Sprouting? Adopt a Chia Pet

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Sprouts get a raw deal. There are many types and uses for them other than being incorporated or tossed into a salad. Sprouted breads have become extremely popular and are healthful as well. The term “sprouting” refers to the short-term process of germinating seeds, nuts, whole grains and legumes (including alfalfa, bean, chickpea, sunflower, and lentils) to be eaten raw or cooked. It is an easy 3-4 day project to do in the kitchen with a few simple tools: cheese cloth, a one-quart Mason jar, fresh water and sunlight. The easy way to test the waters of sprouting might be to pick up a Chia Pet. We can make all the jokes we want about the humorous figurines made with sprouting chia seeds, but the sprouts can be harvested right off the figurine – it sounds cannibalistic, but it’s not.”

Birthday Cake Sandwich

Fun presentation for a birthday lunch or brunch.

RECIPE BY CARRIE HIRSCH (Serves 8-10)

Birthday Cake Sandwich

FOR THE FROSTING
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup basil pesto
½ cup ranch dressing

Using a hand or standing mixer, beat together ingredients until well incorporated, then cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

FOR THE SANDWICH

9-inch Sprout Momma whole wheat or sprout boule
1/2 cup caramelized onion jam
1 large handful baby greens, coarsely chopped
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and very thinly sliced
1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 pound smoked turkey, thinly sliced
5 radishes, very thinly sliced
1 medium cucumber, sliced into very thinly into rounds
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Dijon-style mustard

GARNISH:

8 10-inch wooden skewers
8 green olives stuffed with blue cheese or pimentos
8 pear or cherry tomatoes
8 small pickles

Trim and level the top of the boule with a serrated knife so it is flat, saving the top to make breadcrumbs for a future use. Slice the bread horizontally into five 1-inch rounds. Spread a tablespoon of the frosting on a cake plate to act as glue so the sandwich will not move when slicing. Place a slice of the bread on top and press down to secure — you’re building the sandwich from the bottom up. Spread on a layer of frosting, then spread with onion jam, arrange a layer of baby greens, tomato slices, apple slices, cheese, smoked turkey, radish and cucumber slices. Sprinkle with some olive oil. Spread Dijon mustard on the underside of the next slice of bread and gently press down. Repeat this four more times, pressing down lightly on each layer to secure. Place stuffed green olives, cherry tomatoes and pickles on skewers and insert into sandwich to hold it together. Place a birthday candle on top. If not serving immediately, refrigerate for up to two hours before serving.

CHEF TIP

RYAN FENNESSEY AND KEN BASTIANSPROUT MOMMA BREADS: RYAN FENNESSEY AND KEN BASTIAN

“We make a 100 percent sprouted wheat flour and a German-style sunflower wheat bread. When we make our Norwegian natural sourdough style, we use a lot of flax and sunflower seeds and natural sweeteners like honey and molasses. Our rugbrod, a Danish-style rye bread, is fermented. This is different from European-style baking, which they baked for longevity in the Nordic countries because it had a longer shelf life. We also make an espresso black rye, a sour pickle rye and a cracked bulgur wheat bread with honey and oats. Struan, an Irish sprouted wheat bread, is a Celtic harvest bread using wheat sprouts. We don't have a set recipe for this bread because traditionally whatever was salvaged from the harvest was what was used. We make sprout breads using very wet doughs. Sprouts break down the starch into natural sugar. We rinse them with cold water and then fill again with cold water. Once the initial soak is done, we cover them with cheesecloth, drain and replace with fresh water. The grains need to be constantly hydrated. Ken is a great sprouter and has a great green thumb!”