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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

My favorite things

Sometimes I wish I were Oprah, but I'd be my happiest if I were Gwyneth Paltrow. Or even like her. Or just her friend. Or her acquaintance?
I've been obsessed with GP since she started acting (yes I watched Hook). About 15 years ago, I saw a fashion magazine with her picture on its cover: she had chopped her hair super short and looked amazing. Those were her Sliding Doors days. I ran to the salon, photo in hand and asked for the hair-do. I looked awful! That's when I found out I wasn't her. Surprise!
But as life happens, my hair eventually grew back, and hers did too...
I've watched all her movies and I rarely miss an interview. I desperately await for Thursdays so I can read her in GOOP, follow all her advice and sign up for all her recommendations. I even answered a survey! Everything to support her. 
She had a "friendship divorce," while I was having my own friendship divorce. She likes Claudia Roden's The Book of Jewish Food, and it happens to be one of my favorite cookbooks. She has 2 kids: an older girl and a boy. So do I! She likes to cook, I do too. I pre-ordered her cookbook and read it from cover to cover, and made many of the recipes (not to be partial, but all were amazing, even to my husband's disbelief). She's into natural, healthier eating. So am I. She's fabulous, beautiful, talented, spiritual, tall, has great taste. Coincidence? We're like twins! (OK, if you've never read me before: I'm being sarcastic and a bit delusional).
She's my role model (she better never get divorced, do drugs or abuse her kids) and my dream would come true if I ever met her and got her to try my chocolate chip-mesquite-green tea cookies.
And since I'm talking about my favorite things, besides Gerta, my brand new ice cream maker, I have a few other faves in the kitchen and I'd love to encourage my (2) readers to try them:
  • Kitchen scale-My students never believe me when I introduce the scale as the fastest, most efficient, least messy and most exact baking tool. There's this belief that a kitchen scale is a sophisticated, professionals-only piece of equipment. But trust me: since it can be tared every time a new ingredient will be added, it turns lots of recipes into a one-bowl task and it makes sure the recipes work every time, as it eliminates measuring discrepancies caused by human error. I own the Escali Primo (don't worry, my amazon.com % doesn't seem to be working, so I'm not even making $0.005 out of recommending this, and for $25.00 it's a great value), and if I can operate it, so can you!

  • Coconut milk, used as cream (canned, or home-made)- I haven't been too shy about explaining how much I admire coconut's versatility, especially as an all-natural dairy substitute. A couple of months ago I heard from Fran Costigan that if you refrigerate a can of coconut milk (doesn't work with the "light" version) overnight, the milk separates into 2 faces: a solid one with most of the fat and a liquid part. It's true! If you separate the creamy one and whip it, it can be used as whipped cream. I sometimes add a couple drops of lime juice to cut into its richness and soften the coconut taste of it and sweeten it slightly with a teaspoon of honey, maple or coconut syrup (sugar can be used too).

  • Mesquite Flour (or powder)- Made by drying and grinding the pods of the mesquite tree, this meal is low glycemic and gluten free. It's rich in fiber, high in protein and minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc, and it's been suggested that can help regulate blood sugar levels. But my favorite quality? It's flavor. It imparts an elegant, warm, subtle taste and aroma with cinnamon, chocolate and caramel notes. More precisely: it tastes like a hug. An expensive hug that is, but once you try it, you can't go back!

  • Date paste-OK, we've gone+ through that one already!
My other favorite: My own mesquite-chocolate chip-green tea cookies. I'll share that recipe later, but since Gerta and I are now BFFs, she has to participate in this post.


MESQUITE-CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM
Since acquiring Gerta, all I can do is think of how to turn the World into ice cream. So I was inspired by my own cookie recipe to create a mesquite frozen dessert. It doesn't have ANY sugar added, but just a tiny bit of pure maple syrup and some kept-in-my-freezer-home-made date paste. I served it last night topped by my home-made chocolate shell (Just melt 4.5 ounces of bittersweet or semi sweet chocolate with 0.75 ounces of virgin coconut oil over a double boiler. Serve over ice cream and it will solidify immediately when the chocolate sauce touches the cold dessert), and no one could stop eating...
  • Vegan; gluten, nut, dairy, egg and soy free
  • Super ingredients: mesquite flour, green tea, coconut milk


INGREDIENTS


  • 1 (13.6 fl. oz) can coconut milk (I like Thai Kitchen Organic, which doesn't have preservatives, don't use "lite")
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) unsweetened plain rice milk
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) arrowroot starch
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoons (6 ounces) date paste
  • 2 Tablespoons (1 ounce) pure maple syrup 
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped or 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 bag green tea
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)
METHOD
Refrigerate coconut milk can overnight.


Separate coconut "cream" and place in a medium saucepan. Reserve coconut liquid for another use (just do not keep in the can!).*


In a small bowl, mix with a fork or whisk 1/4 cup rice milk with arrowroot. Set aside.


Add the remaining rice milk, date paste, maple, bag of green tea, vanilla and salt into the saucepan with the coconut cream.
Over medium heat and stirring occasionally with a whisk, bring to a simmer.


Pour in arrowroot-rice milk slurry in and keep whisking.
Bring mixture just to a boil.


Strain immediately into a large bowl and cool completely (could be covered and refrigerated overnight at this point).


Pour ice cream base into ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions.


Add chocolate chips into machine once ice cream starts hardening a bit.


Serve, pour some chocolate shell on top and enjoy!


*Great in smoothies or to finish soups or sauces

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