21 December 2013

Almond Skillet Pancake

This is one of my favorite go-to breakfast recipes when we have company during the winter months. It puffs up high in the oven and impresses everyone when brought to the table. But this reveal must be done immediately after removing from the oven as the steam escapes quickly from the pancake. Besides it being a delicious breakfast treat I also love it because preparation is quick, involving no more than the dump-and-stir method. Plus it goes directly from oven to table. Add fresh fruit or stewed apples to top along with butter and syrup, and it will be complete.

This is a variation on puff pancakes, but it really lies in the crossroads of three favorite baked skillet dishes: puff pancakes (also known as Dutch baby pancake or German pancake), socca (the chickpea flatbread from France), and clafoutis (the baked French custard dessert). I've made this skillet pancake with almond and chickpea flours to form a substantial base. And the cornstarch gives it that set custard texture common in clafoutis

I am closing out 2013 with this recipe, but I am very eager to return in the new year to reveal the big surprise planned for the month of January. I think you will find it to be a beneficial and inspiring way to start your new year. Stay tuned!!!

Almond Skillet Pancake
Inspired by clafoutis, socca, and Green Kitchen Stories' fat almond pancake
Serves 4

5 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup almond meal
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. almond extract
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
Knob coconut oil (or ghee/butter)

To serve:
Pure maple syrup
Fruit or stewed apples

Preheat oven to 450 F (232 C). Place a 10 inch cast-iron skillet (or other oven-proof non-stick skillet) in oven while preheating.

Crack eggs into a large mixing bowl and use a whisk or hand mixer to beat until frothy. Whisk in milk and the remaining ingredients, except for coconut oil.

When oven is preheated remove the hot skillet, add the coconut oil, and swirl around to coat the bottom and sides of the skillet. Give the pancake batter one last stir and immediately pour into skillet. Return skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until puffed and lightly golden brown.

Remove from oven and place on table immediately for everyone to see before the pancake deflates!

Serve with butter, pure maple syrup, and fruit of choice.

Before the year ends I would like to share this recipe with Mark at Javelin Warrior's Cookin' WithLuv for his Made With Love Monday series.

Made with Love Mondays,
hosted by Javelin Warrior

14 December 2013

Homemade Chai-Spiced Rooibos Tea

If you're looking for a fun and unique homemade gift idea for the holidays, this could be your answer. Loose rooibos tea leaves are infused with chai-inspired spices to make a festive winter-warming tea. But I have to warn you, a rogue spice found its way into the bunch. It is Chinese five spice powder! If you're not familiar with five spice powder, it is a combination of cinnamon, fennel, clove, star anise, and black pepper. Though not a traditional Chai ingredient, it melds perfectly with the other spices because it capitalizes on the spicy-sweet notes for which Chai is famous. Plus its ground powder form permeates the entire tea mixture giving it the most delicious aroma. The five spice powder adds something extra but if you don't happen to have it on hand the remaining spices still give the tea a wonderful flavor. 

We went to Switzerland's Slow Food festival in November. Local producers of cheese, chocolate, meat, wine, and the like set up shop to give away samples and sell their products. It was a great way to learn more about the local food scene, and I was pleasantly surprised to run across a few small-scale artisanal start-ups featuring yummy creations like raw fudge, raw energy bars and rooibos tea mixes. This spotting was my inspiration to go home and make my own rooibos tea fusion.

Whether it is this tea or another, I hope you find time to sip on something festively flavorful in the coming weeks. And in the meantime I will be back soon with my last post of the year to share a favorite oven-baked breakfast skillet recipe that is quick to put together and perfect for company.

And finally, before I leave you with the recipe, I cannot wait any longer to tell you that I have a BIG surprise in store for you in January!  I am not going to give it away yet, but let me put it this way. It has been in the works for months. And if you want to get your new year off to a good start you will definitely want to tune in and tell your friends and family because you are in for a real treat!

Homemade Chai-Spiced Rooibos Tea
Makes 2 cups or 4-5 small gift jars

100 g (1 1/2 cups) loose rooibos tea
3 (3-4 in.) cinnamon sticks
4 tsp. cardamom pods
3 tsp. whole cloves
2 Tbsp black peppercorns
3 tsp. five spice powder
1/4 cup sugared ginger, finely chopped

Break cinnamon sticks into small shards and crush cardamom pods with the back of your knife. Place all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Divide among desired airtight containers to store.

Tea preparation:
Serves 1

Notes: I like steeping this tea in milk (usually oat or almond) because the richness of the milk, opposed to water, allows the flavors of the tea to really shine. Prepared this way, I enjoy it at night especially, as a non-caffeinated alternative to hot chocolate.

Place 1 1/2 cups milk of choice in a small saucepan with 2 teaspoons of tea. Cover and warm over medium heat (~5 min). Remove from heat and let steep, covered (~5 min). Strain tea into a mug, sweeten with honey, and enjoy!

This week I am passing this recipe over to Deenya's blog for her Fabulous Fusion Food Challenge

08 December 2013

Immune-Boosting Juice

Okay, let me just say that I cannot believe we are already in December. This has by far felt like the fastest year of my life. In fact, as I get older I notice each year passes more and more quickly. Why is that? Do you think that as we age we grow more conscious of time? The value of time,  the value of meaningful connections made over time, the urge to rush through a time period, or the urge to slow down a time period.

There were points where I was eager to rush to the next stage in life, whether it was going off to college, moving on to graduate school, or getting married. But now, I have no desire to speed up time. In fact I'm known to try and counteract unnecessary busyness in an effort to slow down my schedule, to carve out space to just be.

But I find this harder than ever to achieve during the holiday season. Don't get me wrong, busy and festive can be wonderful. But overloaded-busy where we are pulled in too many directions to the point of feeling overwhelmed and undernourished, in all senses, is not enjoyable and certainly takes a toll on our emotions and bodies.

That is why I came up with this immune-boosting juice. I feel really good drinking it, especially around this time of year, and I think you will too. Cucumber, orange, kohlrabi, parsley, etc all help strengthen the immune system, combat infections, inflammations, and/or have antiviral properties. The juice is clean and refreshing and just sweet enough from the orange and apple.

I encourage you to try it if you have not because it is really delicious and versatile. It is a cruciferous vegetable which means it is chock full of the conventional nutrients. In fact, it packs more Vitamin C than an orange. Plus it is known to have hormone-regulating properties and important phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory and may lower the risk of some cancers. After peeling you reach a crisp, juicy flesh with a mildly sweet flavor, similar in taste and texture to jicama. If you cannot find kohlrabi though, simply leave it out and add a bit more cucumber. The juice will still be delicious.

And since we're nearing the end of 2013 I realized I have never followed up to this year's New Years post where I shared my aspirations to start making homemade cheese and non-dairy milks. Homemade almond and oat milks are staples around here now, and I've learned that paneer cheese is very easy and so rewarding to make. There are zillions of recipes and videos for all of these on the web so I will point you to a few that I have used with success.

Almond Milk: Video
Oat Milk: Recipe
Paneer Cheese: Recipe + Video

Kohlrabi picture courtesy of Google Images + healinghealthy.com

Immune-Boosting Juice
Makes 2 large glasses

1 medium white kohlrabi, peeled
1 cup spinach, packed
1/2 long English cucumber
1 large apple
1 orange, peeled
1/2 bunch parsley, stems + leaves (~1/3 cup)
2 in. knob ginger
Juice from 1/2 small lemon

Cut all ingredients, except for lemon, to size so they fit in the tube of your juicer. Feed through juicer, then add lemon juice to the juice. Stir to mix, divide between two glasses, and enjoy!