“Mocha” Oat Bran Pudding (Budino di Crusca d’Avena al Caffè d’Orzo)

While living in Italy, I discovered “caffè d’orzo”, a barley-based coffee substitute that is by default caffeine-free.  It’s a very common drink there, but virtually unheard of in the U.S.  After doing some research, I found that it does exist here under the name “grain coffee”.  While it’s more difficult to find here than in Europe, there are a handful of brands available in health food stores and on the Internet.

Grain coffee is almost always barley based and sometimes has rye and chicory added for flavor as well.  I get the kind that dissolves when stirred into water, but some are meant to be brewed in a coffee pot, just like regular coffee grounds.  Not only does it have a similar taste and aroma as coffee, but grain coffee has a maltiness that reminds me of mocha- the combination of coffee and chocolate.  Try mixing it with warm almond milk on winter nights as a “grown-up” alternative to hot chocolate!

In the summer, I like to make this raw porridge as a cooling alternative to traditional oatmeal (perfect for an AC-free New York City apartment!).  If you don’t have grain coffee, the base of oat bran, flaxseed and nut milk can be the starting point for limitless other variations (mango-brazil nut, berry-almond, apple-walnut-cinnamon…)!

“Mocha” Oat Bran Pudding:

Serves 1

Ingredients:

1/4 cup oat bran

1 tablespoon freshly ground flaxseed

1 cup nut milk of choice, preferably homemade

1/3 banana, thinly sliced

a few raisins

pinch salt

2 teaspoons grain coffee powder (water soluble kind)

1 teaspoon honey

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

walnuts, for topping

What to do:

Mix all of the ingredients (except for walnuts) in a mug or small bowl, cover and let sit 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Remove from fridge a few minutes before eating so it’s not ice cold and top with crushed walnuts.

"Mocha" Oat Bran Pudding - The Clean Gourmet

Budino di Crusca d’Avena al Caffè d’Orzo:

1 porzione

Ingredienti:

4 cucchiai di crusca d’avena

1 cucchiaio di semi di lino, macinati

ml latte di mandorle, preferibilmente fresco

1/3 di banana, tagliata a fette sottili

un pò d’uvetta

pizzico di sale

2 cucchiaini di caffe d’orzo in polvere (quello solubile nell’acqua)

1 cucchiaino di miele

piccolo goccio d’estratto di vaniglia

delle noci, per servire

Cosa fare:

Mischiate tutti gli ingredienti (tranne le noci) in una tazza o in un scodella piccola, coprite e lasciate in frigo per almeno quattro ore.

Tirate dal frigo qualche minuto prima di mangiare, così non è freddissimo, e sbriciolate le noci sopra.

"Mocha" Oat Bran Pudding - The Clean Gourmet


Grain-Free “Biscuits” (“Panini” Senza Grano)

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

I’ve made these grain-free biscuits dozens of times and they never disappoint.  They pair great with sweet spreads, such as jam or lemon curd, and are perfect for savory accompaniments too, such as cheese or gravy.

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

Since they are quite neutral, you can add a dollop of preserves in the middle before baking or fold in savory herbs and cheese.  Perfectly customizable.

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

These require very few ingredients so they’re easy to whip up and are grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free.

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

Ingredients:

3.5 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville)

¾ teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil (coconut oil works if ingredients are room temperature)

2 teaspoons honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

What to do:

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together almond flour, baking soda and salt.  In a small/medium mixing bowl, whisk eggs, oil, honey and vinegar together.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and combine with spatula.  Spoon batter into muffin tin to make 10 biscuits. Bake 15 mins in 325 degree Fahrenheit oven. Let cool in muffin tin for 5-10 mins before removing to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one day and in the refrigerator for up to 4 days (they freeze very well also- just be sure to halve before freezing).

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet

 

Ingredienti:

350 grammi di farina di mandorle

3/4 cucchiaino di bicarbonato di sodio

1/4 cucchiaino di sale

4 uova

1 cucchiaio d’olio neutro, tipo olio d’avocado oppure olio di vinacciolo (va bene olio di cocco se gli altri ingredienti sono a temperatura ambiente)

2 cucchiaini di miele

1 cucchiaino di aceto di sidro di mele

Cosa fare:

In una scodella media, frustate assieme la farina di mandorle, il bicarbonato di sodio e il sale.  Dentro una scodella più piccola, frustate le uova, l’olio, il miele e l’aceto.  Unite gli ingredienti morbidi a quelli secchi e incorporate con una spatola.

