Quick Noodles

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Yesterday was one of those Sundays when there are not real meal times. We started our Sunday with a late breakfast and at about 4.00 o’clock I began to hear voices emerge from behind screens claiming starvation. I had been preparing lessons for Monday and therefore also had to separate myself from my screen to think of how to solve this starvation situation. The solution it had to be a quick one since I wasn’t done preparing my lessons, so I opened a package of tofu I found in the fridge and decided not to allow myself to get flustered by the starvation taking place around me and by not yet having finished my school work and go ahead, try to make the best out the ingredients I had at hand and enjoy a cooking moment. What came out was quite attractive, tasty and very agreeable to the fuzzy starving eaters.Noodles with Tofu Coated with Chia Seeds

Quick Noodles with Tofu dusted with Chia Seeds 

Tofu
1 package of tofu cut in medium size cubes
3 Tbs. corn flour or tapioca flour
2 Tbs. chia seeds
a dusting of oregano
a pinch of sea salt
a dusting of smoked pimiento
oil for shallow frying

Noodles
1 package of udon noodles
broccoli cut in small florets
1/2 cucumber cut in small cubes
1 medium carrot grated

Dressing
3 Tbs.shoyu or tamari
1 Tbs. balsamico
2 tbs. olive oil
1 clove of garlic minced

1 red bell pepper cut in fine cubes
1 nori leaf per person

-in a wide bowl mix the corn flour, chia, oregano, salt and pimiento
-add the tofu cubes, cover the bowl and shake it to cover all the tofu cubes with the mixture
-in a wide frying pan heat the frying oil and fry the tofu cubes until golden brown

-boil the noodle as you normally would.
-towards the end of the cooking time throw in the broccoli and cook for another 2 minutes or until the broccoli turns bright green
-rinse the noodles and broccoli with cold water and put in a nice serving bowl
-grate the carrots directly into the bowl and add the cut cucumber
-give it a good stir
-in a glass mix the dressing ingredients
-pour dressing on top of the noodles
-mix in the fried tofu with the noodles
-mix in the dressing
-sprinkle with the red peppers
-adjust seasoning by drizzling with a little extra olive oil or shoyu or tamari if desired
-serve sprinkled with finely cut pieces of nori and minced parsley or fresh coriander

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Sweetness

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I had promised myself and my Facebook page to post this post today and it is now tomorrow! But if going to bed late counts as today then I’m all right.
These are two recipes I made this week.The brownies I’ve made millions of times and they work really well(arrowroot being the magic ingredient).  Muffins were part of today’s breakfast. My twelve year old daughter will not eat another bowl of porridge, which seems to be a tradition with twelve year old girls in this family. For years our family was totally happy eating nice large bowls of porridge of all sorts for breakfast, but as the kids got older they began to reject this tradition for something less “bulky”. This has made breakfast a bit more complicated for me since the old trusted bowl of porridge has been boycotted. Specially on cold, rainy Dutch school mornings it’s not always easy to magically create a nutritious breakfast out of the blue, which will sustain everyone until noon. However on lazy Saturdays or Sundays mornings a healthy muffin and a nice cup of tea can be a nice way to start off the day. The parsnip-carrot idea came about because I didn’t have enough carrots in the house this morning(what kind of nut has more parsnip the carrots in the fridge?). It turned out to give the muffins a nice natural sweetness, and as a result 8 tablespoons of sucanat were enough. Great breakfast muffins!

Fudgy Brownies

1 whole wheat or spelt cup flour(you can try substituting 4 tbs of the flour with coconut flour)
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup arrowroot
1-11/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 water
1/3 light olive oil
1/2 chopped nuts

-mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl
-mix all the wet ingredients in another bowl
-beat the dry ingredients into the wet
-cover a square baking pan with wax paper and pour in the batter
-bake for about 25 minutes at 180* C

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Carrot Parsnip Muffins

2 cups flour(1/2 whole and 1/2 white)
1/4 coconut flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbs maca
3 tbs. flax seeds
1/2 cup olive oil
8 tbs. sucanat
1 cup soy milk
cinnamon
1 cup grated carrot and 1 cup grated parsnip

-in a bowl mix all the dry ingredients
-in another bowl mix all the wet ingredients
-mix wet and dry ingredients together and add the grated veggies

-pour batter in muffin tins and bake at 180* C for about 20 minutes

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Pearl Couscous

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I am really into one dish meals lately, which I think must have to do with my very, very busy life at the moment. For this year’s new years resolution I am committing to not abandoning the things that I really enjoy doing because of being caught in the routine of daily life. Cooking is one of those things I really enjoy doing, but in order to do that I can’t always expect myself to be making fancy dinners requiring lots of time. So yes, I am excited about rediscovering the beauty in the simplicity of simple meals. Pilafs and one pan meals which include grains, beans and veggies are great at doing this job. They are not only nutritious, uncomplicated and delicious but also beautiful to look at.

