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Thursday
Dec062012

BROWNIES

sprouted kitchen

My parents are hosting Christmas dinner for the extended family this year, which gives me some say in what happens with the food. As the cook in my immediate family, it's my place. I think about food, I read the magazines, I like organizing and making lists...it's only fair. I prefer the non-traditional - trying new dishes, keeping things fresh, maybe even leave cheese off a few dishes (!), NOT having turkey and stuffing. My dad is requesting the later and I quote him, "I don't want any of that esoteric shit." This is a man who would qualify roasted squash or some sort of kale salad as esoteric. Oy. Wish me luck. Whatever the food, I am really looking forward to it. My mom sets a beautiful table, my grandma will make a few innocent while still slightly offensive comments and my sister and I will be silly at our corner of the table.

It got me thinking of dishes that are exceptional in their own right, for their simplicity or purity, before getting creative with them. I can't say there is much of that on this site, besides Hugh's coffee posts. I could even argue this topic is subjective between those preferring the traditional versus the modified, but a classic brownie recipe is something I need to have in my back pocket. If I am going to identify myself as a food blogger, there needs to be a brownie recipe on this site. It's an unspoken expectation. Not one with black beans or applesauce or mashed banana but let's start with straight up buttery, rich brownies. The kind I would eat warm with a scoop of ice cream and feel guilty about.

I had my mind set on a classic brownie recipe. I flipped through David Lebovitz' Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes because with a title like that and a reputation like his, I knew there would be a brownie recipe and it'd be exceptional. Holy moly was my gut correct on this one. First off, they are crazy easy and let's be honest, everyone apreciates that. These brownies are decadent, very rich, and deeply chocolatey, so much so that even one with a fierce sweet tooth can have one small square and be satisfied. These are fudgy brownies but not so fudgy that you feel like you're eating underdone batter. The recipe reigns from a friend of Lebovitz' who co-founded Scharffen Berger so these are no cocoa-cakey brownies, this is chocolate in all its glory. Excellent on their own, and still a perfect canvas for adding in what you please. THAT is the brownie recipe I want. A la mode of course.

sprouted kitchen

sprouted kitchen

BROWNIES // Makes 12

Adapted from David Lebovitz Ready for Dessert

David notes that the minute long stir to incorporate the flour is crucial for everything staying together. I used oat flour, which gave reason for a slightly crumbly brownie but they stayed together just fine. If you use GF certified oat flour, these are gluten free. I grind my oat flour from old fashioned oats, so it's a tad coarse as you'll notice in the photos. Once the brownies are baked, I don't believe it compromises the texture at all.


  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

  • 3/4 cup natural cane sugar

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 2 large eggs, room temperature

  • 1/3 cup oat flour or unbleached all purpose flour

  • pinch of salt

  • 1/4 cup cocoa nibs for topping


Add-in options (from both David and myself):


  • 1 cup toasted and chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)

  • 1/3 each cup chopped dried cherries and cocoa nibs

  • 1 tsp. mint extract and crushed candy canes for topping

  • 1-2 tsp. espresso powder


sprouted kitchen

 

sprouted kitchen

sprouted kitchen

Preheat the oven to 350'. Line the inside of a 8'' square pan with parchment or foil allowing the excess edges to extend beyond the edges of the pan. Lightly grease with butter or cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the chocolate and stir over low heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla until combined. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour, pinch of salt and stir energetically for 1 full minute, until the batter looses its graininess, becomes smooth, and begins to pul away from the sides. Stir in the chopped nuts of preferred add ins.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, sprinkle the cocoa nibs on top and bake until the center is almost set, about 25-30 minutes. Don't overbake. Let them cool completely before lifting out the parchment to remove brownies.

These brownies will keep well for 4 days and can be frozen for one month. For a clean cut, chill the brownies to get even edges and clean the knife between slices.

sprouted kitchen

Wednesday
Nov282012

PUMPKIN BLACK BEAN PATTIES

I have fallen into the black hole that is Instagram. While this space is pretty intentional, I like being able to share snapshots of everyday food and life. The people on there, they are hungry. Hungry for recipes. And while I just want that to be for fun, not for recipe sharing, a few eager voices requesting the recipe from the day I was experimenting with black beans and pumpkin in vegetarian burger form, seemed desperate. I didn't need too hard of a push to make them again. So here we are with a gluten free, dairy free, fiber packed, super easy meal idea.

