Food, Recipe

pineapple coconut heat wave

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last summer in DC i found myself building up this awesome heat tolerance. i still attribute it to the fact that i was doing heated power yoga sessions up to six times a week, and after finding the zen to complete yoga poses with hand weights while covered – dripped, fully soaked, coated, wet hair – in your own sweat (and sometime’s getting a splash of someone else’s!) for 60 minutes, living in humid 95-degree DC weather became more tolerable.

one danish winter under my belt and i’m back to square one. i’m there with the best of the danes right now, and we’re all complaining – dying – with this heat and humidity. don’t get me wrong, it has been pretty damn humid, but still, i was shocked to convert the temperatures today and realize that it’s been MAYBE 80 once – the rest has been high to mid 70’s. it pales in comparison to DC.

however, let it be said that danes prefer to be a bit more natural about this whole summer thing. most of the year it’s wet, colder, and quite dark, so of course the buildings are designed to let in a lot of sun and air. and we’re all set up for heating quite fine. but air conditioning does not exist here. ‘climate controlled’ spaces aren’t really a thing. there’s no waiting anxiously in the car for the first blast of cold, cold air. i asked my roommate where i could buy a fan for the apartment and she said, ‘well – i guess we don’t really do fans here. i don’t know!’ so i just experience the heat in all its glory – on my bike, in my apartment, at night, etc. that’s probably why it feels rougher. but i’ll live. more re-calibration will occur.

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in the meantime, this is what i love to drink right now. it’s tart and sweet and refreshing. it’s more like a thick juice in consistency than a smoothie, really.

pineapple coconut drank

1.5 cups pineapple, chopped

1 cup coconut water, the pure kind, no sugar added

1/2 cup cold water

8 sprigs of mint

1 large banana

juice of one whole lemon

blend in your blender! garnish with a sprig of mint and add some ice cubes! drink! stay cool!

 

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Food, Recipe

coconut curry hokkaido pumpkin soup

Here are some things I love about fall in Copenhagen:

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Lake-side beers at Norrebro Bryghus. The best post-Monday work treat.

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Brunches with friends. Fresh squeezed OJ. Danish pancakes. Eggs. Hangovers. Chats. Danish minimalism. Light.

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Candles. Candles everywhere. I cannot exist in a space without candles these days. Also probably because the sun now sets around 3:45.

pumplm

PUMPKIN SOUP. I had been wondering what to do with the hokkaido pumpkins at the store. They are like little orange gourds, but I’d never seen or used them before. Lo and behold, they are the creamiest, most awesome fall vegetable ever. I thought butternut squash was a winner but these are something else. This soup is just perfect – it’s hearty, it’s not watery, it’s creamy and slightly sweet from the coconut but also spicy and the three flavors (pumpkin, curry, coconut) are killer. I topped mine with the requisite Sriracha and more curry, it’d also be good with a swirl of cream or some pumpkin seeds on top.

graeskarsuppe / hokkaido pumpkin soup

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 knob of ginger, around 1×1′ chunk (but if you’re a ginger lover, you can double this), diced

1 medium sized onion, diced

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper

1/3 cup coconut milk, any kind (light, full-fat, your choice)

1 bouillon cube

3 cups water

3 fingerling potatoes, cubed

1 medium hokkaido pumpkin, cut into 1′ sized chunks, seeds removed

Combined garlic, ginger, onion, olive oil, curry powder, salt and pepper in a soup pot over medium heat and cook until the onions have softened. Add coconut milk and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring consistently. Add the bouillon cube, water, potatoes, and pumpkin. Cover and let simmer on low-medium heat for around 25 minutes, or until both the pumpkins and potatoes are completely soft when pierced with a fork. Use an immersion blender to blend all of the soup.

 

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Recipe

Peach ginger blueberry crumble for June

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June is flying by faster than ever and I’m barely holding on – in a good way! I both amaze at when time flies and fear it. It’s been a great summer, but I also have such a good year ahead of me. So many adventures and currently, so little time to prepare for them! am heading to Minneapolis next week, and then am trying to cram as much work/shopping/packing as I can before another trip to New York and then … I get on a plane to meet my host grandparents in Denmark. Anticipation is coursing through my veins!

The moments I wish could last forever, though, are many. Like discovering my dad has been cultivating a bush of raspberries behind our basketball hoop. I’ve snuck out there several times after work, foraging for berries. At least, foraging is what I tell people. In reality it’s me standing waist-high in flowers getting my work pants wet with dew as I rather unceremoniously stuff raspberries in my mouth with one hand while swiping away prickly branches with the other. Love it, guys. Love this nature. I mean check these out, these glowing orbs of ripeness and the sticky, alien-like quality of the plant itself.

