Grilled Fresh Sardines

 

I hope everyone in the Northern hemisphere is having a good summer! We have truly been blessed this year with blue skies and warm (not super-hot) days. We have gotten some rain here and there, but all in all it has been spectacular. We have been spending a lot of time outdoors, taking long walks, hiking, and gardening. So I haven’t been online as much as usual and so it has been hard getting blog posts out, let keeping up with all my favorite blogs…but I am plugging away!

Summertime is all about fresh flavors and simple recipes. I love throwing veggies on the grill, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, onions, and potatoes – a great accompaniment to any dinner, simple and delicious.

Recently we were happy to find fresh sardines from Portugal at our local health food store. I have never had fresh sardines, although I see them on a lot of blogs this time of year, and I have always hoped to have a chance to try them. I have been trying to get into canned sardines for years – they are so good for you. But I have a hard time finding a good recipe to use them. Does anyone have any favorites? Please leave them in the comments, if you would! Plus we are always joking that if Roberto eats them, does that mean he is a cannibal? He is from Sardinia after all.

So when we got this package of beautiful fresh and silvery sardines, I knew I wanted to prepare them in a way that would really let us taste the fish. I looked online and found a lot of ways to prepare sardines, but in the end we went with simplicity, grilling them and serving them with fresh squeezed lemon juice.

I basically followed the directions for Portuguese Grilled Sardines from this website.  It is a very simple preparation and the result is truly delightful. Served up with some of those grilled veggies and a glass of vihno verde it is an excellent summer meal!

Coconut Gelato with Caramelized Stone Fruit

 

(Pura Vida Coconut Gelato topped with fresh figs)

Summer is in full blast here in the Northern Hemisphere. Although we have been lucky in Vermont with many days this summer in the mid-70’s with very little humidity, there are some days like today for example where it is just miserable to be outside.
Summertime means ice cream! I can eat ice cream any time of year, but summer is its heyday. I have been making ice cream at home for the past 5 years. I find that it is so much cheaper than buying high quality ice cream at the grocery store (if you can even find it!) and by making it at home you are fully in charge of every ingredient that goes into it and you can be creative with the flavors!

My good blogging friend Mare from Just Making Noise: Sound Bites From a Deaf Mama put out an amazing ice cream e-book last year called Just Making Ice Cream: Over 70 Delicious Recipes Made With Nourishing Ingredients.  The most recent post on her blog actually features some of her recipes from the book.  You don’t want to miss that, so check it out! I like Mare and her blog because all of her recipes include wholesome, real food and she doesn’t stop when it comes to ice cream either. Her book is great because she walks you through the best ingredients to use, how to choose an ice cream maker that is best for you and also how to make ice cream if you don’t want to buy an ice cream maker. Her book includes recipes for ice cream, gelato, frozen cultured milk (like yogurt and kefir), sherbets, sorbets, toppings and extras. Her book features recipes using whole food and organic ingredients and it is also allergen friendly.

I have mentioned before on the blog that Roberto is lactose intolerant, so I often make ice cream using coconut milk. Recently we have found a local farm that sells raw goat milk (which will tide us over until our own goats are in milk, next spring) and so I have been making ice cream with that. Both are delicious alternatives to cow milk. I asked Mare which ice cream she thought would be the best using coconut milk, and her first response was Pura Vida Coconut Gelato. Mare and her family used to live in Costa Rica and they had a favorite Italian style ice cream shop there. The shop made an amazing coconut gelato using all fresh ingredients and this is Mare’s take on it.

This coconut flavored ice cream is absolutely creamy, rich and delicious. We loved it so much I made it twice in one week! This ice cream is perfect on its own, but this is also stone fruit season and there is nothing like topping some delicious caramelized stone fruits with some amazing homemade ice cream! For our stone fruit we used plums and apricots. It is easy to caramelize fruit and I will give you a recipe for it as well! We also topped the ice cream with fresh figs. The possibilities are just endless!

