Thursday, May 16, 2013

How to Freeze Avocados to Use in Smoothies

                                             


How to Freeze Avocados to Use in Smoothies

We add an avocado to our daily smoothies, but it's nearly impossible to have a "just right" ripe avocado every day since they go bad quickly. Sometimes we only needed half an avocado. Here's a simple way: a smooth purée. For every avocado you need 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and it keeps its bright green color if you purée it rather than mash it like you would for guacamole. Each avocado = 3/4 cup purée (12 tablespoons). Sometimes I will make a big batch, like 18 avocados, so I need over 1 cup lemon juice for that quantity of purée (4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup). Now it's easy to have that daily avocado!

6 avocados, ripe
6 TBL lemon juice, fresh-squeezed
6 sandwich-sized zip-loc plastic bags 
1 ice-cream scoop that measures 1/4-cup servings
1 large tray
  1. Wash avocados. Make a cut around each avocado starting at the stem end, and cut all the way around. Twist to separate. The pit will stay in one half. You can easily remove the pit by whacking the sharp knife into the pit, leaving the knife in the pit and twisting it out of the avocado half. The pit will stay on the knife, so simply hit the handle of the knife on the edge of the sink and the pit will fall into the sink.
  2. As you go, place each cut avocado half flesh-side down on a cutting board so they don't turn brown, until all avocados are cut in half.
  3. Scoop out the flesh of each avocado into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
  4. Add lemon juice and pulse several times, then run the food processor continuously until you have a smooth purée. Stop halfway through to scrape down sides of the bowl.
  5. To portion out into plastic bags: open one plastic bag, then fold the opening backwards down about an inch or two. Hold the open plastic bag in one hand with your fingers under the folded edge, the bag resting in your open palm, and scoop 3/4-cup avocado purée into the bag (3 scoops). Yes, that's a whole avocado portion, but hang on because we will divide in in half in step 7). Set aside and continue until all of the purée is portioned out.
  6. To seal, tap each bag on the counter to get the purée into the bottom corners of the bag, then press out all of the air and seal. 
  7. Place each bag on the large tray and lay the bags flat. Divide the purée in half by pressing your finger on top of the bag and running it from bottom to top. This creates 1/2 avocado portions in case you only need half an avocado for your smoothie or other recipe. 
  8. Freeze the tray of purée, and use half a bag or the whole bag as needed.


Saturday, May 11, 2013

Salmon with Sorrel & Lovage


Salmon with Sorrel & Lovage
Serves 2

Sorrel and lovage shoot out of the ground practically screaming, "Spring!" I was in the mood for poached salmon today. Yesterday I harvested the last of the French sorrel, washed it and bagged it until I figured out more recipes to use it in, and then I saw that the lovage seemed to have sprouted 2-feet tall overnight. I realized the smokey, celery-like lovage would be a great flavor with the lemony sorrel. How could that not be a great thing with poached salmon? It turned out so well I ran to write down the recipe so I wouldn't forget. We buy frozen wild-salmon filets that come individually sealed. It only takes 20-30 minutes to thaw them after setting them in a sink full of cold water.

Don't forget to cut a few large lovage stems into 8-inch straws to put in your drinking glasses!

2 C broth, preferably homemade (chicken, beef or fish)
2 6-ounce salmon filets, thawed if frozen
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1/3 C sliced celery, use the tender inner celery heart, sliced 1/4-inch thick, including whole leaves
3 TBL lovage leaves, coarsely chopped, packed tight
1 1/2 C chopped sorrel leaves (roll like a cigar and chop in 1/4-inch shred (save 1/2 C for later)
2 TBL parsley, chopped fine
1 TBL chives, snipped fine with scissors (optional)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper, or 10 peppercorns
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly
Garnish: chive spears with a few chive blossoms and/or small lovage sprigs
  1. In a 2-quart sauce pan sauté onion, garlic and celery in olive oil over medium heat until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. 
  2. Add broth, lovage, sorrel (save 1/4 cup), parsley, chives, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 1-2 minutes on low heat to develop flavors.
  3. Add salmon filets to broth, pressing them so they are submerged a bit, then place lemon slices on top of the fish. Poach the salmon, covered, for 5 minutes over low to medium low heat. Add remaining 1/4 cup sorrel just before serving.
  4. To serve, ladle broth, herbs and vegetables in to large shallow bowls, then place the salmon filets on top and serve. Garnish with some of the fresh herbs and a few lemon slices.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sorrel Soup with Chicken and Leeks

Sorrel Soup with Chicken and Leeks

Sorrel makes for a wonderful soup in the spring. In Poland or Hungary they call it Shav Borscht, and often eat it at Passover. Traditionally it is thickened with a flour and butter roux, but not in my house.

1/2 pound sorrel leaves, stripped from stems and chopped
2 leeks, cleaned, and sliced including an inch of green
1 TBL olive oil
4 C chicken broth, preferably homemade
1 egg, optional (not for AIP diet)
2 C chicken, cooked or uncooked
salt and pepper to taste
Sour cream, coconut cream or cashew cream

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then sauté leeks for a minute or so, and add the chopped sorrel. Cook until sorrel wilts and turns its own unique shade of brown (once you cook it, you'll see what I mean).
  2. Add the chicken stock to the sorrel and leeks. Bring to a simmer, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. 
  3. At this point you can either puree the soup (use an immersion blender) and add the beaten egg, or you can leave it as is. 
  4. Add the chicken. If the chicken is uncooked, simmer until cooked through. If you are using up leftover cooked chicken, chop or shred the chicken and add to soup to heat through.
  5. Serve the soup hot or cold, garnished with a small chiffonade of fresh sorrel, and a dollop of sour cream, coconut cream or cashew cream.


Yay! A local CSA farm near my home!

The farm near my home is La Nay Ferme, Provo, Utah. And, if you are lucky enough to buy fresh vegetables and fruit from a local CSA* farm near you, there are three reasons to join. Head chefs Vance Lott and Matt Lott talk about them here
  1. TASTE & HEALTH: The fruit and vegetables taste MUCH better, and they are better for you
  2. SUPPORT: You are supporting your local community
  3. RELATIONSHIPS:  You develop a relationship with the food, since you've seen where it comes from, and that is a healthy thing!

*CSA means Community Supported Agriculture, so go ahead, join a CSA and support your community!


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Spinach

2 heads cauliflower
1 TBL olive oil or coconut oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
*
1 quart chicken broth (preferably homemade)
1 tsp salt, or to taste
4 C baby spinach

  1. Remove large green leaves from both of the cauliflowers. With a paring knife, remove the cores. Rinse under running water and set aside.
  2. In a large pressure cooker, heat the oil and sauté onions and garlic over medium heat. Cook until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  3. To the pot add both cauliflower (whole is fine), seal the lid and bring to high pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and bring pressure down by holding closed pot under cold running water (quick release method). Once the pressure valve is down, open lid away from you. 
  4. With a sharp knife cut up the cauliflower in large pieces while it is in the pot. Add the chicken broth and salt to taste. 
  5. Purée the cauliflower in the pot with a hand-held immersion blender. Add spinach and allow to wilt in the hot soup before serving.