Monday, November 22, 2021

Nova Crisp Grain Free Cassava Chips

Another of my favorite products from the 2021 Fancy Food Show is Nova Crisp Cassava Crisps. I have been eating (almost entirely but not quite) gluten-free for two years now and find myself craving crispy things all the time. I love potato chips, but there are only so many chips this gal can eat! I already love cassava, and use cassava flour in baking all the time, so when I found these! I was so excited! Nova Crisps are gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, vegan, and air-popped, not fried. And they taste so good.

They are indeed crisp, and have a cool dish-shape, which  makes them the perfect vehicle for dips and
toppings. I've even used them to make mini ice-cream sandwiches! (I recommend the Sea Salt flavor for this...not sure the Maui onion, BBQ, or Vegan White Cheddar would work.) 

I've also used Nova Crisp Cassava Crisps on a charcuterie plate, as they are great with cheese, cured meats, and whathaveyou, but my favorite application has been as a vehicle to get things like tuna or egg salad into my mouth. 

I call these little guys, "Banh Mi Bites" because the flavors and textures reminded me a bit of one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the Vietnamese banh mi. The tuna is spicy, with the natural fishiness of the fish standing in for fish sauce; the broccoli slaw provides a similar texture to the customary pickled carrot and daikon. You could probably use plain tuna mixed with mayo with added lime juice, garlic, and a bit of sugar to mimic the flavors of Vietnam's favorite dipping sauce, nuoc cham. Add fish sauce, too, if you want more umami, and hot sauce or a slice of fresh jalapeno for heat. A little diced cucumber wouldn't be out of place on these, either. 

Banh Mi Bites

1 pouch Starkist Tuna Creations Bold Red Curry with Coconut, Thai Chili, or Sriracha style
handful broccoli slaw or cole slaw mix
lime juice
cherry tomatoes
8 - 10 Nova Crisp Cassava Crisps, sea salt or Maui onion flavor

Put the tuna in a bowl and add the broccoli slaw mix. Stir in a teaspoon of mayo or so to make the mixture creamy and season with lime juice and a pinch of salt. Throw in a little chopped cilantro if you like. Mound the mixture onto the Nova Crisps, garnishing with a quarter of a cherry tomato and a little cilantro. 

Serves 1.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Thursday, November 11, 2021

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Yogurt Sauce, and Carrot Salad

I'm a huge fan of cauliflower and have enjoyed it since I was a kid. I can eat it boiled into mush with butter and salt, no problem, but my husband would rather something more interesting be done with this particular veg. Luckily, cauliflower takes to seasoning pretty well, so adding a rub or sauce make a big difference in the flavor (though your house will still smell of cauliflower).

I've been craving Mediterranean/North African flavors, so when I received a jar of their Moroccan Grill Spice Rub from Serious Foodie, I knew I was going to be putting it on everything. It has a harissa vibe, but I don't find it nearly as spicy-hot. Moroccan Grill Spice Rub gets its chile vibe from guajillo chiles, which are on the mild side but have a great fruity/smoky quality. In any case, I knew it would be a flavorful addition to a dish of cauliflower with a tahini yogurt sauce. Figuring a sweet-ish element wouldn't be unwelcome on this plate, I also made a shredded carrot salad. Hubby doesn't like couscous, so quinoa acted as a stand-in neutrally-flavored starchy element to the meal.

Cauliflower always looks nice cut into "steaks," but don't freak out if your cauliflower doesn't cooperate! Sometimes it just doesn't work out. To be very honest, the time I made this recipe to photograph, I got only one nice steak, and the rest fell apart into large florets. Everything but the smallest crumbles went onto the baking sheet and got coated in marinade, and it all tasted great. 

Moroccan Spiced Cauliflower Steaks with Tahini Yogurt Sauce, and Carrot Salad

For the carrot salad:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Serious Foodie Moroccan Grill Spice Rub
1/4 teaspoon dill seeds
maple syrup or pomegranate molasses (optional)
2 cups shredded carrot (either prepackaged from the produce department or shredded in your food processor or box grater)
Chopped fresh parsley, mint, and/or cilantro, about 1/2 cup combined

For the marinade:
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt 
1 tablespoon Serious Foodie Moroccan Grill Spice Rub
large pinch of salt

For the tahini yogurt sauce:
1/2 cup yogurt marinade
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons tahini 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
Plain steamed couscous or quinoa, made according to package directions and kept warm
Additional chopped fresh parsley, mint, and/or cilantro
Additional Serious Foodie Moroccan Grill Spice Rub

To make the salad:
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lemon, Serious Foodie Moroccan Grill Spice Rub, and a small pinch of salt. If you think it is too tart, add a bit of maple syrup or pomegranate molasses for a hint of sweetness. Put the carrots in another, larger, bowl and pour over the dressing, tossing to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Stir in the herbs just before serving.

