Happiness Has a New Address – Tagged "Cooking with Maine seaweed" – Dulse & Rugosa
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    Seaweed in the Kitchen

    Seaweed in the Kitchen

    I'm a cooking junkie.  I love to watch cooking shows, my favorites being Top Chef, Chopped and The Great British Baking show.  I also love cookbooks.  I often buy a regional cookbook as my souvenir from a trip.  The books most often checked out on my library card are cookbooks.

    I have been enjoying (and learning a lot) from Ocean Greens written by Lisette Kreischer & Marcel Schuttelaar.  In addition to enhancing the flavor of your food and adding some serious nutrition another reason to explore seaweeds in your kitchen is sustainability.  "On the cutting edge of food and sustainability, seaweed and sea vegetables are good both for you and—with the potential to drastically reduce our carbon footprint—for the planet" (quote from Ocean Greens website).

    One section I really loved was "Special Ingredients".   I tend to use seaweed as a spice and often reduce or eliminate the salt.  As I read thru there was a section about salt, especially sea salts.  Sea salts are more complex and nutritious than ordinary table salt.  In the book they prefer Danish smoked salts for their intense smokey aroma.  I'm totally thinking seafood as I'm writing- just the idea of that smokey aroma.  In addition to the intense aroma Danish salt is also high quality in terms of the salt making process and mineral content.  Being in Maine we have some great salt makers including the Maine Sea Salt Company.  My two favorites happen to be their Hickory Smoked and Dulse.  

    Another spice I'm eager to try with seaweed is Smoked Paprika.  According to Ocean Greens Smoked Paprika adds a deep meaty flavor.  Don't use regular Paprika but look for the smoked variety which is from a particular pepper cooked over an open flame.  

    An ingredient not mentioned in the book but that I particularly love with seaweed is dark rum.  Prannie Rhatigan's Irish Seaweed Kitchen introduced me to the world of baking with seaweeds.  Now whenever I am making a cake, muffin or brownie I replace the vanilla with chopped dulse soaked in dark rum.  I let it mellow together when I start mixing my batter and at the final few stirs fold it in.  It's totally yumminess.  Ocean Greens has some beautiful sweet recipes including Chocolate Chip and "Weed" cookies and a lovely Chocolate, Raspberry and Seaweed Cake.  I can't wait for my backyard raspberries to ripen.

    Bon appetite!

     

     

      

    Easy Peasy Soup Stock

    Easy Peasy Soup Stock

    My daughter Carly and I were talking about "garden guilt" recently.  That's when you have more produce than you can eat and not a lot of time to can or freeze all your garden goodies.  If you have a crock pot here is an easy technique for turning an abundance of garden produce into a tasty yummy stock that you can freeze and enjoy summer's bounty on a cold winter day.

    Easy Peasy Soup Stock made with tough garden vegetables.

    If the garden gives you tough green beans make a stock.  You can use basically anything to make your stock.  I like to start with a nice chunk of kelp.  Kelp is a wonderful seaweed that adds depth and flavor to many cooked dishes especially stocks, soups and beans.  The rich flavor that seaweeds add to foods is known as umami.  It's the Japanese word for the fifth taste sensation. Umami is a great substitute for meats in your stock.  Another way to boost the umami flavor is to use dried mushrooms.  There's no hard and fast rule for making this broth and it will be different each time you make it- it all depends on what's available in your garden and farm market.  For more information about cooking and enjoying sea vegetables check out the cookbook Sea Vegetable Celebration.

    DIY Garden Stock

    The next step is to load your crockpot up with vegetables, onions, beans, tomatoes, squash, carrots, greens, whatever you have an abundance of including bunches of herbs.  This is a perfect opportunity to use older and tough vegetables including clean skins.  Turn the crock pot on and let it simmer away for hours.  I like to cook mine over night, the house is cooler and you wake up to a lovely savory smell.

    When everything is cooked, strain the stock.  You can stop here and freeze a soup base or you can use gorgeous, lovely vegetables and make a soup.  For this step I like to use the best veggies I can.  Tender and sweet.  I'll put onions and carrots in to simmer until tender and will lightly simmer other veggies including corn, beans, peas, chopped greens and herbs.  I freeze my vegetable soup without any grains, pasta or rice.  It takes up less room and I can quickly cook up my choice of starch to add to my soup before serving.

    It's not a lot of actual work making the stock, it takes awhile for the broth to simmer and then simply pop into your choice of containers and freeze.

     

     

    My Favorite Cookbooks

    I love cookbooks- they are mini vacations.  In fact, while traveling I try to buy a regional cookbook as my trip souvenir.  I love to read about how someone discovered the joy of food, different ways to cook and new ingredients or twists on old standards.  Here are some of my favorite cookbooks.

    The Irish Seaweed Cookbook is filled with novel ways to seaweed.

    The Irish Seaweed Kitchen is my all time favorite cookbook.  I began my seaweed journey because I was looking for a natural solution to a chronically itchy scalp and seaweed gives me lasting relief.  But then I wanted to know all about seaweed.  Prannie Rhatigan’s book really opened my eyes and the photos are stunning.  She covers everything seaweed from starters, to main dishes but for me the revelation of using seaweeds in baked goods, especially paired with chocolates really changed my baking.  My book is well loved now and as familiar as an old friend.


