Monday, October 31, 2011
We haven't posted a drink recipe here for a while now. That's a bit strange, since we enjoy some kind of shake or juice every day. Let's correct that situation.
Making a smoothie is a clever way of packing many nourishing ingredients into one glass. They're especially great for kids, who will love their pretty colouring and fruity taste. Paloma drinks almost any kind of smoothie, and it is a great opportunity for me to bring variety to her diet.
I like to get creative with these drinks, as in the case of this layered one, featuring two superberries from opposite sides of the world.
I was delighted to find frozen sea-buckthorn berries at the Eastern European market the other day. I've forgotten all about them, since I've been away from that part of the world for a while now. Seeing the beautiful little berries brought back all kinds of memories.
In Russia, sea-buckthorn is seen as a highly medicinal, healing plant. Foraging the berries is challenging, because the branches have sharp thorns. That never stops people from gathering them enthusiastically during the season, however. Folk tales insist that even a bad scratch from the thorns will never be infected due to the special medicinal juices oozing from the plant. The berries are often made into preserves, jams, and even oil is extracted from the plant. Our grandmothers believed that sea-buckthorn can cure any ailment, from a common cold to ulcers and diabetes.
And now to the superberry of the New World - açaí. This one is probably old news to most, as it has been popping up everywhere in the recent years - in juices, supplements, and cosmetics. Açaí is native to Central and South America and is not only very good for you, but also delicious. The best way to enjoy it is in the form of frozen puree (we use Sambazon brand), which has no additives.
We have to thank Green Kitchen Stories for introducing us to this product and for their great recipe of the açaí bowl. As they predicted, the bowl became our obsession and one of Paloma's most beloved breakfasts.
Layering the two smoothies does not only make for a pretty result, but also leaves you with a glass of great flavours, amazing colour, and the combined unique benefits of these two berries. The fact that you are most likely to find both of these berries frozen, means that you can enjoy them during any season. We did it while staring at the beautiful turning leaves. Cheers to autumn!
2 cups pineapple chunks
1 ripe banana
1 cup diced ripe mango
1 cup sea-buckthorn
3 tablespoons raw honey or agave
1 1/2 cups nut milk or coconut water
Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender. You can eliminate the sea-buckthorn and you will get a tropical smoothie that is very good on its own.
(adapted from GKS)
2 packages of frozen acai Sambazon puree
2 ripe bananas
2 tablespoons hemp protein
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or strawberries
1/2 cup nut milk
Run the frozen acai packages under hot water. Cut one end of the package - the puree should slide out easily. Cut it in chunks and combine in a high-speed blender with the rest of the ingredients.
To assemble, gently pour the smoothies into glasses, alternating the layers. Tilt the glass if you want to create slopes.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Last week, we talked about 3D: Dinner, Decor, Delight, our new venture. We want to say thank you for your input and support, you are all invited. The interest, that our first gathering generated, brought us to planning several future 3D events. We decided to direct the profit to Jamie Oliver's Foundation, whose philosophy corresponds with our goal to show just how enjoyable cooking and eating good food can be. We are especially inspired by Mr. Oliver's commitment to improving school lunches.
Natalie and I are no strangers to the dilemma of keeping kids' food healthy while still providing the appropriate social environment for them to learn and develop. Starting out, we were fortunate to find a day care run by a very special woman, who was understanding of our dietary requirements for Paloma. She made the transition from eating at home to dining with other children smooth and enjoyable. Since then, Paloma never thought anything much of her food being a little different from the rest. (Thank you Susan, we love and miss you!) Even now, in a big school environment, Paloma is able to drink her green smoothies, while still being part of the crowd. Sasha, being a year younger, caught up to Paloma as soon as his age permitted. Since then, they've shared many smoothies together, all shades of green.
The idea to make this video came to Natalie when we were talking about how much enthusiasm and impatience those two show while the blender is going. They both see the smoothie as a treat, something to look forward to. Ziggy Meilus, our videographer, executed it without a plan or scenario, and we are so thankful for his great work. Once the smoothies were made, Sasha and Paloma went into a sort of trance, gobbling up their drinks. Natalie and I were standing at the side, laughing.
