Tart Summer Tart!

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Quick Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

With very little added sugar and the tartness of rhubarb, this fruity tart exactly that––tart! Sweeten it up a la mode with vanilla ice cream or simply enjoy it’s snappy flavor.

1 t butter
6 -8 squares puff pastry
2 cups strawberries halved
2 cups rhubarb sliced
1 t tapioca starch
1 T turbinado
1 T black strap molasses
2 T lemon juice
¼ t nutmeg
¼ t. cinnamon
¼ t salt
¼ t black pepper
1 t vanilla extract

Lightly coat a baking dish with butter. Then cover the bottom of it with puff pastry. Bake at 350º until golden. Allow to cool a bit.

Cut rhubarb on diagonal into ½” slices. Add to pot with turbinado. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Stir occasionally.

Trim green ends of strawberries and cut in half or quarters to equal 2 cups. Add to softened rhubarb with remainder of ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Spread mixture evenly on top of crisp puffed pastry and top with remaining raw puff pastry squares. Fold seams into a decorative design and perforate with 3 or 4 holes with a paring knife to release steam.

Bake for 40 minutes at 350º or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool thoroughly. Serve with a drizzle of pomegranate or vanilla ice cream.

BBQ Tamarind Ribs

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Finger lickin' good BBQ Tamarind Ribs

BBQ Sauce:
1 cup tamarind sauce (alt: tamarind paste & water)
½ cup tomato paste
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 T peanut butter
1 T black pepper
1 ½ t pink peppercorns
1 t salt

Crush pink peppercorns with a mallet or heavy-bottomed pan. Chop fresh basil. Combine with all other ingredients for the sauce. Slather the ribs liberally and place into a baking dish. Marinate overnight if possible.

Oven or Combination Oven/Grill Method
Cover and bake at 300º for 1 hour. Then reduce temperature to 175º and bake covered, for another 3-5 hours. This can be done the day before and refrigerated overnight. Uncover and broil for 3 min each side immediately before serving or place on a BBQ grille to thicken the coating and brown.

Grill Method:
Grill with indirect heat (coals on one side and ribs on the other side) with the lid down. For that fall-off the-bone tenderness, use few coals and replenished when necessary so temperature is very low over a prolonged period. Soaked wood chips make a nice extra touch of smoky flavor. Slather with additional coat of BBQ sauce and finish for 3 minutes each side over direct heat for that finger-lickin’, sticky goodness that says 4th of July!

Cucumber Coconut Manna Hors’d Oeuvres

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Cucumber Coconut Manna Canapés

Organic, Persian or Kirby cucumbers
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup  coconut manna
1 t dulse (optional)
½ t coarse salt
½ t pepper
¼ cup hemp seeds
1/2 oz red coconut oil

Choose cucumbers at the market according to best freshness and price.

Wash and cut chilled cucumbers on an extreme bias into thick, ½” oval shapes. Do not peel.

Heat coconut manna until liquefied. In a deep bowl, mix salt, pepper and dulse into yogurt to evenly blend. Pour in coconut manna and mix quickly and vigorously until it stiffens into a stiff cream, which takes only moments.

Pile 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture on to each cucumber slice. Sprinkle with hemp seeds and garnish with coarse salt and 1-2 drops red coconut oil. Serve immediately.

Nothing makes me happier than showing people superfoods are delicious and Nutiva certainly makes them. This recipe features 3 of their sensational products: coconut manna, hemp seeds, and their new responsibly harvested red palm oil! Party goers at Nutiva’s party during the Natural Product Expo gobbled up over 700 of these delicious, nutritious finger foods! Yum!

 

 

Crispy Asparagus with Lime Mayo

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Crispy Asparagus are coated in ground pumpkin seeds and spices!

10-12 thick asparagus spears
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ t ground coriander
½ t dulse or kelp flakes
¼ t ground fennel
¼ t kosher salt
¼ t black pepper

Sauce:
1 ½ T mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
1 ½ T fresh lime juice
zest of ½ lime
2 sprigs fresh thyme

Garnish Recommendations:
1 radish
2 springs parsley, basil, sage or cilantro

 

Rinse, trim the bottom ½” and remove the skin from the lower third of each asparagus spear with a vegetable peeler.

Evenly coat a baking sheet with 1 tablespoon of oil and place in an oven set to 350º.

Grind the pumpkin seeds into a fine powder in a coffee grinder. (Add coriander and fennel here, if spices are whole seeds.) Pour ground pumpkin seeds and the remaining spices into a rectangular baking dish at least as long as an asparagus spear and tap it to one of the longer sides. Roll each spear in the pumpkin seed and spice mixture and reserve at the empty side of the dish.

When all the spears are evenly coated, place them on the hot baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes before turning over each spear. Continue to bake for 10-15 more minutes or until the asparagus is tender and the coating is golden brown.

Zest ½ a lime in to a cup and stir in lime juice and mayo until smooth. Arrange the asparagus in a serving plate and pour a thin stream of the limo-mayo sauce over it. Sprinkle the white sauce decoratively with fresh thyme leaves and garnishes before serving.

