My first nut butter

Nut butters are all the rage in the healthy eating/lifestyle blogging community.  I’ve wanted to try making nut butters for a while but worried that my food processor would die in the process.  I inherited it from my old manager and I’m not sure how old it is.  I finally tried one and discovered why nut butters are all the rage.  I made cashew butter and was blown away.  I found a simple recipe for Homemade Cashew Butter from Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network.  This recipe only has three ingredients as I skipped the one optional ingredient.  So good.  I did a half batch as that is how many cashews came in the bag I bought.  I can’t wait to try a more complicated one.

Homemade Cashew Butter

Emeril Lagasse, 2003

2 cups unsalted roasted cashews
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar, optional

In a food processor or blender, combine the nuts, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt, and the sugar, if desired. Process on high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and process to desired smoothness, adding more oil, 1 teaspoon at a time, if a smoother butter is desired. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Transfer to a bowl to use as a dip, spread, or in other recipes, or place in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

This was how I ate it.  Half of a cored apple topped/filled with with cashew butter and topped with granola.  Amazing!  I found this idea on Oh She Glows.  Her apple cupcakes look more glamorous but I think this amount of nut butter is more my speed.

Tex Mex Hummus

Up until quite recently I avoided making hummus because I thought you had to add tahini, lots of garlic and raw onions, three things I don’t enjoy.  While you can add them, you don’t need to.  I have been inspired by all of the healthy living blogs I have been reading to add more beans to my life.  I think this is my third hummus.  I used cannellini beans purely because I had never tried them before – I’m sure I’ve eaten them in restaurants but have never cooked with them before.  This one is really easy to make.  You may notice the green bits in the pic.  My food processor doesn’t seem to be able to get herbs down to small pieces.  This one tastes best if you let it sit for a while and let the flavors meld – especially if your herbs don’t get chopped as small as they should.

Tex Mex Hummus

1 can beans of your choice (the standard can in Japan is 12oz)
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1-2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix (seems to be readily available in Japan)
1 glug of olive oil (probably 1-2 tablespoons)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
a few dashes of black pepper
juice of half of a lemon

Put everything in the food processor and whir until smooth.  Let sit in the fridge a few hours before serving.

Note: If you like raw garlic and onions in dips I would add some.  I don’t but think it would add to the flavor.

One way to eat is on a bagel.  I topped it with roasted eggplant.

I also had it on flat bread and stuffed in green peppers.  Sorry for the poor pic quality.

Two more dips

My obsession with dip is still in full swing.  At least it is all healthy.  I made two dips this morning.  The first dip, Edamame and Tofu Dip, I had at the house of the lovely Keitai Goddess who got the recipe from Cerebral Soup.  The dip is really healthy and packed full of protein.  I won’t put the recipe here because I didn’t make any changes.  Head on over here to get it.

The next dip I made was Black Bean Guacamole.  I happened to have bought a can of black beans the day before with no specific purpose in mind.  It must have been fate.  I found it here on the Closet Cooking blog. This is going to taste great on the home made bread that is rising as I type.

I made two changes:

  • I used Italian parsley instead of cilantro because of availability – for those of you in Japan who have a hard time finding cilantro/coriander, mitsuba is a good substitute in some recipes where the cilantro is not the main flavor.  The taste isn’t all that similar but it is quite strong like cilantro.
  • I didn’t have a jalapeno pepper so I used a couple dashes of Tabasco sauce – I don’t use them enough to buy a jar but the dip would have tasted even better, I’m sure.

If you are looking for another good dip, I made Silky Soybean Dip/Spread at the end of last year.

Quick Dip: Avocado and Tofu Ranch Dip

I have become a veggies and dip fiend.  I really have no problem with this as I have never made dip with mayo (for myself anyway) and have only made dip with sour cream once in the seven years I’ve lived in Japan.  My solution: tofu.  I tried out soft tofu as a dip base a couple years ago when I suddenly remembered that dip for veggies exists.  It’s interesting that when you live in a foreign country with a food culture drastically different from your own, you often forget about everyday foods back home.  I went about four or five years without having dip for veggies.  Now I am a fiend.  It must be the combination of the periodically warm weather and living near the beach.  You can’t have a beach picnic without veggies and dip.  Generally I just mix onion consomme powder (aka french onion soup mix back home) or ranch dressing mix with soft tofu.  I added something else today – avocado.  It was a good idea.  You can also use this as chip dip.

Avocado and Tofu Ranch Dip

1/2 an  avocado, cubed
1/2 an envelope of ranch dip mix (approx. 1tbsp)
1/2 block of soft tofu (the softer, the better)
1 splash of water (depends on how thick you like your dip)

If you want a smooth dip you need to use a food processor or blender.  I used my immersion blender for this.  If you don’t mind a less smooth dip, use a whisk.

Wash the tofu and make a note of the expiry date, this is your dip expiry date.  Add the avocado, tofu and water (if you want it) to your mixing device.  Or put them in a bowl for manual mixing or an immersion blender.  Mix until smooth.  You can mix in the ranch dip mix with your machine or use the spatula you will use to clean out the machine to mix the dip mix.  You are now finished.  Put in serving dish of choice.

Note: As it is a tofu base the dip will separate a little when refrigerated.  Just stir it up before you serve it next.

Alternate option: Use a sleeve of onion consomme powder instead of ranch dip mix.  In Japan, onion consomme powder is sold in the cup-of-soup section and is often on the bottom shelf.  Any onion soup mix should suffice.

Silky Smooth Soy Bean Dip/Spread

I saw a tweet by @LouiseRoss about a black bean dip she made (similar to a hummus recipe) and it got me thinking.  I had a package of cooked soy beans in the fridge and decided to invent my own dip.  I made it in the blender and just dumped ingredients in without measuring.  The amounts below are approximations and should be adjusted to suit your taste.  I have an aversion to raw onions and didn’t add any.  I imaging if you are a onion non-hater a couple tablespoons of raw onion would taste good in it.  Soy beans are silky smooth and not so beany when blended so this dip feels great in your mouth (I am very sensitive to textures).

Silky Smooth Soy Bean Dip/SpreadIMG_0220

1cup cooked soy beans

1 clump mitsuba aka honeywort or wild chervil (not the whole bag but one section)

1/3 carrot

1 small garlic clove

2tbsp olive oil (I was out and used regular salad oil)

1/2-1tsp cumin powder

1/4tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp chili pepper

1/2tsp salt

1/4tsp fresh ground pepper

Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. I had to add a bit of water because my blender doesn’t deal with thick pastes so well.

Serve as a dip for flat bread or as a spread in a sandwich.  I will be spreading it on flat bread and topping it with fresh locally grown tomatoes.