Leading up to next week’s Juice It Potluck and Giveaway, I thought I would explore the concept of using fresh juice as more than a “health drink.” Yes, of course, most of the time that you make a fresh juice, you want to sip it while it’s super fresh, to get all those fleeting vitamins and antioxidants. And yes, most of the time we are making our juice for a healthy infusion of nutrients, an energizer, or even a curative drink.
Just don’t relegate your juicer to only one job. It’s a powerful tool.
Last week, I posted a recipe using the pulp for a tasty bar. But think about your juice, and all the intense flavor in that glass. It is a serious ingredient, bound only by your imagination. Anywhere that you use liquids, you can dream up a juice that could add levels of flavor and color that would just not happen with water, boxed stocks, or milk.
This is also a good way to use up some juice that you didn’t get to in the first day. Adding some vegetable juice to the water you use to cook grains adds a bunch of vegetable-y savor. Cooking up some soup? Add some of your veggie juice to amp up the broth. The recipe below is one I adapted from a Jean-Georges Vongerichten recipe, in which the sweet earthiness of carrot juice blends with tangy lemongrass and lime for an intense flavor on a par with the most exciting Thai soups I have had.
Juices can be a magic ingredient in sweets, whether it’s re-hydrating dried fruit, or as the liquid in baked goods. Just remember that the juice will be more acidic than water or milk, so you may need to adjust the recipe. That level of acid might discourage yeast and kill the rise of your bread, but a jolt of sweet apple or other fruit juice can give it a nice fruitiness.
Dressings for all kinds of salads get a boost- and depending on the juice, it can be sweet or tart. Carrot, apple, and other sweet juices can balance the sour of lemon or vinegar. Tart citrus or spicy vegetable juices can step in for the vinegar, and when emulsified with oil and herbs, take on a new dimension.
Looking for a new sauce? Creative pan sauces can be constructed from a quick reduction of a juice. Your favorite sesame sauce gets more interesting with a blend of veg and fruit juice whisked in. If you were going to add wine, why not juice?
Give that juicer a workout, and use it for more than your healthy beverage needs. You’ll be glad you did!
Peppers and Cabbage in Lemongrass and Carrot Broth
Makes about 7 cups
4 cups vegetable stock
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 cups fresh carrot juice
1 large red jalapeno, chopped
1/2 pound chinese cabbage, shredded
2 large red bell pepper, sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, approximately
2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce or fish sauce
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1. Bring stock, lemongrass and carrot juice to a simmer, then cover tightly. Simmer very gently for 10 minutes, then turn off for 10 minutes to steep.
2. Remove the lemongrass and discard. Bring the broth to a simmer, and add the jalapeno, cabbage and peppers. Add half of the lime juice, soy sauce or fish sauce, and sugar. Season to taste with more lime as needed. Add cilantro just before serving.
Juicing is hot right now. Just last weekend I did a book signing with my new book, Juice It! in a bustling Coop, sitting by the juice bar. The line of people ordering juice often stretched down the aisle. The store was full of shoppers, many of them carrying a bright green, pink, or orange juice, sipping it through a straw.
(STAY TUNED FOR A BOOK GIVEWAY STARTING APRIL 27th!)
Fifteen years ago, the only juice bars in town were in the little macrobiotic store and the raw restaurant. Juicing was something a few of us were doing at home, with our ancient Champion juicers, or maybe a Jack LaLanne ordered from a TV infomercial. I’m sure that juice was flourishing on the Coasts, but it takes a while for trends to travel to the Midwest.
In the Coops and health food places where I worked, back in the day, there were always healthy juice people, buying 50 pound bags of organic carrots, and flats of wheat grass. It was also big in the cancer community, and we often got newly diagnosed cancer patients who were juicing daily as part of their treatment. Anecdotally, you would hear about people who had cured themselves by making carrot juice every day. It sounded like as good a plan as any.
