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  • Apricot, Coconut & Olive Oil Bars

    While February has come and is mostly gone, I am sure most of us are still craving something sweet that is not so much a holiday cookie (ahem, raise your hand if you still have a few in your freezer....), but is equally as satisfying to that sweet tooth...and a liiiiittle healthy, maaaaybe? I mean, they are totally virtuous, full of high-quality healthy fats, fiber and complex carbs. And don't taste like cardboard, as I find many pre-made granola bars do. These dudes are a perfect snack to go with all those hot cups of coffee/tea that the cold and (sometimes) dreary February/March inevitably comes with, along with the sharp cold that seems to even be here in CA...This is my spin on one of my favorites, and a classic combo (fig + walnut, see recipe here!): apricot bars made with fruity CA extra virgin olive oil, nutty coconut and a hug rubble of CA walnuts. They are really all very delcious when in close proximity in a bar. My inspiration for the apricot came two-fold: first, my boo does not adore the crunchy seeds in dried figs; second, I had spectacular apricot and dark chocolate rugelach a few weeks ago that keeps re-surfacing in my mind (so really I think I should just get on with it, and make rugelach!). But anyways, the bars are a fabulous showcase not in cookie form of the declicious and nutritous power of apricots. 

    Tuck away in the fridge or freezer to keep them cool and ready for your snacking pleasure. For an extra gooey treat, just warm up in the oven or zap in the microwave for a few seconds. I don't mind a dollop of plain greek yogurt on these either, and would wager that a scoop of ice cream would be mighty fine, too.Note on the Apricots: If you cannot find the dark and mysterious and slightly musty Turkish apricot, not to worry. You can totally use their bright-orange cousins! I just love the caramely flavors of Turkish apricots. Just be sure that when you're buying dried apricots, that there isn't any added sugar or other ingredients. If you do not have a well-stocked bulk aisle, and can only get the bright-orange dried apricots, that is ok-they likely contain sulpher dioxide, which is added to permanently interact with with the polyphenol oxidase enzyme (PPO) that turns fruits and veggies brown once cellular integrity is compromised, and the enzyme interacts with the various phenolic compounds found in fruits and veggies (i.e. when cutting, smashing, drying, etc....this lovely enzyme is why bananas and apples turn brown after you peel/bite/cut into them).



    Apricot, Coconut & Olive Oil Bars // makes 9 hearty snack-sized bars //

    Base and Topping:

    • 1 ½ TB chia seeds or ground flax seeds or 1 large egg
    • ¼ cup (63g) water
    • scant 2 cups (about 250g) walnuts
    • 3/4 cup (about 60g) dried, unsweetened coconut
    • 2 cups (200g) rolled oats (not instant oats)
    • ¼ cup (60g) mashed banana, unsweetened apple sauce, or milk of choice (I used unsweetened cashew milk)
    • 2 TB maple syrup or honey
    • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • ¾ tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder

    Apricot Filling

    • 2 cups (300g) dried apricots, using un-sulphered or turkish apricots if possible
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • Zest of 1 orange
    • Zest of 1 lemon
    • Juice of 1/2 orange (about ½ cup)
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon
    • Water, if needed
    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil an 8”x8” pan, or line with parchment paper. Start the apricot filling by simmering all the ingredients in a pan, adding a TB or two of water if needed. There should be about 1” of liquid in the bottom of the pan, but this doesn’t need to be exact. Cook until the apricots plump up and are soft enough to puree, about 10-15 minutes on medium heat.  Off the heat and allow to cool while you proceed.

    2. Meanwhile the figs are simmering, prepare the base and topping mixture: in a food processor, pulse 1 cup (100g) of the oats until a coarse flour is made. Add in scant 1 cup of the walnuts, along with the salt, about 2/3 of the unsweetened coconut (reserve some for topping the bars), baking powder and sea salt. Pulse to make a medium-fine meal of walnuts. Set aside.

    3. In a large bowl, mash the banana. Add in the chia/flax/egg, water, oil, maple syrup/honey and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add the dry mixture in the food processor bowl, and the other 1 cup of oats, and mix thoroughly.

    4. Pat about ⅔ of the mixture into the lightly greased 8”x8” pan, taking care to have a relatively even layer and compact mixture to prevent the bars from crumbling while cutting and handling.

    5. In the bowl of the food processor or blender (no need to rinse it from the oat mixture): Puree the warm apricots, scraping the down the food processor as needed until smooth. Spread the mixture over the dough layer in the pan, spreading as evenly as possible.

    6. Crumble the remaining dough mixture over the top of the fig layer. Crumble the remaining 1 cup (140g) of walnuts and reserved coconut over the top, gently pressing the crumble, walnuts and coconut into the apricot layer.

    7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until browned on top. Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.



    Choose your egg! Add either the flax/chia egg mixture, and your desired plant milk or mashed banana or applesauce to the coarse walnut/oat/coconut/baking powder/cinnamon/sea salt mixture, and mix mix mix! You'll have a kinda sticky-gloopy situation on your hands, but all is well. Trust. Ok, so at this point, you should have pureed your stewed apricot mixture. It should be thick, but still be moist enough to spread easily. Moist. I kinda disklike that word but we'll roll with it. After patting 2/3 of the base mixture into the greased or parchment-lined 8"x8"x pan, schmear as evenly as possible the apricot goo. Mmm...Top with the remaining base mixture (so really, making it the topping now!), walnuts and coconut. Press just kinda firmly to tell those loose bits and pieces that you are the boss and that they will stick and be friendly with the apricot filling. They all won't cooperate, but that is cool. Snack on some grapefruit wedges, too. Bake until the walnuts and coconut on top are lightly brown, and the aroma of musty and sweet dried apricots fill the air. Slice, serve, save, enjoy...repeat!

  • Walnut & Raisin Oatmeal Cookies

    The coziest wishes to you all on this fine Sunday! I hope you spent your weekend relaxing and rejuvenating and re-whatever-ing you need to do to be prepared for the week ahead.

    For me, that consisted of sleeping in, hanging out with my sister, buying a plant (a prayer plant...cool right?), drinking lots of coffee, walking around Lake Merritt, buying some mighty fine spices from Oaktown Spice Shop (specifically, chile powder for some beans that will be made today, more specifically, the baked pintos from Deb's new book), and of course, baking cookies. And, side note, while gathering groceries for those beans, I noticed that there were many...almost too many...options for avocados at the grocery store. Small. Medium. Large. Mexico. California. Ripe. Not so ripe. Ahhh! The conservative WI-girl in me opted for the "locally" grown (California...) medium not-so-ripe variety. I hope I made the right choice....

