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Archive for August, 2009

Iced ChaiJo graced us with her exquisitely delicious recipe for hot chai tea, using the coconut milk beverage from So Delicious – and boy, if there was never a more aptly named company! Anyway, as much as I love a hot chai in the morning or afternoon, sometimes you want a cool refreshing tea in the evenings. Instead of risking the caffeine keeping you awake, use a naturally caffeine-free tea (and a change from herbal)…our wonderful friend, Rooibus. I like drinking rooibus as my nighttime tea, to keep my taste buds on their toes from chamomile and valerian. But wait, it’s summertime and oh so hot….I don’t want hot tea to make me warmer… I say, go ahead and enjoy your Rooibus Chai…iced! I’ve scaled up Jo’s recipe so you can have a stock in the fridge sitting right next to your So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage, for chilled chai on demand. I would recommend keeping them separate until just before drinking, to keep things on the fresher side of life. This recipe makes about 1.5 qts of tea to be used with 1-1.5 qts CM beverage. Of course, I’m just quenching my own thirst, so if you’ve got more mouths to fill..you could double it.

Ingredients:

12-16 tsp rooibus
6 C (1.5 qts) boiling water
3-4 2-inch cin sticks
14-16 whole cloves (for anti-clovites, use 10-12)
2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 vanilla beans, split down center (or 3-4 tsp vanilla extract)
8 TBSP (1/2 C) agave

Directions:

1. Boil freshly drawn water as you would for any tea. Place tea and spices in a pitcher/container, preferably lidded or one that’s flat that you could place a plate on top of to cover while steeping. Pour boiling water over the awaiting tea and spices, steep covered 5 minutes. **Alternatively you can place tea, spices, and freshly drawn cold water in the sun for 3 hours. I’ve tested both, and they come out equally delicious.
2. Strain into another pitcher/container for storage in the fridge. When ready to enjoy, mix either 50:50 or 75:25 of Chai:CM beverage (depending on how creamy you like your chai).

Iced Chai2

Happy Teatime!

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Rooibus loose teaIt’s latin name, Aspalanthus linearis. It’s common name, Rooibus (pronounced “ROY-boss”). It’s flavor, absolutely delicious! If you like black teas, you will love rooibus for those times when you don’t want something as bold. Rooibus, the red tea, is made from the leaves of the rooibostee (a shrub), which is native to the mountains near Capetown, South Africa. Traditionally, the stems and leaves are bruised with hammers, then left to ferment in the sun; resulting in a sweet flavor.

Rooibus is great on many levels. It’s perfect for a nighttime tea, when you don’t want something herbal, because it does not contain caffeine and has a very low tannin content. On the health front, it contains at least 37 natural antioxidant, minerals (including zinc), vit C, and alpha-hydroxy acids. It is naturally an antiviral, antianxiety, and antiallergy agent. Rooibus has been traditionally used to treat generalized inflammation and pain associated with syphilis (although not to treat syphilis itself). It has also been shown to have considerable antispasmodic activity – those with restless leg or suffer from insomnia, drink rooibus at night! It has been a bedtime favorite among South African herbalists, consumers, and even physicians. It’s likely that rooibos helps to induce sleep both directly, by affecting the metabolism of acetylcholine in the brain and preventing excessive firing of the neurons that cause wakefulness, and indirectly, by blocking hormonal reactions that cause inflammation and pain.

For allergies and stress, it’s been proposed that rooibus interferes with histamine (the thing which causes both nasal congestion and stomach upset during allergic reactions and times of stress). So it would especially be good for those with both food and/or respiratory allergies. It’s also suitable for use by children – it’s gentle and nontoxic (and don’t forget, caffeine-free). In addition to allergies, it’s antihistamine properties help reduce the risk of catching colds and flu. Mothers of the world, for your colicky babies, rooibus is often used as a milk substitute for infants who are prone to colic.

There is evidence that it contributes to a reduction in heart disease and other ailments associated with aging, including a beneficial effect on age-related mental decline. Recent studies performed by the Institute for Medical Science of Aging in Japan show that rooibus contains nearly 50 percent more skin-salvaging antioxidants than green tea. Because it’s packed with zinc, you’re giving your body a crucial mineral which, among other things, helps the body metabolize fatty acids and keeps cells plump. Grow old gracefully, intelligently, and easily…with tea!

