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Whole grain

Cooking Show Video

It doesn't take a lot of time, money or complicated ingredients to eat something that is nutritious and earth friendly. Lentils and brown rice make a complete protein, making this dish an excellent vegetarian meal. This recipe is the perfect comfort food for cold weather, it's enough to feed a family of 4 and costs under $5 to prepare!

November 20, 2008   |   11 comments
Tags: Healthy, Vegan, Vegetarian, Whole grain
Blog entry

Lately I have been really into combining chocolate and pomegranate. You will soon see that our Thanksgiving episode (still a secret!) will feature a special dessert that combines the two flavors. But for a more simple preparation, I have been topping my breakfast oatmeal with dark chocolate powder and pomegranate seeds. Usually I would use Valrhona dark chocolate baking powder, which comes in little containers at Whole Foods. Dark baking powder is fat free and low in calories. You only need a scant tablespoons worth, and that might even be too much. Another way you can eat healthy chocolate in the morning is by grinding up the raw cocoa nibs (also known as cacao nuts)in a food processor or spice grinder until they are a fine powder. Neither of these has any sugar in it, mind you.
The reason why dark chocolate is a good idea in the morning is because it contains a chemical called theobromine, which is really good for improving mood. I always feel almost trippy-happy after some raw chocolate. It is also rich in magnesium, which relaxes tense muscles and nerves as well as eases blood flow around the body. Dark chocolate has a slightly bitter taste which is nicely counteracted by the sweet and slightly sour pomegranate seeds. Both are antioxidants, which work to counteract the oxidization of cells. The two of them together on top of high-fiber oatmeal make a great way to start your day. But the bottom line is that it tastes really good and is a pleasure to eat.


This is a very easy Mexican casserole to bring to any potluck or family gathering this Fall. You can buy roast chicken from the supermarket as a short-cut, though we recommend making it from scratch.

2 cups Maseca flour
1 cup corn meal (you can find it at many local farmers markets)
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
Dash of paprika
½ cup olive oil
½ cup hot chicken broth

2 chicken breasts
Chicken broth or water
1 poblano pepper
1 ½ cups butternut squash, diced

Tomatillo Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the chicken breasts in a medium pot covered with water. You can add aromatics such as some diced carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and black pepper corns. This will create a nice broth for the recipe. Alternatively, you can cover them just with water and use store bought chicken broth where it is called for later. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook the chicken through, about 30-45 minutes. Remove from the liquid. Strain liquid and bring to a simmer. Keep warm.
Shred the chicken breasts with your fingers or using forks.
Shortcut: Buy roast chicken, and shred the meat from the breast. Use the rest of the chicken for another meal.
Roast the squash with some olive oil and salt for 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Roast the poblano pepper in the oven or over an open gas flame until charred on all sides. Remove from heat, place in a bowl covered with a cloth or towel and sweat. When cool enough to handle, peel the pepper and discard the seeds.

Make the dough: sift together the dry ingredients. Pour in the olive oil and rub it into the flour. Next, pour in the hot broth and knead until smooth.

Grease a 9x9 square baking tray. Place a thin layer of dough into the bottom, evening it out with your hands. Combine the chicken, pepper, and squash, and arrange on top of the dough. Pour over the Tomatillo Salsa (recipe follows). Create the top layer of the casserole with the remaining dough.
Bake in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Serve with the Tomatillo Salsa.

Tomatillo Salsa:
2 lbs tomatillos
1 clove garlic
½ a medium yellow or white onion
½ cup fresh cilantro
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil

Soak the tomatillos in warm water to loosen their husks. Remove the husks and roughly chop. Blend together the tomatillos, garlic, onion, cilantro, vinegar, and olive oil into a nice, loose salsa. Season to taste with salt.

October 30, 2008   |   1 comments
Tags: Chiles, Entrees, Fall, Healthy, Latin America, Whole grain
Cooking Show Video

This is a recipe for a Mexican Tamal de Cazuela, a casserole made of chicken, poblano peppers, and butternut squash nestled between a cornmeal dough. It is served with a raw Tomatillo Salsa. This is an easy dish to make and is great for taking to family gatherings and pot lucks. Most of these ingredients can be sourced locally, so be sure to check out your local farmers market before you make it.

October 30, 2008   |   1 comments
Tags: Entrees, Fall, Healthy, Latin America, Whole grain

This dessert requires some time and effort. You will need 6 scallop shells, which you can buy at an arts and crafts store, and some aluminum foil. The saffron pastry cream with poppy seeds could also be used as a tart filling or for eclairs. It is subtle, yet rich at the same time.

