganoush. When I bought a handful of peppers, a bag full of scuppernongs, and a large basket of graffiti eggplant for only $5 from a local farm stand, I knew the creamy eggplant dish was in my future!
What Is Graffiti Eggplant?
A smaller, white-and-purple-marbled version of traditional eggplant common at most grocery stores, this varietal is known to be less bitter than its solid purple cousin, which has thicker skin and is about twice the size. Some people even describe its flavor as fruitlike and suggest that steps like removing the skin or salting the eggplant before cooking are unnecessary given these sweet, tender characteristics. This sightly vegetable originates from the Mediterranean but grows well in most warm climates.
Health Benefits of Eggplant
Graffiti eggplant is rich in vitamins A and C, potassium, manganese, and folate. Additionallyy, in accordance with traditional Ayurvedic medicine, eggplant is prescribed as a means of fighting diabetes. (Eggplant contains high concentrations of polyphenols, which help the body process sugar.)
Eggplant is, on its own, a low-calorie food. Its high fiber content makes it a great addition to any diet!
Also, eggplant is high in antioxidants. This helps to prevent cancer and heart disease.
Ways To Cook Eggplant
If you, like me, find yourself with an abundance of eggplants, you may be looking for cooking inspiration! Happily, eggplant varietals are interchangeable in most recipes. When cooked, eggplant takes on a creamy texture. It absorbs neighboring flavors and seasonings very well. Here are some ways to use up your eggplant:
Clearly, there’s no shortage of ways you can use this amazing vegetable! If you want further eggplant inspiration, look up some Mediterranean, Indian, or Middle Eastern recipes. Eggplant has a rich history in the cuisines of these cultures.
What is Baba Ganoush and Where Is It From?
Simply put, baba ganoush is a creamy eggplant dish blended with garlic, olive oil, lemon, and tahini. Sometimes spelled “baba ganouj,” this Levantine appetizer pairs well with pita bread for dipping.
Primarily eaten as a spread, dip, or sauce, this delicious condiment hails from Lebanon. There are variants of baba ganoush in many other cuisines, including Ethiopian, Armenian, and Israeli.
How to Eat This Spicy Eggplant Dip
Think of baba ganoush as a cousin to hummus. Slather it into a veggie sandwich or drop it over your salad greens. Alternatively, dip rustic bread, pita wedges, crackers, cucumbers, peppers, broccoli, or other veggies into this silky smooth dip.
Additionally, baba ganoush makes a great ingredient on any charcuterie board!
Is Baba Ganoush Vegetarian?
Yes! Baba ganoush contains no animal products, so it’s even considered vegan!
Is Baba Ganoush Healthy?
Yes. Baba ganoush boasts a modest amount natural fats from olive oil. There is also a good amount of nutrient-rich sesame seeds from the tahini. These contribute anti-inflammatory properties as well as vitamins and minerals.
Of course, the real star of the show is eggplant. Since the eggplant roasts in the skin which is later removed, it absorbs a relatively low amount of oil in the cooking process. This means the eggplant is even healthier than cubed roasted eggplant. This is about as healthy as eggplant gets.
So, this fiber-rich, filling dish is incredibly satisfying and healthy! (And yes, baba ganoush is even keto-friendly!)
Simple Spicy Baba Ganoush
One great aspect of this recipe is its wonderful simplicity! Waiting for your eggplants to roast is the hardest part.
Pierce the skin of your eggplants with a fork like you would a baked potato. Drizzle with oil and roast.
I roasted my eggplants for around an hour. They caramelized beautifully in the oven!
Allow the eggplants to cool until you can handle them. Use a knife and spoon to separate the tender roasted flesh from the skin. Drain over a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess moisture.
Simply add all your ingredients to a food processor and blitz until smooth and creamy!
It’s as easy as that! I plated mine with some sumac, olive oil, and sheep’s milk feta. Yum!
A perfect summer treat! 🙂
Simple Spicy Baban Ganoush
Fresh serrano pepper gives this take on a traditional recipe a spicy flavor boost! Serve with pita, chips, crackers, or veggies!
3.5-4poundseggplants(I used 7 small graffiti eggplants, but 2 standard eggplants will do)
1small serrano pepper, stemmed and seeds removed
2Tbspfreshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbspolive oil, for garnishoptional
1 ozfeta cheese, for garnishoptional
dash of sumac, for garnishoptional
Preheat oven to 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Wash and pat dry the eggplants. Pierce all over with a fork like you would a roasted potato. Drizzle with olive oil, and roll in oil to coat. Roast for an hour to an hour and half, or until eggplants are tender and collapsing.
Allow eggplant to cool to room temperature. Using a knife and spoon, cut the eggplants in half and scoop flesh out, discarding the skins. Place eggplant pulp in a fine mesh sieve over a medium-sized bowl and allow to drain for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, remove the seeds and stem from your serrano and set the pepper aside. Crush garlic with the flat side of a knife and discard the skin. Juice the lemon and set aside.
Place drained eggplant, garlic, serrano, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth and creamy.
Plate with a drizzle of olive oil, a dash of sumac, and feta cheese crumbles. Serve immediately. Keeps up to 4 days in the fridge in an air tight container.
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There’s nothing like the aroma wafting from a ripened fig tree during the peak of its harvest; this delightfully floral vanilla honey fig jam is the perfect way to capture that ethereal scent. This recipe is sweetened in part by honey which contributes aromatics as well as flavor and even helps to cut down on the white sugar content.
Why You Should Love Figs
If you’re anything like me, you’re an avid fig fan. Tender, sweet insides covered with soft skin are a flavorful burst of texture with each bite–a wonderful playground for the culinarily-inclined! Rich in fiber as well as calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium, figs are also a good source of prebiotics, which are essential for maintaining gut health. Though I think there is nothing better than digging into a perfectly ripe fig, they fortunately are fairly forgiving with different methods of processing and preserving, such as drying, making fig newtons from scratch, fig ice cream, or turning your figs into sweet fig chutney.
Where Are Figs From?
While the common fig hails from an area extending from Northern India to Asiatic Turkey, Ficus carica also grows well in the Mediterranean and in warm-climate areas.
The fig was one of the first fruit trees ever to be cultivated, at once so popular in the Mediterranean it was called the “poor man’s food” because it was abundant and cheap, fresh or dried.
Nowadays, it’s not too altogether uncommon to walk down an urban street and see a neighborhood fig tree complete with broad, lobed leaves and its characteristically droopy fruit. When you break a fig from the tree or snap free a leaf, you may notice a viscous, white liquid emanating from the site of injury–this is, in fact, liquid latex. This is why some folks suggest boiling your green, unripe figs twice with fresh water to rinse away the milky substance–but that’s a blog post for another day!
How Figs are Pollinated
If you’ve ever spent any amount of time around vegans, you may have learned some or most of them don’t eat figs. But why? You may be thinking, Aren’t figs a fruit?
While you are correct in the assertion that figs are a fruit (and therefore should be vegan-friendly), figs have a tangled relationship with that of the wasp reproductive cycle. When figs aren’t self-pollinated (the method used in the United States to produce figs), unripe figs invite pollen-carrying female wasps into their ostiole, the small opening at the base of the fig. From there, the female wasp will lay her eggs amongst the unpollinated flowers, pollinating other flowers as she moves along. The female wasp then dies, and her exoskeleton breaks down within the fig thanks to an enzyme called ficin. Fortunately, this teeny-tiny lady wasp is only about 1 1/2 millimeters long–so if you take a bite out of a fig pollinated through mutualism, you may end up eating, in one way or another, the remains of the female wasp.