**Of cautionary note: like black teas, rooibos inhibits the absorption of iron from food, therefore those with iron-deficient conditions should avoid both teas.Rooibus loose tea2

As you know, we love our tea here at the Primate, and rooibus can be subbed in for any black tea in any of our recipes. I have an upcoming Iced Chai recipe that I use rooibus – which makes a perfect nightcap on these hot summer nights!

Happy Teatime!

On This Day In History: French Breakfast Puffs!

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Fields of BroccoliAnother quick and easy pasta for a weeknight, just like the Kale & Basil Linguini or the Whole Wheat Pasta a few posts back. Using green tomatoes with broccoli and pasta gives it a nice tangy pop, as opposed to using standard red tomatoes. Though, if you get some delicious heirlooms at the Farmers Market, they’d be great in here too. However, if using heirlooms you won’t want to toss them in until just before being ready to toss in the pasta. You don’t want to overcook the delicious freshness that is found in heirlooms. I toss in the green tomatoes with the garlic, because in my experience the green tomatoes are a bit ‘sturdier’ than a soft red tomato. Throwing them in early facilitates the softening. This recipe serves 4, or gives a single gal a couple of lunches during the week!

Ingredients:

1 bag fusilli/corkscrew pasta
3-5 TBSP really good olive oil
1-2 large head of broccoli, cut into florets
1/2 shallot, minced (or 1 heaping TBSP of the pre-minced in a jar kind)
3-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped – but not so big they’d be better off in the oven (or if you’ve got some whole roasted garlic cloves on hand and love to eat the full clove in a bite, like I do..you can use that instead or in addition)
a few sprigs each, fresh herbs: oregano, thyme, and possibly sage
*optional, but highly recommended: 2 medium-large green tomatoes, diced – or you could just use red ones, but I find the green give this a bit of zing

Directions:

1. Boil noodles according to package instructions. Meanwhile, cut up the broccoli and chop the garlic, and warm the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Saute the garlic and shallots in the warm oil, until the garlic starts to soften – about 3-4 minutes. (If using green tomatoes, dice them and add them in with the garlic).
3. Add in the broccoli, herbs, and red tomatoes (if using) and saute another 5 minutes or so – depending on how ‘done’ you like your broccoli. Drain the pasta (but do not rinse) and toss into the skillet o’ veg. Toss to combine and drizzle in more oil if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and voilà!

Boccoli Pasta

And as Nikki would say, “Serve with garlic bread!”

**Fun Additions: You could toss in some diced fresh or roasted red bell, or use a combo of green and red tomatoes – which could help cover the color palette for the dish..red bells/tomatoes, green broccoli, white garlic…with some spelt or whole wheat noodles, along with some garlic bread and you’ve got most of the gamut covered. Now to really cover the color wheel – blueberry ice cream or sorbet for dessert! 😉 See, dessert really can help you round out the health benefits of a meal…

Happy Cooking!

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Filled pancakesI love breakfast foods, and pancakes are near the top of the list. Another love that resides near the top is the heavenly combo of cinnamon and sugar. Now, putting the flavor love of cin-sugar with the fabulous pancake…and I go weak in the knees. This is no ordinary form of combination, and yes..this recipe calls for a special pan. I rarely recommend the purchase of a singular use item, but to experience filled pancakes – that’s right..filled pancakes – it is completely worth it! This recipe makes about 18-20 filled pancakes, so feel free to double is your cooking for more than 2 or 3 people (I say two people, because I killed off almost all of them myself in one sitting – so 2 hungry vegans, or 3 people with the willpower not to overstuff themselves, or if you have sides you’re serving with them).

Filled pancake panIngredients:

2 TBSP ground flaxseed in 4 TBSP warm water
1 C hemp/almond milk with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 C AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 TBSP Earth Balance vegan butter, melted; plus more for greasing the pan – or use canola for greasing
For the filling: (you can use anything like jams, peanut butter, chocolate ganache, fruit compote, etc..or you can go with a classic streusal-type like this one here – the topping from the Cranberry Orange Crumb filled muffins)

Directions:

1. Combine the ground flaxseed with warm water, set aside. Mix together the milk with the ACV, set aside.  In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add in the melted butter, ground flaxseed mixture, and milk mixture.
2. Let batter sit while filled pancake pan heats up over medium heat and you prep the filling. Grease each well with some butter (or brush with canola oil).
3. Pour 1 TBSP into a well, drop a tsp of filling in the center of the batter (and you can push gently with your finger to nussle it in), and top with about another TBSP of batter. Repeat for each well. I found it more successful to drop the filling and top with batter right after putting in the first TBSP batter. If you put a TBSP into each well, then drop and top, the seal doesn’t form between the two batters as neatly as if you do it immediately – resulting in filling spillage. So one well at a time is what I recommend.

