Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cinnamon and Almond Brownies

What a fantastic Thanksgiving I had! I must say it was less traditional because my parents came to visit me in New York City, and we went out for dinner instead of making our own. It was nice to have a bit of change on tradition, and I suppose the most important part of the holiday is to spend it with those you love. I hope everyone else had a lovely Thanksgiving and will continue to enjoy the rest of this holiday season.

I was recently walking around the East Village of New York City when I encountered a fun little shop called The Nut Box. It was filled with all kinds of things: candies, dried fruits, and (you guessed it) lots of nuts! I happened upon a shelf of 1 pound packages of unblanched almond meal, and to my disbelief they were only $4.99. I bought a couple of packages because I love recipes that use almond meal, and I decided to experiment with a brownie recipe that I found on The Wannabe Chef.

I really enjoy the flavor of almonds and chocolate together, so I altered the recipe to use almond extract instead of vanilla. In light of the fall (and soon to be winter) season, I added a touch of cinnamon for a nice warming effect. These brownies are fudgy but also delicate. They have a lovely texture, and I think fudgy and cakey brownie lovers would both enjoy this recipe. You never know until you try!

Some of you might be wondering if it matters whether or not you use blanched versus unblanched almond meal or flour. In this recipe, I really don't think it matters as long as the almond meal is very finely ground, although I have not tested it with both blanched and unblanched. The packages I bought from The Nut Box are extremely finely ground, which is important for the texture and delicacy of this recipe. Bob's Red Mill almond flour is very coarse, and I would not suggest using it for this recipe, but you can make your own judgement on this accord. 

Without further ado, here is the recipe! Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Purple Cauliflower and Kale Quesadillas

Another post? So soon? I must be going crazy. Actually, I just have a lot of time on my hands. This Thanksgiving week has involved sleeping in, watching British dramas, and cooking up a storm.

One great thing about working at the GrowNYC Greenmarkets as a youth education intern is that I often receive leftover vegetables for free. This week, I received a couple seemingly random ingredients that I needed to make into a meal: purple cauliflower and kale. I also had large, whole wheat flour tortillas sitting in my freezer waiting to be used, so I thought, "Why not make some healthy quesadillas?"

These quesadillas are DELICIOUS. I never expected them to taste so good considering that the ingredients were rather haphazard. They are also incredibly healthy (less than 500 calories each) and so filling that I can barely eat an entire quesadilla! Here's some information on the health benefits of cauliflower (click here) and kale (click here), if you're interested. The colors are quite pleasing to the eye, and the quesadillas are very easy to make. What more could you want out of a recipe?

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Bounty of GrowNYC Greenmarkets

I am working at one of the most excellent places in New York City this semester: the Union Square Greenmarket. It wasn't all that long ago that fresh food was hard to find in the grand city of New York, but GrowNYC managed to make the city streets bloom with produce from local vegetable farms, orchards, dairies, livestock and poultry farms. Union Square is by far the most unique market. It is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and there is a constant bustle of people moving through the stands to purchase local goods.

Some of the most unique farms and local businesses include an ostrich and emu farm, a lavender farm, and an entirely vegan bakery that also sells many gluten-free goods. There are many daily events, including cooking demonstrations that use the most glorious and seasonal foods available at the market.