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Deliciously Organic: January 2010

Deliciously Organic

A blog devoted entirely to simple, wholesome, organic cooking.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cinnamon Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Just last week my oldest discovered that she too can cook.  We went to a friend's house for the afternoon and when we arrived Christina's 10 year old son was happily rolling out dough (that he'd made from scratch) for homemade pretzels.  It didn't even occur to me that my daughter noticed what he was doing but every day since, she's told me "Oh don't worry Mom, I can do the cooking today."

Last night she pulled The Perfect Scoop off the shelf and sat on the couch  reading for over an hour.  I noticed her eyes kept growing bigger and bigger and a huge smile was creeping across her face.  I sat down across from her her and just watched the lightbulb slowly illuminating.  I remember reading my Mom's cookbooks as a girl; how those books opened up a window to a new world.  It was so amazing see the same thing unfold for my daughter right before my eyes. 

After reading, she got out a piece of paper and made a shopping list for me and then sweetly told me that she plans to make all the meals for us for our anniversary (it's quickly approaching...12!)  I tried to hide my doubts as I was envisioning the other morning when I walked into the kitchen and she was cheerfully making quesadillas with the gas fully on but without a flame.  (we "discussed" her unsupervised use of the stove . . .) 

A few hours after she presented her shopping list, she told me she decided to start an ice cream company since "there is nowhere to get good food around here, except our house".  She and my youngest were totally giddy as they made plans and gave everyone in the family an assignment.  She decided on 3 flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and coffee Heath and plans to start her business on April 22nd (earth day of all days).  After listening to her fully thought-out plan, I asked, "Who will make all the ice cream?"  She matter-of-factly answered, "You."  (I guess I'll be very busy this spring and summer)  

When my husband arrived home that evening, my oldest was jumping with excitement as she explained her new plan.  She proclaimed, "Oh and Dad, if this thing takes off you might not need to work again after you retire from the military."  Needless to say, there was much laughter in our house that night.

Since we're doing a lot of ice cream testing in our home now, I thought I'd try to re-create one of my favorites: Ben and Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk - sweet cinnamon cream ice cream filled with chunks of oatmeal cookies and bittersweet chocolate.  In The Perfect Scoop there's a recipe for Cinnamon Ice Cream so I took that and paired it with his Oatmeal Praline, changed the sweeteners, added some organic chocolate, and came up with a pretty darn good version of a favorite.  

Cinnamon Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop written by David Lebovitz
Makes 1 Quart

Caramel Oatmeal:
3/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons rapadura/sucanat (dehydrated cane juice..for more info click here)

Ice Cream:
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup maple syrup
10 3-inch cinnamon sticks, broken up
2 cups heavy cream
5 egg yolks (pastured and organic, preferred)
7 ounces good organic bittersweet chocolate (I prefer green and blacks or trader joes), chopped

Over low heat, warm the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon sticks and 1 cup of cream in medium saucepan.  When the mixture is warm, remove from heat, cover with a lid, and let steep for 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, stir together maple syrup and rapadura in a small saucepan over low heat until mostly melted.  Add rolled oats and stir to combine.  Pour oats out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spread out to make an even layer.  Set aside to cool.

Remove cinnamon sticks from milk mixture and stir in remaining 1 cup of cream.  Whisk together all of the yolks in a separate bowl and then slowly add to milk mixture.  Turn heat to medium-low and heat mixture, whisking constantly until thick and coats the back of a spoon.  Pour the custard through a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl.  Set large bowl over icebath and stir every once in a while until cool.  When cool, cover bowl tightly and place in refrigerator until very cold.  Freeze the custard according to the

manufacturer’s instructions.

When custard has churned, break apart the caramel oatmeal and slowly add it and also the chopped chocolate to the ice cream.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

When my husband and I first met during college he would have me over and make a huge pitcher of orange julius and salty popcorn and we'd call it dinner. (I've come a long way, huh?) I would stand and watch as he would spend 20 minutes adding a bit of this and a little of that into the blender until it was just right. It's been years since I've had one of those creamy orange shakes and with all the juicy oranges I've found over last week I figured it was time to bring out an oldie. 

The smoothie is creamy and sweet with bright little specks of orange zest in each sip, and the frothy top is a huge hit with the kids.  It makes a great treat at brunch or can be served as a light refreshing dessert.  I'll have to be careful how often I make this because I could have downed the entire pitcher while standing at the counter.

