Wednesday, January 27, 2010

GardenCuizine Recipe: Nutty Ginger Streusel

Nutty Ginger Streusel
Topping for Baked Goods, Squash 
and Sweet Potato Casserole
Streusel topping adds crunch, sweetness, nutrients, and eye appeal, not to mention delicious, sweet cinnamon flavor to baked goods, squash and sweet potato casseroles. This recipe contains nuts* and aromatic spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. These spices, along with walnuts or pecans, add to outstanding flavors in addition to contributing a variety of antioxidants and phytonutrients to your healthy streusel recipes. 

Streusel is also made with butter and sugar, so use it sparingly and make a little go a long way. Doing this will enable you and your family to reap the benefits of increased consumption of fruits and vegetables that streusel so magically enhances

Popular ways to use streusel topping is to sprinkle it on top of: homemade fruit crisps, fruit pies, muffins, coffee cake, sweet breads (such as banana, pumpkin or zucchini bread), sweet potato casserole, or atop baked squash. You'll find a GardenCuizine link posted below for Baked Nutty, one of our family's favorite winter vegetable side dishes using streusel to stuff acorn squash. 

Streusel is quick and easy to make, and stores great in the freezer. It may be best and most practical to make a batch of streusel at a time when you are home that is most convenient to you. Streusel can be used immediately after it is made or as needed from your freezer stash.

*Nut Allergies
If you or those you are cooking or baking for have allergies to nuts, streusel topping can be successfully made omitting the nuts. 

Health Note: If you are a pastry chef or have made streusel before, I should point out that for this recipe I have reduced the amount of butter as low as possible, so it will take a little bit longer to come together and form the streusel. Be patient, it will come together. It just takes longer to coat the flour granules using less butter than traditional streusel recipes call for. 
Putting it all together
Yields: 1 lb, 7 oz. (699g)
1 cup Pecans or Walnuts, toasted
1/2 cup (62.5g) Flour, all purpose, unbleached
1/2 cup (60g) White whole grain wheat flour

1/2 cup (40g) Rolled oats (instant quick cooking type)
1/2 cup (110g) Brown Sugar (packed)
1/2 cup (100g) Granulated Sugar
1 Tablespoon
(7.8g) Cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon (tsp) (2.2g) Nutmeg, fresh grated or ground

1 tsp Ginger, fresh grated or ground (optional) 
1/8 tsp (0.3g) Cloves, ground

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 Tablespoons Butter (155.6g), no salt (or soy margarine) 

  • First roast the nuts in a 350° F oven. Make an even layer of the nuts on a baking sheet or cast iron pan and bake until lightly toasted. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and all the spices, mix to combine. I use a KitchenAide mixer with a paddle attachment.  
  • Cut the butter into small cubes and sprinkle onto the flour mixture. Mix on low speed until you notice the butter lumps mixing completely with the flour and as it does you will notice the flour granules becoming a darker color. 
    Mixing is the only tricky part to making streusel. Once streusel gets over mixed, it becomes a smooth, dough-like mass; you can still use it, but it will not be the proper, crumbly texture of a well-made streusel. The best way to avoid over mixing streusel is, when you think it is almost ready, stop the mixer and pulse it "on" and "off" with frequent checking until you are pleased with the consistency. A good streusel will be well combined with 1/4-1/2-inch clumps throughout. 
    • When your streusel is ready, add the nuts and pulse again just until the nuts are incorporated -- then stop! That's it. 
    Streusel can be used immediately, stored in the refrigerator for up to one week, or stored for a longer period of time in an air tight container in your freezer. 

    Related GardenCuizine Recipe: Baked Nutty ~ Streusel topped Squash

    Related Links: 
    McCormick Spices for Health  
    Eat a Variety of Fruits and Vegetables Every Day

    GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis
    ...coming soon...

    Copyright © 2010 Wind. All rights reserved.

    Monday, January 11, 2010

    GardenCuizine Recipe: Baked Nutty (Streusel stuffed Acorn Squash)

    Baked Nutty
    ~Streusel stuffed Acorn Squash~

    Low Sodium, High Fiber
    This recipe was inspired by good friends who made us this memorable acorn squash vegetable side dish for a holiday get together. Their recipe used crumbled crackers in a buttery, aromatic, filling, and we all loved it! Name the dish whatever you would like, our friend's family called it Baked Nutty, and now we do too.

