Millet Fritters with Cojita and Spicy Lime Crema

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While I teach others how to make dinner, I rarely sit down for the meal myself. See, when you are in the business of food, you’re usually working during most usual mealtimes. I grew up sitting down to a square, hot meal at 6pm each night, but nowadays, it’s leftovers from the fridge at 9. This is real life.

Last week I found myself home at dinnertime, hungry and with a bit of time to tinker around in the kitchen. Going back out into the world to food shop was just not going to happen. A pantry meal it was.

I recently taught an Ancient Grains class at SLT and everyone was obsessed with the Quinoa Fritters, a recipe riffed from the wonderful Ancient Grains for Modern Mealsl by Maria Speck. Topped with tangy lime mayo and smoked salmon, they were altogether satisfying, the perfect balance of crispy/gooey/cheesy/salty/creamy. I swapped the quinoa for millet, a couscous-like whole grain popular in parts of Asia. You cook it the same way, with a 1:2 ratio of grain to water. It has a mild flavor and a pleasant softness that’s unusual for whole grains. It’s also gluten-free, a nice bonus in this day and age. I’m kind of obsessed.

A plate of these millet fritters with a bowl of spicy, creamy dip was just the thing for my night-in supper. The new square meal.

Millet Fritters with Cojita and Spicy Lime Crema

Inspired by Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

Fritters:

1 cup millet*
2 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup crumbled cojita cheese (or feta)
1/2 cup flour*
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
2 green onions, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Olive or grapeseed oil, for cooking

In a medium saucepan, combine the millet and water or stock. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

In a large bowl, combined the cooled millet, cheese, flour, chile powder, paprika, green onions and eggs. Fold to combine. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Chill for 30 minutes or up to 3 days.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few swirls of olive or grapeseed oil.  Form the millet mixture into patties (I used an ice cream scoop). If the mixture is not sticking together, chill for a bit longer or press the mixture into a ball with your hands. They will be delicate, but will firm up when cooked.

Fry the fritters in the skillet for a few minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towel. Serve with a dollop (or three) of Spicy Lime Crema.

Spicy Lime Crema

1/2 cup Mexican crema, sour cream, plain yogurt or mayo
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Chipotle hot sauce, to taste

Combine all ingredients, adding more of everything to taste.

Notes:

*Where do you buy millet? Check the bulk area or ethnic section. Bob’s Red Mill is another brand worth seeking out.

*I’ve made these with white all-purpose flour and also millet flour (I had some lying around, definitely not necessary to go out and buy it). I suspect almond flour may work, but the mixture may be a little more crumbly. Stick to a somewhat neutral, light flour here – this is not the place for nutty buckwheat or whole wheat flour.

Salted Maple Crunch Yogurt Bowl

yogurt bowl
Over elbow-to-elbow margaritas at my friend Kelly’s birthday dinner, our friend Joey, an avid baker, asked what I’ve been cooking lately. The answer? Not much, kids. You see, for the past month and a half, I’ve been involved in an intensive cooking video project. Truly a labor of love, it has not left much time to eat, let alone cook.

One of the major perks of working in the food business is, well, a lot of free food. What we don’t end up shooting is up for grabs. Random vegetables, half-empty bags of grains and other odds and ends make their way back home with me in the hopes of being cooked.

When the weekend rolls around, I am left with a fridge full of mismatched ingredients What the heck can I make with radishes, hibiscus blossoms and Parmesan? It’s like an episode of Chopped, for real.

This seedy, crunchy, salty sprinkle is the product of my random pantry, breakfast boredom and the latest issue of Bon Appetit. Inspired by Sara Britton, who’s behind the gorgeous site My New Roots, this granola-like topping is perfect over creamy yogurt and fruit. It would also be divine in a leafy salad or on top of oatmeal. What I like about this recipe is that everything is done on the stove-top, no oven required. Now about those radishes…

Salted Maple Crunch Yogurt Bowl
Recipes adapted from Bon Appetit via Sara Britton of My New Roots

Salted Maple Crunch
  • 1/4 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/4 cup raw shelled sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • Kosher salt
For the yogurt bowl:
  • Good quality plain Greek yogurt (I like Fage or Olympus)
  • Fresh fruit (I used berries, but pineapple, mango or stone fruit in the summer would be great)
  • Honey or pure maple syrup, for drizzling

Instructions:

For salted maple crunch:

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a dry medium skillet, toast pumpkin and sunflower seeds over medium heat, tossing frequently, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add sesame and fennel seeds and toss to toast, a few minutes longer.
  3. Add maple syrup (it will sizzle) and stir and toss until clumps appear, about a minute. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in chia seeds, stirring to coat. Season with salt. Transfer to the parchment-lined baking sheet and allow to cool.

