We want more Ottolenghi sweeps us away (again) with Plenty More

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We were more than a bit skeptical about a simple pot of beans that takes a whole five hours to cook.

But when the instructions come by the way of chef (and vegetable guru) Yotam Ottolenghi, we’re inclined to shove our prejudices to the side.

Ottolenghi is the man behind the new Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi ($35). It’s a follow-up to his 2011 stunner, Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi. This most recent book is set to be just as much of a phenomenon: it was sitting pretty as the #1 bestseller in Amazon’s Vegetarian Cooking category before it was even released. If any man is responsible for sexying up vegetables in the past couple of years, it’s him.

We think Ottolenghi’s secret rests in his deep dive into Middle Eastern flavors and his commitment to serving vegetables, grains and legumes every-which-way. He will blow the doors off your senses with recipes like a pink grapefruit and sumac-spiced salad; a saffron, date and almond rice; and a brussels sprout risotto.

Scroll down to try this slow-cooked chickpea recipe  Photo credit: Jonathan Lovekin

 His wholly original approach also applies to this bean dish, with a paste of tomatoes, cayenne pepper, paprika and a poached egg served on the side. Besides the cooking time, it’s a completely low maintenance dish—try it on a quiet weekend where you can soak the chickpeas the night before and let a pot simmer away on the stove the next day.

He says, “The result more than won over my fellow recipe testers—the chickpeas are impossibly soft and yielding and the flavor is rich and deep in a way that only slow cooking can bring about.”

Ottolenghi also helpfully notes that, “It tastes fantastic the next day and the day after that, so you might want to double the quantities and keep a batch in the fridge. A spoonful of Greek yogurt can be served alongside each portion, if you like.”

CP Note: We recommend using a sprouted grain bread and coconut palm sugar.

  Serves Four

Rounded 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in water

overnight with 2 teaspoons baking soda

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 tbsp to finish

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 ½ teaspoons tomato paste

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

2 medium red peppers, cut into ¼-inch

dice (about 1 ¼  cups)

1 beefsteak tomato, peeled and coarsely

chopped (1 ⅔ cups)

½ teaspoon superfine sugar

4 slices sourdough bread brushed with olive oil

and grilled on both sides

4 eggs, freshly poached

2 teaspoons za’atar

Salt and black pepper

1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and place them in a large saucepan with plenty of water. Place over high heat, bring to a boil, skim the surface, and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Place the oil, onion, garlic, tomato paste, cayenne, paprika, red peppers, 1 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper in a food processor and blitz to form a paste.

3. Wipe out the chickpea saucepan, return it to the stove over medium heat, and add the paste. Fry for 5 minutes (there’s enough oil there to allow for this), stirring occasionally, before adding the tomato, sugar, chickpeas, and a scant 1 cup water. Bring to a low simmer, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat for 4 hours, stirring from time to time and adding more water when needed to retain a sauce-like consistency. Remove the lid and cook for a final hour: the sauce needs to thicken without the chickpeas becoming dry.

4. Place a piece of warm grilled bread on each plate and spoon the chickpeas over the bread. Lay a poached egg on top, followed by a sprinkle of za’atar and a drizzle of oil. Serve at once.

One fish, two fish… Fill your freezer with just-caught fish

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When it comes to sustainable seafood, sorting out what-is-what is nothing but (excuse the expression) a giant kettle of fish. Worries about overfishing, contaminants like mercury and other serious health and ecological issues are constantly in flux.

But there’s a new way to keep fish as part of your diet, without having a total panic attack.

The folks at ShopFreshSeafood have introduced a Wild for Wild Seafood Package ($104; includes free overnight shipping, plus 10% off for first time orders) that includes two whole wild New Zealand John Dory, two whole wild New Zealand Thai Snapper and two pounds of wild New Jersey Diver Scallops from Barnegate Bay that are so sweet and fresh they can be eaten raw.

Everything in the pack is “either caught or farmed in ways that consider the long-term vitality of harvested species and the well-being of the oceans,” says owner Megan Grippa.

