Friday, October 30, 2009

Low Fat Apricot Orange Bars

You won't miss the fat one bit with these flavorful bars!

1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. dried apricots
1 c. orange juice
1/2 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Blend apricots and orange juice together in blender until the mixture is smooth.  In a bowl cream together egg, apricot-orange juice mixture, vanilla, and sugar.  Add sweet potato flour, lima bean flour, baking powder, and baking soda to mixture and whisk until smooth.  Pour batter into a lightly greased 8 x 8 pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and an inserted toothpick/knife comes out clean.

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Almond Poppyseed Bread

This sweet and simple quick bread serves as a great breakfast treat, dessert, or snack.  The sweet potato flour makes it extra moist!

1 1/4 c. maple syrup
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbl. poppy seeds
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. sour milk or buttermilk
(sour milk: 3/4 tsp. vinegar + 3/4 c. milk/milk alternative; let stand 5 minutes)
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl whisk together maple syrup, extracts, milk, and oil.  In a separate bowl stir together sweet potato flour, lima bean flour, salt, baking powder, poppy seeds, and xanthan gum.  Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and whisk until well combined.  Pour batter into a lightly greased and parchment paper lined loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour or until inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Allow to completely cool before slicing. 

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Coconut Cupcakes

These might possibly be the most decadent vegan and gluten free treats I have ever tasted! They will satisfy any sweet tooth whether dietary restrictions apply or not!

Makes 10 cupcakes

1 c. coconut milk
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line muffin tray with cupcake liners.  In a bowl whisk together coconut milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.  In a separate bowl combine sweet potato flour, amaranth flour, coconut, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum.  Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients and whisk until thoroughly combined.  Distribute batter evenly in lined muffin cups -- filling approximately 3/4 of the way full.  Bake for 15-18 minutes, until inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Allow to cool, then frost.  For frosting ideas follow the links: Vegan Frosting or Buttercream Frosting.

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Vanilla Gluten Freedom Cupcakes

This wonderful little recipe comes from the fantastic cookbook Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  Although they state in the book that they are not masters of gluten-free baking, they certainly seemed to master this recipe!

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 c. soy milk
1/3 c. canola oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 Tbl. flax meal
1/2 c. rice flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat over to 350 degrees F and line muffin tray with cupcake liners.  In a large mixing bowl whisk together soy milk, canola oil, sugar, and extracts until combined.  Add tapioca flour and flax meal and mix vigorously for 1 minute.  Add the corn flour, rice flour, quinoa flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Whisk together for 2 minutes.  Pour batter into muffin cups, filling about 3/4 of the way.  Bake for 20-23 minutes, until an inserted toothpick or knife comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Onto the frosting!  If vegan frosting is not a concern try our Vanilla Buttercream Frosting.  However, below is a Vegan Buttercream Frosting recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.

Vegan Buttercream Frosting
1/2 c. nonhydrogenated shortening
1/2 c. nonhydrogenated margarine
3 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 c. soy milk

Beat shortening and margarine together until combined and fluffy.  Add sugar and beat for 3 minutes.  Add soy milk and extract and beat for an additional 5 - 7 minutes, until fluffy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Soft Raisin Cookies

These gluten-free, egg free, and dairy free treats are moist and chewy! 
Makes 8 cookies

1/2 c. honey
1 c. raisins
1/2 c. coconut oil
1/3 c. brown sugar
1 Tbl. flax meal + 3Tbl. warm water
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix flax meal and water in small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.  In a larger bowl stir together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and xanthan gum.  In a separate bowl cream together coconut oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and the flax-water combination until completely smooth.  Add dry mixture to liquid mixture and stir until combined.  Add walnuts and raisins and mix until thoroughly incorporated.  Scoop 1/4 cup portions, roll into balls, and press flat (about 1/2 inch thick) on parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 14-18 minutes or until golden brown around the edges.

Note: if egg allergies are not a concern 1 egg can be added and the flax-water combination can be omitted. 

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis

Mesquite Cookie Bars

These mesquite cookie bars are tasty, quick, and easy. The delicious flavor of the mesquite is highlighted by cinnamon, while its sweetness is brought out by raisins and honey!

1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
1/2 c. raisins
3 Tbl. canola oil
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. water
1 Tbl. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. In a bowl whisk together flours, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg and set aside. In a separate bowl whisk together honey, oil, and water. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients and mix well. Add raisins and walnuts and mix until completely incorporated. Spread dough evenly into lightly greased 8 x 8 pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean.

*Do not over bake. It is important to keep a close eye on recipes calling for mesquite. Mesquite can burn more easily that other flours.

Recipe adapted by in-house baker, Heather Curtis.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Recipes for Aji Pastes

These recipes comes to us courtesy of Fighting Windmills.
Please note that the recipes have been adapted using Aji pastes instead of fresh peppers.

