Green Bean and Tomato Salad; Eat Local Month

September 1st was the kick-off for Sustainable Connections annual Eat Local Month.  The first event was a BBQ featuring local grass-fed beef burgers from Matheson Farm and locally grown portabella mushroom burgers, held at the Downtown Co-op and we have another BBQ scheduled for tomorrow at the Cordata Co-op from 11am-2pm featuring both vegetarian and beef kabobs.   There will also be live music from Kuungana marimba band and lots of other delicious local food.  There are many other events scheduled this month, including the annual Whatcom Harvest Dinner, held this year at Bellewood Acres farm and store.  Check out Sustainable Connections website for more information on upcoming Eat Local events happening this month.

Mama Jay and some happy customers

Me at my demo station inside the Cordata Co-op

Today at the Cordata Co-op, KAFE 104.1 came to promote Eat Local Month.  We asked local BBQ sauce guru Mama Jay to come to sample her delicious sauce with local pork, and we featured a local lunch special (a meatball sandwich with Breadfarm hoagies and Matheson Farm beef, plus an Italian-style coleslaw made with local ingredients).  A few of us gave interviews to be aired as part of the promotion, and in honor of the festivities I decided to make a salad using as much local produce as possible.  It didn’t turn out to be too hard, since we have over 50 local produce items in stock right now!  I settled on Green Bean and Tomato salad, a recipe I found on Epicurious via Yummly.

Scotty from KAFE 104.1 and me, hamming it up for the camera.

The salad came out fresh and delicious – I used organic green beans from Moondance Farm, organic cherry tomatoes from Spring Frog Farm, organic slicing tomatoes and organic Italian parsley from the Growing Garden, and organic hard necked white garlic from Rabbit Fields Farm.  It’s pretty simple to make – just blanch the green beans (and plunge them in ice water to stop the cooking process), chop your tomatoes, mix up the herb dressing and toss.  Everyone who sampled the salad really loved it, even a couple picky kids.  The green beans stay crisp and the two kinds of tomatoes lend to the overall flavor.  I don’t usually put oregano in my balsamic dressings, but this tasted great so I will remember it in the future.  Enjoy!

Green Bean and Tomato Salad © Sassy Sampler 2012

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

Serves 8; adapted from http://www.epicurious.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 # green beans, snapped (or cut) into 2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 c tomato, chopped and seeded
  • 1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1/4 c Italian parsley, chopped
  • Sea salt and pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the green beans  until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
  2. Drain beans, and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool.  Drain again, and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes to the bowl.
  4. In a measuring cup, mix the olive oil, vinegar, garlic, and oregano.
  5. Pour dressing over salad and mix.  Add the cherry tomatoes and parsley as garnish.  Season with salt and pepper.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad PDF

Carrot Ginger Salad

April can be hit or miss in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, and luckily this year is more of a hit – we have had great luck with beautiful weather on the weekends this month and it’s making all of us excited for summertime.  For my recipe this week, I wanted to pick something that tasted fresh and summery and I found what I was looking for in Organic Farm & Garden magazine (a Popular Gardening Series “magabook” by Hobby Farms.com).  They offer several recipes in this issue (along with great organic gardening advice) and I thought their recipe for Carrot Ginger Salad would be a winner.  (Note – we are sold out of the magazine at the Co-op, but you can get it online at either of the links above.)

Photo courtesy of Jerry Janeway © 2012

We still have delicious and sweet  local carrots from Hedlin Family Farm, a third generation organic farm in the waterfront town of La Conner (home to author Tom Robbins).  The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is in full swing right now, and this would be a perfect weekend to spend some time outside tiptoeing through the tulips (they won’t actually let you do that, but you get the idea).  But I digress…back to the carrots!

A lot of carrot salads are soaked in mayonnaise and have added sugar, and I didn’t want to go in that direction; this recipe is flavorful, fresh, and tastes like summer – the carrots give a nice sweet crunch and the dressing and fresh ginger add a dimension that you wouldn’t expect, as it leaves you with a subtle succession of flavors. I was hesitant to combine some of the ingredients that were listed – cumin and mint with ginger…are they crazy?  Turns out they are brilliant, as the flavors work really well within the acidic dressing and compliment the carrots and ginger perfectly.  This salad is also really simple to make and would be perfect to bring to a potluck or gathering, as it keeps at room temperature for several hours.  Enjoy!