    Anyways! I have been thoroughly enjoying Stella's book, Bravetart. A cinnamon roll situation last weekend, and cozy oatmeal cookies this weekend. I have been searching for the "perfect" oatmeal cookie recipe (they are my favorite), and this one is pretty darn legit. It reminded me of Alice Medrich's oatmeal cookies in her cookie book, echoing the use of oat flour. But, what really intrigued me was the use of a small amount of steel cut oats! But evidently, not intriguing enough, since I forgot them at the store, along with the oat flour. But don't worry, the cookies are still A+ without them. Further, I have found that blending rolled oats in a high-speed blender or a decent food processor does the trick to create the powdery, fine oat flour. But, use that oat flour if you have it!Chock full of California raisins, walnuts...brimming with spices (Cinnamon! Nutmeg! Ginger!)...these cookies are legit, just as the Bravetart book is. I am eyeing some new Fat Daddio's to start experimenting with the cake recipes (and to get my ass in gear to bake a small wedding cake for one of my besties in July!). Oh, and Stella's recipe for homemade SPRINKLES. That situation is high on my list, too....

    Cheers and smiles to you all...let's get at this week in a cozy, calm and cookie-y way!



    Oatmeal, Raisin & Walnut Cookies // makes about 30, 1oz cookies // lightly adapted via Bravetart //

    • 2/3 cup (3 oz) all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup (2 1/2 oz) oat flour (store bought or made by blending rolled oats in a food processor or blender until very fine)
    • 1 2/3 cup (6 oz) old fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz) steel cut oats (optional)
    • 1 1/4 cup (5 oz) walnuts, toasted
    • 1 cup (6 oz) moist raisins*
    • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature 
    • 2/3 cup (5 oz) light brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) white sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice)
    • heaped 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
    • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
    • 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/4 tsp dried ground ginger 
    • 1 large egg
    • Flakey sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on top (optional, but serisouly recommended)

    *if your raisins are not moist, you can soak them in hot water for a few minutes, and thoroughly drain them before adding to the recipe.

    1. Toast the walnuts: preheat oven to 350F, and spread walnuts on the optionally lined (silpat, parchment, or aluminum foil with dull-side up) cookie sheet you will bake the cookies on. Toast for 10 minutes, set aside to cool.

    2. In a large bowl, sift the flours and the baking soda. Measure into the same bowl the raisins, and crush the walnuts with your hands into the bowl (no need to chop, between hand-crushing and mixing, they will be perfectly sized in the cookie dough). Set aside

    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a bowl to accomodate a hand-mixer, beat the butter until soft and creamy (about 30-45 seconds, but this may take a little longer if your kitchen is a little cool). Into the butter, add the brown sugar, white sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and beat until creamy and slightly fluffy (another 30 or so seconds). Add the egg, and beat until smooth and incorporated.

    4. Portion into 1oz balls (about 2 TB), and space about 2" apart on cookie sheets. Gently press each moudn into a 1/2" tall patty**, and sprinkle with flakey sea salt if desired. Bake for 12-16 minutes (my oven too 16 minutes for a brown, gently crispy bottom and edge), or until the cookies are brown around the outside and opaque in the middle. If you like crispier cookies, bake for a minute or two longer.

    5. Cool for a few minutes on the pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to firm up. Store in an airtight container at room temp or in the fridge/freezer for a few days...enjoy!

    **at this point, you can freeze the little pucks, and place into a bag or container once firm and frozen. To bake fresh cookies, proceed with the baking at 350F for 12-16 minutes, keeping in mind that a few extra minutes may be tagged on to baking straight from the freezer.



    The goods for the goods. Oat flour in the blender. Seriously, it works. Just be sure to blend to a fine texture, and sift with the other flour in the recipe. I found that I needed to blend about 2 cups of oats for the blending to be effective, so you'll have extra oat flour for your additional oat flour needs....like more of these cookies...Sift, stir, blend, whip...we got this!And cookie dough! Rejoice. Breakfast of Champions, really. Scoop 'em up...and smoosh them into 1/2" thick pucks of chunky glory.Yep. Glorious oat-y, warmly spiced, nutty goodness with pockets of sweet, caramel-y raisins. High fives!Now, excuse me, gonna drink coffee and eat cookies all day. Peace!

  • Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones

    The holidays are here! FTW? How did this happen so quickly? It seems like only yesterday, I was arriving in California to start my adventure in chocolate. Time flies. 2017 has flew by. So many ups and downs and in betweens! My most recent notable experience was a close interation with the Oakland Police Department, since my car got jacked (i.e. stolen). In the end, it was a pretty amazing experience, and I now know that generous and kind people are all around-yes, even in Oakland! It is not that as I doubted that, but, perhaps it just really struck a chord with me since this was my first "oh shit..." experience since moving from Wisconsin (long story short: my car was stolen, and some awesome people called it in when it rolled up to their house). 

    Speaking of in-betweens, I have always wondered the difference between a scone and a biscuit (yup, just went from car theft to baking-see how I did that?). I am certian that if I were brought up in the south, or accross the pond, I would have a more firm stance on this. But I don't, seeing that I am a Wisconsin girl, through and through.But what I DO know is that fresh and tart cranberries (preferrably from WI!), creamy butter (Clover has been my go-to since moving to CA), crunchy walnuts (from CA!) and sweet meyer lemon zest (duh, from CA!) are bound to get along in what I think is a scone. According to the internets, scones are sweeter, have a tighter crumb, and may or may not contain egg. And I guess that biscuits are not to have little bits of nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or really anything "chunky". The more ya know...Carry on, I say! (or, Forward! The motto of my motherland). The base of these is a little different from my rhubarb and buckwheat scones, with the inclusion of eggs, and the fact that this recipe yields roughly twice as many scones. The eggs add more adhesion to the dough, and give the crumb a more delicate texture (i.e. they are less crumbly/rubbly than scones sans-eggs) with more of a lift. I initially was going to omit the eggs, but stumbled on this useful page from King Arthur. But never fear, if you wish to omit the eggs, you can follow the template for the rhubarb and buckwheat scones and sub-in whichever flours you would like, with other add-ins like fresh cranberries and walnuts (but note, I have not specifically tested other combinations...let me know if you do in the comments!).Side note: for you vegans out there, I see that Dana has provided a wonderful vegan scone recipe that is quite close to the King Arthur template, but utilizes luxurious virgin coconut oil and nutritious flax egg! 