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20130629-001111.jpg My sister is now working at a farmer’s market, much to everyone’s delight – half because we get a discount and it’s really cool to hear her talk about the produce and farm, half because she’s a self-described introvert so her first foray into the wonderful world of a customer service job is here. (Although she’s lucky because barely anyone is unhappy at a produce stand, unlike my first customer service job: Gap during the holidays.) Today we bought peaches and blueberries and ginger and lemons and set about making a crumble – aka the fruit dessert for people who are scared to/are too lazy to tackle a pie. I love the somewhat strong tartness with spice. Use fresh, good fruit for this. It’s a highly seasonal pie. Low quality ingredients mean it will taste bland, under sweet, and generally blah. If you’re really patient, take this out of the oven and let it sit overnight, it will be 300% better after everything has a chance to marinate together.

blackberry ginger peach crumble

adapted from yankee magazine

Filling:

6 medium peaches, diced large

1 lb blueberries

1 1/4 tablespoon lemon juice

Zest of one small lemon

2 tbsp corn starch

3 tablespoons honey

Dash cinnamon

Crust:

1/2 cup almonds, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup roasted buckwheat groats

1/4 cup flour ( if you don’t have buckwheat just use 1/2 cup flour )

1/2 cup oats

1/4 tbsp salt

3-4 tablespoons olive oil or butter

1 inch section grated fresh ginger

1/3 cup honey

3 tablespoons molasses

Preheat oven to 350. Combine filling ingredients and pour into a greased pie pan, approx. 8 or 9 inches. Combine crust ingredients, stirring until a coarse, wet crumble forms. Sprinkle on top of fruit, avoiding overly large chunks and covering most of the entire surface. Bake for approx. 40-45 minutes – crust should be brown and fruit bubbly. Best enjoyed with a scoop of ice cream or, better yet, for breakfast with yogurt!

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Recipe

Blackberry “cheesecake” smoothie

I’m not the biggest meat eater and I was a vegetarian for two years in high school, so I’m surprised it has taken me this long to really play around with tofu. I picked up tempeh for the first time this week and have instantly fallen in love– it is so, so good fried up with either ginger and a dash of curry or with smokier spices such as Cajun seasoning. Tempeh’s nutty flavor is delicious and it is an excellent protein source.

I’ve been putting sprouted tofu in my smoothies to great effect. It adds the creaminess I’ve been looking for! You can’t taste it at all but it lends a silken texture that enables one to keep the rest of the smoothie dairy free and relatively healthy. (I.e: you don’t have to rely on sweetened yogurt and can easily blend in lots of fruit and even spinach while maintaining the creaminess.)

The following smoothie is my new favorite: it tastes sort of like blackberry cheesecake in a drink.

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blackberry “cheesecake” smoothie

1/2 ripe banana
1/2 cup frozen blackberries
1/3 cup almond milk
1/4-1/3 cup water (depending on how thick you like your drink)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla stevia
1/2 cup firm silken tofu
1 teaspoon malt powder

Blend in a blender – let blend for a bit longer than usual to ensure it whips up well. Drink!

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Recipe, Uncategorized

“Trust me on this” cake {black bean avocado chocolate snacking cake}

It’s January, so perhaps I need to be
 posting more about juices and carrot cumin salads, and while I have been enjoying quite a few carrot cumin salads, I made this cake the 
other day on a whim and it really shocked me (and a few people that
 were around at the time). I pretty much view making healthy things 
as one part challenge, one part useful. Healthier desserts are
 useful because yes, they tend to be better for you, but I’m also
 not into the cult of total holier than thou health
food. And hey look, it’s still sugar, and it still
 should taste good. So, when it comes time to make something sweet
 healthier, especially CAKE, I’m thinking, COOL! This is
 an experiment! A challenge! Chemistry, if you
 will!

Continue reading

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Food, Recipe, Uncategorized

chocolate (avocado) butter & friends in all places

 

Post-college life is strange. For many, the immediate downside is that you no longer have a concentrated area in which tons of your friends live. In fact, you no longer have tons of friends, period. Even in Minneapolis, just 40 minutes from my alma mater, many of us alums have wondered, “How does one meet other people out of the blue?”

The upside, however, is the friends that you do keep in touch with are pretty cool. There are no set rules for the types of people you keep in touch with following a significant phase in your life. They may have been your best friend, a casual friend, a friend crush – you find yourselves sending little updates and looking forward to what they have to say in a genuine way. You might send letters, or e-mails, or packages of brownies, and every time you get something or send something it will make you smile. It may be little, but it’s meaningful. You get to connect to the human experience and hear about others. Suddenly, you don’t feel so alone.

—————–

I think my avocados are part of a conspiracy theory: let me back up. This week, they remained hard, green outer shells for a few days, leading me to believe they were nowhere near ripe. One morning? Boom, over-ripe. Just like that. What are you waiiiiting for, they seemed to say. I’m mean, we’ve been ripe for like, foreverrrr. This led me to the pseudo-problem that is “I have too many ripe avocados!”, which, of course, everyone knows isn’t a problem at all.