A veggie burger salad is my go-to lunch, so it seemed appropriate to share a version here. I love food in bowls - my entire meal made easy to eat in one vessel with one utensil. Primarily greens, something crunchy, avocado if there is a ripe one or a bit of cheese if not (both if I can't help myself), with hints of a dried or fresh fruit, a protein and maybe a bit of a grain if both aren't going to be present in veggie burger form. There is a science to this bowl-food habit. While against all things theme-y to post a recipe with pumpkin AFTER Thanksgiving, as we usher in December, I figured now is as good a time as any to give you a fiber packed meal idea. Treats will follow either way, no? Yes.

If you want to peek over to our Facebook page, we are giving away a holiday box from Crustic Bread! Madelaine is a super sweet, hard working, small business owner and she is offering one of her holiday gift boxes (which you can order until Dec. 10th!) to a lucky reader on our Facebook page!

PUMPKIN BLACK BEAN PATTIES // Makes 4

I use canned pumpkin here because it has less water content then when you make it fresh, and I needed that for these to stay together. If you prefer to use fresh, you may need to add another tablespoon of oat flour or breadcrumbs to compensate. The salad is not a "recipe". I just chop the greens pretty small and add oil and vinegar to lighty dress. Nothing fussy, but I listed the components below in case you were interested.


  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 cup cooked and cooled brown rice
  • 15 oz. can (about 2 cups) black beans
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxmeal
  • scant 1/3 cup panko or coarse oat flour (can be made by blending whole oats)
  • coconut oil for cooking

// salad // 

  • lacinato kale, stemmed and well chopped
  • romaine
  • bit of grated parmesan
  • extra virgin olive oil (I used the lemon one from Nudo;- very subtle)
  • rice vinegar
  • pinch of salt + pepper


 

In a food processor, combine the garlic, scallions, pumpkin, olive oil, chili powder, salt and cumin. Run to combine. Add the rice and half of the beans and pulse ONLY a few times to just mix (we want minimal mixing here so it doesn't become a paste). Add the flaxmeal, oat flour and pulse them in. Add the rest of the beans and give it one or two more pulses (I add the beans in parts because I like the flecks of them in the patties). The mixture should be pretty tacky with texture to it. Not smooth. The mixture can be made in advance and kept covered in the fridge until ready to use.

Form the dough into four patties, about 1/2'' thick. Heat a thin layer of coconut oil over medium high heat in a large (non stick preferable) pan, working in batches if you need to. Once the oil is hot, gently add the patties to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until you get a golden crust, flip and cook another 2 minutes.

Prepare your salad or bun, top with you patty and garnish with cilantro and avocado if you wish.

Thursday
Nov152012

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH + HARVEST SALAD

sprouted kitchen

About a month ago now, I was invited to Wisconsin to get a better look into their thriving cheese community. I was aware prior to my visit that Wisconsin is big into cheese, but I had no idea how much people live for it over there. I had seen those cheese-head hats, which yes, they do sell at the airport, but that is no joke. These people are serious about cheese. A small group of us were able to tour the grounds of some great cheese makers, both small and large scale, and I was so impressed by how passionate these people are about their craft. What a pleasure it was to learn from people who know their subject so well. I am not a cheese afficiando, I have my favorites but I eat it pretty sparingly. That said, I hadn't seen the process run its course from the start of seperating the curds and whey, adding the cultures, shaping, caring, and the details of aging the cheese. What an art. I am so attracted to people who love what they do, and do it exceptionally. Not to mention that the landscape was gorgeous and it was refreshingly chilly while we were having a 90° October at home.

I've been brainstorming what to bring for my Thanksgiving side dish and fiddled around with a cheese I had tried at Uplands Cheese. It's similar to a gruyere - creamy, nutty and bold. If you're looking for something with vibrant color and a bit of richness, squash and greens with a hint of cheese is my favorite combination. This salad is still a favorite. Not that it will only do for the holiday, but I figure that's the topic of the week, so I wanted to participate. Happy meal planning. I've got my stretchy pants ready. 