As for her eggs, these are concealed within the fig’s flowers; the males hatch first, going around and fertilizing any unhatched females, digging an escape tunnel to the outside world, and dying. When the females hatch, it’s their turn to find a fig to die in. It’s one heck of a life cycle, yo.
Why Figs Aren’t Considered Vegan
Point being, some vegans think eating figs is unethical, or that it breaks the rules as you may be inadvertently eating animal with your fig. Weird? A little bit. Kinda gross? Definitely. Miraculous? Big yes. And it’s still not enough to keep this lunatic away from sweet, delicious figs…
For those of you that are now completely freaked out by figs, rest assured–most likely, any figs provided in the grocery store are going to be self-pollinated. That is to say, wasp-free!
So…Where Can I Buy Figs?
Figs tend to be elusive until the season is upon us, at which point they are EXPLOSIVE and you have to make use of the bounty quickly so it doesn’t all rot or go to waste. Figs enjoy two seasons: the first few weeks of June, then a second wave spanning August through October, though this may fluctuate depending on where you live.
Check in with grocery retailers like Whole Foods or Publix to see if they carry figs during the peak weeks of summer. Otherwise, you may be lucky enough to find vendors selling sweet, sweet figs at a local farmer’s market. I hate to direct you to Amazon, but apparently you can even buy fresh figs there! Who knew?!
But the best way to get your figs and eat them too is to make friends with somebody who enjoys a fig tree on their property and has more figs than they know what to do with! I’m not saying you should scope out someone’s yard before introducing yourself, but I’m saying it wouldn’t hurt to make a new friend who happens to have a robust fig tree…edible trades are a lot of fun. 🙂
Another option is to plant your own fig tree. Yes, you will have to wait a while…maybe several summers…to have your figs, but then you have a legacy tree that just keeps giving. Once you’ve been bitten by the fresh fig bug, you will come to love this time of year–trust me!
How Many Different Kinds of Figs Are There?
Well, with over 700 known different kinds of fig trees, there’s quite a lot! To make it easier, botanists have broken figs into four groups:
Caprifigs: These produce male flowers which never bear fruit; their primary function is to fertilize female fig trees.
Smyrna: These are the female fig trees, which must be pollinated by caprifigs.
San Pedro: These kinds of figs produce two crops: the first is on leafless mature wood and requires no pollination, and the second is on new wood requiring pollination from a male flower.
Common Figs: These are the most common figs you might see while on a neighborhood walk. Common figs don’t require another tree for fertilization.
Now that we know our fig types, let’s talk about some common figs you may have seen growing lately. Here are some varietals you may be able to identify:
Celeste figs–these are smaller, brownish-purple figs grown on large trees; these ripen earlier in the season than other figs
Some figs, like mission figs, will split when they are at their peak ripeness. Green figs, like Kadota figs, can be slightly trickier to figure out, as they are green from their initial formation through their maturity.
Ripe figs should be soft to the touch and give slightly when squeezed. There should be little resistance when plucked from their tree or bush, without much white latex oozing from the tip. If you have to tug, the fig isn’t ready!
Will Figs Ripen Off the Tree?
The short answer is yes! Figs that are picked just before peak ripeness will continue to soften and grow sweeter if left in a dry place.
If you pick extremely unripe figs, however, they will not reach maturity on your countertop! This is part of the lovely, ethereal nature of this sweet natural treat.
How To Eat Your Abundance of Figs
When figs arrive, they arrive all at once! You will know a tree’s fruit is mature when all of the insects move in–figs attract a wide array of bees and wasps, which come to feed on the sweet fruit.
Here are some ideas for ways to use up your figs before they spoil:
Part of the beauty of this recipe is how simple it is. With a few high-quality ingredients, you will be amazed at how much divinely aromatic flavor this wonderful, chunky fig jam presents.
Start with an abundance of ripe figs.
Gather your ingredients and a heavy-bottomed dutch oven. Chop the figs into quarters. I like a chunky jam, so I cut some of the figs in half for variety.
Cook the figs down gently, stirring so they don’t scald or cook unevenly.
When your fig jam has thickened considerably and passes the cold plate test, it should look something like this:
Ladle your warm jam into sterile jars. For a more detailed breakdown of how to properly can your jam, check out my post on canned small-batch apricot jam.
It’s a messy process, but made easier by my canning funnel which fits atop an empty jar perfectly.
You can totally reuse old jars to can your fig jam as long as you properly sterilize them beforehand in the oven or in boiling water for 10 minutes. I used the boiling method for this round of jam.
Boom, fig jam!
Ways To Eat Up Your Fig Jam
Sweet, complex, aromatic, and delightfully textured, there’s a lot to love about this fig jam. Fortunately, you can throw it into sweet and savory dishes to add high floral notes and a kiss of sweetness. Here are some easy ways to eat up your vanilla honey fig jam:
stirred into whole milk yogurt
spooned atop vanilla ice cream
dolloped over seared pork chops or chicken breasts
stirred into oats or porridge
spread over toast with a layer of ricotta and sea salt
bake it into pound cake, muffins, or cornbread
Get eating! 🙂
Small-Batch Vanilla Honey Fig Jam
Sweet figs, aromatic vanilla, and floral honey all come together in this delightfully chunky, not-too-sweet, small-batch fig jam! I used Celeste figs, but any tender, ripe figs will do!
Wash your figs and cut into quarters. I like a chunky jam, so I cut about 30% of my figs in half. Juice lemons, minding the seeds, and set juice aside. Place a small plate in the freezer.
Place figs, sugar, honey, and lemon juice in a heavy-bottomed dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring ingredients to a boil, stirring until combined. (If using vanilla beans, add seeds and pods, taking care to remove the pods after the jam has cooked. If using vanilla bean paste, add now. If substituting vanilla extract, wait until the jam has thickened before adding.)
Lower heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has thickened considerably (between 45 minutes and an hour). You will know your jam is ready to ladle into jars when a small drop of jam placed on the freezer plate wrinkles under your finger. (Dollop a small amount of jam onto the cold plate. Return to the freezer for a few minutes. Drag your finger through the jam--if it wrinkles, it's ready to can!)
If canning for long-term storage, ladle jam into sterilized jars, lightly screwing lids onto your jars. Place in a large pot and completely cover with water, boiling for 10 minutes. Using tongs, remove jars from hot water and allow them to cool on your countertop. You should hear the "ping" of your jam jars sealing! When jars have cooled, tighten the lids and label. If any of your jars did not fully seal, try re-boiling them or replacing with different sterilized lids and repeating the process.
If making quick-batch jam for short-term storage, simply ladle the hot jam into clean jars and place in the fridge. This fig jam keeps in the fridge up to 1 month once it's been opened.
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Summer harvest means an array of sweet and spicy peppers just perfect for flavoring braised pork butt. All a good hunk of meat needs is a few aromatics, quality stock, and time to turn into tender braised shreds just askin’ to be layered into a tortilla with a squeeze of lime. (Add some raw veggies for crunch and top with fresh herbs for best results.)
Let’s take a look at what makes this chunk of meat so special!
What is Pork Butt?
My boyfriend and I received a hunk of pork labeled “pork butt” in our most recent Butcher Box. I stood over the freezer with the massive chunk of meat in my hands, staring at the sticker on the plastic as somewhere in the catalogue of my cooking knowledge, dim recollections started bubbling towards my consciousness. Somewhere, somehow, at some point along my foodie journey, I remembered that pork butt is not in fact a pig’s butt.