There have been so many inspiring food videos popping up in the community, and we are very excited to finally share one of our own. We cannot wait to do more in the future. Thank you for watching!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
We are so excited to finally share this post with you. It has been long in the making, a big dream of ours.
For a while now, my friend Natalie and I have been talking and fantasizing about hosting small gatherings, marrying her expertise in decor, my obsession with cooking, and our general love for entertaining. And recently, we did a test run of 3D - Dinner, Decor, Delight.
We wanted our guests to have an experience, something more dimensional than just sitting down for a meal, hence the 3D title. We came up with the idea of an interactive dining experience, where the guests would be involved in the process of preparing a nourishing and delicious meal for themselves, which would then be enjoyed at a sit down dinner.
To further the 3D concept and tell a visual story, we decided to only use three colours in both decor and food. The colours will always be dictated by nature and seasonality. This time, in early fall, it was green, yellow, and purple. The green came from Calimyrna figs, zucchini, and herbs, yellow - from pears, mango, and chamomile, and purple - from Concord grapes, purple sprouts, and Mission figs.
The narrowing down of colours took a bit of thinking and we had lots of fun brainstorming. The whole experience made us think of early masters, like Vermeer, who had to mix their colours with materials that came from nature. That's when we decided on three brushstrokes as our main logo.
This first time around, we invited twenty friends to the Tampa Club, where we were given a beautiful space overlooking the whole city. We are endlessly thankful to the club and especially private events director Sandra for providing us with such an amazing venue.
We had two photographers at the event - yours truly and Ziggy Meilus. Ziggy is a visionary, there are not many things he cannot do. Photo, video, music, you name it. We are very lucky to have him on our team.
We wanted to welcome our guests with tasty cocktails, but also aimed to keep them as healthy as possible. We served a purple concoction of freshly squeezed Concord grape juice (all squeezed with love the night before) and organic sake. The drink was light, but also did its job well and overall was quite popular with the crowd.
After the cocktails were served, we got down to cooking. Everyone had their own station at our long working table, equipped with a white apron and cooking equipment. We did some preparation of ingredients ahead of time, things like dicing and portioning, all in the interest of saving time. But our guests did most of the work, while we guided them.
The menu consisted of three courses and a palate cleanser. The first course was zucchini spaghetti with a minty mango sauce, topped with beautiful purple sprouts. Then we had a palate cleanser of chamomile sorbet. I've had this one up my sleeve for a while now and it's about time to share it, it's so good! Look for the recipe at the bottom of the post. The third course was our favourite dolma. And for dessert - mini tarts made of a pistachio crust, filled with a pear vanilla creme, and topped with fresh figs and lavender-infused honey.
We also had small party favours, which consisted of raw chocolate candies and a recipe card.
Natalie did a beautiful job on the decor, down to the smallest details. The main pieces on the tables were vintage meat grinders, which acted as symbolic vases and told the story of transformation of one form of nature into another life form, without the altering of natural qualities. They also signified a hands on experience.
Natalie intended for a sort of style clash to happen, where the rustic elements would be juxtaposed with more minimal and modern ones, like the Voss water bottles and simple white tableware.
We found this to be a very rewarding experience. We loved the whole process from brainstorming to organizing, from cooking together to handing out party favours at the end of the dinner.
We would love to repeat this experience, to grow from it, and to let it grow into something regular and positive.
We are open to any comments, suggestions and collaborations. Thank you for reading.
Fig Tarts with a Pear-Vanilla Cream and Pistachio Crust
(makes about six 3.5" tarts)
1 cup raw pistachio nuts
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup golden flax seeds
In a high-speed blender, mix all the ingredients until well combined and until the mixture sticks together when pressed with fingers. You can do it in a food processor as well, but pre-grind your flax seeds in this case. Do not blend the ingredients too much to avoid them becoming too oily.
Place a generous 1/3 cup of the mixture in each tart shell with a removable bottom and press evenly against the bottom and sides of the shell. Place your tarts in the freezer for about an hour before serving, this will make the removing process much smoother.
