Ginger-Spiked Yogurt Tart with Coconut-Sesamee Seed Crust

Ginger Tart - Baked with Toppings

I love ginger. It has been sitting at the top of my favorite things list for quite some time. My favorite tea which I drink nearly every night before bed, is ginger. And I love when I find recipes that allow me to use ginger in a new way. Growing up I have had ginger cake, ginger snaps, and ginger bread men – all utilizing dried and ground ginger. But the flavor of fresh ginger, and the extra zing it delivers, I find more satisfying than the dried spice. This light, delicate, yet simple tart really features the fresh flavor of the ginger root. Of course you can leave out the ginger and use berries or orange zest, but when you can get the health benefits of ginger in dessert that tastes like this, why would you?

Ginger Tart - Ginger WholeGinger Tart - Pressing Ginger

Ginger Tart - CrustGinger Tart - Baked Crust

And this tart is really simple. As simple as making chocolate chip cookies – and perhaps even simpler beacuase you only need to make one batch (or you can do a few tiny tartletts if you have the cute little scalloped-rim dishes. That would be adorable). Its as simple as smushing together the crust, whisking together the filling, and baking for a half hour or so. And you’ll know its done because the filling won’t jiggle. It’s as simple as that. I believe the mystery to those fancy desserts has been solved: they’re not really that tricky after all. At least not this one.

The filling is sweet, tangy, and spicy all at the same time, accompanied by a crisp and buttery coconut-sesame crust: I have to say the combination is divine. This recipe is easy to cut in half, so if you wanna do a trial run before you commit yourself to a giant pie, go for it.

Ginger Tart

Crust:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup toasted rolled oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted
3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons honey
1 stick butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
pinch of salt

Directions:
Grease tart pan or pie pan. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF. Toast oats, sesame seeds, and coconut until golden, just about 3 minutes on high heat. Combine first all the dry ingredients. Combine the honey using a fork, and then add the butter, mashing with a fork until evenly combined. Press evenly into tart pan, making a 3/4 inch-high edge. Poke shallow holes into crust bottom. Bake for 5 minutes, and remove.

Filling:
1 cup natural plain yogurt, strained through cheese cloth so thick
2 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon/lime/orange/grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon zest of lime or orange
1/4 cup ginger juice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional, for stronger taste)

Directions.
To make ginger juice, simply peed a piece of fresh ginger. Grate it on your box grated on the small side. Place the grated ginger in a lime juicer to squeeze as much of the juice out as possible.

Whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Fill into partially baked pie crust. Bake for about 35-40 minutes at 350ºF, or until center is set.

Advertisements

Curried Egg Salad

Curried Egg Salad - Sandwhich

I never liked egg salad. Remember Mom? I loved loved loved coloring hard-boiled eggs for Easter. When I was tiny it was the highlight of my spring, except for my brithday of course. The Easter Bunny would hide them, we would search around the yard, and Jon would always win. Always… I had fun anyway though. But unfortunately this happy even was the next day followed by <<ugg>> the egg salad sandwich on toasted english muffins. They would always ask me to try it, but it made me gag. It was the yokes. Maybe I would have liked it if it didn’t have yoke…or mayonnaise because I didn’t like that either. To think of it I liked none of those salads with mayo: tuna, chicken, egg.

Now I’ve grown up. But believe it or not, before this very day I had never eaten an egg salad sandwich. I can’t believe it either. Going through the archives of my favorite recipe blogs I caught the eye of this curried egg salad sandwich. Remembering that I now love deviled eggs (love love love), I figured, how could I not like egg salad? It’s essentially a bunch of deviled eggs mashed together and served on toast. Only reheating leftovers could have been simpler (and if we had them that might have been served…but we didn’t). It was a lazy day. (Yesterday we bought 3 pounds of squid and 5 pounds of tilapia, and in order to fit it in our freezer — which was overgrown with ice –I had to chisel it clean. And then I broke the freezer.) needless to say, I barely felt like dicing veggies. This was uninvolved but flavorful and satisfying.