Carrot Ginger Salad © Sassy Sampler 2012

Carrot Ginger Salad

Serves 6

adapted from Organic Farm & Garden magazine, Volume 1, 2nd edition

INGREDIENTS

  • 5 large carrots (about 2.5-3#) , grated diagonally or cut julienne
  • 1 T fresh grated ginger

Dressing:

  • 3 T fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 t sea salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of ground cumin
  • 1 heaping T  fresh mint, chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, combine carrots and grated ginger.  Cover and refrigerate for about a half hour so the flavors can combine.
  2. In a jar with a lid, mix lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, a pinch of cayenne pepper and cumin, and the mint.  Shake to combine.
  3. Add dressing to carrots and mix well.  If time permits, allow the salad to sit on the counter for about half an hour before serving so the flavors can combine.

For best flavor, allow the salad to come to room temperature before serving.  (Dressed) salad will keep for several days in the fridge.  Cover tightly.  You can also double the dressing recipe if you want a spicier version.

You may be hesitant to add the cumin and mint to this salad, but don’t skip (or substitute) those ingredients—they add complexity to the salad and are an important factor in the overall flavor.

Carrot Ginger Salad PDF

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Working in the natural food industry, we see all kinds of food fads – some of them are perfectly legit and are eventually accepted into the mainstream, and some fade away for a host of different reasons.  One fad that I hope will develop into mainstream diets are chia seeds, which are considered to be a ‘superfood’.

“Why a superfood”, you ask?  Most of us know chia seeds only because of Chia Pets (which are a non-food grade version of the seed), but they pack a lot of punch in a really small package.  Chia seeds have been traced as far back as the Aztecs, who valued them because of their high nutritional value.  These teeny tiny seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants and also contain a respectable amount of protein, Omega 6 fatty acids, and calcium.  They help you stay hydrated (they hold over 10 times their weight in water) and are a great snack if you need a little pick-me-up.  Chia seeds are also great for diabetics because they help slow your body’s conversion of starch to sugar.

My glass of chia water from this AM!

So….how do they taste?  Pretty boring, which is a good thing.  They have a slightly nutty flavor and are pretty bland, so they mix well into a variety of different foods – you can mix them into just about any cold liquid (try stirring a spoonful into water, milk, iced tea, juice, smoothies, etc.) and you can also incorporate them into your bowl of oatmeal or yogurt.  The biggest complaint I hear about them is the gelatinous layer that forms around them when they have soaked in liquid – it can be a little strange if you haven’t tried them before.  I personally like that quality about them – it definitely makes them more interesting!

A great use for them is chia pudding – you can make a “pudding” with the seeds simply by putting some in milk and letting them hydrate, but this recipe adds some additional healthy foods like raw cashews and Medjool dates and doesn’t contain any added sugar.  It is appropriate as a snack, breakfast, or dessert and has the consistency of tapioca pudding (although it isn’t nutritionally deficient like tapioca pudding is).  It’s also really easy to make, since you are basically just throwing everything in the blender – no cooking involved!  This naturally gluten-free and vegan pudding was a huge hit with everyone who tried it (except for one small boy whose father was very disappointed because he liked the pudding so much!) and will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days – so make some all for you or to share with those you love!

Vanilla Chia Pudding photo © Sassy Sampler 2012

Vanilla Chia Pudding

Serves 6-8

From Martha Stewart Living (there are some great recipes on her website that are gluten-free – just type “gluten-free” into the search box for related videos, articles and recipes)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 c organic chia seeds
  • 1 organic vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped—reserve seeds and pod
  • 1 c (5 oz) organic raw cashews, soaked in filtered water for 2 hours or overnight, at room temperature
  • 4 c filtered water
  • 7 organic Medjool dates, pitted
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 T organic raw coconut butter, such as Artisana
  • 4 t pure organic vanilla extract
  • 2 c mixed berries—raspberries and blueberries are great
  • 3/4 c organic maple syrup for drizzling