Megan Grippa (right), owner of ShopFreshSeafood knows her fish (and shellfish and crustaceans and other delicious ocean proteins)

Based out of The New Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx, this four-generation family-run business can get fish to your door faster (and fresher) than the stuff that ends up at your neighborhood store. Since the pack includes way more fish than is needed for a single dinner, use Grippa’s trick for freezing fish. “Remember that air is the enemy when it comes to freezing your fish, ” she says. “I usually wrap it tightly in saran wrap and then wrap it again in aluminum foil. Make sure to mark the outside with the type of fish and the date.”

Being confident that what you are buying has been responsibly raised or sustainably caught means you can stop freaking out and instead concentrate on cooking the fish (and the accompanying those heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids) in the most delicious way possible.

CP Note: To get started on a journey towards eating more sustainable fish, consider checking out: For Cod and Country: Simple, Delicious, Sustainable Cooking and Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to Understanding, Selecting, and Preparing Healthy, Delicious, and Environmentally Sustainable Seafood.

To be or not to be FODMAP-free? How to rid yourself of bad digestion symptoms without stressing out

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Scoot over gluten: FODMAPs may take your throne as the number one villain to the villi.

If you’re actually able to keep up with your New Yorker subscription, then you probably read this week’s article on gluten and how FODMAPs might be the real menace. But before you start buying FODMAP-free waffles, read on so you don’t end up sounding like this.

If not properly digested, FODMAPs—Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosacharides and Polyols; aka a bunch of different sugars—can feed the bad gut bacteria and lead to various symptoms including gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation. (Sounds like a fun night out!)

Eat a plant-heavy, whole-food diet free of processed foods, focusing on the bevy of things you can enjoy, not what you can’t.

 

Many high FODMAP foods are things we would all be better off consuming less of: like milk, processed foods, HFCS and artificial sweeteners. But there are also many nutrient-rich foods that are on that “no-no” list. So while the FODMAP-free diet may be a framework for experimenting with how different foods make us feel, before we start boycotting blackberries and avocados, it’s important to remember that stress is also a major contributor to the aforementioned symptoms.

Start addressing your digestive woes without the anxiety of having to memorize hundreds of foods’ FODMAP levels by trying these easy tips for ten days:

1. Eat a plant-heavy, whole-food diet free of processed foods, focusing on the bevy of things you can enjoy, not what you can’t.

2. Introduce probiotic-rich foods or supplements into your routine.

3. Stop scarfing your food down. Chew before swallowing and breathe between bites.

What the heck is a FODMAP?

Clean Habits: Victor Scargle How a locavore Napa Valley chef keeps it clean

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Life is sweet at Lucy Restaurant & Bar located at the LEED Platinum-certified Bardessono hotel in Napa Valley. There, everything revolves around the garden, which is situated only steps from the restaurant’s kitchen. The question “is it local?” doesn’t even need to be asked, because as executive chef Victor Scargle says, “Our entire menu is created with fresh produce pulled directly from our garden, which is just steps away from the kitchen. We don’t use heavy sauces, either, so you can’t go wrong.” Read on to learn how this chef applies Lucy’s eco-spirit to his daily life.

What’s a typical day of eating like for you?

I always start my day with a cup of tea and a bowl of oatmeal. I also drink a lot of iced tea throughout the day because it provides caffeine and hydration. It’s very refreshing in a hot kitchen, as well.

Do you follow any sort of diet?

I don’t follow a strict diet, but I try not to eat after 9 p.m.

“I focus everyday on balance: exercise, work, family and fun.”

How do you stay balanced and healthy while working in the restaurant industry?

In a perfect world I would be doing 3 to 4 days a week of cardio and one day a week of conditioning with my son’s Tae Kwon Do competition team. I also mix in some light-weight/high-repetition work for toning, focusing on abdominals and lower back to help support the hours standing in the kitchen. I also enjoy swimming and riding a dirt bike once in awhile and, in the summer months, wakeboarding.

How do you incorporate sustainability into your life at home and in the restaurants?

I focus everyday on balance: exercise, work, family and fun. The old days of it being cool to work 15 hours a day has been proven to be less productive. It’s important to step away to come back and have a clearer picture of what is going on.