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
Adapted from Giada at Home
Serves 6

3 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 1/4 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
zest from one orange
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups ice

Pour all ingredients in to a blender and blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cream of Tomato Soup

This afternoon the wind is howling, rain is pouring, and I have a huge pot of chicken noodle soup gently bubbling on the stove.  While I'm here in the comfort of my warm home I think of all the families today in Haiti who no longer have a home and even worse, have lost loved ones and may never know what happened to them.  The footage of the children who are now orphaned breaks my heart and I wish I had enough time and money to take them all in so they could have a warm place to sleep, a family to take care of them, and comforting food.

The other day I told my kids about the devastation in Haiti and while I described it to them, their eyes were full of sympathy.  My youngest asked me if babies were hurt, and sadly I answered, "Yes".  I then told them that some bloggers are coming together to help raise funds for those in such desperate need by creating a "heart-inspired" recipe.  I told them that I couldn't think of what to make and asked them what their ideas were.  My oldest replied, "How about creamy tomato soup with a heart in the middle made of cream?  If I were in their position I would want something warm and comforting."  My youngest piped in and said, "Yes! After we take pictures we could put the soup in a container and send it to them so they will have something warm to eat." I explained that we can't ship it and was overwhelmed at their thoughtfulness and simplicity of thought.

My husband told me that he went to a briefing about disaster relief while he was deployed to Africa last year.   It was interesting to me that what people don't need immediately is food shipped in because there is usually no where to put the food and it ends up being stored in huge warehouses for quite a while.  He also said that thousands of people flocking to the destroyed area to help without a plan is also not something that is needed, because now there are more people to feed and shelter.  He said the greatest need (as he was told) is plastic sheeting to make shelters and water purification systems.  This information surprised me, but completely makes sense when you stand back and look at the big picture.  One way for us to provide the items so desperately needed is to donate funds to the proper organizations.  I encourage you to donate (no amount to small) to the charity of your choice and if you do, please send me an email telling where you made a charitable contribution and I'll send you an exclusive recipe as a way to say "thank you".  If you aren't sure where to donate, you can click here or here for a few ideas.

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted slightly from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 6

2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, drained, 3 cups of juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons rapadura (dehydrated cane juice)
4 tablespoons butter
4 shallots, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock (homemade preferred)
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons brandy
sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spread tomatoes in a single layer on a large 13 x 9 baking dish.  Sprinkle evenly with rapadura.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until all juice has evaporated.  Set aside.

Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add shallots and tomato paste and saute until shallots are soft.  Add flour and stir constantly for about 30 seconds until combined.  Whisking constantly, add chicken stock and reserved tomato juice then add roasted tomatoes.  Bring to a boil and then cover pot and lower heat to a simmer.   Let simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove lid and puree soup using a hand immersion blender or puree in batches in a blender.  Stir in cream and heat over low heat for 2-3 minutes.  Off heat, stir in brandy and season with sea salt to taste.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Hash

This week has been filled with rainy days.  I'm loving it because reminds me of home and it certianly takes the edge off of living in the desert for a little while.  The sky has been full of clouds and has made the sunrise and sunsets absolutely glorious with all of their majestic gold and purples.  This morning, when I walked into the living room I noticed the room was filled with golden-orange light.  I quickly stuck my head against to view an amazing sunrise.  It was great timing since my neighbor (another pilot in my husband's squadron) happened to walk to his car at the same time I was gawking at the sky.  We had a brief moment of eye contact and then I quickly peeled my face off the window and walked away, denying that he'd just seen me in my pajamas, at 6am, with my head stuck to the window.  I'm obviously still getting used to this on-base living situation...

Last week Carli from Velvetta Ain't Food (I love that name, don't you?) commented that one of her favorite vegetables is brussel sprout hash with bacon.  I've never been a fan of brussel sprouts, but I'm a huge fan of bacon so I decided to give it a try.  I know that brussels sprouts can be quite bitter so I referred to my favorite vegetable cookbook and used their method of simmering the little gems in salted water to draw out the bitterness.  When everything was sautéed together the sprouts were buttery and sweet with bits of sweet onion and salty bacon.

