You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2011.

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. It was a pleasant weekend here, visiting several gatherings. To my surprise, this year a few of us broke out in song, singing all of the classic holiday tunes. It was a welcoming event for the not so typical snowy weather and everyone’s tight schedules. A nice pause from the hustle and bustle the holidays can be. This is what I like about the holidays, a bit of cheer, enjoying the company of family and friends.

With the tight schedule and all of the things to do, I had hoped to have made a dessert, but settled on a chocolate Swiss roll that was delicious from a much loved bakery in town. This one is definitely on the make a recipe for list and to share with you.

 

In a few days it will be a new year, a new year of possibilities, more cooking and of course more photography. Thank you everyone for visiting and your wonderful comments!

 

Braised Lentils & Vegetable Recipe

1 cup French lentils, picked over

2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 large garlic clove, peeled & cracked

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 small bay leaf

 

4 cups assorted vegetables, peeled & cut to similar sizes

[Such as: turnips, carrots, beans, beets, Brussels sprouts, parsnips, etc…]

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

 

Chopped fresh chives

 

preparing the lentils:

1. Place lentils, vinegar, garlic, sea salt and bay leaf in a pot and cover generously with cold water.

2. Bring to a simmer and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes until just tender.

3. Drain and discard garlic and bay leaf. Meanwhile…

 

preparing the vegetables:

1. Place prepared vegetables in a wide pan, with light chicken stock or water just to cover.

2. Season with sea salt.

3. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until tender, drain.

 

To complete the dish, warm the lentils with butter in a sauté pan over low heat. Add in the vegetables. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. This is a great recipe to serve with grilled or roasted poultry.

 

*note:  If you plan on using beets as I did here, braise them separately so they will not taint the other vegetables. As for using green tender vegetables such as beans and brussels sprouts, add them in in the last few minutes of braising to maintain their bright green color.

The holidays for me conjure up glistening desserts, hearty main meals and of course small sweet treasures. Growing up I remember eating all kinds of things, but the one thing I always loved about the holidays was my grandmother’s orange flavored gelatins. As the holiday approaches, I wanted to recreate that taste of the past.

 

For an updated version of that recipe, I used a bubbly citrus beverage, filled with fresh Satsuma oranges! To top things off and give a more finished look, a layer soft set coconut cream was used; this works very well for the garnish of pistachios and coconut. If you are not going dairy-free, cream would be a nice replacement.

 

As for the holidays go, I have yet to decide on a dessert to bring to the family gathering. Usually this time of year I have already baked up countless dozens of cookies for eating and sharing. With all of the possibilities one can get pulled in all sorts of directions. Once I have decided I will post as a holiday recap. So enjoy the holidays everyone. The snow has been steadily falling the past few hours, maybe we will have a white Christmas after all! Enjoy!

 

Satsuma Gelée Recipe

 

2 cups bubbly orange juice

1 Tablespoon gelatin

 

10 Satsuma oranges, peeled & segmented

 

¾ cup coconut milk [-or- cream]

2 Tablespoons cold water

1 teaspoon gelatin

 

Chopped pistachios [for garnishing]

Shredded coconut [for garnishing]

 

preparing the orange gelée:

1. Place the orange bubbly in a sauce pan and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let the gelatin bloom for a few minutes.

2. Whisk in the gelatin and heat just to a simmer. Set aside.

3. Fill serving glasses with orange segments and pour in the juice.

4. Chill in the refrigerator until set, approximately 2-4 hours.

 

preparing the coconut cream:

1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and allow to bloom.

2. Heat the coconut milk in a small sauce pan and add sugar and any flavorings you like.

3. Whisk a little coconut milk into the gelatin and then add it to the rest of the coconut milk.

4. Cool slightly and pour over the set orange gelée.

5. Garnish with pistachios and coconut.

Serves 4

 

 

Playing on the coconut theme a lot of my dairy-free recipes have been over the past few months, I made a delicious tapioca pudding. I have to confess I made six full batches this past weekend of pudding and found this to be the best spin on the age old classic.

 

Sometimes making desserts does not mean spending laborious amounts of time making tarts, jelly rolls or mousse cakes. It’s all about variety, comfort and spending time with others, not to mention they would be happy to help with over abundant dessert making!