Anything new or upcoming that you are particularly excited about?

This time of year I look forward to many of the wonderful forgotten fruits like pineapple, quince, pomegranate and Fuyu persimmon, as well as all of the different apples and pears that are available locally.

 

Watch an interview with Chef Victor Scargle

Salt-N-Pepa Jackson's Honest is our potato chip of choice

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We really can’t sugarcoat this one: Potato chips aren’t a health food.

That said, when those potato-chips-necessary moments do strike, we will now be reaching for Jackson’s Honest Chips.

Fried in non-GMO organic coconut oil Jackson’s Honest Chips ($5 for 5 ounces) are clean tasting, robust and totally delicious. Megan and Scott Reamer call their chips a “what you see is what you get” product. For their classic variety, organic non-GMO potatoes are fried in coconut oil and sprinkled with sea salt. Other varieties include salt and vinegar, sweet potato and a kicky mango chile-lime version.

Coconut oil is a minimally processed oil, high in that good saturated fat you probably keep reading about (read more here). It is also rich in lauric acid and ideal for frying because of its stability at high temperatures.

The Family behind Honest chips: Scott and Megan reamer with their kids.

The Reamer’s even fry according to the seasons. When the organic heirloom sweet potato harvest runs out, you’ll have to wait until the fall crop rolls in for a new batch. Lucky for us, that’s just about now.

The story behind these chips is an emotional one. Shortly after the Reamer’s first son, Jackson, turned two, he gradually lost all of his motor skills. As the couple criss-crossed the country visiting specialists and searching for answers, they also radically changed their diet. “After my husband and I recognized how important a ‘good fat’ diet was to Jackson’s health, we immediately replaced all the industrialized, highly processed polyunsaturated vegetable oils in our house. We started cooking exclusively with coconut oil, lard, tallow, palm oil, unrefined olive oil or unpasteurized butter,” says Megan.

The chips may have been born in their home kitchen (where they like to dip the sweet potato chips in melted chocolate) in Crested Butte, Colorado, but the Reamer’s see the chips today as more than a family-owned business: “It’s a movement to re-introduce healthy fats into the food chain,” they say.

 
Click here for a chance to WIN 6 packs of Jackson’s Honest Chips + a t-shirt!

Super Duper New superfoods from Navitas come to the rescue

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We may not be superheroes, but incorporating superfoods into our diets in simple ways makes us feel that we can take on whatever the day throws at us.

Navitas is all about superfoods: The family-owned company has been around since 2003 when “superfood” was just a fledgling buzzword, and every single one of its products is certified organic and Non-GMO Project verified. And from a vanity standpoint, the resealable, BPA-free packaging looks great in our pantry.

Navitas has recently released a frenzy of new products. Here are the three new-to-us superfoods that we are most pumped about:

Green Coffee Powder ($15 for 4 ounces): This isn’t something out of a Dr. Seuss story, rather it’s made from young, unroasted Arabica coffee beans that are picked in Peru. The fiber-rich powder contains about the same amount of caffeine as green tea and can boost energy, support metabolism and aid digestion, but the flavor is tenacious, so we won’t be sipping this on it’s own. Instead, try blending it into your morning smoothie (try this banana bread smoothie) or combining it with cacao.

Three new-to-us superfoods

Maca Cashews ($7 for 4 ounces): These mildly sweet raw cashews are enveloped in fatigue-fighting maca powder harvested in the Andes, along with sea salt and a hint of maple syrup and coconut palm sugar. With a creamy soft texture and a butterscotch-like flavor, this is one snack we don’t want to share.

Mulberries ($7 for 4 ounces): Though we might have sung “Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush” umpteen times as tots, we’ve never had these chewy, white berries as part of our diet. We’re changing that by plopping these fig-like berries from Turkey on our morning granola for a boost of protein (three grams per ounce) and resveratrol, the anti-aging nutrient also found in red wine.
Recipes from Navitas Naturals

Sister, Sister Reboot your food approach with the Hemsley's

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For shame.

You haven’t heard of what’s been called “the most popular cookbook all year”?

