Leavened: The Humble Flax Seed Rises
I have a shiur early Monday mornings and the week we reviewed Parashat Emor, I noticed that of all the sacrifices the Shavuot offering is the only one all year which is leavened. Not that I ever really need an excuse to make breads. I’ve always got a ready justification. I could have easily said I was SO finished with Passover and unleavened anything! But the truth, more than bread, flax is the hot item in my house this season. Why, you ask?
I know food trends come and go, but flax seeds have really gotten my attention. Originally, it was my husband who started in on me about flax seeds. He sang the praises of the humble flax seed: Nutritious, delicious, full of fiber, and so on. He sent me emails of all the data he’d Googled. And then, my nutrition-minded friends started in. They were all for pouring them on anything and everything they ate. I couldn’t go there, but after a while, I began using flax seeds in my recipes. Here are two great ways to try the new IT food! And let’s follow that with a yummy kugel, a great and unusual vegetable side dish and a super yummy dessert (to balance out the nutritious)!
(c) 2009 Debby Segura. Debby Segura holds an AB in Design from UCLA. She designs dinnerware and she teaches and writes about cooking. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. Visit her at http://www.debbysegura.com
Apple Flax Muffins
adapted from Country Choice Organic Muffin Recipe
Yield: 12 muffins or muffin tops
1/3 cup (uncooked) rolled oat or multigrain cereal (not steel-cut oats)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (uncooked) rolled oat or multigrain cereal (not steel-cut oats)
1 1/2 cup whole wheat or white all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup fat-free or low-fat milk or milk substitute (for a Pareve muffin)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup oil
Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spray a twelve muffin or muffin top pan with non-stick cooking spray Prepare streusel topping by mixing the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and oil.Prepare muffins by combining the oats and the flax seeds with the milk, oil and egg. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or so. Then add the remaining muffin ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. Sprinkle Streusel Topping on each muffin. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes so the muffins are done and spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Remove from oven. Serve warm. Or if you want to save some for later, these freeze well, too!
Flax Seed Challah
Yield: 5 Kiddush Challahs or 2 regular Challahs
2 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
2 ½ cups White Whole Wheat Flour (King Arthur Brand from Whole Foods or Trader Joe is what I use.)
1/4 cup ground Flax Seed
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 ½ tablespoon Rapid Rise Yeast
1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
3 tablespoons Canola oil
In the work bowl of a 14-cup food processor, place the dry ingredients. In a two-cup glass measuring cup, add the wet ingredients, along with warm water, to total 2 cups. Reserve.
Place the top on the food processor, and turn it on. Pour in the wet ingredients. Watch carefully, and when the dough just forms one cohesive ball, allow the machine to continue running precisely 60 seconds, to complete kneading.
Spray a mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Remove the dough from the food processor and place it in the prepared bowl. Rotate the dough once to coat it with the spray and cover the bowl of dough loosely with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Punch the dough down to remove air bubbles and form into desired shapes. Place the shapes on a cooking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Then spray the loaves with non-stick cooking spray, and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the loaves to rise until almost doubled in bulk. Paint the dough shapes with a mixture of 1 beaten egg and 1 tablespoon water and sprinkle with seeds if desired (I sprinkle mine with pumpkin, sunflower, anise, sesame and poppy seeds).
Bake the bread in the center of a preheated oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack. Serve warm from the oven. Or if you want some challah for later, allow them to cool completely, wrap each one tightly in foil, and store in a plastic bag in the freezer until needed. Before using, leave the breads in the foil and allow them to defrost at room temperature for about an hour. Reheat in a warming drawer or at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Pumpkin Pie Kugel
Serve warm. Make 2, but freeze 1. It's the gift that keeps on giving!
28 ounce can pureed pumpkin
1 stick margarine
1 cup Rice Dream, Original flavor
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
cinnamon, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the pumpkin, margarine, Rice Dream, flour, sugar, eggs and pumpkin pie spice until smooth. Spray 2 8" cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the squash mixture into the pans and smooth the tops. Sprinkle with cinnamon and then, using a toothpick, swirl the top to create a marbleized pattern.
Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 1 hour or until a tester in the center of the kugel comes out clean. May be served hot, or may be reheated for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. This kugel may also be frozen, then thawed and reheated for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Baby Bok Choy with Shitake Mushrooms
16 dried Shitake mushrooms
10 bunches baby bok choy
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, sliced into 4 long pieces
1 tablespoon Tamari
toasted sesame seeds
black sesame or Nigella seeds
In a glass bowl, place the mushrooms and cover with boiling water. Cover, and allow the mushrooms to rehydrate, for about 30 minutes. Remove the mushrooms and slice them into 1/4" strips. Reserve.
Separate and clean the baby bok choy leaves. In a large chef’s pan or wok, heat the oils. Add the garlic and stir until aromatic. Add the bok choy and the Tamari. Stir briefly and then place the lid on the pan. Lower the flame and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the stems of the bok choy are just tender. Place the bok choy on a serving platter. Add the Shitake strips and stir over a medium high flame to reduce any moisture that may be in the pan. Pour the mushrooms over the bok choy. Sprinkle with the sesame and/or Nigella seeds. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Do not reheat.
Peanut Butter Bar with Strawberries
makes 24 bars
3/4 cup unsalted margarine or butter, at room temperature
1 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 eggs, plus 1 white, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 pint strawberry ice cream or sorbet, slightly softened
½ cup strawberry jam, at room temperature
4 cups small, whole trimmed strawberries, halved or quartered
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 10x15" pan with baking parchment or foil and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the margarine or butter with the peanut butter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in the sugars, baking powder and salt until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, followed by the salt and the vanilla. Add the flour and stir until just combined. Spread the dough evenly in the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a rack. Remove the paper or foil. Place on a serving tray. Tear off the carton of the ice cream or sorbet and slice in 1/4" slices. Quickly arrange the slices on the cookie and push them together to cover the cookie completely. Spread the jam on top of the ice cream or sorbet, wrap the cookie in plastic wrap and then in foil and freeze right away. Immediately before serving, remove the cookie from the freezer and slice into desired pieces, leaving the pieces together. Arrange the berries over the jam. Serve right away!