Pulla: Finnish Cardamon Bread

EASTER CELEBRATIONS
Traditionally, Easter sweet bread dates back to the Homeric Greek period  around 1100 BC, when honey leavened bread was popular.

Celebrate Easter Sunday with traditional Finnish “PULLA” that adorns every table during Finland’s religious holidays.  Growing up,  this was the best treat Easter morning ( and still is )!  One bite of this light, fluffy, sweet bread and you’re a kid again, remembering those wonderful times!
PULLA bread is a soft, fluffy cardamom braided bread (or buns) served with a hot cup of coffee. Top this sweet loaf with sliced almonds and/or pearl sugar.

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INGREDIENTS (makes 2 loaves)

  • 1 1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees F –  45 degrees C)
  • 1 package (.25 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2/3  cup of white sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon ground, fresh cardamom
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cups or 170 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk (lightly beaten)
  • I large egg white, lightly beaten with
  • 1 tbsp water (for egg wash)
  • TOPPING: almond slices and course sugar  ( about 1 to 2 Tablespoons )

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy, in 5 minutes
[ If yeast does not foam start over with new yeast]

 

 

2. Stir together flour, sugar, cardamom, and salt in a large bowl, then blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.
3.Stir in milk, whole egg, and yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead, dusting surface and hands with just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Pat dough into a 9-inch square. Knead, dusting surface and hands lightly with flour. Dough will be lumpy and slightly sticky;  Form dough into a ball.
5. Put dough in a buttered large bowl and turn to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

First Raising – Dough  (My Bowl Was Too Small –  But It Worked Well)

6. Punch down dough (do not knead), then halve. Cut each half into thirds and roll each piece into a 15-inch rope. ( 6  ropes –  for  2 loaves ).Braid together 3 ropes to form a loaf, then transfer to a parchment-lined large baking sheet, tucking ends under. Make another loaf with remaining 3 ropes, arranging loaves 4 inches apart.

7. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

After Second Rising – Added Egg White Wash + Almonds

8. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
9. Brush loaves with egg wash and optionally dust with sugar through a sieve or sprinkle with pearl sugar if you have it. and bake until golden brown and bottoms sound hollow when tapped, 40 to 45 minutes. Check the loaf at 30 to 35 minutes for the amount of browning as your oven may be warmer.  You can also turn the loaf as the back of the oven may be hotter.

Because I used granulated sugar, It had still not melted so I used my kitchen torch to bruleé the sugar.  This is not traditional.  The pearl sugar is but it is not so easy to find.

I am not a fan of sweets but I do enjoy this light sprinkling on top of the pulla.

Torching The Sugar To Melt Into The Loaf

10. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Easter Blessings

STAY HOME STAY SAFE
We are especially thankful this Easter 2020.  I have been at home all week baking Pulla  for friends and family. Celebrations started early as my friend sent me an email thanking me for the fresh pulla. My friend  had never tried pulla and said her whole family ate it all in one sitting. Downstairs, the concierge started eating it right away too (his second loaf), knowing it was ‘home baked’ by me.  Extra prayers this Easter to the brave men and women all over the world. Blessings and hope for everyone during these troubled times and uncertainty.

Tamarind and Chick Peas

9🎶  THREE’S  THE  CHARM  🎶  
(1) TAMARIND (2) SPINACH (3) CHICK PEAS
I had this dish years ago, without all the spices and was not impressed.  The spices in this recipe enhance the key flavour of  the tamarind.  Surprisingly, the 3 jalapeño peppers are not hot in this dish.  An EASY 30 MINUTE meal packed with protein and flavour.  Leftovers makes a great lunch at the office!  Another  winner!


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INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp nigella seeds
1½ tsp fennel seeds  ( or  anise seeds)
1 medium onion ( chopped )
400 g can chopped tomatoes (san marzano)
3 green jalaeño peppers, seeded and cut into quarter lengths
2-3 tsp monk fruit sweetener ( or stevia, truvia, etc. )
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric
410 g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tbsp tamarind paste ( adjust to taste )
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
half a 250g/9oz bag of organic baby spinach leaves
Serving suggestion:  natural yogurt and chapatis

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Fry the nigella and fennel seeds for about 10 second. Add the onion and cook gently for 8-10 minutes until golden.

2. Mix in the tomatoes,  jalapeños,  sweetener ( Monk fruit ), paprika, turmeric and  chickpeas. Bring to a boil,  then simmer for 10 minutes.  Make sure your dish is stew-like; not too dry. Add water if needed.

