August 5, 2014 § Leave a comment
This past weekend I held a casual, bring-the-kids, I’ll-make-the-drinks, backyard summer party. After cleaning the patio furniture and stringing outdoor lights, not to mention doing the all-important work of mixing pitchers of Spicy Cucumber Margaritas and Garden-Mint Mojitos, I didn’t have a ton of time to spend prepping food. (Priorities people, priorities!)
Yet, I really wanted to serve party fare that everyone would enjoy, regardless of their diet — gluten-free, vegan, omnivore, whatevah. Yes, it was a potluck, and guests were contributing eats, but as the hostess, I wanted to at least have a few snacks on the table when everyone arrived.
Inspired (of all things) by a low-fat, baked-chicken recipe in a recent issue of Women’s Health magazine, my new go-to party recipe is Cashew-Adobo Dip. There’s very little work involved, unless you want to toast the cashews or roast the garlic, and the result is piquant and versatile. And, with a little advance planning — you’ll need to soak the nuts for 8 – 12 hours first — I was able to put this dip together in about 15 minutes (YMMV, though).
I kept my version as organic as possible — yep, even the cashews and the onion powder — with the exception of the adobo sauce. Adobo (Spanish for marinade or seasoning) typically consists of garlic, spices, and vinegar and is used to preserve raw food. You might be familiar with chipotle peppers packed in a tomato-based version of adobo sauce. The peppers provide a lot of heat, so a little adobo sauce goes a long way. (Yes, my next project is figuring out what to do with the peppers and the rest of the sauce. I’ll get back to you on that…)
In the meantime, if you’re looking for an easy-to-make, tasty, versatile party snack, I gotcha covered!
Recipe: Cashew-Adobo Dip
Yield: About 2 cups
Inspired by “Homemade Upgrade: Fried Chicken,” Women’s Health, July-August 2014
For a casual snack, serve it with corn chips (blue or sweet potato are good choices). To create an easy, elegant canapé, spread the dip on nut or rice crackers and add a slice of fresh, ripe tomato on top. But wait — there’s more! Toss it with pasta and sauteéd vegetables for a quick meal, or use it as a sandwich spread or to add flavor to soft tacos.
Piece of parchment paper
Colander or mesh strainer
1½ cups raw cashews
2 small cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (reserve remainder of sauce and chipotle peppers for another use)
1¾ – 2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon onion powder
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon light agave nectar
5 ounces almond milk
- Place the cashews in a medium-size bowl, cover with water, then place the parchment paper on top to cover. Soak cashews 8 – 12 hours.
- When you’re ready to make the dip, drain the cashews.
- Sauté the garlic in olive oil until soft and golden.
Remove from heat and allow to cool briefly.
- Add all ingredients — except the almond milk — to the bowl of the food processor and process until crumbly.
Remove the food processor cover, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then replace the cover.
- With the food processor running, stream in the almond milk. Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy (3 – 5 minutes).
You might need to stop the food processor and scrape down the inside of the bowl again to ensure that all ingredients have been processed smoothly.
- Taste the dip and adjust the seasoning to your taste, if necessary.
- Chill dip in the refrigerator for 30 – 60 minutes before serving.
- Serve with corn chips, crackers, or crudités.
Want to upgrade your party snacks? Spread this dip on a rice cracker, top with a slice of garden-ripe tomato (I used Indigo-Apple tomatoes from my garden), finish with a small dollop of the cashew dip, and top with fresh parsley or chives.
- Store leftover dip in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
May 27, 2014 § 1 Comment
The Downtown Farmers’ Market in Palo Alto is one of my favorite weekend markets in the 650. It’s a small market, but with an abundant selection of local produce and hand-crafted foods. For many years it was my go-to market on Saturday mornings from spring through late fall. During the Gâteau et Ganache years, my first stop was always Full Belly Farm for organic lemon verbena and peppermint for Gâteau et Ganache’s spring/summer collection bonbons, and then Green Oaks Creek Farm for sweet, juicy strawberries. If there was time, I’d run by Blue Heron for baby lettuces and broccoli, just to be sure that I had some fresh dinner food for the week.