Ají de gallina

2 cooked shredded chicken breasts (save the water you boil it in)
2 Tbsp (or to taste) Zocalo Organic Ají Amarillo Paste
1 Tbsp of minced garlic
1 Tbsp ( or to taste) Zocalo Organic Ají Panca Paste
4 slices of white or wheat bread
1 can of evaporated milk
1 finely chopped red onion (to taste, you don’t have to use the whole onion)
Boiled yellow potatoes
Oleum Viride Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil  ( or other quality olive oil)

Matiz Mediterraneo Sea Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Matiz Valenciano Paella Rice
Hard boiled eggs for garnish
Priorat Natur Black Empeltre olives for garnish

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a stainless steel pot and cook the onion on very low heat. As the onion becomes translucent, add garlic, salt, pepper, ají amarillo paste and ají panca paste.

Break apart the bread, mash it into a dish of evaporated milk and add to the pot. At this point, I’ve discovered that I get a creamier result if I put everything into the blender and mix for a minute or two. That way the onion gets completely integrated. It turns out great if you take the time to do this extra step.

Pour it from the blender back into the pot. Add shredded chicken breast and a little of the broth (water used to boil chicken). Stir and let it reduce on low heat until it is creamy. If it is too thick you can add more broth. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Taste it to check for saltiness.

Serve ají de gallina over yellow potatoes with white rice.
Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg and black olives.

Papa a la huancaína

Boiled yellow potatoes
Zocalo Ají Amarillo Paste to taste
half cup of evaporated milk
4-6 soda crackers
1/2 cup of Neus Extra Virgin Arbequina Olive Oil ( or other quality olive oil)

150 grams of fresh hispanic-style salted cheese
Matiz Mediterraneo Sea Salt to taste
Priorat Natur Black Empeltre olives for garnish
Hard boiled eggs for garnish
lettuce leaves

Peel and slice potatoes and arrange over lettuce leaves.
Use blender to combine ají amarillo paste, evaporated milk, crackers, oil and cheese. Blend until creamy and adjust for consistency by adding more milk or more crackers. Taste for saltiness.

Spoon this cream over potatoes and lettuce and garnish with sliced hard boiled eggs and black olives.

Lomo saltado

1 lb beef cut in bite-sized strips
2 tomatoes cut in crescent-shaped pieces
1 red onion cut in crescent-shaped pieces
Zocalo Ají Amarillo Paste to taste (about 1 tsp)
red vinegar to taste
chopped fresh cilantro to taste
minced garlic to taste
La Masia Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil ( or other quality olive oil)
french fries
Matiz Mediteranneo Sea Salt to taste
pepper to taste
Matiz Valenciano Paella Rice

Season the beef with sea salt, pepper and ají amarillo paste.
 Heat oil in stainless steel pot and pan-fry the beef (Put in a little at a time so that the meat doesn’t boil.) Stir in the garlic. Add the onion, tomato, and a little salt, stirring constantly.
Add a little red vinegar. Cook 2-3 more minutes.
Add the chopped cilantro. Add cooked french fries (it’s okay if they end up soggy) and stir.
Serve immediately with rice.

Sopa Criolla

1/2 lb beef cut in bite-sized chunks
1 onion (red or white) finely chopped
1 peeled and diced tomato (or you can use the equivalent canned)
1 Tbsp Zocalo Ají Panca Paste
1/4 package angelhair or spaghetti pasta
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 can evaporated milk
2 eggs
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Zocalo Aji Limo Paste to taste
1 Tbsp minced garlic
8 cups water (heat in the meantime)
Matiz Mediteranneo Sea Salt
 pepper to taste

Season beef with salt, pepper and garlic. Heat oil in large stainless steel soup pot and pan fry the beef. Add the ají panca, chopped onion, diced tomato, Aji Limo paste and oregano. Cook until the onion is transparent.
Add hot water, bring to a boil and add angel hair pasta. Cook about 3 minutes (if you use spaghetti, it will take longer). Taste for saltiness and add in eggs (beaten beforehand) and evaporated milk. Can be served with toast.

Seco de Res

2 lbs (bottom round) beef*
1 chopped red (or yellow) onion
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp Zocalo Ají Panca Paste
1 Tbsp Zocalo Ají Amarillo Paste
Olivar de la Luna XV Olive Oil (or other quality olive oi)
salt, pepper, cumin powder to taste
Matiz Valenciano Paella Rice

*Try to buy a cut of quality bottom round with a little marbling for tenderness. This method of cooking is called braising.

Cut the beef into hunks and season with salt, pepper, cumin powder, and minced garlic (I use the paste). Heat a little olive oil in a stainless steel soup pot and pan fry the meat. When the meat is seared, add the chopped onion Stir until onion becomes translucent.

Rinse the cilantro in water and cut off the bottom few inches from the stems. Chop by hand and transfer to blender. Add about 1/2 to 1 cup water to the blender and reduce the fresh chopped cilantro to liquid.

Add liquid cilantro to soup pot, stir in aji pastes, lower heat and cover with lid. The meat will become tender, cooking in the liquid for at least 20 minutes. Add frozen peas, stir and cook covered another 10 minutes. Serve with white rice.

