Sprouted Pecan, Coconut & Cacao Granola

This is a delightful granola recipe that you can add or substitute any number of nuts, seeds, or dried fruit. I especially love the chopped ginger, it adds spice and crunch and unexpected subtle heat and dimension as do the cacao nibs. You can adjust the amount of ghee, or add olive oil and sesame seeds and take this granola in a more savory direction, or even add chopped fresh turmeric along with the fresh ginger. You could use honey or coconut palm sugar instead of maple syrup and eat the granola with your favorite milk, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, or smoothie. Granola is versatile indeed.

Sprouted Pecan, Coconut & Cacao Granola

1 ½ cups pecans
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup raw cacao nibs
1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
¼ cup dried currants
½ cup ghee
¼ maple syrup
½ tsp sea salt
½ vanilla powder

Method

  1. Soak the pecans and pumpkin seeds (separately) in a few cups of water for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250F.
  3. Drain and discard the soaking water and gently pat the pecans and pumpkin seeds dry. Gently melt the ghee and mix in the maple syrup, then add the salt and vanilla powder. Mix the pecans, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, coconut, and chia seeds together in a large bowl and pour the ghee-maple syrup blend on top. Stir to evenly coat and spread the mix on a large baking sheet.
  4. Bake the granola low and slow for around 1 ½ – 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Halfway through, add the chopped ginger. When the granola is done cooking the coconut flakes should be lightly browned. Add the dried currants and store in mason jars in the refrigerator or freezer.

Grass-Fed Beef Chuck Roast Barbacoa Style

I’ve been experimenting with chuck roast for a few years because we always get so many cuts when we harvest our cows. I made this version for Mr. Bob Hammer’s birthday bash and it was a hit through and through. Spicy, rich, salty, shredded chuck roast that is ready to pair with roasted squash, or thrown in a handmade tortilla, this preparation is satisfying on a cold winter day. I measure the true success of my meaty dishes by my oldest brother’s enthusiasm level and intake. It’s fair to say he ate an impressive quantity of this dish with obvious vocalizations of joy. Thanks for the parameter of tastiness, Nick.

Grass-fed Beef Chuck Roast Barbacoa Style
1 3-4 lb grass-fed chuck roast, bone in
Sea salt
Pepper

Barbacoa Sauce
8-10 dried chili peppers, I used a mix of 3 chipotle, 1 cayenne, 5 guajillo.
2 tablespoons maple syrup
I can organic, peeled tomatoes (28 oz)
1 tablespoon cumin seed
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves
1 in season orange, mandarin, or another citrus, sliced

Method:

  1. Generously salt the chuck roast as many hours in advance as possible. Let the chuck come to room temperature for 30 minutes before roasting. During this time, make the sauce.
  2. Heat a large cast iron and place the dried peppers in the hot pan until slightly blackened. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with warm water. Toast the cumin seeds in the cast iron until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Place the garlic, cumin, maple syrup, tomatoes, vinegar, and 2 tsp sea salt in a blender. After the peppers have rehydrated for 10 minutes, toss them in the blender with the soaking water and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness and saltiness as desired, but keep in mind this sauce will cook down, so be careful not to over salt.
  4. Turn the oven to 450F. When the oven is preheated, place the chuck roast in the oven and roast for around 10 minutes to slightly brown.
  5. Take the roast out of the oven and turn it down to 350F.
  6. Pour the sauce over the chuck roast, and cover with aluminum foil. Roast the chuck for 2-3 hours.
  7. Take the roast out of the oven and shred with a fork and knife. Pour the sauce into a separate saucepan and add the orange slices. Ladle a few ladlefulls of sauce over the meat and place back in the oven uncovered. Reduce the sauce on medium-low in the saucepan while the meat continues to caramelize and brown for another 20 minutes or so.
  8. Serve the barbacoa in tacos like we did on Bob’s birthday, or eat it ladled over roasted butternut or other squash with winter greens, yogurt and extra sauce spooned on top.

The Pleasures of Eating

The Pleasures of Eating: “I mentioned earlier the politics, esthetics, and ethics of food. But to speak of the pleasure of eating is to go beyond those categories. Eating with the fullest pleasure – pleasure, that is, that does not depend on ignorance – is perhaps the profoundest enactment of our connection with the world. In this pleasure we experience and celebrate our dependence and our gratitude, for we are living from mystery, from creatures we did not make and powers we cannot comprehend.”
Full essay from What are people for? by Wendell Berry

It’s this time of year, during the transition from summer to fall, that the best thing to do is cook the bounty over hot flames.

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Lavender, mint, beet powder cupcakes with kefir frosting

 

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I recently read that cupcakes are still in, and I thought it was a crazy thing to read because cake in any form should always just be, cake is beyond “in”, cake is it’s own world, it’s own entity and to say any form of cake, whether in pound, round, square, small, cup, or otherwise is in or out is to degrade the thing that is cake. So, I’m posting this recipe, but not in response to the thing I read, because I don’t want to acknowledge cake speculation and trending, but just because these cupcakes are important to me. They are important to me because they are pretty and easy and absurdly delicious in all the right ways.

These cupcakes are quick and a totally successful first use of my beet powder. The lavender and mint combination is perfection I think, I mean just being able to smell mint and lavender before biting into a cupcake makes everything feel more okay. I first made them without mint and without beetroot, but the incorporation of these two ingredients made them both incomparably tastier and prettier. Oh, and the kefir! It just so slightly offsets the sweetness, and adds dimension and complexity, the way kefir should.