But then the smoothie became ubiquitous, and fresh juices came along with it. We started reading about juice cleanses, and how people were doing them in groups, at work, to clean up their inner landscapes. Little juice making businesses sprung up everywhere, packing and delivering assorted bottles of the juices prescribed for these cleanses.
So what is really up with juice these days? Well, I hope that it’s not a passing fad. Most Americans don’t even get close the the minimum requirement of 2 1/2 cups of assorted veggies per day. Freshly pressed juices are a tasty and easy way to bridge that gap. Now that we have lots of evidence that vitamins in pill form are pretty much a waste of money, juices can fill the role of “nutritional insurance” that vitamins once held. Fresh vegetable juices are a better way to get a whole assortment of antioxidants and other plant chemicals that you would have to take handfuls of clunky pills to get.
So, if you want to make a commitment to health, it may be time to get into juicing. Spring is on the way (in some parts of the country!) and a nice, light glass of juice makes a great antidote to all the heavy food we have been consuming all winter.
Juicing has evolved from those days when we pumped out carrot juice to keep cancer at bay to a vibrant, and delicious new cuisine. Green juices are huge, now that we have embraced the greatness of Kale and spinach. The menu at that juice bar is not limited to the hard core healthy juices, either, with lots of fruity, fun juices with fruit and veggies blended for flavor as well as healthfulness. And why not?
So why juice at home? Well, you can save money, choose exactly what you want, and you get to keep the pulp! Now honestly, most of my pulp goes into compost. But there are lots of things you can do with it. Stocks, baked goods, it’s fun stuff.
That way, you get all the fiber that would have been in the veggies, but in a different form.
Try my tasty carrot-spice bars, and see how you like it!
1 cup pulp (from 1 pound carrots or so)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3/4 cup sucanat or coconut sugar
1/2 cup non-dairy milk
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisin
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Oil a 9-inch square pan. Reserve.
In a medium bowl, stir the carrot pulp, oil and sucanat. In a cup, whisk the non-dairy milk and flax seed, then let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the vanilla and lemon.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Stir the non-dairy milk mixture into the carrot pulp mixture and blend well, then stir into the flour mixture. Stir in the raisins just to combine.
Spread the batter in the pan and bake for about 20 minutes, until puffed and firm to the touch.
Welcome to Whole Grain Sampling Day!
Thanks to the Whole Grains Council, I have a big box of tasty whole grain foods to sample, and if you enter, you might win the very same treasure trove!
Enter to win by posting in my comments: tell me why you love whole grains before April 9 and you might win! (US residents only)
I’m serving as a Whole Grain Ambassador, which means that I received these samples and have been asked to let you know what I think of them. (I didn’t receive any compensation, just freebies.) Of course, I am always looking for new whole grain foods to try, and getting a preview of some that are not even on my store shelves yet is pretty exciting to me.
Yep, I love my grains. In truth, I am already a whole grain ambassador, through my book, The New Whole Grains Cookbook, and many articles, cooking classes, and blog posts. Whole grains are my thing. I’m already a Culinary Advisor to the Whole Grains Council, and I share whatever cooking tips that I can when we get questions.
We love whole grains for their nutty, hearty flavors and their chewy textures. They fill us up and energize us, and keep us humming along with good carbs and fiber. So the health benefits are just icing on the cake.
- stroke risk reduced 30-36%
- type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
- heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
- better weight maintenance
- reduced risk of asthma
- healthier carotid arteries
- reduction of inflammatory disease risk
- lower risk of colorectal cancer
- healthier blood pressure levels
- less gum disease and tooth loss
So, all the experts have been letting us know that we should eat more whole grains. In recent years, this fact has really driven the development of tastier and better whole grain products. The companies that make packaged foods are responding to your desire for great grainy stuff to eat, and introducing new products all the time. Because of this, new and exciting products pop up on your store shelves almost every day.
So, in my case of goodies, listed below, I found some real sustenance. It’s hard to rank them, since there really were no clunkers in the group.