That would be Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley’s, The Art of Eating Well: Hemsley and Hemsley ($35).

We’ll give you a pass because it is only being released in the U.S. today. It’s been out in the United Kingdom since June, and everyone from The Telegraph to Vogue has been heaping them with high praise. Now, across the pond, it’s our turn to go Hemsley crazy.

So what’s all the fuss about?

Struggles with IBS, eczema and acid reflux drove the sisters towards a diet that is free of grain, gluten, high starch and refined sugar, while encouraging the use of high-quality organic saturated fats. They expanded their ideas into a business supplying bespoke nutrient rich organic food to private clients.

“Anti-diet, anti-deprivation and anti-guilt…there is no fad dieting here.” Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley

The philosophy behind their book is “Anti-diet, anti-deprivation and anti-guilt…You don’t need to be a gourmet chef, count calories, go hungry, or miss out on dessert—there is no fad dieting here.”

To toast their stateside-debut, whip up a batch of their three-ingredient, no-cooking-required Instant Blueberry Chia Jam. Unlike cooked jams full of sugar, this chia jam will only last for about a week in the fridge—but it is so tasty that it will be gone well before you hit that mark.

Makes one 14-ounce Jar

6½ ounces fresh or frozen blueberries

2½ tablespoons chia seeds

1 to 2½ teaspoons raw honey (depending on your sweet  tooth—we find frozen blueberries are usually less sweet)

Optional

½ teaspoon vanilla extract and a squeeze of lemon juice

1. Mash the berries or blend them in a food processor.

2. Mix in the chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of warm water and 1 teaspoon of the honey. Stir well to stop clumps forming or make it straight in the jar and shake to mix.

3. Keep the chia jam sealed in a jar in the fridge to set for at least an hour or until needed.

4.Taste and stir in a little more honey, if needed.

 

 
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Cook it Now: Shishito Peppers These perky peppers are not just a pre-sushi snack

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Shishito peppers: We hardly knew thee.

Formerly, we thought of the plump, glossy-green peppers in one arena only: blistered, sea-salted and served as a pre-main course snack.

But that’s all changed since we met Noah Robbins, the CEO and Founder of Ark Foods. His Brooklyn-born company is committed to spreading the love about the little green guy.

On the Scoville scale, the shishito hits a peppy sweet spot that falls below the jalapeno’s assertive punch and above the bell pepper’s mellowness. A serving of shishitos(about 7-9 peppers) also provides 170% of your daily Vitamin C and 80% of your daily Vitamin A. Robbins also let us in on a shishito secret that keeps eating them interesting: One in ten has an extra spice kick.

Robbins, a second generation farmer, left his gallery job in Chelsea to connect back with his roots when he realized he couldn’t find the makings for his favorite appetizer anywhere. Now he’s got a Delray, Florida farm bursting with shishitos and almost as many ideas for how to prepare them as he does non-GMO seeds in the ground.

Shishitos ares an easy substitute for French fries or popcorn and as a flavor force in dishes like this fresh gazpacho recipe.

While the pepper’s thin-walls make it an ideal roasting candidate, there is so much more to be done with a pile of them. Think of shishitos as an easy substitute for French fries or popcorn and as a flavor force in dishes like this fresh gazpacho recipe. Try roasting a batch and using them on tacos, as an easy salsa over morning eggs or on crostini with a slick of ricotta and honey.

Look for Ark Foods peppers at these stores, or ask for shishitos at your local farmers’ market through the fall.

1 package (4 oz.) Ark Foods Shishito Peppers (about 15 to 18)

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes—peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup cucumber—peeled, seeded and chopped

1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup tomato juice

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Sliced avocado, for serving

Cilantro, for serving

Sour cream, for serving

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. With a paring knife, score the bottom of the tomatoes with an X. Drop the tomatoes and shishito peppers into the boiling water. Remove tomatoes after 15 seconds. Remove the shishitos after 3 minutes. Transfer both to an ice bath and let cool for about 1 minute. Remove and pat dry.