    These scones are...festive...speckled with all those dark tart red cranberries, studded with toasted walnuts, and so amazingly fragrant with meyer lemon zest, which is encouraged to release all of the essential oil power by rubbing the sugar with the zest. I encourage you to not skip brushing these with cream/milk, and sprinkling with crunchy demerara sugar; the sweet crust that forms on top is such a perfect compliment to the tart, zingy cranberries.And one last note (becuase as you all notice, I am all about the notes, especially ones that allow flexibility in our lives): one of amazing thing about scones is that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and bake them off fresh when you wish straight from the freezer. So...really...this makes an ideal holiday morning treat. Or afternoon tea-time treat. Or coffee snack. Whatever. They are especially delicious drizzled generously with honey (to counter those tart, beautiful cranberries), still warm from the oven. Go full authentic and eat with clotted cream (or maybe some greek yogurt?). Best the day they are baked, but revived with a quick heat in the oven the next day, I hope you enjoy these and have an amazing holiday season!



    Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones // Makes 8 very large scones or 16 small scones or quite possibly 12 mediums scones // 

    • 1 ½ cups (140 g) fresh cranberries (or frozen), either chopped by hand or in a food processor into medium sized pieces
    • 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, crushed into small-ish pieces
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • zest of 2 meyer lemons (or substitute 1 regular lemon and 1 orange)
    • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (210g)
    • 1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour flour (113g)
    • 1 TB baking powder (12g)
    • 3/4 tsp sea salt (3g)
    • Freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 stick (8 TB) butter, cut into small-ish chunks, very cold (straight from fridge)
    • 1/2 cup plant-based milk or cream/moo milk, plus 1 TB for brushing tops
    • 2 eggs

    To Finish:

    • 4 tsp demerara sugar, or coconut sugar, for sprinkling on top of scones
    1. Measure the sugar in large bowl, and zest citrus on top of sugar. Rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant and incorporated.

    2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg over the lemon zest sugar in the large bowl. Mix everything together thoroughly with a fork. 

    3. Cut butter in using pastry cutter or the fork, or, use your fingers. Butter chunks should be about the size of peas and dimes, with some a little larger and a little smaller. Using your hands at the very end to rub the butter between your fingers and thumbs to create sheets of butter to form flatter pieces of butter that will create layers and lift when baked. Work quickly to not melt the butter with the heat of your hands. 

    4. Stir in the almond milk/egg mixture, mix for a few stirs, then add the cranberries and walnuts. With a spatula, mix briefly, but confidently, until mostly no dry patches remain (but a rough, shaggy texture with dry-ish spots here and there is perfect!). Turn out onto a lightly floured board, gather the dough, divide in roughly have and stack the pieces, repeating this once more for optimum layering of butter for flakiness. Divide in half, and form each half into a 6” diameter disc that is 1.5” thick. 

    5. Cut each half into 4 triangles for huge scones, or 8 triangles for smaller scones, or even 6 triangles for medium-ish scones (if cutting the discs into 8 each, they will be small-but don't worry, they rise and puff), and place on a lined sheet tray. Freeze for 30-45 minutes (or, freeze all the way, wrap individually once firm, place in a bag or container and bake off as directed when desired).

    6. Preheat oven to 425F. When heated, take scones from freezer, brush with cream or milk, and sprinkle each with ½ tsp (or a generous pinch!) of demerara sugar.

    7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and fragrant. Frozen scones may need a minute or two more. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy! These are best fresh, but baked scones can be freshed in a hot oven (350F) for a fe minutes. Cheers!



    Fragrant meyer lemon zest is rubbed into sugar...the best type of aroma therapy in the kitchen! Chopped cranberries (either fresh or frozen work here, I used frozen, and chopped them in the food processor). The color is so damn festive!Walnuts, a natural pair with cranberry!Alright. You've measured/weighted and sifted, now to cut in the butter. Using your fingers, working quickly, is encouraged. Flat, larger pieces will produce puffy, layered scones. Then, we confidently and quickly stir in the milk and egg mixture. The key phrase for scones: hot shaggy mess. Literally. This will look like a goddamn nightmare, but never fear: the shaggier, the more "undermixed", the lighter the scone. Seriously. You cannot go wrong. In goes the rubble of cranberry and walnuts! A quick stir and fold of sorts with a spatula to get it all in there...still a shaggy hot mess...you're doing great...you just gotta trust your inner baker here. Alright. The scone batter gets a quick pat down. Sliced. You got it...if you're feeling greedy, cut into larger triangles. If you're feeling more petite.......then cut each disc into 8 triangles. I guess you try cutting each disc into 6, and settle in the middle...whatever you want!The chunks! The butter! The love! Ahh. You nailed it!Get these ruby-speckled babies into the freezer. Clean up your mess. Make a coffee. Maybe just admire one more time how just kinda cute these little dudes are...Love it. Ok, carry on. Get your oven preheated. Brush with milk or cream. Sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake bake bake...coffee coffee coffee....(or tea? I dunno..whatever you want!)...Just enjoy! Share, repeat. Happiest baking to you all!

  • Fig, Walnut + Oat Bars with Orange & Black Pepper / Apricot, Coconut & Walnut Bars