Cupcakes:

1/2 cup coconut oil melted
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
4 Tbsp plain whole milk kefir
2/3 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut flour

Oven 350
1. Whisk coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, kefir, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl
2. Mix coconut flour and baking powder, then whisk into the egg-sugar mix
3. Line a cupcake tray, and bake for around 15 minutes.
4. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:
1-2 tsp lavender buds
3-4 tbsp kefir
1 Tbsp beet powder
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (add more/less as needed)
Mint leaves

1. Whisk together the lavender buds and kefir; place in the fridge while the cupcakes cool.
2. Add the beet powder and powdered sugar. Adjust the consistency by adding more powdered sugar or more kefir.
3. Frost the cooled cupcakes, garnish with mint.

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Vietnamese Hoi An Pancakes with Wild Shrimp, Squash Blossoms, Maitake + Nuoc Cham

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These Vietnamese pancakes are perfect for the grill. You gather the ingredients you need, bring them outside, and with such a hot grill the pancakes get crispy, and the inside ingredients stay hot. You could sub out the shrimp and just use vegetables, or add something like pastured pork belly. These were filling, but light, easy and satisfying. The nuoc cham sauce is pretty much essential as it offsets and balances the savory pancakes.

Hoi An Pancakes with Wild Shrimp, Maitake, Squash Blossoms, Green Onion + Nuoc Cham
(Adapted from Bon Appetit)
Pancakes
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups water
1 egg

Filling
1 lb wild shrimp, peeled
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 big handful maitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
10-15 squash blossoms
2 cups or so mung bean sprouts
2 cups snap peas, chopped
salt & pepper

Nuoc Cham (vietnamese dipping sauce)
1 thai pepper, or red jalapeno, finely diced
2 garlic cloved, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, minced
Juice from 3 limes
1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat)
2 tsp coconut palm sugar

Fresh Herbs: Mint, basil, cilantro

Method: Mix the ingredients for the pancakes, except for the egg, and let it sit for 1 hour so the rice rehydrates. During this time combine all of the ingredients for the nuoc cham and set aside.
After an hour, whisk an egg into the pancake batter and turn on the grill.
In a medium size cast iron, season the shrimp with salt, pepper & oil. In another cast iron, add the mushrooms and peas, again seasoning with salt, pepper & oil.
Cook the shrimp & veggies covered on the grill over high heat for 5-8 minutes. Add the squash blossoms to the veggie mix and cook until wilted. Transfer the shrimp to the veggie cast iron and add a bit more oil to the already hot skillet. Ladle about 1/2 cup of the batter into the skillet, and, using an oven mit, move the skillet in a circle so the batter spreads out and covers the pan. Close the lid of the grill and cook the batter in the pan until crisp-about 5 minutes or so.
Add a few shrimp, a big spoonful of the veggies and handful of green onion & mung beans on one side of the pancake. Cover again, cook until hot and extra crisp, then use a spatula to fold over one half of the pancake.
Serve with the nuoc cham & fresh herbs.

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Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

IMG_2376 IMG_2372 IMG_2393 IMG_2389During these last sweetest days of summer/fall I’ve primarily cooked on the barbecue on my favorite skillet. Its a giant cast iron griddle that gets super hot and when I cook outside the house stays cleaner and free of cooking odors. I just don’t like noodle dishes when the noodles aren’t boiled then charred over fire, its such a better texture and flavor. Cooking over the grill for the charring is second only to over fire. This dish by the way is simple and pretty quick and fulfilling. It’s a bit sweet and spicy and each bite is a different kind of happy surprise.

Korean Stir Fry with Sirloin, Eggplant, Soba + Chile Sauce

Sauce:
3/4 cup tamari
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp chile sauce (recipe below)
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 inches fresh ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp sesame oil

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.

Chile Sauce (adapted from Bon Appetit)
6 jalapeno peppers
3 peeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
sea salt

Cook the jalapeno peppers and garlic in a boiling salted saucepan for about 2 minutes. Blend chiles, garlic and red wine vinegar, season with salt and let cool. You will have extra to use on other meals and as a topping. By the way, this sauce is HOT.

Stir Fry
1 lb grass fed top sirloin, cut into very thin strips
2 medium Japanese eggplants, chopped
2 carrots, julienned
1 bell pepper, julienned
1 cup mushrooms, I used chanterelle, shitakes work great too, sliced
Bunch of cilantro
3 tbsp sesame seeds
Soba noodles-2 of the small bunches within the packages

First, make the chile sauce, then make the stir fry sauce, you can make this in advance. Spoon about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the sirloin and marinate as the steak comes to room temperature.
Next, get the vegetables chopped. Its easier to have these all ready to go.
Cook the soba noodles in boiling water for four minutes, then rinse in cold water.
While the water boils turn the grill to high and place a large skillet on the grill-you can also do this on stove top in a wok.
Add the eggplant to the grill skillet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook until softened and starting to get some color, about 10 minutes, then add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms. Pour 1/4 cup or so of the sauce on the veggies and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
Next, add the noodles to the wok/skillet. Mix in with the vegetables, again adding more of the stir fry sauce. Cover and allow to cook until the noodles start to crisp.
After crisping and stirring the noodles a few times, clear a space on your pan and add the meat. Cook it over high heat so it sears and if you need to, cook it in batches. It should take very little time, maybe a minute or two on each side to cook, when its done, stir everything together.
To finish, spread a nice big handful of cilantro leaves on top, sprinkle the sesame seeds on and a drizzle of sesame oil. Serve with the hot chile sauce, and extra cilantro.