After wondering around the biggest outdoor market in Amsterdam last Saturday, I came home with lots of treats which I can’t buy in my neighborhood market. One of these treats is Pearl Couscous, otherwise known as Israeli Couscous or Ptitim. For those who are not familiar with it, it’s made from wheat just like most couscous, but the grains are larger and chewier, something in between pasta and whole grain, which has a very appealing and light feel to it. It is quick and definitely an elegant addition to your repertoire.

Pearl Couscous Pilaf

2 3/4 cups vegetable broth(which I didn’t have) or water(I used water boiled with a couple of crushed garlic cloves, a 1/2 tsp of sea salt and a tsp. of olive oil)
2 1/4 cups pearl couscous
1 eggplant cut in small cubes, sparkled with salt
2 bell peppers cut in big pieces
1 or 2 carrots cut in smallish cubes
3 cups of cooked chickpeas (can use canned)
a handful of chopped kale
a handful of roasted pine nuts

-roast the eggplant, peppers and carrots in the oven at 230* C. until the veggies are done
-in the mean time cook the couscous in the boiling hot broth(or water), simmer for about 12 minutes until the grains are cooked but not overcooked(they shouldn’t stick to each other.
-when the couscous and the vegetable are done, mix it all in an attractive serving dish
-add the kale and chickpeas and stir in the dressing and serve.

Dressing:
the juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbs. shoyu
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. harissa(or to taste)
1/2 tsp. powder cumin

-stir everything together in a small cup or bowl

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Real Food

Buckwheat Pilaf

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I love when food looks like food, when it doesn’t pretend to be something else, when it is not ornamented with weird contraptions, when the end product is clearly traceable to its original source, when it smells like it was cooked by people, when the process is not hidden, when it is art not because it has “make-up” on but because it is so beautiful, natural, colorful, delicious, nourishing and satisfying that it fills me with a sense of wonder for the transformative power and imagination that we people have to keep ourselves alive with the wonderful and pure products that nature so abundantly provides us with.
Here are two very, very simple dishes I made this week, which I thought were so simple and attractive that there were worth sharing

Buckwheat Pilaf
2 cups of buckwheat rinsed
2 1/4 cups water
2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion cut in small cubes
2 or 3 garlic cloves minced
1 large carrot diced
1 cube of vegetable bouillon
1 tsp. turmeric powder
a pinch of saffron
a handful of currants
a handful of roasted pine nuts

-in a deep pan warm the olive oil
-add the garlic, stir and quickly after add the onion
-stir a bit at medium fire
-add the carrots, the vegetable bouillon cube(crumbled), the turmeric and the saffron
-saute a bit, then add the buckwheat
-saute a bit more and add the water and a pinch of salt
-bring to a boil, lower the heat and place a flame deflector under the pan
-cook covered for about 20 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the buckwheat is cooked
-turn off fire
-add the currants and pine nuts and mix gently with a fork
-garnish with lots of parsley and tomatoes chopped in small cubes
-serve with a salad and a nice glass of white wine

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Potato Mash with Mushroom Garnish

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Mashed Potatoes with Mushroom Garnish

a buch of potatoes
olive oil
sea salt
4 cups of sliced or chopped mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/4 cup soy milk

-boil the potatoes until they are soft
-get rid of the cooking water and pure the potatoes with a hand blender, adding salt and a generous(reasonably generous) amount of olive oil and about a tsp. of salt to create a very smooth puree
-put puree in a baking form, make it flat and smooth and drizzle with a bit of olive oil, and soy milk
-sprinkle with black pepper
-bake at 200* c. for about 15 minutes or until it begins to get a nice toasty color on top
-take out of the oven and sprinkle the sautéed mushrooms on top

Mushrooms
-saute the mushrooms with the garlic and olive oil until the liquid has disappeared and they have become quite dry.

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