    Happy spring! It has arrived. All wet, rainy, and cloudy. But! April showers bring May flowers (I just typed  "flours"...ha!). They also mean more activities outside. Yes! Finally. I am really excited to explore the Driftless as the conditions become less...muddy. I did attempt a hike in Duck Egg Park in February, during one of our warm streaks, but the mud got the best of me and my shoes. With spring comes warmer weather, and also a renewed motivation on certain levels. However, this past week was...draining. Work is starting to ramp-up, and last weekend I had a hectic visit home. I played hookie from a potluck a co-worker hosted this weekend. As much as I wanted to go earlier this week, I really just needed some time to myself to re-charge this weekend. I have earned the nickname "Grandma" at work, since more often than not lately, chilling at home has been my favorite weekend and after-work activity. Indeed, I am still finding myself doing some mental spring cleaning of sorts, and not going to lie: I found myself worked up, upset, sad, angry and yep, you guessed it, crying in my kitchen a few times this weekend. This morning, as I sat with my second coffee, eating some toast (from my first *successful* loaf of sourdough bread...more on that later), some memories hit me. The guilt, anger, sadness and empty feelings that really don't suit my life anymore (but still try to creep in, damn them!) hit me out of nowhere. Does that ever happen to you? Maybe the caffeine brought it on, but I always feel better if I let the feelings run their course, and remind myself to be strong all the while. So, not surprisingly, I find myself really sensitive to the presence of other people lately. Their opinions, their timeliens, their values, their priorities. So, with that said, sorry family and friends for not calling this weekend...trust me, it is not you, it is surely me! I talked with my sourdough starter all weekend, so don't worry-I had contact with a life form of sorts...heh...As I mentioned, reminding myself that I am strong, resilient, and that I can truly take care of myself, has been really important this past week. I nearly laughed my dinner out the other night, because during an episode of Grace and Frankie (you gotta watch it, if you Netflix...and yes, I sometimes plop myself in front of Netflix while I eat dinner), Grace gets stuck driving Frankie's car, all the while Frakie's "self affirmations" are on repeat in her car. And yes, I think our gut reaction to this exercise is "really? Do we need to repeat these things, this hippy-dippy stuff, to make ourselves feel better??". But, to those people, as resistant as you are to this (I used to be, too), and as much as you want to make fun of it, I encourage you to try it sometime. It is powerful, on a sub-conscious level, that I am stil trying to figure out. But that is life, right? Enjoying the journey, learning from it, learning about myself (yourself) and others. Be gentle with yourself, and others. Have compassion. Carry love in your heart for those that you love, for those that you don't understand, and for those that have hurt you. All of that stuff, ya know...it really is an art, a practice, a work-in-progress. Ok, ok, ooook....time to share this recipe, becuase these fig bars are so damn good. Perfect for a snack with coffee or tea, awesome as a quick breakfast, really tasty with tangy plain yogurt (started to eat dairy yogurt again a few weeks back, and I am so glad I did! Shout out to all the dairy farmers in WI, we salute you).

    Dried figs. Kinda like prunes, but a bit more...sexy? I dunno. My nickname at work is Grandma, so this should not be surprising, my love for dried, high-fiber fruits. My obsession with dried figs started a long time ago, when my journey with natural foods started, perhaps out of what now I see as some serious self-image issues. Out of sheer curiosity of what the hell a dried fig was, I went to our local co-op, bought some dried, wrinkly, almost black mission figs. A love the sweet, earthy flavor developed at first bite. Soon after, I discovered some magical fig bars at the Willy Street Co-Op. Alas, it was a short love affair, as the bakery team there stopped making them because they were "too hard" to get out of the pans (pssssh) after baking...something about too much crumbling and sticking. I was so upset that I called, super sad, and asked the baker manager "WHY, BUT WHHHHHY??". She did email me the recipe, but, it was for a HUGE pan of fig bars...and also called for some ingredients that I didn't ever have on hand (apple juice concentrate). WTF.

    So, a few meh-level attempts over the years left me still longing for my beloved, very lost fig bars. My attempts were too sweet, too crumbly; the filling was always a pain in the ass to spread over the bottom crust, and they weren't thick enough, blah blah....Until....Sara's book. I had a hunch that the fig and walnut bars she has in her first book just miiiight be a worthy contender. After a few tweaks and making them several times, and also coming to the life-changing conclusion that I could use similar flavor's (orange, sea salt, black pepper) in the fig filling as Deb's amazing fig challah for the filing of these bars, my quest....was over. This is it, folks. Fig bar dreams realized. This recipe is a keeper. And yes, you read correctly: I called the bakery at the co-op about fig bars. I AM THAT PERSON.

    My major changes to the original recipe include:

    • First: Used mashed banana instead of apple sauce that the crust/topping calls for, since I never have apple sauce on hand (and when I do, it is from my Mom or Grandma, and I like to enjoy it plain or with yogurt, with lots of cinnamon). I could see pumpkin puree working, too. I also tried using ground flax instead of the chia seeds, and it worked perfectly, but either work.
    • Second: I omitted the walnut toasting that Sarah includes, since I feel the baking of these bars provided plenty of heat to toast the nuts. 
    • Third: I have found that coconut oil, sunflower oil and olive oil all work for the crust/topping. I won't tell if you use melted butter, either. Just maybe use a organic, cultured variety? Please?
    • Fourth: I stewed my figs with freshly squeezed orange juice, orange zest, black pepper, and a pinch of sea salt. I did this because I find that simply pureeing dried figs gives a really thick, really sticky filling that is a pain in the ass to spread over the bottom of the bars. I dunno about you, but here in WI, I can only find dried figs that are DRIED and pretty....hard, so, they need some lovin' before being converted to a speadable bar filling.
    • Lastly, I also made a version that included one whole peeled, chopped apple in the filling, stewed along with the figs. Awesome decision, if you want to go that way. I could see a ripe pear being tasty, too. This adds a bit more sweetness to the filling, and also amps-up the volume of the filling if you want more of it. 

    In fact, if you just want to make the fig puree, I would endorse that decision 110%. I could see it being used as a spread for toast, used in oatmeal, swirled into yogurt, included on a cheese board for a sweet contrast....it really is quite tasty. It would for sure keep for a few weeks in the fridge, stored in a jar or other covered container. OR you can hop on over here, and make Deb's amazing challah. No regrets, people.Notes: I like to store these in a tin in the freezer to keep them fresher for a longer period of time. The filling is moist, the bottom and topping aren't...so...cooler temperatures mitigate moisture migration,(mitigate moisture migration....wow, say THAT 10x fast). A quick re-heat in a warm oven or toaster oven, or even a microwave, brings the bars back to life. You could also just forget about a (wrapped) bar(s) in your purse/bag/lunch box for a few hours, and be surprised by a sweet, gooey, not-full-of-crap or hard-to-find-ingredients treat. Cheers!



    Fig and Walnut Bars // Makes 9 ~1.5"x1.5" bars, or 16 ~1"x1" bars // plant-based; vegan; gluten-free; refined sugar-free; soy-free // (Don't miss the Apricot-Coconut & Olive Oil version of these bars!**)

    Base and Topping:

    • 1 ½ TB chia seeds or ground flax seeds*
    • ¼ cup (63g) water
    • 2 cups (280g) walnuts
    • 2 cups (200g) oats, using certified gluten free if ya need to
    • ¼ cup (60g) mashed banana
    • 2 TB maple syrup
    • 1 TB melted coconut oil, sunflower oil or olive oil
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • ¾ tsp sea salt
    • 1 tsp baking powder

    Fig Filling:

    • 2 cups (300g) dried figs, stems removed
    • 2 tsp cinnamon
    • Pinch sea salt
    • Pinch black pepper, freshly ground is best here
    • Zest of 1 orange
    • Juice of 1 orange (about ½ cup)
    • 1-2 TB water, if needed
    • optional: 1 peeled, chopped apple or pear

    *I grind flax seeds in my coffee grinder. I like to freshly grind my flax, and use right away, since these little dudes are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids; I sometimes store smaller quantities in the freezer in a jar. You may also substitute this flax/chia egg with 1 large egg, preferrably locally produced!