    A newer book I really like is The CSA Cookbook- “No-waste recipes for cooking your way through a community supported agriculture box, farmer’s market or backyard bounty.”  There are so many recipes that tell you to “save the stems for another use” and you have no idea what the other use is.  Well, author Linda Ly has recipes for “other uses”.   How about kale stem pesto?  Or chard stalk humus?  The most interesting use of ingredients has to be using tomato leaves in pesto and sauce.  According to Linda, the leaves, “add another dimension, making it richer, more fragrant and more tomato-y”  I can’t wait to start experimenting.

    The CSA Cookbook is filled with ways to use every bit of harvest bounty.

    A great book for busy cooks is Food That Works.  Author Malia Dell has put together a comprehensive guide for busy people who want to eat good food and cut down on take out meals.  “Food That Works is a cookbook-guidebook hybrid that eases you into eating more meals from home and fewer meals out. It provides you with weekly meal plans to fill your calendar with wholesome, fresh dishes you already know and love (burgers, tacos, chili, BBQ chicken, and so on). “  Have you ever seen the meals in jars with beautiful layers?  Well, this cookbook will explain the method and before you know it you will be eating good food and feeling better.  


    My old favorite is The Settlement Cookbook- it has lasted longer than my marriage.  My sister gave it to me over 30 years ago.  It is so loved and my favorite page- brownies is covered with chocolate smears.  

    Do you have a favorite cookbook?

    Links-

    http://irishseaweedkitchen.ie/

    https://vimeo.com/123280350

    http://foodthatworks.info/

    Got Umami?

    Got Umami?


    There’s sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami.  Umami is the earthy robust taste sensation that became official in 2000.  Identified in 1909 by Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda, the translation means roughly “delicious taste”.  It’s a meaty, savory, deep taste and when you add umami to your cooking you add a robust depth.

    Umami is the newest taste sensation.

     

    Our umami taste begins with glutamate, which is an amino acid.  Seaweeds are very high in glutamate as well as fermented sauces like soy, miso and worcestershire.  Aging also brings out umami.   Aged cheeses, cured meats including bacon and prosciutto will bring a pop of flavor to whatever you are cooking.  The cool thing is you don’t need a lot of an umami rich ingredient to add complexity to whatever you are preparing.

    Seaweeds are one of the best ways to get umami into your diet.  Maine produces all kinds of seaweeds from fresh to frozen to dried.  Maine is actually number one in the country for seaweed production and our seaweeds are valued worldwide for their quality and flavor.  It’s our cold, mineral rich waters that make our seaweeds so sought after.

    One cold July day out on Gotts Island with the wood stove going we made a soup with a base of local seaweed.  It was simple, we just put a bunch of seaweed in our stockpot and fired up the wood stove.  After a few hours, we strained the broth and added some root vegetables.  The soup was thick, rich and yummy.  Just what we needed on a cold summer day.

    If you want to try a little Umami flavor in your everyday cooking I recommend Dulse flakes.  Dulse is a slightly purple seaweed full of minerals, vitamins and those elusive trace elements.  The flakes resemble coarsely ground black pepper and you can simply sprinkle on whatever you want.  It will enhance pasta, rice and potato dishes and honestly no one will suspect you have boosted both nutrition and flavor.

    Dulse flakes resemble coarsly ground black pepper and are delicious on just about everything.


    I know this is going to sound a little radical but I love adding seaweeds, especially dulse flakes to anything I am baking but especially chocolate.  I like to make brownies from scratch but last spring after volunteering brownies for a meeting I realized I just didn’t have time.  I bought a mix and livened it up with the addition of a tablespoon of dulse flakes soaked in dark rum.  If it sounds a bit weird think of all the gourmet chocolate bars with sea salt added.  Trust me, it’s divine.  

    Seaweed adds depth to chocolate recipes.


    If you want to learn more about umami and seaweeds here are some great websites

    http://www.umamiinfo.com/

    http://www.seaweedcouncil.org

    Healthy Maine Seaweed

    Seaweeds are beautiful and so much more.  Seaweeds happen to be the oldest family of plants and are an integral part of a healthy marine ecosystem.  Seaweeds are not just good for the planet- seaweeds happen to be very good for you.
    Maine seaweeds are good for you.

     

    Seaweeds are a great source of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber.  Try adding seaweeds to soups, salads and even baked goods.  At Dulse and Rugosa, we have two seaweed infused desserts.  Dulse brownies are the traditional brownie with an ocean twist.  Our “True Love” cake is perfect for a special occasion.   I happen to love recipes that include an unusual ingredient which adds a health benefit and a taste twist.  

    A quick and easy way to get seaweed into your diet is to purchase Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Dulse flakes.  The dark purple flakes look almost like coarse ground black pepper.  Sprinkle on potatoes, pasta or add to a bowl of Raimen.  Carly makes a “wicked good” Raimen bowl by replacing the flavor packet with dulse flakes and spices.

    I’ve been reading quite a bit about Furikake (pronounced foo-ree-kak-kay).  This seasoning originates from Japan as is used the way we use salt and pepper.  It’s toasted sesame seeds, nori and sea salt blended together.  I think with a bit of nutritional yeast this would taste great on popcorn

    I’ve put in some great links to help you add seaweed to your diet.  Your body, especially your taste buds will be thanking you. 

    http://www.foodiewithfamily.com/2011/08/09/homemade-furikake-japanese-rice-seasoning/

    http://www.blisstree.com/2013/03/08/food/seaweed-recipes

    http://vibrantwellnessjournal.com/2013/03/08/what-do-you-do-with-seaweed/

    https://www.seaveg.com/