Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Mealtime Magic: Quick and Fun Recipes from A Chef's Life

PBS's A Chef's Life is a character-driven docu-series that takes viewers inside the life and kitchen of Chef Vivian Howard and her two restaurants located in the low country of eastern North Carolina. 

As a mother of twins, Vivian knows how to create good food on the go that is both quick and fun to make with her children.Try out some of her favorites below!

Rollups & Vanilla Pecan Butter 

2 slices whole wheat sandwich bread of your choice
1/4 cup vanilla pecan butter
1/2 ripe banana, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds

Vanilla Pecan Butter:
makes 1/2 cup

2 cups pecans
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon salt

Make the pecan butter: In a 10-12 inch skillet or saute pan, toast the pecans over medium heat for about 2 minutes or until they are just becoming fragrant. The may darken slightly in color but do not let them get noticeably darker in places. If you find a few spots where this happens, pluck those pecans out. 
Let the pecans cool completely, then transfer them to the bowl of a food processor along with all the little dark seeds from the center of the vanilla bean. Blend the pecans for 1 minute. Stop and scrape down the sides. Blend another minute. Scrape down the sides again and add the honey and salt. Continue blending a third minute or until the pecan butter is quite smooth and loose. The end product will be much more looser than any peanut butter you’ve ever seen and a bit less viscous than almond butter. It will pour off a spoon. 
Depending on the power of your food processor or the sharpness of its’ blade making the pecan butter could take longer than 3 minutes. Just keep an eye out for separation of nut and fat. If this starts to happen, let the pecan butter cool down before blending further. Store the pecan butter, sealed at room temperature, for up to 2 weeks. Stir well before using. 

Make the rollups: Use a rolling pin, flatten each slice of bread to 1/8 of an inch thick. Spread roughly 2 tablespoons pecan butter over each flat piece and lay the banana slices overtop. Roll the bread up in a pinwheel and take it wherever you need to eat. 

Sweet Potato Pie Popsicles
makes 4 - 4 ounce popsicles

1 cup roasted sweet potato puree
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I use full fat, but you could use non fat to good effect)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup milk (cow’s, almond, hemp or soy are all fine)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

Put all the ingredients in your blender and blend till the mixture is super smooth. Transfer to popsicle molds and freeze for 4 hours before serving. 

Oven Okra Fries
1 pound okra, split or quartered lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
12 turns black pepper
Preheat your oven to 400. In a medium bowl, toss the okra with the olive oil, coriander, salt and black pepper. Spread the okra onto your largest baking pan or two pans if necessary. What’s important is that the okra touch and overlap very little. If they are all piled on top of each other, they will steam, not roast.
Slide the pan onto the middle rack of your oven. After 10 minutes, toss the okra gently with a spatula and rotate your pans if you are using 2. Cook an additional 10-15 minutes. When the okra is done, it will be brown and crispy in a lot of places but shouldn’t smell burned. Serve warm or at room temperature as a snack. Sometimes I like to have a creamy dip with these.

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