Trasferite la pastella a cucchiaiate in uno stampo da muffin, facendo 10 muffin.  Infornate per 15 minuti a 160 gradi centigradi.  Lasciate raffreddare per 5-10 minuti prima di toglierli per farli raffreddare completamente.

Mettete via in un contenitore a tenuta d’aria per un giorno a temperatura ambiente o per 4 giorni in frigo (stanno benissimo nel freezer, basta che li dimezzati prima).

Grain-Free "Biscuits" - The Clean Gourmet


Apple Peel Crisps (Croccantini di Bucce di Mela)

If you went apple picking like me and got a TON of apples, I’m sure you’re coming up with all kinds of uses for those apples.  I always to try to keep the skins on when I’m cooking and baking with apples, but unfortunately, some recipes just don’t work with the skins.  In my case, I wanted pectin-free creamy applesauce so I had to peel my apples.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to throw away the most nutritious part of all those apples!

While it is important to buy all or as much organic produce as possible, it is especially important to buy organic apples.  The Environmental Working Group, who puts together the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen Lists, has put apples as the most chemical-contaminated produce this year!  Sure they cost more, but you’ll probably save on doctor’s bills in the long run anyway buy buying organic apples instead of conventionally grown ones.

Like most fruits and vegetables, the majority of the fiber, vitamins and minerals are found in the peel, which will help control blood sugar and protect you from various diseases.  Apple peel’s unique attribute is that it’s very high in ursolic acid, which promotes muscle growth and reduction of body fat, with a higher proportion of brown fat to white fat (which is beneficial for diabetes prevention and healthy aging).  For more information, check out the links below*.  If you want to enjoy these health benefits of the peel without a side of pesticides, I again stress that you buy organic.

This is probably the easiest recipe I’ve posted so far, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t try it!  Note that I put the apples into a cold oven and then turn the heat on, as this allows for some low temperature dehydration.  I then turn the oven off and wait for it to cool completely before taking the skins out for the same purpose.  I do not have a dehydrator and this method is working for me, but I imagine you could use a dehydrator to get similar results.

*Main Sources: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/19/never-peel-apple_n_4791328.html and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2000392/Apple-peel-helps-build-muscle-control-weight.html

What to do:

Peel your apples and arrange the peels on a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven.  Turn oven on to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for about 30-40 minutes, tossing once or twice.  When the skins are mostly dry and crisp, turn the oven off and leave pan in there until oven cools down to ensure full dehydration.

Enjoy alone for snacking, steeped in hot water as a “tea” or as a crunchy topping on salad, oatmeal or whatever you can think of!

Apple Peel Crisps (Croccantini di Bucce di Mela) - The Clean Gourmet

Come fare:

Sbucciate delle mele e spargete le bucce su una teglia foderata di carta pergamena e infornate (il forno deve essere freddo).  Accendete il forno e impostate a 150 gradi centigradi e lasciate per circa 30-40 minuti, girando una o due volte.  Quando le bucce sono abbastanza essiccate e croccanti, spegnete il forno e lasciate infornate le bucce finché il forno non sia raffreddata, così per essiccare bene le bucce.

Graditele da sole per spuntini, nell’acqua calda come una tisana oppure come un condimento sull’insalata, sui cereali caldi or qualunque cosa alla quale riuscite a pensare!


Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves (Conserva di Prugne alla Vaniglia con Kuzu)

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Plums are in season and we’ve been getting a lot of them through our CSA.  These Damsons have that quintessential “prune” taste, so they become very rich when reduced to a preserve and do not need much sweetener.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Instead of the usual 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar, I added a little blueberry juice (that’s whole organic blueberry juice, with no added sugar or preservatives) to get the plums going and to lend bit more depth of flavor, along with a touch of maple syrup.

