Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chocolate Coconut Almond Bark

The perfect treat! One with a built in "limit" switch! Ideal for people like ME...lacking a know-when-to-say-when button.

I am the daughter of a man who as a professor, received many boxes of See's chocolates during the course of his tenure. Let's just say that by the time I got home on the day he'd have received such a gift, to my immense frustration, BOTH levels of that box of chocolates would have been completely cleaned out....all the lovely little pinked-edge paper cups still in there proper places.

I am aaaaalmost that bad people, but not quite.

Apparently, one might feel decidedly unwell if driven to eating too much coconut oil at a time.
I've heeded that warning, practicing vast amounts of restraint (read: subbing other treats after I've reached my one piece of coconut bark per day limit) and now days later, still have the above bounty of goodness that friends brought to dinner on Saturday!

The recipe is apparently really easy to make, and it's delicious to boot.
I'm guessing halving the recipe would be fine, but it keeps in the refrigerator for quite a while if you'd like to work on developing YOUR willpower by making the whole batch. :-)

Chocolate Coconut Almond Bark:
(Suzanne Menuet)

6 Tbs extra virgin coconut oil
3 Tbs agave nectar
3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mix well…best to heat over low flame in a small saucepan if coconut oil is solid.

Stir in:

1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
~1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds

Pour into a parchment lined (so that it comes up on the two longer sides) 9x13 pan, level and place in the refrigerator.
Once solid, break into pieces of bark.
Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container, or it will melt if kept at room temp.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Cornbread and Beans Skillet

This recipe has been stewing in my "to try" file for a good while and finally made it to the top of the list. The recipe is an adaptation of Modern Beet's. All I did to her adaptation was add a little agave nectar to the beans and change up the cornbread topping so as not to include any white flour. Check out Modern Beet's recipe if you'd like to just use regular non-whole grain cornmeal and white flour. I'll be making this again for sure! Must be served with a side of braised greens liberally doused in hot sauce. :-)

Cornbread and Beans Skillet:
(adapted slightly from Modern Beet's recipe)

Pinto Beans
2 1/2 c. cooked pinto beans (homemade, from about 1 c. dried beans, or store bought)
2 Tbs. olive oil, or butter
1 small (fist-sized or smaller) onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. molasses
1/2 t. cayenne
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. salt (I didn't add any since my beans were salty enough, so taste before adding)
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 -1/2 c. bean cooking liquid or water
1 1/2 t. red wine vinegar

Cornbread Topping
3/4 cup Bob's Red Mill wholemeal corn flour (not cornstarch!)
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill fine ground corn meal
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 c. buttermilk (I used slightly less...try adding slowly until you get a consistency you're happy with)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. butter, melted.

Special Equipment: 9 inch cast iron skillet

Preheat the oven to 400.

Heat oil in the cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste, molasses, cayenne, chili powder, salt if needed, pepper and mix well. Add beans and enough bean cooking liquid or water so that the mixture is slightly soupy. Reduce the heat to low and simmer mixture for about 10 minutes or until reduced enough that it's not too liquid when you add the topping. Add the red wine vinegar, and adjust seasonings. I added some agave nectar for a touch more sweet. Remove from heat and spread the beans into an even layer in the skillet.

Mix the corn flour, corn meal, salt, and baking soda in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk (I used 1 cup in the wet mix then added the rest into the whole batter until I reached a consistency I was happy with), egg, and melted butter, and I also added in a little more agave even though that wasn't in the original recipe. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour batter over the beans in the skillet and smooth the top.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until the top is golden, the cornbread starts to pull away from the skillet at the sides, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cornbread comes out clean. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then slice into wedges and serve.

This should feed 4 good appetites.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

This was a great dish. You can just eat it along with a green salad for a whole meal or serve it as a side. I topped some spinach with the warm salad, but I think I like it better separate.
Ever since I got my pressure cooker, I try to keep cooked beans and chickpeas in the freezer for meals like this...taste better than canned and just as convenient for a quick weeknight dinner. The leftovers kept well too, so I'm sure the salad wouldn't suffer too much by making it ahead. Just dress lightly before serving if that's your plan...and serve the rest of the dressing on the side.

Warm Butternut and Chickpea Salad with Tahini Dressing

(Discovered on Smitten Kitchen who adapted from Orangette, who adapted it from Casa Moro)
Yield: 4 servings
For salad:
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 of a medium red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
For tahini dressing:
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced with a pinch of salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons well-stirred tahini
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, garlic, allspice, olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Toss the squash pieces until evenly coated. Roast them on a baking sheet for 25 minutes, or until soft. Remove from the oven and cool.
While your squash is roasting, whisk together the garlic and lemon juice. Add the tahini, and whisk to blend.
Add the water and olive oil, whisk well, and taste for seasoning. I actually just mix all the dressing ingredients to taste and forgo measurements. Thin the dressing with more water if you want, but make sure it's good and lemony too.
To assemble the salad, combine the squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro or parsley in a mixing bowl. Either add the tahini dressing to taste, and toss carefully, or you could serve the salad with the dressing on the side. Serve immediately.

Next time I'll keep the squash salad and my green salad separate...