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Place chia seeds and vanilla pod in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Drain the cashews and rinse them well.
  3. Add cashews, water, dates, salt, cinnamon, coconut butter, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds to a blender.
  4. Gradually bring up to high-speed and blend for 2 minutes.
  5. Pour mixture into the bowl with the chia seeds and vanilla pod—whisk well.
  6. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes, whisking every few minutes to prevent the chia seeds from clumping.  The pudding should thicken quickly (it won’t come to pudding consistency until it has been chilled in the next step).
  7. Refrigerate pudding until cold, about 3 hours.
  8. Remove from fridge and discard the vanilla pod.
  9. Whisk the pudding.
  10. Divide pudding among 8 bowls.  Top each with berries, and drizzle with maple syrup, if desired.

You can find almost all the ingredients in our bulk department, including organic chia seeds.  I served them with Remlinger Farms Berry Jubilee, grown in Carnation, WA and organic bulk maple syrup.  The berries are in our frozen section year-round.

The pudding can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in a covered glass container.

Soaking the cashews first  makes them more digestible by deactivating the enzyme inhibitors that are naturally present.  They also won’t turn into a really smooth paste if they are not soaked.  Don’t soak them for more than a day as the nuts will disintegrate into a gelatin-like substance.

Vanilla Chia PuddingPDF

Kale and White Bean Soup

This time of year can be especially hard in the Pacific Northwest – the days are getting longer, the trees are budding, and the crocus and tulips are peeking out at the sky – doesn’t sound that bad, right?  However, the thing we usually forget is that even though the calendar says it’s spring, the weather doesn’t always cooperate.  We’ve been in the throes of rain and wind storms this last week, so I thought that some delicious soup utilizing the local produce we currently have might help us get through it.

The Whatcom Farm-to-School program highlights kale as their Harvest of the Month item for March, and I have been trying to post a recipe each month to coincide with their program.  We are lucky enough to be getting weekly deliveries of beautiful organic red kale from Hedlin Farms in La Conner, WA as well as some sweet and delicious organic winter carrots, so I started looking for recipes to utilize both.  I found the answer on Epicurious in the form of Kale and White Bean soup.

The soup is delicious and very easy to make – it is also very hearty and this recipe makes six main-course servings.  Customers who tasted the soup in the Cordata co-op today loved it and quite a few people went home with the recipe and ingredients in hand – the smoky flavor from the kielbasa works really well with kale, and there are tons of veggies to fill you up.  I adapted the original recipe so there is less prep time by using canned Great Northern beans, but you can also follow the link to the original recipe if you want to use dried beans.  This is a very veggie-heavy non-vegetarian soup (is that an oxymoron?) – I know it will seem like there is too much when you prep the carrots and kale, but trust me, don’t skimp!

Kale and White Bean Soup
photo © Sassy Sampler 2012

Kale and White Bean Soup

Makes six main-course servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cans o white beans, such as Great Northern or cannellini
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carton low-sodium chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 2 qt water (8 cups)
  • 1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3”x2”) (see note below)
  • 2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 t finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 package smoked kielbasa, 12 oz, sliced crosswise 1/4” thick
  • ~2 1/4 # carrots, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2” pieces (if the carrots are large, then you can quarter them)
  • 1 bunch kale, preferably black (but you can use any kind), stems and center ribs discarded and leaves coarsely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Drain beans in a colander and rinse well.
  2. Cook onions in the oil in an 8-quart pot over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (while stirring), about 1 minute.
  4. Add the beans, broth, 1 quart water (4 cups), cheese rind, salt, pepper, bay leaf, and rosemary.  Simmer uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. While the soup is simmering, brown the sausage, in batches, in a heavy skillet over medium heat, 1-2 minutes per side.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  6. Raise the heat and stir the carrots into the soup.  Simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in kale, sausage, and the remaining quart of water and simmer, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the kale is tender, 12-15 minutes.
  8. Remove cheese rind and bay leaf before serving.
  9. Season soup with salt and pepper

Notes –

To save time when you are preparing your soup, prep the onion and garlic first, then wait to prep your carrots and kale while the soup is simmering in step 4.

This soup is best when made 1 to 2 days in advance.  You can thin it with water when reheating if necessary.  I’ll note for those that tasted it in the store that I did make it the day before serving.