We’ve all had ham, right? Well isn’t ham from the hindquarters of a pig? A quick Google search confirmed this.
Boom. Confirmed. Ham = rump. So why didn’t the massive slab of meat in my hands (which looked nothing like a ham, by the way) say “ham” if it was, in fact, from a pig’s butt?
Deep in the recesses of my brain, memories continued to stir, leading me to ask:
Are pork butt and pork shoulder the same thing?
I googled diagrams of pork cuts. Let’s just say humans have certainly figured out how to get the very most out of the animal.
There it is: Boston butt, clearly distinct from ham!
But to make matters even more confusing, continued Googling revealed that Boston butt is also sometimes called Boston shoulder. Naturally, this lead to further questioning…
As you can see in this diagram from The Spruce, the Boston butt sits just above the picnic shoulder on the pig.
Why is the Boston Butt Called the Boston Butt?
So, if the Boston butt doesn’t come from anywhere near the animal’s rump, why is it called a “butt”?!
As is true of many mysteries, the answer is rooted in history. In colonial New England during America’s fledgling years, butchers used to pack inexpensive cuts of shoulder meat into barrels, called “butts.” Used for transporting their wares across New England, the contents of these barrels became known as “pork butts,” the name we still call some shoulder meat today.
So yes, pork butt and pork shoulder, Boston butt and Boston shoulder, are all referring to the same cut of meat.
Primal Cuts of Pork
As you saw in the second diagram above (which is not even a complete breakdown of every cut of pork), we parse out many pieces of meat from a single pig.
First, however, a butcher must make several initial cuts, called primal cuts. These are shoulder, loin, belly, and hind leg cuts.
From there, an experienced butcher will continue to cut out pieces we know and love, like spare ribs, tenderloin, and bacon.
What Makes Certain Cuts of Meat More Expensive Than Others?
There are several factors in play when determining the value of a price of meat. These include but are not limited to:
Another influential factor is supply and demand. For example, Bacon is rich in fat marbling, inherently tender because of its cut, and also happens to be extremely flavorful. It is also simple to prepare because of these positive characteristics. I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground here when I say that these are the reasons why bacon is so popular. In short, it’s truly delicious.
What this means for the market, however, is that bacon prices range from $6.99 for 16 ounces to $17.50 for the same weight. Bacon quality ranges from the cheapest money to buy to the most luxuriously-seasoned, thick-cut bacon available. Unless we collectively undergo a radical cultural shift around the cuts of meat we love, there will always be a market for bacon.
Flank steak is an example of a cut of meat that has had its reputation revamped. Years ago, flank steak was dirt cheap. Flank steak is a very lean cut on the cow that generally has little fat marbling. If handled poorly, this cut of meat can be tough and flavorless.
From this example, we can see that cuts of meat we value culturally can shift. So who knows: maybe someday we will be inviting neighbors over for grilled pig’s feet!
How to Prepare Lean Cuts of Meat
There are several things to consider when you work with a lean cut of meat. When a cut of meat has little marbling, that means it will tend towards toughness and may be low on flavor.
Fortunately, there are certain tricks you can employ in order to make the most out of your lean cut of meat. Here are some ideas to consider:
Marinate your meat. Marinating your meat in acid or vinaigrette helps to tenderize it before the cooking process. Lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar are all great bases for marinades. Don’t forget to add a little honey to balance your flavors–honey is also acidic!
Use a meat mallet. Physically tenderizing your tough cuts with a meat mallet or rolling pin helps to break down thick muscle fibers.
Allow your meat to come to room temperature beforecooking. This will help the meat to cook more evenly, especially for bone-in cuts. More control over your meat temperature means more control over moisture and overall “done-ness”.
Rest your meat after you cook it. This helps restore the natural juices in the meat by allowing them to redistribute around the whole cut, rather than spilling out under your knife once you start cutting. A general rule is, rest for five minutes per inch of thickness.
Cook lean cuts low and slow. Slow-roasting lean cuts can reduce the risk of “shocking” the meat or causing unnecessary loss of moisture. This is especially true for braising, during which process the meat is completely submerged in tasty cooking liquid like broth or wine.
Cook meat to the right internal temperature. It may seem obvious, but overcooking your meat highlights any negative characteristics, like toughness and dryness, which can be avoided by cooking it on the rarer side.
Cut against the grain. Cutting against the grain of long muscle fibers makes for tender bites that are easy to chew. You might be amazed at what a difference this simple step can make!
Sweet Pepper Braised Pork Butt Tacos
Perhaps the best part about this recipe is how simple it is. The primary flavor comes from whatever peppers you have in abundance, onion, and aromatic herbs. The soft, flavorful peppers make an excellent addition to your tacos as well as the meat from the braised pork butt.
Brush olive oil on your peppers and broil on high until the skin is blistered. I used red bell peppers, sweet mini peppers, and spicy Fresno peppers.
After your peppers are blistered, allow them to rest in their own flavorful juices while you brown the meat. No need to get fussy over peeling garlic or mincing onion–big chunks here are great!
Sear your pork butt, fatty side first, and save the rendered oil! Set meat aside while you sear your onion and garlic.
Once you’ve browned your meat on all sides, sear the garlic and onion to flavor rendered pork fat. Settle your meat, herbs, peppers, vinegar, and stock into the dutch oven and bring to a boil.
Ideally, your meat will be completely submerged. My pork butt was MASSIVE, however, and would barely fit in the dutch oven. I compensated by leaving the dutch oven covered for the entirety of the cooking process and by rotating the meat halfway through.
After about four hours have elapsed, shred the pork butt into bite-sized chunks, cutting any particularly long muscle fibers against the grain for maximum tenderness. Spoon braised pork butt and sweet peppers into warm tortillas with some fresh vegetables and herbs, and top with a squeeze of lime!
Cuisine American, Intuitive, Mexican, Seasonal, traditional
heavy bottomed dutch oven
4Tbsolive oil, divided
5-7lbpork butt or pork shoulder,at room temperature
2red, orange, or yellow bell peppers,whole
4-6sweet mini peppers,whole
2-6spicy peppers of your choice(I used Fresnos)
1white onion,skinned and cut into quarters
1/4cupapple cider vinegar
6-8cupschicken or pork broth,or enough to completely submerge the pork
freshly ground black pepper
2earsraw corn,kernels cut from the cob
2limes,cut into wedges
Turn the broiler on high. Brush your peppers in olive oil on all sides and arrange on a rimmed cookie sheet. Roast under the heat until the skin begins to blister, turning peppers as necessary so they roast evenly. This should take between 4-7 minutes per side. Once your pepper skins have blistered, place in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Generously season the pork on all sides with salt. Heat a dutch oven over medium-high heat until drops of water quickly evaporate. Add pork shoulder, fattiest side down, and sear 5-8 minutes per side, or until deeply golden brown. Turn heat to medium-low and set the browned pork butt aside.
Cut the head of garlic in half horizontally and sear the exposed garlic cloves in the rendered pork fat until a nice caramel color, lowering heat if necessary. Remove from heat and add the onions. Sear undisturbed until the onion quarters take on some color, about 3 minutes.
Add stock and vinegar to the pan, scraping up any flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the dutch oven. Season the liquid with salt and pepper. Settle the pork butt into the liquid, fat side up, and add the two halves of the seared garlic head, bay leaf, rosemary, and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover, then place in the oven for 3.5-4 hours, or until pork is falling off the shoulder bone.
