Over the Salt

Mindful choices for healthy and low sodium cooking


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Sweet and savory onion jam with apricots, golden raisons, chocolate

 

I love the unexpected in cooking adventures, those times when you make something with whatever is on hand. Inspiration and serendipity go hand in hand. Today we had some spare chopped onions left over from making a pie filling. When I checked to see what else we had, the ingredients added up to the right mix for onion jam. Sweet and sour onion jam is very much like chutney. It is something I tend to make frequently as it keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. It can be used on sandwiches, added to other dishes or used as a garnish for other dishes.

Equipment

Skillet
Wooden spoon
Butter knife
Chopping Knife
Glass jar with lid
Measuring cups and spoons

Turn oven to grill and preheat

Ingredients

1/2 stick of no-salt butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup golden raisons
2 tablespoons baslamic reduction with blackcurrants
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup apricot sauce
(or jam if that’s what you have)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon herbs of provence
1/2 teaspoon garam marsala

Making

Put skillet or saucepan on high
Melt the butter and fry the chopped onions
Put in a double handful of golden raisons, which is about a cup
(feel free to use dark raisons, mixed raisons, tiny thompson raisons)
Add spices and stir regularly
Add the brown sugar and continue stirring
Next add the vinegar and the chocolate chips
Add fruit sauce and stir into the bubbling mix
Turn the stove off and allow it to cool down

Spread on flatbread with shredded cheese
(we like sharp cheddar or asiago)
Grill until cheese is melted

Serving

Serve with fruit in season and creme fraiche

 


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Chocolate Chili Meringues

chocolatemeringueseggwhites-peaked

 

 

 

 

 

Light, fluffy, chocolate chili meringue cookies.
Low salt, spicy treats.

Once baked will last about a month if not eaten sooner. Hide them.

Ingredients

Egg whites
1/2 cup baking sugar
Cocoa with chili and cinnamon
2 cups hazennut meal

Equipment

Electric Mixer
Baking sheet with parchment paper
Metal spoon
Glass Bowl

Preheat oven to 400 F

Making

Whip egg whites to stiff peaks
Add baking sugar and whip with egg whites until stiff and glossy
Add cocoa to egg whites and mix on low speed until powder absorbed
Mix on high speed for around three minutes
Remove bowl away from mixer and change to metal spoon
Pour hazelnut flour around edges of bowl and use spoon to fold
from outside to center in lifting motion (down and lift up through center)
Do not over-mix at this stage
Drop spoonfuls onto parchment
Bake for 12 minutes
Remove from oven and allow to cool before moving from paper
Slide a butter knife under cooled meringues to lift and store
Store in air tight container
Makes 3 dozen

 

 


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Sweet shortcrust pastry

pastryballSweet Pastry 101

Colleen tells me that shortcrust pastry gets its texture from shortening the gluten strands with a fat. This makes it melt-in-the-mouth. In Seattle, the humidity in the air requires attention to the texture of the mix and you may need to add or subtract flour to get the desired end. A light hand is needed to avoid overworking the pastry.

Sweet pastry should be able to stand on its own, and for Colleen’s preferred recipe, it can be sliced up and served as shortbread.

Ingredients

1.5 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons of water
80 grams (1/4 cup) of baking sugar

Equipment

A large bowl
Plastic wrap or wax paper (either is good)
Rolling pin
Measuring cups
Pie dish or dishes
Pastry weights (this can be rice or uncooked split peas)
Oven preheated to 400F

Making

Cream butter and sugar together using your hand.
(heat of hand helps melt butter)
Add one egg and mix thoroughly.
Gradually add the flour until pastry forms a ball
(you may not need all the flour)
Add a couple teaspoons water to help make pastry workable (it does not break)
Pastry should leave sides of the bowl clean and not be sticky

Wrap in plastic or wax paper and put in fridge for half an hour.
This allows the gluten strands to relax and not be stretched,
creating the desired ‘shortness’.

Using pastry

Take out of refrigerator and place between two sheets of plastic or wax paper.
Use rolling pin to roll out to the desired size and thickness.
Remove one side of the paper or plastic and roll loosely around the rolling pin to lift it.
Roll out over pie dish, pastry side down.
Ease pastry into the corners without stretching.
Finish the edges by pinching between finger and thumb to flute edges.
Use parchment paper as a barrier for the weights. Add pastry weights to fill base evenly.

Blind Baking

This will prepare the pastry and cook it partially so it does not become soggy when you add a wet filling.

Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the weights and parchment paper (dough will still be moist on bottom).
Cook for another 5 minutes to dry the bottom of the pastry.
The pastry is now ready for filling.