To make the marinade:
Stir together the yogurt and Serious Foodie Moroccan Grill Spice Rub with a large pinch of salt. Place half the sauce in a separate bowl. Refrigerate marinade until ready to use.

To make the sauce:
Combine remaining yogurt marinade in a food processor with the other sauce ingredients and pulse until completely blended. Alternatively, put everything in a medium bowl and stir vigorously--I find that a fork works better than a spoon for something like this. Thin with water, if necessary, to get a nice sauce consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the cauliflower:
Preheat oven to 400F. 

Remove the leaves from the cauliflower and trim the end of the stem. Cut the cauliflower from top to stem into "steaks," about 3/4"-1" thick. Reserve any broken cauliflower for another use. Place the cauliflower steaks on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and, using a pastry brush, coat the tops with a thick layer of the yogurt marinade (using about half). Place the pan into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and carefully flip the steaks over. Brush the tops with the remaining yogurt and return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender but not mushy. Turn on the broiler and broil the steaks for an additional 3-4 minutes until there are some charred spots.

Spoon some couscous or quinoa into a shallow bowl. Top with a cauliflower steak. Add a portion of carrot salad on the side. Drizzle cauliflower with tahini sauce. Sprinkle on some chopped herbs and a bit of the Moroccan Grill Spice Rub.

Feeds 3-4, depending on the size of the cauliflower.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Tuesday, November 02, 2021

Oomame Chile Crisp Ice Cream

Moroccan Oomame on Oatmeal with feta
One of my favorite products discovered at the 2021 Fancy Food Show was Oomame's line of globally-influenced chile crisps. Originally from China, chile crisp has become a popular condiment among chile-heads and others who enjoy a flavorful bit of spice plus crunchy texture. It's great on dumplings, but also pizza, pasta, and just about everything else. What I like about Oomame's product is that it comes in four varieties - a classic Sichuan style, plus others borrowing flavor profiles from Mexico, Morocco, and India. While I still like to use the Sichuan version on typically savory dishes, I have found that the dried fruits in the other varieties (fig in Moroccan, papaya in Indian, Mango in Mexican) add a subtle sweetness that makes them also work well with foods that are traditionally sweeter. Try a drizzle of Moroccan Oomame with a sprinkle of feta cheese on your next bowl of ice cream--rather than the usual brown sugar or maple syrup and fruit--for something totally unexpected and totally delicious. But let's push that proverbial envelope a bit, shall we?

Some ice cream shops in Sichuan province have taken to drizzling chile oil on vanilla soft serve. And while a chile crisp sundae seems like a fine idea, I took it even further by putting chile crisp in ice cream. Yes, I did! The Mexican-inspired version of Oomame Global Chile Crisp, in particular, seemed ripe for taking a savory condiment fully into dessert territory. But rather than using vanilla in my frozen confection, I borrowed some elements from the chile crisp itself to flavor the creamy base. I started with Jeni's ice cream recipe, which uses corn starch and cream cheese in place of eggs as a thickener, and infused it with mango and orange peel, adding peanuts as a substitute for the pepitas in the Mexican Oomame. (While they're great for crunch, I didn't think they'd add all that much flavor.) 

The result exceeded my wildest expectations. Mr Minx wasn't all that thrilled with the flavor of dried onion in his ice cream but it didn't bother me. Nor did the occasional hit of cumin. The predominant flavor was orange peel, even more so than chile, which I thought was enough to keep my creation well within the realm of dessert. If you're an adventurous eater, give it a try. 

I have no regrets.

Oomame Chile Crisp Ice Cream

1 clementine or half a small orange
2 cups milk
1 1⁄4 cups heavy cream
1 ounce dried mango strips
Small handful of roasted unsalted peanuts
4 t cornstarch
2⁄3 cup sugar
2 T light corn syrup
1⁄4 t kosher salt
3 T cream cheese, softened
2 T Oomame Mexican Chile Crisp
Additional roasted unsalted peanuts
Chocolate chips (optional - I used a Seattle Chocolates Mexican Chocolate bar, cut into slivers)

Peel the clementine or orange in large strips, saving the fruit segments for another use. Carefully scrape the white pith from the inside of the peel with a small knife. 

Reserve 1/4 cup of milk and put the remaining 1 3/4 cups plus the cream into a 4-quart saucepan. Add the mango, peanuts, and clementine or orange peel. Over medium-high heat, bring the milk to almost a boil. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and allow the flavorings to steep for about 20 minutes. 

Stir the cornstarch into the reserved 1/4 cup of milk and set aside. 

Strain the steeped milk into another 4-quart saucepan, reserving the fruit and nuts. Add the sugar, corn syrup, and salt to the pan and bring the milk to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes, then stir in the slurry. Bring back to a boil and cook until thickened, 2 minutes.