2. Stem and coarsely chop the shishitos and place in a large bowl. Peel, core and seed the tomatoes and add to the shishitos. Add 1/2 cup tomato juice to the mixture. Add the cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno, garlic clove, olive oil, lime juice, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the mixture into a blender and puree at high speed for 15 seconds. Return the pureed mixture to the bowl and stir to combine. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.

3. Serve the gazpacho with avocado, sour cream and cilantro.

Life Extenders Products to keep everything in your fridge fresher, longer

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We know we are not the only ones who have experienced that dreaded bottom-of-the-fridge green slime (formerly known as vegetables).

When we invest good money in good, clean food, we’ll do anything to make sure that it doesn’t turn into compost before we are ready for it to. So this season, we’re stocking up on these three easy fixes that ensure all the fresh food in our refrigerator will stay that way.

1. FreshTape: Tired of unwieldy bag clips and stale chips or freezer burned food? So were the inventors of this resealable, reusable food packaging tape ($10 for 18). FreshTape is recyclable, BPA- and phthalate-free and also made in the USA. Plus the tape comes in just about every design imaginable: Choose from bible quotes, retro housewife and animal print designs, and more.

Freshtape even has cat prints! that’s right—cat prints! Click to watch

2. Debbie Meyer GreenBags: These American-made, BPA-free bags ($20 for 30 bags) might have hokey packaging, but repeated tests in our home kitchens with everything from kale to carrots have us sold on them. The bags extend the life of produce by absorbing ethylene gas, which is released from fruits and vegetables as they ripen.

3. Abeego Beeswax Wraps: Beeswax isn’t just for candles: Abeego products ($10 to $25) are made from a hemp and organic cotton blend coated with a combination of beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. The result is a collection of super-malleable flat sheets and wraps that adhere to virtually any solid food or container. We use our Abeego wraps to cover dinner leftovers, tote around snacks and keep a halved avocado fresh.

Fermentation nation Everything's better with a little fermentation

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Fermentation: Sounds like something that you don’t want anywhere near the inside of your kitchen, right?

Far, far from it, Brander Byers, the creator of FermUp.com and the author of The Everyday Fermentation Handbook: A Real-Life Guide to Fermenting Food—Without Losing Your Mind or Your Microbes, says we all need to be embracing fermentation in a big way.

His refreshingly clear book makes a resounding case for microbial transformation, from the positive probiotic effects of fermented foods, to saving money and having fun by making sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, sourdough bread and kombucha at home.

Start playing around with some recipes and along with expanding your gut flora, you may just broaden your palate too. Byer admits, “Although a picky eater as a child, I now crave the complex, intense, and sometimes funky flavors of fermented foods.”

Brandon Byers: Fermentation generalist and author of The Everyday Fermentation Handbook

The bacteria filled world is yours for the taking: “Start simple with something that sounds appetizing and the next thing you know, you may have a zoo of microbial diversity fermenting in your home, too,” says Byers.

We’re taking the cue and starting with his simple (three ingredients!), but elegant lacto- fermented leek rings. In the recipe, leeks, sea salt, thyme and naturally-occurring lactic acid bacteria combine to mellow out the leeks. When the rings are ready, celebrate your fermentation project by trying them with goat cheese on a toasted cracker.

Yield: 1 quart

Prep time: 10 minutes

Fermentation: 3–6 weeks

Salt: 5% brine

4 large leeks, sliced into 1⁄4 inch rounds

700 grams (3 cups) water

35 grams (21⁄2 tablespoons) sea salt

8 grams (2 tablespoons) thyme

1. Gently transfer the leeks to a quart-size jar while attempting to keep most of the inner rings intact. Combine the water, sea salt, and thyme in a separate jar or bowl until the salt dissolves. Pour the sea salt brine over the leeks until submerged. Weighing down the leeks below the brine is optional but not necessary if checked regularly.

2. Leave to ferment, away from direct sunlight, for at least 3 weeks until leeks are tender.

3. Make certain to release any CO2 buildup in the first week by quickly opening and closing the lid.

4. Taste and when fermentation is to your liking, move to long-term storage (i.e., refrigerator, basement, root cellar).

 

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