    1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly oil an 8”x8” pan, or line with parchment paper. Start the fig filling by simmering all the ingredients in a pan, adding a TB or two of water if needed. There should be about 1” of liquid in the bottom of the pan, but this doesn’t need to be exact, and will depend on how large your orange is. Cook until the figs plump up, and are soft enough  to puree, about 10-15 minutes on medium heat. Most of the liquid should be absorbed by the figs.

    2. Meanwhile the figs are simmering, prepare the base and topping mixture: in a food processor, pulse 1 cup (100g) oats until a coarse flour is made. Add in 1 cup (140g) of the walnuts, along with the salt, baking powder and sea salt. Pulse to make a medium-fine meal of walnuts. Set aside.

    3. In a large bowl, mash the banana. Add in the chia/ground flax, water, oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir to combine. Add this wet mixture in the food processor bowl, and mix thoroughly. Transfer this to a bowl, and add the remaining 1 cup (100g) oats, and mix thoroughly. 

    4. Pat about ⅔ of the mixture into the lightly greased 8”x8” pan, taking care to have a relatively even layer and compact mixture to prevent the bars from crumbling while cutting and handling. You can wet your hands to help with the dough sticking to your fingers.

    5. In the bowl, of the food processor (no need to rinse it out), puuree the warm figs, scraping the down the food processor as needed until smooth. Spread the mixture over the dough layer in the pan, spreading as evenly as possible.

    6. Crumble the remaining dough mixture over the top of the fig layer. Crumble the remaining 1 cup (140g) of walnuts over the top, gently pressing the crumble and walnuts into the fig layer.

    7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until browned on top. Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.


    Blitz the oats, walnuts, baking powder and sea salt together. You want a semi-coarse meal, small enough particles so the this dough can stick together, but still with enough texture for your tongue to be happy when eating these. You do not want to pulse to a point where the oils of walnuts are coming out.Mash up the chia seeds (or ground flax) with the banana and water...the mixture will be thick. That is what we want! Meanwhile, while this is all happening, you're getting your fig filling all simmered...right? This particular batch had 1 large peeled apple thrown into the mix. Totally optional, but also very tasty.Back to the bottom and topping: mix the wet mixture of chia and banana with the dry mixture in the food processor. Plop into a bowl, and mix the remaining 1 cup oats...mix thoroughly!Pat about 2/3 of the batter into the bottom of a greased 8"x8" pan, or parchmnet lined pan....up to you...just don't skip that step! This batter a little on the sticky side. To help pat it out, you can wet your hands, too.Back to the figs: plump, they are ready to be pureed! You want the dried fruit to be soft, and to not have  a ton of extra cooking liquid left. But, don't sweat it, doesn't need to be perfect, just soft enough to easily shovel into your mouth, erm, I mean spread onto the bottom dough you just patted into the pan...You will have to scrape down the food processor a few times along the way, but it is worth it. Truly, it is. Spread it...evenly as possible. Again, not looking for pefection, just go for it. ......you got this...the fig filling can smell fear, so just dive in. Trust me. Crumble the remaining batter over the top, followed by the other 1 cup of walnuts. I like to simply crush the walnts in my hands a bit. Gently press into the fig filling. Admire your handy work. The layers. Love it. Notice the generous layer of fig goo? And prominence of the walnuts? Yes. These are indeed fig and walnut bars..so...that should be no surprise. Into the hot oven, to bake until the edges are golden brown, and topping is set. You'll smell the mild, earthy aroma of the filling and oats, mingling with the nuts, orange and a hint of spicy black pepper...it is indeed a good thing. Let this slab of delicious cool alllllll the way before cutting, as these bars are a bit delicate when warm. Cut into bars, stash away. Come breakfast or afternoon snack time, your tummy will be super happy you made these-trust me! 

  • Browned Butter, Buckwheat & Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

    That is a mouthful! Eating 2 of these cookies at one time annnnd the title..."browned butter, buckwheat, walnut chocolate chunk cookies". They may look a little...homely...but they have incredieble flavor and texture. Note: you may use chocolate chips, and you may omit the walnuts. Similarly, I could see substituting hazelnuts being *amazing* in these.These cookies were born when I participated in a cookie swap in efforts to raise funds of the ACLU, that the lovely Miss Jen held at her crazy adorable pie shop (also, super tasty pies...I shouldn't have to say that about a shop that sells all-things butter and pie...right? Ok...good). I was also in-between moving from Beloit to my new place here in Viroqua (*happy dance*), and was spending a few days/nights at my Dad's in Madison. Let us just say that baking cookies for others is my kind of therapy when things get a liiiiittle stressful. Nibbling on pieces of chocolate, browning butter, adimiring the rich colors of buckwheat flour....I love it all. And I really, really love these cookies.

    Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE a solid, well-executed chocolate chunk cookie. Sprinkled with sea salt, dunked into hot coffee, loaded with chocolate chunks...nothing will beat that. But for those who cannot eat the glutens (turns out, many people are still dabbling in the gluten-free arena), these are a really amazing option. The nutty buckwheat flour compliments the browned butter, and walnuts offer lots of crunch. And the chocolate. The chocolate....is the chocolate. I think I prefer these made with chunks of chocolate-some little pieces, some small, some shavings....but chocolate chips will do just fine. Just be sure to get your hands on some rich dark chocolate here-the contrast of the bitterness against the sweet cookie is *awesome*. A few notes on the flour and such: you can use either Bob's Red Mill buckwheat flour (it is blue-ish in hue, and almost like fine sand in texture) or a more flour-y buckwheat flour. I have made these cookies with both, and while both give slight different textures, both are equally delicious. The Bob's flour cookies were a little more crunchy and crispy around the edges, and were also a little more flat (i.e. they spread a litte more). Made with a more powdery, locally milled buckwheat flour prdoduced a more brown colored batter, and a cookie with less spread, so a more gooey, chewy center. I would 100% recommend allowing the batter for either version to rest for at least 30 minutes (bummer, I know...), or even overnight in the fridge. This allows the buckwheat to absorb moisture, and helps the batter thicken up a touch. Since these cookies lack that viscoelastic, streatchy network of gluten, their structural integrity can be improved with a nap. Your patience will be rewarded! They will still be space hogs, and spread quite a bit with baking, however.  And lastly, do NOT omit the tapioca flour (or sometimes called starch). You can easily find this in most grocery stores, and is extremely helpful in binding gluten-free baked goods...mmmkay? And I don't have to say this (do I?) but please try to use the best butter, sugar, eggs...just like a savory dish, with such few ingredients, using the best you can source really pay off here. But, if the cookie need is strong, use what you have in your pantry.....I get it! Enjoy, eat lots of cookie dough, steal nibbles of the chocolate...you got this!And lastly, if you wish, you can mix these up, portion them out into balls, and freeze. When the cookie need strikes, you can bake-off as many (or as few....but wtf is that with cookies?) as you need, straight from the freezer. Cookie addict hacks...so important for a happy life...right? 