Pura Vida Coconut Gelato (from Just Making Ice Cream)

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup whole milk or cream (I used coconut milk)
2 cups coconut milk
½ cup turbinado (I used coconut sugar)
¾ cup shredded coconut (more or less)
1 egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla
pinch of sea salt

METHOD: Whisk together the egg yolk and coconut milk in a bowl and set aside. Mix together milk/cream, raw sugar, sea salt and coconut in a saucepan. Turn heat on low, stir until sugar dissolves and milk is comfortably hot to touch. Turn off heat, cover and let it infuse for an hour.

Pour infused milk into the coconut milk mixture, stir in vanilla and let it cool if still warm. Cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator for a few hours or (preferably) overnight.

Once chilled, pour mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions or use one of the no maker methods listed on page 26 (you’ll have to get the book!).

When the ice cream is done churning, quickly scoop ice cream into a container or bowl. Serve right away or let it firm up in the freezer for a couple hours before serving.

Fast Technique: You can skip the first step and just mix everything together & churn, but the coconut flavor won’t be as strong!
Pour into your ice cream maker or use one of the no-maker methods (make sure the base is cold!).

Tips: Stay close by while the ice cream is churning… it might be done churning sooner than what your instructions say. The coconut milk naturally becomes solid much quicker in colder temperatures.

You can make toasted coconut gelato easily by spreading the coconut flakes on a baking sheet and toasting it in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes or until the flakes become a light golden brown.

Extras: For a little kick, add ¼ cup of rum!

Caramelized Stone Fruit (adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Healthy Appetite)

INGREDIENTS:

1 plum
1 apricot
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3-4 TBS runny honey
generous splash of Frangelico

METHOD: Heat oven to 375 F. Cut fruits in half and remove pits. Slice fruits into wedges and arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Add spices, and drizzle over the honey and Frangelico. Bake fruits for 10-20 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool, slightly. Serve with ice cream. Serves 2.

Thai Inspired Noodle Stir Fry

 

I don’t normally cook Asian cuisine at home, but have been known to put on a sushi party every now and then! With allergies to both gluten and soy it is hard finding recipes that don’t include these common ingredients and I can never go out to eat since most places use these ingredients. But recently I have re-discovered Thai and Vietnamese, cuisines that don’t rely on those ingredients but instead fresh flavors like lime, cilantro, mint, fish sauce and rice noodles. I am also a sucker for the crushed peanut garnishes…

(My first homemade Pad Thai)

We have a few decent Thai and Vietnamese places in Vermont, but they are at least an hour away from us. So I started making it at home. We had friends over for dinner a few weeks ago and I tried my hand at making the classic dishes, Pad Thai and Chicken Satay  (based on the recipes that are highlighted). It was a lot of fun to make and both dishes turned out delicious. After working with traditional recipes and wrapping my head around the flavor profile, I have started using these flavors often in my cooking, lately. I think this type of food lends itself well to the summer anyway; couple that with our garden and CSA bursting at the seams with fresh produce and immediately a delicious stir fry seemed like just the thing for dinner one night recently. It has literally been years since I made a stir fry and after this experience making it, I realized why it is such a popular go-to meal!

I had some leftover Pad Thai sauce and peanut sauce from the satay and so I used those in combination as my sauce. Then I scrounged around in my vegetable bin and took out everything that needed using. I knew I had some baby shrimp in the freezer and a plan started coming together. I also made a recent discovery of Miracle Noodle , a Shirataki noodle. Shirataki noodles are made from a white yam and are basically made up of water and fiber. They don’t have much of a taste on their own, but they are a great substitute for white rice noodles or glass noodles and are very light, as they contain no net carbohydrates. I used them for my Pad Thai and they worked great, so I knew they would be lovely with this stir fry.

This was a simple and quick meal to put together. If you don’t have all the vegetables I put in my stir fry, try using what you have on hand. This is what makes preparing a stir fry so fast and easy.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 whole kohlrabi, cut in thin circles, cut in half
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • ½ leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBS minced/grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced/grated
  • ¾ cup peanut sauce http://www.shesimmers.com/2009/03/how-to-make-thai-peanut-sauce-my-moms.html
  • 2 16 oz packages of Miracle Noodle
  • A couple hand fulls of spinach
  • 1 cup of pre-cooked baby shrimp
  • Juice of one lime
  • ½ English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • sliced leek
  • crushed peanuts
  • cilantro and/or mint

METHOD: Heat coconut oil in a wok or large skillet. Add the kohlrabi and cook until nice and browned. Then add the carrots, leeks, ginger and garlic. Sautee until the carrot softens a bit (you want the end result to still be somewhat crunchy). Add the peanut sauce, add more coconut oil if it is too dry. Then add 2 packages of the noodles, stir constantly. Add the spinach and shrimp and cook until the spinach is wilted. Then remove the skillet from the heat and squeeze the lime juice over everything. Divide evenly between two bowls and garnish with the cucumber, leek, peanuts and cilantro/mint. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Deliciously Moist Bean Cake

 

As I type this I have 13 other recipes waiting in the queue, but I made this cake yesterday to take to a 4th of July dinner and we loved it so much, I wanted to post about it today. Plus we were having a lot of fun on my facebook page yesterday talking about homely looking cakes that taste better than expensive bakery cakes. So I just had to post another cake recipe today!

The crazy thing about this cake is that it is grain and dairy free, made mostly of beans, coconut flour and eggs. Sounds crazy I know, but baking sweets with beans is ingenious! I modified the recipe from The Spunky Coconut Grain-Free Baked Goods and Desserts: Gluten Free, Casein Free, and Often Egg Free by using date sugar instead of coconut sugar and it gave the cake a bit of gingerbread flair. I also used pinto beans, instead of cannellini or navy, so the color of the cake was darker.

This cake is incredibly moist, packed with protein, fiber and folate. Even though there are a lot of beans in the recipe, the cake does not taste of beans. I asked everyone eating it what they thought the main ingredient was and no one guessed beans!

The trick with eating a large amount of beans and having no ill effects is in how they are prepared. I always use dried beans and cover them in a mixture of warm water and about a TBS of raw apple cider vinegar. I generally soak them for 2-3 days, changing the water daily (you don’t need to add more vinegar) and make big batches so I can freeze them for later use. Using this method, people who can’t tolerate beans very well have no problems eating them! So I strongly suggest doing it this way.

Since it was July 4th, I decided to top the cake with red, white and blue. I made an icing of raw soaked cashews, medjool dates, vanilla and some water and topped it all off with blueberries, raspberries and some crushed peanuts left over from last night’s dinner (another upcoming post).

It was delicious and totally hit the spot for our festive dinner, which was a combined effort : shrimp cocktail with prosecco, chips and dip, homemade buffalo wings, grilled chicken, potato salad and coleslaw all washed down with our friends’ home brewed hard cider.

Bean Cake (adapted from The Spunky Coconut’s Vanilla Bean Cake)

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:
2 cups room temperature beans (I used pinto, if you want a lighter colored cake try navy or cannellini)
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup date sugar
¼ cup coconut oil, liquefied
1/3 cup coconut flour
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder (aluminum free)

Raw Cashew Cream Icing (from Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free: 180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less )
1 cup cashews
3 cups water, divided
3 large, pitted Medjool dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

METHOD: Preheat oven to 325 F. Add beans, eggs, vanilla and sugar to a food processor and puree well. Then add to the bowl, coconut oil, coconut flour, salt, baking soda and powder and puree well. Pour into a springform pan, lined with parchment paper on the bottom and greased all around. Bake for about 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake. Cool completely.
In a small bowl cover the cashews with 2 cups of water and the dates in a separate bowl with one cup of water. Soak for about 20 minutes. Drain cashews and discard the soaking water. Add cashews to a blender. Add the dates along with their soaking water and the salt and vanilla. Start the blender on low and increase slowly to high. Blend for 1-2 minutes until creamy. Ice the cake and then put it in the freezer for about an hour before serving. Top with berries.
TIP: if using a regular blender soak cashews overnight to get the right consistency.