Coriander Cinnamon Carob Candy
That’s a word I’ve been throwing around my kitchen lately. My ambitions with allergy-alternative baking are to make gorgeous treats just as delectable for those without sensitivities as those with, that are as appealing to the eyes as they are to the tastebuds.
But sometimes things just look…rustic. They taste delicious but look a bit like the ugly duckling pre-swan-age.
This recipe is one such recipe. I’m playing with molding carob powder with spices and fat into a hard candy that is satisfying and palatable for even the most sensitive stomachs. Once again, this combination tastes delicious – with citrusy tangs of coriander and a cinnamon spice – but it took a while to get them to release easily from the molds. Like the little engine, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can… but for now I’ll enjoy my “rustic” treats.
- 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter) or unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp ground decaffinated coffee
- 1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon, plus more for dusting
- 3/4 cup coconut creme
- 1 cup carob powder
- Lightly grease mini-cupcake tins and dust heavily with cinnamon
- Place a small pot on low heat and melt ghee or butter
- Add 2 Tbsp cinnamon, coffee and coriander, and whisk to combine
- Let sit on low heat for about 5 minutes to infuse
- Slowly whisk in coconut creme, doing so until thoroughly combined and the mixture is a light brown with all the butter absorbed
- Add carob, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking thoroughly with each addition. By the second addition, the ghee may separate from the creme and start to lump with the carob: don’t sweat this. It should absorb back into the final mixture, which should be rather lumpy. The mixture should not be smooth like chocolate, but almost look like a big pile of used coffee grounds.
- Use a scant tablespoon to fill each mold, and pat the tops down flat.
- Heavily dust with two coats of cinnamon.
- Refrigerate until hard, about 1 hour, then let sit for about five minutes to soften a tad. Use a very thin knife to work around the mold and slowly ease candies from pan. Dust with cinnamon.
- Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
It’s cold in New York City. I sit at the computer, writing away at articles for my job, gobbling hot tea constantly. And as I puttered around the kitchen this morning, I realized my normal breakfast of eggs and veggies wasn’t gonna cut it. I need something warm, filling and slightly sweet.
This gluten-free grain is often overlooked when compared with its massively produced cousin, Oatmeal, but it’s now readily available in health food stores large and small. It’s not actually a grain, but a seed somewhat related to rhubarb. It cooks very similarly to oatmeal, though, is as deliciously versatile and is wonderfully filling on mornings when there’s a lot of day to face. It’s completely gluten-free and a very healthy-happy food.
- Completely gluten-free as it’s a seed, so it’s digestible for those with celiac and gluten sensitivities
- Contains a very high level of magnesium, which relaxes blood vessels and therefore contributes to healthy blood flow and is good for the heart
- Lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol (that’s a good thing…)
- Helps lower and regulate blood-sugar levels by containing chiro-inositol. Researchers are not sure why this does what it does quite yet, but in humans and animals alike, whole grains containing this compound lowered blood-sugar levels by 12-19% when compared with those given a placebo (check it out at WHFoods)
- Generally high in antioxidants, so is generally an on-your-side superfood
Let’s Cook It!
Some cook buckwheat as an alternative to rice. I prefer it as a porridge, all gooey and slightly sweet. Below is my recipe for a coconut-buckwheat cereal. Alternatives would be to cook with water or an animal milk, then add any variety of vanilla extract, cinnamon, dried or fresh fruits, carob powder, fresh nutmeg, chai… the list goes on. I prefer coconut milk on some mornings because it makes the porridge thicker and naturally sweet and creamy. I pressure cook my morning grains normally, as it adds to the digestion ease and also makes the grains that much more moist and fluffy. Toasting them for a few minutes on dry heat before adding the liquid increases their digestibility. Directions for pressure-cooking and stove top cooking are below.
- 1 cup of buckwheat
- 2 cups of liquid – I used a can of light coconut milk and then topped off the rest with water
- 1 tsp maple syrup (per serving)
- dried cranberries, golden raisins or blueberries (preferably sugar and nitrate-free)
- raw or toasted nuts (I used pecans, but hazelnuts or almonds would also be delightful)
- Pressure Cook Grains: Add grains and liquid into a pressure cooker, bring up to full heat (you’ll know because it’ll be sizzling away, making lots of noise and releasing some steam), cook for 12 minutes, then turn off the heat and let pressure release naturally.
- Stove-top Cooking Grains: Toast the grains in a dry pot on medium heat, stirring continually, until they become nutty and fragrant. Add the liquid, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Serve with 1 tsp of maple syrup per serving, and a small handful of raw nuts and dried fruit.
Note: Adding a non-animal protein such as nut-butter or eggs is a great way to make this breakfast a perfect protein and aid digestion. I actually rarely do such heavy grains first thing in the morning as I can’t digest nuts well in the early day, but as a sweet-treat and with some extra digestive boosting supplements, it’s a great way to face the rain.
How to make this a dessert? Simmer about 2 1/2 cups coconut milk on the stove, adding 4 tablespoons maple syrup, 2+ teaspoons each of vanilla extract and cinnamon and, if you want to live dangerously, a little dark rum. Add grains and cook on low until thick and sweet. Whip a whole egg and add in just before the grains are fully cooked, stirring thoroughly. Taste and add seasonings to your preference. Remove to a wide pan and refrigerate until cold. Sprinkle with cinnamon, raisins and (if desired) a little more agave.