Don’t skip the Parmesan rind—it adds great depth to the soup.  Save them in your freezer—they add flavor to a variety of soups.

If you use homemade chicken broth, or choose to not use low-sodium, be sure to adjust how much salt you add to the soup, as you might not need as much.

Kale and White Bean Soup PDF

Chocolate “Lollipops”

One of my favorite recipe demos of the year is always the one before Valentines Day – mostly because it means I have an excuse to make a chocolaty confection!  A couple of months ago I was watched the Food Network’s special “Barefoot in London“, which covers the Barefoot Contessa‘s foodie trip to London.  She visited a chocolatier while there, and they made chocolate lollipops…all I could think was “Yum!”

I used the Cordillera 65% chocolate coins that we carry at the Co-op, but you can use any high quality chocolate.  I recommend using South American chocolate as it tends to be more ecologically and socially responsible.  Chocolate sourced from Africa has been under fire for the last decade+ due to rampant child labor and slavery issues, so it is best to make sure that the chocolate you buy is Fair Trade certified.  You can find an article by the BBC here and videos from their investigation here.

For best results, you need to temper the chocolate although this isn’t as hard as you might think it is – all you need is a thermometer and a little confidence!  The difference between tempering the chocolate and skipping the step is that tempered chocolate doesn’t melt at room temperature, so if you decide to skip the tempering steps then you will need to keep the lollipops in the fridge until you serve them.  The Barefoot Contessa offers a white chocolate version of the recipe where you temper the chocolate in the microwave – I haven’t done that myself, but if she says you can do it then I believe her!

Once you have the chocolate melted, the fun starts.  To make the lollipops, you simply spoon a portion of the chocolate onto a prepared baking sheet, horizontally twist a pretzel stick into the chocolate (I used Snyder’s gluten-free pretzel sticks), and top with goodies like nuts, dried fruit, sprinkles, etc.  After that, you pop them in the fridge to set and voilá – chocolate lollipops!

That’s really all there is to it – I was able to make about 85 of them in a little over an hour, from start to finish, so this treat doesn’t require much time in the kitchen.  These are incredibly cute little confections, and if you are crafty in the kitchen then you could also use a pastry bag (or a gallon zip plastic bag with the corner snipped off) to pipe the chocolate into heart shapes.

Chocolate Lollipops © Sassy Sampler

Chocolate Lollipops

1 pound chocolate = about 40 lollipops

INGREDIENTS

  • 12-16 oz Cordillera Chocolate 65%, or other high-quality South American chocolate
  • Bag of pretzel sticks (the Co-op carries gluten-free pretzel sticks)
  • Various toppings, like dried fruit and nuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Temper the chocolate—chop the chocolate coins coarsely.  They don’t need to be very fine, but make sure you don’t have any large chunks.
  2. Place about 2/3 of the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or make your own using a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of water 1” deep).  Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the pan/bowl.  Heat water until simmering (keep water a slow simmer—you may need to adjust the heat).
  3. Using a wooden spoon or plastic spatula, stir gently, but steadily as the chocolate melts.
  4. Bring the chocolate to 115°F.  Try not to allow the chocolate to exceed this temperature.  Remove from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl/pan, and set it on a heat-proof surface.  Keep the water simmering, as you may need to slightly reheat the chocolate as you are making your lollipops.
  5. Add the reserved chocolate and stir gently to incorporate—this will start to cool the chocolate.  Stir until smooth.
  6. For the lollipops—prepare two baking sheets by covering them with parchment paper or foil (or silicone baking mats).
  7. Drop a tablespoon-sized circle of chocolate onto the baking pan with a spoon, and immediately take a pretzel stick and place it horizontally in the middle of the chocolate round, twisting a few times to cover (make sure you leave a “handle” outside the chocolate).
  8. Add any toppings—chopped nuts, chopped dried fruit, etc.
  9. Place baking sheets in the fridge for about a half hour to set.
  10. Remove and enjoy!

If the chocolate is tempered correctly, then you will not need to store these in the fridge.  If you don’t mind storing them in the fridge, then you don’t need to worry about tempering the chocolate first—tempered chocolate holds its shape at room temperature, and un-tempered chocolate tends to get melty.