MY REVIEWS OF WHAT YOU COULD WIN:
Among Friends – Jam Bar Baking Mixes *the bars in the photo above, a tasty little mix that comes together with a jar of jam and some butter and eggs or vegan alternatives.
Attune Foods – Buckwheat & Hemp Cereal * I loved this- thick, hearty flakes with a rich buckwheaty flavor, perfect level of sweetness
Barbara’s Bakery – Snackimals Cereal * Very tasty, a kids cereal but not toothachey sweet like most are. A bowl kept me full all morning.
Bob’s Red Mill – Gluten Free Honey Oat Granola * YES love, always, you know I love granola and this is a classic.
Carl Brandt – Mestemacher Rye Bread and Multigrain Bread* Wonderfully moist and chewy, the dense rye bread is a traditional style that is absolutely great with spreads or with soup.
Dr. Kracker – Engine 2 Crispbreads * They are not kidding when they say crips! Engine 2 is famed for making no-oil, plant based foods, and these are a crunchy, seedy cracker that is great with hummus or spreads.
Freekehlicious – Whole Grain Freekeh * Freekeh rocks, I love the toasty taste of this healthy whole grain.
Goose Valley Natural Products – Brown & Wild Rice Fusion * Flavored with dehydrated veggies, a nice, natural mix with Wild rice and basmati.
HomeFree Treats – Gluten Free Cookies * Delicious, easy to take along in the little sample packs.
Jovial Foods – Einkorn and Brown Rice Pastas * Jovial makes very nice whole grain pastas, these are hearty and hold their own with kale, garlic, and spice.
Late July – Multigrain Snack Chips * Loved these, crunchy, lots of flavors.
Lotus Foods – Rice Ramen * So excited about this product. Black Rice Ramen is beautiful and delicious, I hope to see it in my local stores soon.
Mary’s Gone – Gluten Free Pretzel Sticks *Nobody will know these are GF- crunchy, salty, just pretzels.
Mi-Del 100%Whole Wheat honey Grahams * Already a favorite at our house, I love using these to make easy treats, like parfaits, or crust for cheesecake or pie.
Mondelez – Classic Wheat Thins and Brown Rice Triscuits and belVita Breakfast Biscuits * I grew up loving Wheat Thins and Triscuits and these are no exception. The Breakfast Biscuits are very tasty, kind of a cross between a graham cracker and a cookie.
Pamela’s Products – Whole Grain Whenever Bars * Very tasty, I don’t think anyone would notice that they were gluten free.
Popsalot Gourmet Popcorn – Cinnamon Popcorn * We inhaled this, just as decadent as junk food, but not.
Real McCoy’s Snax – Rice Puffs * these didn’t make it through movie night, they had that cheesy poof flavor with just a hint of charming brown rice deliciousness.
Roman Meal – Whole Grain Bread (and a cute toaster USB drive) * This is the bread we used to eat when we lived in Illinois, before I started baking for us. Still fluffy and wheaty, great for toast and sandwiches.
Rhythm Superfoods – Super Food Chips * Loved these, kind of flaky and delicately crunchy, lots of veggie flavors.
Sesmark Gluten Free Rice Thins * a 100% brown rice version of the popular crisp rounds, these crackers make a GF snacker happy.
Skeeter Snacks – Nut Free Cookies *Good little cookies, safe for the nut allergic.
Upfront Foods – Straight Up Granola * True to the name, straight up is not super sweet, just nice and crunchy, oaty and delicious.
Way Eagle Mill – Corn Flour * I use corn flour in some of my GF recipes, and it is a joy to have a less refined version. Wonderful corn flavor!
All these products are whole grain enough for me to sink my teeth into, and also designed to be very palatable to the whole family. Thanks to the Whole Grains Council, I’m posting this whole grain info to help you to learn to cook the whole variety of whole grains.