3. Stir in the tamarind and coriander. ( (You need to do a taste test here. Add more tamerind to get  that tamerind sweet and sour flavour).  Add the spinach leaves and stir gently until they’ve just wilted. You can serve as a main course with yogurt and chapatis or as a side dish.

Tamarind paste

Tamarind Paste

Tamarind Chick Peas

Tamarind and Chick Peas

COOKING TIP:  Before starting to cook, do all your chopping and rinse out the chick peas. Check your spice rack to make sure you have all your spices  measured and placed in  small dishes. ahead of time. This “mise en place”  technique makes cooking time much faster.

WARNING: Do not buy tamarind without reading the ingredients on the label. I bought tamarind in a bottle at the grocery store. I neglected to read the label as I was in a hurry. The main ingredient was syrup. Tamarind was the fourth ingredient! I was disappointed. Do not accept substitutes or a bogus spice seller that claims to be tamarind. Without ‘true’ tamarind, this recipe is so – so. I soaked my tamerind block in water  took the seeds out and ladled the liquid into the dish. ( About 1 cup ) The difference was like night and day.

DID YOU KNOW? The recipe for WORCESTERSHIRE Sauce contains tamarind?  The one ingredient that sets Worcestershire sauce apart  is tamarind  fruit. The sweetness in this fruit  is balanced by its high content of acid, giving it that sweet-sour taste.

TAMARIND is a condiment, a spice and a fruit. Its extract, which tastes deliciously tangy, is one of the most highly valued foods in Asian and Indian cuisine. ( Origin: Africa )

TAMARIND contains an impressive amount of essential minerals such as thiamine, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. Some of its other prominent nutrients include niacin, calcium, vitamin C, copper, fiber and pyridoxine.

Tamarind treats both constipation and diarrhea naturally by increasing the effectiveness of the digestive tract.  Tamarind has long been considered a natural laxative.  It stimulates your metabolism and also keeps your digestive system strong and improves blood circulation. Good for weight loss. Boost your immune system. Also, it has anti-inflammatory properties.

Tamarind Pods and Beverage

Lentil Soup – The Joy of Goodness!

 

‘PLANT BASED PROTEIN DIET’

lentils

Beluga Black Lentils

Lentil soup is a hearty soup made with small legumes known as lentils, which are similar to beans. The soup also includes other spices and vegetables. This soup is easy to make as a vegetarian or vegan  -very healthy dish!  Although there are many different recipes for making this soup, the basics are fairly constant across recipes….except for this one!
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INGREDIENTS

  • Beluga Black lentil 1 cup rinsed (and picked)
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive oil ( or sesame oil)
  • 1 Onion large ( up to 1 cup)
  • 1 Clove garlic – large
  • 4 cups water ( or stock)
  • 10-15 green pods of cardamom
  • 1 tea spoon cumin seeds
  • Ginger root 1 x 2 inches peeled chopped –  or grated
  • 1 carrot peeled & chopped
  • 1/8 tsp. Cayenne pepper .
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt

INSTRUCTIONS

  • In a frying pan with 2 inch sides (or dutch oven)
  • Add Oil
  • Add chopped onions (cook until translucent)  followed by 1 clove of chopped garlic
  • Add cumin* (fresh ground)
  • Add cardamon* (fresh ground seeds)
  • Add Cayenne pepper 1/8 tsp.
  • Add beluga black lentils
  • Add 4 cups of water, mix well
  • Bring to a boil then cover over medium heat, cook until lentils are cooked but not mush. About 20 mins
  • Add chopped ( or grated ) ginger, salt and chopped carrot. Cook for another 5-10 mins.


This is a thick soup. You may need to add a bit more water if you wish.
TIP: *Use a soft brush to get all the spice out of the mortar bowl  –  into the pot.
CARDAMOM: Cardamom pods vary in size. Loose cardamom in bulk stores may be dried out. Also, there are large and small pods. Use common sense when adding ‘fresh’ spices to your recipe.

Beluga Lentil Soup – Garnished with Avocado and a dollop of Greek  yogurt + a sprinkle of cayenne pepper (or paprika)

TIPS AND TRICKS
I always cook Beluga lentils in a separate pot for this recipe in order to save a portion for my Lentil  Butternut Squash Salad. I add 1 cup of cooked lentils to the soup ( plus the cooking water ) and the rest is capped for salads. I enjoy this salad very much with walnut oil.  Substitutes for butternut squash are acorn squash,  yams or pumpkin [ even chick peas ]. Sometimes, I make this Beluga lentil salad with  mango, red pepper and chopped sweet onions – with plenty of cilantro.