Curried Egg Salad

Ingredients:
6 hard boiled eggs
1 small apple, diced
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup greek style plain yogurt
1/2 large red onion, sliced transparently thin
1.5 – 2 teaspoons curry (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Fresh cilantro, torn — a few tablespoons, to your taste (parsley is fine too)

Directions:
Chop the eggs into 1/4 inch cubes and finely dice the apple and slice the onion. Toast your walnuts for about 3-5 minutes, and let cool. Roughly chop, but I like to leave the chunks rather large. Mix egg, apple, and walnuts together in a mixing bowl. Separately whisk together the yogurt, curry, and salt. Pour yogurt mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a fork. Slightly mash everything together, but not too much so the eggs provide some texture. Lastly stir in the cilantro. Serve on freshly toasted bread.

Moroccan Fava Beans

Moroccan Fava Beans - Plated

You know, I had never had fava beans before Guatemala. I’m sure they exist in the U.S., because I encountered a number of recipes written by U.S. based authors. However, they were never served in my family, my friends families (that I know of), nor in any restaurant or school cafeteria I ever visited. Perhaps its because in appearance they resemble lima beans. I don’t know. But they are delicious and praised for their extremly nutritious content. Low in sodium, fat and cholesterol, yet have extremely high protein and iron content for a bean. Theses “nutrition superheroes” were often called the “meat of the poor” . I hope they are becoming more prevalent, for all ya’lls sake.

In Guatemala I started noticing them because of the vendors selling boquitas (snack foods, usually to accompany alcoholic beverages) on the streets. When my friend Katie (hola pic!) was living in Guatemala last year we would frequent a local cantina situated a perfect distance between our apartments. After work we would walk down there and share a liter of beer to shake off the day. Often a boquitas vendor would stop into the pub offering spiced peanuts, caramelized nuts, cashews, and fried fava beans. I was crazy about these. They were deep fried and still had their shells on, but I enjoyed peeling them away before enjoying the crunchy salted beans. Not exactly healthy.

After this initial encounter I started researching the beans and finding recipes I wanted to try…but I could not find any fresh beans! How could there be the fried version but not the fresh? Grr… Once I found a  canned variety at a Mediterranean market, but they were a different variety. Delicious but lacked the freshness I had read about. Finally last week Héc and I went to the market and I saw a bag of fresh fava beans. For 10Q we took them home, and I made this concoction.

Moroccan Fava Beans - BoilingMoroccan Fava Beans - Pan fried with cebollines

When I told Héc that we would be having fava (faba in Spanish) for dinner he sounded less than thrilled. I even think I caught some eye-rolling. But since we had eaten tenderloin the night before I figured it was a vegetarian night. I came across a number of dishes, mostly calling for a simple herb and lemon mixture, or for a puree similar to hummus. They all sounded lovely in their simplicity, but I settled on a Moroccan version with a spicy tomato sauce, to which I made a few adjustments of my own. Let me just say for the record that Héc cleaned the pan.

A novice’s note on paprika: I tend to forget how spicy my hot paprika is. My lack of reverence for this spice originates from the memory of my mom’s delicious twice-baked potatoes. The red paprika-flecked top, I imagined, was only for color, as I could detect no noticeable taste.  This memory, despite my updated knowledge of the varieties of paprika, must remain stronger than my pain-sensors’ ability to form new memories of my current reality. So I tend ot over-use the paprika. Needing cool this batch down I added a few tablespoons of yogurt, which was the touch. In the recipe below I scaled back the amount of hot paprika from what I actually used, so taste it yourself  and adjust to you liking.

Moroccan Fava Beans

Ingredients:
1 lb fava beans (fresh or frozen. canned is ok, but skip first step)
6 Roma tomatoes, diced or one 14oz can diced tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1.5 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 additional garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons greek style plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt to taste, and generous amount of fresh black pepper

Directions:

1. Place fava beans in a large pot, add some salt, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Drain immediately and run under cold water. Set aside.

2. Tomato sauce: Sauté garlic and onions in a little olive oil until beginning to brown. Add tomatoes and spices, and a few pinches of salt, and let simmer on medium heat for about 20 minutes until tomatoes break apart. Remove from heat and blend with hand blender until smooth but still fairly chunky, OR let cool and blend in processor or blender. Set aside.

