Category: Budget

What’s been cooking– recent weeks at Gradissima’s house (honey sweet and sour ; Tibetan flatbread)


Spring makes me love the world again. Strike that. SUN makes me love the world again. We haven’t had too many days with glorious sun and good weather in the past weeks, but we’ve had enough to jumpstart my biological clock into “I love Portugal and farmer’s markets and flowers and the organic farm and fresh food and produce and making EVERYTHING in my kitchen” mode.

After such a long, gloomy winter, my sunshine standards have lowered quite a bit.

It also helps that Grandissimo, coming out of a few baby illnesses, teething periods, phases of velcro napping (ie, sleeping only when firmly attached to Mommy), etc. has gotten back into an easier routine. (I write this with great optimism, as the ‘routine’ has really only been a sporadic sequence of happy events… I think the real routine is rough, and the successes are little Easter eggs along the trail….)

Anyway.

A few weeks ago, while Grandissimo was sleeping and latched onto el boob, I watched a rerun of Jaime At Home (Love you, Jaime Oliver! Don’t you wish you could work with him? Anywhere?) and he was having fun with rhubarb. I loved what he did with pork (more or less THIS recipe). In reality, I just liked the garam masala and honey idea in a sweet and sour dish.

I recreated it, sans rhubarb and pork, with TVP nuggets. It was delicious. The oven time was ideal (like a fast marination) and let me do baby stuff in between prepping dinner in stages. I added extra carmelized onions. Greatness.

Then, this weekend, I did more or less the same with some shiny, happy eggplants from our local organic farm. Awesome. I’ve been eating my veggies….ahhhhhh. Responsibility tastes good 🙂 And, of course, I’ve been feeding My Man healthy food, too! (Grandissimo is still a bit young for the kind of spice I throw into these things, but he likes the noodles!)

Another recipe I’ve developed a serious crush on is this Tibetan Flatbread recipe. La Fuji Mama adapted it from Jacques Pépin. It probably has a very marginal affiliation with anything Tibetan, but it works, and it lends itself to adaptation.

I have a love affair with this bread for the following reasons:

1. I was already in the habit of making pancakes in the afternoons for snack time with Grandissimo.

2. La Fuji Mama’s directions are crystal clear. With photos for each step. And it worked for me the first time.

3. It is a great, great recipe to have if you live in Southeast Asia or anywhere conventional ovens are hard to find…if you like fresh bread.

As you might know, I spent some years in Timor, and I have beloveds still living there. Fresh bread on demand was hard to come by (though you could get awesome rolls in the mornings, if you caught the pão guy and his cart, or got to Tiger Fuel in time), and even folks with toaster ovens were bread-challenged. I wish I’d had this recipe back then, and I think my Timor pals will get a lot of use out of it now.

Last-minute, home-made, cheap bread. What’s not to like?

I have some Pro Tips for you before you get started.

1. Follow La Fuji Mama’s directions. They are clear. Yes, the bread will be very plain… but doing a trial run without variations is cheap and it will help you get an idea of what you need to tweak in terms of temperature, or baking powder, or flour or oil or water or pan… Have patience. Do the trial run.

2. If it sticks when you try to flip it, let it cook longer.

3. If it starts to break apart when turning, let it cook longer.

4. Now that’s out of the way, here are some variations I’ve tried and loved:

  • Mix dried herbs into the dough. Put half the batter into the pan, then layer cheese and tomatoes (seeded) and basil in the middle. Put the rest of the batter on top. PIZZA BREAD!
  • Mix about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast and a couple teaspoons (or more!) black pepper into the dough. Instead of one big blob in the pan, make several “biscuits”.
  • If you want to use a bigger pan, increase the recipe by 50%.
  • Sautee some mushrooms or onions or garlic (or all of these) and throw them into the mix…

5. I know La Fuji Mama says (in the comments section) that a pan without non-stick coating should work, but I’ve had the best luck with the non-stick pan. I know…it’s bad for you, and the kids, and the air, and the world…but it works. I do think an uncoated pan would work, but sometimes things stick. And burn. I have little patience for anything BUT my child. Stick ‘n’ burn = no.

Give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!

-Gradissima

Another rough sketch in progress: savory high-fiber, high-protein bars


Another kitchen experiment gone well…

The rough lines of it are these:

Quinoa, bulgur, sesame seeds, amaranth, flax seeds, chia seeds, a sprinkling of sunflower seeds, all soaked in water overnight…
Put the pot of this goodness on the stove the next day and heated until remaining water was absorbed…
About a cup of this goes to the blender with some homemade olive oil (portuguese family)…
About a cup (puréed) of butternut squash and a garlic bulb (puréed along with the squash)
Cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, curry powder…
Around two teaspoons baking powder added way too late, but in good faith…

Smoosh into baking pan….Bake for a while at 160C…
E voilá…

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It is not unlike spicy, delicious, moist cornbread….my Man likes it, I like it (VERY snack able when I feel like some thing savory), and I can happily eat it cold from the refrigerator or microwave it…

So now my foodbrain is going wild…this weekend, when my Man is home, I’ll be playing with quinoa and frozen strawberries to make bars…I’ll also make more of those amazing chocolate bars that inspired this savory adventure…they are so good, and I love them more and more as the days go on…they feel like healthy brownies…and they really fill me up! I’m satisfied, my chocolate cravings are met, and my blood sugar doesn’t fluctuate like mad. I really feel great, which is impressive since I pretty much subsist on these two types or bars and coffee and water during the day.

I have grand plans to incorporate frozen spinach, peas, broccoli…at least into savory bars! Though I’ve heard that black bean brownies are really very good. Beans are an easier flavor to work with than spinach or broccoli, however, when it comes to sweets!

Have you had any recent food adventures you’d be willing to share? Particularly anything involving whole foods and healthy goodness in bar form?