Baobab Kombucha

While fourth of July is best celebrated in the time of Covid-19 in responsible and measured isolation, here is an incredible summer bubbly to cheer you up! Homemade kombucha is used here, but farmers market or store bought is equally uplifting. Baobab debuted only recently, but is already heading towards becoming the queen of the pantry!


SPECIAL TOOLS:

None.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 tsp Baobab powder
  • 1 cup kombucha (chilled)
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)

METHOD

Place the powder in a glass. Pour the kombucha over the powder, mix with wire whisk so the powder is blended (few seconds). Serve immediately.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. If using honey, first mix it well with the powder, using the wire whisk, before adding the kombucha.
  2. The Baobab powder adds a little citrus, but a lot of fizz!

Juneteenth Baobab Millet Pudding

I never thought I knew so little. Until the last few weeks. I learned about Juneteenth; learned why the French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi insisted on the Statue of Liberty; and, discovered that one could learn Twi on an app!

I had always admired the beauty of baobab trees, but did not know that its fruit is considered a superfood. A bag of baobab fruit powder was promptly mail-ordered and with a few quick experimentations, here is an easy concoction inspired by the flavors of Indian kheer and American key-lime pie. Enjoy! And, yes, an additional enjoyment point is that the purchase of baobab products helps small farmers in Africa.


SPECIAL TOOLS:

None.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup foxtail millet (this serves 3)
  • 4 tsp baobab fruit powder
  • Sweetener: 3-4 tsps condensed milk
  • Topping: candied nuts, oat-almond bark OR fresh berries

METHOD

Grain: In a thick bottomed pan toast the millet. Meanwhile, heat about 2 cups of water. When the millet turns fragrant (about 2 minutes), add the hot water to it and let simmer on medium for about 15 minutes until cooked.

Take off heat and fluff the grains add the baobab powder while still warm and mix well. Chill.

Serve cold with toppings. Sometimes the millet absorbs the liquid while chilling- then you could add a little regular or almond milk to your serving.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. Baobab fruit is mildly tart and citrus-like. Adjust the amount of powder to your liking.
  2. I usually heat the water in a Pyrex cup in the microwave while the grain is toasting. The timer on the microwave times both the toasting and the heating.
  3. The use of condensed milk captures the richness of an Indian kheer that is lovingly cooked on gentle heat for hours.
    Adjust the amount of condensed milk to your taste.

Help-Local-Biz Tacos

The shelter-in-place has not been easy, particularly for neighborhood businesses. I am trying to do what little-me can: firstly, continue all my gym memberships although they have closed their doors respecting physical distancing. Secondly, the extensive use of contactless Farmers markets and other pickups. Here I present a minimal taco cobbled from these different sources. And, the results will make Jean-George Vongerichten envious! 😉 Inspired by one of my favorites from his ABC Kitchen, Union Square NYC.


SPECIAL TOOLS:

Taco holder to serve.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 lb oyster mushrooms
  • Adobo sauce: 1 tbsp oil, 1/2 onion diced, 1 crushed garlic, 1/4 cup crushed tomatoes, 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, 1/4 cup stock
  • Topping: sake lees vinaigrette
  • Fresh corn (masa) tortillas.

METHOD

Adobo sauce: Heat oil and saute onions till soft. Add garlic and let soften. Add the remaining ingredients and let simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside.

SIice the mushrooms. In a non-stick pan dry-stir fry till softened and earthy-fragrant. This takes about two minutes. Season with salt and then add the sauce and mix for a minute or two.