3. About 15 minutes before ready to serve, heat a little more oil in a pan, and sauté remaining cloves of garlic. Add fava beans and green onions and sauté on high heat until the beans become golden brown and crispy.

4. Warm tomato puree and stir in the yogurt. Toss the sauce with the beans, and sprinkle on fresh cilantro. Serve with crusty bread, pita, or crackers for sopping up the sauce.

Tuna Salad with Apples, Walnuts, Broccoli, and Dill (vegetarian alternative suggested)

IMG_2170

Today I was going to be my “day off” in the kitchen, and I was going to buckle down on my Spanish studies. I had some beans I prepared a few days ago, and for dinner I was simply going to heat them up in the pan with egg and onion for the traditional huevitos con frijoles, one of my favorite “day off” meals to make. No one is unsatisfied…unless someone had eggs for both breakfast and lunch. But late in the afternoon when I went to the fridge to get the beans, the tupperware container was all bulged out. I immediately recalled Mr. Weiland, my 9th grade Biology teacher, and his lesson on botulism, and I threw those babies out. I couldn’t remember exactly when I made those beans, but it doesn’t feel like too long ago. Dang it! So it was 4pm, and I didn’t want to think very hard to prepare something, I didn’t want to go out to a restaurant, and I didn’t want to eat those delicious but not so nutritious Choco Krispies we just bought.

IMG_2160IMG_2167

Tuna is something we usually have in the pantry, and we had some broccoli left over from Fondue the night before, dill left over from the tatziki, and we always have apples and walnuts (or some type of nut). It is like a Waldorf tuna salad with dill. I was a little concerned of all the ingredients mixing well, but it turned out to be divine — a refreshing combination of sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy. We ate it on pan de agua, a very light fluffy white bread common in Guatemala, with lettuce, and accompanied with homemade potato chips. It is packed full of nutrients, veggies, fiber, omega 3-fatty acids, protein, vitamins. A simple last minute meal, perfect for lunches, perfect for when your beans go bad.

A vegetarian alternative would be cannelloni (or white) beans in place of the tuna.

Tuna Salad with Apple, Brocooli, Walnuts, an Dill Yogurt Dressing

Ingredients:IMG_2162
2 cans Albacore tuna in water (chicken is yummy too)
Handful of tiny broccoli florets, blanched (I remove the stems, but please don’t waste them!)
1 medium apple, chopped (I used Fuji)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts (or pine nuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, ect)
3 dates, roughly chopped (or rasins, cranberries, but all is optional)
1/4 cup fresh dill, minced (cilantro may be nice as well, and parsley you can’t go wrong)
3/4 cup plain yogurt of your choice
2 tablespoons strong brown mustard
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:
Drain the tuna. Mix together all ingredients throughly. See, that was easy.

Homemade Yogurt

IMG_1960

I started eating a lot of yogurt as a way to increase my protein intake in the morning. I usually don’t want an egg. I always want my cereal. And then, when watching our nightly episode of Good Eats, Alton Brown told us that the bacteria in yogurt helps eliminate lactose. Héc is lactose intolerant, so this was a miracle! He also started eating more yogurt. And it seemed that we would buy liter after liter of yogurt, were creating more plastic waste than necessary, and it was getting expensive. An added benefit of making yogurt at home is that we cannot find greek style yogurt in Guatemala. This recipe is perfect. I can make tatziki, salad dressings, and all kinds of stuff. Its also perfect for baking.So I decided to give it a try. Because I don’t have a candy thermometer it was hard for me to figure out the temperature of the milk. You don’t want to boil it, but you want to get it warm enough to denature the milk proteins. And then there was the problem of keeping it warm. When I was visiting my parents, I tried to keep it in an oven with the light on. But that apparently wasn’t warm enough. Until I discovered I could use my slow cooker to keep it warm. So here are the steps. Its really simple folks.

IMG_1874IMG_1876IMG_1877IMG_1882

Photos: heating the milk to 185º F * (about 30 minutes until steams but doesn’t boil) and remove the skin; pour from pan to your storage vessel of choice and let cool to about 115ºF (about 20 minutes) — yes my storage vessel used to be a pickle jar**; whisk in a heaping tablespoon of live active plain yogurt; keep warm at around 115ºF for 3- 8 hours (the longer the tangier).

Continue reading