Food: Chicken burger with pesto, & roasted sweet potatoes

IMG_20130314_174348This is the first recipe I’ve tried from TheFresh20.com, a site that provides a full week’s worth of meals and recipes, using 20 in-season fresh ingredients. It’s supposed to help you use up all that you buy, so that you don’t have any wasted food.

So far, I like it, and I like the recipes. My only problem is that I’m usually cooking for one, so I’m having to cut the recipes in half (I plan to take leftovers for lunch). But, it’s a small price to pay for having my whole week’s menu planned out. (Speaking of which, it’s a pretty cheap subscription price, too. And no, I’m not getting paid to say that.)

The chicken burgers had shredded onion, carrot & dijon in them (among other things), and the pesto was just right–tasty, and fresh. I love that there was lots of spinach in it. And, sweet potatoes were roasted with olive oil. Simple, and quick.

Food: Oh so delicious macarons!

The other day I was checking out the site My French Life, and I came across a post on a stroll in Paris, which featured a photo of a box of macarons. Reading further, I found a post on the website CakeJournal and decided to try to make my own.

My macarons.

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams of almond flour (or grind your own)
  • 100-110 grams egg whites (about 3-4 egg whites, depending on the size of your eggs), left out one day (cover dish with plastic wrap)
  • 200 grams of powdered (icing) sugar
  • 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar

Mix the icing sugar and almond flour together in a bowl. I used a whisk, but you can use a food processor too. It’s important to mix them thoroughly.

Beat the eggs, and as they get foamy, start putting in the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until the egg whites are glossy and stiff.

Fold in the almond flour and icing sugar mix using a spatula, and go slowly. Be careful not to overmix, or you’ll lose some of that nice fluffiness. When you’re done, it should look a cream colour, and be reasonably thick. Take this mixture and put it into a piping bag (pastry bag, to the Americans), and on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper, put 1-inch dollops of the batter. (Give them a bit of space, as they will spread a bit.)

Let the batter sit for one hour (yes, really–this was the hardest part for me, I wanted to get them baked!), and then put them in an oven that has been preheated to 300˚F (150˚C) for 10-12 minutes. I found that 10 minutes was enough to make them hard and just a touch golden.

I filled my macarons with chocolate ganache (I *love* chocolate), but you could use buttercream icing, or jam, or whatever else caught your fancy. Also, if you want to make your macarons chocolate, substitute a bit of cocoa powder in the dry mix. And don’t be afraid to experiment with colour dyes!

But, my favourite part about this recipe, aside from how delicious it is? It’s gluten-free.

Happy New Year! Bonne année!

Food: Seared Sea Scallops with Crème Fraîche & Caviar

Photo by @afpalmer.

I snagged this delicious recipe from the Epicurious site, one of my favourite places to go for new dishes. I made it as an appetizer for a larger family gathering, and it was enjoyed by many (though not all, as there were a couple of people who *really* were squicked by the caviar).

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 12 large sea scallops, cut horizontally into 2 rounds

 

  • 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
  • 1/2 ounce caviar
  • 4 fresh chives, cut into 1-inch lengths

I seared the scallops for about 4 mins (2mins per side, until beginning to brown), then let them cool to room temperature. I then laid them out on the serving dish and spooned crème fraîche over them. I was unlucky to get a container of crème fraîche that was a bit runnier than usual, hence the drips. Usually it’s about the consistency of sour cream. I used salmon caviar (bought at the local Russian delicatessen) and topped each scallop with a few finely chopped chives. They were a little bit messy so when you serve them you’ll need to put out side plates and forks. And, bonus? This recipe is gluten free. :)

Food: Crêpes, my favourite breakfast.

From http://www.freefoto.com/preview/807-16-1825/French-crepes

How can I explain how much I love crêpes? Perhaps it’s enough to say that I love them enough that I wish I could eat them every day, whether it be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As a kid, crêpes were the sort of thing we got as a special Sunday brunch treat (or on request for a birthday breakfast, which is what inspired me to write this post, given that it is my birthday and I had crêpes for breakfast.)

When I was in Paris, one of my favourite snacks was to grab a crêpe from a crêperie as we took in the sights. And crêpes go well with a bottle of apple cider, sitting on a terrace of a café in Montmartre.

