Over the Salt

Mindful choices for healthy and low sodium cooking


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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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Gaussian Blur

I learned this week that I have an occlusion in my vision that will eventually become severe enough to need surgery. It isn’t so bad yet. I learned that the blur I am experiencing is called a cataract, something my grandmother also experienced. At first it freaked me out. Well, I’d be lying if I said I was over that reaction entirely. I shall think of it as having something in common with my Nan; and when she had the surgery it turned out just fine.

For now, the visual blur is the equivalent of a 10% gaussian blur filter applied to a photograph – that’s the designer speaking, when I looked at the pictures of my eyes, that’s just what it looked like. I guess the world will have a soft focus depending on the eye I use to view reality. That could even prove to be a useful metaphor. By which eye am I seeing?

Meantime, I get some smashing new glasses with serious trifocal lenses and a frame in deep metallic purple. Tres chic.

On the positive side, no diabetic retinopathy is present. The blood vessels in my eyes look splendid. Huzzah.


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Wild catch coho salmon

It is that lovely time of year when Coho salmon is fresh-caught and available in the local market, along with fresh local greens. Refrigerated, but not frozen, the salmon bakes up in just twenty minutes for a medium rare salmon steak. This is my second week enjoying it with a light salad and smashed yellow potatoes. Seasonal and delicious, both wins.

Medium rare coho salmon over potatoes with green salad. Photo by Ria Loader

Medium rare coho salmon over potatoes with green salad. Photo by Ria Loader

Ingredients

Salmon
Butter lettuce
Tiny tomatoes, halved
White baslamic infused with peaches and citrus
Yellow potatoes, steamed, mashed

Cooking

Oven at 350 degrees
Salmon steak with lemon zest, mango puree and pepper
Bake for 15-20 minutes

Rough slice butter lettuce
Slice tomatoes in half
Drizzle with white baslamic infused with peach / citrus
(white baslamic will do okay. Add some zest to taste)

I added a scone sliced in half as I had made those the previous day

Coho salmon, fresh scone and greens - Photo Ria Loader

Coho salmon, fresh scone and greens – Photo Ria Loader


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30 minute scones

Scones or biscuits

Scones photo by Ria Loader September 2014

My sister taught me this recipe when she was here over the summer. In Australia we call these ‘scones’ and in America, these are often called ‘biscuits’. It’s a quick recipe that relies on the ‘shortness’ of the pastry by way of butter. In this case, it is low salt, and low sugar, but not low in fat, just so you know. The buttery taste is the point, in this case. Something that satisfies the craving for fat, but without blowing out the salt requirement. Giving in to cravings occasionally is a good way to stick to the low-salt diet.

Ingredients

2 cups of flour
2 tablespoons flour for coating the final mix
1/2 cup baking sugar (or splenda, xylitol, date sugar, your choice)
1 egg (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk (or substitute)
1 stick of butter

Optional

Chopped dates, apricots, sultanas, raisons

Method

Combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, fruit
Soften the butter and combine by hand until it makes ‘crumbles’
Make a well in the middle
Add the milk (Colleen says the milk should be 1/3 up the well so vary accordingly. I just pour it by eye)
Combine by hand until it sticks together
(yes, you can add extra flour or milk to make it sticky but maleable but do not overwork it)
Form into a rough square about an inch thick
Cut with a knife into 12-16 pieces
Rough form with palms and put onto parchment covered baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart
Put into pre-heated oven at 400 degrees farenheight for 18-22 minutes until golden
Done when they spring back
Cool for 5 minutes and enjoy!

Eat within 3 days or freeze to enjoy later

Visual Stages - photo by Ria

Visual Stages – photo by Ria overthesalt.com


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Refreshing summer salads II: fresh fruit salad

RedWhiteBlueSalad-RiaLoader

Red white and blue fruit salad – Image by Ria Loader

The past few weekends have included a trip to the local farmer’s markets, both in the U District in Seattle, and the new Shoreline Farmer’s Market at City Hall. The fresh produce has been delicious – tomatoes, tiny potatoes, greens and fresh fruit. This week I’ve been making fruit salad as part of dinner. It’s a good combination with a protein, and with creamy gouda on the side, it feels like dinner and dessert at the same time.