I was shocked when the entire family devoured it.  Even my kids, who usually won't touch brussel sprouts with a ten foot pole went back for more.  I'm embarrassed to say the four of us ate the entire pan shown above.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Hash
Serves 4-6

1 pound brussels sprouts, ends cut off
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
6 slices of bacon, chopped (organic, nitrate-free and pastured preferred)
1 onion, chopped

Combine brussels sprouts, water and salt in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, cover with lid, and lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until a knife inserted into brussesl sprout goes in without any resistance.  Strain brussels sprouts and finely chop them.

Cook bacon, over medium heat until crispy.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon.  Add onion to pan and saute in bacon fat until soft and caramelized, about 8 minutes.  Add chopped brussels sprouts and saute with onions for 5 minutes.  Add bacon, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cauliflower Soup with Black Truffle Oil

This week I embark on a new phase. I turned in my manuscript to the editors on Friday (sigh of relief) and was elated to say "I'm done!".  My husband and I went out to celebrate which included plates of delicious food and wonderful converstaion.  I've begun writing book two and I'm so excited to play in the kitchen, create, and not be tied to my computer for a little while.

I really enjoyed reading your comments this last week. There were a few of you who mentioned brussel sprouts and bacon. I've never been much of a brussel sprout fan, but I'm going to give that one a try. Of course, bacon makes everything taste better so I'm thinking it will be a keeper. 

This weekend when I got my produce box, I opened it up hastily like a box of candy, noticed the light was hitting it perfectly, and took a few pictures for practice.  I was amazed at how beautiful the rutabaga is...all gnarled at the bottom with it's cute crew-cut top.

Remember the 10 pound cauliflower I told you about last week? After looking at it for a few days in the fridge I decided to make a very large batch of cauliflower soup with black truffle oil. I found this recipe years ago in a magazine and it was one of those that sat in my "to try" pile for years (10 to be exact).  It's amazing how this recipe takes a vegetable that really doesn't have a huge flavor profile and turns it into something buttery, rich, and creamy. I think even the most skeptical of cauliflower will be pleased with this soup.

Are there certain types recipes would you like to see on this blog? Are there family favorites that involve lots of processed ingredients that you'd like to see re-done using only organic ingredients? I'd love to hear your comments in hopes of giving you the recipes you are looking for. Congrats to Anna (Anna, who made the 37th comment) you are the winner of the cookbook! Please send me your info to: DeliciouslyOrganic [at] yahoo [dot] com and I'll get your book out to you!

Cauliflower Soup with Black Truffle Oil
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit, 1999

3 slices organic, nitrate-free bacon (pastured preferred), chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
5 cups chicken stock
1 thick slice Pecorino Romano cheese, plus additional for garnishing
1/2 cup heavy cream
black truffle oil (optional)

Sauté bacon in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  After fat begins to render, stir in onion, celery and garlic.  Cover and lower heat to lowest setting possible.  Cook vegetables for 20 minutes or until soft.  Remove lid and add cauliflower, stock and slice of Pecorino Romano.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.

Puree soup using a hand immersion blender or in small batches in a blender or food processor.  Add cream and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with a generous drizzle of truffle oil and a sprinkling of cheese.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sautéed Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon and Give-Away

This past Saturday I received a weekly box filled with produce from local farms.  Our box this week was overflowing with tangy-sweet oranges, a 10 pound cauliflower (no joke), thick spinach, and lots of winter greens.  I love getting my produce like this, but there are times when I think, "Now what I am I going to do with a 10 pound cauliflower?"  So, a few years ago I bought the book "Perfect Vegetables" by Cooks Illustrated and this book has saved me many times in the kitchen.  There are multiple recipes for almost any vegetable imaginable and I've never been disappointed with any of the recipes.  Last week I had several pounds of zucchini that I couldn't decide what to do with, used this recipe, and everyone at the table devoured it...including the kids! 

Sometimes zucchini can be bitter but their method of salting it ahead of time helps draw out the bitterness.  Grated, sautéed, and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice; this will be a staple in my kitchen for many years to come.

I know we are all looking for new ways to cook vegetables so I'd like to give away the book "Perfect Vegetables" to one of you.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me what your favorite vegetable is and how you like to prepare it.  Leave your comment between now and Sunday at 12pm and I'll draw a name at random and announce the winner on Monday.  Good luck!

