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


Oat and Flax Pancakes with Spiced Apple Compote

My family and I wanted a festive way to end the Thanksgiving holiday that didn’t involve wheat or a ton of saturated fat, especially after all of the heavy, inflammatory food and drink of the holidays.  Also, there was a bag of flax in the fridge that I wanted to use up as flax, unlike chia, is very perishable and should not be used more than a few months after it’s been purchased.  These old stand-bys are wheat-free (and gluten-free if you use gluten-free oat flour) and full of fiber and omegas, thanks to the ground flaxseed and nutrient-rich oil, and so they called my name.

Alone, these pancakes have a slightly nutty taste, which makes them a tasty canvas for adding different toppings according to the seasons.  To add an autumnal twist, I whipped up a spiced apple compote, which was perfect.

If the apple compote alone is not sweet enough for your pancakes, a drizzle of grade B maple syrup, which is more nutrient-dense and flavorful than grade A, is a good way to sweeten things up.  I also suggest swapping out the saturated fat for protein by using a creamy dollop of 2% Greek yogurt in place of butter.

I hope you enjoy this decadent, yet healthful way to end the fall!

Serves 6

For the Spiced Apple Compote:

Ingredients:

3 apples, cored and chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice or cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons cinnamon

5 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably grade B

What to do:

Oat and Flax Pancakes with Spiced Apple Compote - The Clean Gourmet

Place all ingredients in a small-medium pot, cover and bring to a gentle boil.  Once bubbling, reduce heat to low and tilt lid.  Continue to simmer for 20-30 minutes, until apples are soft and liquid has reduced to a syrup.

While the apples simmer, prepare the pancakes:

For the Oat and Flax Pancakes:

Ingredients:

1 cup oat flour (preferably gluten-free)

1/2 cup cold milled flaxseed

1/2 cup potato starch

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons turbinado sugar

1/4 cup flax, olive or grapeseed oil 

2 cups buttermilk (or 2 cups almond milk with 1 tsp lemon juice)

butter or avocado oil, for cooking

2% Greek yogurt, to serve

grade B maple syrup, to serve

What to do:

In a medium bowl, whisk together oat flour, ground flaxseed, potato starch, baking powder, and cinnamon.

Oat and Flax Pancakes with Spiced Apple Compote - The Clean Gourmet

In a separate large bowl, beat eggs with whisk.  Next, add sugar and oil and whisk well to make fluffy.  Finally, add buttermilk or almond milk-lemon mixture.  Whisk until frothy.

Oat and Flax Pancakes with Spiced Apple Compote - The Clean Gourmet

Pour dry ingredients into the large bowl with the wet ingredients and mix until just combined (do NOT overmix- a few flour clumps are fine).  Don’t worry if the batter seems thin.

Oat and Flax Pancakes with Spiced Apple Compote - The Clean Gourmet

Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat for five minutes (yes, five minutes) to ensure thorough heating.  In the meantime, let the batter stand.  The ground flaxseed will congeal and cause the batter to thicken a bit.

Oat and Flax Pancakes with Spiced Apple Compote - The Clean Gourmet

Pour 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil in the pan and swirl to cover.  Grab a 1/4 cup measure or ladle and use it to scoop drops of batter into the pan.  Once each drop of batter is bubbling (about 2 minutes), flip and cook for another minute or two.

Serve pancakes immediately or place in a 200F degree oven on a cooling rack placed on top of a baking sheet.  Top pancakes with apple compote, yogurt and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Downloadable/Printable Version


Last-Minute Kale Salad

Last-Minute Kale Salad - The Clean Gourmet
This is a kale salad dressing I improvised when I came home from the gym starving and just ready to eat.  (Sorry, no picture as I ate it all too quickly.)  Of course, I didn’t want to stuff my face with my boyfriend’s chips and other tempting treats, so I whipped up a quick kale salad and it was actually quite good.

Wash and tear kale from stalks and break into bite-sized pieces.  Thinly slice half a red onion (shallot would work too) and place in a medium-sized bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk with a fork equal parts: flax oil, cider vinegar, Bragg’s liquid amino acids, lime juice, and a half part maple syrup.

Pour some of the dressing over the kale, add some salt and pepper and begin to massage.  If after about a minute some of the kale is still dry, add some more dressing.  (Any leftover dressing can be saved for future kale or non-kale salads- just be sure to consume within a few days as it contains fresh lime juice.)  Be careful not to overdo it and cause the kale to become soggy.  I massaged mine for about 4 minutes and felt that that was sufficient for me.

Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and feel free to add some halved cherry tomatoes and/or cubed avocado.  Serve!

Last-Minute Kale Salad - The Clean Gourmet


Almond and Oat Bran Muffins (Muffin di Mandorle e Crusca d’Avena)

Almond and Oat Bran Muffins (Muffin di Mandorle e Crusca d’Avena)

Makes 20 muffins 

These are not too sweet and are a great way to use up leftover almond pulp from making almond milk.  Of course, if you’re adventurous you can certainly try using pulp from making a different kind of nut milk J.

If you want to make these without having to make nut milk, try substituting with 1¾ cups nut meal plus a bit more milk (I’d try an extra ¼ cup) and adjust it from there.

I don’t like very sweet things so if you prefer a sweeter muffin, add another tablespoon or two of maple syrup.  Maple syrup is a very potent sweetener, so if you choose to use honey in place of the syrup, you will get an even less sweet result.

Dry Ingredients:

scant 2 cups almond pulp

1½ cups oat bran

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:

2 eggs

1 cup applesauce

1 cup almond milk or milk of your preference

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2/3 cup currants

1 tablespoon maple syrup

½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar

½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

What to do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mix dry ingredients until fluffy- you may need to use hands to de-crumble almond pulp.

Almond and Oat Bran Muffins

Whisk wet ingredients until incorporated.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

 Almond and Oat Bran Muffins

Scoop batter into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.

Almond and Oat Bran Muffins

Let cool in muffin tins for 5-10 minutes before serving.  These will keep for 3-4 days when stored in an airtight container.  Store in refrigerator for slightly longer shelf life.

Muffin di Mandorle e Crusca d’Avena:

Fa 20 muffin

Ingredienti Secchi:

2 tazze scarse di poltiglia di mandorle

1½ tazze crusca d’avena

1 cucchiaino di sale

1 cucchiaio di levito

½ cucchiaino di bicarbonato

2 cucchiaini di cannella

Ingredienti Umidi:

2 uova

1 tazza di purea di mele

1 tazza di latte o latte di mandorle

2 cucchiai d’olio di cocco

2/3 tazza di ribes essiccati

1 cucchiaio di sciroppo d’acero

½ cucchiaino d’aceto di sidro di mele

½ tazza di cocco essiccato

Cosa Fare:

Fate scaldare il forno a 180 gradi Centigradi.

Mescolate gli ingredienti secchi finché la miscela sia soffice (dovrete probabilmente usare le mani per sbriciolare la poltiglia di mandorle).

Mescolate gli ingredienti umidi da parte.

Unite gli ingredienti secchi e umidi facendo attenzione a non mischiare troppo.

Versate la pastella in una teglia da forno (idealmente quella per i muffin) e mettete nel forno.  Se usate la teglia da muffin, saranno pronti tra 20 minuti.  Invece, se usate la teglia normale da forno, controllate tra 30 minuti per la cottura.  Appena cotto, tirate dal forno e lasciate nella teglia per 5-10 minuti prima di servire.