Tip: For once, fat is better than thin!
Thin asparagus spears aren’t more tender than the big fat ones. It’s the insoluble fiber in asparagus’ skin that’s the tough part and overcooking it just makes it stringy and bitter,not more tender. Preferred are asparagus with a larger circumference. Then the ratio of tender soluble fiber beneath the skin is higher for a more chewable, flavorful experience. So go for the big ones!

 

Download the new ebook, The Enlightened Cook: Protein Entrees

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New ebook! Enlightened Cook: Protein Entrees

Just in time to re-inspire those fading New Year’s resolutions of eating a healthier diet, The Enlightened Cook: Protein Entrees is here!  Available now for just $3.99 as a PDF download, this ebook is full of the delicious protein you crave. (Use the Buy it for $3.99 button on the right column of this blog. You can use your Paypal account if you like or just let the Paypal’s secure on-line credit card processing  do a normal credit or debit card transaction.)
In Protein Entrées, you can choose from international favorites like creamy Chicken Korma and zesty Shrimp Curry in a Hurry. New tricks reinvent old favorites with Vertical Roasted Chicken and Porterhouse Steak with Caramelized Onions and Portobello Mushrooms. Confidently create perfectly moist, delicious salmon, tuna and halibut entrees to add those healthy omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. Step-by-step instructions inspire even the kitchen novice with the confidence to prepare the leanest Roast Duck or incredibly succulent Portuguese Whole Snapper with White Grape Sauce. Even Pork Loin Florentine is surprisingly lean and packed with nutrients.
Among the protein-rich recipes and tantalizing photos, Marlon informs with enlightening tips on technique, nutrition and holistic sensibilities. Every recipe is completely devoid of artificial ingredients, so there are no synthetic horomones, antibiotics, artificial preservatives or colorings–just pure, wholesome delicious food! You’ll effortlessly learn how to buy the purest, most fortified ingredients at the market, how to retain their freshness and nutrients, understand which food products and cookware to avoid. Creating nutrition-packed meals is easy — no more fad diets! Change your perception of health food forever!

Call for recipe testers for Pulled Chicken Molé

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Pulled Chicken Molé cropped

Saucy, luscious Pulled Chicken Molé with secret ingredient, cocoa powder

Hello People,

I’m working hard on finishing the first volume of the Enlightened Cook: Entrees.  Here is one recipe on which I’d love some feedback. What I generally ask of my recipe tests to provide feedback on the clarity of  the directions, accuracy of the measurements (i.e. too much salt? enough oil?). In the case of this terrific recipe, what I need in addition is info on how accurate the timing of each step was:

How long did it take at the given temperature to initially cook the chicken breasts so that they were slightly pink inside?

Was 2 minutes enough to sufficiently break down the tomato at the end into a smooth sauce?

I am considering instead instructing readers to add the tomato and then add the cocoa powder a few minutes later.  It’s really important the cocoa powder is not scalded or truly it ruins the sauce. (I’ve tasted that overcooked taste soooo many times in Mexican restaurants.)

So here is the recipe and a note on brining that will appear on that page of the book. Pulled chicken Molé is a recipe I truly love for it’s utterly unique yet unidentifiable flavor.

Pulled Chicken with Mole Sauce

3 cups vegetable stock
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
2 T olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 t crushed garlic
1 t coriander
1 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t cinnamon
¾ t sea salt
1 t powdered arrowroot or kudzu
2 T cocoa powder
1 cup extra-ripe fresh tomato

Simmer chicken cutlets in the vegetable stock in a 2-quart pot until only the center remains slightly pink, approximately 5 minutes. Reserve the stock in a bowl and place the chicken breasts on a cutting board.

Mince the onions and the garlic and sauté them in the olive oil in the same pot on a medium heat.  When the onions are translucent, but not brown, add all the spices and cook for 1 minute as you stir with a wooden spoon. Then add ½ cup of the reserved stock. Slowly sift in the flour to the rest of the stock, then stir the mixture into the pot a little at a time. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes to reduce the liquid, stirring occasionally.

While the sauce cooks down, tear the cooled chicken into shredded pieces about 1 ½” inches long and ½” thick with your fingers.

When sauce has thickened to consistency of heavy cream, remove it from the heat and puree with a pistol-style hand blender until it smooth (or puree in a blender.) Stir in the cocoa powder. Add the tomato, which has been cut into ½” cubes. Add the chicken and stir well to coat the chicken evenly. Gently reheat on a medium-low heat for  2 minutes to finish cooking the center of the chicken pieces. Do not boil or the cocoa will make the sauce bitter. Serve with soup spoons in deep bowls to savor every drop!

To brine or not to brine;
That is the question
By all means, if you have the prep time, brine! This technique adds moisture to all kinds of red meat and poultry. It’s especially great for lean protein such as turkey, which tends to dry out when cooking. To brine add a handful of salt to a bowl of water and stir to dissolve. Add spices, if you like. Submerge the flesh and cover the bowl before refrigerating. An hour has a good effect. A day is terrific. Three days seems to work fine, because the salt kills much of the bacteria , which deters spoilage. If you brine, be sure to use no additional salt directly on the flesh.

