Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Symphony of Flavours

Symphony of Flavours

I don't normally post "meals", but this one came together so beautifully both in flavours and visual impact. I confess I have been watching a lot of Masterchef lately, and it is inspiring me!
The meal above is pan-seared chicken with parsley-chimmichurri jasmine rice, cauliflower and corn puree, and a peach/red onion and cilantro salsa.

Cauliflower-Corn Puree: The puree was the starting point for me and I built the meal around it. In the blender: one whole cauliflower, broken into florets and steamed until tender. One can of corn (yes, fresh would be even better!) sautéed first in a pan with a few nobs of butter, one clove of garlic and a pinch of salt. About a cup and a half of cream/milk mixture, scalded. Add about half the cream/milk at first, then adding just enough to make a puree (you don't want to turn it into soup!).
Pulse in blender until smooth, adjust seasoning.  Silky and so flavourful!!

Chicken:  Breasts seasoned simply with garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, sautéed over medium high heat to get nice colour.

Rice: I was concerned that the plate would look too monotone so I whipped up a parsley chimmichurri and stirred that in to the Jasmine rice, along with some chopped fresh parsley.

Chimichurri: Chopped parsley, toasted walnuts, a touch of cilantro, a touch of chilli sauce, olive oil,  touch of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Place all in blender and blend until smooth.

Salsa: Diced peach, red onion, and fresh coarsely chopped cilantro,  tied together with a touch of olive oil, fresh lemon juice and salt.

I LOVE fruit salsas to go along with chicken and fish, and will use whatever fruit I have on hand: mango, peach, nectarine, apple, etc  I will also sometimes use parsley in place of the cilantro, and sometimes add corn...It becomes a beautiful bright note on the plate, and adds some wonderful texture as well.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Gluten Free Bread: whole grain-blend

I have been baking gluten free bread for about 7 years. Before I realized I had to eat gluten free, I had never made bread before!   I started with a bread machine, because I knew this would be an uphill battle. The GF bread out there was horrendous. Dry. Tasteless. $7.00 loaf of Sawdust.
The early recipes I tried were more miss than hit.  I spent a lot of time searching and experimenting. Combining recipes for the right ratio of ingredients, with package ingredients of the odd GOOD bread that was out there. I have come up with a recipe that keeps me and all the gluten free people in my life very happy. This latest version I make in my stand mixer, and bake in the oven. I vary my flours from time to time, but these are the ratios I do not veer from.

Gluten Free Bread: whole grain-blend 

175 g (1.5 cups) tapioca starch
100g (1 cup-ish)rice flour
75g  (1/2 cup-ish) GF oat flour
25 g (3 T) ground flax
30 g (2 T )sugar
8 g (1 tsp) salt
12 g (2.5 tsp) xantham gum
1 T instant yeast

1 egg + water to make up 1 -1/3 cup
+1 egg
2 T olive oil
1 tsp AC vinegar
**no need to pre-warm the eggs or water**

Mix dry ingredients to ensure they are well blended. Mix wet ingredients together until eggs are a little frothy, and then add slowly to stand mixer on low, until incorporated.
Mix on med (5) for a good 10 minutes, scraping paddle and /or sides as need be. You will notice the dough get ribbony- this is good.
*if the dough is clumping on the paddle, clean it off and spray with oil.

Spray (baguette)pan with oil, and sprinkle all over with light layer of sesame seeds.

Once mixed, shape into loaves by scooping wet dough out with a spatula, and spreading in the pan. Dip the spatula in water to shape and smooth the wet dough.  Spray plastic wrap with oil, loosely cover dough and rise in a warm place for 40 minutes. *In my experience a tea towel just ends up sticking to the dough, thereby ruining the rise.  Plastic wrap works.
Once risen (it will not double, don't worry), sprinkle with sesame seeds and chestnut flour, then score the top.  The score seems to make a BIG difference in the rise.

Place in pre-heated 375* oven, for 35-40 minutes.
After cooling for 5 minutes, remove from pan to cooling rack.
Wait until completely cool before bagging. Do not refrigerate.
* I am transitioning to using measuring by weight, but I have included approximate cup measurements as well.*

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pecan Pie, Oh My!

Pecan Pie!
My first ever attempt at Pecan Pie, and it turned out beautifully. The crust was firm but flakey, and the filling was sweet, nutty and gooey. I fancied up the crust by cutting out star shapes from the pastry scraps, then cutting them in half, and "glued" them down with a bit of egg white. 
My husband has declared it his 'new favourite pie" and my mother-in-law(who is also celiac) could not stop exclaiming how good this was between mouthfuls.
I think this was a success.