    Today, we serve this slightly revised version of Baked Nutty with a streusel filling. Streusel is made with butter (or soy margarine), brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, spices and optional nuts. I love to have it ready-made and available to use; we always have a tub of streusel handy in our freezer. Streusel can be used to top squash, sweet potato casseroles, muffins, coffee cakes, fruit crisps, etc. 

    The below short and sweet recipe is our favorite way to cook, garden fresh, acorn squash. Each half is stuffed with homemade sweet, nutty streusel and baked in the oven. You would expect the recipe for something so delicious to be more complicated to make, but It couldn't be any simpler. Baked winter squash is outstanding on its own in both flavor and nutrition.

    Winter Squash
    Acorn, Butternut, Hubbard, Sweet Dumpling, and Spaghetti squash are just some of the many types of winter squash available at the market, or that can be homegrown in your garden. This coming summer will be the first time we are going to grow our own acorn squash (Cucurbito pepo).

    Acorn squash is ideal for this dish because, when cut in half, the hollow part in the center forms a bowl shape that is perfect for filling. Each half can be served as its own serving or, if they are really large, they can be quartered after being cooked. This elegant vegetable is suitable for company or holiday meals, especially Thanksgiving. Baked Nutty has become a regular on our fall and winter menus.
    Putting it all together
    Serves 4-8
    Preheat oven to
    375° F (190° C)

    2 acorn squash
    1 cup streusel (our favorite is streusel made with roasted pecans and ginger, recipe link below)
    olive oil
    fresh ground black pepper

    sprinkle salt (optional, omit for low sodium. We usually leave it out because some of us have high blood pressure. Trust me, you'll never miss it)

    This recipe is short and sweet:
    • First wash and dry each acorn squash
    • On a cutting board, carefully cut a sliver off the bottom ends and cut each squash in half
    • On a baking pan lined with foil, drizzle some olive oil
    • place the squash halves hollow side down and rub the cut sides around on the oil
    • Bake for 30-40 minutes (do not over-bake or the squash may collapse) 
    • When bottom edges are lightly caramelized, turn them over and carefully scoop out the seeds (they scoop out easy after cooking)
    • Season each half with salt (optional) and fresh ground black pepper
    • Fill each half with streusel
    At this point, I may let the filled squash sit on the stove-top until the 
    rest of the meal is just about ready
    • When you are almost ready to serve dinner, return the squash to the oven for a final 20 minutes
    ~ Buon Appetito!
      GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis: Calculated using USDA Nutrient data
      Excellent Source: dietary Fiber, Magnesium, Potassium, Manganese, Vitamin C, Thiamin, Vitamin B6
      Good Source: Iron, Folate, Pantothenic acid

      1 cup (205g) baked squash, no added salt, no streusel: Calories 115; Protein 2.3g; total fat 0g (0%DV); Carbohydrate 30g; dietary Fiber 9g (36%DV); Calcium 90mg (9%DV); Iron 1.91mg (11%DV); Magnesium 88mg (22%DV); Potassium 896mg (26%DV); Sodium 8mg (0%DV); Manganese .496mg (25%DV); Vitamin C 22.1mg (37%DV); Thiamin .342mg (23%DV); Niacin 1.8mg (9%DV); Pantothenic acid 1.03mg (10%DV); Vitamin B6 .398mg (20%DV); Folate 39µg (10%DV); Vitamin A 877IU (18%DV), Omega-3 76mg

      Percent Daily Values (%DV) are reference values for adults and children age 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your personal daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.   

      Recipe GardenCuizine Streusel: Nutty Ginger Streusel
      Related Links:
      Winter Squash Nutrition and info CDC, Fruits and Veggies More Matters  
      Acorn Squash Stuffed with Chard and White Beans EatingWell Magazine Recipe
      Many varieties of Acorn Squash Dave's Garden
      Copyright © 2009 Wind. All rights reserved. Rev. 11/17/11

      Saturday, January 2, 2010

      GardenCuizine Recipe: Italian Sesame Cookies

      ~Low Sodium~
       Sesame Regina Biscotti 
      Italian Sesame Cookies

      Italian Sesame Cookies can be part of a healthy diet, when enjoyed in moderation as a snack. Their nutty aroma and wholesome taste make these cookies delicious anytime of day. They are low in sodium and not as sweet as traditional American cookies.

      The fact that Sesame Regina are lower in sodium is what I like most about these Italian favorites. In addition to being low sodium, they have added calcium and nutrition from the coating of sesame seeds.

