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Greek Potato and Garlic Dip

 It's amazing what you can do with day old cooked potatoes! I was lying in bed wondering whether to make the same old nicoise salad for dinner when I came across a recipe for Skordalia in the magazine that I was reading. Skordalia is a greek potato dip, very pleasantly rustic in it's origins and absolutely delicious!I didn't like the recipe provided though so I created my own and I must modestly say that it's wonderful, so wonderful that I can barely keep my hands out of it. But it's also so  simple to make and is going to be a perfectly delightful beginning to our meal tonight!

All you need is a food processor or if you have a blender that will work fine too. I didn't use my VitaMix because too much blending too quickly would turn the potato into paste and I wanted to avoid that. Use fresh herbs if possible because in this dip they truly do make a difference!

In the bowl of a food processor add 3 redskin and 3 little (about 3 inches wide) Yukon gold potatoes that you've cooked and cooled. Then add 1/2 a cup of Marcona almonds, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs, 2 tablespoons of FRESH lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of amber agave nectar and  
a heaping handful of parsley, rosemary and fresh sage.  

Turn the food processor on and pour in as much good olive oil as you need to create a smooth and creamy dip. Don't be shy with it, more just enhances the texture and brightens the taste. If I'd had some anchovies I would have added those too! When you are satisfied with the flavor add salt and pepper to taste. You'll need to add more salt than you think because the potatoes will absorb it, which is why throwing a couple of potatoes into any stew or soup that is a bit too salty quickly corrects that problem.

Place the dip into a pretty bowl and surround with freshly cut beans , sliced pretty peppers and other vegetables. You could also try fried zucchini which would be delicious paired with all of that lemon and garlic! Serve as a starter at  with a wonderful white wine or a chilled rose.  

Image courtesy of CNYcentral.com

Chocolate Body Paint!

Hah! I knew the title would get your attention! However, I must say that this is a thoroughly good use for this recipe which is really more of a vegan ganache. But because the primary ingredients are coconut oil, cocoa powder and carob, it melts down to the loveliest consistency and would be wonderful drawn all over your sweetie! Come on, don't be shy! All of the ingredients are very nourishing for your skin and the taste is divine!

I created this recipe one evening about a month ago in San Diego when an old friend of mine from high school and his wife were coming over for dinner. My sons girlfriend and I had been at Whole Foods that afternoon and decided to create a wonderful vegan meal starting with watermelon and jalapeno soup and ending with rolls of rice paper  that we stuffed with plum and basil and strawberries, banana and mint. Of course they wouldn't have been complete without a sauce but we couldn't use the traditional butter and heavy cream to make one. What I did use was carob, coconut oil, cocoa powder, coconut milk and some agave nectar all blended in my VitaMix. The  result was a delightful accident, a byproduct of experimentation plus a certain amount of crazy creativity. It was absolutely delicious and a perfect foil for the luscious fruit wraps that we had prepared.

 I have since taken this recipe and modified it a bit adding toasted hazelnuts to make a vegan nutella and at Cassie's suggestion , silken tofu to make a filling for a tart that we poured into a raw nut crust. It is really a wonderful base for so many things. For the record, if you don't already own a VitaMix, this recipe is a very good excuse to buy one and it will pay for itself time and time again. The VitaMix is a very high powered blender and it can take cubes of ice and whole fruits , skin seeds and all and pulverize them into the most amazing smoothies in no time flat! I have created soups in mine that were wonderful and in about 1/4 of the time that I would normally spend. Fresh nut butters and homemade nut milks are easy to make and only take about 5 minutes of preparation! I knew that I could probably make this ganache in my regular blender , but I would have had to waste too much time pulverizing the ingredients first. It can be done and the results should be excellent, but the VitaMix is so strong that it melted everything for me in no time flat, creating a sauce that was as velvety as any ganache that I've enjoyed and without any of the dairy to mask the pure flavors! 

To make about  2 cups of delectable "Body Paint" you  will need:

I bag of sweetened organic carob chips
3  tablespoons of good cocoa powder- I love the Green and Black
A liberal dash of cinnamon
1 cup of coconut oil - The Whole Foods 365 brand is very good
Agave nectar to taste
Coconut milk to thin as needed -about 1/2  cup

The formula is simple! Just put all of the ingredients into your blender or VitaMix and move it through the settings until you are rewarded with a melting and creamy sauce! If I were doing this in the blender I would probably warm the ingredients first over a double boiler and then put them into the pitcher. You really do need the emulsifying effect of the blender though because as the mixture whips it will thicken a bit like mayonnaise. Add the agave to taste and coconut milk to create a smoother consistency and then pour into a sauce boat to serve! Because of the coconut oil and  carob chips the sauce with begin to solidify but it will still be silky and wonderful. At room temperature it's definitely a sauce but once you put it into the refrigerator it will solidify a bit and turn into a creamy ganache. Either way it's wonderful! I hope that you'll enjoy experimenting with this recipe, I haven't tried it yet but I'm pretty sure that a bit of espresso powder would  be a lively addition! Heat it up a bit and you have a fondue to be served with bananas and pound cake! How about marshmallows! The possibilities are endless, but I think that I like it best served up with a silken sable paint brush!

I do hope that you will take some time with someone that you love and enjoy!