Monday, May 20, 2013
Strawberry Guacamole with Jicama Chips
Fruit and avocado (which is technically a fruit itself) go well together, and it is traditional in Mexico to enjoy fruit-studded guacamole. Strawberries and guacamole are an especially refreshing and nutritious combination, containing lots of vitamin C from the strawberries and vitamin E from the avocados, as well as numerous phytochemicals and minerals from both. In the video, I show how to put this dish together in minutes.
To make this attractive, summery version of a classic, start with a couple of ripe avocados. Cut them down the middle, and pop out the flesh into a bowl. Fork- mash them to break them up a bit, and then add a couple of tablespoons fresh lime juice as well as a teaspoon of salt. Mix in some essential guacamole ingredients: a couple of thinly sliced scallions, a quarter cup chopped fresh cilantro, and a couple of minced Serrano chiles. Mix all the green ingredients well before gently folding in a cup of chopped strawberries. Keep a few extra sliced strawberries as a garnish around the side of the bowl.
I like to serve this colorful dip with jicama, the root vegetable that looks like a tuber but has a refreshing taste resembling that of a water chestnut. Make sure to choose a firm one free of too many blemishes. Peel the skin with a Y-shaped peeler, and cut it in half to safely position the vegetable cut-side down on the board. Then you can slice it into “chips.” Jicama makes a great alternative to the more typical corn chips. It is low-calorie and contains lots of fiber, as well as Vitamin C, making this a nutritious, light-but-filling snack or appetizer, as well a refreshing way to celebrate late spring and summer.
Maple Sugar and Candied Nuts
Friday, December 9, 2011
When I want to use a granulated sugar, I invariably reach for maple sugar as my first choice. This natural sweetener has a subtle maple taste, and works well in many recipes that call for granulated sugar. Maple sugar is simply maple syrup that has been cooked until the water in the syrup has evaporated off. The clumps that are left are ground into smaller pieces, then sifted according to size – powder, granules, or a combination of the two. Nothing is added during the processing.
Maple sugar is relatively expensive. However, when purchased from the source, shipping and all, it is considerably less expensive than purchasing it in a store. I get mine directly from Coombs family farms, a wonderful sugar plant based in Vermont. Their phone number is 888 266-6271 and their website is Coombsfamilyfarms.com. They ship quickly, and you can purchase a choice of maple granules, powdered maple sugar, or a combination or the two. I use the maple powder for all of my maple sugar recipes, since this grind is the most like granulated sugar.
This morning I made a couple batches candied nuts to give away. I love candied nuts. When you make them yourself, you can use just the right amount of high quality sweetener to enhance great nutty flavor. A sprinkling of these crunchy nuts add so much pizzazz to hot breakfast cereals, desserts, salads and soups. They stay fresh in the pantry for two to three months, making them wonderful hostess gifts and edible presents. Bundle them in festive party bags for a treat that everyone will enjoy.
Here are a couple of my favorite combinations. These recipes both take a minimum of prep time and the oven does most of the work.
Watch the video on how to make candied nuts.
This first recipe is for candied pecans. I toss one cup roughly chopped pecans with 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons maple sugar. I spread them on a parchment-covered baking dish and place them in the oven for 20 minutes. I stir the pecans one time during the baking, so that they caramelize evenly. The pecans are ready when they are dry all the way through. This technique works well with chopped walnuts, almonds, and blanched hazelnuts as well. When I remove the pecans from the oven, I let them cool before packing them. These pecans keep covered, at room temperature, for two to three months.
The second recipe is for coconut cashews, one of my favorites. The mix is an exciting combination of sweet, spicy, and crunchy, which makes, among other uses, an excellent garnish for a zesty carrot soup. I toss together in a medium bowl one cup of roughly chopped cashews, ½ cup unsweetened coconut, 1/3 cup maple sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne. I then add one egg white to bind the whole mix together. Again, I’m spreading it on a parchment-covered baking sheet and baking it for 15 to 20 minutes at 325˚. I have to stir this mix twice during the baking session to ensure that the more delicate coconut colors evenly. (By the way, I pull out my tray to stir the mix, so I don’t lower the temperature of the oven. Then I return the tray to the oven to finish baking.) When the mix is evenly browned, I remove the tray from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. I break up the clumps into small clusters that are now ready to be stored or packed. Sweet holidays!
Edible Gift Packages