Raw Cashew Hummus-Style Dip

This light and creamy hummus-style dip is a raw, dairy-free option. It’s really tasty and provides a nice flexible base for seasoning options. Start by choosing your favorite fresh green herb, such as basil, cilantro or parsley. Depending on which herb you use, you can mix and match whatever other seasoning you want to complement the flavors. Anything from fresh garlic or half of a shallot, to a small piece of fresh ginger or turmeric. Are you getting the idea? You can pretty much add anything you like — in small increments — just keep tasting often until you are satisfied with the result!

raw cashew dip

INGREDIENTS

1 cup organic raw cashews, soaked
Juice from 1 fresh lemon, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh green herb (basil, cilantro or parsley, etc)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp fine Celtic sea salt
4 tablespoons filtered water or olive oil

PREPARATION

Rinse the cashews in a colander and place them in a glass bowl. Cover them with fresh filtered water. Cover the bowl with a clean paper towel and let them soak for at least four hours.

Drain the water from the cashews and transfer into a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients except the water (or olive oil) and blend until smooth and creamy.

Gradually add in the filtered water or olive oil, a tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. A thick creamy dip requires only a little liquid. Pulse and open to scrape the mixture off of the sides until everything is mixed thoroughly.

Continually taste as you pulse, to get just the right blend of flavors. Add salt, lemon juice and other seasonings in small increments until it tastes just right.

Store dip in the fridge in a covered glass bowl. The flavors will meld and intensify as it chills, it will also thicken up a bit.

Serve the hummus with fresh, crisp veggies such as carrots and celery sticks, cucumber sticks, zucchini and yellow squash sticks, kohlrabi slices, etc.

Savory Blueberry Basil Sauce

July is National Blueberry Month and blueberries are not only touted as the having highest antioxidant capacities among all fruits, vegetables, spices and seasonings, they are incredibly versatile and delicious! You’ve probably enjoyed them in green or fruit salads, smoothies, scones, muffins, pancakes and waffles, or in jams, juice, and sweet or savory sauces, perhaps even over vanilla bean ice cream. Hungry yet? I know I am!

Today I’m making a delicious savory blueberry-basil sauce to serve over Alaskan King salmon. This sauce would also be good with chicken or pork.

blueberry-basil sauce

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces of fresh blueberries
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1-2 tablespoons local raw honey (optional)
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

PREPARATION

1. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two and then add the shallots. Continue to sauté for a few more minutes, until they have softened.

2. Add the balsamic vinegar, basil and salt. Heat everything over medium heat until the liquid begins to thicken and bubble.

3. Stir in the blueberries and continue to heat mixture over medium heat. The berries will pop and release their juice. If your berries are a bit tart, you can add honey to taste. Once the sauce begins to thicken again, it’s ready to go over your salmon.

Notes: Try adding tiny bit of chopped up candied ginger into the cooking preparation for a bit of spice. You could also use blackberries in lieu of the blueberries.

Update: I had about a 1/4-cup of leftover blueberry sauce so I added some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, stirred it all together and then pushed the fruit pulp through a sieve to strain. I used the strained liquid as a salad dressing, it was fantastic.

 

Mushroom Liver Pâté

I love pâté although I tend to only make it during the holidays or as a hostess gift. I have fond memories of Christmas’ past, where, if this was on the hors d’oeuvre table, my brothers and I would crowd around and gobble it all up before other guests arrived.

Why wait for a special occasion to roll around again? Since liver is so good for us, pâté should be enjoyed anytime!

This is a super easy recipe using mushrooms and can easily be modified to tweak the flavors. Think vinegar, pomegranate molasses, bacon, marsala, heavy cream, tart berries and/or fresh herbs. You can see by all the substitutions I made how easy it is to play with this recipe. You really can’t ruin pâté as long as you start with high-quality liver.

I chose to use grass fed beef liver, which is loaded with micronutrients. You can also use high-quality, free-range organic chicken liver, which is high in protein, iron and vitamins.

Note: it is essential to eat meat and organ meats from animals that have been raised on fresh pasture without hormones, antibiotics or commercial feed.

mushroom liver pâté

INGREDIENTS & PREPARATION

Heat 1/4 cup butter (I used duck fat) in large heavy-bottomed skillet. Add:

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, any kind (I used crimini)
1 lb chicken livers (I used grass fed beef liver)
1 tsp garlic salt (I used a fresh garlic stalk from the Farmer’s Market)
1 tsp paprika ( I used 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes)
1/3 cup chopped onions (I used shallots)

Cook gently for five minutes. Add:

1/3 cup white wine or cognac (I used Finn River Pear Wine with Apple Brandy & Cacao). Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until tender. Put cooked mixture in a food processor. Add:

1/2 cup butter
Salt to taste

Optional: pinch of dill

Blend in food processor until creamy. Transfer to a covered bowl or crock. Chill overnight. Makes 3 cups.

