Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Raspberry Coconut Rochers a.k.a Macarons

Hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day weekend!  The majority of ours were filled with studying, working, and errands, but there were some nice reprieves in the company of good friends and good food.    We all need a break sometimes, and these Raspberry Coconut Rochers are the perfect little treat to help step back and enjoy the sweeter side of life ;)

I love the traditional coconut macaron, but when I saw these I realized that the macaron could be elevated to a whole new level of goodness.  The tart raspberry flawlessly complements the sweet coconut and finished with just a bit of Valrhona bittersweet chocolate, this treat is truly perfection.  I chose to make some of them in the Pyramid shape and call them Rochers just to make them a little fancy.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mmmm Donuts...Kabocha Donuts

I still had some Kabocha left over from making the Gnocchi the other day and after some debate decided to make some donuts...because who doesn't like donuts? ;)

This one is more like a cake donut...except much better for you.  It's not fried, and Kabocha squash takes the main stage with minimal wheat flour (I'd love to experiment this with almond or rice flour) and minimal sweetner.  The coconut oil only adds some healthy fat and voila! A healthy moist snack with just the right amount of sweetness.

Kabocha Donuts

Fills about 6 regular donut molds

1/4 of Kabocha Squash (peeled)
1/2cup Plain Yogurt
2-3tbsp Sugar or Honey (or any sweetner)
1/4cup virgin coconut oil
1 egg
1/2cup wheat flour
1/2tsp baking powder
pinch of salt


1) Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray or butter your Donut molds.

2) Blend coconut oil with the sugar until fluffy.

3) Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Slowly add flour, baking powder, and salt until incorporated- don't over mix!

4) Peel and cut Kabocha squash into small pieces and microwave for about 3-4min or until very soft.  Mash together with the yogurt in a bowl (or you can puree in a food processor). Fold this into the flour mixture with a spatula.

4) Fill your donut molds and bake for about 20min or until the toothpick test comes back clean.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A Pasta Primavera: Kabocha Gnocchi

I know that this blog is specifically titled "No Pasta for Penguins",  but I decided to break the rule a bit with this recipe.  We usually don't have pasta, not because there's anything wrong with pasta - I truly believe in the motto "everything in moderation", but it is a high carb food - something cy tries to avoid if he can so that he doesn't have to use as much insulin.  

However, I've been wanting to try making Gnocchi out of the Japanese Kabocha squash for quite sometime now.  It's true that winter squash tend to be a high carb vegetable, but research now reveal that not all carbs are made equal.  Much of the carbs in winter squash come from polysaccharides in cell walls including specially structured ones called pectin.  These components have been found to have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin regulating properties.  You can read more about it here or here

This Gnocchi,  made mostly with Kabocha and some wheat flour, is filled with good-for-you carbs, not to mention super simple to make and delicious to eat. It's wonderful on it's own, and I thought about just tossing it in some lemon and sage sauce or something, but decided to make a primavera out of it instead.  The added chicken increases the protein content and different roasted veggies add a wonderful contrast in consistency to the gnocchi, making for a perfect light lunch or dinner.

Kabocha Gnocchi

makes enough to serve 2-3

Approx 1/4 of medium sized Kabocha
100g of wheat flour
dash of salt


1) Peel Kabocha piece, chop into rough pieces and boil until soft.

2) Mix cooked kabocha with the wheat flour in a food processor.  Pulse until combined.  Dough should be sticky but easy to handle.  Try not to overmix the dough.

3) Roll out the dough into tubes approximately 1/2inch in diameter.  Let it rest in the fridge for about an hour.

4) Cut the tubes into pieces 1/2 inch in size.  Roll the the tines of a fork gently across each piece to leave an impression.  When ready to cook, you can cook them in salted boiling water for approximate 7min.  Or you can keep them in a freezer until you're ready to use them.


serves 2-3

1cup Gnocchi (or any other pasta)
1cup cooked chicken breast, chopped (optional)
2 Red bell peppers
1bunch Broccoli
1 carrot
1 onion
1/4cup olive oil
1/4cup grated parmesan
1tbsp chopped garlic
1tbsp Herbs de Provence (or Italian herbs)
salt & pepper


1) Preheat oven to 400degreesF.  Thinly slice all vegetables and mix together with salt, pepper, herbs de provence, garlic, and olive oil in a bowl.  Roast on a metal sheet pan for approximately 20 min. Giving it a good mix about half way through.

