Fall Breakfast – Millet Porridge with Olive Oil and Clove-Baked Apples

P1040949Millet is an affordable, easily-sourced local grain in Taiwan that takes 10 minutes to cook and can be used as you would quinoa. In this breakfast idea, I’ve cooked the millet with toasted almonds, raisins and coconut sugar then added an apple that I rubbed in olive oil, sprinkled with pumpkin spice then dotted with whole cloves. It’s delicious, warming and has that nostalgic childhood essence to it. Enjoy.

Recipe:

1 apple, halved and cored

Here’s how to bake the apples.

In the link above, I used pears, so just use apples instead.

Millet Porridge

2 cups of millet

3 to 4 cups of water depending on how stewy you want your porridge

1 cup of flaked almonds (or more if you please, hazelnuts are an interesting substitute)

1 cup of raisins (or more if you please)

1/4 cup of coconut sugar (it isn’t very sweet at all, so start low and taste)

Place the millet in a pot and add the water. Let it cook for ten minutes or more until it’s al dente. In a separate pan, toast the flaked almonds. Once browned, drop them into the cooked millet pot along with the raisins and coconut sugar.

Spoon out the porridge into breakfast bowls. Place the baked apple in the middle and enjoy whilst warm.

 

Roasted Pumpkin, Chipotle-marinated Mushroom and raw Caramelized Onion Salad

roasted pum[pkin raw caramelized onion chipotle-marinated mushroom spinach green bean cumin garlic

A few years ago, I read that book,Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salads and to be honest, I found it completely unmemorable. Also, I usually find salads to be the last thing I would order off a menu unless I was subconsciously trying to deal with the guilt of having previously consumed something unhealthy. I think this is called “purgatory”.  Don’t look away. I know you do it, too.

Now I try to find pleasure out of salads and include one in every day of the week. Even if I don’t always get there, it’s habit I’m working on. I think my problem with salads is that I usually feel even more deprived AFTER eating one than before, like I’m missing out on a real meal. I think eating like this fosters more anxiety about food and drives us, ironically more in the direction of unhealthy food. The body needs to feel satisfied and grounded and I don’t feel that way after munching on some sparse leaves and seeds from a bowl.

The salad above has everything I need to feel like I’ve eaten a meal – the bulkiness of roasted pumpkin, the heartiness of tenderstem broccoli (it’s really tiring chewing on those stalks), the earthy smokiness and spiciness of raw chipotle-marinated mushrooms (can one ever eat any dish without at least a little heat???), the sweet, rich delicacy of raw caramelized onion and the decadence of good, creamy gorgonzola. Throw in my new, favourite salad dressing of chunky garlic and cumin and you won’t even have space for dessert. Gorgeousness. Really.

You may have noticed that the last three salads have had gorgonzola in them. In a way, part of the salad recipes came about because we received a block of gorgonzola as a gift from family in the US. It felt really special because it was just this single block of cheese. It wasn’t one gift among many as is usually the case so the sense of wowness around it, made me think twice as hard about what to do with it. We are a dairy-free household but we are not anally-retentive about it. We still maintain our playfulness and humour about food. So if I’m going to feed us dairy-based cheese, I may as well make sure it is complemented by a lot of fresh vegetables.

Ok, here’s the recipe as far as I can remember and I’m not sure about measurements:

Prep: use your mushroom of choice, slice them up and marinate with olive oil, salt and chipotle.

1. Hack a pumpkin open, scoop out the innards and rub generous amounts of olive oil inside the cavity and the skin. Sprinkle with your favourite salt and black pepper. Roast it.

2. Rinse and shave your tenderstem broccoli – just the stems so they are easier to chew and digest. Cruciferous veggies gets lots of bugs stuck in them so make a bath of warm, salty water and leave em in there for about 10 – 15 minutes. Don’t pour the water out with the veggies still in the bowl. Lift the veggies away from the water. Then rinse. All the residue will remain at the bottom of the bowl. Wrap in a tea towel and press gently. or swing the tea towel around in the air and the water will separate really quickly. Do make sure you have secured either end with an elastic band or something.

Place the tenderstems in a salad bowl along with cleaned spinach leaves. Pour half of the salad dressing over the leaves and broccoli and gently mix. Over mixing will wilt the leaves and leave them lacklustre.

Add the mushrooms.

Dressing:

  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • Two tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is.
  • 1/4 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E.Presilla

By now the roasted pumpkin should be cooked and cooled, cut into cubes and gently move them around the bowl of salad dressing then pick them out and place them in the salad bowl with broccoli and spinach. I don’t like touching the pumpkin too much or they will not maintain their shape.

Next add your gorgonzola and the remaining dressing. Finally, top with raw caramelized onion.

Here’s how:

Finely julienne a medium-sized purple onion. Mix with about two tablespoons of honey/ maple syrup or whatever sweetener you choose, add two tablespoons of olive oil then dehydrate for a few hours until they get softer. You can store these in the freezer and just warm in the dehydrator whenever you need the. Alternatively , just bake them in the oven.