Cooking & Eating Whole Grains
From the Whole Grains Council / Oldways • 266 Beacon St., Boston MA 02116 • www.wholegrainscouncil.org
You can add whole grains to your meals without cooking, simply by choosing breads, breakfast cereals,
and other prepared whole grain foods. If you’d like to enjoy delicious whole grains at home as a side
dish, however, here are some guidelines for cooking them from scratch.
PLAIN GRAINS, GENERAL DIRECTIONS
Cooking most grains is very similar to cooking rice. You put the dry grain in a pan with water or broth,
bring it to a boil, then simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Pasta is generally cooked in a larger amount
of water; the excess is drained away after cooking. Don’t be intimidated!
GRAIN PILAF, GENERAL DIRECTIONS
Brown small bits of onion, mushroom and garlic in a little oil in a saucepan. Add grain and cook briefly,
coating the grains in oil. Then add broth in the amount specified below, and cook until liquid is
IMPORTANT: TIME VARIES
Grains can vary in cooking time depending on the age of the grain, the variety, and the pans you’re
using to cook. When you decide they’re tender and tasty, they’re done! If the grain is not as tender as
you like when “time is up,” simply add more water and continue cooking. Or, if everything seems fine
before the liquid is all absorbed, simply drain the excess.
If you want to cook grains more quickly, let them sit in the allotted amount of water for a few hours
before cooking. Just before dinner, add extra water if necessary, then cook. You’ll find that cooking time
is much shorter with a little pre-soaking.
Another shortcut is to cook whole grains in big batches. Grains keep 3-4 days in your fridge and take
just minutes to warm up with a little added water or broth. You can also use the leftovers for cold salads
(just toss with chopped veggies, dressing, and anything else that suits your fancy), or toss a few
handfuls in some canned soup. Cook once, then take it easy.
There are also many quick-cooking grain side-dishes on the market, even including 90-second brown
rice. These grains have been pre-cooked so you only need to cook them briefly or simply warm them
through in the microwave.
If whole grains are sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat, add a very small amount of liquid,
stick a lid on the pan, and let it sit a few minutes. The grain will loosen, easing serving and cleanup.
COOKING WHOLE GRAINS
To 1 cup Add this much Bring to a boil, Amount after
of this grain… water or broth: then simmer for: cooking
Amaranth 2 cups 20-25 minutes 3 1/2 cups
Barley, hulled 3 cups 45-60 minutes 3 1/2 cups
Buckwheat 2 cups 20 minutes 4 cups
Bulgur 2 cups 10- 12 minutes 3 cups
Cornmeal (polenta) 4 cups 25-30 minutes 2 1/2 cups
Couscous, whole wheat 2 cups 10 min. (heat off) 3 cups
Kamut® grain 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Millet, hulled 2 1/2 cups 25-35 minutes 4 cups
Oats, steel cut 4 cups 20 minutes 4 cups
Pasta, whole wheat 6 cups 8-12 minutes (varies Varies
Quinoa 2 cups 12- 15 minutes 3+ cups
Rice, brown 2 1/2 cups 25-45 minutes 3-4 cups
(varies by variety)
Rye berries 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Sorghum 4 cups 25-40 minutes 3 cups
Spelt berries 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Wheat berries 4 cups Soak overnight, then 3 cups
cook 45-60 minutes
Wild rice 3 cups 45-55 minutes 3 1/2 cups
NUTTIER, FULLER FLAVOR
Whole grains are generally chewier than refined grains and have a nuttier, fuller flavor. You and your
family may find this unfamiliar at first. But after a month or two, refined grains may start to taste very
plain and uninteresting by contrast. Stick with it until your palate adjusts, and reap the health benefits.
Whole Grains Council / Oldways • 266 Beacon St., Boston MA 02116 • www.wholegrainscouncil.org
Welcome, gluten-free diners, and the people who love them! You have been invited to this virtual meal to sample all the ways that I’ve found to make pasta accessible for gluten-free people.
And, if you comment, you might win a free copy!