For the Saffron Pastry Cream:
2 cups half and half, divided
Pinch of saffron
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 cardamom pods, crushed and seeds removed
1 T flour (2 tablespoons if you prefer not to use cornstarch)
1 T cornstarch
½ tsp poppy seeds

For the Raisins:
6 raisins
¼ cup sherry

For the Shells:
1 recipe of Spelt Honey Dough (recipe follows)

Heat up ½ cup of the half and half on a low flame with the pinch of saffron. Once it comes to a bare simmer, remove from the heat and set aside to infuse while you keep working.
Heat up the remaining half and half with the cardamom on a medium high flame, but don’t let it come to a boil.
Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until pale yellow in color. Add the flour and cornstarch to the yolk/sugar mixture and whisk well to combine. Pour a drop of the hot half and half into the egg yolks to temper them, and then gradually pour everything back into the saucepan.
Bring the liquid to a boil, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming, and cook for 2-3 minutes until thick. Whisk in the infused saffron liquid and pour into a bowl set over another bowl filled with ice water. Stir in the poppy seeds.
Cover the mixture directly with a piece of plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until completely cold and set.

Heat up the sherry in a small saucepan and poach the raisins until they are plump. Remove from heat.

Pipe the pastry cream into the prepared shells and place a plump raisin near the base, as if it were a pearl in the oyster.

Spelt Honey Dough:
6 scallop shells
aluminum foil
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup spelt flour
½ teaspoon of salt
1 cup butter, cut up into small dice
2 T honey + 5-6 T water

Sift together the salt and flours in a bowl.
Add the butter and cut it into the flour using a pastry cutter or your fingers. You are done when the butter is fully integrated into the flour, and you have a crumbly flour without any chunks of butter.
Make a well with the flour mixture and pour the honey and water into the center. Bring the flour into the well and mix just until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough. Wrap up in parchment or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cut some aluminum foil into squares large enough to wrap the scallop shells. Wrap the shells with the foil, smoothing it over the ridges nicely. Butter the shells generously.
Roll out the dough to be ¼” thick. Roll onto the pin and place a shell underneath the dough. Roll the dough over the shell, and cut around it. Gently mold the dough over the shells. Use the video for more detailed instructions. Repeat for the remaining 5 shells.
Optional: Brush each shell with an egg wash made of 1 egg with a drop of cream.
Bake the shells for 15 minutes at 375°F or until cooked all the way through.

These are truly luxurious desserts. Although they require a little bit of time, their taste is well worth it. The saffron pastry cream with poppy seeds is subtly divine!
October 26, 2008   |   2 comments
Tags: Desserts, Fall, Whole grain
Cooking Show Video

These pastries are not traditional Afghan food, but are purely symbolic. We make Spelt-Honey pastry shells, and then fill them with a saffron pastry cream with poppy seeds. We finish the shells off with sherry-soaked raisins (our pearls!). Raisins have been cultivated in Herat using the same methods for more than 500 years. The region hosts more than 120 varieties of these precious jewels, and people like Naser Jami, coordinator of the Presidium of the Abjosh Raisin of Herat, are currently working to promote their quality in the world markets. We hope that you try and make our desserts and celebrate the bounty of Herat!

October 25, 2008   |   1 comments
Tags: Desserts, History, Whole grain

Buckwheat crepes, or Crêpes de Blé, are filled with savory ingredients and widely eaten across France. Hard cider is the drink of choice to go with these thin pancakes, and we would not want to stray from that tradition. This recipe is for buckwheat crepes filled with a mixture of goat cheese and goat milk yogurt, topped with smoked trout and chives. All of these ingredients can be sourced from the Northeast region, and are to be paired with some local hard cider. Our pick is the Autumn’s Gold from Eve’s Cidery.

For the Crepes:
1 cup unbleached white flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk (divided)
½ cup butter (1 stick), melted
½ cup cold water

Mix together the flour, eggs, salt, and ½ cup of the milk in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients, adding the water last until the batter is quite thin. If you need to, use a blender to get the batter completely smooth. However, a few little lumps will do no harm.

Heat up a skillet on a medium high flame to be hot, and pour in some batter. Tilt the pan immediately to spread the batter all around in a thin layer. Once the edges are cooked through and there are little bubbles everywhere, use a spatula to flip the crepe over in the pan. It takes a few sacrificial crepes to get the hang of what you are doing, so do not get discouraged if your first ones are not perfect circles. The dough makes enough for about 12 crepes.