Pull pork out of the liquid using tongs and, once it has cooled slightly, break apart using a fork or gloved hands. If necessary, cut any long muscle fibers against the grain to enhance tenderness.
Gently pull peppers from the cooking liquid and remove seeds and stems. If desired, roughly chop into bite sized chunks. Using tongs, place pork, peppers, corn, and cilantro into a warm tortilla and squeeze lime over the top. Serve immediately. Pork keeps up to 5 days in the fridge.
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Summertime in the south means peaches, peaches, peaches! These ephemeral delights are best enjoyed at peak ripeness, whether raw, baked, blitzed into ice cream, or preserved. For this peach and ricotta spelt scones recipe, adding a bit of spelt flour into the all-purpose helps the mixture stand up to the juicy peach chunks, while ricotta makes for a moist, loose crumb. With just 1/4 cup of brown sugar, these scones are scarcely sweet at all, allowing the peach flavor to really shine!
These scones are not a low-fat food! While the addition of real fruit chunks and spelt flour does help to offset the added sugar, ingredients like ricotta, heavy cream, and butter bring the dough together. Fat content aside, these scones are fun to bake and a treat to eat.
What is Spelt Flour?
If you are a seasoned baker, you understand different flours tend to behave…differently. Some have higher protein content than others, like bread flour. Some have low protein content like cake flour. Then there’s the wide range of alternative flours, like rice, tapioca, chickpea, amaranth, etc. And let’s not forget about whole wheat!
While each of these flours is worthy of a lengthy discussion in and of themselves, let’s start by taking a look at spelt flour.
Spelt flour is a stone-ground ancient grain that was a precursor to modern wheat. It can be used in lieu of all-purpose flour or, commonly, whole wheat.
Once a prolific crop in the Middle Ages, spelt flour has a pleasant, sweet and nutty flavor. It adds a reddish tint to your baked goods, and is capable of light and airy baking. Whole grain spelt flour and spelt berries are available at most grocery stores or online at Bob’s Red Mill’s website.
Reasons to Use Spelt Flour
Whole grain spelt flour is an ample amount of fiber as well as:
Vitamins B1, B3, B6
This is a far cry from all-purpose flour, even enriched flour, which has additives not naturally occurring in the wheat flour. For a list of the nutrition facts of enriched flour, click here.
Furthermore, spelt flour helps in reducing blood sugar spikes after eating, making these scones taste even sweeter. Because of spelt’s easy digestibility, it has even been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut and promote healthy digestion!
Ways to Use Spelt Flour
Spelt flour is more versatile than it might seem! A wonderful way to begin incorporating spelt flour into your baking is to add it half and half with regular flour. (For example, if a recipe calls for 3 cups of flour, add 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour and 1.5 cups of spelt flour.)
When you’re not making peach and ricotta spelt scones, some popular ways to use spelt flour include:
waffles or pancakes
Looking for a savory application? Check out this recipe for herbed spelt scones packed with parsley and lemon zest!
Juicy Peach and Ricotta Spelt Scones
This recipe comes together with a few choice ingredients. Gather your perfectly ripe peach, dry ingredients, ricotta, cream, and lemon.
Then add butter to your whisked dry ingredients and chop your peaches.
Cut the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers.
Toss in your chopped peaches.
Mix to incorporate, then mix your buttermilk with your ricotta.
Mix the wet into the dry ingredients until just incorporated.
Shaping Your Peach Ricotta Scones
Mold into a disk about 1 inch thick on a floured surface. Cut into 8 even triangles, or into squares if you prefer.
I chose triangles 🙂
Brush with cream before baking.
If you like, sprinkle some large crystal sugar over the top of these beauties!
Bake for 15-17 minutes aaaand…
Best eaten warm. These scones keep wrapped up tight or in an airtight container up to 3 days.
Juicy Peach and Ricotta Spelt Scones (Low Sugar)
Based of of Smitten Kitchen's Rasperry Ricotta Scones recipe!
Cuisine American, baking, Intuitive, Seasonal, traditional
1/4cupdark brown sugar
6Tbscold butter,cut into pieces
1heaping cuppeaches, cut into cubes(about one large peach)
3/4cupwhole milk ricotta
1/3cupheavy cream, plus more for brushing
1/2lemon, seeds removed,juiced
large crystal sugar for sprinkling(optional)
Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
Add strained lemon juice to heavy cream and stir. Let mixture sit 10-15 minutes.
Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Cut the peach into cubes and remove the pit. Cut butter into 1 Tbs pieces.
Using a pastry cutter, fork, or your fingers, cut the butter into the combined dry ingredients. Once the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, add the peach chunks and stir to combine.
Combine ricotta and heavy cream with lemon juice (buttermilk replacement). Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined.
Heavily flour a countertop or cutting board and shape the dough into a disc about 1" thick. Cut into 8 even scones (square or triangular work).
Place scones on baking sheet, brush heavy cream and sprinkle with optional sugar. Bake 15-17 minutes, or until scones are lightly golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature before eating. Best enjoyed within 3 days after keeping in an airtight container.
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If your vines are sagging with tomatoes and your larders are looking perilously full of produce, may I present to you a simple solution: rustic tomato tart. It has been a while since I’ve made anything so thoroughly gratifying in the kitchen, from the process of crafting this elevated form of tomatoes to digging into a savory bite of this delicious tart.
While this recipe happens to be vegetarian, what it lacks in meat it more than makes up for in flavor. Layers of spicy mustard, rich gruyère cheese, earthy herbs, and juicy, roasted, umami-rich tomatoes come together beautifully in this culinary delight, which seems to be at least cousins with pizza. You won’t even miss the meat. Promise.
This show-stopping rustic tart is definitely a labor of love. It takes nearly two hours to prepare from start to finish, but is definitely a dish you’ll want to share with other tomato fans. (Or pizza fans…or savory tart fans…or fans of wholesome-feeling food…)
There is something so comforting about ingredients enveloped in pastry, and this tomato tart is no exception. This is not a dish to get fussy over, or to try to make look perfect. The point, if I may say so, is to put summer’s voluptuous tomatoes on the pedestal they deserve, all in one scrumptious buttery crust. Forkable and finger-food-able, chances are you will not be able to cut yourself a big enough wedge of this mouth-watering rustic beauty!
Why Tomatoes Are Good For You
Whether you’re munching on a cherry tomato or digging into a funky heirloom varietal, there are certain nutritional elements that are universal in the delicious world of tomatoes.
Red tomatoes are high in an antioxidant called lycopene, for example. This gives them their red color which helps to protect them from ultraviolet light damage from the sun. Eating high amounts of lycopene can likewise protect your cells from ultraviolet rays, so eating tomatoes in summertime (i.e. when they naturally are abundant) just makes sense. Isn’t it great when nature works with us?
Additionally, lycopene is associated with cancer prevention. It also reduces “bad” cholesterol, which may help to prevent heart disease.
All tomatoes contain substances called lutein and zeaxanthin. These substances have been correlated with protecting your eyes from blue light from smartphones and computer screens. These compounds may also help to prevent age-related macular degeneration, the number one cause of blindness in the United States today.
Lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin have also been associated with lung health. Tomatoes may be beneficial to patients with asthma as well as those at risk for emphysema.
Tomatoes are also rich in:
vitamins E, C, and K
folate (vitamin B9)
soluble and insoluble fiber
Tomatoes’ high vitamin C content gives an added boost to your immune system. Their antioxidants help to reduce inflammation, and they even prevent your blood from clotting. All of these benefits are associated with stroke prevention.
Is It Better to Eat Raw or Cooked Tomatoes?