Soften the taco on the open flame for a minute- flipping with a pair of tongs. Place the mushroom stuffing topped with little dollops of the vinaigrette. Enjoy warm.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. This is a minimal taco, but is comparable to any of your seven-layer, bursting at the sides taco.
  2. The mushrooms are from Deep Roots Farm.
  3. This is my first introduction to sake lees– a byproduct of sake. The sake lees vinaigrette is from resourcED, a pricey pick-up from Blue Hill. But may be worth the $$$ for their fascinating spread. This vinaigrette brightens the mushrooms in the taco.
    (vinaigrette: sake lees, white verjus, lemon, honey and rapeseed oil)
  4. Another green that I was introduced to was Celtuce. A celery or lettuce ? I never thought I would like a lettuce -or celery- so much. It was the stems. Peel away the fibrous layers — may take a few stabs with your peeler. Then slice very thin. Is great as salad with a light dressing of lemon juice (or not). It can be lightly sauteed as well and is used as a vegetable in China.

Fantabulous Meatless Meat

If there was ever a right time for this oxymoron, this is it. At the time of the pandemic, while humanity has been cornered defenseless, there is a lot of rumination about factory farming and exotic meats.

I must confess that I have made seitan (wheat gluten) Greek gyro and I prefer the wheat version over the original! Is it just me ? Here, I use the much touted Beyond-Beef (primarily plant proteins), that are easily available in the grocery stores, in spite of shortages in the other aisles. It really lives up to the hype. And, this protein-on-protein, with a touch of topping greens, is unbelievably sumptuous!


SPECIAL TOOLS:

None.

INGREDIENTS

  • Meatless-meat layer
    • 1 lb meatless meat, ground form
    • Aromatics: 1 tbsp oil + 1 small onion diced + 2 garlic cloves minced + 1/2 inch ginger grated
    • Dry spices: 1 tbsp cumin powder + 1 tsp ground sumac + 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
    • Sauce: 2 tbsp tamarind paste+ 2 tbsp tomato paste + 1 tbsp lemon juice + 1/3 cup vegetable stock or water
  • Base: garbanzo purée (can use hummus or see recipe below)
  • Topping: 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts + microgreens (sunflower)

METHOD

In a thick bottom skillet, brown the ground meat till thoroughly cooked. This takes 12-15 minutes. Take the meat off the pan. Add the aromatics and cook till fragrant (about 5 min), then add the meat back. Mix in the powdered spices. Stir for a few minutes and then add the sauce and blend in and heat thoroughly. Taste for seasonings,

Serve by placing a generous 1/3 cup of garbanzo purée at bottom; a generous layer of meatless meat and finish off with the toppings.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. I call this protein-on-protein, since the base is garbanzo and the next layer is again (plant) protein. You can use real meat, if that is your choice.
  2. I love the citrusy sumac! This recipe is inspired from Adeena Sussman’s Sababa on Israeli food.
  3. Contrary to expectations, I like this even better when lightly warmed (in microwave). Reminiscent of the Palestinian Sinaya.
  4. Garbanzo purée: Soak 1 cup garbanzo beans overnight in plenty of water. Simmer in plenty of water till soft (about 15-30 minutes). Let cool slightly.
    In a processor: softened beans + 4 tbsp sunflower butter + 1/4 cup lemon juice + 1/4 tsp garlic powder + 1/4 cup EVOO + 1 tbsp red miso (optional) + salt to taste.
  5. Sunflower microgreens was used here. You could use any other microgreen or cilantro or parsley.

Flavorwalla Braised Chicken

One of the many New Yorkers we lost after Covid19 diagnosis is Chef Floyd Cardoz. I knew him through Tabla: his Mumbai origin and training was never lost on me.

While sheltering-in-place, I pay tribute to him by adapting one of his creations from his book Flavorwalla (the title cracks me up and it’s so apt for his talents). I further simplify his simple dish and turn into a balanced, one-pot dish. The result is absolutely delicious– hence this post. I thought I was taking a risk by adding apple, pear and dijon mustard to the protein– but the tangy, mustardy stew will steal your heart. Enjoy fresh and refrigerate the left-over!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Dutch oven (Le Cruset).

