Saturday, February 11, 2017

3 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Truffles

Valentine’s Day is upon us, which means chocolate is very much top of mind for this little lady.  For moi, the darker the better.  I love the deep, rich flavors of cacao, mixed with as little sugar as possible to keep that rich, teetering-on-bitter flavor. So when I came upon this 3 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Truffle recipe—two-thirds of which are 70% pure cocoa or greater—I was hooked. When I discovered the third ingredient was tahini, I was sold.


The recipe is really just two ingredients, dark chocolate and tahini. The third, unsweetened cocoa powder, serves a predominantly aesthetic role, reserved for dusting at the end to make the chocolates pretty.



Might so few ingredients in a truffle make it bland, or lacking in flavor? Truth be told, just the opposite. The two ingredients are so wonderfully complex, they almost make a mockery of the idea. The chocolate is sweet and rich, with undertones of vanilla, while the tahini is nutty and buttery; I would argue, the most flavor-nuanced fat source there is. Together, they are a gourmand delight, an unparalleled zenith of luxurious, silky flavor.

And while their taste is certainly fancy, the prep is anything but. It’s actually comical just how unfussy this recipe is. Even parts dark chocolate (melted) and tahini are stirred together, then poured into a baking sheet lined with plastic wrap. After an hour in the freezer, this truffle-block is ready to be cut into any shape you please. Mine naturally formed into mismatched rectangles, which after being rolled in the cocoa powder, managed to look awesomely cosmopolitan—like they belonged on an artisan chocolate shop shelf next to your most extravagant, hipster chocolate bar.

In reality, not so much. I used half a bar of Raaka dark chocolate (admittedly fancy, that was a gift) and half of the Nestle semi-sweet morsels I keep on hand for baking.  For the tahini, I used Seed + Mill brand—where this recipe hails from, and the only tahini I recommend. As I wrote about in a previous post, Seed + Mill sources their sesame seeds from a small town in Ethiopia, called Humera, where climatic conditions make their tahini wonderfully, naturally, sweet. (It's also the reason why no one will believe you when you tell them these truffles have zero added sugar).

If you like, feel free to experiment with using spices to dust in tandem with the cocoa powder, maybe a sprinkle of sea salt, cayenne, or cinnamon. That being said, this recipe is true to it's name, and I assure you that the 3 ingredients alone indeed yield perfection.


And health! Both the flavonoids in cocoa and phytosterols in sesame help lower cholesterol and contain anti-inflammatory properties. The ingredients are also mineral powerhouses, with significant sources of iron and zinc. They are even linked to healthy skin—flavonoids fight against skin damage and free radicals, while sesame's high zinc and copper content aid in collagen production.

Happy Valentine's Day!

3 Ingredient Tahini Chocolate Truffles
Makes 30 bite-sized truffles

Ingredients:
1 cup best quality 70% dark chocolate
1 cup Seed + Mill Pure Tahini
Cocoa powder for dusting

Directions:
1. Melt chocolate in a bowl, add tahini and stir to combine.
2. Line a loaf tin with plastic wrap and pour in the chocolate mix. Place tin in freezer for 1 hour.
3. Remove chocolate from plastic wrap and slice into squares, rectangles or any abstract shape you like.
4. Dust with best quality cocoa powder.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bone Broth, à la carte or for Egg Drop Soup and Lentil Soup

“Blue Monday,” the alleged gloomiest day of the year, occurs on the third week of January’s workday start. It is marked by two things: withdrawal of holiday season high spirits, and the onset of widespread seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Throw in this week’s nor’easter and the nightmare state of our country, week one, and I’m going to go ahead and say that this dark, dark, cerulean period is going to extend a bit longer than 24 hours. 