2) Cook the the Gnocchi during this time, or whatever pasta you plan to use.  Drain, and then toss together with the roasted vegetables.

3)  Add the chicken pieces if you'd like at this point, as well as the parmesan cheese, taste and adjust flavor with salt and pepper and you're done!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rhubarb Apple & Coconut Crisp

I've been seeing Rhubarb in the markets lately and I couldn't help but reach for some...their bright color feels like the epitome of springtime, and I've always wanted to try making something with them.  I had to do a little bit of research since I had never tasted rhubarb before, and to be honest, I was a little bit nervous about the fact that many of the recipes seemed to use a lot of sugar in order to try to offset the tartness of the rhubarb.

In the end, I decided to try out a simple Crisp.  Mixing it up with some apples allowed me to use a minimal amount of sweetner, and I tried to increase the nutritional value of the "crisp" portion by using coconut oil and shredded coconuts along with some almond flour.  The result was the perfect sweet/tart combination...It made for a delicious breakfast this morning with a little yogurt on the side ;)

Rhubarb Apple & Coconut Crisp

Fills 4 small ramekins

2-3 large stalks Rhubarb
1 Apple ( I used Fuji for this)
4tbsp Honey
1tsp Cinnamon
pinch of Salt

1cup Almond Meal
3/4cup Wheat flour
1/4tsp grated nutmeg
1/4cup nuts (I used almonds, but any kind will work)
1/4cup coconut oil
1/4cup honey
1tbsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt


1) Preheat oven to 350F.  Chop rhubarb and apple into small pieces.  Mix together with Honey, Cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Separate evenly in 4 small ramekins.

2) Mix together Almond meal, wheat flour, nuts, salt, and nutmeg in a separate bowl.

3) Melt coconut oil (about 10sec in microwave) and mix with the honey and vanilla extract.  Add to the bowl with the flour and mix until clumps form.

4) Sprinkle the crisp over the filling in each of the ramekins and bake in the oven for about 30-40min, or until brown and crispy and bubbling.  Let cool and enjoy :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Going traditional: The Japanese White Turnip

I'm sure that everyone has hankerings for a particular dishes when they are feeling tired.  For me, if it's not something sweet, then I feel as if my body calls out for Japanese food - and I'm not talking about your run of the mill teriyaki chicken or california roll.  I'm talking about the truly traditional - the delicate balance of flavor created by the holy trinity of ingredients used in Japanese cooking:  soy sauce, sake, and mirin (sweet rice wine).

The small round white Japanese turnip has a mild delicate flavor that works well in Japanese dishes, and is full of vitamins and fiber. This particular dish called "Kabu no Nijiru" is a warm comforting side dish that is cooked along with the turnip's greens as well as with Aburaage (which is essentially thinly sliced fried tofu).  The resulting dish is that delicate tradition Japanese flavor that stays true to its ingredients - for me, this is true comfort food. As for Cy, he likes it with some Shichimi (Japanese chili powder) for an extra kick ;)
I know that some of these ingredients may not be at your local grocery store, but if you are able to get ahold of these ingredients, I hope that you will have the chance to make it - it is truly delicious!

Served with some Shiso Hijiki(seaweed) riceballs ♥
Kabu no Nijiru Recipe

(serves 2)

2 Japanese turnips
1piece Aburaage (fried tofu)
1cup Dashi stock
3tbsp Mirin
1.5-2tbsp Soysauce
pinch of salt


1) Cut off the leaves of the turnips and peel.  Slice into thin half moons. Leave in some water.

2) Wash the leaves and boil for about 3-4min in a pot with some salt and water.  Then drain, and cut into 3-4cm pieces.

3) Prepare the aburaage by pouring boiling water on them and cut into small thin pieces.