For the Filling and Garnish:
1 log of fresh chêvre (if you can get one with chives, even better)
4 tablespoons of goat milk yogurt
Fresh chives
1 filet smoked trout
1 tomato or roasted red pepper, medium dice

Mix the cheese and yogurt together, along with some freshly chopped chives, until the mixture is smooth and creamy. This mixture should be thick, but easily spreadable.
Spread a dollop of the yogurt/cheese mixture in the center of the crepe. Fold it over in half, then in half again. Repeat for the remaining crepes. Use a fork to flake the trout filet, and then top the crepes with the diced tomato and fresh chives.

This is a great recipe for crepes using buckwheat flour, just how they do it in France. They are filled with a goat cheese spread and topped with flaked smoked trout and chives.
September 30, 2008   |   9 comments
Tags: Entrees, Europe, Fall, Fish, Healthy, high-fiber, Local, Whole grain
Tasty Tip

Use the slow roasted Damson plums (below) as a topping for your breakfast porridge! Upstate New York's Wild Hive Farm makes a great Ten Grain Multi Mix that can be eaten with the fruit and honey as a healthy breakfast. The blend includes healthy whole grains like winter soft wheat, spelt, and millet, as well as flax seeds.


Koshari is the national dish of Egypt. Brown rice, thin noodles, and elbow macaroni are combined in a dish, to which a lightly spiced tomato broth is added. We top it with sprouted beans, lentils, and fried onions.

¾ cup brown rice
1 ½ cups water
1 cup elbow macaroni
2 T olive oil
3 T onion, small dice
1 garlic clove
¼ tsp cumin
¼ tsp Aleppo pepper (optional)
1 28 oz can of whole peeled tomatoes (Muir Glen is our fave)
½ cup sprouted lentils (or mix of lentils with other small beans)
½ cup sprouted chickpeas
Garnish: ¼ cup onion, thinly sliced + 3 T olive oil

To cook the brown rice: heat up the 1 ½ cups of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice, bring the water back to a boil, then turn down the heat, cover, and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through.

In another large pot cook the elbow macaroni according to the instructions. Drain and reserve.

In a third pot, heat up the olive oil. Gently sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent, then add the garlic. Add the cumin and Aleppo Pepper (or a mild Paprika if you can’t find Aleppo), and stir.
Add the whole peeled tomatoes to the pot, leaving their liquid in the can, and gently break them up with your wooden spoon.
Cook the tomatoes down for about 10 minutes. Blend the sauce with the reserved liquid and then return it to the pot and simmer until it is the right consistency and has a nice flavor. It should not be as thick as tomato sauce.

For the garnish, gently fry the onion in the olive oil until dark and caramelized.
Drain on a plate lined with towel.

To serve, combine the rice and pasta in a bowl. Ladle over some of the tomato sauce, and then top with the sprouted lentils and chickpeas. Top with the fried garlic.

Alternatively, you can place each component on the table and allow the diners to put together their own dish.

Koshari is the national dish of Egypt. Brown rice, thin noodles, and elbow macaroni are combined in a dish, to which a lightly spiced tomato broth is added. We top it with sprouted beans, lentils, and fried onions.

This type of kubba is typical of Mosul, where wheat is the common ingredient. This is an easy dish to make, plus it can last for a few days. Make it for a party, and serve a slice for an appetizer, or eat it a few nights in a row.

2 T grated onion
1 ½ cups bulgur
3 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 handful asparagus, trimmed
½ lemon
½ lb ground chicken thigh meat
3 T Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pine nuts

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
Set a pot of water to a rolling boil, and season it well.
Slice the asparagus into small little circles, so that they are not overwhelming in comparison to the meat or the bulgur.
Pour them into the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain.
Heat up about 2 T of olive oil in a pot, and gently fry the grated onion until it is translucent. Tip in the bulgur, stir, and pour over the water. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil.
Once the water comes to a boil, reduce it to a simmer, and cook covered until the water is absorbed.
Cool the bulgur once it is cooked. Mix in the Parmesan cheese, and check the seasoning.
Toss the meat with the blanched asparagus, pine nuts, juice from the lemon, and season it well.
Line the bottom of a cake pan with olive oil.
Plant a layer of bulgur on the bottom, allowing some of them to stick together.
Pat it down nicely.
Next, add the layer of meat, and distribute everything evenly.
Layer the rest of the bulgur on top of the meat. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle some water on top.
Bake the kubba covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes.
Remove the foil and reduce the oven temperature to 375˚F. Finish baking the kubba uncovered for about 30 minutes, until the top is browned nicely.

This type of kubba is typical of Mosul, where wheat is the common ingredient. This is an easy dish to make, plus it can last for a few days. Make it for a party, and serve a slice for an appetizer, or eat it a few nights in a row.