1 cup raw cashews
1-2 ripe pears
2-4 tablespoons purified water
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Blend all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Lavender Infused Honey
1 cup raw liquid honey
1/4 cup dry organic lavender flowers
Mix honey and lavender together in a jar. Cover with a lid and leave to infuse for around 3 weeks. Stir 1-2 times a day, or just flip the jar over, making sure that the lid is sealed. Strain honey through a fine mesh screen.
Slice figs in any way you like.
Take your tart pans from the freezer and carefully remove the crust from the pan, starting with pressing gently on the removable bottom. Fill the crust with the pear-vanilla cream, arrange figs on top, in layers if you like. Optionally, drizzle with lavender or plain honey. Garnish wtih some concord grapes and/or edible flowers if you like.
4 cups purified water
1/4 cup dry organic chamomile flowers
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup raw honey
1/2 cup light agave syrup
Steep chamomile flowers in very hot water for about 30 minutes. Strain the flowers, mix in the rest of the ingredients and chill well. Process through ice-cream machine according to its manufacturer's instructions. Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
We always get so busy this time of year. I don't know what it is about fall that does that to us, but probably the combination of back to school madness and the end of lazy heat and abundant daylight. But I know that excuses are no fun to read about, so here are some muffins.
There was a time when I used to bake and experiment with healthy varieties of muffins almost every weekend. (Orange-almond and mustard-cheddar probably stand out the most in my memory.) There is nothing quite like a batch of freshly baked muffins on a Saturday morning. And so the time came to try out an unbaked version.
We made these muffins a little while ago, at the peak of the grape-fig season, but just got around to posting about them. The good news is that you can substitute Concord grapes and figs with pretty much any seasonal fruits.
That being said, the time of year when figs and grapes are readily available is arguably my favourite time. We eat the two for almost every meal and can never get enough.
The muffins are lovely - the dough turned out soft, which is always a challenge when working with this type of flour. The magical ingredient here is my favourite Irish moss, which makes for crumbly, soft dough.
We are enjoying the season very much and hope you do as well. Cannot wait to share some new things with you very soon.
Concord Grape Jelly
1 1/2 cups Concord grapes
3 tablespoons agave syrup, honey, or other sweetener of choice
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup Irish moss gel
To make Irish moss gel, rinse Irish moss thoroughly and soak in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Blend in a high-speed blender with enough purified water to reach a smooth gel-like consistency. Keep refrigerated.
To make the jelly, blend the first three ingredients together in a high-speed blender. Run through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding small particles of seeds and skin. Pour the liquid back into the blender, add Irish moss gel, and blend again until well incorporated and smooth. Keep refrigerated.
1 cup raw cashews
1-2 ripe pears
2-4 tablespoons purified water
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
Combine all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Same as pear-vanilla cream, just add some concord grapes and/or Black Mission figs instead of pears to reach the desired lavender colour.
(makes about 8 small muffins)
1 cup oat flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup or more ground dry lavender florets
1/2 cup maple syrup powder
1/4 cup Irish moss gel
1/4 cup date paste or lavender infused honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 or more tablespoons purified water
To make oat and buckwheat flour, soak raw oat and buckwheat groats overnight, rinse well, and dehydrate at 115F until completely dry. Grind in a high-speed blender, or in a simple coffee grinder in batches. Keep refrigerated in an air-tight glass container.
To make muffins, sift together the first four ingredients in a large bowl. In a high speed blender, mix the rest of the ingredients until smooth, adding more water if needed. Add the wet mixture into the dry mixture, combining well.
Fill about 1/3 of each silicone muffin cup with the muffin dough, using a wet spoon. Wet your fingers to make a dent in the middle, pushing the dough evenly to the sides. Fill with grape jelly, top with more dough, evening out on top with a wet spoon.
Place the muffins in the dehydrator set at 115F overnight. Remove from the silicone cups, and dehydrate for another 8-12 hours. Cool completely and top with the pear-vanilla, or grape-fig creme. Sprinkle with lavender and enjoy.