You see, my new book, Gluten Free Pasta, More Than 100 Fast and Flavorful Recipes with No-and Low-Carb Options (Running Press) is all about getting pasta to the people!
The book came out of my experiences cooking without gluten for my Mother and my private chef clients, and I’m so glad to be able to share it with you. As you can see from the photos below, I spent some time re-thinking what we need from pasta and noodles. What do noodles do? They carry sauces, float in soups, and fill springrolls. It seems to me, that if you open your mind to it, you can thoroughly enjoy raw or cooked vegetable strands, strips of cooked egg, or a freshly made gluten free pasta just as much as a conventional one.
It’s really all about the shape and the sauce, isn’t it? I hope you will enjoy my exploration of all the ways that we can enjoy a pasta experience, with the tastes, textures, and fun of pasta.
So today, I’ve asked a group of talented gluten free bloggers and writers to participate in a potluck. Each of these outstanding cooks is preparing and posting a recipe from the book.
I hope you will make a stop at each of their blogs, and sample my recipes. Comment here, or on the other blogs that are offering the giveaway, and you will be entered to WIN. I will give away a free book to the best comment posted before April 7, US Residents only.
Roasted Vegetable Egg Crêpe Cannelloni with Chèvre
Quick Jerked Pork over Creamy Collard Noodles
Raw Tomato Avocado Sauce and Zucchini Noodles
Basic Fresh Pasta and Creamy Vodka Pasta Sauce
Please check out these talented food writers, and follow them for great GF recipes and interesting articles. The options for Gluten Free diners get better all the time, and I hope that my new book makes the world of pasta much better, too!
White Yam Noodles with Collards in Spicy African Peanut Sauce
White yam noodles go so perfectly with the peanut sauce: I hope that you will try them. The creamy, spicy sauce is also good with a wide, flat pasta, too. The strands of collard greens add to the visual impression of pasta, but you can always try your favorite veggies in this, too.
Serves 4 to 6
1 batch African Peanut Sauce (follows)
1 1/2 pounds white sweet potatoes or 12 ounces linguine
4 ounces collard greens, whole leaves
1/2 cup green sweet peas
Put on a big pot of water for cooking the sweet potato noodles and salt it generously.
Set up the mandoline or spiral vegetable cutter. Insert a cutter blade to make thin, 1/4 inch wide slices. Trim one side of the sweet potato to make a flat surface to push against the mandoline blade, or for the spiral cutter, trim the tips and insert the potato in the machine.
Cut the sweet potato into noodle-shaped strands. After trimming, 1 1/2 pounds of sweet potato should make 8 cups strands. Roll the collard greens up around their stems, then sliver the greens. Chop the strips coarsely.
Add the sweet potato strips and collards to the boiling water. Bring to a boil again and cook for about 2 to 4 minutes. The noodles will start to break when you pick one out with a fork, and will be a little firm to the bite. Drain well.
In the pot you cooked the potato in, heat the peanut sauce and peas, and then gently fold in the hot potato “noodles” and collards Serve hot.
Spicy African Peanut Sauce for Noodles
The groundnut stews and Mafe of Africa rely on our beloved peanut for extra protein, thickening, and that ever-popular flavor. With very little effort on your part you can create a sauce that is a little spicy, bursting with complex flavor, and GF.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup diced fresh tomato
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a 4 quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute, then sauté the onion until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and pepper flakes and stir for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter and stock, then stir into the pan. Add the tomato, brown sugar, salt and lemon and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Use this sauce with noodles, as a dipping sauce, or in sandwiches and wraps. Keeps, tightly covered, for up to a week.
The Chipotle tofu burrito has become almost a mythic creature to me, like a Sasquatch or Elves. I heard about the new Chipotle burrito so long ago, it’s hard to believe that I may actually get to see one. Sure, there were stirrings among the vegans on the internets, passing the word, raising support for the new vegan burrito. But it was last year, when I met the amazing man behind the tofu behind the burrito, well, that is when I really started to get excited about this big fattie.