Beluga Lentil, Roasted Squash, Tomato and Cilantro Salad

NATIONAL LENTIL FESTIVAL
PULLMAN, WASHINGTON, USA

Pullman hosts this annual festivity every August, which recognizes the magically delicious legume and features the world’s largest bowl of lentil chili! Lentilfest.com

21st Legendary Lentil Cook-OFF:
Each spring, people send recipes from around the country. A panel of food experts evaluates the dishes and selects five finalists who are brought to the festival to prepare their dish for a panel of five celebrity judges. ( All 109 of this year’s recipes are available in a cookbook for sale for $5 at the festival and online. Hungry yet?)

LENTIL CHILI -It takes a canoe paddle to stir 350 gallons of lentil chili.

STORING LENTILS
I freeze my cooked lentils in glass jars. I find it is the safest method for preserving food. To learn more about lentils visit this site –> tasteinsight.com

INTERESTING FACTS About Beluga Black Lentil
Black lentils are called BELUGA because of their resemblance to caviar. A fun conversation at the dinner table. They have a warm, nutty flavor and keeps its shape, even during prolonged cooking. They are the most nutritious out of all the types of lentils. On the other hand, the red lentils, also called red ‘split’ lentils become a bit mushy while cooking. Similar to what you see with ‘split pea’ soup. In India, the lentil is known as dal or daal. [ The optical lens is named after the Latin word for lentil: lens. ]

LENTIL SOUP:  CURE FOR THE WINTER CHILL

Finding the balance in life – with lentils

 

Chocolate Roulade – No Flour

Lighter-Than-Air Chocolate Roll
No flour = no gluten. It is so easy to make with  just a few ingredients.  Delight your friends with this intense chocolate flavour! YUM

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 oz chocolate (semisweet or dark)
  • 5-medium eggs
  • 4 oz sugar substitute
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup of double cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla essence (this is an estimate, add to taste) or 1/4 tsp rum extract (should say essence and not extract) or 1/4 tsp brandy, essence add
  • icing sugar for dusting

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DIRECTIONS: – – – Line a 12 “x 8” Swiss roll tin with oiled parchment paper or brush a paper case   (see below -for instructions) with  melted butter.- – –

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and make paper case if you have not already done so in advance
  2. Melt chocolate in the water using a double boiler.
  3. Separate the eggs.
  4. When the chocolate is a thick cream, remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Meanwhile, beat yolks and add half of the sugar substitute gradually with pinch of salt until mixture is lemon coloured.
  6. With a spatula blend chocolate into egg yolk mixture. Do not beat.
  7.  Whip the egg whites until they form a firm snow.
  8. Gently cut and fold the egg whites into the mixture. If there are pieces of egg white remaining, that is fine. Pour the mixture into the prepared oiled parchment case.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until firm when touched. Do not over bake.
  10. Wet a clean cloth in cold water and wring out.
  11. Remove roulade from oven, allow to cool slightly, then cover with cloth (this will prevent any sugary crust from forming).
  12. Leave in a cool place for 12 hours or in a fridge overnight.
  13. Whip the cream with the other half of the sugar substitute and flavour to taste with the vanilla extract.
  14.  Turn the  roulade upside down and carefully remove  the parchment paper.
  15. Spread with the whipped cream. Keep the whipped cream an inch from the end to prevent overflow. You can optionally add berries to this layer.
  16. Using the towel, gradually roll up like a Swiss roll.
  17. Place on a serving dish and dust well with icing sugar and decorate with whipped cream and fruit if you wish. ( Decorate using  a pastry bag with a star tip or fill a zippered plastic bag with whipped cream and cut a hole in the corner like I did.)
  • How to make a roulade paper case:

    Roulade Case

    Swiss Roll Tin

    Swiss Roll Tin

  1. Using parchment paper or nonstick kitchen paper.
  2. It should be 8″ by 12″.  Pencil can be used to draw the dimensions but fold to keep the pencil marks to the outside of the case.
  3. Fold the border on all 4 sides.
  4. Use paperclips  or staple to secure the corners.
  5. Lightly brush with  melted butter or oil.
  6. Slide the case onto a baking sheet.