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Almond Pear Tart

rialoader-2016-peartart

Almond Pear Tart – Recipe by Colleen Loader, Photo by Ria Loader

Delicious, only sightly sweet, almond pastry with pears and apricot glaze. The fresh, firm, pears are in season right now at our local farmer’s cooperative. Almond meal was the perfect accompaniment. The nutty flavor is a favorite from almond croissants and I enjoyed finding a new way to incorporate it into a recipe.

Ingredients

A blind-baked sweet pastry shell
1-2 Firm Pears
2.5 cups almond meal
3 eggs
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup water

Equipment

Mixing bowl
Metal spoon
Paring knife
Pastry brush
Small preparation bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Preheat oven to 400F

Making

Start with a sweet pastry shell and blind bake it (see recipe)
In large mixing bowl, place almond meal, sugar and vanilla.
Add 3 eggs and stir to combine ingredients.
Pour into cooled pastry shell and level out.
Peel and core pears. Slice thinly and arrange in a fan
(hint: it will fan more easily if you place base of pear against outside of pastry)
In small preparation bowl, mix water and apricot jam together to form thin glaze.
Brush apricot glaze over the pears to thoroughly cover the top of the pie.
Bake in oven for 25-30 minutes until pears are soft and almond base is set.

Serve warm or cool with whipped cream and ice cream or enjoy as a simple slice.

 


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Perfect shortcrust pastry

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My sister is visiting for the holidays this year, taking a break from the hot Australian summer. We’ve been spending our time trying out recipes for cookies, pastries and savory meals. Along the way, Colleen has been teaching me to make pastry of various kinds, something that was sadly lacking from my repertoire.

Pastry 101

Colleen tells me that shortcrust pastry gets its texture from shortening the gluten strands with a fat. This makes it melt-in-the-mouth. In Seattle, the humidity in the air requires attention to the texture of the mix and you may need to add or subtract flour to get the desired end. A light hand is needed to avoid overworking the pastry.

Ingredients

1.5 sticks of butter at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
1 large egg
2-3 tablespoons of water

Equipment

A large bowl
Plastic wrap or wax paper (either is good)
Rolling pin
Measuring cups
Pie dish or dishes
Pastry weights (this can be rice or uncooked split peas)
Oven preheated to 400F

Making

Add flour to bowl
Break butter into small pieces and rub through the flour
Texture should hold together when squeezed
Add egg and one tablespoon of water
Mix together to create a soft ball
(you may need to add more water)
Pastry should leave sides of the bowl clean and not be sticky

Wrap in plastic or wax paper and put in fridge for half an hour.
This allows the gluten strands to relax and not be stretched, creating the desired ‘shortness’.

Using pastry

Take out of refrigerator and place between two sheets of plastic or wax paper.
Use rolling pin to roll out to the desired size and thickness.
Remove one side of the paper or plastic and roll loosely around the rolling pin to lift it.
Roll out over pie dish, pastry side down.
Ease pastry into the corners without stretching.
Finish the edges by pinching between finger and thumb to flute edges.
Use parchment paper as a barrier for the weights. Add pastry weights to fill base evenly.

Blind Baking

This will prepare the pastry and cook it partially so it does not become soggy when you add a wet filling.

Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the weights and parchment paper (dough will still be moist on bottom).
Cook for another 5 minutes to dry the bottom of the pastry.
The pastry is now ready for filling.

 


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Honey Jumbles – tea cookies

HoneyJumbles.pngThis is a variant of a shortbread recipe that adds lightness and spice. There’s a childhood version with molasses, but we get our flavor intensity from the ginger and a dark honey. It’s terrific as a tea cookie. The citrus glaze is delicious.

Variants:
Skip the ginger and honey
and add lemon zest to make
lemony tea cookies

Ingredients

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup of baking sugar (fine)
1 stick of butter (4oz)
1 teaspoon of ginger
1 egg
(2 teaspoons ginger if powdered)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking powder

Equipment

Clean hands
Mixing bowl
2 desert spoons to shape the mix
baking tray with parchment
Make a wax paper piping bag
Oven preheated to 350 degrees F

Making

Cream butter and sugar by hand in a bowl
(the heat of your hand will melt the butter)
Add the ginger and mix well
Mix in the honey and egg
Add the baking soda and gradually add flour
Form lozenges using the desert spoons
Bake for 12 minutes

Glaze

1 cup of confectioners sugar
1 lemon
Beat until slightly stiff
When the cookies are cool, put 3-4 stripes of glaze on each
(push the cookies together and you can glaze a row at a time)