Great served with fresh or toasted baguette slices or celery sticks. (I’ve even tossed a couple tablespoons with gluten free pasta and tucked a dollop into scrambled eggs).

Bon appétit!

Chocolate Lavender Banana Bread

Banana bread is a childhood favorite, and nothing smells better than its delectable fragrance wafting through the house during baking. This recipe is grain free and has a dash of culinary lavender for a little extra zing.

banana bread

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons coconut oil, plus more for greasing the baking dish
4 eggs from grass-fed/pastured chickens (or 3 duck eggs)
3 tablespoons local, raw honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (omit the lavender and use any flavored extract, orange-anise would be good!)
1/2 teaspoon raw coconut vinegar
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond meal, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda, sifted
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup organic full fat coconut milk
3 ripe bananas
5 or 6 dates, pitted and finely chopped
optional: 1/4 teaspoon culinary lavender, finely ground
optional: 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Use a paper towel to grease the sides and bottom of a loaf pan with coconut oil.

Place the 2 tablespoons coconut oil, eggs, honey, vanilla and vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Using a hand mixer, beat on high for 30 seconds.

Add the coconut flour, sifted almond flour, baking soda, sea salt and optional lavender to the wet mixture, then bear on high until combined. Stop mixer and scrape sides once with a spatula, if need be, to ensure all dry ingredients get mixed into the batter.

Place the coconut milk and bananas in a smaller bowl and smash with the back of a fork until bananas are fully mashed.

Ad the banana mixture to the batter and beat on medium speed until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with chocolate chips, if desired. Bake 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Transfer loaf to wire cooling rack to cool completely before storing or serving.

Rhubarb Custard

Last week, I made a wonderful, savory ginger-rhubarb compote, so this week, I’m leaning towards the sweet. I love custard and thought the sweet, creamy egg mixture would pair nicely with tart rhubarb. I was right, it’s delicious!

Technically, rhubarb is a vegetable, even though it’s habitually referred to as “the first fruit of the season.” It’s pretty simple to cook with and contains plenty of vitamins A and C, calcium, and potassium. Rhubarb can be used in a wide variety of dishes, both sweet and savory. It’s is easy to grow, so if you have the space, give it a go and cook with it fresh from the garden!

rhubarb custard

INGREDIENTS

Step One:

4 cups rhubarb, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup organic sugar (I used ‘Aunt Patty’s Honey Crystals’)
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Step Two:

3 eggs
1 cup organic full fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 teaspoon Divine Desserts aromatic spice blend

PREPARATION

Step One:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

To prepare the rhubarb, trim and discard any leaves. Wash stalks just before using and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Combine rhubarb, sugar, flour and lemon juice and place ingredients into buttered baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven.

Step Two:

Beat eggs in a bowl. Blend in coconut milk, butter and spice blend. Pour over hot rhubarb and bake an additional 20 minutes. Custard should be golden and firm to touch.

Serve warm or room temperature.

Note: if you prefer a sweeter dessert, use an additional 1/4 sugar in step one.

 

Ginger-Rhubarb Compote

The following compote was inspired by Canal House’s Pork Belly with Gingery Rhubarb Compote. Having now paired it numerous ways—with pork belly, duck breasts, steak, chicken and salmon—it has been outstanding every time! Yikes, I cannot stop eating this!!

ginger-rhubarb compote

INGREDIENTS

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup golden raisins (substitutions okay, try dark-sweet cherries, dried apricots or peaches)
1/4 cup raw coconut vinegar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound rhubarb, trimmed, sliced 1/2-inch thick

PREPARATION

Combine brown sugar, raisins, vinegars and ginger in a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Add rhubarb to skillet and stir to coat. Cook, stirring as needed to avoid scorching, until rhubarb is tender and liquid is syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Note: Compote can be made five days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill. Reheat before using.

Sautéed Chive Buds and Leeks

My chives plant, now in its second year, has gone crazy with buds so I’ve prepared a light stir-fried chive bud dish. My goal, deliciousness and simplicity—and let me tell you, this was right on the mark—super fragrant and flavorful. It would also be good with the addition of ginger. Here, I’ve topped a nice piece of beef, but this would be just as awesome with chicken, white fish, scallops or jumbo shrimp.

sauteed chive buds and leeks

INGREDIENTS

1 leek, cleaned and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon corn starch (mixed)
1/2 cup chive buds
1 teaspoon seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon anchovy sauce (okay to substitute fish sauce)
1/2 tablespoon coconut aminos (okay to substitute oyster sauce)

PREPARATION

Mix the corn starch with water, set aside.

To prepare leeks, cut off and discard the dark green parts that are tough. Trim off the little beards at the bottom. Slice as thin as possible.

Heat up a skillet and add in the olive oil and garlic. Add in the leeks and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add in the chive buds and continue to stir fry for 1-2 minutes. Buds should remain crunchy.