Chocolate Lollipops PDF

Baked Polenta Fries

In honor of the Super Bowl this weekend, I thought I’d share an easy recipe for a game day snack – Baked Polenta “Fries” – a nice alternative to less healthy munchies.

I was introduced to these on New Year’s Eve – a couple of co-workers co-hosted a party and had a vast array of homemade goodies to nosh (at least half of which were gluten-free), including polenta fries. After asking how they were made, I thought they would make for a great demo for this week.

There are a huge amount of recipes on the web for polenta fries, and after looking at a few I realized that you hardly need a recipe to make these – you are only limited by your imagination and time constraints.

You have a couple of options before you start – either make polenta from the dry grain (it only takes 10-15 minutes for this recipe, although the longer you cook it over low heat the more tender it becomes) or you can use the tubes of pre-made organic polenta that we sell at the Co-op – it comes in great flavors like chili cilantro, basil garlic, and their new quinoa polenta. Once your polenta choice is made, it’s simply a matter of slicing it into fry-like shapes, brushing them with oil, and baking for 20-40 minutes (depending on how thick you cut them). They stay crispy at room temperature, and taste great with a little marinara sauce.If you make the polenta from scratch, then you can make a healthy snack for a crowd for under $5.

I chose to make the polenta from scratch, and used the organic grain we carry in our bulk department. The recipe calls for using half milk and half water to make the polenta, but you can use all water if you want to make them dairy free (you could also use some vegetable or chicken broth for a richer flavor instead of the milk). I mixed in about a 1/2 cup of bulk Parmesan cheese once it was done cooking, spread it in a rimmed baking sheet, and let it sit overnight in the fridge to set, although they can set in as little as an hour. The next morning was simply a matter of preheating the oven, brushing the “fries” with oil and baking them for a satisfying snack.

Baked Polenta Fries © Sassy Sampler 2012

Baked Polenta Fries

makes about 100 – 120 “fries”

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 c polenta grain
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 c water
  • 1/2 c Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 t Spices/Seasonings, like Italian seasoning, garlic, chili powder, etc. or Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Marinara sauce or sour cream for dipping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Bring 2 c milk and 2 c water just to a boil in a large saucepan over med-high heat.
  2. Slowly pour in 1 1/2 c polenta while stirring constantly.
  3. Stir in 1 t of salt (turn down the heat at this point if you feel the polenta is in danger of scorching).
  4. Continue stirring until the polenta thickens—this could happen very quickly or take a few minutes, depending on the heat level you are using.
  5. Stir in 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese (if desired).
  6. Remove from heat and spread about a 1/2” thick in a rimmed baking sheet. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour, or overnight.
  7. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  8. Cut polenta into fry-like shapes.
  9. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Arrange the “fries” on your prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Turn them gently to coat (or brush the oil on).
  11. Bake for about 15 minutes. Turn them gently and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  12. Drain/cool on a paper towel lined plate.
  13. Toss with any seasonings you wish while they are warm, but be sure to put a little salt and pepper on them before serving.
  14. Serve warm or at room temperature, with warm marinara sauce or sour cream.

You can make these vegan by using all water instead of half water, half milk. You can also substitute half broth (chicken or vegetable) for the milk for a richer flavor.; If you make the polenta from scratch, then you can add any flavorings you like before you cool it – try garlic (either pan or oven roasted), sun-dried tomatoes, basil, cilantro, etc.

You can also make this using Food Merchant’s organic pre-made polenta in a tube.

  1. Remove from the tube and cut polenta in half shortways. Place cut side down on cutting board, and cut into 6 equal wedges. Repeat for other half.
  2. Proceed to step 7. Note—you will need to adjust cooking time depending on their thickness.

Baked Polenta Fries PDF

Honeycrisp Apple Mini Fritters (gluten-free!)

Now that it’s October, all of our beautiful local apples are becoming available.  Staff at the Co-op eagerly await the arrival of the Honeycrisp apples that we get farmer-direct from Brownfield Orchards in Chelan, WA.  I think that these are the most delicious apple available for a couple of reasons – they are crisp and sweet and tart all at the same time, and they are fantastic in every recipe I have ever used them in.