Using coconut has been a great way for me to enjoy dairy rich recipes without using dairy at all. I am not saying no to dairy, but I think experimenting and variety to be what keeps cooking and baking exciting here at home.

Another recipe today is a cardamom spiced pecan cookies that was paired with this dessert just for fun and a nice balance from the creamy pudding.

 

Enjoy!

Coconut Tapioca Pudding Recipe

½ cup tapioca pearls [not instant]

2 2/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk [drinking beverage]

1 14-ounce can coconut milk

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoons cornstarch*

2 teaspoons cold water

1/3 cup granular sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

1. Soak tapioca pearls in coconut milk [drinking beverage] overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Once soaked, place in a medium saucepan with the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.

3. Reduce heat if necessary to keep coconut milk at a gentle simmer and cook for 8 minutes.

4. Add the cornstarch mixed with water to the pan. Stir until mixture comes back to a boil and has thickened.

5. Add sugar and vanilla extract and remove from heat.

6. Chill pudding in a shallow bowl and covered with plastic wrap directly on the surface.

Served room temp or chilled, makes 6-8 servings.

*note: If in the event you boil the pudding to hard you may not need the starch to give a more pleasant body.

Cardamom-Spiced Pecan Cookie Recipe

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

½ cup finely ground toasted pecans

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 large egg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 cup gluten-free baking mix

2 tablespoons finely chopped toasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

1. In a food processor cream the butter and then mix in confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

2. Add egg and vanilla; process for a minute until well incorporated.

3. Add pecans, cardamom and sea salt and mix in.

4. With the processor off place the full amount of flour mixture and process just until dough forms.

5. Chill dough for 2 hours in a flattened disk or one inch logs.

6. Cut eight inch slices and arrange on a parchment lined sheet pan and sprinkle on pecans.

7. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are lightly golden.

These lovely little tarts are quick to make and easy to eat. Forelle pears are tiny fruits with a beautiful texture and wonderful fragrance. It’s hard to pass up a fresh ripe pear for eating when you want a delicate sweet dessert, so purchase extra ones just for eating later.

 

I have been catching up on the final gardening chores that need doing. Late fall is a calm time to put the garden to sleep and prepare for the winter ahead. The weather is calm and the cloudy skies cast a silvery tone throughout the scenery, which is rather lovely by the way.

 

On completing the final wintering in the garden I can now get back into the kitchen where it’s warm and toasty, make a few tarts and say hello to a relaxing afternoon.

 

Hope you had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday with family, friends and great food.

 

Forelle Pear Tart Recipe

 

2 cups gluten-free baking mix

1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted

8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg, room temp

¼ teaspoon sea salt

 

4 ripe, but fir Forelle pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

 

[Frangipane Ingredients]

¾ cup confectioner’s sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 large egg, room temp

¾ cup almond meal

1 Tablespoon gluten-free baking mix

1 Tablespoon almond extract

 

1/3 cup sliced almonds, coarse chopped

1/3 cup apricot jam, strained and heated for glazing

 

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

 

preparing the tart dough:

1. In a food processor, combine the sugar and butter.

2. Add in the egg and sea salt; process for a minute or so.

3. Add the baking mix and run the processor until a ball of dough forms.

4. Chill dough in a flattened rectangle for 2 hours or until solid.

5. Divide dough into eight pieces, working with one piece at a time, roll dough and press into three inch tart pans. Chill while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

*note: Tart dough should be rolled between sheets of parchment for ease of lining tart pans.

 

preparing the frangipane:

1. Whisk together butter and sugar until smooth.

2. Add egg and beat in until smooth and creamy.

3. Stir in almond meal, gluten free mix and almond extract.

 

assembling and baking the tarts:

1. Spread frangipane evenly into prepared tart pans.

2. Place pears down the center of each tart and press lightly into the frangipane.

3. Bake for approximately 25-28 minutes until filling has puffed and top has browned.

4. Brush on apricot jam and sprinkle almonds around the edges.

Serves 8.

 

 

*Gluten-Free Baking Mix Recipe

2 ¼ cups white rice flour

1 ¼ cups brown rice flour [Use superfine brown rice for a finer texture]

1 cup tapioca flour

2 teaspoons xanthan gum

 

1. Whisk together all of the ingredients well and store in sealed container.

Makes 4 ½ cups baking mix.

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