Add in the seasoning (rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, anchovy sauce and coconut aminos) and the corn starch water.

Do a quick stir for 30 seconds, dish up and serve hot atop quinoa or a piece of meat or fish.

Meyer Lemon & Blood Orange Roast Chicken

I love Meyer Lemons and look forward all year to their availability. I do not care for oranges and never eat them, but for some reason, I do like blood oranges – at least to cook with – I have yet to eat one raw. Yesterday, I was lucky enough to find both at Sunny Farms.

I decided to roast chicken covered in slices of Meyer lemons – sounds good, right?! At the last second I added blood orange segments and I cannot tell you how amazing this dish turned out. Not to mention, my house smelled divine the entire time it was in the oven. The fruit caramelized and was so delicious with the chicken. This dish turned out better than I anticipated and I will definitely make it again. And again.

Next time I might sprinkle it with something green, maybe a little fresh thyme or parsley…

meyer lemon roast chicken

INGREDIENTS

3-4 chicken thighs (breasts would work too)
2 Meyer lemons, washed and thinly sliced
1 blood orange, peeled and segments separated
Sea salt

For the sauce

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons local raw honey

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F.

Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.

Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Cover the chicken completely with slices of lemon and orange segments, and then pour the sauce over the chicken pieces.

Bake the chicken for 35-45 minutes. Check in the last 10 minutes and spoon cooking juices over chicken if need be.

Serve the chicken topped with the hot lemon and orange slices.

Meyer lemon and blood orange roast chicken

Have a bigger family or guests for dinner? Simply use a bigger roasting pan and increase ingredient quantities to compensate for additional pieces of chicken.

 

Spaghetti Squash Noodles

Noodles that aren’t noodles? Yep, that’s right—spaghetti squash—a harbinger of great flavor with the texture of noodles. And, spaghetti squash just happen to be loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. It’s a win-win!

A winter squash, spaghetti squash can still be found in many places throughout spring months. Look for a firm, blemish-free squash and store it on the counter out of direct sunlight; it will keep on your counter for a few weeks and up to a month, depending on when it was harvested.

baked spaghetti squash

PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.

Slice the squash in half lengthwise using the largest knife you have; go slow, it might take a few minutes.

Using a spoon, scrape out all of the seeds and stringy flesh. Brush the cut flesh of the spaghetti squash with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil and place cut side down on a lined baking sheet.

Roast 30-40 minutes until the flesh is fork tender and completely cooked through. Let rest at least 10 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Using a fork, start at one end and scape the “noodles” out lengthwise. And there you have it —noodles!

Serve hot or warm, tossed with your favorite marinara sauce or a splash of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Store in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator up to two days.

spaghetti suash noodles

Nutty Baked Vegetables

For a tasty side or snack, try baking assorted veggie slices coated with nut flour—so yummy! For this recipe, I used zucchini, shitake mushrooms, purple sweet potato and yacón—a delightful vegetable I just discovered at Nash’s Organic Produce.

The yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolius) is a perennial traditionally grown in South America for its crisp, sweet-tasting tuberous roots. Yacón can be eaten raw or cooked and is noted for its high fiber and low calorie content. With a texture very similar to jicama, its distinctive flavor is a satisfyingly sweet cross between celery and Granny Smith apples. Another name for the yacón is Peruvian ground apple.

cashew baked veggies

INGREDIENTS

1 large zucchini, peeled
1 yacón, peeled
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 cup raw nut flour – I made my own with raw, hulled hemp hearts
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon green onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

PREPARATION

To make raw nut flour: process nuts a half a cup at a time in a blender or food processor until turned into a powder. Do not over process or you will have nut butter. If you want an finer flour, sift after processing. Note: you can make nut flour from any raw nut such cashews or skinned almonds.

Preheat oven to 450F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lay the mushrooms upside down and cut off stem with a small, sharp knife, cutting just below the mushroom cap so you remove the whole stem. Mushrooms are very porous, so if they are exposed to too much water, they will quickly absorb the water and become soggy so it’s best to clean them without water. To do this, simply wipe the caps well with a barely damp paper towel. If the underside of the mushroom cap is dirty, carefully scrape around it with a small knife or toothpick to remove any pieces of dirt.

Evenly slice remaining vegetables—zucchini, yacón and sweet potato—into 1/4-inch rings.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. In a separate bowl, mix cashew flour with salt, onion and garlic powder. Dip vegetable slices in egg one at a time, letting any excess egg drip off, and then coat the egg-covered vegetables in flour mixture and place in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Bake on each side for about 6-8 minutes, until each side is golden brown. The sweet potatoes may need an extra few minutes, check for doneness by piercing with a fork.

Serve with a dollop of cashew sour cream.

Note: instead of discarding leftover egg and flour after you’ve coated all the vegetables, combine and make scrambled eggs.