Magnificent Spinach Pie

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EC Blog Posts

1/20/10

Spanakopita: Magnificent Spinach Pie

See video at bottom of post!

Spinach Pie

If 3 Greeks are any indicator this crowd pleaser recipe is one worth saving for generations to come! I guarantee it will be the freshest, most vibrant, bursting with goodness and flavor spinach pie you’ve ever had.

Greek #1: Gratefully, my close friend’s sister gave me her grandmother’s recipe, though I quickly baulked at the instruction to use thawed, frozen, wrung out spinach. Blasting I said I was quite sure “the ancient Greeks did not use frozen spinach” and commented that the recipe was probably created in the 1950′s when using frozen vegetables was commonplace. I openly vowed to augment and improve it with more wholesome ingredients, which frankly did not go over very well. Yet I remained determined to apply the same holistic sensibilities I do to each of my recipe and created an updated, vibrant recipe that’s worthy of inclusion in my upcoming book!

Greek #2: My client, Paul from Professorit.com, hired me to host a bunch of cooking segments.  Not realizing he was of Greek decent and had probably had countless spanakopita made for him by family members, I planned to make the spinach pie in one of our video segments. Several friends had already flipped for this nutrient-packed recipe, so I remained confident. At 11pm, we wrapped the shoot and he tasted it. Low and behold, he said it was “the best spinach pie” he’d ever had! Eureka!! I was vindicated!!

Greek #3:  Jason, who is a student through my yoga DVDs is standing by now for this recipe.  Originally from Cyprus, his entire family are apt to be discerning tasters.  So Jason, this is for you.  Sincere hopes you and your family enjoy it as much as my friends and I have.

Spanakopita: Magnificent Spinach Pie

4 cups coarsely chopped fresh spinach (approx. 1 bunch)
2 T (approx. 20 fresh mint leaves)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
8 oz feta cheese
2 eggs
8 sheets of filo dough
1 T butter
¾ t sea salt
½ t fresh ground black pepper to taste
¾ T + 1t sesame seeds
¼ t poppy seeds

Defrost the filo dough at room temperature for 30 minutes without removing the plastic wrapper.

Place a pie plate or shallow casserole dish in the oven and set to 375º.

Snap off the large stems as you wash the fresh spinach thoroughly in a colander with cold water, removing all the sand. Gently pat the spinach leaves very dry with a cotton dishcloth.

Remove the heated pie plate to a heat safe surface like a wooden cutting board and quickly add ½T butter to the heated pie plate. When the butter melts, spread it evenly around the bottom, sides and over the lip of the plate with a pastry brush or paper towel. Place 4 sheets of filo dough in the pie plate. If the plate is round, cut overhanging edges off with a scissor, retaining an extra ½” all the way around so the crust does not shrink smaller than the plate. Retain any cut pieces. Prick the filo dough with a fork so it doesn’t puff up while baking and return the plate to the oven. Allow it to bake for approximately 10 minutes. When the dough becomes very crisp, but not yet brown, remove it from the oven. Place the remaining ½T of butter in a small ramekin or oven-safe cup to melt in the hot oven for the top of the pie.

Beat Eggs

Beat Eggs In A Large Bowl

As the filo bakes, beat eggs in the bottom of a large bowl.  Finely chop the parsley and mint. Use the parsley stems, but discard the mint stems. Add spinach to the pile and continue to chop coarsely to large 1” pieces. Add the chopped ingredients to the bowl and crumble the feta into ½” pieces over it with your hands.  Add the salt, pepper and ¾T of the sesame seeds. Lightly toss the ingredients until well mixed, being careful not to crush the spinach.

Spinach, Feta and Egg Mixture

Spinach, Feta and Egg Mixture

Blind Baked Filo with Spinach Mixture

Blind Baked Filo with Spinach Mixture

Lightly place a mound of the spinach mixture into the pie plate or casserole dish, on top of the cooked filo dough.  Nudge the mixture with a fork toward sidewalls of the baking dish.

Spinach Pie with top filo layer

Spinach Pie with top filo layer

Place any reserved scraps of filo dough in an even layer on top of the spinach. Cover these with four un-separated sheets of filo dough. Trim with a scissor leaving ¾” of dough all the way around the dish.  Carefully tuck the raw filo under the lip of the cooked under layer of filo for a neat and finished edge. Remove the melted butter from the oven and brush the top layer with it, especially around the edges.  Sprinkle the poppy seeds and remaining sesame seeds on top of the buttered filo dough and return the pie dish to the oven.

The finished pie

The finished pie

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until well browned. If the top crust is browning too quickly, place a sheet of aluminum foil across the top. Ovens vary, so after check periodically for doneness after 30 minutes baking time.

Slice of Spinach Pie

Photos and text Copyright 2008-2010 Marlon Braccia