Winter-onset SAD is a real thing, marked by symptoms like irritability, tiredness, low energy, and heavy, leaden limbs. With our physical and mental energies down, it’s important to nurture our bodies more than ever. I can’t think of anything more heart and soul warming than a steaming cup of Chicken Bone Broth, consumed on its own or as the main ingredient in Egg Drop Soup or Lentil Soup.
All three of these recipes come from the Annual Goop Detox, which, I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant to start at first. Words like “detox”, “cleanse”, and “elimination-diet” are really not my style—I’m more of a whole-ingredient, nutrient-rich eating gal who prefers general eating for health over restriction and discipline.
However, all of the recipes in the detox looked amazing, and I loved how GP reused ingredients and components for the different dishes. I didn’t commit to elimination-diet rules (no caffeine, no way!) but am currently making my way through each of the 14 dishes with utter delight. Roughly three-quarters through, I’ve immensely enjoyed the way that GP constructed “cozy-hot breakfasts, warm and filling dinners, and quick and simple lunches” to make clean eating feel natural in our current cold-weather climate. By the end, she promises a “lighter, happier, refreshed you.” A tall order for Blue Monday: Extreme Edition, but I truly felt all those qualities after two weeks of eating the meals.
Many of the recipes in the Annual Detox have an Asian flare, and the Chicken Bone Broth is no exception. Simmered with ginger, star anise pods, cilantro, and apple cider vinegar, this broth exudes a lovely, spicy bite from these more exotic ingredients (in addition to common ones like celery, onion, carrots, and garlic). It is truly glorious on its own, and despite the recipe’s recommendation to cook for a total of 10 hours, ample flavor can be achieved in just 2-3.
The Egg Drop Soup is simply a fortified version of the broth, adding turmeric, chili flakes, more ginger, lemon juice, and a single egg for a protein-rich, inflammation-fighting, citrusy enhancement. It’s lovely, and ribboning the eggs was so fun! (Though my soup looks more like a weird floating omelet because I used two eggs and apparent have terrible ribboning form). GP even recommends this soup for breakfast, and its light enough to fit the bill.
The Lentil Soup is a fairly basic recipe, but exalted to Best-I’ve-ever-had status through use of the bone broth. Two kinds of lentils, puy and red, give legume depth and variety, which are cooked simply with garlic, carrot, and celery before blended with a quick grate of fresh ginger and the broth. The bite from the ginger is a really nice complement to the earthy lentils, and I added some frozen chopped spinach and red wine vinegar for extra gusto, too.
Find the full Annual Goop Detox here. (Laarb Lettuce Cups and Miso Sweet Potato Collard Wrap are two of my non-soup favorites).
At first, I was struck by how ironic it was that I was getting such pleasure from these pure, simple foods. I literally felt like I was indulging, as if I were drinking a glass of red wine and eating a rich chocolate cake. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My body, mind, and spirit are trying to heal. And while I can’t control what goes on outside of me—whether that be the weather or the president—I can take charge of what I put inside of me. And here is the only place to start.

Chicken Bone Broth (from Goop Annual Detox)
Makes 12 cups

Ingredients:
1 half organic chicken (or just the equivalent roasted chicken bones. I made a version this way and it was great, too)
1 celery stalk, cut into thirds
1 yellow onion, cut in quarters
2 medium carrots, cut in half
4 garlic cloves
2 star anise pods
1 3-inch piece ginger, sliced
½ bunch cilantro
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
10 cups water (or enough to cover all the ingredients)
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
20 black peppercorns

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low heat for 6* hours. Remove meat from chicken, shred, and store until ready to use.
2. Return the chicken bones to the crockpot and continue cooking for 4 more hours.
3. Strain, cool, season to taste with salt, and store in the fridge.

*2 to 3 hours of cooking, total, is perfectly adequate.

Egg Drop Soup (from Goop Annual Detox)
Serves 2

Ingredients:
3 cups chicken bone broth
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 pinches chili flakes
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
a squeeze of fresh lemon
cilantro to garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. Combine the bone broth, ground turmeric, chili flakes, and grated ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. While the mixture heats up, crack the eggs in a small bowl, season with a pinch of salt, and beat with a fork.
3. When the broth is simmering, pour the egg through the holes of a slotted metal spoon directly over the broth, making egg ribbons.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper and squeeze over some fresh lemon juice just before serving. Garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

Lentil Soup (from Goop Annual Detox)
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1-2 medium carrots, diced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
⅔ cup puy lentils
⅓ cup red lentils
2 cups chicken bone broth or chicken stock
½ tsp salt
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 cups bone broth
½ cup chopped frozen spinach (optional)
Red wine vinegar, drizzled before serving

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a medium dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.
2. Add lentils, broth, and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook 20-25 minutes (or until the lentils are cooked but still have some bite), stirring occasionally.
3. Remove pot from heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Add the fresh grated ginger and 2 cups bone broth to the pot. Blend together with an immersion blender. Add spinach, if using. Serve with a drizzling of red wine vinegar.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Citrus Ginger Tofu Salad with Buckwheat Soba Noodles

I recently read a great article by Chrys Napolitano about rising to the challenge of staying locavore during the winter months.  Recognizing urban local winter eating as neither easy nor haphazard, she relayed a few simple rules in Edible Bronx for practicing the sustainable philosophy.