Peruvian restaurants Hit the US

Gastón Acurio, Peruvian chef is opening restaurants in the United States to bring this unique style of cooking into the mainstream. Read the full story in Time magazine.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Betsy's Latest Peruvian Visit

written by Betsy Power
I have fallen in love with Peru. My love affair began last year during my first journey to this land of contrasts. From its desert coastal regions, stunning mountains, and wild jungles, the range of cultures, foods, and climates crammed into one relatively small country is mind-blowing. I have recently returned from my second journey, equally smitten, and laden with unique foods I hope to share with my fellow Americans.

After a three-day food show in the capital city of Lima, I escaped the mega-metropolis, and headed for the “white city” of Arequipa, dwarfed by giant volcanoes that looked more like enormous conical piles of ash. An inspiring community-based agriculture project brought me to this Southern region. I met with the head of the non-profit that has helped to organize over 500 independent indigenous farmers in hard to reach areas. These producers grow native grains (kañiwa, kiwicha, quinoa), maize, and beans and have formed associations to increase their market power.

Out of necessity, these associations have begun to focus on only one variety of, for example, native kiwicha (amaranth), to have enough volume to compete in the market. Yet, each producer has at least a handful of other varieties in multiple gorgeous colors and with varying characteristics. As they dedicate more land to the single varietals, precious heritage varieties may get lost. Both my host and I were excited to come up with the plan for me to review the varieties available and establish contracts with the farmers for future harvests to, in effect, create a secure demand for these heritage grains. 

My next stop, the region of Lago Titicaca, the highest fresh water lake in the World, is home to an organic trout producer that had me sold after the first bite. Truchas Arapa is an association of trout farmers on the neighboring lake of Arapa.

Over 200 families working together to produce certified organic trout in a country where organic = huh? These un-conventionally educated folks have taken the implausible steps to protect their environment against invading oil companies, pesticides, and chemical pigments.

As usual I was treated with the red carpet – personal row-boat ride out to the floating trout farms, first pour of local wine into a plastic cup, and the best fresh food this side of the equator. When it was time to say good-bye, I had to wrestle some of the shier fisherman to the ground for the customary kiss on the cheek. I NEVER voluntarily miss my share of kisses.

Next I hit Cusco, one of my favorite cities, and a good location from which to discover the wonders of the Andes. I first headed to the salt producing community of Maras – the most unique salt producers I have ever seen or heard of – using sea salt harvesting techniques in the mountains. This is not mined salt; No mountains are disturbed to bring this beautiful rose salt to market. Instead, warm salt water continuously bubbles up from a deep mountain spring and feeds the ancient Incan pozos or salt ponds that are owned by over 400 families.

The ponds are handed down through the generations, since Incan times, and are not allowed to be sold. My tour guide and the president of the Association looked like a blast from Incan past! These salt farmers do not receive a fair price for this beautiful product, but instead sell to others who have the wherewithal to export. I am hoping we can change this.

On Monday, I visited the women of Paccarectambo, a two-hour butt-numbing dirt road ride up into the Andes towards the Sacred Valley. An 8-year project with a local NGO has helped create a women-owned business that supports over 400 women and their families in six neighboring communities.

I am in love with these women! With little to no education they have turned their lives around from having no economic power, to making the money necessary to send their children to school and improve their basic needs AND to actually employing their husbands!

They produce medicinal teas based on ancient recipes and native herbs – everything organic. Unfortunately folks in Peru could care less about organic, and these women desperately need a market to sustain their business, and continue to motivate more women in these resource-strapped communities.

Everywhere I go in these high mountains, I am continually blown away by the ancient knowledge of the medicinal properties of the local flora. Herbs, roots, flowers – everything has a use. And most of these areas have never been touched by pesticides or GMO crops.

It is a wonderland for food lovers. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we will soon be able to offer many of these products to foodies in the US, and in the process contribute to the creation of self-sustaining communities in Peru.

Apple-Pear Spice Cake

This tasty cake can be left plain or topped with streusel for a morning treat or dressed up with frosting to make a lovely dessert.  

2 c. brown rice flour
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2 c. peeled and chopped pears
2 c. peeled and chopped apples
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

If apples and pears are not both available, use one or the other and the cake will still turn out wonderfully!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl combine rice and lima bean flours, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum.  In a separate bowl beat eggs, combine with oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Add the dry mixture to the liquid mixture and thoroughly combine.  Stir in apples and pears.  Transfer batter to a lightly greased 9 x 13 pan.  Bake for 35-40 minutes. 

Recipe developed by in-house baker, Heather Curtis

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Zocalo Featured in October Gourmet News

Check out this month's issue of Gourmet News. Zocalo Gourmet is featured in the Market Watch section on page 15. Xoxoc prickly pear snacks and marmalade from Mexico take center stage. Also featured are our new Aji pastes and powders from Peru and our Chimichurri sauce from Argentina.  Read all about our efforts to bring high quality products that directly impact the communities that produce them to tables across North America.