You see, last year, in San Francisco, I met Minh Tsai, a man who loves tofu so much that he walked away from a big money career in finance to pursue a dream. Tsai grew up in Vietnam, where he learned to love freshly made tofu. The subtle flavors and texture of that tofu must have imprinted on his young mind, because he has been seeking that ideal tofu ever since.
Of course, the tofu is incredible. With a firm, resilient texture and a slight sweetness, the Hodo tofu is so good that when Tsai gave us samples, it was hard to stop eating them. (Yes, tofu so delicious that you want to binge eat it!) There at the shiny-clean tofu factory, we watched his tofu artisans make yuba- the skin that forms on top of hot soymilk-by heating the milk in large stainless tubs and carefully lifting off the skins when they reach the right thickness.
The only sad thing was knowing that I would not be able to get this amazing tofu when I went home to Minneapolis- BUT, Tsai tipped us off that he was working with Chipotle to make a tasty tofu filling for their new vegan burrito. If all the testing and market research went well, Hodo Soy tofu would be in Chipotle burritos across the country.
Maybe. And I might trip over a wood elf on my afternoon walk. It could happen.
So, fast forward to a year later, and that burrito is on the way. It’s taking a little longer for it to get to me, but I am so excited to try it.
So, in the spirit of tofu burrito love, I decided to make up a version of the tofu sofritas that I have, so far, only read about. It know it’s just a pale stand-in, like a guy in a wookie suit pretending to be the real Sasquatch.
Because I can’t get Hodo soy, I used my locally available super firm Wildwood tofu. It’s darn good tofu, too.
I sauteed some onions and garlic and added the crumbled tofu, and browned it a little. Then I pureed some chipotle in adobo with a jarred roasted red pepper (I hear they are using roasted poblanos at Chipotle) and I added some vegetable stock, oregano, cumin and salt.
Cooked down, the tofu filling was just spicy enough to balance with creamy guacamole.
When my cilantro-lime laced brown rice, corn salsa and tofu filling hit the tortilla, it looked pretty good.
It really was yummy, and it helped me to satisfy the craving that I can’t meet until the real deal arrives in Minnesota.
At least the tofu burrito is real. At least, I believe.
My Tofu Sofritas Burrito
2 cups water
1 cup long grain brown rice
2 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
20 ounces extra firm tofu, drained
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large chipotle pepper (canned)
1 tablespoon adobo from the can (or more to taste)
1 large roasted red pepper, drained
11/2 cup vegetable stock
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large avocados
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 10- inch tortillas, can use whole wheat, GF rice or teff, or your fave
Jar of black bean-corn salsa ( I used Muir Glen)
First, cook the rice in a 1-2 qt pot, bring the water to a boil, add the rice, add salt, cover and reduce the heat to low for 35-40 minutes. When all the water is absorbed, take off the heat to let steam, covered for 5 minutes, then uncover, fluff and keep warm. To finish, put the cilantro, garlic and lime in the food processor and puree, then stir into the warm rice.
For tofu, saute the onions and garlic until the onions are clear, then crumble in the tofu and stir. Keep stirring over medium heat until the tofu begins to get some golden spots. In the processor, puree the chipotle, adobo, and red pepper, add the vegetable stock and process until smooth. Pour into the pan with the tofu and stir, add the oregano, cumin and salt and stir until the pan is dry and the tofu is firm. Keep warm.
Mash avocados with lime, garlic and salt.
To assemble, put 1/3 cup of rice, 1/2 cup of tofu, a few tablespoons of salsa and about an eighth of the guac on the center of the tortilla, then roll up. Serve with extra salsa on the side.
By the time you read this, I will be digesting the latest information on Whole Grains. I’m leaving for a conference on the current state of affairs surrounding our understanding of wheat, whole grains, and gluten.