    Browned Butter Buckwheat, Walnut & Chocolate Chunk Cookies // makes approximately 20, 2" diameter cookies // gluten-free; nut-free option (omit the nuts, yo!); soy-free // 

    • 1 stick (8 TB, 113g) unsalted butter
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup (160g) sugar*
    • 2 tsp molasses*
    • 3/4 cup plus 2 TB buckwheat flour (100g) buckwheat flour
    • 1/4 cup plus 2 TB (45g) tapioca flour or starch
    • pinch of cinnamon and/or freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/2 cups (6oz, 170g) dark/bittersweet chocolate (at least 65% cocoa solids, with roughy 80% cocoa solids being my favorite here), either in chip form or chopped into chunks from a bar
    • 1 heaped cup walnuts (leave these out if you can't do nuts or if you don't like them, or substitue with pecans, hazelnuts, etc...)

    *Lately, I have been making my own brown sugar, because to me, it tastes richer and is really simple to make. For this recipe, I use 3/4 cup organic cane sugar with 2 tsp molasses; you can eyeball the molasses if you're feeling saucy, or measure it out like the amazing baking you are! :)

    1. Brown the butter: in a medium saucepan (you'll be mixing in a few more things in here, so use a slightly larger one that you think-I used a 4-cup sauce pan), melt the butter over medium heat, and allow it to cook, swirling occasionally, until it starts to brown and smell nutty. It may foam a few times, and you'll notice some of the butter solids sticking to the bottom-just keep swirling until a golden color is reached. Allow the browned butter to cool for 5-10 minutes while you carry on with the recipe.

    2. Sift the buckwheat flour, tapioca flour/starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and baking soda into a large bowl. Chop the chocolate, and walnuts if using, or measure out the chocolate chips. Whatever you are mixing into the batter, get it ready now!

    3. Into the slightly warm browned butter, add in the sugar, molasses (or light brown sugar), vanilla and egg. Mix thoroughly. The mixture will be almost caramel-like in consistency. Pour this mixture over the dry ingredients, mix for a few turns, and then add in the chocolate and walnuts. Don't be shy here-you can mix, mix, mix since we have no gluten to worry about developing. The batter will begin to thicken as you stir-this is the buckwheat flour working the magic it has....

    4. You can let the batter sit for 30 minutes, or covered overnight in the fridge now. After it rests, and when you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F. Form batter into roughly 2 TB dough, place on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle with sea salt (or you can form the balls, and freeze them for future baking). Bake for 8-12 minutes, rotating or turning the pans after the first 5-6 minutes to ensure even baking. For frozen cookie dough balls, it may take a minute or two longer for the cookies to bake. The cookies are done when they appear to be dry-ish in the middle, but may still look a little gooey. For crisper cookies, bake until the edges start to brown.

    5. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes before removing with a spatula-the cookies are a little delicate fresh out of the oven. Store for up to 2 months in the freezer in a covered container, or up to 3 days at room temperature (if they last that long...).



    You know how to do this...be sure to allot your measurements for snacking on the chocolate and walnuts. Really. You know you will do it. Sift...gotta sift! Don't skip it. Brown the buttaaaah! Swirl, be patient...you got this...Now, sugar, molasses (or brown sugar) egg...all stirred up into a caramel-like mass....mmm mass....and not the church kind, the "gravitational pull" kind...Stir stir stir....be sure your browned butter is not super hot here, or else you may curdle (i.e. cook) your egg. We don't want that...at least, not in our cookies. Pour the lot over your sifted dry ingredients...and stir, stir, stir again! So, this is the same batter, only made with a locally milled buckwheat flour. You can see that the Bob's batter is a little more loose, but it will firm up after some time. And no nuts in the batter below! But lots of chips. See, we are flexible here...do what you gotta do!All balled up....ahoo hooo...(Elvis voice there...)You can also freeze your balls (teehee), and bake straight from there. Don't forget the sea salt on top!On the cookie sheet, with generous space apart, since these guys like to stretch their legs. And run into each other....cookie venn diagram...it happens!Same cookies, just made with the locally milled flour below (Bob's flour above). Cool, and enjoy. Be sure to let these rest for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before removing to cool, since they are delicate creatures right out of the oven. I mean, aren't we all, though?Nothing better than cookies in the evening light of spring....am I right? Enjoy! Share! Be merry. 

  • On Moving + Gluten Free (and not full of weird flours) Banana Bread (or muffins) (plus, gluten-free sweet potato bread)

    Summer...we are in the last month of it. It is almost time to buy new mechanical pencils, you can just almost...faintly...smell the pumpkin spice craze on the horizon, and the urge to organize/optimize is strong. We just moved from Madison, our beloved little 1 bedroom loft on campus, to Beloit...our...large...."modern"...cave-like...2 bedroom apartment that overlooks what is quite possibly the most entertaining mainstreet in Wisconsin.

    Now, questions arise: where to grocery shop? Running...where do I do it?? Coffee....how to acquire it at a moments notice around here? And questions are being answered as we explore...It is a luxury to have more space, and I am grateful for the next phase of my life, but adjusting is sometimes...a bitch.

    Anxiety, stress, fear, doubt, negativity are all things that creep into my mind when big changes happen. On the flip side, dreaming, optimism, thoughts of endless opportunities and new routines also pop into my mind when my life is mixed up. It is a battle of sorts....good vs. evil...positive vs. negative...I am still a grab-bag of emotions, still trying to figure out my place....both physically here....right now...and where I want to be in the next 6 months, 1 year, 5 years...dreaming, scheaming, planning...exploring...