Now that I’m getting a regular CSA delivery, and my little garden is starting to flourish, fresh food is basically on my doorstep. I don’t need to get out to farmers’ markets as often, and yet, that’s still where I want to be on a weekend morning. There’s something about a sunny spring or summer weekend morning that just about requires spending some time at a farmers’ market — admiring beautiful, fresh produce, chatting with food producers, and fantasizing about new dishes to make at home. Maybe farmers’ markets are for cooks what music stores are to musicians: a place full of possibilities.
This past Saturday I was up at the crack-of-way-too-early-for-a-holiday-weekend, but with good reason: I was waiting for the delivery of my new dishwasher. (Yay, no more resetting the breaker to make the machine go! No more re-washing dishes that didn’t get clean the first time!) Fortunately, the delivery guys arrived on time and completed the installation by mid-morning. Perfect timing to head to Palo Alto to get my market fix. With no shopping list and no schedule, I was able to just wander the market, enjoying the experience. Here are some of the highlights.
Eat the Rainbow
Color was everywhere — fruits, vegetables, flowers — and it felt like summer already! Full Belly had a pretty display of lettuces, rainbow chard, and kale. Gorgeous? Sure — and good for you, too. If you need any incentive to eat more veggies, here ya go:
Fresh herbs can make the difference between an ok dish and something really flavorful and special. Lemon verbena (one of my favorites!), rosemary, oregano, and chives — just for starters — are plentiful right now. Full Belly and Coke Farm had good assortments of fresh, organic herbs.
There’s a Mulberry Guy
The Mulberry Guy has taken over the spot where Green Oaks Creek used to be. *sigh* I really miss those strawberries, but hey… mulberries? That’s new and intriguing. Unfortunately, I arrived after the mulberries had already sold out (turns out they’re really popular and had sold out within the first hour or so of the market opening), but stayed to chat with business owner Kevin Lynch. I love the story of this business: the mulberries are grown locally — within a mile of the market location — and like most small food businesses, it’s a labor of love. Talk about Grow Local — Buy Local — Eat local! If you’re a fan of mulberries or just want to know more, clicky on over to themulberryguy.com.
Hail Her Coconess
One of the cool things (for me) about spending time at the Palo Alto Farmer’s Market is getting to visit with other artisan food producers. I met Shelly Seward, creator-owner of Her Coconess Confections, several years ago at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, when we were both exhibiting at the show. Shelly hand-produces award-winning, classic treats such as Rocky Road and Salted Caramels in a facility in Belmont and sells them throughout the Bay Area. (Yep, that’s right — Her Coconess is home-grown in the 650!) In case you’re wondering: yes, there are samples. Be sure to try ’em. Want to know more about Her Coconess? Check out the website.
After some sweet samples and catching up with Shelly, I stepped “next-door” to visit Nut ‘n Bean to try something more savory. Nut ‘n Bean is a young Hayward-based business making nut butters, dips, and spreads. While chatting with co-owner Katie Griffin, I tried the Blueberry Almond and Orange Honey Cashew nut butters. Both were delish, with a nice balance between the toasted nut and fresh fruit flavors, without being too sweet (Katie says the nut butters have very little added sugar). Knowing that I still had a few nut other butters in the fridge at home, I moved on to try the Chipotle Lime Almond Dip and the Jalepeno Cilantro Cashew Cheese. Oh. My. Yes, please!
The Chipotle Lime Almond Dip has the consistency of a whipped cream cheese, with a nice nutty, smoked-pepper flavor that’s got just the right amount of spice. It’s perfect with rice crackers and sweet potato corn chips (or, erm, a spoon, right out of the container). The Jalepeno Cilantro Cashew Cheese has a softer, more sauce-like consistency, and while it works as a dip, is fabulous as a sauce on grilled wild salmon (or seared tofu or baked chicken or…). Nut ‘n Bean has a serious product line, and something for every taste and diet. Vegan? Paleo? Gluten-free? You’ll love Nut ‘n Bean. Check ’em out at the market or online.
Overall, a fun trip to the market. And yes, I came home with enough food to make plenty of dirty dishes and try out my new dishwasher — booyah!
What: Downtown Palo Alto Farmers’ Market
Where: Gilman Street & Hamilton Avenue
Directions: Downtown Palo Alto Farmers’ Market website
Saturdays, mid-May through mid-December: 8am-12pm
Parking: Street and nearby lots