      Italian cookbook author, Victoria Granof, writes in her book, 'Sweet Sicily, the story of an Island and her Pastries',  that when she attended an All Souls' Day carnival in Palermo, Biscotti Regina were sold everywhere. My mama would love it there, since Italian Sesame cookies are one of her favorites! 

      I asked Mom if she remembered having sesame cookies at home growing up. She said, "We had them throughout the year. Whenever Dad (Alexander Salottolo) would go downtown, he would bring us home sesame cookies from Ferrara's (NYC bakery); especially during the holidays...they were my favorite." Apparently, my Grandmother didn't bake these. As you could probably guess, unlike my Grandmother, I bake these cookies often and throughout the year especially for Mom; they have become a regular in our cookie jars. 

      On my quest for home-baking the best sesame cookies, I came across Paula Laurita's recipe (the Italian food editor of Bella Online). I have tried other recipes in the past and made many a variation in industry and restaurants, but it was this -- ever so slightly modified -- version of Laurita's recipe that got the nod from Junetta, my Italian Mama. This authentic Italian cookie recipe was the closest to what she remembered and enjoyed growing up.

      About this Italian Cookie Recipe
      The base recipe was already low in sodium. My healthy recipe modifications were few, primarily substituting some of the saturated fat (butter) with unsaturated fat (oil), along with adding a hint of fresh grated lemon zest. I did try to reduce the egg yolks, using two eggs and one white (rather than three eggs), but the three eggs were preferred in GardenCuizine's test kitchen trials. 

      The amount of sesame seeds in the original recipe were not reduced, even though the seeds do contribute some fat. The fat they contribute is "good" fat. Yes, we do require some fat in a healthy diet. Fat is important for many reasons, such as for healthy skin and hair, and to help our bodies absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.  

      Sesame Seeds
      Sesame seeds contain healthy fats as well as nutrients. Sesame seeds contain essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 as well as mono and polyunsaturated fats. The sesame seeds add additional nutrients too, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese and fiber.

      Sesame seeds are best stored frozen until ready to use to avoid going rancid. I usually store all our seeds in the freezer in airtight baggies or freezer-safe containers.

      Cookie Gifts
      Have you ever noticed that cookies in general, seem to taste even better when they are shared among family and friends? For a thoughtful homemade gift, place your homemade cookies in a cookie jar, tin or air tight container. For an added touch, attach some curling ribbon and a personalized card made on your computer.

      Putting it all together
      Yields: Approximately 6-dozen, 72 cookies 
      Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C)
      3 cups (375g) unbleached all-purpose flour
      1/4 teaspoon (6g) salt
      2 1/2 teaspoons (10g) baking powder

      1 cup (250ml) 2% reduced fat milk
      1 cup (144g) sesame seeds, hulled* 

      4 Tablespoons (56g) unsalted butter
      4 Tablespoons (56g) canola oil (sometimes I use a canola/olive oil blend)
      1 cup (200g) sugar
      3 eggs (150g), large
      1 teaspoon (4g) pure vanilla extract
      2 lemons, zest only 

      * available at Natural food stores and specialty markets
      • Sift together the dry ingredients except for the seeds
      • Put the seeds in a small bowl and set aside
      • Pour the milk into a small bowl also and set aside
      • In a mixing bowl (or mixer with paddle attachment), cream the butter, oil, and sugar until light and well blended
      • Add the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest. Mix to combine, stopping periodically to scrape sides and bottom of mixing bowl
      • Add the dry ingredients, mix to combine. Stop when a dough is formed
      • Pick off, or portion out, small pieces of dough and roll into small 2-inch by 1-inch logs using your hands*
      • Dip in milk, then roll in the sesame seeds
      • Place formed cookies on lightly sprayed, foil lined, cookie sheets and bake 375° F (190° C) for 25 minutes or until golden
      * Note: The cookie dough could also be rolled in long logs, brushed with milk, rolled in seeds, then cut into 3-inch pieces.
        GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis 
        Serving size 31g (~2 cookies): Calories: 115; Calories from Fat: 47; Total fat 5g, Saturated fat: 1g, Trans fat 0g, Cholesterol: 21 mg; Sodium 58 mg; Dietary fiber: 1g; Sugars: 6g; Protein: 2g; Calcium: 66 mg (7%DV); Iron: 1 mg (7% DV); Manganese: ~0.2 mg (~9% DV); Selenium 5 mcg (7% DV)  

        Percent Daily Values (%DV) are reference values for adults and children age 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your personal daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

        Related Links:
        Sesame Cookies by Paula Laurita,
        Copyright © 2009 Wind. All rights reserved.