Sautéed Zucchini with Garlic and Lemon
After you soak the zucchini the rest of the recipe takes less than 5 minutes.
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Serves 4

5 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coconut oil*
1 - 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shred zucchini on large holes of a box grater.  Toss zucchini with 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt and pour into a colandar.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Lay a clean dish towel on the counter and pour zucchini on top.  Fold towel over zucchini and wring out any excess moisture.

Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until oil is shimmering, but not smoking.  Add zucchini and spread out evenly in pan.  Cook without stirring for about 2 minutes, or until bottom layer begins to brown.  Add garlic and stir zucchini and then cook "new" layer until it browns, another 2 minutes.  Take off heat and add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

*To read more about Coconut Oil click here.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Upside-Down Caramel Apple Cake

This past week has been full of changes. My kids started at a new school, my husband started a new job, we are in a new house, and I am now trying to get into a new routine. My in-laws come out to help us for every move and it is a huge blessing. The last few days they organized our garage, hung curtains and shelving, and got us all ready to go in our new home. This is our third time moving somewhere new in December. The bright side is starting fresh somewhere for the New Year.

I've shared with you my love for caramel and apples, and when I saw this recipe in Southern Living I immediately went into my kitchen and started baking (even though the house wasn't unpacked yet). The first cake totally flopped and it led me to discover that the oven in this house is very weak and a bit temperamental. The cake barely rose and after it cooled and I turned it over most of the cake stuck to the pan. Disappointed, I washed everything and tried again the next afternoon. The second time it turned out beautifully and after I took pictures I called friends on the street to come over for an afternoon snack.

This cake is great dessert, snack or a decadent breakfast. The sugar topping might stick a little to the pan, but you can spoon it out spread it on top. It's one of those cakes that doesn't need to look perfect, in fact, I think the more home-baked it looks, the better. I provided a soaked option for those of you who would like to use that method.

Upside-Down Caramel Apple Cake
Adapted from Southern Living January 2010
Serves 10

1/2 cup chopped pecans (dehydrated)
2 large granny smith apples, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and divided
2 teaspoons brandy
1 1/2 cups organic whole cane sugar or sucanat (dehydrated cane juice), divided
4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
2 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream or cream fraiche
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, freshly ground preferred
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss apple slices with lemon juice, zest, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Melt 1/4 cup butter in 12-inch skillet over low heat.  Remove from heat and add brandy and swirl to combine. In a small bowl combine 1 cup organic whole cane sugar and 2 tablespoons maple syrup until sugar is moist. Sprinkle moistened whole cane sugar over butter and brandy on bottom of skillet.  Sprinkle pecans over sugar mixture. Arrange apples in 2 concentric circles over pecans.

2.  Beat 1/2 cup whole cane sugar and 1/4 cup butter with a mixer until blended. Add egg yolks one at a time. Add milk, sour cream and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat just until blended. 

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Add flour mixture to butter mixture with mixer on low. Mix until just blended. 

4.  Beat egg whites and remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup until stiff peaks form. Carefully fold egg whites into batter. Pour batter over apples in skillet. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until cake tester inserted halfway into center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in skillet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen and then invert onto a serving platter. 

Soaked Method: Combine flour, milk and sour cream until blended. Cover and leave at room temperature overnight.  Follow instructions above until step 3. Add baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon to soaked mixture and stir until fully combined. Slowly add the soaked mixture to the butter-sugar mixture in step 3 with mixer on low. Continue with recipe above.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Whole Wheat Tortillas

By now we all know the benefits of whole wheat flour and today I'm going throw another twist into the equation.  Grains contain a high amount of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that make it difficult for the body to digest, but if grains are soaked in an acid liquid (buttermilk, lemon juice, sour cream, etc.) the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors break down so the body can digest the nutrients more easity.  It sounds like a lot of work, but in reality it only takes a minute or two of prep the night before and of course, some forethought.  If you have had problems with wheat and other grains, I encourage you to read about this further because it might just be the solution you've been looking for.

Soaking grains has been something that I've eased into, not because it was something I didn't want to do, but in the past, when I tried recipes with soaked grains, I was very disappointed.  When I began eating a full organic diet I promised myself I would find a way to cook, using these new ingredients, in a way that tastes just as good as the foods I'd eaten before.  I still can't convert every single recipe I have to using soaked grains; some of them work beautifully and some just don't, but my goal is to provide you with as many recipes as possible that have soaked grains (I will you give both ways of cooking the recipe, in case this is something you aren't ready for).  I have actually been very busy re-working many of the recipes in my upcoming cookbook to provide a "soaked" option for those who want to do so. 

