Saturday, 20 March 2010

Almond Cookies

I am blessed with having really great friends. My friend Paula, in efforts to help find treats for her daughter Lila that are gluten free, and my efforts to avoid milk/casein and to help my brother's family avoid gluten, dairy and eggs, has us both exchanging recipes. Paula bakes more often than I do and kindly brings me "Louise friendly" treats. Paula recently turned up at my house for movie night with almond cookies and almond cupcakes baked fresh that day. Both were delicious and I got to keep the leftovers. The next day I had the leftover almond cookies with a cup of tea. As my sister in law has mentioned, gluten and dairy free treats are much better the next day. The cookies had firmed up and had a nice crispness to them. If you can eat nuts and are looking for gluten free, these I highly recommend, and bake them a day ahead.

Almond Cookies

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup organic unbleached sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup ground almonds, maybe a little more

Blend soft butter with sugar, mix in egg, add ground almonds. The dough should be wet and sticky like very thick peanut butter.
Scoop spoonfuls of the dough onto a greased cookie sheet or a silicone cookie sheet liner on a pan. Bake at 350 C for seven to ten minutes. Test for doneness -- should be slightly springy. Better to pull 'em out of the oven a little early than dry them out till they're brittle. When the cookies cool a little, peel them off the silicone sheet before they get cold.
If the cookies break, keep them! They're good as crumbles in various parfaits and things.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Halibut Season in BC

I'm trying to acquire a taste for fish. Canned tuna in water has been the only fish I've eaten other than shellfish, crab and prawns which I find delicious. Halibut is my first venture and so far I've steamed it with lemon and margarine, butter would probably have been better, in foil packets in the rice cooker/steamer/slow cooker machine I have. This method keeps the halibut from being overcooked and is a healthy way of cooking as only a very very small pat of butter is required, less than a teaspoon. Here's a recipe from EAT magazine that I would like to try.

The sweet and salty flavours of the bacon dressing may seem a bit overpowering on it’s own, but when paired with meaty halibut, well, it’s divine! Especially if you use bacon from Choux Choux. A hint of horseradish with earthy beets adds a little kick too.

4 beets, trimmed and scrubbed
Olive oil
1 tsp prepared horseradish
4 6-oz fillets fresh halibut (choose thick centre cuts)
Knob of butter
3 thick strips bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/4 cup Spinnaker’s Apple Cider Vinegar
1Tbsp Babe’s honey
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1. Place beets on a large piece of foil and drizzle with a little olive oil. Seal to form a package and place on a baking sheet. Roast in 375°F oven until tender, from 35 to 45 min., depending on size. You want them tender but not too soft. When cool enough to handle, slip off skins. Chop beets, then toss with horseradish and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover and keep in a warm spot.

2. Season fish with pinches of salt and pepper, if you wish. Melt butter in a frying pan over medium-high. When bubbly, add fish, skin-side up. Sear until golden, 2 to 3 min., then place, skin-side down, on a small baking sheet. Finish cooking in preheated 375°F oven until cooked through, 8 to 10 min.

3. Meanwhile, wipe out frying pan. Add bacon and fry until crispy. Remove bacon to a plate but leave 1 Tbsp fat in pan. Add shallot and reduce heat to medium. Cook until soft, 3 to 4 min, then add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 min. Pour in vinegar and scrape up any bits from pan bottom. Stir in honey and oil until well mixed, then remove from heat and stir in parsley.

4. To serve, place beets on plates and top with fish. Spoon dressing overtop. 

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Backpackers Pantry

I know Michael Pollon says to eat real food and stay away from processed foods but sometimes that isn't always possible. John and I had given our friend Bernie some Backpackers Pantry pouches to take with him when he went kayaking/camping. He told us they weren't bad.

We decided to buy one each and test them. Although I'm off milk we tried the Beef Pasta which had dried milk powder listed as one of the many ingredients. The whole thing mixes inside the pouch and served two nicely (following Food Rules about small portions). I didn't experience any discomfort from the milk powder or the fact this is processed food which doesn't sit well with me either. Plus there weren't any pots to wash, just our two bowls and forks.

I wouldn't want to base my whole camping trip on eating Backpackers Pantry but having one or two just in case wouldn't be a bad thing either.