For yogurt bowl:

You know the drill – spoon a big dollop of yogurt in a bowl, sprinkle with fruit, maple crunch and a drizzle of honey.

Tahini-Dill Yogurt Dip with Spiced Beet Chips

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Is anyone else sick of their usual snacks? If I see another almond or container of hummus, I might go crazy. I like to bring a snack or two with me to work or on days when I have a million errands to run in Manhattan. It’s a good way to save money (i.e. not spend $5 on a mediocre latte) and keep my energy up until I get a chance to sit down to a real meal. That said, my snacks need to be portable, relatively inexpensive and nutrient-dense.

This tahini-dill yogurt dip is amazing, and I don’t use that word lightly. It’s vaguely reminiscent of hummus, thanks to the lemon and tahini. It’s also similar to that sour cream dill dip usually found in a rye bread bowl. But it’s neither bean nor cream. Thick, tangy Greek yogurt is taken out of the breakfast rotation and into savory territory.

I paired it with these homemade beet chips, which were admittedly a bit labor-intensive for a snack (but delicious nonetheless). Whole grain pita or sweet potato chips or raw or roasted veggies would also make great dippers. Now, back to work!

Tahini-Dill Yogurt Dip

  • 1 6-oz. container plain Greek yogurt (I like 2% Fage)
  • 1 T. tahini
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped dill
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste

Whisk all ingredients together, adding more salt and bit more lemon to taste.

Spiced Beet Chips

Adapted from Martha Stewart

  • 2 medium beets, washed and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  1. Heat oven to 350F. Slice beets very thinly with a mandoline (almost paper-thin). Place beets in bowl and toss with olive oil and spices.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange beets in a single layer (you can do in batches or use two sheets). Place another rimmed baking sheet directly on top of the beets (this will allow them to cook evenly and not ‘curl up’ too much).
  3. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove top baking sheet and return to oven, rotating pan. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until beets look light pink (keep checking and remove those that are done). Remove from pan (chips will crisp up as they cool).

Maple-Olive Oil Granola

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I’ve been on a granola-making spree for months now. While my old recipe was good, it was a bit ingredient-heavy and frankly not the best it could me. Enter: Early Bird Granola. This farm market favorite has earned a massive cult-like following, with a price tag to match. Yes, it’s delicious, but in the spirit of DIY (and in an effort to save a bit of cash), I make my own version based on this method from The Kitchn.

‘Olive oil?’ you say. Believe it. The subtle fruitiness of olive oil lends a really interesting depth when combined with pure maple syrup and a heavy pinch of salt. It’s a bit sophisticated; it’s a granola that belongs on dollops of tangy Greek yogurt with winter fruit compote than, say, nonfat key lime Yoplait.

The best part is its’ versatility – you can use any combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruit you like. Let me know what variations you create!

Maple-Olive Oil Granola with Hazelnuts & Cherries

3 cups old-fashion rolled oats (NOT quick oats)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cardamom
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried fruit*, roughly chopped (I used cherries)
1/3 cup seeds*, toasted (I used pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup nuts*, toasted and chopped (I used hazelnuts)

  1. Heat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix the oats, salt, cinnamon and cardamom. Stir in the olive oil, maple syrup and vanilla.
  2. Spread the granola out on a parchment-lined rimmed sheet pan. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, stirring every so often for even color until light brown and toasty (mixture may appear a bit wet, this is OK).
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, toast the nuts/seeds. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350F until light brown, about 10 minutes (watch them so they don’t burn!)
  5. Transfer cooled granola in a large bowl, breaking up large pieces into chunks. Gently fold in the dried fruit and toasted nuts and seeds. Store in an airtight container for about 10 days (or in the fridge for about a month).

*You can add any combination of fruit/nuts you like. I love working with dried figs, cranberries, golden raisins and apricots. Almonds, walnuts, pecans and even cashews are all welcome additions. I often throw in some sesame seeds, too, for even more crispiness. I’m working on a cacao-nib & coconut oil version…stay tuned.

The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

These are it (dare I say?) the perfect oatmeal cookie. I don’t use the ‘P’ word lightly, you see, it just sets the bar too high. But these, these are some mighty fine cookies, if I do say so. What makes them different? The basic thick & chewy cookie is bolstered with 2 kinds of oatmeal (old-fashioned and quick) for varying texture. Keeping with the theme, both golden and black raisins add a pop of sweetness. Toasted pecans provide a satisfying crunch. And have patience: a chill before baking allows the dough to “marinate”, melding the flavors and preventing excess “spread” during baking. So follow the recipe, pour yourself a cup of tea and revel.

The Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Yield: About 4 dozen small cookies or 3 dozen larger cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups quick oats
  • 3/4 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup black raisins
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture into the butter/sugar mixture and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Repeat this process twice more with the remaining 2/3 of the flour mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and pecans.
  3. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or the freezer for about 15 minutes. You can refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours before baking.
  4. Roll the dough into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Flatten the tops slightly. Bake for 1o to 12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. They are done when the edges are lightly golden – the tops may appear a bit doughy.
  5. Remove from the oven and let the cookies sit on the hot baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
-Recipe adapted from  smitten kitchen

Ultimate Sweet Potato Fries with Baby Tomato Ketchup

Sometimes recipe inspiration comes from the most unlikely place. Case in point: this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. While browsing through my mom’s expansive collection of magazines a few weeks ago, I stumbled across the August issue of BHG with none other than Michelle Obama on the cover. Flipping through, I found a slew of White House garden-approved recipes geared towards kids and, apparently, me. These super-crunchy sweet potato “fries” caught my eye. While I usually gravitate towards more pared-down recipes, these make a fun side dish or nostalgic party snack. While you may not be heading back to school this week, you can still help yourself to an after-school snack.

Ultimate Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3 to 4” strips
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 T. water
  • 1 cup fine dry bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly coat a baking sheet with 1 tsp. olive oil. Toss sweet potatoes with 1 tsp. oil and a pinch of salt. lace on prepared baking sheet. Roast 10 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a tray to cool (about 10 minutes).
  2. While sweet potatoes cool, mix together flour and a pinch of salt in a shallow dish. In a second dish, combine eggs and water. In a third dish, place bread crumbs.
  3. Coat the same baking pan with a little more olive oil. Dip vegetables, a few at a time, in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs, coating evening. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet (you may need to do this in 2 batches.)
  4. Roast for 15 minutes at 400F until brown and crispy. Serve with Homemade Ketchup.

Baby Tomato Ketchup

Yield: About 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 T. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 1 T.  olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, cooking for about a minute. Add halved cherry tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cook tomatoes and garlic, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes until tomatoes release their juices. Add balsamic vinegar and increase heat to medium-high until vinegar is reduced (about 30 seconds). Taste and season with additional salt. Remove from heat and cool. Transfer to a food processor and pulse till smooth.
-Recipes adapted from BHG

Creamy Dill Hummus with Crunchy Cucumbers

Sour cream dill dip with pumpernickel bread was a favorite growing up in Upstate New York. Thick, creamy, rich yet refreshing, the dip was plopped in a scooped-out round pumpernickel loaf. The hollowed-out pieces were used for dipping. When the bread pieces were gone, we ate the bread bowl, too. I channeled the dill dip experience here, using fresh ingredients. My standard hummus recipe is jazzed up with a handful of dill, while cucumbers add a satisfying crunch and pickle vibe. Other good dippers: toasted whole grain pita, carrots, endive, jicama and cherry tomatoes.

Creamy Dill Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (liquid reserved, optional)
  • 2 T. tahini
  • 1-2 lemons, juiced
  • Handful fresh dill, washed and roughly chopped (leaves only)
  • 2 tablespoons water or reserved liquid from the chickpeas
  • Extra Virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Cayenne
  • Sliced cucumbers, for serving

Directions

In a food processor, combine garlic, chickpeas, tahini, a few tablespoons lemon juice, dill and a pinch of kosher salt and cayenne. Pulse to combine. With machine running, stream in a little water or reserved bean liquid until you reach a creamy consistency (this may take a couple minutes), scraping down sides. For an even creamier dip, stream in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Taste and adjust with additional salt, cayenne and lemon juice. Chill before serving. Serve with cucumbers.

Marathon Granola

In a few weeks, I’m running the More/Fitness Half Marathon in Central Park. Despite last year’s race day rain, I signed up again and could not be more excited!

People sometimes ask me if I eat differently while training (I’ve done a full marathon and quite a few half marathons). In my amateur experience, I found it’s particularly important to adjust your eating a few hours BEFORE a run so you don’t end up with cramps or dehydration. Before a run, I fuel up with old-fashioned oatmeal, whole grain toast with nut butter or fruit.

