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Sprouts & Sprout Waffles

waffle1

As promised, a recipe using sprouts!  Although this looks like banana with a little waffle.  弟弟 ‘s favorite way to eat anything – put bananas on it.

Sprouting Basics

Why sprout?  Supposedly they are good for you… I’ve read some great info on how much more nutritious sprouts are for you than the unsprouted grain itself.  Sprouts are best eaten fresh, although I can’t tell you how often I’ve made sprouts and then watched as they rotted in my refrige.  I don’t like the slight bitterness they have – I guess it takes some getting used to.  My favorite fresh sprouts are lentils, they go nicely in a salad.

First, you have to choose what to sprout.  Here’s what I experimented with:

Sprouts1Don’t know if you can read my tiny labels, but these beans/grains/seeds are all gluten free.  Most were organic, although not all.    I took about 1/2 c. to 1 c. and soaked them overnight in filtered water.  The next day, I rinsed them, covered the top with cheese cloth, and set them out on the counter.  Rinsed and repeated on day 2.  Most were sprouted by then – tiny little white roots extending out one end.  Here’s what sprouted best:

1. Lentils

2. Mung Beans (random info- this is what most Americans consider as “sprouts” long white, thick sprouts often used in Chinese cooking.)

3. Red Beans

4. Buckwheat

5. Brown Rice (limited success)

The rest of the grains/beans didn’t sprout, either because they were irradiated, or too polished.  I also read somewhere that kidney bean sprouts shouldn’t be eaten – so I cooked them up after soaking overnight.  I suspect that the Job’s Tears and Sorghum were too processed, and their seed coats were removed.  I was unable to find unprocessed Job’s Tears or Sorghum.  After soaking the almonds, I was able to easily remove the outer skin, which is difficult for our bodies to digest.  Then I ground them and used them in other recipes.

Once you have sprouts, you can keep them stored in a bag in the refrige for 4 days to 1 week.  I found they keep best if you don’t rinse them one last time before storing them in the refrige.  Sprouts take a bit of planning – how much to sprout, and ideas about how you will use them.  Things I’m not always good at, which is why this “research” took way too long 🙂 .

Using Sprouts

As I’ve mentioned before, you can use sprouts to make Dosas.  I like to fry mung bean sprouts or red bean sprouts in my skillet with a bit of olive oil, salt and garlic.  They turn out nice and chewy.  I really like this texture.

Baking with sprouts is controversial.  Some would say that it destroys all the nutrients you get from sprouting in the first place.  I think that some is destroyed, yet some nutrients remain.  It probably depends on how long sprouts are cooked, and how.  I don’t have all the answers.    真的?  為甚麼?  You can figure it out if you want.  The reason I decided to bake with sprouts in the first place was because of what goes into gluten free breads, cakes, etc. to make them taste “normal” and yet still gluten free.  Have you really thought about it yourself?  Xanthan gum, cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca flour, rice flours.  All those ingredients seem stripped of nutrients, and difficult for the body to digest.  What is the point of eating styrofoam?  Even if it tastes like fluffy white bread?  1.  I don’t bake a lot any more.  Maybe once a week.  2.  The items I do make more often – pancakes, waffles, tortillas and muffins, I’ve begun to make almost exclusively with sprouted beans and grains.

Lots of ado about nothing…  Here we are, the useful bits 🙂

Sprout Waffles Recipe

Place all ingredients in a blender:

1 c. sprouted buckwheat

1/2 c. sprouted mung beans or red beans

2 eggs * sorry vegans, this recipe CAN NOT be made without eggs, it just gets mushy and doesn’t cook*

1 tsp. ground flax seed

1 TB honey or another sweetener

1 -2 TB oil

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Enough milk or water to just barely touch the bottom of the beans/grains.  Blend until smooth.  Pour into your waffle maker.  Make sure that the waffle maker is well greased.  I’ve found that recipes with beans in them stick pretty badly.  Grease between waffles.

I love these waffles more than my previous recipe with dry ground buckwheat, cornstarch and rice flour.  They are so deliciously crisp and airy.

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Troubleshooting or problems

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Lovely, aren’t they?  Here are some of my earlier attempts at sprout waffles.  Some helpful thoughts:

*you must use eggs

*if you’ve added too much water, and the waffle sticks like the above picture, simply add more sprouted buckwheat, and blend.  It should thicken up and cook nicely.

*I found that sprouted rice never gets soft enough when ground up in my blender.  I always get gritty pieces in my teeth.  The same goes for soaked Job’s Tears or sorghum.

*If all else fails, make pancakes with the batter.  It may not be what you planned, but even if the batter is too thin, the pancakes will still be edible.

Thoughts? Comments?  Complaints?  I’m quite proud of these waffles.

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Hearts For Your Valentine

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A quick Valentine’s Day post, since it’s 7:30pm on 14th as we speak, and I’m waiting for the kids to go to bed…

Chocolate Hearts without all the fancy equipment.

You’ll need the following:

DSCN25771.  8 or more aluminium 1 1/2″ baking cups

2.  Silken tofu, 300 g. about 12 oz.

3.  Melting chocolate – I like Aijia Chocolate, it’s cheap and not nasty(don’t get me started on the quality of chocolate sold here)

4.  Good quality chocolate, 1.75 oz dark 80% cocoa

5.  Ditch the white chocolate chips, they didn’t work out here…

Step One:  In a double boiler, bring the water to boil, then turn off the heat.  Add your cheap melting chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes.  Stir.

Step Two:  While your chocolate is melting, bend your aluminium cups into heart shapes.  Keep the bottoms flat and the shape as heart-like as possible.

Step Three:  Using a small spoon, scoop out some melted chocolate (about 2 tsp), pour into the heart cups, and tilt it around until all the sides are coated.  Do this until all the cups are coated (as a reminder, I just used 8 cups).  Refrigerate 5 minutes.

Step Four:  Pull your cups out of the refrige, and re-coat the inside walls.  The walls will be the thinnest, so they need an extra coating.  Return to the refrige when done.

Step Five:  Melt your good 80% cocoa chocolate now, using the same bowl if you want.  Use the same method as before – heat the water to boiling, turn off the heat and then add the chocolate.  Let sit 5 minutes until melted.

Step Six:  In your blender, blend the tofu until smooth.  While the motor is running, slowly pour in your melted chocolate, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla and about 1/4 c. of molasses. (a simple syrup would work fine as well)

Step Seven:  Unmould your chocolate cups.  At the tip of the heart, using a scissors, carefully cut the rim off both sides until you get to the top of the heart.  Return to the tip, cut or gently pull off the aluminium walls of the cup.  Keep in mind that the walls are the thinnest, and crumble easily.  Hold the cup by its base.  Pull off the aluminium base last and then pull out the section stuck between the humps at the top of the heart.  Maybe this is confusing.  See the picture below.  Don’t get bent out of shape if it crumbles or is all lopsided.  You can fix the lopsidedness.

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Step Eight:  Heat a ceramic or glass plate in your microwave until warm, and set it on the counter.  Pick up your chocolate hearts carefully, and upend it gently on the plate, apply slight pressure on the base, moving it around while it melts off the sections that are uneven.  If you just leave it on the plate (as I did while taking pictures) it will melt away to oblivion, so be careful.  After finishing all of them, refrigerate for 5 minutes.

Step Nine:  Pour your pudding/mousse into your chocolate cups, filling each one to the top.  You’ll have a lot of left over pudding that you can save for later or for some other use.  Refrigerate chocolate hearts until firm, about 2 hours.

DSCN2608

Pesto

I’ve had some pictures sitting on my computer for AGES.  為什麼 ?  We’re still recovering over here.  (I managed to get 3 cracked/bruised ribs in the process)

Pesto is one of my favorite go-to recipes around here.  Especially since my mother sent me gluten free noodles…謝謝!  I love the big bag of fresh basil I can get in the market here:

  I remember my mother making this while I was growing up.  One of my favorites, especially served with Magi.  Now days I skip the Magi, and make it with salt… not quite the same, but still just as good.  I have tried to add measurements here, but this “recipe” is just a bunch of ingredients thrown together until it tastes how you like it.

 

Pesto

1.  Pick through your basil, taking the leaves off the stems, discarding dark discolored leaves; wash.  This should come to about 2 cups of leaves.

2.  In your blender/grinder, grind up 4 cloves of garlic and the 2 cups of leaves with enough water to make it grind.  I do this in batches because my grinder is small.

3.  Rinse grinder.  Grind up 1/3 c. peanuts or almonds into a course meal.  Mix it in with the greens.

4.  Add 1/2 tsp. salt, mix well.  At this point you can put it on chicken or fish to bake.  Otherwise you can freeze half for another day.  I used 1/2 of the mix on my chicken and 1/2 on my noodles.

5.  Boil your noodles, strain and set aside when done.

6.  Put 1-3 tsp. olive oil on the bottom of the pan you boiled your noodles in.  Put in your pesto, and fry on med-high until the water has mostly boiled off, and it begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Stir continually.  Here’s the before and after so you can see the difference in consistency:

At this point, turn off the heat and toss with the noodles.  I used about 1/2 my bag of noodles for this recipe.  I don’t have the bag any more, so I can’t be more exact than that.  I love my pesto served with copious amounts of parmesan, but if you’re strictly dairy free (and don’t cheat like I do) it’s just as good without.


