Guest Author - Jason Hodge
As a vegetarian and chef I'm always wanting to push my own envelope and tastefully experiment with flavorful components combined in new and innovative ways. I do this having my basic bases covered. For this entry I'll share a simple recipe for nut and seed pastes you can apply to many things.
One day I was in my meditation room (my kitchen), thinking on baklava, filo doughs, muffins, desserts and other tasty sweet and savory things. I ended up settling on nuts and seeds and immediately thought about what I could do with them to add a healthy, satisfying twist to them that my family, friends and clients would love. I decided to do a series of pastes, crumbles, butters, spreads, etc. I really didn't put the breaks on and I'm glad I didn't.
Here's what came of all of that.
I made my own version of marzipan with them all. I went down the line of all of my favorite nuts and seeds first and began to impose the same process and recipes on them. From the almond to the squash seed, I saw each one of them transform into their own unique thing calling for a dish they could make their own. It was a beautiful scientific discovery that none of my favorite guinea pigs were put off by.
I made biscuits, candies, fillings, toppings, smoothies, roulades, trifles, etc. It was a real treat.
Try this recipe and tell me what you've used it in.
Nut and Seed Paste
2 cups nuts or seeds
1 cup [or more or less to taste] sweetener [sucanat, honey, maple syrup, etc.]
a pinch of sea salt [to taste]
a pinch of spice powder, your choice, depending on the dish [to taste]
Grab your favorite nuts or seeds. Rinse and dry them. Put them into a food processor with your spice powder, pulse until they're broken down into a powder but not a butter, then add your sweetener through the feed hole while still pulsing. Continue to pulse until everything is evenly incorporated. Scrape the sides of the processor container, while it's off, and then resume processing on high until contents form a pate or ball. Remove from container and place in a food storage bag or container and refrigerate or freeze until ready to use.
When you're ready to use, take out what you need and apply it to any number of dishes. Your imagination is your only limitation. Here are a few ideas that I think you'll enjoy.
If you're making smoothies, take a couple of tablespoons of your marzipan and add it to your blender with your milk (nut, seed, grain, root, soy, etc.), fruit, veggie or root, some nutrient boosters, etc., and whiz on high until smooth. If you want it ice cold and slushy add some ice or ice cream to the blending process.
If you're making cake, pie or some other delectable treat, try crumbling the paste over or in the dish somewhere before or during the baking process. You won't be disappointed with this one.
If you're into Near East or Mediterranean treats, use it in some filo dough layers and glaze with a honey and tamarind or fig paste drizzle; or you can put them in the middle of a nice Hamantaschen.
The list can literally go on, but I'm sure you get the idea of what you can do with these simple pastes. Just make sure you don't put on any limitations.
I've enjoyed myself today, my mouth is watering and I'm now going to do something about that... I'm going to go eat! I hope you do the same and enjoy the journey your ingredients have to take you on.
As always, it's truly my pleasure to share this thing called food with you. Until next time...