Certain nutritional elements are more easily absorbed when tomatoes are cooked, like lycopene. However, cooking the tomatoes (even gently) removes some of the vitamin C.
So, why are you eating tomatoes? (Other than their wonderful, tangy taste?!) If you are boosting your immune system, eat raw tomatoes. If you are hoping to incorporate more lycopene into your diet, cook those fruits!
Are Tomatoes Really a Fruit?
The short answer is yes. Fruits are ripened flower ovaries with seeds. By this definition, lots of produce we think of as a vegetable is actually a fruit. Zucchini, pumpkins, avocados, cucumbers, and okra are all “vegetables” that are actually fruits. For a longer list, click here.
Over time, however, botanists distinguished fruits from vegetables by their relatively higher fructose content.
Today, most nutritionists clump tomatoes in with vegetables. Turns out the answer is complex as the flavor profile of a tomato itself!
Rustic Tomato Tart
It’s time to use up those uber-ripe tomatoes! Gather your ingredients for the filling and prepare the shortcrust pastry.
Simple ingredients, big flavor…what could be better?
Familiar ingredients come together in a unique way for this shortcrust pastry. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to make a pie crust following my recipe. The recipe in the link above utilizes both rye and regular all-purpose flour, but you can feel free to use only all-purpose flour.
Are Shortcrust Pastry and Pie Crust the Same Thing?
Yes, both shortcrust and pie crust are referring to a flaky, fatty pastry that it’s best not to overwork. Shortpastry relies on minimal gluten development for its flaky nature. This means that the more you work your dough, the more you form gluten networks. Overworking means chewy crust, not flaky crust–a shortcrust faux pas!
Roll out the pastry to fit a pie dish or tart pan between 9 and 11 inches.
Save any residual dough, as it can be used to patch any seams in your tart shell!
As you can see, I ran out of dried beans and improvised with some rice to weigh down the crust. This is important to prevent large bubbles from forming in the shell as well as preventing the sides from slumping down. While the crust is baking, prepare the filling.
Salt your thick tomato wedges and allow them to sit for a few minutes and “sweat.” Blot them with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
Blitz herbs, garlic, and oil until relatively smooth.
Once you’ve created your herb puree and blotted your tomatoes, you are ready to assemble your rustic tomato tart!
Spread the dijon in a thin layer over the base of the par-baked crust.
Next goes the cheese…
Over the cheese goes the herb puree. Spread it as evenly as you can, bearing in mind it will level as the tart cooks and relaxes in the hot oven.
Layer your tomato slices over the top of the herb puree. Be generous and really load the tart with tomatoes. Keep in mind they will shrink in the hot oven, so don’t be afraid to layer them.
Roast in the oven until the tomatoes have caramelized nicely and released some of their juices.
If you must serve yourself two helpings of this rustic tomato tart, there will certainly be no judgment from me…ENJOY!
3large, very ripe tomatoes(heirloom or beefsteak work great)
1 1/2cupsbasil leaves,loosely packed
1 1/2cupsparsley leaves,loosely packed
2Tbspwhole grain mustard(Dijon works too)
2ozgrated sharp cheese(Gruyere or Pecorino Romano are great picks)
freshly ground black pepper,for garnish
Add dry ingredients and butter to a food processor and pulse until the mixture has formed a coarse crumb. Add water and egg and pulse until dough just comes together. Using two sheets of wax or parchment paper, form the dough into a disc and roll it out between the two sheets using a rolling pin or wine bottle until it will fit into a tart pan or pie dish. Transfer the sheet of dough onto a plate or cookie sheet and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, slice the tomatoes into 1/2" wedges and lay out on a rimmed baking sheet. Season generously with salt and allow to sit at room temperature while you work on the tart shell.
Remove the sheet of shortcrust from the freezer and work the dough into the pie dish or tart pan. Trim the edges as necessary and save any remaining dough for patching any tears that may have occurred. Prick the bottom and sides of the tart shell with a fork and place back in the freezer for another 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
While the tart is chilling for the second time, prepare the herb puree. Rinse out your food processor and add herbs, salt, and garlic and pulse until the herbs are finely cut. Add olive oil and pulse again until the mixture forms a paste. Set aside.
Pull the chilled tart shell out of the freezer. Line with parchment paper and add dried beans, rice, or pie weights until they climb up at least half the height of your tart shell walls. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crust has begun to solidify. Remove pie weights and parchment, and bake another 5-10 minutes, or until the bottom of the tart is no longer shiny. Allow the tart shell to cool to room temperature.
Blot the tomatoes with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Spread mustard in the bottom of the ambient temperature tart shell. Sprinkle grated cheese over the mustard. Add an even layer of herb puree over the cheese, then arrange the tomato slices on top of that. Keep in mind they will shrink in the oven, so be generous and really load the tart with tomatoes. Crack pepper over the top layer of the tart.
Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until the tomatoes are nicely roasted. Allow the tart to cool slightly. Best served warm. Keeps in the fridge up to 4 days.
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What to Serve With Tomato Tart
I definitely ate generous slices of this as my dinner, but this tart works great as a side dish as well. Natural choices are a protein-rich salad, hearty sausages, or a balsamic-glazed flank steak. Don’t forget to eat this tart in the sunshine!
This tart keeps in the fridge up to 4 days. It doesn’t do great in the freezer due to the tomatoes’ high water content (water expands in the freezer, cell walls rupture, and you end up with tomato mush). This tart is for sharing, so eat it up quick!
As we near the end of summer, we approach the end of the growing season for stonefruit. While this is a bittersweet farewell, I rejoice in the fact that it is time to make my favorite jam of all: David Lebovitz’s small-batch apricot jam.
The last few weeks have been a race to get my hands on the dwindling supply of apricots before they are gone for good until next season. Once an apricot reaches its bright orangish, peachy glow of ripeness, it immediately begins to rot–so this extremely perishable food must be handled with some swiftness or otherwise eaten immediately.
I chose this jam recipe because of the small yield, but also because of the limited amount of sugar and the exclusion of other flavor additives. This recipe is all about letting the apricots do the talking. Apricots are a perfect fruit, in my opinion. If you agree, then this recipe is for you!
How to Eat Apricot Jam
Tart, tangy, sweet, and floral, this jam is a happy addition to:
vanilla ice cream with toasted pistachios
oatmeal or another porridge
glaze tarts, cobblers, pies, and cakes
Or, use it to glaze pork chops or chicken breasts, for a savory option. Throw in some rosemary, thyme, or another herb to provide some depth!
What is Noyaux?
While you process your ripe apricots, you will end up with a pile of pits next to your cutting board. These are not simply trash to be thrown away, however! If you have a nutcracker or a hammer, there’s a hidden treasure within those tough pits–the “almond” within, known as noyaux. These nutty kernels are known for their pleasant, almond-y flavor. It is customary in some places in Europe to crack open a peach or apricot pit and place the noyaux in each jam jar before canning.
But be aware: the noyaux contains a compound called amygdalin that, when mixed with water, creates a small amount of prussic acid. (Another name for prussic acid is hydrogen cyanide…yes, like the poison!)
Never fear–a person weighing 150 pounds could crunch through over two pounds of noyaux before reaching toxic levels in their body. So, unless you plan on going around crunching peach pits all day long, adding a single kernel to a jar of jam is a safe option. Adding noyaux for a flavor complexity boost can take your small-batch apricot jam to the next level!
If you are concerned about the amygdalin, roasting the noyaux at 350°F for 15-20 minutes neutralizes the toxin.