Since I use very little sweetener and the fruit is quite juicy, I use kuzu to help set up the preserves, especially since plums are not particularly high in natural pectin.  If you are not familiar with kuzu, it’s a starch that’s also known as Japanese arrowroot and it looks like a white clumpy powder.  Kuzu is commonly used in macrobiotics for therapeutic purposes, including (but not limited to) the treatment of expansion headaches, upset stomach, blood circulation, skin disorders and fever.  (Perhaps a post on kuzu remedies is in order…) It’s good stuff.

If you’re not suffering from any of these ailments, it’s still not a bad idea to put some kuzu in your homemade preserves, if nothing else for culinary purposes.  Just be sure to make a slurry with the kuzu by dissolving it in a little water and then bring whatever fruit you’ve added it to to a boil, or else the kuzu won’t be able to work its magic.

If you can’t find kuzu or don’t want to wait to get it, reduce the preserve for a longer period of time over the heat.  Regular arrowroot powder is an option as well, but the consistency will get stringy-gummy, which I don’t find appetizing at all.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

I kept mine simple this time by leaving out any spices in order to let the vanilla stand out.  In the past, however, I’ve made it warm and spicy by adding cinnamon, star anise and clove.  See what suits you and feel free to play around with it.  I imagine fresh ginger would be a nice addition as well.

Makes about 16 ounces

Ingredients:

1 quart Damson plums, pitted and roughly chopped

1/3 cup good quality blueberry juice

2 teaspoons vanilla extract or half a vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise

1-2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon vodka, lemon juice or red wine vinegar

Optional Spices: 1 cinnamon stick, 1 star anise, 4 cloves

2 teaspoons kuzu + 2 teaspoons water

What to do:

Place all ingredients, except for kuzu, in a medium pot (heavy-bottomed is best) over medium-low heat.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

 

Bring to a boil and reduce heat to very low and simmer for 1 hour, until the plums have broken down and the liquid has reduced.  Stir every 15 minutes or so to make sure there is no sticking to the pot.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Make a slurry with the kuzu by dissolving it in the 2 teaspoons of water.   Add to simmering plums and mix thoroughly.  Bring plums to a low boil and let continue for about 5 minutes.  Reduce heat and simmer for another 20-30 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced enough.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Remove from heat and let cool 10-15 minutes.  Remove cinnamon stick and/or star anise, if using, and pour cooked plums into blender and run until smooth.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Pour into a sterilized jar (or several small jars), seal and refrigerate.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Spread on toast, grain-free biscuits (as pictured) or dollop onto local grass-fed yogurt.  Keeps for 2-3 weeks in refrigerator.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet

Rende circa 450ml

Ingredienti:

800 grammi di prugne Damson, snocciolate e tagliate a cubetti

90 ml di succo di mirtillo

1 cucchiaino di estratto di vaniglia o metà d’un baccello di vaniglia, dimezzato

1-2 cucchiai di sciroppo d’acero

1 cucchiaio di vodka, succo di limone fresco o aceto di vino rosso

Spezie Facoltative: 1 bastoncino di canella, 1 anice stellato, 4 chiodi di garofano

2 cucchiaini di kuzu (oppure di amido di mais) + 2 cucchiaini d’acqua

What to do:

Mettete tutti gli ingredienti (tranne il kuzu) in una pentola media (meglio una pesante) sul fuoco medio-basso.

Fate bollire la miscela e abbassate la fiamma quanto possibile e lasciate sobbollire per circa un’ora, finché le prugne non siano molle e il liquido sia abbasstanza ridotto.  Girate circa ogni 15 minuti, stando attenti che le prugne non s’appiccichino al fondo della pentola.

Fate una malta fluida col kuzu ed i 2 cucchiaini d’acqua.  Aggiungete alle prugne cotte e mescolate bene.  Fate bollire lentamente per 5 minuti.  Riducete la fiamma un’altro pò e lasciate sobbollire per altri 20-30 minuti, giusto per far addensare e ridurre abbastanza il liquido.

Togliete dal fornello caldo la pentola e lasciate raffreddare 10-15 minuti.  Togliete il bastoncino di canella e l’anice stellato, se usando, e versate le prugne cotte in un frullatore e fate andare finché la consistenza non sia liscia.

Versate la conserva in un vasetto sterilizzato (o alcuni piccoli), chiudete e mettete in frigo.

Dura circa 2-3 settimane in frigo.

Vanilla Plum Kuzu Preserves - The Clean Gourmet