I didn’t have the ingredients for guac, plus I was in the mood (as I always am) for something sweet. Vegans are fond of avocado frosting or avocado mousse because the texture is perfect for creamy desserts, but I wanted something a little more low-key. Chocolate avocado butter is the perfect in-between, a vegan equivalent of sweet cream, without the sugar rush of frosting. It feels just like soft butter after spending some time in a food processor. Add cocoa powder, a little stevia/maple syrup/honey/molasses, and it turns into a creamy, rich, melt-in-your mouth cocoa spread.

P.S. If you’re really in the mood to spread, the NYTimes has a collection of savory spreads for the holidays.

Cocoa avocado butter

1 1/3 cups mashed avocado

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar as desired (molasses, maple syrup, honey, etc)

1 tbsp vanilla

1 tsp coconut or canola oil

1 tsp salt

(optional: 1 tsp cinnamon)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until it is the texture of soft, whipped butter.

Spread on a thick slice of warm toast, sprinkle a lil’ sea salt, there ya go. Store in the fridge.

Edit: One week later and my avocado butter is still perfectly kept in the fridge. While I’m sure it’s not meant for a long shelf life, at least know you don’t have to eat it all in one sitting. Or maybe you will. I won’t tell.

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Musing, Recipe

Thanksgiving success {+ recipes}

I am not a perfect cook. Really, most of it boils down to various kitchen character flaws that exhibit themselves so perfectly in cooking: impatience, messiness, and procrastination, to name a few. Even with recipes, I often scrunch my nose at the directions, not out of hubris, but because I am still slightly impatient and jittery and lack zen-like patience. With cooking and baking, sometimes you break the rules and try new things and it turns out totally awesome, other times it just seems like a quiet little failure. You made something adequate, decent, but it wasn’t memorable.

So the successes become etched in your brain – the time I made this bittersweet chocolate and pear cake, for example, which resulted in a perfection that I, miraculously, have since been able to replicate every time. Modern miracle. Or these milky espresso cookies that my dad loves. Wait, I’m listing baked goods. Anything with sweet potato, or yam, I swear I’ll nail it! You see, I’m still working on becoming a decent cook. This Thanksgiving, however, was different. I planned for about two weeks beforehand, switching recipes every day it seemed. Finally, I settled on a few things: one was a solid recipe that I followed every step of the way (except for proportions). One was an idea of a recipe that I played with and sort of completed on the fly. One was a thing conjured from the thin air of my anxiety, cold-riddled brain. All were…amazing.

the idea: Roasted Squash with Blueberry Balsamic
(pictured above)
4 small delicata or acorn squash
1 cup slivered almonds, bought pre-toasted or toasted in a pan
seeds of 1 pomegranate 
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh
1/3 cup goat cheese or feta (something crumbly)
olive oil
sea salt, pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Add balsamic vinegar and blueberries to a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir every once in a while and cook until the vinegar has reduced and feels thick and syrupy, about 25 minutes.
Cut the delicata squash down the middle, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and slice into slivers, about 1.5 inches thick. If working with acorn, cut in half across the “equator” of the squash. Scoop out the seeds and slice into chunks. Place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and drizzle with generous amounts of olive oil. Sprinkle sea salt & pepper, an amount of your choosing, and roast for about 15-20 minutes, until the squash is soft but not crumbly, and the skin is slightly golden & crisp.
Remove squash from oven and arrange on a long platter. Drizzle with the balsamic syrup, sprinkle with goat cheese, almonds, and pomegranate seeds.
(above, right)
I cannot say enough good things about this “salad” of Brussels sprouts, pear, & lentils with a tangy dressing. It was a big hit at the table, even among people who don’t normally like Brussels sprouts (I think the fact that they are shaved and roasted adds to the appeal versus just cooking the sprouts whole) and it was flavorful, but filling. Bacon will probably make this even better, but I did not add bacon – don’t worry, vegetarians, the flavor does not suffer. And you still have protein-lovin’ lentils!

the thing from my brain: Chocolate, Coconut, & Banana Tarts
A chocolate-banana tart shell, with chocolate ganache & coconut cream, topped with a banana slice & coconut flakes
(above, left)

Shell: Blend 12 honey graham crackers, 1/3 cup coconut oil, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1.5 – 2 bananas in a food processor. Mixture should resemble dough – if it is too wet, add white or wheat flour with your hands. If it is too dry, add more coconut oil or bananas. Press into greased cupcake tins to create little tart shells and cook for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ganache: Heat 1 cup heavy whipping cream on medium-high heat in a small saucepan. You don’t want to burn the cream, but it should reach boiling point or near-boiling. Remove from heat and stir in 8 oz. of a bitter or semi-sweet chocolate. Keep stirring until the mixture turns into a shiny chocolate liquid. Scoop into your tart shells and let cool completely.

Coconut Cream: Whip 1 cup heavy whipping cream & 1/2 cup full fat coconut cream (no coconut liquid) in a mixer on high for about 6-8 minutes. Watch carefully — if you mix it too much, it will turn into butter. It will turn into a dreamy coconut whipped cream, which you can top the cooled chocolate tarts with. Make sure to store this dish in the fridge before serving.
Top with a slice of banana, a sprinkle of coconut flakes, and a pinch of cocoa powder.
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