The pastry shell, pre-bake,
I liked how the embellishment on the crust looked like little crowns!

The oh so simple ingredients for the caramel. White sugar, brown sugar, molasses, corn syrup and butter. I think this was one of the simplest pies to make, with the most impressive presentation!

Pastry recipe is on this site, again amended slightly from Mennonite Girls Can Cook. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Another Thanksgiving, another PIE!

I am always pleasantly surprised when I make pastry at how easily it comes together.

Here is the dough, just formed and ready to go in the fridge to chill.
Half will be for my pumpkin pie, which I will make on Sunday (to eat on Monday).
But what should I make with the other half?

The finished product:

Decorated with free-form pastry "leaves", half plain and half dusted with cinnamon sugar for visual contrast. The leaves also help to conceal the fact that my crust shrunk- because I did not let the shell chill long enough before baking. Oh well! Necessity is the mother of invention!
Can't wait to eat this tomorrow.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


...are delicious, right?
These are too, even if they are gluten free.
I have amended this recipe to be gluten free, and my kids (who are not gluten free ) love them anyway, which many can appreciate is, well, amazing!

Many thanks to the original recipe, found here:

Extreme Chocolate Gluten Free Cupcakes

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 + 1/8 cup rice flour
  • 3/4 + 1/8 cup tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Pre-heat oven to 350
Grease cupcake pans and dust with cocoa powder (or use Cupcake liners).
Fill kettle and boil water.
Combine dry ingredients, and mix well.
Add all wet ingredients (except for boiling water), and mix for 3 minutes*.

Add boiling water, and mix BY HAND (I use a whisk) until just combined. Pour into prepared pans.

Cupcakes: bake for about 20-22 minutes. Test with a toothpick, if it doesn't come out clean, bake for a few more minutes and test again. 
*Don't overmix, as this can prevent the baking powder and soda from adding airiness to your final product!

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Today will be a new adventure in alternative bread making: Socca.
Thought to have originated in Nice, Socca is a thin, crepe-like pan bread made with Besan, or Chick Pea flour.

1 cup  chickpea flour
1 cup  water
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper 
(You can also add spices and seasonings here, but for my first attempt I am going to keep it classic.)

The recipe is ridiculously simple. I found many recipes out there, and they are basically all the same: Mix equal portions of flour and water, a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and seasonings. Let sit 1/2- 2 hours before cooking. Baking alternatives include: in the oven under the broiler, on the stovetop using cast iron griddle or pan, or non-stick pan. Today I am opting for the stovetop cast iron combo.
This strikes me as VERY similar to making corn tortillas, in terms of just basically adding water to the flour and letting it rest before cooking. My mixture is resting now.

Mixture rested, time to cook!

These turned out like crepes- but chickpea flour has a very distinctive bite to it, and I thing to fully enjoy them, that "beanyness" really needs to be balanced with whatever is used for the filling. These ideally should also be served as they are cooked, because for me they lost their pliability if left to cool and then re-heated. 
Something different to try, I would recommend making a small test batch to see if you like the flavours, and play with your fillings/pairings!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gluten Free Lime-Curd Tarts

Well, it would seem I am on a pastry kick!

I made lime-curd tartlets yesterday for some guests, and they were a hit amongst GF and non-GF alike!
I have never done a curd before, and was looking for something new for a filling, and happened to have some limes on hand.  Found a very simple recipe on All-Recipes which you can link to here

Lime Curd

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 TB lime zest
2 eggs, beaten

1. Before assembling the ingredients, place the eggs in a bowl of very warm water. This will help the eggs to blend with the hot mixture, and prevent the eggs from "scrambling"

2. Before cutting and juicing the limes, zest them!! (It is very hard to zest a spent lime) :)

2. Place all ingredients except for the eggs in the top of a double boiler, over medium high heat.
Once the butter has melted, mix 2-3 TB of the hot mixture into the beaten eggs, and whisk well.

3. Reduce the heat to medium. SLOWLY whisk the egg mixture into the hot lime mixture, whisking until smooth.
Continue to cook until the lime mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 20-25 minutes.  Stir/whisk occasionally.

4. Cool slightly, and spoon into a glass or ceramic jar. Cover and refrigerate.

This really needs a good few hours to properly chill and set.
I presented these tarts 2 ways: half plain, and half with a layer of melted chocolate in the bottom of the shell, and then a small drizzle of chocolate on top.
Both were so good I don't even know which ones I liked best! I am making more for a dinner party tomorrow, and will do some with fresh blackberries.
Made with my pastry recipe on this site.