    But here we are, as time marches on, and we must enjoy our moments as much as we can! To bid our little, under ventilated loft apartment in Madison farewell, I made banana bread! Classic, comforting, familiar. But, this version is gluten-free, with no use of weird ass flours or gums/hydrocolloids/thickeners (side note: acacia gum is used for envelope adhesive, and has no place in food, mmmk?). Rather, the loaf is full of bananas, as it should be (see also my version of gluten-full, vegan and delicious banana bread, as well as some other tips on my banana bread making process). My quest for a buckwheat banana blueberry muffin recipe a few weeks back lead to me develop this recipe, which I thought was going to be a total flop, purely because it was a total experiment. I heavily modified the muffin recipe, mixed the batter up, got really lazy and decided to plop the batter in my loaf tin instead, and boom...a total success! Carbs, and coconut oil for healthy fats, to fuel moving all those damn boxes (or moving whatever or just living...). We thorougly enjoyed slices, slightly warmed, slathered with homemade sunbutter. Sooo good!

    Did someone say easy gluten-free bluberry muffins?

    And BONUS: the batter also makes great muffins...go figure! Simply bump the oven temp up to 400F, and bake in muffin tins that have been greased/floured or lined. Mix in nuts, berries, chocolate...whatever you fancy, and bake for 18-25 minutes, or until a tester comes our clean when poked into the muffins. I got a perfect 12 standard sized muffins from this when I mixed in 1 1/2 cups blueberries and 1/2 cup walnuts. I could see pecans also being fabulous, as well as chunks of chocolate (or even cacao nibs), in either the loaf or muffin. 

    Wait...did someone also say gluten-free sweet potato or pumpkin bread?! 

    You got it. You can easily substitute the bananas for sweet potato or pumpkin puree. Bump up the milk by 1/3 cup, and if using pumpkin, add 2 TB more honey (or whatever liquid sweetener you'd like to use). I also like to add extra spices with this version: more cinnamon, more nutmeg, more ginger, and shit, even a pinch of cloves....why the hell not? Boom. Multi-tasking like a champ. Ditto with the muffin deal too: you can easily make these as muffins, as prescribed in the blueberry muffin method in this post. I love to top this loaf (or I suppose the muffins, too) with buckwheat groats. They toast up into the most amazingly crunchy topping. 

    Recipe Notes: I have not tried this recipe without the eggs (my aunt gave me two dozen beautiful eggs from her hens a few weeks ago!), but surely believe that a flax or chia egg would work to make this loaf vegan (mix 1 TB ground flax or chia with 3 TB water for each egg replacement), or, you may be able to leave any egg/egg substitute out due to the bananas being a great egg replacer in themselves (I'll update this if I do try any of those). In my testing, I used brown rice syrup for the sweetener, but my sister had great results with maple syrup. If using agave or honey, beware of the higher fructose content and therefore a darker loaf upon baking; I suspect this to not be a huge issue in the muffins as their baking time is considerably less than the loaf. Also, if your bananas aren't quite over ripe, you can bump up the liquid sweetener up to 1/2 cup. And lastly, the arrowroot can be replaced with tapioca starch (or sometimes called tapioca flour), which is simply tapioca ground into a powder (you can make your own by grinding tapioca pearls to a find powder in a coffee/spice grinder). 

    Another note, on the flour measurements: I double checked the weights with the volume measurements, and they should be on point as long as you moderately fluff your flours with a fork before scooping in your measuring cup, and level the top off with knife or other straight edge without compacting the flours. But seriously, don't stress too much about this....I find that banana bread is pretty forgiving! 

    And finally, a note on the buckwheat flour: you can find either "sifted" or "unsifted" buckwheat flours, and either will work in this recipe. However, the sifted variety will yield a lighter loaf, both in flavor, texture and color since the outer fiberous layer of the buckwheat groat has been removed prior to milling into flour. The unsifted buckwheat flour will be darker, almost blueish, in color, and will yield a darker, but still delicious, loaf. Regardless of type of buckwheat flour you use, I urger you to still actually sift your dry ingredients, as this lends a lighter texture. I love Lonesome Stone Buckwheat flours, as they are locally produced here in Wisconsin, and have a fabulous flavor. BUT, be sure that, if you do have a legit gluten allergy, the buckwheat flour you use is 100% gluten free, since cross contamination with gluten-full flours is a possibility with certain mills that produce more than one type of flour.



    Gluten Free Banana Bread (Or Muffins) // plant-based; gluten-free; refined sugar-free; soy-free option // makes 1 9"x5" loaf  or 12 standard muffins//

    • 2/3 cup (75g) almond flour or almond meal (I used Bob's Red Mill)
    • 1 cup (100g) oat flour* (I used Bob's Red Mill)
    • 1 cup (100g) buckwheat flour*, using either sifted or unsifted (see above for explanation)
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1/2 tsp dried ground ginger (optional)
    • 2 TB arrowroot powder or tapioca flour/starch (see above for tips)
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp soda
    • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (optional, but I like the buttermilk-like taste))
    • 2/3 cup plant based milk, using soy and nut-free when needed
    • 2 or 3 large, very ripe bananas (or, 2 cups pumpkin or sweet potato puree)
    • 1/4 cup brown rice syrup or maple syrup (adding 2 TB more if using pumpkin puree)
    • 1/3 cup melted virgin coconut oil
    • 2 eggs, using locally produced when possible OR 2 TB flax/chia meal + 6 TB water
    • Opitional add-ins: 1 to 2 cups of any the following: walnuts, pecans, chocolate chips or chunks, cacao nibs, fresh or frozen berries...etc. (I used 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries and 1/2 cup crushed walnuts)
    • *update 11/7/16: after two successful trials, I am happy to report that using 200g of buckwheat flour, and omitting the 100g of oat flour, produces a moist and delicous loaf. Ideal topping for this loaf has been several large handfuls of walnuts, slighlty crushed, and a hefty sprinkling of cinnamon sugar (made by mixing 1/2 cup organic cane sugar with 2 tsp cinnamon. Just like my Mom does, I like to mix and store in a shaker for future uses since you won't use all of this mixture in one go! And really, cinnamon sugar on anything is tasty, right?).

    1. Preheat oven to 350F (or 400F for muffins). Grease and flour (I used the buckwheat flour) a 9"x5" loaf tin (or 12 standard muffin tins). I used a metal tins, but glass will work too in the case of the loaf. Set aside.