sproutedkitchen

ROASTED ACORN SQUASH + HARVEST SALAD // Serves 4

The dressing included is from the House Salad in my cookbook. It's pretty mild and the perfect amount of creamy. I also think Aida's tahini dressing would be interesting here if you aren't planning on using the cheese. Or hey, maybe if you are. If you need a quicker fix, a 2:1 ratio of a great quality extra virgin olive oil, white balsamic and pinch of salt + pepper will do. In any case, go easy on the dressing or the salad portion of the dish gets too heavy. 

sprouted kitchen

  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil or melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • few pinches of salt
  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup halved, red grapes
  • 1 rib of celery, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • a hearty handful shaved, Gruyere-type cheese (I used Pleasant Ridge Reserve)
  • // dressing //
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. crème fraiche
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey 
  • 1 scallion, white part only, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

sprouted kitchen

Preheat the oven to 400'.

Cut the acorn squash into quarters, scoop out seeds and prick the flesh a few times with a fork. Drizzle the squash with the oil and vinegar and rub it around to coat, being sure the flesh is coated. Lay them cut side up on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt and bake for about 35 minutes or until the outer edges are crisp and you can easily pierce through the flesh. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mini blender or food processor, blend all dressing ingredients until smooth and combined. The dressing can be prepared up to three days in advance. Combine all the salad ingredients, besides the cheese, in a large bowl and toss with a few Tbsp. of the dressing (or desired amount). Arrange the squash on a plate and stuff the centers with the green salad. Top with desired amount of the shaved cheese and fresh ground pepper to finish. 

I was invited to Wisconsin by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

sprouted kitchen

Tuesday
Nov132012

11.13.12

You dislike this picture. It was taken from an awkward angle. I was holding the phone at a diagonal above our heads. The sun was bright and in our faces from the wrong direction...whatever that means in photo lingo. I love it for so many reasons beyond the composition of the photograph. I love that you are making me laugh, as you often do. I get your sense of humor and you exercise it constantly with me. You calm me when I need to be calmed, you give me pep talks when I need to be pepped, you're quiet when I need silence, but at any given time, you can make me laugh. I LOVE that. This picture is from last week when we were picnicking on the Salt Creek Hill - a place you and I both feel at peace. You for the ocean and how alive it makes you feel, and I for the overall expansiveness of the view. That view makes me feel small in a big world. This picture was from last Tuesday, we were both able to take a break in the middle of the day to picnic. I never take the flexibility of our work schedules for granted. The flexibility that allows us the freedom for the occasional mid-day picnic and that somehow we pay our bills and eat well. Sometimes I stress at you "we aren't working hard enough." Panic! This stress is not because I don't trust you. It is merely because sometimes, when we're eating a La Sirena picnic on the hill, this life feels too good to be true. Thank you for convincing me to do the work I enjoy. Please know I always want that for you too... even when I panic. Back to the picture. You're kissing me, and affection is second nature to you. For me, physical touch is something that is intentional. But for you, it is part of your communication. The bun squeezes while I'm cooking, the hand on my waist when you first wake up, the open armed late night greetings at the door when I get home from work. I hear you. I see you. I'm so lucky to be yours.

Today, November 13th, we have been married for two years. Remember the crazy fun, perfect party we had? Perfect... if you don't count the music going out when I was at the top of the aisle with my Dad. But all things considered, it was damn perfect. I think we would both agree that year one and year two of being married have been different. The floundering that happened in year one felt more steady as time passed. We dedicated year two to knowing each other better, to loving the other how they most feel loved instead of how we most easily give love. We don't get it right all the time, but this year, you have filled me up more than ever, and as I most needed you to. I feel known by you. That sounds so hippy-dippy, but I think that's what we all want in this life, to be understood, and you are the person who understands me. This year we chose to seek counsel, to get advice from the older and the wiser about marriage and communication. We learned to apologize quicker and more willingly than before. This past year is the one I most frequently stormed up to the couch late at night. One time I took all the bedding with me, practically guaranteeing you'd come after me. I love the (charming, in retrospect) visual of me wrapped in a giant comforter at the top of the stairs, upset about who knows what, while you're truly trying to talk me down (maybe arguing back?) and just as the crazy had run its course, you swooped in to make me laugh. Which is why we have a photo of this moment. One day when we get the hang of doing this well and become the older and the wiser, I will show young couples this photo. Let's keep it real, for everyones sake, you can love each other deeply and still get unbelievably pissed.