Put the cream cheese in a large bowl and pour in 1/4 of the hot milk, whisking until smooth. Carefully whisk in the rest of the hot milk. Stir in the chile crisp. Pour the milk into a storage container. Add a layer of ice cubes to the bottom of a baking pan large enough to fit the storage container and put the container on top of the ice in order to cool the milk mixture down quickly. After about 15 minutes, put the container in the fridge to chill completely, 4 hours or overnight.

Cut the steeped mango and orange peel into small pieces and reserve along with the peanuts.

Put the chilled ice cream base into the bowl of an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer's directions. After the ice cream has started to thicken and is almost done, add the mango, orange, peanuts, and chocolate, if using. Scoop ice cream into a freezer-safe storage container (I just used the same one I used for the hot milk) and smooth with the back of a spoon. Cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Serve with additional chile crisp, or over your favorite brownies. Or eat straight out of the container.

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Gluten-free Pumpkin Spicewalla Chai Masala Streusel Muffins

One of the most important things in my kitchen is my collection of herbs and spices. Without them, food would be bland and uninteresting. I have never been brand-loyal--I buy everyday spices that are the most affordable, but once in a while I splash out for a blend that seems too delicious to pass up. I'm always open to trying new things, so I was pretty pleased when Spicewalla offered to send me a selection of their spices to play with. Four were savory blends, but I cracked into the two sweeter items right away. The first thing I did was to make golden milk with their Golden Milk blend (Turmeric, Cinnamon, Ginger, Black pepper, Nutmeg, Roasted Coriander) warm hemp milk, and a dash of maple syrup for sweetness. I like to make a base mixture first, combining a few heaping teaspoons of spices with non-dairy milk to make a very runny paste and keeping that in the fridge. Then when I want a bit of warm golden milk before bedtime, I mix a few spoonsful of the paste into about half a cup of hemp milk and warm it in the microwave, adding a bit of maple for sweetness. (A half cup is plenty, as I don't want to drink too much liquid before going to bed at night.) Spicewalla's blend has all the right elements for a tasty and soothing sweet-savory beverage.

The other spice I used right away was the Chai Masala blend, though not to make chai. (Did you know that since "chai" means tea, saying "chai tea" is like saying "tea tea?") I thought it would be perfect as the spice in some pumpkin muffins. And damn if I wasn't absolutely right! Spicewalla's freshly-ground small-batch blend of ginger, cinnamon, green cardamom, black pepper, clove, and allspice was the perfect seasoning for these ultra-moist muffins. Like pumpkin spice, but with a little bit extra. While plain muffins are nice, muffins topped with streusel are even nicer, texture-wise. I also added chopped walnuts to the batter. Chopped, toasted, pecans or almonds would work as well, or you can omit both the streusel and the nuts. Up to you. 

Did you catch the words "gluten-free" in the title of this post? Since 2019, I've been on a mostly gluten-free diet, which I have found is a big help in losing weight. Sometimes, though, I crave a sweet treat that's not a piece of chocolate (though nothing is wrong with that!), like a cookie, cupcake, or muffin. There are several good gluten-free flour blends on the market, but I am not particularly crazy about the texture of ones that are primarily rice flour; I find it to be gritty. Almond flour makes a tasty wheat flour substitute, but I find that makes things too dense. A combination of GF flour and almond flour is just perfect, and what I used in this recipe. (If you're ok with gluten, you may substitute 1 3/4 all purpose white flour for the GF and almond flours.)

I know, enough talking. Here's the recipe.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Spicewalla Chai Masala Streusel Muffins 

For the muffins:
3 large eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin purée
1 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour 
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional, only if your flour blend doesn't already include xanthan gum)
3/4 cup finely ground almond flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Spicewalla Chai Masala spices
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts, optional

For the streusel:
1/4 cup Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon Spicewalla Chai Masala spices
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted

To make the muffins:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease one 12-well or two 6-well standard-size muffin tins.

Whisk together the eggs and pumpkin purée. Set aside.

Whisk together the gluten-free flour (with additional xanthan gum, if needed), almond flour, sugars, baking powder, salt, and Spicewalla Chai Masala spices.

Using a hand or stand mixer, whip the butter until fluffy. Add in the flour mixture and combine until it looks like wet sand. Add the egg/pumpkin mixture a bit at a time, beating well after each addition. The final mixture should be light and fluffy. Stir in the walnuts, if using.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, filling each cup to the top. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes.

To make the streusel:
Combine all of the ingredients until it forms crumbs. Sprinkle about a tablespoon onto each muffin, pressing it in so it sticks. 

Bake the streusel-topped muffins for 22 to 25 minutes, until the middle springs back when lightly touched. Let rest for 5 minutes before removing muffins from the pan. 

12 servings

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I received a collection of spices from Spicewalla, including the Chai Masala spices, but I am not being otherwise compensated for this post.