How to Use Noyaux
Other than using noyaux in stonefruit preserves, there are a number of other common applications for this hidden treasure. Perhaps the most widely practiced of these is making noyaux “almond” extract.
Known for its complex, bitter almond flavor, the simple process of making noyaux extract requires more patience than technical skill. Simply add toasted (or untoasted) kernels to your choice of alcohol in a sealed jar and wait 3 months or so before straining! Leaving the jar at room temperature will speed up the extraction process.
What’s the Difference Between Almonds and Noyaux?
The truth is, almonds are very similar to the kernels found within the pits of stone fruits. Almonds and noyaux are both drupes in the prunus family. In fact, almonds grow a greenish fruit outside their shell that looks very similar to an unripe apricot.
And yes, this does mean that almonds contain a small amount of cyanide–but not enough to cause concern. Unless you plan on eating over 50 ounces (over three pounds) of almonds in one day, you can snack without worry.
Where Can I Buy Apricots?
We are approaching the end of the stonefruit growing season, so if you are hoping to crack into a jar of apricot preserves this winter, time is of the essence!
Look at your local farmer’s market, or check out this awesome tool from LocalHarvest! Chances are, you are closer to real people growing real apricots than you might think. 🙂
How to Make Small-Batch Apricot Jam
Set aside a few hours for this process. Put on some relaxing music, and enjoy it!
First, gather your ingredients:
Halve and quarter your apricots into desired sizes. I like chunky preserves, so I left some large pieces in my processed fruit. If you so desire, now is the moment to roast your noyaux, crack open the pits, and arrange in jam jars.
Add water to the fruit and cook over medium heat until the fruit is heated through and begins to break down.
Add sugar and continue to simmer over medium-low heat until the mixture is reduced and passes the “wrinkle” test.
Stir lemon juice and amaretto liqueur into the warm jam and ladle into sterilized jars. (To sterilize jars, completely submerge in boiling water with lids and rings for 10 minutes. Pluck jars and lids out with long grill tongs and drain on a clean towel.) Loosely screw the tops on the apricot preserves, and completely submerge in boiling water for another 10 minutes.
Work in batches if you must to ensure jars are completely submerged. Remove the jars with tongs and allow to cool to room temperature for 12 hours. You will hear the “ping” of your lids sealing to the jars–a sign of success! Press on the tops of the lids to ensure they’ve fully adhered to the jars. For lids that don’t seal, jam is best eaten within 4 weeks. Jam also freezes beautifully, so for any jars that don’t make the cut for long-term storage, feel free to transfer your jam to the freezer after it cools to room temperature!
What If I Need All My Jars to Seal?
As you can see, the leftmost jar of the four didn’t seal. I will be devouring it over the course of the coming week, so no harm, no foul! If, however, you are banking on every single jar sealing up for long-term storage, you can always try re-boiling the jar for another 10 minutes.
It is always a good idea to sterilize more lids and jars than you think you will need. Sometimes all it takes to seal a jar is using a different lid.
Using brand new lids for your canning endeavors ensures you get a good seal on your jars every time. It’s great to reuse lids for canning projects as much as possible, but over time they do wear out. New lids are available for separate purchase at most grocery stores or online.
Is There Another Way to Sterilize My Jars?
Yes. You can also sterilize your jars in a clean oven. Set the temperature to 200°F and bake jars and lids for 20 minutes on a cookie sheet or directly on the rack.
David Lebovitz’s Small-Batch Apricot Jam
David Lebovitz's Small-Batch Apricot Jam (Low Sugar)
This delightfully simple recipe highlights and preserves all the pleasant characteristics of apricots without overwhelming with sugar.
Cuisine American, Comfort Food, French, traditional
heavy bottomed dutch oven
2 1/4lbsfresh apricots,pits removed and cut in quarters
1tspfreshly-squeezed lemon juice
1tspkirsch or amaretto liqueur
Wash the apricots, cut them in half, and remove the pits. Cut apricots into quarters if you like smaller pieces of preserved fruit. If desired, crack open the pits with a nut cracker or hammer and place one kernel in each jam jar.
Place a small plate in the freezer.
Place water and apricots in the heavy-bottomed dutch oven and cover. Cook over medium heat until apricots are cooked through, 5-7 minutes.
Once apricots are cooked through, remove the lid and add the sugar, stirring until combined. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until the mixture has significantly reduced, 30-45 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The jam should look fairly thick and jelly-like.
Retrieve the plate from the freezer and dollop a small portion of jam on it. Return the plate to the freezer and wait for 1-2 minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer again and drag your finger through the chilled jam. If it piles up and wrinkles as your finger moves through it, the jam is ready for canning. If it's not quite ready, continue to cook over medium-low heat, testing for doneness in the same fashion.
When the jam is reduced, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice and kirsch. Ladle into sterilized jars. Screw lids on loosely and completely submerge jars in boiling water for 10 minutes, working in batches if necessary. Remove jars from boiling water and allow to cool to room temperature. You should hear a pinging sound as the jars seal. Alternatively, allow cooked jam to cool to room temperature and place in fridge or freezer. Jam placed in the freezer will keep up to 1 year. Jam placed in the freezer keeps up to 4 weeks.
Enjoy jam with toast, plain croissants, oats or porridge, yogurt, or ice cream.
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This simple one-skillet roast chicken recipe is perfect for weeknight dinners or a cozy date night. Mouthwatering chicken roasts atop layers of thinly sliced potatoes which absorb flavorful drippings from the bird as it cooks. This chicken has it all: crispy skin, juicy meat, and precious rendered schmaltz absorbed into peppery potatoes below. Best of all, it all comes together in one pan!
The secret to moist chicken? Let the bird rest for 10 minutes before carving.
At What Temperature is Roast Chicken Done?
While some chefs pull their chicken at 155°F, the standard temperature for fully cooked chicken is 165°F.
Another way to check if your chicken is done is to slice between the thigh and the breast with a knife. If the juices run clear, the bird is done. If they appear bloody or murky, the chicken needs more time in the oven.
It is not uncommon for just-cooked chicken breast to look slightly pinkish. When in doubt, use a meat thermometer to ensure you’ve reached the point at which your chicken is safe to eat.
Where Does Roast Chicken Come From?
The history of humans consuming roast chicken reaches back about as long as we’ve kept the birds in captivity. Many different cultures from across the globe have variants of roasted chicken associated with traditional cooking. Peru, Australia, France, and Germany have long-held customs of roasting chicken, whether rotisserie style or in the oven.
Schmaltz (also spelled “shmalz” or “schmalz”) is the name referring to rendered poultry fat, typically chicken but sometimes goose or duck. Schmaltz is known for its prevalence in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine as a cooking fat and flavor enhancer.
The word “schmaltz” is derived from the German verb “schmelzen” which means “to melt.” This perhaps refers to the common means of rendering schmaltz, which is to cut chicken fat into small pieces and stir it over heat until the fat is eventually liquified. Another schmaltz-rendering process is achieved through the use of steam injection. In both processes, the rendered schmaltz is filtered, then clarified, before it is ready for use.
A Brief History of Schmaltz
While chicken fat has been flavoring our meals since we began cooking with it (as true in American culture as any other chicken-eating culture across the globe), rendered schmaltz is perhaps most rooted in Ashkenazi cuisine. This is perhaps because European Jews often experienced restrictions on land ownership and as such could not own cattle. Schmaltz became an important olive oil replacement for central and northwestern Europe where olive oil was not readily available at a widely affordable price. Schmaltz has historical roots reaching back to Ancient Israel prior to the forced Jewish exile from Roman Israel.