I love our real life - the laughing, the picnics, the affection, the learning, the fighting and desire to be a better version of ourselves out of the love for the other... and if any of it does turn out to be too good to be true, I will be right next to you the entire time.

Happy Anniversary, Hugh Forte. I love you SO much.

Thursday
Nov082012

WHOLE WHEAT PERSIMMON RICOTTA SCONES

sprouted kitchen scones

"If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely."

- Roald Dahl

Loving that quote. Today I am happy about vibrant green vegetables, impromptu dancing with my babe of a husband, your emails and comments, my health, dreaming up a big trip for next year, new favorite nail polish and so many new cookbooks (I've had enough of the social networking crankiness from this election week, bring on the good thoughts!).

To read through Deb Perelman of The Smitten Kitchen's book felt sentimental for me. The photos and writing are so quintessentially Deb. When I was trapped in a cubicle, I poured over her and Heidi Swanson's work. Printing out all the recipes I wanted to try (in color, of course), put them in plastic sleeves, and in a three ring binder because those things are at your disposal working in an office. I still have the binder, originally inspired by these two ladies, and now bursting open, far from organized with everything I've ripped out from magazines in the past few years. I'll stretch that baby pretty far before I buy a new binder. I emailed Deb when I first started this site, the kind of question I am sure she gets multiple times daily. I can't remember verbatim, but it was something to the effect of, "So, I started a blog. What do I do now?" Her response was short but perfect. She poignantly suggested that I cook and write authentically. That I stay true to myself and the way I want to cook - the process should be fufilling for me first, people will follow that authenticity, and I won't be dissapointed trying to create something that is chasing popularity alone. And maybe that isn't verbatim either, but it was certainly the jist, and it has always been in the back of my head as the best advice I received when making a blog, this journal, my own. I'm sure most of you are familiar with her site. She is witty, to the point, detailed and opinionated. Those same qualities come through in all the recipe headnotes of her new cookbook. She tells you the what, why and how, making the process easy to understand and foolproof. From someone who is not a perfectionist about the cooking process, I greatly respect people like Deb who test and fiddle until they've got the texture, taste and directions just right. I won't say it's necessarily health-focused, for those who are looking for books with gluten and dairy alternatives, but a number of the recipes are adaptable for preferences and allergies. She leaves no stone unturned, some of the most well written recipes I've seen, and you can see her hard work and quest for accurate recipes so clearly in her first book. Congratulations, Deb. 

sprouted kitchen scones

WHOLE WHEAT PERSIMMON RICOTTA SCONES // Makes 8-9 scones

Recipe lightly adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman

Deb calls for raspberries in her recipe, which look beautiful and I'm sure taste even better. My pastry eater around here isn't big on raspberries, so I tried a version with the persimmons I've been getting in my CSA basket and added a hint of fall-ish spices. If you want to stick with the original, substitute raspberries for the persimmons and eliminate the spices. 

The lesson I've learned the hard way, a few times, is to not over handle the dough. It's fine if there are chunks and bumps in it, the less futzing around with the dough, the better. Deb makes a note that this dough is damp because of the ricotta, which is what makes them so tender, so keep your hands and counter well floured. Regarding do-ahead tips, "Scones are best the day they are made. However, you can make and divide the dough, arrange on a baking sheet and freeze them until firm, then tranfer them to a freezer bag. If you're prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. No need to defrost them, just add another 2-3 minutes to you baking time."

  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. aluminum free baking powder
  • 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. each of cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
  • 1 cup finely chopped Fuyu persimmons
  • 3/4 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

sprouted kitchen scones

Preheat the oven to 425' and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Mix the dry ingredients together, the flour through the spices. Add the butter with a pastry blender, and cut the butter into the flour mixture until the pieces are the size of small peas (this can also be done with your fingers, just be quick to not warm the butter, or a knife). Toss in the persimmons and break them up a bit with the pastry blender.

Using a flexible spatula, add the ricotta and heavy cream to the butter mixture and stir them in to form a dough. Working quickly, use your hands to knead the dough gently into an even mass.

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface, flour the top of dough, and pat into a 7 inch square, 1 inch high. With a large, sharp knife, divide the dough into nine scones. Transfer the scones to the prepared baking sheet with the spatula. Bake the scones for about 15-18 minutes until they are lightly golden at the edges. Cool them on the pan for a minute then transfer to a cooling rack. 

sprouted kitchen scones