4) In a pot, add Dashi stock, turnip and aburaage slices.  Once it reaches a boil bring stove down to  medium heat, add the mirin and soysauce and cook until the turnip softens.  Add the leaves and cook for a few minutes more (don't let the stems of the turnips get too soft - you want it crunchy).  Serve in a bowl.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cabbage Spring Rolls

I must be on a spring roll kick, because I didn't even realize this recipe was actually a spring roll until I had made it.  I just happened to choose this recipe because I had the ingredients on hand and because it looked easy, healthy and delicious - perfect for Cy & I, and perfect for this blog.

I feel as if Cabbage may have a reputation for being a little bit on the boring side of the vegetable world, when in fact it's one of the most versatile and healthiest foods you can eat.  With not only your usual set of vitamins, Cabbage is also high in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants like polyphenol, and glucosinolates that can help keep your digestive tract in good order.  Not only that but, Cabbage has a special cholesterol-lowering effect on your body.  Scientists already know the exact mechanism of how this happens(you can read more about it HERE), and more recently, it has been discovered that this cholesterol-lowering effect is especially high when cabbage is steamed...which is exactly what we will be doing in this recipe.

Cabbage Spring Rolls

served 2-3

4 large leaves of Cabbage
1/2 block of tofu (drained)
1/2lb ground chicken
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
salt & pepper


1) Cook the leaves of Cabbage in salted, boiled water for a few minutes so that the leaves become a little softer.

2) Blend tofu, ground chicken, ginger, garlic, some salt & pepper in a food processor until smooth.

3) Lay out a piece of Cabbage, fill the middle area with some of the filling. Roll into a skinny long log. Repeat with other pieces.

4) Steam cook for approximately 7 min. When cool enough to handle, slice into pieces and serve with some dipping sauce.  ( I just mixed some Ketchup and diced tomatoes with some lemon juice, but I think it would be great with some Soy sauce also).

*I didn't do it this time around, but I think it would also be great to add some pieces of cooked shrimp and scallops in filling for some more texture.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fava Bean Spring Rolls

First of all I just wanted to send out a big Thank you to the friends and readers out there who keep me motivated to continue working on this blog.  I know that I've really only just begun and that this blog is still in its baby stages, but there are definitely times when work and life catches up to me and I find it hard to find the time post.  But then I am reminded of how much I enjoy it - and it's all thanks to the people I ♥ :)

For some reason, Fava beans make me very happy.  They have this chubby, rounded look about them that somehow reminds me of sunny skies, and childhood days.  In Japanese they are called "Sora-mame" which literally means "Sky beans".  Doesn't that just sound happy?

But like most good things in life, they do take a little bit of time to prep.  The beans are enclosed in a thick pod, but once you take them out, you must boil them a bit to peel off the second skin surrounding each bean.  A little bit time consuming, but definitely worth the extra effort.  They are chock full of Vitamin A, B1 and B2.  A wonderful source of energy when you're feeling a little bit down.

This recipe comes from a vegetarian cookbook called Refresh by a former Japanese model. I usually try to stay away from fried foods, but this Spring roll recipe came out amazingly light and clean tasting.  Too often spring rolls are dipped in heavy sauces and filled with even heavier filling.  But this one is simple, with only salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon, it really let's the flavor of the ingredients shine through.  

Fava Bean Spring Rolls
Makes approximately 7-8rolls

3/4lbs Fava Beans
1/2 an onion (chopped)
1lb Cooked Shrimp
7-8 Spring Roll skins


1) Take beans out of Fava bean pods.  Boil for approximately 3-5min.  Drain and once cool enough to handle, peel off second skin.

2) Chop cooked shrimp into bite-size pieces.

3) Take one sheet of Spring roll skin and spread out onto workspace.  Lay some onions, shrimp and beans into the middle area in a horizontal line.  Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.  Wet the edges of the skin, and fold like a burrito to form the spring roll shape.

4) Heat some oil (I used canola) in a pan and fry the spring rolls on each side for approximately 2-3min or until well browned.

5) Let it dry off on some paper towels and enjoy with a squeeze of lemon!

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