    2. Mash the bananas with a fork or potato masher in a large bowl, then whisk in the apple cider vinegar, plant based milk, brown rice syrup (or maple syrup or whatever liquid sweetener you use), coconut oil and eggs (or chia/flax egg). Thoroughly whisk the mixture, making sure it is all combined.

    3. Sift the dry ingredients directly into the wet mixture. Thoroughly mix the batter to incorporate everything, adding any of the optional add-ins if desired, but take care to not overmix the batter (I really love using a dough whisk for delicate batters like this). Pour batter into loaf tin, or, use about 1/2 cup per standard size muffin. 

    4. Bake for 55-65 minutes (or 18-25 minutes for muffins), or until a tester comes out clean when poked through the center of the loaf. If using frozen berries, the batter will likely be cooler and therefore take longer to bake. Allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan, and then run a knife around the edges to release, and place on a cooking rack. Cool completely before slicing or serving. Store loaf or muffins in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 1 month. Enjoy plain, or with your favorite butter (we love it with homemade sunbutter). 



    Never underestimate the power of quality, fresh spices. Never, ever. Muffins or bread, whatever you choose....grease it up, flour it up, whisk whisk...you know what to do.Add blueberries if that is up your ally...it was mine. I scored some beautiful Michigan blues last weekend! Mix in all up...plop into pan...Put a few extra berries (or chocolate chunks, or walnuts....whatever you want!) on top for show and flavor...cause you deserve it!

    Bake bake bake...the muffins will be lighter in color than the loaf, purely due to the fact that you bake the muffins at a higher temperature for shorter time!Super tasty with nut or seed butter, or just plain butter...cow or otherwise!Enjoy with coffee, and a comfy chair. 

  • Roasted Red Pepper & Walnut Dip

    Wow! Who else is loving the warmer weather? I am. It is going to my head, and I love the energy I get when I wake up, and see the sun shining. Anyone else?

    Warm weather calls for warm weather snack foods. You know...those things that you can grab, pair with a fun beverage (kombucha...beer n' booch...hint hint), and sit outside to enjoy. I usullay almost always have some sort of dip on hand, and 90% of the time, it is hummus. To me, nothing beats a homemade batch of hummus, with lots of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and tahini. Add some fresh veggies, crackers, pita, and you have an awesome snack or lunch. But sometimes, you want something other than hummus...but equally fantastic. In my opinion, this creamy, reddish-pink, sweet, savory dip is a worthy contender among hummus fanatics and non-fanatics alike. It will make your tastesbuds do the cha-cha, and is a perfect use for freshly harvested sweet red peppers. With the most labor coming in at roasing the red peppers, this dip is easy-peasy. And no, no, no, no, don't even think about using canned or purchased roasted red peppers. They are not the same, and their often times weirdly acidic, vinegar-laden taste creates an entirely different product that is less than stellar (at least, in my opinion-give it a shot if you must!). You can use red bell peppers, or sweet Italian red peppers (what I used in the cut, smash and roast method below). 

    BUT, you are in luck, cause now there are TWO ways you can easily roast red peppers at home:

    And bonus: you can roast the peppers a few days ahead of time, or even freeze the peppers for future use. If you do freeze and choose to roast in the method described in this recipe, I recommend peeling, removing the core/seeds and cutting into pieces prior for convenience. I do have to note, however, that roasting the whole red pepper produces a slightly more moist pepper, since you keep the entire fruit intact during roasting, which effectively traps the natural moisture present in the pepper. But flavor wise, the two roasting methods are similar. 

    I have made this dip with and without the addition of 2 cups (or one 15oz can) garbanzo beans, and while both are very tasty, I prefer the non-beany version. If you do want to add the protein and fiber, go for it! I would imagine cannellini beans would also be a suitable addition. Be sure to adjust the seasonings if you do add the beans, since they will dampen the flavor of spices as they are written in the below recipe. I found a heftier hand on everything was needed to suit my preferences. In any case, we love this stuff on wraps, pita, veggie burgers, cut veggies and tortialla chips. It also makes a great topper for salads, "buddha" bowls, and socca. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! I need to thank Sarah at My New Roots for the recipe-her version is quite perfect as is written in her amazing book!

    Note: I am sure you're thinking it...can you substitute the walnuts for another nut or seed? Honestly, I have not tried it, but imagine that almonds would be a nice substitute, carrying this dip into romesco territory (a good territory, I might add). Sunflower seeds might work, and the sweetness of the roasted red pepper could play nicely with the natural bitter quality of sunflower seeds. If you try either of these versions, let me know how it goes! Also, I do not recommend using any other color pepper besides red, as you really want the sweetest, most flavorful peppers for this dip. 



    Roasted Red Pepper and Walnut Dip // plant-based; vegan; gluten-free; soy-free; sugar-free // makes about 3 to 4 cups of dip, depending on how many and how large the roasted red peppers you use //

    • 2-3 red bell peppers, or 3-4 smaller Italian sweet red peppers, organic if possible
    • virgin or refined coconut oil, for smearing on the skin of the peppers for roasting
    • 1 cup walnuts
    • 1/2 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp cumin
    • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
    • pinch cayenne pepper
    • 4 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
    • 2 large cloves garlic
    • Fresh parsley, for garnish 
    • Optional: 1 to 2 cups garbanzo or cannellini beans

    1. Roast the whole red peppers and walnuts: preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread the walnuts on 1/3 of the baking sheet. Wash and dry red peppers, and smear the coconut oil in a thin layer all over the skin. Place on the lined baking tray away from the walnuts. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and remove the walnuts after this time. Return the red peppers to the oven for 30-40 minutes, until the peppers are starting to blister and darken in spots. Take out of the oven, and carefully transfer to a large glass or metal bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel, and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. This time cools the peppers, and also allows the pepper skins to contract, making them easy to peel off. Peel and seed the peppers, reserving juices if possible. At this point, you can refrigerate in a bag or covered container for a few days, or freeze in a bag with the air removed, for up to 1 month for future use. 

    2. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Puree, adding 1 TB of water at a time if needed to help the mixture blend. Taste and adjust seaonings as needed. Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week. 



    Covering the roasted and hot peppers traps steam, and helps separate the flesh of the pepper from the skin. That sounds really gross...but eh...it is a pepper! Peel away the skin once the peppers have cooled.Peel the skin away to reveal beautifully charred roasted red peppers! Go you. See, you don't need those jarred roasted red peppers...Everything is now downhill (or uphill??) from here: simply toss everythign into a blender or food processor, and blend until the desired texture. I like mine fairly creamy and smooth. Garnish with parsley, if desired, and enjoy!