Making marshmallows with my cousin’s 9-year-old daughter Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

I’ve been excited for them to be in season for another reason – in last winter’s Delight Magazine they had a recipe for gluten-free apple fritters that I really wanted to try using the honeycrisps.  Last week I was in Missouri visiting my cousin and her family so I wasn’t here to do a recipe demo (although we did make marshmallows while I was there – see the photo of my little cousin enjoying them!), so this week I got out my copy of the magazine and got to work.

For the last few years, Pamela’s Products has held a gluten-free recipe contest (Delight Magazine partnered with them for the contest last year and published all the winning recipes, and you had to use a Pamela’s product, of course) and this fritter recipe received an honorable mention.  The recipe was created by Maralie Thomas of Villa Rica, Georgia, who I feel deserves unlimited accolades for her work.  You can find her original recipe, as well as the other winners on Pamela’s Products website.  I am a big fan of Pamela’s gluten-free Baking and Pancake mix, which is called for in this particular recipe.  If you have a different GF baking mix that is your favorite, than I am sure you can substitute it; if you can tolerate wheat, a glutenous baking mix should also work.

Fluffy donuts were a distant memory for me after being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant.  Rocket Donuts downtown makes a pretty decent gluten-free cake donut, but it tastes like a gluten-free donut, and I always strive to look for recipes that are gluten-free but don’t taste (or look) gluten-free.  These fritters rocked my world!  Not only did they taste better than any other fritter I have ever had, but they were very easy to make and were delicious whether they were hot out of the oil or cooled to room temperature.  They should really be called “I want to eat the whole batch myself” fritters!  The recipe makes about 30-40 mini donuts (larger than the ones I made for sampling in the photo, of which I got about 75 teeny tiny fritters), so there really is enough to go around…

Honeycrisp Apple Mini Fritters Photo © 2011 Sassy Sampler

 Mini Apple Fritters

Recipe adapted from original, submitted by Maralie Thomas to Pamela’s Products 5th Annual Greatest Gluten-Free Recipe Contest

INGREDIENTS

Fritters

  • 2 T organic unsalted butter, melted and cooled (it needs to be really soft so it will stick to the apples evenly)
  • 1 1/2 c organic Honeycrisp apples, peeled/cored and chopped into 1/4” chunks (about one medium-large apple)
  • 1 1/2 c Pamela’s GF Baking and Pancake Mix
  • 1/2 c organic sugar
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1 t organic cinnamon
  • 1/2 c organic milk (you can use soy or rice milk)
  • 1 organic egg
  • Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for frying)

Drizzle

  • 2 c organic powdered sugar
  • 1 t organic cinnamon
  • 3 T water (more or less depending on humidity)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add 1 inch oil to a pan or pot and heat over medium low—make sure it is not so hot that it smokes.  You can use any size pan that has sides high enough to accommodate the oil – a smaller pan will use less oil but make smaller batches, a larger pan will use more oil but make larger batches.
  2. Combine the fritter ingredients:  mix butter and apples in a medium bowl; add baking mix, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon and mix well; mix egg and milk in measuring cup and add to bowl; mix to combine.
  3. Add the drizzle ingredients together and mix well.
  4. Test oil to make sure it is hot enough by dropping a small piece of batter into the oil.  If it sinks to the bottom and quickly raises up on the bubbles in the oil, then it is ready.
  5. Drop fritter batter by small spoonfuls into the oil.  Cook for about 5 minutes a side.  Turn with a fork.
  6. Remove fritters from oil with tongs or a slotted spoon.  Let fritters sit on paper towels for about one minute to cool, then drizzle with sugar mixture.

You can bake the fritters in the oven at 350°F for about 12 minutes (until golden brown).  Add a little more baking mix to make them hold their shape better.

If you are not gluten intolerant, than a wheat-based baking mix can be substituted.

Mini Apple Fritters PDF

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

Local produce is still in full swing, and I couldn’t resist sampling another recipe with the Growing Garden’s organic tomatoes and bunched basil.

I chose to make tomatoes the focus this month for another reason as well – September marked the launch of a farm-to-school program in Whatcom County schools.  The idea is to feature one locally/Washington grown produce item at participating schools each month so there is a greater connection between local schools and farmers.  September is tomato month in the Northwest, so it was the obvious choice (next month is broccoli/cauliflower month).

While looking for recipes, I learned something new: bruschetta actually only refers to the bread once it has been toasted and rubbed with olive oil and raw garlic.  I always assumed it referred to the whole kit and caboodle!  Regardless, it is a popular antipasti (or appetizer) in Italy and is very easy to make.

In addition to the Growing Garden’s tomatoes and basil, I also used the locally produced BIJA Greek extra virgin olive oil.  For the bruschetta, I wanted to have a couple of options, so I used the local Breadfarm hoagies and Against the Grain Gourmet’s gluten-free baguette (which is my current gf obsession!).  My husband suggested the hoagies, which worked out really well and I definitely recommend giving them a try.  I must say, it was like flies being drawn to honey once I had the samples ready – they were gone before I knew it.  Usually only demos involving chocolate go that fast!

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta, made with local ingredients © 2011 Sassy Sampler

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large Roma tomatoes or 5-6 in-season  tomatoes
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2-3 T extra virgin olive oil, + more for brushing bread
  • 2 1/2 t balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T freshly chopped basil, about 10-12 leaves
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/4 t fresh cracked pepper
  • Baguette, cut into 1/2”-1” slices (Gluten-free – can use Against the Grain Gourmet baguette or the Olivia baguette, which is made in Seattle)
  • Grated Parmesan Reggiano

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk the chopped garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper and basil in a large bowl.
  2. Add the oil in a slow drizzle and whisk to combine.
  3. Add the tomatoes and let them sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toast the bread: put sliced bread in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Brush them lightly on one side with more olive oil.  Put them under the broiler for about 5 minutes, but watch them closely to make sure that they don’t burn!
  5. Take the bread out of the oven and rub one side of each piece with a clove of garlic.
  6. Top the bruschetta with the tomato basil mixture (drain any juice that accumulated).
  7. To serve warm, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet, top with a little Parmesan, and broil until the cheese melts.  To serve room temperature, top with Parmesan and serve!

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta PDF

Gazpacho (made with all local ingredients!)

For this week’s recipe, I wanted to try to make something that used as many local products as possible. Another major part of my criteria was to make something that required little (or no) time to cook because it is decidedly summer in the Northwest right now (better late than never!).

There is so much local produce available right now – I toured the Produce department and found no less than 35 different items that were grown (and brought to us farmer direct) from Whatcom County farms.; I settled on creating a recipe for Gazpacho – a chilled vegetable soup that originates in Spain. There is no cooking involved and it is quick and easy. I’ve never made it before, but that didn’t stop me!

I started with gorgeous organic tomatoes, an organic English cucumber, and organic basil from the Growing Garden in Bellingham (grown by our own long-time Board member Brent Harrison).; Organic red garlic came from Rabbit Fields Farm in Everson.; I rounded it out with some extra virgin olive oil (pesticide-free) from Bija that is bottled in Lynden and Bellewood Acres apple cider vinegar, also made in Lynden from local apples. A little Himalayan pink sea salt from Salt Works in Woodenville (the farthest away of my ingredients – they process the salt in-state). I did put some ground black pepper in the soup as well, which isn’t local, but I won’t tell if you don’t!

Tomatoes are in season right now, so while I did peel them, I didn’t bother de-seeding them – the seeds in fresh in-season tomatoes are generally soft and not as bitter as off-season tomatoes.; Other than that, you basically chop your ingredients up, throw them in the food processor, and let them chill in the fridge until you are ready to eat. The longer you can let it chill, the more complex the flavor becomes.  Fumar con fruición!

Gazpacho in a cucumber cup © Sassy Sampler 2011

Gazpacho

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 large tomatoes, peeled and rough cut
  • 1 large English cucumber
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4-6 large leaves of basil, chopped
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar (Bellewood Acres)
  • 1-2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (BIJA)
  • 1/2 t sea salt (SaltWorks)
  • Black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add your cucumber to food processor and process until only a few small pieces remain.Pour cucumber purée into a large bowl.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the food processor and process until only a few chunks remain. Add to cucumber purée and stir to combine.
  3. Add the minced garlic and about 4 leaves of chopped basil to the purée. Add sea salt.
  4. Add olive oil and cider vinegar. Add pepper to taste and mix well.
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. The longer it sits in the fridge, the better the flavors will have combined.
  6. Serve ice-cold with a sliced and toasted baguette (Against the Grain Gourmet makes a great GF baguette). Garnish with more chopped basil before serving.

