sourdough english muffins & sweet cashew crème

on monday, david and i both started exciting new jobs. hurrah! he took on a long term sub position teaching high school math, while i started up with a fabulous new client as a personal chef. i've been so excited about taking on more clients, i can hardly fall asleep at night... while seeking self employment, it can be hard to switch gears and turn off your 'work mode.' there is always something more you can do and i can't seem to stop my brain from planning menus or pondering avenues of networking i could pursue. but it is all out of pure excitement! my counselor gift me a mug years ago that says it best: "life isn't about finding yourself. life is about creating yourself"...

unrelated... here's a little insight about me: i am incapable of choosing between sweet and savory for breakfast. i cannot just have one or the other, i must have both. this typically results in making savory eggs and kale with toast loaded with jam. recently though, i've been making weekly batches of sourdough english muffins. i am exponentially happier as a person with my constant supply of homemade english muffins. i highly recommend you find a friend, like my lovely band mate jessie, who has a sourdough starter and follow the recipe she shared with me from her family. or be brave, and follow this link to learn more about starting your own sourdough culture. i have no experience or tips to give you, other than i once failed at making a rye sourdough starter. so good luck. long story short, i think i love english muffins so much more because once split in half, you get two opportunities for toppings! one for sweet. one for savory. today's english muffin featured smashed avocado with sliced radish, and the other half was smothered in sweet raw cashew crème and blackberry jam. 

sweet cashew crème ~ makes 2 cups
2 cups raw cashews
1/8 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

soak cashews in water for 2 hours. strain and add soaked cashews to blender with remaining ingredients. blend until smooth and slightly fluffy. serve plain on toast or with banana or jam.

sourdough english muffins ~ makes 8-10
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon active yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup lukewarm milk (or water for vegan option) 
2 tablespoons oil or butter
1 tablespoon honey or sugar
coarse cornmeal

using a stand mixer & paddle, or large bowl with wooden spoon - mix together starter, flour, yeast & salt. once combined, add remaining ingredients and mix until a ball starts to form. pour dough onto floured surface and kneed for a few minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup extra flour, until tacky but not overly sticky. place dough in a clean bowl with a teaspoon of oil, rolling dough in oil to coat exposed surface. cover with a towel and let rise for 2-3 hours (longer if your home is very cold).

return risen dough to floured surface and cut into 8 or 10 evenly-sized pieces (keep in mind they will expand slightly) gently roll each piece in your palms to form smooth dough balls. place back on floured surface and let rest for 30 minutes.

preheat one or two large cast iron skillets over medium low heat for about 10 minutes. then sprinkle a large handful of coarse cornmeal onto each skillet. place as many dough balls as you can fit onto skillets, allowing for an inch between each muffin. cooke over low heat for 10-15 minutes, rotating once, then flip and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until both sides are gently browned.

let cool and store in airtight container. to serve, cut in half or pry open an english muffin and toast the inside until lightly crisp. without toasting, the inside will still be a bit doughy. serve with coconut oil, jam, butter, smashed avocado... whatever you like!

chapati spring vegetable wraps

the past few weeks have gone along at a slow, relaxed pace. david and i had ten full days of climbing in bishop california. ten nights of camping. one desperately needed shower. and a lot of bacon and eggs (as i predicted). actually, we managed to whip up some excellent meals on david's two-burner camp stove but i was always too hungry to stop and dig out my camera from the bottom of my backpack to blog any meals. i did however, take loads of climbing pictures and even some awesome go pro videos. david edited them into two short films: one of all of his crazy shenanigans, and one of all my small accomplishments (learning to top out boulders and gaining confidence with climbing outdoors for the first time!). 

after a long drive north, we had a fun night in bend, oregon and a beautiful day of hiking in smith rock state park. we spent our final night of the trip in portland. on our way in, we drove directly to the circuit bouldering gym to burn off the excess energy we had pent up on our drive. afterwards, we cashed in a gift card to pok pok. our dinner there was drool-worthy, spicy, and admittedly lived up to all the hype. 

driving back to seattle, i felt sort of giddy coming around the corner to our apartment. perhaps it was just my bubbling excitement to shower and sleep in a real bed, or to be reunited with my vitamix. but in all seriousness, you know life is pretty good when you are happy to return home even from a lovely get-away. spending the afternoon in my kitchen, making chapati and roasting vegetables felt so comforting.

