Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sweet olive pistachio flapjacks

I've finally done it! I've found and made the most delicious sweet flapjack made without any artificially-sweet syrup and with all-natural healthy ingredients. The olive oil imparts an elegant undertone and the tang of the currants plays against the earthy pistachios. Divinity in snack form.

If you haven't made flapjacks before then don't worry if they don't turn out right the very first time. Since the only thing binding the oats is the oil and agave they can crumble if the right proportions aren't used or if they aren't cooked enough. And don't try to eat then right out of the pan! (it doesn't work, trust me.)

I use Flavanan's organic porridge oats and have had much better success with it than with my previous brand, Jordan's organic. Flavanan's oats are more, for lack of a better word, "broken up" and I think this makes the oats coalesce more easily. If I were making these at home, stateside, I would take some Quaker oats and throw them in the blender for a minute before using them in this recipe.

Feel free to take the basic oil, agave, oat ratio and add in other flavors. Any chopped dried fruit or nut would work nicely here. Other oils should work too. As should honey or other natural sweeteners. I found date-syrup at whole foods yesterday and I can't wait to try that with some walnuts next time!

Sweet olive pistachio flapjacks

1 cup olive oil
1 cup agave
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup currants
About 5 cups porridge oats

Preheat oven to 350 with rack in the center of the oven.

Put olive oil and agave in a large pot on stove and stir and bring to a boil. Take pot off heat and add the pistachios and the currants. Gradually stir in the oats. You might need a little more or a little less than 5 cups of oats. The mixture should be more damp than wet, but none of the oats should look dry.

Turn mixture into a greased 8x8 pan and pat it down evenly and firmly. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Let stand for 5 minutes then cut into bars. Do NOT attempt to remove them from the pan until they are FULLY cooled, about an hour.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Dairy-free, wheat-free Chocolate Chip Cookies

These past few days I have just been craving chocolate chip cookies. It's been that kind of a week here in London.... when the weather turns from "spring is in the air!" to.... snow (in a place where it never snows!)... well, that kinda dulls the dance a bit for you. Hence, chocolate. chip. cookies! Soft, creamy butter whipped together with brown and white sugar, add eggs, flour, chocolate... Toll House perfection.

BUT. I have recently decided to eliminate dairy from my diet. (Originally for my skin, but since delving into Dr. Google some more, now I think I'm going to eliminate it for life. For an explanation, read this.) Hence my dilemma: strong need for chocolate chip cookies on one hand, shaky resolve to eliminate a beloved food group on the other.

Cue: delicious memory from high school of the vegan tahini chocolate chip cookies from an obscure oasis of a food market staffed by hippies off a mildly scary avenue in New Haven.

I had never tried to recreate those, but if ever there was a time it was this time. Some more use of my friend Google and I had a recipe cobbled together from a few sources. And oh. Oh. OH. Wow. Can I just say, I have really been missing these in my life. They are SO good.  I know I say that about a lot of things, but seriously folks, these are da bomb.

They are a dangerous thing to make. Because you will want to have, not one or two of them, but three, four, maybe even five. And they have no dairy, no wheat, and only natural sweeteners - so you will feel like it's okay with the world if you, er, maybe do have one last (fifth) one. Go ahead. Make them. I DARE you not to eat that fifth one.

The only problem is, they would go really well with a glass of milk.


Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from here and there

You can use a mix of any kind of natural nut butters that you have on hand. But do bear in mind that tahini has 5x more calcium than milk! Also, feel free to play around with the honey and agave - you can use only one or the other, but honey packs a much bigger sweet punch so your cookies will be a lot sweeter if you use all honey.

These can be vegan if you use 2 tablespoons ground chia mixed with a 1/3 cup water instead of the egg. You can also make these prettier by baking them in silicone muffin tins (bottom picture) instead of on a baking tray.

2/3 cup tahini
1/3 cup all natural, no salt peanut butter
1/4 cup agave
1/4 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1 cup quick-cooking oats (porridge oats)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly grease a cookie sheet.

Put the nut butters in a bowl, and mix until they are combined and very smooth. Add the agave and the honey and stir until well-combined. Add the egg and mix well. Stir in the oats and then the chocolate chips. If mixture is very runny, add a 1/4 cup more oats, or refrigerate for a half-hour.

Form the dough into golf ball size balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes.