Archive for the 'low fat' Category

14
Aug
11

Where’s the Beak?

The Artful Dodger hipping Oliver to street lingo

“You do know what a beak is, don’t cha?” “It’s a birds mouth, isn’t it?” “For your information, a beak’s a magistrate.” That line from “Oliver”never made sense to me. Where is the connection? Anyone?

The Spanish word for beak is pico. I had a friend in Mexico nick named Pico because he was blessed with a hooter resembling that of Ringo Starr.

Pico de gallo is a popular salsa we like to pour over our tacos and enchiladas. But why is it called “rooster’s beak?” Again, where is the connection?

I consulted the “Food Lover’s Companion”, my first go-to book when I have a culinary connected conundrum. According to that source, “Pico de gallo [PEE-koh day GI-yoh] ….is a relish made of finely chopped ingredients like jicama, oranges, onions, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers and cucumbers along with various seasonings. This condiment was so named because it was once purportedly eaten with the thumb and finger, an action that resembles a rooster’s pecking beak.” Ok, I guess that makes some sense.

Here’s what I found on Wikipedia:

Another suggested etymology is that pico is derived from the verb picar, which has two meanings: 1) to mince or chop, and 2) to bite, sting or peck. The rooster, gallo inSpanish, is a common metaphor for the hyper-masculine (“macho“) male in Mexican culture. One example of such machismo is taking pride in withstanding the spicy burn of chilis.

However, neither theory can be considered definite, as they assume the use of hot chilis. In many regions of Mexico the term “pico de gallo” refers to any of a variety of salads, condiments or fillings made with sweet fruitstomatoestomatillosavocado or mild chilis — not necessarily with hot chilis, or any chilis at all. Thus, the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce.[2]

The pico de gallo I am used to seeing and eating in California and the Pacific Northwest is more of a salsa or salsa fresca. Tomatoes, onion and garlic are the staple. And it’s chunky yet a bit on the soupy side, so I can’t imagine trying to peck that up with your dedos (that’s Spanish for fingers).

My simple, spicy version of Pico de Gallo

Enough scratching and pecking for the significance of the name of this spicy concoction. Here is my simple version of Pico de Gallo:

3 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ yellow onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 large jalapeño, finely minced

salt and pepper to taste

chopped cilantro (optional)

Rough to finely chop the ripe tomatoes

These summer beauties were the perfect ripeness!

chop the onions

make sure they are pretty fine

ditto the jalapenos - keep the seeds if you want the heat or remove for a less heated condiment

Remove the skins from the garlic cloves

The easiest way to remove the skins from garlic is to chop off the hard, woody end and using the flat of your chefs knife, give it a good firm bash with your fist.  Did that make sense?  Place the knife on it’s side over the garlic clove.  Make a fist like you are playing one-potato-two-potato and smash it down on the knife.  One smash is all you need do.

Finely chop all of that beautiful garlic

Place it all in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste,  You can also add chopped cilantro if you like.  I didn’t have any on hand the day I made this, otherwise it would have made it in there too.

Spoon over your favorite Mexican dishes or anything that you like. It's great on it's own with some tortilla chips.

Whether you call it pico de gallo, salsa fresca, tomato relish or Mexican ketchup, it doesn’t get any easier to make.  Team it up with some guacamole and get the party started.  Hmmm….where’s that avocado?

28
Jul
11

Buckwheat is O-Tay!

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “buckwheat”? Kid with a funny name on the Little Rascals? Pancakes? Something that pillow you heat in the microwave is stuffed with, perhaps? If you are in the know, maybe soba noodles? I just found out that soba noodles were made from buckwheat. I did preface that sentence with “if you are in the know”, which, obviously I am not. I’d be willing to bet that blueberry muffins and granola might not make it into the top answers on “Family Feud” when they surveyed 100 people about buckwheat usage.

Be that as it may, I’m here to tell you that buckwheat makes both great granola and muffins! And that both are vegan AND gluten free. And they taste great. Who knew? Another tid bit of information that I’d like to pass along is that buckwheat is another one of those power foods that helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure. The fact that buckwheat is so good for us is reason alone for adding it to our diet, and the fact that it makes killer treats is a plus.

Moist, buckwheaty blueberry muffins


Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins

adapted from “Get it Ripe” by Jae Steele

1 3/4 cups whole buckwheat groats (raw, not toasted)

2 cups filtered water (room temp or just-boiled)

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/2 organic non-dairy milk

1/3 cup flax seeds (golden preferred) I used ground flax seeds and they worked great!

1/4 cup softened non-hydrogenated coconut oil or sunflower oil (plus extra for coating the pan)

2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

zest of 1 organic lemon (if unavailable, skip it)

1 tsp anise seeds, ground (optional) I used cinnamon instead because a: I didn’t have any anise and b: I don’t really care for the flavor of anise

1/2 tsp sea salt or kosher salt

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups fresh or frozen (not thawed) blueberries

Rinse the buckwheat, then combine it in a bowl with the room temperature water and soak overnight (or combine with the just-boiled water and soak for an hour).

Preheat oven to 375 degfrees F.

Prepare muffin pan with paper liners or a light coating of oil (you’ll need tp prepare 16 cups instead of the standard 12)

Poar the soaked buckwheat (along with any unabsorbed water) into the bowl of a food processer or blender; add syrup, milk, flax seeds, oil, lemon juice, zest, anise (or cinnamon)

and salt, and give it a whirl for about a minute, until the buckwheat kernels are broken down. Add the baking powder and baking soda, and whirl again for another 10 seconds to combine. Srape with a silicone spatula and give it another pulse or two.

Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl and, using a silicone spatula, fold in the blueberries.

Portion batter into prepared muffin cups, filling them to the top (I like to sprinkle the muffin tops with turbinado sugar to give them a sweet, crunchy crust) and bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack and remove from pan while still a bit warm.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days, or in the fridge for up to a week.

ready for it's close up

and here's a peek inside

These muffins are seriously good.  I shared one with my friend, Emily, and she made them for breakfast the very next day!

buckwheat groats

Buckwheat groats are hulled, crushed grain.  Some of you may know them by a different name, kasha.  What ever you call them, they are super easy to work with.  You can roast them or cook them like rice.

Here is another easy recipe that makes a low fat granola everyone loves.  Seriously, everyone who has tried this stuff at our house has asked for the recipe. And here it is:

BUCKWHEAT GRANOLA

3 cups raw buckwheat groats

1 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (or other dry sugar)

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

a dash or two of ground nutmeg or a few grates of fresh nutmeg – even better!

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup peanut butter (or any nut butter)

3/4 – 1 cup dried fruit of choice

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.

Lightly oil or use silicone liner (my preferred method) on baking sheet

Place buckwheat in strainer and rinse throughly

Place buckwheat in large mixing bowl and add sugar, spices and nuts.

all that goodness in a bowl (the buckwheat groats are underneath)

Spread evenly on baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes, then stir. Bake an additional 20 minutes, or until lightly brown

'till it looks like this

After removing from oven, pour the contents of the baking sheet back into the bowl and add nut butter and mix thoroughly while still hot.

stirring in the peanut butter

Add dried fruit and let cool in bowl to crisp up.

I added dried apricots and dates to this batch

all mixed in

Store in air tight container.

looks good enough to eat

This granola is great as a snack, as a topping on ice cream or mixed into yogurt.  I hope you try these recipes, especially if you have someone in your life who is gluten intolerant.  They will love you for it.




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