Trying New Things

I’ve been negligent in posting recently… too many birthdays, illnesses, and it’s too hot to cook!  One thing I’ve been enjoying lately are some Indian recipes from Chef In You.  I made some dosas, which turned out great.  Don’t know if they were authentic or not, but they were serious easy to make, no fuss.  They are really easy to mess around with too.  I tried split peas and rice with paprika, and they were awesome.  I’m thinking of a sweet breakfasty crepe version soon…

Another recipe I tried recently was fried taro.  Taro is so common here, and is usually eaten as a dessert or in hot pot.  I don’t mind either, but I’m not crazy about taro served that way.  This baked taro?  Yes.  Crazy about, though they are a tad dry.  And yes, I mangled the recipe.  I used the gargantuan Chinese ones sold here; steamed, took the skins off, chopped them and coated mine in 1 TB rice flour, 1 TB cornstarch, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp paprika, and 1 tsp garlic.  Tossed them all together with some coconut oil, and fried them.  Do you have a favorite way of cooking taro?

Quick Curry

One of my favorite dishes is curry, it’s simple and easy.  My most favorite one is this one.  Coconut milk, curry powder and split peas are a match made in heaven…

Unfortunately my husband wants to steer away from coconut milk.  (sigh)  I came up with this one one night when I didn’t have much in the cupboard, and was looking for a simple meal.  The secret ingredients here are the cashews.  Don’t leave them out!  If you do, you might as well make the recipe with coconut milk or yogurt.  The cashews just add a nice smoothness to this recipe.  Did I mention it’s EASY?  真的?

Curry

1 carrot, diced

1 onion, diced

1 tomato, diced

1 c. raw cashews

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. mild curry powder

oil

Chop everything up, throw it all in a sauce pan with some oil.  Let it cook off the liquid a bit, then add about 2 c. water.  Cover and simmer until everything’s soft, about 30 minutes.  Check to make sure the cashews and carrots are soft.  Turn off the heat and let it cool for 30 minutes, then puree in the blender.  Serve over rice with bananas, raisins, coconut flakes and cilantro. 好吃 🙂

Lemon Bars

It is lime season here.  Those nice round, juicy, seedless limes.  (Key limes?)  So of course that means lemon bars or lemon meringue pie.  To make either of these recipes gluten free, all you need to do is change the crust.  For my crust I use ground almonds.  I grind my own because I like them kind of chunky, but you can also find ground almonds sold at the Food Material Mall on ChangPing.

Lemon Bars

Crust

2 c. ground almonds

1/4 c. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

1 TB honey

Mix well together.  Press into a 9×9 pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden.  Watch carefully, the top burns easily.  (Do not use coconut oil in place of the olive oil, it gets really weird when chilled)

Top

1 1/2 c. sugar

4 eggs

3/4 c. lemon juice

1/2 tsp. baking powder.

Mix well together until yellow and frothy.  Pour over the warm crust.  Reduce oven temp to 300, bake for 30 minutes until set.  You don’t need cornstarch or flour in the topping.  It has 4 eggs!  It’ll set up nicely.  When cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar, and refrigerate until you serve it… or until your husband finds it the refrige and eats it all 🙂

 

 

Vegetarian Tamales

I really miss Mexican-American food when I live in other countries.  For some reason I was thinking about tamales the other day, so I looked up how to make them online.  Unfortunately all the recipes called for masa harina (not sold here), flour, and beef or chicken.  Well, I like to try things out my own way.  Masa harina is ground white corn, and I thought it can’t be that different from cornmeal…except that cornmeal’s gritty.  I came up with the following recipe on my first try.  It was amazing!  The husband loved it.  The kids…not so much.  We make it anyway.

Vegetarian Tamales

Dough

1 c. yellow cornmeal (I found mine at Bakery Supply in the freezer)

1/3 c. oil

2 c. water

1 tsp. salt

Place in a sauce pan.  Cook on medium-high until all the liquid’s used up.  Cover and let sit until cool, about 30 minutes.  Proceed with your filling.

Filling

1 sweet potato, skinned and chopped small (I prefer the yellow variety, but orange yams work fine as well)

1 onion, chopped small

1 c. chopped mushrooms (I think I used button mushrooms here)

1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 can black olives, cut in half

4 garlic cloves, minced or sliced

1 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

1 TB oil

Toss it all in a frying pan.  Cook until the liquid’s used up.  Add 1 c. water, cover and simmer on low until the water is all gone, and the potatoes are soft.  About 20 minutes.  Set aside until you’re ready with the dough.

Dough Continued

By now your cornmeal should be firm and cool to the touch.  Crumble it up with your hands and add:

2 eggs (I make mine egg free = 2 tsp ground flax and 1/3 c. water)

3/4 c. buckwheat flour

1/2 c. cornstarch

1 tsp ground flax seed

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Mix this well by hand.  It will be quite sticky and the consistency of playdough.  Using parchment paper or banana leaves: take about 1/2 c. of the dough, roll it out to 1/4 inch thick on the parchment in a rectangular shape.  Place 1/3 c. of the filling in the center.  Pull up the top and the bottom, and pinch the dough together.  Roll the dough to the top.  Grab both sides of the roll and squeeze gently together.  Twist the ends.  Place in your steamer and steam for 20-30 minutes.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.  I ran out of parchment paper, so made a tamale pie in a ceramic bowl.  This recipe usually makes about 8 rolls.  Serves 4.