If the tomatoes you are using are out of season, you may want to remove the seeds either before you purée the tomatoes, or strain the tomato purée after processing. If they are in season, chances are you won’t have to take this step.

All ingredients in this recipe were either grown or processed locally (in Whatcom County or WA State, in-season), with the exception of the black pepper.

Gazpacho PDF

Shanghai Cucumbers

One of my favorite dishes that I’ve had at a restaurant is PF Chang’s Shanghai Cucumbers.  The first time I had them, I went home and recreated them.  It is a quick and easy recipe that is delicious with a number of dishes.  All you need is a cucumber, toasted sesame oil, tamari or shoyu, and gomasio (toasted sesame seeds).  I found out recently that PF Chang’s also adds a small amount of white vinegar to the sauce, but I don’t tend to do that when I make it, although it does add a slight amount of tang (that isn’t unwelcome) to the dish.

Shanghai Cucumber ingredients

I believe that cucumber choice is the key to success with this recipe.  I am a huge fan of the local Dominion Organics Middle Eastern (or Persian) cucumbers and feel that this variety tastes the best, especially for this recipe.  English cucumbers are my second choice, when the Middle Eastern ones are not in season, and the nice thing is that those are generally local year round (they are grown in BC in a hot-house).  If neither of these varieties of cucumbers are available to you, then you can of course use your standard cucumber!

Another key ingredient that I use is the Ohsawa brand organic gluten-free tamari.  We don’t carry it at the Co-op, but owners can special order it in quantities of 3 (it works out to be about $9.60 a bottle – I saw it for as much as $21 a bottle on Amazon!).  It is much pricier than other tamaris on the market, but it is vastly superior so it is worth the extra cost.  We carry Ohsawa Nama Shoyu at the Co-op (if you can tolerate wheat) which is also pricier than other shoyus, but again, it is vastly superior.  It is the only unpasteurized (and therefore raw)  shoyu on the market – and neither the shoyu or the tamari is made with grain alcohol.

Anyway, back to the recipe!  Start by peeling strips off the cucumber – this is more for looks than anything else!

Once you have done that, hold your knife at a 45° angle to the end of the cucumber and slice into bite-sized chunks.  Rotate cucumber a 1/4 turn and slice again – repeat until you can’t cut any more off!

Next, mix your sauce ingredients in a small measuring cup or in a small bowl.  Pour over your cut cucumber, sprinkle with gomasio, and you’re done!

This dish takes about 5-7 minutes to make (depending on how quick you are with your knife!) – if you make it ahead, I like to reserve the sauce and add it right before serving.  If you have leftovers, they will still be delicious (and slightly more intense!) the next day, although they won’t look as pretty.  I make these at home to go with steak, Asian cuisine, and just for a snack.

Shanghai Cucumbers

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Middle Eastern or English Cucumber
  • ~ 2 T GF tamari or shoyu
  • 1/4 t toasted sesame oil
  • Gomasio (to taste)
  • Optional—1 t white vinegar

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wash your cucumber of choice.  With your vegetable peeler, peel strips off the cucumber, being sure to leave some of the skin.
  2. Holding your knife at a 45° angle to the end of the cucumber, slice cucumber into mouth sized pieces, rotating a 1/4 turn after each cut.  Place cut cucumber into a bowl.
  3. In a small measuring cup or bowl combine tamari/shoyu and toasted sesame oil.  Add vinegar if using.
  4. Toss cucumber with the sauce.  Sprinkle gomasio to taste.
  5. Enjoy!

To make your own gomasio:

  1. Heat a small sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add raw sesame seeds to pan, and shake continuously until the seeds become slightly browned and become very aromatic, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from pan; Optional—sprinkle sea salt (to taste) over seeds and mix well.
  4. Keep in airtight container in the fridge.

You can use any kind of cucumber in this dish, but Middle Eastern/Persian and English cucumbers work the best.  If you use a regular cucumber, then you will need to peel the whole thing and deseed it first.

Shanghai Cucumbers PDF