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 skin-less, bone-in chicken thighs, marinaded in a ziplock bag for 2 hrs, in 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste + 1 tbsp coriander powder + 1 tbsp Rosemary leaves + 1/4 cup EVOO
  • Aromatics: 1 medium onion, diced + 2 pods garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • Vegetables, cut into large 1.5 inch chunks: 1 large potato + 2 carrots + 1/2 fennel bulb
  • Greens: Napa cabbage cut into large pieces + 2 cups of spinach leaves
  • Fruits, cut into 1 inch chunks: 1 green apple cored + 1 pear cored
  • 2nd Flavor layer: 2 tbsp Dijon mustard + crushed chilli flakes
  • Grain: 1 cup quinoa

METHOD

Heat the dutch oven with the chicken and its marinade. When heated through and lightly browned on all sides, add the aromatic ingredients and cook till fragrant (2 minutes). Then add the vegetables, salt-to-taste and cook covered in oven at 375 F for 20 minutes.

Heat the chicken stock (in a microwave). Add to the dutch oven along with Napa cabbage, fruits, 2nd layer flavor ingredients, grains and salt to taste. Mix well, cover and cook at reduced heat (350 F) for 20 minutes. Take off the heat. Fold in the spinach leaves.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. Since we are adding vegetables in layers, the oven is a better option than a pressure cooker. Also, if you decide to cook on the stove-top instead of the oven, you must use a heavy bottomed pan, particularly for the first half of the cookin.
  2. The chicken is tender enough to be pulled off the bones.
  3. You can also use parsnips, turnips etc.
  4. Same for greens- escarole, kale, chard.
  5. Same for grains- couscous, fonio (adjust the cooking time).
  6. The dots in the photograph are the multi-colored quinoa and the specks of dijon mustard.

Root Cakes: Three Ways

Want to take your mind off the pandemic for a few hours ? The produce sections of the groceries are still bursting. Perhaps not the canned and frozen sections, but we don’t much care about those, do we ? Here is something good for your body, that is even better to your palate! These root vegetable cakes are so delicious that you will forget you are sheltering-in-place.

There are enough cakes to even feed your neighbors. But at this time of physical distancing you can only wave to them; so simply freeze the excess.

SPECIAL TOOLS:

Food processor, waffle maker (optional).

INGREDIENTS

  • Peel and shred in the coarse blade of your food processor:
    1/2 celeriac root + 1 large beet + 1/2 fennel bulb + 1 sweet potato
  • Aromatics and seasonings: 2 medium onions sliced + 1 large jalapeno thinly sliced + 1/4 cup ponzu sauce + 1 tbsp garlic salt
  • Tignum (to hold together): 1/4 cup oil + 1 cup besan

METHOD

You may have to cut each into chunks that your processor can ingest. Add all ingredients and combine gently till the mixture holds together lightly. Taste and adjust seasonings. This results in roughly 8 cups of mixture which gives about 20 patties. Here are 3 different ways to cook the patties.

On skillet in medium heat: Lightly oil the the skillet and heat. Make 3 large lemon sized balls and place on the skillet. After about 1 minute, gently flatten the balls with a spatula (till they take the shape of crab cakes). After about 3 minutes –when bottom is browned– flip and cook on the other side for about 2 minutes or so.

At 375 F in oven: Line a baking tray with silicone mat. Place lemon sized balls, well-space, on the mat. Then gently flatten them and tuck in the shreds that stick out. Bake for 15-20 mins. Flip each and bake for another 5 mins.

Waffle maker: Follow instructions on your waffle maker. Use about 3/4 cup in the center of the waffle plate.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:

  1. You can use a melange of your favorite vegetables (such as turnips, parsnips, carrots, kohlrabi and such). For cabbage, check out the cabbage rolls.
  2. You can use a mixture of soy sauce and lime/lemon juice instead of Ponzu sauce. Just soy sauce is fine too.
  3. Needless to specify, garlic salt can be substituted with 1 tsp garlic powder and salt to taste.
  4. Make sure that it binds lightly with the besan and doesn’t get too doughy.