Because olive oil and sesame oil were not available to Jews who made their way to northwestern Europe, they turned to schmaltz, an available cooking fat approved by Kashrut.
Kashrut is a set of dietary rules prohibiting certain foods; it also dictates how certain foods should be prepared before consumption according to Jewish law. These rules expressly forbid cooking with common fats like butter, lard, and tallow–thus Jews turned to using fat rendered from chickens to cook their meals.
In contemporary Europe, overfeeding geese became common practice in schmaltz and foie gras production.
How Schmaltz is Used Today
When Jews immigrated to the United States, they brought traditions like cooking with schmaltz with them. Due to aggressive advertising by Crisco, some American Jews swapped their schmaltz for the vegetable shortening. Others swapped schmaltz for newly-available olive oil or plant-based oils.
Some doctors and nutritionists suggested the saturated fat content of schmaltz made it an unhealthy cooking oil. Coupled with a series of health movements in the United States, schmaltz lost popularity at the turn of the 20th century and could not be found in most American kitchens.
Schmaltz has since resurged in popularity as modern Jewish cooks connect to their heritage in the kitchen. Endorsements from chefs like Anthony Bourdain brought schmaltz back into the culinary limelight, causing some positive waves for the slandered cooking fat. Schmaltz remains an important “secret ingredient” and flavor booster in modern dishes like chicken pot pie and chicken and dumplings.
Want to buy schmaltz but don’t know where to look? This jar from Epic is certified organic and unbleached.
Simple One-Skillet Roast Chicken and Schmaltzy Potatoes
Whether you choose to cook with schmaltz for religious reasons or for flavor, one thing is certain: you are in for a tasty meal. Gather your ingredients and prepare for assembly in your cast iron skillet.
I used two large russet potatoes (to feed two of us), but if you are cooking for four, consider using another potato or two, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup more chicken broth. Add more parmesan, salt, and pepper between potato layers, too.
Season between every layer of potatoes with salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.
Once the potatoes are seasoned, add enough chicken broth to just reach the top layer of potatoes to ensure they cook thoroughly as the chicken roasts. Place your chicken atop the potatoes, breast side up.
Give your bird a little extra flavor boost with chunks of onion, sprigs of time, and wedges of lemon. Don’t forget to salt and pepper the skin, for maximum crispiness!
Once you’ve rubbed salt and pepper all over your bird, it’s ready for the oven! Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, or until skin begins to brown. Lower the heat to 400 and bake another 30 minutes or so more, depending on the size of your bird.
Mmmmm…crispy skin, juicy meat, schmaltzy taters…let your inner hedonist out and enjoy this meal!
Weeknight dinner just got a lot more fun!
Simple One-Skillet Roast Chicken and Schmaltzy Potatoes
Succulent roasted chicken stuffed with aromatics gets crispy and juicy atop a bed of cheesy, schmaltzy potato medallions.
Cuisine American, ashkenazi, Comfort Food, Intuitive, jewish, traditional
cast iron skillet
1whole chicken with plenty of fat,preferably organic
1white or yellow onion,peeled and cut into quarters
1lemon,cut in half with seeds removed
4-6clovesgarlic,crushed and peeled
2-3large potatoes, sliced into thin rounds(russet works, but other potatoes are delicious as well)
1.5ozfreshly grated parmesan cheese(pecorino works too)
1/2cupchicken broth(water or milk work in a pinch)
At least 30 minutes before you plan to start roasting your chicken, pull it from the fridge and let it come to room temperature. (This ensures a true-to-recipe roast time as the cold bones of the chicken carcass don't inhibit the roasting process.) Dress the outside of the chicken with a generous sprinkling of salt and rub all over the skin. Crack some fresh pepper over the hen and let sit while you prepare the vegetables.
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Prepare the onion, lemon, and garlic, and set aside. Cut the potatoes into thin rounds with a sharp knife or mandolin.
Arrange a single layer of potatoes in the bottom of a cast iron skillet. Season with a pinch of salt, a crack of black pepper (or as much as you'd like), and a bit of grated parmesan cheese. Add another layer of potatoes on top and season accordingly. Repeat with any remaining potatoes. When all of the potato rounds have been incorporated, season the top layer with salt, pepper, and the remaining cheese.
Pour chicken broth into the cast iron at the edge of the pan, taking care not to disturb too much of the cheese. You want the liquid to just come up to the topmost potato layer.
Place the chicken on the bed of potatoes, breast side up. Slide into the center rack of the oven and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the skin begins to brown and start crisping up.
Turn oven down to 400°F and roast for another 30-45 minutes, or until juices from a knife stuck between the thigh and breast run clear, or the thickest part of the chicken temps at 165°F with a meat thermometer.
Allow chicken to rest 10 minutes before carving. Cut both breasts and thighs from the carcass, and immediately serve with the potatoes below. Keeps up to four days in the fridge.
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If you are looking for a cauliflower rice recipe with simple ingredients and a big flavor, this is it. Plus, it happens to be vegan, paleo, and keto! It’s a great side for anyone monitoring how carbs and dairy react with their body. This creamy dish is surprisingly filling, and pairs well with just about any protein.
You may have heard that brightly colored foods contain more vitamins and minerals, but don’t be fooled: cauliflower ranks with the best of ’em for nutrition. With a high fiber content and low carb count, this low-glycemic food is a great addition to any diet. Whether you are on a plant-based food plan or an omnivorous one, a full serving of cauliflower will likely make your body happy. Aside from fiber, a serving of cauliflower contains:
Vitamin C. One cup of cauliflower contains 77% of your vitamin C intake for the day.
Vitamin K. In fact, some blood-thinning medications advise not to eat too much cauliflower too quickly, as its high vitamin K content may affect the medicine!
Vitamin B6 and folate
Phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium
Antioxidants. One of these, indole-3-carbinole, has been shown to reduce the likelihood of breast and reproductive cancers in men and women.
In short, eating these compounds has medical associations with improved memory, digestion, blood circulation, and bone strength. Sounds pretty good, right?
Is Coconut Milk Good For You?
If you’ve ever looked at the back of a can of coconut milk, you’ve probably noticed that it is a high calorie food. Even the “lite” coconut milk has about the same caloric value as an equivalent amount of whole milk. Conversely, 1 cup of coconut cream (a common ingredient in many curry dishes and soups) contains a whopping 552 calories, as well as 57 grams of fat.
You may be thinking, “That’s a lot of fat!”
If you are, you’re correct–roughly 93% of coconut milk’s calories come from fat. But the fat present in coconut milk is primarily composed of saturated fats known as medium-chain triglycerides (or MCTs). Generally, these fats are known to decrease appetite and increase energy, and may even improve your cholesterol levels!
Coconut milk and coconut cream also contain several vital nutrients, including copper, potassium, selenium, iron, folate, manganese, and magnesium.
To boot, coconut-based product contains lauric acid, which fights viruses and bacteria. This is why some people partake in coconut oil pulling to boost their oral hygiene.
Coconut oil has also been shown to reduce swelling and inflammation in several studies.
So yes: full fat coconut milk is rich in saturated fats. Luxuriate in it! With all the associated health benefits, adding coconut cream to your cauliflower rice will take your vegetable game to the next level.
Best Way to Cook Cauliflower
According to research presented by CNN, the best way to prepare vegetables is to steam them. This provides the highest level of nutrient retention in the vegetable, as opposed to boiling, which causes cauliflower to lose up to 50% of its antioxidants.