Red, white and blue

For 4th July, I made a red, white and blue salad using berries and nectarines.

1 pint raspberries
1 pint blueberries
3 medium sized white flesh nectarines
2 tablespoons raw agave nectar
crystalized lemon (1/4 teaspoon)

Chop the nectarines in 1/2 inch chunks, wash and combine the berries. No salt in the recipe at all. You can feel free to substitute the agave nectar for something else, sugar free vanilla syrup works, or honey if you like it better. The lemon adds a brightness of flavor to the raspberries. You could also use lemon juice.


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Refreshing summer salads I: pineapple and peppermint

Pineapple and peppermint salad

Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria

Pineapple and peppermint salad by Ria

This refreshing salad is a delicious sweet treat for the summer and accompanies most vegetarian or fish dishes well.

  • Core a fresh pineapple and cut into small chunks / wedges
  • Pick some mint from the garden (about a cup) and chop it roughly
  • Combine in a glass bowl
  • Refrigerate for an hour before serving

Thanks to my sister for the recipe. Especially for the suggestion of using chocolate mint on occasion rather than peppermint. Nom.

Variations

  • Try adding a quarter cup of finely chopped red onion for a bit of bite
  • Love ginger? This one is great with a little fresh rasped ginger root (not too much, just a taste)


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Basic Equipment

kitchenEquipmentContrary to popular belief, you dont need a cupboard full of electrical mixers, blenders, grinders or other gadgets to start you on your journey to having fun with cooking. They are nice to have but unless you use it all the time a gadget does not save time – it just takes up space.

Below is a list of what I think should be in every kitchen, and it is what I advised my daughter when she moved into her first apartment.

Starting with the utensil drawer

  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Teflon spatula (commonly known as an egg lifter)
  • Silicon scraper x 2
  • Bamboo or Wooden spoons x3
  • Metal tongs
  • Ladle
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Large serving spoon
  • Pastry brush
  • Potato masher
  • Balloon whisk

Moving onto the larger utensils

  • Colander
  • Cheese grater – these come in a bewildering range of sizes so choose a free standing grater for your first one and gradually add to this
  • Large and small strainers (preferably with metal mesh)
  • Good quality chopping boards – keep one separated for preparing fruit and vegetables a tip is to buy this in a different colour. Dont use glass boards- they ruin the knives’ edge
  • Set of small stackable bowls for preparation
  • At least 2 Mixing bowls – preferably glass or stainless steel; neither of which will react or absorb the flavours of the food you are preparing
  • 8″ Chef’s knife (I prefer Wusthof Trident but that is another matter)
  • 8 to 10″ Serrated Blade knife
  • at least 2 paring knives – these come in handy for most small preparation
  • Rolling pin
  • Set of measuring cups and spoons
  • Large pyrex measuring jug (dual measurments are great)
  • Disposable storage containers (I use these because I dont fret when the food stains them and I have to throw them out)

Now for the Big Stuff

A good set of saucepans should include lids and at a minimum you need a small medium and large of the best quality you can afford. Skimping on this will cost money in burnt food if the bases are too thin.

Add to this at least one Deep dish 10″ teflon coated frying pan with lid. This can be used to cook an amazing variety of foods and casseroles.

Square sided Cannisters for your staples always come in handy, they stack in the cupboard and keep out critters and you can see at a glance what you need when doing a shopping list. Alternately stack all of the baking ingredients into a tub to keep out the moisture and critters.

Spices need to be stored away from direct sunlight to maintain their flavour, you can use another tub to store these.

For Baking I recommend the following basics

  • Muffin pan
  • 8″ round cake pan
  • Teflon baking tray
  • 8″ Loaf pan
  • 2 x Baking sheets
  • 2 x wire racks to cool the cooked food or rest pans on when out of oven

Dont forget that you can add to this as you discover the need or have the money to expand with more toys.

Article Copyright Colleen Loader 2013