Even once I went gluten-free, I have still been able to have crêpes. I just use GF flour instead of wheat flour. Thanks to the Gluten-Free Girl’s blog, I now have an easy way to make crêpe batter. It’s an easy method based on ratios (2 parts liquid, 2 parts egg, 1 part flour). To make one crêpe (using a cast-iron crêpe pan, not the electric ones where you dip them into the batter), you need:

1 egg
1 ounce of flour
2 ounces of milk
a dash of salt

Whisk these together and pour them onto the heated crêpe pan. Flip the crêpe when it’s ready, and then put it on a plate and fill it with Nutella, raspberries (what I ate today for breakfast), or whatever your heart desires. (If you’re using GF flour, you can use a flour mix, or simply pick your favourite. I especially like crêpes done with sorghum flour mixed with a bit of tapioca starch.)

Food: Ginger-garlic veg and rice noodle dish

This meal turned out rather delicious, if I do say so myself. It was a riff off of this noodle dish from Gluten-Free Girl. I say a riff because I didn’t have toasted sesame oil, almond butter, cellophane noodles, or red cabbage. But, no matter!

For the sauce, whisked together in a bowl:

  • a chunk of ginger, grated
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic (to your taste), finely chopped
  • a teaspoon of peanut butter (or almond butter)
  • rice vinegar (1/4 cup…ish)
  • grape seed oil (or sesame oil) 1/4 cup…ish, or a bit more
  • salt and pepper

For the veg, take any veg you fancy (I used asparagus, corn, butternut squash and a few crimini mushrooms), and lightly steam. You could probably use them all fresh and raw too if you wanted, but I like them steamed a bit. Cook the rice noodles, and drain. Toss the veg on a plate, the noodles in the bowl to coat with the sauce, then dump the noodles on the plate over the veg. Or, be a little fancier and plate it up all nice and pretty. Depends how hungry you are!

A tip — do up the sauce to your taste. If you’re not that keen on vinegar, use a little less. Super keen on peanut/almond butter? Use more. If it seems too thick, add some more oil. I used two cloves of garlic, but that’s a bit zippy. Taste it as you go. The ginger and the rice vinegar make this dish, in my opinion. Easy peasy. :)

Food: Spinach Salad & Poached Egg

Inspired by this excellent post and video by the Gluten-Free Girl (and the Chef) on how to poach an egg, I made this delectable salad for dinner. It’s so easy — watch the video, poach an egg, and set it on top of some spinach leaves, chopped strawberries, sunflower seeds, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. It’s a perfect light dinner.

If you want to make it a little fancier, add some grated Parmesan cheese, some tomatoes (they aren’t my thing), and perhaps some fresh basil.

Food: Delicious Butter Braised Endives

I don’t know if I’d even had an endive before I made this recipe for the first time. I’d seen endives at the grocery store and wondered what exactly they were and what they tasted like. They looked pretty healthy. I came across this recipe by Julia Child and decided I needed to give endives a try. This dish eliminates the bitter flavour that endives have, and the lemon and butter combination is very fresh.

Butter Braised Endives

Endives in a Baking Dish

Endives ready for the oven.

Ingredients:

  • 12 small, or 8 large endives
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 tbsp butter, sliced into 1/2 tablespoon pieces
  • 2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, minced as garnish (optional)

Preparing the endives: Trim the roots (but make sure the leaves stay intact) and remove any brown bits or wilted leaves. Wash under running water.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F/162 degrees C. Arrange the endives in a stove and oven safe baking dish in a single layer. (Or, do as I did and use a non-stick saucepan with lid for the stove parts, and transfer into a baking dish for the oven parts.) Add the salt, butter, lemon juice and water to the dish/saucepan and simmer covered on the stove for about 20 minutes (or until tender).

To ready for the oven, remove the lid and place a piece of parchment paper cut to size on top of the vegetables. Place into the preheated oven (you remembered to do that, right?) and bake for about 2 hours. Baste the endives several times during cooking (I basted every half an hour and turned them after an hour), and add more water to the dish if need be, as it should be about 1/4 inch deep. Taste the liquid in the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Once the endives are a pale, golden colour, remove them from the oven. Discard the parchment paper, place into a serving dish, and garnish with parsley (if wanted). Serve and enjoy.