chapati ~ makes 4-6
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat or oat flour
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt

mix all ingredients together. consistency should not be too sticky. add additional flour if needed. kneed into a small ball and cut in 4 or 6 evenly sized pieces (depending on how large you want to make your flat bread). on a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll each piece of dough into a thin 1/8" disk. heat a cast iron skillet over medium low heat with a small amount of additional olive oil. fry for about 30-60 seconds on each side until lightly spotted. do not overcook, otherwise they will become brittle. serve warm.

goats milk yogurt & herb sauce
small container plain goats milk yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
simply stir to combine.

spring vegetable wraps with seared white fish ~ serves 2
4 smaller chapati or small flour tortillas
1 small bunch asparagus
4 radishes, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (i used sheeps milk feta)
8 oz boneless, skinless white fish (halibut, cod or sol)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper
goats milk yogurt & herb sauce
wedge of lemon
salt to taste

preheat oven to 'broil'. trim asparagus ends and place onto a baking sheet. toss with a small drizzle of olive oil and place under broiler. check every minute or so until asparagus is fully cooked and slightly charred. salt and pepper to taste.

for the fish, heat a saute pan over medium-high heat and add two tablespoons of oil. carefully place fillet of fish into the oil and sear for a few seconds. gently wiggle the pan so that the fish does not stick, then turn the heat to medium-low and cook for two minutes. flip the filled with a thin spatula, and sear the second side. continue cooking until fish gently flakes apart with a fork. about 5-7 minutes total. remove from heat and top with aleppo pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice.

to assemble, smear a few tablespoons of yogurt sauce onto each chapati/tortilla and divide fish into two-ounce portions. top each wrap with slices of radish, several spears of asparagus and crumbled feta. enjoy instantly! 

a wheat berry, rye & kale salad

after a long weekend on orcas island with my band, i came home and spent several days packing for our road trip while david finished out his work week. our plan was to leave friday afternoon after work, drive to the city of bend oregon to stay with a friend, and then spend all of saturday driving south to bishop, california. amidst all the packing i did on friday, i managed to make a batch of english muffins, tahini sauce and a giant kale salad to bring with us to fuel the road trip. this was overly ambitious considering how much packing needed to be done, but somehow i pulled it off. but it certainly paid off to have clean food while on the road, and home-made english muffins grilled on our camp stove the first morning spent at our campsite! 

this kale salad was inspired by a salad i used to enjoy after my morning yoga class at the oddfellows cafe in seattle. the cafe made their salad with farro, but i used a mix of hard red wheat berries and whole rye. it's hearty, salty, and delicious... with a side of roasted marinated golden beets, it was the perfect meal for sustaining me through one and half days of riding passenger in a car driving just shy of a thousand miles south. now we are limited to a small two-burner camp stove, but i'm for the culinary challenge! i hope to post some of my more successful camp-stove meals in the weeks to come! for now, i leave you with this lovely recipe! 

wheat berry, rye & kale salad ~ serves 2-3
1/2 cup wheat berries
1/2 cup rye berries 
1 large bunch lacinato kale
1 shallot
1/3 cup shaved parmesan
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2-1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey, optional 
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
pinch aleppo pepper
pinch black pepper

soak wheat & rye berries in several cups of water for at least two hours. strain and place in a small sauce pan with 3-4 cups of water. simmer over low heat, covered, until the grains are tender but not so overcooked that they begin to fall apart. cooking time will depend on how long the grains soak for, but aprox. 30-60 minutes. stir every 10 minutes or so. once cooked fully, strain the grains from the water and place in a bowl to cool. 

to prepare the shallots, peel and thinly slice the shallot and place them in a bowl with a cup of cold water. let soak for at least 5 minutes to remove the bitterness of raw shallots. 

wash, dry and remove stalky parts of the kale. cut into thin ribbons the width of the kale and place chopped kale into a large salad bowl. using your hands, massage the kale just for a minute until the leaves turn a shade darker. 

in a small bowl, stir together the lemon juice, olive oil and honey. add this dressing to the kale, along with the grains and the remaining ingredients. strain the shallots from the soaking water and add these to the salad. toss and adjust seasoning to taste... you may want a bit more salt, or more parmesan or a touch more olive oil.