You see, while the bread aisle of your favorite market may seem peaceful, there is an ongoing battle over all the gluten and wheat intolerances going around. You may be celiac, which means that you can never eat gluten of any kind. But if you are suffering from one of the many other forms of gluten or wheat intolerance, well, the jury is still out.
In fact, there is a growing movement to look beyond the gluten protein as the problem, and to seek a more nuanced, complicated understanding of all this. Is the problem all because we are using Modern, hybrid wheats? Is it the way that the flours are separated and then reassembled at the big mills? Is it the way the commercial yeasts and quick processes don’t break down the components in the flour the way slow and natural fermentation always did? Is it our flawed inner bacterial biome, lacking in the necessary probiotics to digest the bread?
I’m hoping to get closer to an answer, but it may be a while before anyone can conclusively figure all this out.
One thing that would rock the world of bread (if proven) is the idea that it’s all in the milling. What if, as some of the new wheat avengers believe, all we have to do is stone-grind our wheat, and all will be well? Most of us are blissfully unaware of what goes on at the mill, where it turns out, bran and germ are stripped from the grain, to be added back to the whole wheat flour later. The theory is that in this process, something vital is left out. Whole grains should be ground whole, and used quickly, to make a loaf that will be easy on the system.
Add to that the movement to resurrect Ancient Wheats, like Kamut, Spelt, Einkorn and Emmer, and you have a return to whole, real food that can’t be bad, even if it doesn’t solve the gluten problem.
So, to give some of this theory a try, I got a grain mill, and started playing around with grinding flours. It was fortuitous that the Wonder Mill people were looking for bloggers to try their mill at the same time that I was ready to get grinding again. I got into it once before, when I bought a grain mill attachment for my stand mixer. For several months I baked freshly ground kamut flour breads, before becoming disillusioned with the grinder. The flour that came out of it was hot to the touch, giving off visible steam as it ground, so I stopped.
One thing that the visionary bakers working with ancient grains agree on is that they have fragile gluten. Chad Robertson wrote the gorgeous new book Tartine Book 3 (Chronicle Books), and shared his slow and painstaking process for making his superlative breads. Of course, I am too lazy to make a full on wild starter, so I decided to make a yeasted slow risen, no knead focaccia, just to see how it went.
It was delicious. I think it’s a shortcut that can work, if you aren’t ready to start a wild yeast culture in your kitchen.
Here is the very wet, loose dough.
I used the spatula to gently scoop under the dough and fold it over itself periodically throughout the day. Six hours later I scraped it delicately onto a heavily cornmeal-dusted baking pan.
I covered it with chopped garlic and rosemary, salt and pepper and olive oil.
It bake up to a lovely golden brown.
You can certainly make this with already ground kamut, einkorn, spelt or other ancient wheat flour, too.
So try the whole, ancient flour approach and see if it works for you!
- 440 g kamut, ground to make 4 cups flour
- 3 cups warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons yeast
- olive oil for pan, plus 2 T for topping
- cornmeal for pan
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
- coarse salt and freshly cracked pepper
- In a large bowl, stir all the ingredients until mixed. Don’t worry that it’s lumpy or loose. Cover with a wet towel or a pot lid to keep from drying out on top. Every 30 minutes, or hour, fold the dough across itself very gently, then turn the bowl a quarter turn and do it again. Try not to deflate.
- Do this for six hours or so.
- Preheat the oven, with a baking stone, to 425 F. Oil a large roasting pan and sprinkle heavily with coarse cornmeal Gently scrape the dough onto the cornmeal and spread lightly. Cover with the wet towel and let rise as the oven heats. Mix the olive oil, garlic and rosemary.
- When the oven is hot, drizzle the garlic mixture over the dough and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, the edges will get quite crisp and brown and it will feel firm to the touch.
- Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, before carefully removing with a metal spatula.
- Serve with toppings of choice, like soft goat cheese or butter, or cool and split to use for sandwiches or panini.
