"Welcome to Psychedelicatessen, a weekly column exploring the world of cannabis cuisine, including recipes from the great chefs and ganjapreneurs who fuel our appetite for adventure."
Moving cannabis cuisine beyond brownies motivates many chefs, who want our favorite herb to be treated like any other ingredient. Making marijuana part of a healthy lifestyle means using it to enhance dishes that are delicious and nutritious, a specialty of cook Danielle Russell. Also known as The Happy Chef, Russell has authored two cookbooks, including her most recent, 50 Shades of Green, which focuses on vegetarian and vegan dishes.
"I want everybody to be able to enjoy cannabis," she said, "and I have so many vegan friends."
After the tragic prescription drug overdose of a close family member seven years ago, Russell moved west, and her hobby of cooking with cannabis turned into a career.
"My sister died of a methadone overdose," Russell shared. "It's a reason that drove me towards cannabis, because I believe it to be safer."
Passionate about providing herbal alternatives to dangerous pharmaceuticals, Russell developed recipes in a variety of dosage levels and published her first book, The Happy Chef: Dr. Greenthumb, as a collaboration with B-Real from Cypress Hill.
"We met at a cannabis event where he did a performance, and I gave him a Happy Rancher," Russell remembered. "And I got him a DJ gig at 1 Oak in the Mirage, and we talked about cooking."
After B-Real helped The Happy Chef launch her personal brand, the two continued to work on occasional video projects.
Currently serving as Head Canna Chef at Nevada Pure, Russell creates THC-infused hard candies called "Happy Ranchers," as well as gummy bears, chocolate bars, peanut butter and hazelnut chocolate spreads. Starting with low dose products allows new users to avoid unpleasant experiences, and Russell worked to calculate basic formulas so cooks at home could estimate their dosage levels more accurately.
"I've had patients message me saying they're so thankful and happy with how we dosed the chocolate bar—24 squares with 96 milligrams of THC, for 4 milligrams per square—low enough for his wife with Stage 4 cancer to be able to take one square and be functional throughout her day."
Get healthy with these THC-infused side dishes busting with fresh flavors that are suitable for everyone.
"We need to be able to offer products that aren't packed with sugar," Russell added. "The amount of sugar intake has increased dramatically over the last 50 years, and diabetes is a huge problem."
Infusing cannabis into olive oil allows for easy dosing, elevating these nutritious sides into main attractions. The "Oh My" Spicy Sweet Potatoes are tender inside but crispy and caramelized outside, while the super simple Canna Couscous will enliven potlucks, parties and everyday dinners with the subtle flavors of dank herb and earthy truffle oil.
The Happy Chef's Canna Couscous
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 25 min
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups pearl couscous
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
8 mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup vegan "parmesan," grated
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp truffle-infused olive oil (I used a dash of cannabis truffle oil from Stoney Sauces)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp cannabis-infused olive oil (such as HIGH TIMES Cannabis Cup winner Goodies by MaGooch)
Salt & pepper to taste
In a pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in couscous and cover. Remove from heat and let sit for 8 to 10 minutes, or until liquid is completely absorbed. Then, fluff couscous with a fork and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat up one tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat for a few minutes before adding the chopped onion. Sauté for 5 minutes until onion begins to soften, then add the chopped mushrooms and sauté for an additional 5 minutes, until mushrooms begin to reduce in size and release their juices. Remove from heat and set aside in a large bowl.
Combine cooked couscous with mushroom sauté, fresh parsley and vegan "Parmesan." Whisk together the truffle oil, balsamic and lemon juice to create a vinaigrette, then stir it into the couscous along with the cannabis-infused olive oil. Mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve cold or at room temperature.
The Happy Chef's "Oh My*" Spicy Sweet Potatoes
(*It's all you can say after you take that first bite!)
Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 30 min
2 sweet potatoes, unpeeled
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
5 tbsp cannabis-infused olive oil
Put potatoes in large pot of water and cover. Bring to a boil. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Cook covered for 10-12 minutes. Drain and let steam dry for 3 minutes.
Let cool, and then slice potatoes into wedges. Arrange pieces on baking sheet. Brush all sides with regular olive oil. Bake in preheated oven at 350º F until potatoes are golden brown on all sides, about 20 to 35 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine salt, chili powder, paprika, cilantro and crushed red pepper.
Remove potatoes from oven. Toss potatoes in cannabis-infused oil so they are evenly coated, and sprinkle combined seasonings over them. Toss and serve warm.
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