Dark chocolate is good for you!

If you follow the rule of eating or cooking with 70% cocoa solids – dark chocolate – then you are ahead of the game. Chocolate lovers do not have to abstain from chocolate due to its high fat and sugar content. After all dark chocolate is rich in minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. The cocoa in dark chocolate also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which may provide several health benefits.

Christmas ‘RED’ Cabbage

WHAT IS THE SECRET OF RED CABBAGE?
A True Story:
One day, as I glanced at my book shelf,  I noticed an old paperback, “How I Survived A Heart Attach“.

I started leafing through the pages and noticed a recipe section in the back of the book.  It caught my interest and I read on..
Basically,  the patient  started to include cabbage salad every day with his meal, plus more raw vegetables from his garden. After 6 weeks of a daily exercise routine along with healthier food selections, he went back to see his cardiologist.  Initially, the cardiologist had recommended surgery. He was baffled to find that six weeks later, surgery was no longer required. The author purported that, “daily cabbage was a must have – every day”.  That my friend,  is the secret of  “Red Cabbage”! NOTE: By no means is this a rule…only a story of one man’s experience.

Red Cabbage is PH10 [alkaline] Green Cabbage PH6 [alkaline] (Water is PH7)

What do we  know about cabbage? Years ago,  a nutritionist told me that cabbage is  The Broom That Sweeps Clean” . Words of encouragement are always good to hear.

This recipe takes 20 minutes to prepare and about 30 minutes to cook.

Apples and Prunes  ( no brown sugar)

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CHRISTMAS CABBAGE RECIPE
INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp avocado oil ( or select extra virgin olive oil,  sesame oil, walnut oil)
1-2 cloves of garlic-minced
2 -3 sprigs of rosemary – fresh
1 red cabbage – chopped
1 large or 2 medium apples -chopped (jicama, pears or 3/4 cup of dried cherries)
1 sweet onion (finely chopped)
1 inch piece ginger ~ peeled and grated
2-3 tsp. of butter
5-8 prunes
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
A pinch of  salt and fresh ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS
1. Heat the oil and 1 tsp of butter in a large heavy-based fry pan.  Add the rosemary by taking the soft needles off the stem. The rosemary will change colour to a dark green and get crispy.  Add minced garlic and stir. Remove the rosemary and garlic with a slotted spoon. Add chopped onion and fry until slightly translucent. They will disappear while cooking. Then, add roughly chopped prunes and grated ginger to the oil/butter mixture, followed by the chopped cabbage, chopped apples and the balsamic vinegar. Then, add a good pinch of salt and pepper.

2. Bring to a boil while stirring. Then, turn down the heat and cover for 25-30 minutes. Stir regularly, about every 5 minutes. When done, remove the lid to reduce the remaining liquid. Make sure the liquid has reduced and the cabbage is cooked well.  Add 2 tsp of butter  (optional). Stir the cabbage mixture.  Do a taste test.  Sprinkle crispy rosemary on top of the dish.
Serve hot.
Optional: Mix in a sprinkle of nutritional yeast, chia seeds, black sesame seeds or protein powder at the end of the cooking process, before adding  crisp rosemary.

CHRISTMAS RED CABBAGE 

Crispy Rosemary Makes An Impression on your Taste Buds

GUT HEALTH
Lately, we are  hearing a lot about  “Belly Be Well”.  Red Cabbage is a major component in not only ‘GUT HEALTH’ but your brain and nervous system.


IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS
Are you struggling to keep your brain on task? The red pigment in red cabbage called anthocyanins produces the focus enhancing acetyicholine. Your focus and concentration will improve as much as 32% in 10 days when you enjoy 1/4 cup of crunchy ‘red’ cabbage DAILY .  Our gut  is like a second brain. So, when it’s off balance, it can seriously affect your mood, digestion, and energy.

SUPER FOOD
“Cabbage
is a disease-fighting, gut healing SUPER FOOD: COMBATS CHRONIC DISEASE:  Degenerative or chronic disorders — such as Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, among others — affect more than 45 million people worldwide and often strike older adults characterized by progressive deterioration of nerve cells, eventually leading to cell death” …. published by  consciouslifenews.com

FREEZER FRIENDLY: Up to 3 months in your freezer.
Stay Well:. Take some quiet time for yourself this holiday season and reflect on your happy memories.  Have a wonderful life.  Eat smart!