In short, the less water you use in your vegetable preparation, the more likely your veggies are to retain their nutrients.
Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Rice
First, chop the shallot, peel and chop the ginger, and zest and juice the lime.
Blitz the cauliflower in a food processor until it resembles rice.
Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet and sautee shallot and ginger for several minutes. Add riced cauliflower and sautee several more minutes. Add lime juice, zest, red pepper flakes, salt, and coconut milk. Cook until the coconut milk has reduced and the mixture is homogenous. Add cilantro as a garnish. Keeps up to 3 days in the fridge.
Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Rice (Vegan, Keto)
This cauliflower rice recipe calls for full fat coconut milk and lots of lime!
Cut and core the cauliflower into individual florets. Run the florets through the shredding blade of a food processor until the cauliflower resembles rice. Work in batches to avoid overloading the food processor.
Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the minced shallot, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and sautee until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the cauliflower and saute until the cauliflower releases steam, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Add coconut milk and cook, stirring frequently, until the coconut milk has reduced and the mixture is homogenous.
Remove from heat and stir in lime zest and juice. Season with salt.
Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Keeps up to 3 days in the fridge.
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Have you ever wondered who first loved chickpeas enough to blitz them into a creamy, spoonable purée? Because it has been beloved by so many, the origins of hummus are somewhat disputed. Greek and Arab cultures both lay claim to the delightful spread–so, where did hummus come from? And what on earth is aquafaba!?
Regardless of where hummus comes from, Greeks and Arabs historically traded many goods, sharing ideas, music, and food for a very long time. Both cultures also happen to enjoy stuffed grape leaves and baklava, no doubt reaching back to their intermingling during the Ottoman Empire. It’s no wonder they both claim to be the inventors of hummus! We may never know its true origins.
What we know for sure is that the earliest mention of hummus dates back to 13th century Egypt. Since the 1200s, however, hummus has come in many different forms. A quick Google search yields recipes for “Egyptian hummus,” “Greek hummus,” “Israeli hummus,” “Lebanese hummus“…the list goes on. The basics of these recipes are all fundamentally the same, however; blend cooked chickpeas with lemon juice, tahini, and seasonings together and enjoy!
The happy additions of tahini, lemon, and raw garlic make this simple dish enjoyable as an appetizer or first course–or as part of an epic charcuterie platter! So, what makes my recipe different? For this version of hummus, I include a no-cost secret ingredient: aquafaba!
What is Aquafaba?
Aquafaba is the water reserved from the process of cooking chickpeas. This water is rich in starches and, when whipped, makes a colloidal foam not dissimilar to egg whites. This is why aquafaba is popular among vegans and egg-intolerant individuals. The liquid from a can of chickpeas is so reliably fluffy when whipped, it can even be used to make vegan meringue cookies!
Other Ways to Use Aquafaba
Because of its fluffy characteristics when whipped, aquafaba affords bakers and home cooks many options in the kitchen. Here are some of the primary ways chefs use aquafaba:
With aquafaba, the only limit in the kitchen is your imagination! Use it in lieu of egg whites in sweet or savory recipes.
Not Everyone Loves Aquafaba…
While vegans and egg-intolerant people shared a lot of excitement since aquafaba hit the food scene in recent years, some nutritionists remain skeptical. Despite its fluffy characteristics, there’s more to “bean water” (“faba” and “aqua” in Latin) than meets the eye.
Others think the starchy water from the beans causes undue gastrointestinal distress because of its oligosaccharide content. This can cause gas and bloating in folks with a sensitive digestive system, and some claim it can even lead to leaky gut syndrome.
However, due to aquafaba’s recent arrival in the culinary world, there’s not much research to dispute or confirm any potential health benefits (from avoiding eggs) or harmful effects (from BPAs and starches). Cultures have long consumed stews containing the cooking liquid from pre-soaked dried chickpeas, so as is usually the case with intuitive eating, listen to your gut here (literally)! Everything in moderation, right?
Why I Use Aquafaba in This Recipe
The addition of some of the starchy water whips together with the chickpeas to create a truly fluffy, creamy texture without adding excess oil. I personally don’t eat a lot of canned food, am not pregnant, and am not overly concerned about–erm–passing wind. I’m pretty sure my dog doesn’t love me any less if I fart…so I’ll take the cut in unnecessary fat and the boost in texture, please! 🙂
Basic Hummus Recipe
Here is the basic skeleton of the recipe for hummus, which you can “dress up” any way you like. I doctored mine with extra raw garlic for a little punch.
I crushed the two heads of garlic and left them to soak in the lemon juice for around 15 minutes. The lemon juice takes some of the pungent bite and tempers garlic’s “rougher” edges. For maximum “garlic taming,” mince or press the garlic into the lemon juice.
Blitz everything in a food processor, gradually adding aquafaba until the hummus is of the desired thickness. Garnish with chopped toasted nuts, pomegranite seeds, sesame seeds, fresh herbs…I topped mine with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sumac.
Serve with your desired dip-able foods! Keeps well covered in the fridge up to 1 week.
Basic Oil-Free Hummus (With Aquafaba!)
The addition of aquafaba eliminates the need to use olive oil as a binder and makes for a fluffy, addicting dip!
Juice the lemon. Peel and chop garlic, then add to the lemon juice to macerate, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, drain chickpeas using a fine strainer over a bowl or large measuring cup. You should have about 3/4 cup of aquafaba. Add chickpeas to a food processor or blender along with tahini, a pinch of salt, and the lemon juice with garlic. Pulverize in pulses, gradually adding aquafaba until the hummus is of a desirable consistency.
Taste, and season for salt. Garnish with chopped toasted nuts, pomegranate seeds, sumac, olive oil, sesame seeds, pine nuts, and/or fresh herbs and serve. Keeps well in the fridge about 1 week.
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A few days ago I woke up with a splitting headache and an achy kind of nausea. I say “woke up” loosely, because I laid in bed for several hours just trying to figure out what’s what. Even though it is July in the South, and plenty hot, and plenty humid, I knew what I needed. The answer? Hot, nourishing soup with plenty of collard greens, which happen to be the state vegetable of South Carolina.
You may be thinking, “You crazy woman. It’s 1000 degrees outside where you live and 900% humidity. A walk halfway ’round the block is enough to get you sweating. Why are you making hot soup?”
And reader, I must say: valid point…
However, the body needs what the body needs, and sometimes silver-green bunches of bitter collards and turmeric-coated chickpeas can work some of the profoundest miracles.
I leafed my way through the picture-rich Flavor Equation gluttonously, lingering over pages that contained ingredients I’d never heard of. If you need some magic injected into your culinary life, consider this beautiful book by Nik Sharma. He breaks down some of the science of what makes ingredients big players in the kitchen and throws in some really interesting recipes for adventurous eaters intent on culinary play.
I saw the picture of this chili-spiced soup and just knew it would cure me.
What’s not to love about stewed greens in bright tomato and tamarind, with spiced chili, turmeric, cinnamon, and black pepper seasoning two kinds of legumes?
I ate not one, but two bowls of this for early dinner and was back on track by 8.
Health Benefits of Collard Greens
These broad, leafy greens have more to offer than meets the eye. Here are some of the top nutritional benefits to eating collard greens regularly:
Liver Detox: Collard greens are rich in glucosinolates, which cleanse cells of toxins and gradually purify the body over time.
Vitamins and Minerals: Rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B-6 as well as iron, magnesium, and calcium, collard greens offer your body the building blocks to do everything from producing hemoglobin in your red blood cells, to bo