Sweet Jaysus Jicama Beet and Avo Salad with Gorgonzola and Cumin Garlic Dressing

P1010456

This was a “What’s in the fridge?” kinda salad. I’ve been so busy with cheese orders that I’ve neglected to cook for my Beloved who’s working on two big architectural projects. I was feeling GUILTY! Nothing better than a gorgeous salad to repent with.

This is a jicama, beet, avo salad with garlic cumin dressing.

Jicama (the white vegetable in the picture) is a Spanish vegetable which is described as a cross between a yam and a turnip.

jicama

jicama

It’s crunchy, a bit sweet and very refreshing. You could just eat it plain and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. You can find jicama at every fresh vegetable market. If you didn’t see it, you probably just weren’t “looking” for it. I’ve not seen jicama in any traditional Taiwanese dishes so I’m always curious about why we have them so plentifully, here. Make hay, people. Make hay.

So to make this salad:

  • Slice jicama as uniformly as possible
  • Wash, peel and slice beets as uniformly as possible
  • Slice and core avo then rub each slice with lemon juice to maintain its colour
  • Arrange on plate as in the main picture.

Dressing

Can you see the bits of cumin powder, black pepper and garlic?

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  • Finely crush 3 cloves of garlic and put it in a bowl
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lemon juice OR 2 tbls cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp of freshly-crushed black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt depending on how large your salad is. In this picture, I used 1 medium beet, 1/2 a medium jicama and 1/2 avo so added 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cumin and a few sprinkles of whole cumin for texture and bursts of cuminy-goodness

Lightly hand-whisk.

This dressing was inspired by one of my many searches which revealed Cuban chef, Marciel E. Presilla

P1010447

Finally, crumble well-aged gorgonzola on top.

P1010445

Disfrute!

Raw Asparagus Pâté with Marinated Mushrooms and Shaved Fennel

raw asparagus pate

Continuing on the theme of asparagus, here we have a raw asparagus pâté  with marinated shiitake mushrooms and shaved fennel with greens. 

Absolutely gorgeously delicious, satisfying and with a beautiful complement of acidic and sweet with the weight of nuts and delicacy of asparagus, this dish is easy to make but sumptuous to eat.  

Eat it on brown rice crackers, fresh bread or just by itself. 

P1000245

NOTE: Some pre-prep time is required

Recipe:

1/2 cup mushrooms

1 tablespoon liquid amino

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 tablespoon agave nectar

Combine agave, olive oil and liquid amino in a bowl. Add chopped mushrooms. leave to marinate in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. 

Pâté:

1 bunch of large asparagus

a large handful of fresh thyme

a small handful of cashew nuts

1 clove of garlic

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

freshly crushed black pepper

salt to taste 

Peel the asparagus, chop into pieces then blend until smooth with the rest of the pâté  ingredients. Set in a mould in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. If you don’t have a ring mold, use a bowl which you should line with cling wrap before you pour the ingredients in. 

Fennel/ Greens (you should do this only when ready to serve)

Finely shave some fennel and roughly chop some greens of your choice (arugula would be best). If you can’t find fennel, substitute with a crunchy green apple rubbed with fresh lemon juice. 

In a bowl, sprinkle the shaved fennel and greens with a bit of salt and olive oil. Mix lightly. You don’t want to bruise the leaves or leave them too limp or they won’t stand.  

Assembly:

After the pâté  has set, unmold onto a serving plate then top with the greens. Strain the mushrooms. Rinse well and pat dry with a kitchen towel.Place a handful of mushrooms on top of the greens.

Serve.  

 

Beetroot Balsamic Thirst-Quencher

P1000185When we were kids, our only interaction with beets was when we used them as a condiment to vegetable curries. Mum would pickle them in white vinegar, cinnamon sticks, black pepper corns and star anise. On a plate of warm dhal and rice, beet pickle was tops!

Now, I enjoy beets in a different way. My gorgeous Italian friend and fellow foodie, Mauro Sacchi just always happened to cook beets at my place when my energy was low. The fascinating ways in which he prepared them always left me drooling for more. My favourite dish which he prepared was a raw beet salad with passion fruit dressing which included only the finest Italian olive oil, crushed cumin, fennel, coriander seeds and an Indian black rock salt called chaat. Unbelievable. After eating the salad, I would feel revitalized.

Mauro then became responsible for giving me my beet fix whenever he came over. I must hand it to him, he introduced me to a new way to eat beets. Beets are so completely nourishing for the blood, protecting the liver from fat build-up. It is also consumed by athletes in endurance sports. Studies carried out showed that athletes were able to sustain themselves even longer after drinking beet juice.

How to be UnBEETable – Olympic Advantage #2 

There you go. Anyway, my need for beet juice once a month and the easy and cheap access to them in Taiwan made the creation of beet juice an easy next step.

Try this:

Chop your beets

Chop your beets

Juice your beets

Juice your beets

Fill a glass half-way through with the juice

Fill a glass half-way through with the juice

add sparkling water

add sparkling water

Pour slowly, it gets really frothy

Pour slowly, it gets really frothy

and a hefty tablespoon of aged, fruity balsamic vinegar

and a hefty tablespoon of aged, fruity balsamic vinegar

Drink it!

Drink it!