Overall, it’s basic nutrition, people. You probably don’t want to eat Chipotle the night before an 8-miler and it’s usually not the smartest to keep up your college-level alcohol consumption if you want to improve your 10-K time. Just a thought.

Granola is a perennial favorite – crunchy, nutty and perfect for when you want something sweet. It’s also a stellar source of energy (also known as calories). I like to sprinkle this over plain Greek yogurt and fruit for lasting energy before a long run or jam-packed day. It also adds a nice crunch to a bowl of hot oatmeal or mixed in with your favorite cereal. A little goes a long way!

Marathon Granola

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients:

Dry:

  • 2.5 cups rolled oats (regular not instant)
  • 1 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 2 tbsp sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt

Wet:

  • 4 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp applesauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar

Add-ins:

  • 1/3 cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, dates, apricots, cherries…)
  • handful seeds (sunflower, sesame…)

Directions: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the wet ingredients. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a very large mixing bowl, Mix together the dry ingredients.

Add the wet mixture (while still warm!) over top the dry mixture and stir well. It will be very thick and hard to stir, but keep at it until everything is thoroughly combined.

Spread onto a pan lined with parchment paper or a non-stick mat and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven every 15 minutes and give the granola a good stir to ensure even baking.

Allow to cool for 20-25 minutes on the pan before serving. The granola will stiffen up as it cools. Makes about 6 cups and will keep for 1 month in the fridge in an air-tight container.

-Adapted from Oh She Glows

Sweet and Spicy Caramel Corn

Crunchy and addictive, my spiced caramel corn is Cracker Jack 2.0. I start with freshly popped corn (on the stove, don’t cheat!) and toss it all together with velvety caramel. The secret? A kick of cayenne and chili powder – oh yeah baby! A quick trip to the oven crunches everything up nicely, leaving you with toffee-like bits (don’t tell my dentist).

Using fresh popcorn by way of the stove top or air popper allows you to control the amount of salt and yields more consistent kernels.

Try adding your favorite nut to the mix – chopped toasted pecans or hazelnuts would be redonkulous. This also makes a nice snack paired with a hearty winter ale. I’m partial to the one from Brooklyn Brewery.

Ingredients

2 Tbs canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp chili powder
a few pinches cayenne

Directions

Preheat the oven to 250 F.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn kernels and cover the pot. Cook, shaking the pot every few seconds until all the kernels are popped (or you can skip the oil and pop the popcorn in an air popper).
Transfer to a large bowl.

Combine the sugar, salt, butter and water in a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally until the mixture is golden brown. While it’s boiling, spray two spatulas or wooden spoons and a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

When the caramel is golden brown, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the chili powder, baking soda, and cayenne (if using), and toss it with the popped popcorn so the kernels are evenly coated, then spread evenly on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove and let cool. Break up everything with your hands or a large wooden spoon.

Recipes adapted from The Craft of Baking

Thanksgiving Recipe Round Up

Wondering what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner? While a can of cranberry sauce is nice thought, with a bit more effort, it’s easy to make something your whole family will enjoy. These recipes can be made a day ahead or that morning, either way, they are delicious.

 

Crunchy Chickpea Snack Mix

Warning: these are addictive! When roasted, chickpeas become crispy on the outside and remain soft on the inside. Try switching it up with different herbs and spices. Cinnamon and cayenne, cumin and coriander and black pepper and rosemary are all wonderful substitutes.

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed and patted dry

1 T. olive oil

1/3 cup almonds (sliced, slivered or whole)

1/2 T. thyme

salt and pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400° Place chickpeas on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Roast for approximately 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden brown and toasted (you may hear them “pop” – this is fine.)  Add almonds and bake for an additional 5 minutes . Nuts should be lightly toasted (you will smell them!) Cool in pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Store extra in an airtight container.

 

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Flaky, buttery and slightly sweet, sweet potato biscuits are the perfect complement to a Thanksgiving spread or the next day, using leftover mashed sweet potatoes. Another variation? Try using 1 cup pumpkin puree.

Ingredients

2  cups  all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)

1  tablespoon  sugar

2  teaspoons  baking powder

1/2  teaspoon  salt

5  tablespoons  chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1  cup  pureed cooked sweet potatoes, cooled

1/3  cup  fat-free milk

Cooking spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Combine sweet potato and milk in a small bowl; add potato mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch thickness; cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 10 biscuits. Place biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Gather remaining dough. Roll to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter into 6 biscuits. Place the biscuits on prepared baking sheet. Discard any remaining scraps.

Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan; cool 5 minutes on wire racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

-Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light