There are also sprouted or soaked flours you can purchase if soaking is not something you want to attempt.  I ordered some a few weeks ago and tried it and had great results with baking loaves of bread but because it's "hard" wheat and has more protein than "soft" or "pastry" flour it doesn't produce great results for cakes and cookies. 

Here's a wonderful recipe for Whole Wheat Tortillas. You can substitute just about any grain (kamut, spelt, etc) for these, but I prefer making them with whole wheat flour for the buttery flavor.  This is also a perfect "first" recipe to try if you've never soaked your grain becuase it's very simple.  You can cook them and eat them with a generous pat of butter, throw some salad in the middle and have a salad wrap, melt cheese and beans in the middle for quesadillas...really the possibilities are endless.

I'd love to know what your thoughts are on soaking your grains and if it's something you could see yourself doing in the future.

Whole Wheat Tortillas
If you forgot to soak the grains the night before (or you're not yet convinced about this whole "soaking method") then mix the flour, buttermilk and sour cream and let it sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before proceeding.  Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.
Makes 8 tortillas 

2 cups whole wheat flour (either pastry or hard wheat flour)
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons sour cream (I prefer this brand)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (I prefer this brand)

Combine flour, buttermilk and sour cream in a medium bowl.  Tightly cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight or up to 24 hours. 

After the flour has soaked overnight, knead in the baking powder and sea salt.  Divide dough into 8 sections and roll each section out on a floured surface to an 8-inch round.  Place tortilla on a parchment lined plate and as you roll out the tortillas layer a square of parchment paper between each tortilla.  Let rest for 30 minutes. 

Place a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook 1 tortilla about 1 minute per side until spotty brown.  Serve immediately.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie and Give-Away

Wow, it feels good to be back.  After 32 hours of driving, we finally made it to the desert of California. We are now living on an Air Force Base that's about as barren as it gets.  It's such a drastic change from our home in Florida that it actually makes me laugh when I look out the window.

I had a great time driving across the country, even though I'm not much for long road trips.  When traveling we like to visit the restaurants that are featured on the show "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" and we have never been dissappointed.  In Albuquerque we ate at "The Standard Diner" that had amazing onion-battered calamari and buttered bourbon burger (they served organic salads - an unexpected treat while on the road). We stopped the next day in Flagstaff and ate at a restuarant called "Salsa Brava". The menu was very extensive and they're known for their fresh salsa bar.  After fat snowflakes in Flagstaff we began our drive towards the Mojave desert in CA.   I have to admit, it was a bit depressing seeing the mountains slowly die away and the trees disappear until all that was left were Joshua Trees (they look something out of a Dr. Seuss book).

We brought in the New Year with boxes piled up to the ceiling and many warm welcomes from friends.  The kitchen was completely unpacked on the first day so I could get back to cooking.  I also made a trip to Trader Joe's - so thrilled to be able to shop there again!

Now is the time for resolutions and I encourage you to try and make changes to your eating habits in 2010.  When I first learned about organics and eating whole foods I was completely overwhelmed.  I came home, looked in my pantry and thought, "How am I ever going to change all of this?"  So I began by making one change a week.  After 6 months, most of my pantry and fridge was completely changed and I'd barely noticed.  This is a simple method you can use to slowly change the ingredients and foods you use in your cooking.

This year, to help you make new changes I am going to continue to build on the information I've been sharing. I'm going to discuss topics like: soaking your grains, raw milk, healthy fats, etc. The first thing I wanted to share with you is my love for hemp seeds. I use them in this smoothie several times a week and can't get enough. Hemp seeds contain high amounts of protien (11 grams in 3 tablespoons) and omega-3 fatty acids. They are very neutral tasting so they go great in smoothies or sprinkled over salads (if you don't like seeds then you can use hemp oil) . It's best to use them in their raw form since cooking them can damage some of the nutrients. My favorite brand is Nutiva and I thought it only appropriate to give away some of their hemp seeds and hemp oil to help encourage you to make the change. All you need to do is leave a comment between now and Thursday, Jan 7th and I'll pick a name at random and then announce the winner.

Strawberry Coconut Smoothie
Serves 1

¾ cup coconut milk
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons hempseeds
½ cup frozen strawberries
1 raw egg yolk
1 tablespoons raw honey

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.