Filled Pancakes1
4. Let the batter cook about 3-5 minutes, then flip with two skewers or chopsticks, and allow to cook an additional 3 minutes. Obviously this is a skill that takes practice, but I found the quicker you flip, the less mess. And with the tips in step 3, this makes for easier/cleaner flipping as well. A good indication of when it’s a safe time to flip, the edges of the batter will start to set/firm up – the centers will still be gooey, hence the need to flip quickly otherwise it just runs off the side into the well exposing the filling..not good. I didn’t take photos of me in the flipping process, because frankly I only have two hands and I needed both to flip. And unless my feet become even more dexterous than they already are and learn to use a camera… I mean, I do yoga, but there are some things that are impossible to achieve. But for a good reference, go here to the Williams-Sonoma site.

Filled pancakes-flipped
5. Dust with powdered sugar, top with agave, fruit syrups, maple syrups…whatever tickles your breakfast fancy. Enjoy!

Filled pancakes center

Happy Cooking!

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I love a good saucy bowl of pasta, but sometimes you want something lighter. I love tossing lightly cooked veg with some olive oil and noodles. I love the dimensions of the fresh basil (or herb of choice), naked in the olive oil, bringing out the flavors of Farmers Market-fresh tomatoes. Now Nikki, before you gasp at the little amount of garlic in this dish, feel free to add in as much as you like. However, I designed this dish for the basil to be the star and you don’t want to step in a star’s spotlight – it never goes over well. The backup dancers are there to make the star shine, not drown her out and step on her cues. This is a great dish to make for a weeknight dinner, since the noodles cook while you’re doing the veg..and by the time the noodles are done, so are the veg ready to top it… This recipe makes about 4 servings, served alongside soup or salad.

Ingredients:

1/2 shallot, minced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped but with big stems removed
2-3 large tomatoes
fresh basil, chopped – as much as you can stand: perhaps 1/4C – 1C, plus a few sprigs for garnish
a few TBSP olive oil, plus more for drizzling
oregano, fresh (2 TBSP) or dried (2 tsp)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pack linguini

Directions:

1. Bring a pot of unsalted water to boil. Once boiling, add in about 1 tsp or so of salt and  a package of linguini, and cook according to package directions.
2. In a medium-sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Mince the shallot and garlic, and saute about 3 minutes, when they begin to soften. Add in kale and oregano (if using dried) with salt and pepper, and continue to saute about 5-10 minutes – depending on how you like your kale. I like mine cooked longer rather than shorter to help it soften and become less chewy.
3. Meanwhile, chop fresh basil, oregano (if using fresh) and tomatoes. Add to kale mixture, and cook about 2-3 minutes, just to warm through the tomatoes.
4. Drain the noodles and plate out 4 equal servings. Top with veg, and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper and, if you’re a basil fanatic like me, sprinkle with more fresh chopped basil.

Kale and Tomato Linguini

**Serve alongside a Pasta e Fagioli (without pasta in the soup, unless you just can’t get enough pasta) or Chickpea Dinner salad, followed by a light dessert like French Martini Frozen Yogurt.

Note: If you’re like Jo and not a fan of basil, try another distinct-flavor herb like cilantro and give a squeeze of fresh lime juice in step 4, just before serving.

Happy Cooking!

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Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob

Corn1

I got a whopping four ears of corn from my CSA this week and it is sweet and delicious!  Grilled corn on the cob is always a crowd pleaser during the summer, but maybe you live in an apartment (like me), or just want to have some with a regular dinner, instead of Saturday afternoon at a cookout.  No need to worry, because you can get the same effect by baking the corn in the oven!  Just like on the grill, the husks trap in the moisture, so the corn cooks in its own steam, intensifying the flavor.

Ingredients:

corn on the cob – as many as you like

Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.  Bake for 30 minutes.

3.  Peel back husks, sprinkle with a little salt and dig in!

Or you can cut the corn off of the cob and use it in a salsa.

Corn2

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