Saturday, October 29, 2011

guest post: regina's incredible autumn coleslaw!

has it really been 3 weeks since my last post?! apparently, long gone are the days of planning meals days ahead and scavenging german farmers' markets for rare and seasonal produce. just as distant are the leisurely hours spent browsing cooking blogs along with the agony of trying to decide on just one time-consuming recipe to try.

turns out: being in grad school and reveling in culinary creativity/maintaining a blog aren't as compatible as i thought. these days, i make a lot of veggie stir fries.

(not that there's anything wrong with that!). but - and you can trust me on this one - they're not terribly exciting. certainly, grad school has its lot of advantages. sadly, as of yet, ample time for experimental cooking isn't one of them. not to fear: i don't plan on  indulging this culinary dry spell forever. but in the meantime, i'm ecstatic that my good buddy regina (whose absurdly appetizing blog you should check out, like now) has offered to step in! it was her healthy recipe blogging that inspired me to launch my own food blog, so i couldn't be honored to have her guest posting today.

if you're in a cold weather climate, you'll appreciate this very timely, mouth-watering recipe for autumn-inspired coleslaw. and if you're in a place where seasons aren't quite as pronounced as they should be, this is the perfect recipe to remind you of the current time of year. thanks regina, and enjoy, readers!

Autumn “Coleslaw” with Dates, Apples and Pecans

I was scrolling through my Google Reader updates this morning and raised an eyebrow: Sixty-seven unread blog posts?  Wasn’t I down to eleven last night?  How many of these things am I reading?  A quick double-click in my “manage subscriptions” area told me that I’m reading 128 cooking blogs.  Yikes.  Hello, I’m Regina and I’m a blog nut.

Suffice it to say, with the overwhelming surplus of recipes that hit my computer screen each day, I read food blogs the way non-food-dorks read People Magazine—I tend to skip to the most eye-catching, funny or tested recipes.  “Muffins on Sunday” is my Cosmo.  Have you read Priya’s Gordon Ramsey blog post about broccoli soup?  If you haven’t, stop now and go read it.  I was hooked.  I laughed through her entire post, made soup that night and haven’t stopped loving her self-effacing, hysterical, drool-worthy posts.  Priya invited me to share one of my favorite recipes on her blog and I’m honored and thrilled to continue recipe swapping with my hysterical, childhood chum.

This recipe is a breeze to put together and calls for seasonal ingredients—cabbages and apples, both ready or nearly-ready to harvest in east coast (and soon, west coast) gardens.  I tweaked and tested this recipe in Maine while I was living on an heirloom apple orchard with gazillions of apple varieties at my disposal.  At the orchard, our favorite “coleslaw” batch used an apple variety called Red St. Lawrence.  Go ahead and use whatever variety you have on hand that’s your favorite apple to eat out-of-hand; I think it’ll taste best if it’s a bit tart and a bit sweet.  This salad is great the day-of and is still snappy and refreshing for next-day leftovers.  Be sure not to skimp on the dates, cilantro or pecans—while that mix of ingredients may be unexpected, I promise they unite into the most lip-smacking cabbage salad I’ve ever had.

Ingredients for the Slaw:
8 cups green or purple cabbage, shredded
3 large, firm apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 cup dates, chopped
¾ cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 small early onion/shallot, thinly sliced

Ingredients for the Dressing:
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons honey, optional


In a large skillet, toast pecans, stirring frequently on medium-low heat until fragrant and slightly browned (approximately 8-10 minutes). Meanwhile, quarter cabbage; lay each section on its side and slice into thin strips with a sharp knife.  Set shredded cabbage aside in a large bowl. Chop dates, cilantro and onion and combine with cabbage.

In a separate bowl, whisk dressing until incorporated.  Pour onto shredded cabbage and toss.  Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.  Garnish with toasted pecans.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

healthy cookie series: part one!

i think it's important to start by setting some things straight about the above title: 

yes, cookies are healthy. get over it.

in fact, if made right, cookies can supply you with oats, grains, honey, and a warm fuzzy feeling. if that doesn't equate with health, then i don't know what does.
unfortunately, i haven't been able to experiment with all too many cookie recipes since starting this blog (exception: please check out these ridiculous macaroons), as my oven for the past year was somewhat picky regarding what it would and would not burn/decimate in some way or another. cookies were, to put it lightly, not its baked good of choice. there are horrifying pictures that bare witness to this harsh reality, but for the sake of the children, i've tucked them away in a folder deep in the corridors of my hard drive. 
in any case, today's a new day! and a new oven! an oven that, unlike some ovens, doesn't subscribe to anti-cookie propaganda (i'm slightly sad that 1) my old oven can't actually read how sassily i'm speaking about it and yet 2) i'm still sort of writing this post as if it can). so over the next couple of months, i'll be posting three to four cookie recipes that are not only really really tasty, but also appropriate or customizable for certain diets (gluten free, vegan, SCD). 

my younger brother aptly described today's vegan and gluten free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies as "insane", and i think he's just about got it. these little guys are crunchy, sweet, and dense with flavor. this recipe makes about 20 cookies, some of which i topped with almond slices (though i think walnuts or pecans would be a nice alternative). also, feel free to add raisins or any other mix-in of choice to the dough right before baking. 

vegan oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
*for gluten-free cookies, use certified gluten-free oats

2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cup steel cut (or gluten free) oats
1 ripe banana, mashed          
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
1/4 cup almond slices (for topping)

preheat oven to 375F. lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

in a medium bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and oats. in another bowl, combine the banana, agave, and extracts. pour wet ingredients into dry, and add the chocolate chips. (as there are no raw eggs or animal products in this, feel free to try some of the dough and see if it needs anything else. i may or may not have added more cinnamon...).

using a small spoon - or better yet, your hands - form the dough into little balls. place on baking sheet, top with a couple of almond slices, and bake for around 17 - 20 minutes. the finished cookies should be toasted around the edges and slightly doughy in the center.