First and foremost, plan ahead. Her article was riddled with tips for freezing, pickling, and dehydrating late autumn produce. As we’ve clearly missed the boat on this one, I’ll relay two principles that stuck with me and are actionable right now.  First, know what’s in season. For New Yorkers, cabbage, cauliflower, root vegetables, winter squash, dried beans, apples, pears, arugula, baby spinach, and baby kale are produced steadily throughout the winter. Did you know that just shy of two dozen GrowNYC Greenmarkets are open year-round?
Second, accept that compromise is ok. Certain produce, such as citrus, avocados, nuts, and olives, will never be local in the tri-state area. “Don’t sweat it!” Chrys emphasizes.  Noted, and the perfect segue into this Citrus Ginger Tofu Salad with Buckwheat Soba Noodles recipe.
Starting with local kale, carrots, and cabbage, this salad boasts an A+ on the nutrient and crunch scale; broccoli florets contributing to the attractive texture/nutrition profile, too.  Add delightfully smooth, earthy soba noodles and crisp tofu squares— enveloped in an Asian citrus dressing that hits every flavor nuance imaginable—and this salad is simply sensational. The marinade for the tofu consists of orange juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, maple syrup and cayenne and is repurposed for the salad's dressing; perked up with added citrus and acidity through lime, rice wine vinegar, and extra orange juice. Garnished with basil, cilantro, and sesame seeds, the salad is sprightly and animated; a triple-the-recipe dish for sure.
I’ve made this salad a few times, once substituting chicken breast for tofu, which works just as well. I definitely recommend doubling or tripling the marinade/dressing, as if you are like me— using the entire bunch of kale and whole head of cabbage because it's there, that is—your salad will be underdressed.  A quick note: 100% buckwheat soba noodles (which make this recipe gluten-free, in addition to using tamari instead of soy sauce) are expensive, about $8.99 a package. However, combination buckwheat and regular wheat noodles run at a much more reasonable price point, comparable to regular spaghetti.
So while native citrus will always be a no-go in the Empire State, you can reduce food miles by aiming for domestic citrus rather than that grown in South America. Florida is in citrus season right now.  We’re just in cold and flu season, so I’m thinking it’s definitely a good time to get a healthy dose of that vitamin C.  Plus, simply being locally mindful—even if you’re not practicing with diligence—counts for something, for sure. 


Citrus Ginger Tofu Salad with Buckwheat Soba Noodles (from Food52)
Serves 4

For the Tofu & Marinade:
1/8 cup orange juice
1/8 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/8 cup toasted sesame oil
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 clove garlic
2 tsp maple syrup
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 package extra firm tofu

For the Salad:
Leftover marinade
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lime
1/8 cup orange juice
3 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
Sea salt to taste
½ package Eden Buckwheat Soba Noodles
1 stalk broccoli, florets only
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1½ cup lacinato kale, de-ribbed* and cut into ribbons
½ cup green cabbage, shredded
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
8 basil leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

Optional garnish: chopped roasted peanuts

Directions:
1. Preparing the Tofu + Marinade: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a bowl mix together orange juice, tamari, sesame oil, olive oil, ginger, garlic, maple syrup, and cayenne and set aside. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and place into a small baking pan without overlapping. Pour the marinade over the tofu. Put the tofu into the oven and bake for 15 minutes, stir, and bake for 15 minutes more until browned. With a slotted spoon, scoop out the tofu and place onto a plate and allow to cool. Pour the remaining marinade into a bowl and set aside.

2. Preparing the Thai citrus vinaigrette: Add the lime zest and juice to the remaining marinade. Continue to add the orange juice, rice vinegar, and sea salt to taste. Set aside.

3. Preparing the salad: Cook the soba noodles as described on the package, rinse with cold water and set aside. Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to a boil, and blanch the broccoli florets for 30 seconds. Immediately strain the florets and rinse with cold water. Put the noodles, blanched broccoli florets, carrot, kale, cabbage, cilantro, basil, and sesame seeds into a large bowl and toss. Dress the salad with the Thai citrus vinaigrette.


4. Serve the salad topped with baked tofu and garnished with sesame seeds (and peanuts, if desired).

*Optional. De-ribbing kale takes so long, and in my book, no one notices the absence of said ribs except yourself. Skip if you're crunched for time.