Thai Shrimp-Coconut Soup
So last year I lived in Cincinnati, and the freezing cold temperatures of the city and my high-ceiling-ed apartment made me want to make soup everyday. And a few resolutions for making my life better contributed to my making up a recipe for Thai Shrimp-Coconut soup: 1) Use more items from my pantry instead of jetting to the market when I’m inspired to cook. 2) Don’t buy EVERY ingredient a recipe requires. Use my solid knowledge of food to make do (thank you Julia Child for the dose of confidence). 3) COOK MORE IN LESS TIME! I usually plan elaborate meals when a half an hour can result in something warm and simple. So, yes, this recipe only took about a half an hour!
Now, let me preface. I’ve never cooked any Thai food before… never a curry. But I love cooking with coconut milk and was craving a soup at a Thai restaurant I love in NYC. So I literally guessed at this process and added things progressively as I went along. The result was DELICIOUS! And it made a LOT of soup!
Ingredients – Soup
- 1 lb bag frozen shrimp, peeled and tails removed… the rise in demand in the U.S. for shrimp has produced some dangerous sources across the globe. Please buy responsibly. Chances are the cheap bag from the local grocer has bad energy about it.
- 2 cans coconut milk – I used one regular and one Lite.
- Fish sauce – purchased in the Asian section of most grocers.
- crushed red pepper
- Olive oil
- a hot curry paste
- 1 8oz bag bean sprouts
- 1 small bunch of chives
- 1 lemon, plus more lemon juice as desired
Substitution note: I used olive oil because it’s what I had, but sesame oil would be more authentic. And I used bean sprouts because they’re inexpensive and I don’t use them enough. But bell peppers, carrots or a green vegetable sliced really thinly would also be great. And you can never go wrong with a little fresh ginger zested in.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive or sesame oil in a large soup pot on medium/high heat. When hot, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of curry paste and mash to dissolve. Add the thawed shrimp and saute for about 4 minutes. Strain the shrimp out in a colander set over a bowl, and return liquid to pot.
- Add another 2 tablespoons of curry paste, about 1 teaspoon of tumeric, the bean sprouts and 3 tablespoons of fish sauce. Blend and bring up to heat, stirring constantly.
- Add the 2 cans of coconut milk and 3 cans of water. Bring up to a soft boil. Add the juice of one lemon, taste, and add more as desired.
- When hot, add back in the shrimp. Cut the chives into pieces about 2 inches long, and toss in.
- Add about a teaspoon of freshly crushed red pepper.
What I learned: Fish sauce is STRONG! It’s literally sardines, salt and a little sugar. It gives food a delicious richness but should be used wisely. I added 3 tablespoons and, when everything was put together, got brave and added a 4th. It was WAY too strong and salty. So I added some organic lemon juice I had in the fridge, which balanced it out. 3 would have been perfect… the more you know!
Side Dishing It:
Now I used Jasmine rice as a side dish and mixed it into the final result. My favorite way to cook rice is in a pressure cooker. This speeds up the cooking time, makes the rice more digestible and gives it a soft texture unmatched in any other method.
Pressure Cooker Jasmine Rice Directions:
- Put 2 cups of water, a few dashes of sea salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil in a pressure cooker and bring it up to a soft boil.
- Add the rice and cover.
- Once the pressure cooker comes up to full pressure (hissing and singing away beautifully), set a timer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally. Uncover when fully de-pressured.
It’s freezing in New York City. By the time this is posted, the snow will be falling once again and NYC will have gotten more snow in January than any January in history.
Which is why this weekend I’ll be grabbing the ingredients for this warm and filling dessert that I made up last year while similarly freezing in Cincinnati. It’s not too sweet, and a delicious dairy-free alternative to that gorgeous pudding that too often stares at me from behind the windows at Italian and Portuguese restaurants, eying me up and down as I sip my espresso.
Health notes: This recipe contains coconut milk (with medium-chained fatty acids, it’s very anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-viral, and helps build strong bones), and cinnamon (which helps to regulate blood sugar, has been shown to help arthritis symptoms and has a whole load of other health properties).
- 1/2 cup long grain or basmati rice
- 1 cup coconut milk with 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 additional cups coconut milk
- golden raisins / sultanas (about 1/2 cup but to taste)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ground cinnamon to taste
- fresh nutmeg
- 1 tsp lemon rind
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- your favorite sweetener to taste
- Cook the rice in your favorite form (stove top, pressure cooker, rice cooker etc.) with the 1 cup coconut milk, 1 1/2 cups water and raisins until all liquids are absorbed, the rice is soft and the raisins are plumped.
- Add the extra 1 1/2 cups coconut milk, cinnamon stick, lemon rind, and vanilla and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- When the liquid has reduced by half, add about 2 tablespoons of sweetener, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and about 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg and taste. Add more sweetener as desired.
- Simmer until the liquid is absorbed to almost an oatmeal-like consistency. Any further and it will dry out before being served.
- Serve warm or chilled, with additional cinnamon on top or with sprinkled raisins or coconut.