I recently found myself in first a Cuban joint, Victor’s 1959 Cafe, and then a few weeks later, an El Salvadoran place called Pupuseria La Palmera. When I perused the menus, I realized something about myself. Whenever I see yucca on a menu, I order it. Yucca with salsa, yucca in garlic butter, yucca with salsa verde, I just can’t see it and not want it.
And I always think, why don’t I make this more often?
I had yucca, (also known as cassava) for the first time, about 20 years ago, in a now-defunct Cuban place called Cafe Havana. I had been invited by the chef, a lovely woman that I had met in my neighborhood organizing work. She was so proud to show me the menu. Of course, there was not a vegetarian entree in sight. But, there were fried plantains and yucca. I bit into the crispy fried chunks of creamy white root, and fell in love. It was good that I was so smitten, because when my friend came to the table, her face fell. She was hurt that we were not having pork.
I was madly in love with my appetizer, and just kept telling her how much I loved it. She was mystified.
I went through a phase of obsession with yucca after that. I sought out the massive brown tubers and boiled them. I made them into potato salad, I pureed them in soup. Like all culinary crushes, it passed, but to this day, the thought of a plate of crispy yucca gets me going.
If you aren’t up on yucca, it’s a starchy root vegetable, common to the Tropics. Fried yucca is the French Fry of Latin America. Like the French with their Aioli, they serve it with much more interesting sauces than our ketchup. It’s also big in parts of Africa, Southern China, Southern India, Thailand and Vietnam. In many of those places it’s used to make flour, breads, dried chips to fry, or starch.
But if you dig a little deeper (It’s a root, get it?) yucca turns out to be very different from a potato. For instance, the yucca is twice as high in calories and fat than a potato, ounce for ounce. It has the same vitamin C content, and a few trace minerals here and there. It’s so much richer and, dare I say, meatier than a potato.
But where it gets interesting are the saponins. Saponins are natural soaplike chemicals in yucca, which you may have heard about because they are similar to the coating on quinoa that we are all supposed to rinse off. The ones in yucca act as natural steroids, soothing joint inflammation like a very weak, natural cortisone shot. It’s also got polyphenols and some antioxidants. These chemicals are thought to be the source of yucca’s long-standing reputation as an arthritis cure. It’s anti-inflammatory, and helps with joint pain.
You can buy yucca pills to treat arthritis, but why not enjoy the awesomeness of yucca as food?
This got me thinking, why not make a dish with a base of yucca and a sauce packed with even more anti-inflammatory foods? It would be like eating the best French fries, ever, with the pleasant side effect of making the day that follows my morning spin class pain-free.
So, here you go, my decadent-tasting pain-relieving special, here at the home for creaky joints.
Crispy Yucca with Creamy Mango Sauce
Of course, you don’t have to fry the yucca. Once it’s boiled and chunked, you can even just heat it in the sauce and serve it like a curry.
2 1/4 pounds yucca
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon fresh turmeric, grated
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large mango, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon sucanat
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
Canola oil for frying
Hot sauce for drizzling
Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water. Use a paring knife to peel the yucca, then slice it in half lengthwise. Pare out the hard core that runs down the middle, like a slightly twisty, thin root. Put the yucca in cold water to soak and to prevent browning.
Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add the drained yucca. Add salt. Bring to a boil and lower to a vigorous simmer. It may take 20 minutes, it may take an hour. Check by piercing with a paring knife, it should be very tender, but not falling apart.
Drain and let cool. Cut in chunks.
Make the sauce. In alarge saute pan, heat the coconut milk. Add the mustard seeds, ginger, turmeric and pepper flakes and bring to a boil. Add the mango, sucanat, lime and salt and simmer until the fruit is slightly softened and the sauce is thick, about five minutes.
To serve, heat canola oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. When hot, fry the yucca chunks, turning them individually with a fork or spatula, til all the sides are browned. Drain briefly on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve with sauce on or beside the yucca. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired.