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.
A blind-baked sweet pastry shell
1-2 Firm Pears
2.5 cups almond meal
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup water
Small preparation bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Preheat oven to 400F
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.
Two batches of cheesy scones
Scone recipe (2 cups flour, half cup sugar, one egg, 1ts baking soda, one stick butter, half cup milk)
Added half a package (1 cup) grated pepper-jack cheese
Baked at 400 for 18 mins
One batch of sultana scones
Same recipe as above but half a stick more butter for ‘flakiness’
Used quarter cup regular sugar and quarter cup brown sugar for ‘taste’
Golden sultana raisons
Made a dozen 2.5″ scones
SOUTHWESTERN EGG MUFFINS
A dozen eggs, whipped with cayenne pepper and italian seasoning
Poured over finely chopped sweet peppers and a large pinch of grated sharp cheddar
Baked at 375 for 22 minutes in large silicon muffin pan (dozen)
Delicious with guacamole, served warm
We are set for the week with quick finger food now, savory and sweet.
This weekend, we picked up some fresh mushrooms to make a delicious one-pot savory dish to serve with rice.
3 large cups white mushrooms, sliced
silken tofu, rough chopped
garlic, 2 teaspoons
Worcestershire sauce 1/4 cup
lime and lemon juice
Sautee the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic
Add lemon, lime and Worcestershire sauce
Stir in coconut milk and simmer with thyme
Add chopped tofu
Add pepper to taste
Serve with rice and orange wedges for color
These are not really pancakes, nor yet crepes, but fall somewhere in between as ‘pancrepes’. The main difference is in the consistency of the batter and the number of eggs. I also serve these as sweet rather than salty. Most recipes call for salt, which I leave out altogether, or call for both baking soda and baking powder. I just use a teaspoon of baking powder for the whole mix, bringing the whole down to a fraction of the salt found at restaurants. You can leave the egg out if you like – I like the flavor it adds. Same for the whipping cream. You can use just milk, or milk and water to make a thinner recipe.
Pancake crepes ‘pancrepes’ with maple syrup and lemon
2 cups of flour 1/3 cup of baking sugar (fine) 1 cup milk 1/3 cup whipping cream 1 egg 1 teaspoon baking powder Butter for the pan Maple syrup and ‘true lemon’ crystals or lemon juice
Sift flour and baking powder a couple of times to combine Combine with the sugar Make a well Pour milk into the well, mixing the dry into the wet to avoid lumps Keep pouring the milk in a little at a time until all combined. Reserve some milk. Pour in the cream and mix in with a fork or knife Add the rest of the milk (you can add more to make the mix thinner if you like) Rest the mixture in the refrigerator for half an hour or so before cooking Put it into a container with a spout so you can pour it Heat a non stick skillet until a drop of water sizzles Add a little butter to coat the pan Keep the butter handy to coat the spatula Pour small circle into the pan and tilt the pan around to make the circle larger (4-5″) When first bubbles form (count 15) turn it over (count 15) Makes around 25 ‘pancrepes’ 5 minutes to mix the batter | wait half an hour | 15 minutes cooking time (you can make the batter the evening before and cook these up for breakfast) Put remainder into a container and microwave for 15 seconds for each plate of 3 Makes an easy stand-by snack if you are busy around the house
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
Tiny tomatoes, halved
White baslamic infused with peaches and citrus
Yellow potatoes, steamed, mashed
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
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.
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
Chopped dates, apricots, sultanas, raisons
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!
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.
One of my favorite comfort dishes is tiny potatoes pan fried in a wok with herbs, accompanied by fresh-made onion relish. For a 3 pound bag of golden potatoes, I use only one stick of butter. It takes only ten minutes to chop everything, and twenty minutes to fry up the potatoes and then the onions. Drain the potatoes in paper towels in a bowl while you fry the onions at the end.
3 lbs of potatoes – golden baby potatoes
Herbs – Herbs of Provence, or fresh rosemary from the garden
Butter – no salt, a swirl of olive oil to stop the butter from burning
A teaspoon of olive oil
Greek yoghurt with honey (optional finishing ingredient to smooth out the flavors)
A non-stick wok, stir with a wooden spoon
Heat – High
Use the left-over browned butter in the bottom of the wok
Add chopped onions at high heat, stir constantly
A cup of raisons
Chocolate balsamic vinegar (regular white balsamic otherwise)
Two tablespoons brown sugar
Tiny chopped tomatoes
Finish off with a dollop of honey yoghurt
It is a dish with no salt, and the sweet and sour onion relish is perfect with it. Better than going out to a restaurant any day.
Andrea’s breakfast post inspired me to write down some thoughts about eating a healthy breakfast. Just a few months ago, I’d grab a pre-made protein drink from Odwalla or Boultons and run out the door with it, in a style I called eat-while-running away. On arrival at work, I’d stop at Tullys and grab a coffee with soy milk. By lunch time, the lack of a healthy breakfast made me desperate for real food, and I’d eat more of the wrong stuff. The cycle kept repeating itself.
When I started reading labels more closely for sodium content, though, those convenience drinks stopped making it into the shopping basket, and coffee was replaced by tea, which was much more tasty. I started thinking about food in a more wholistic way, more as a series of choices that would blend together to keep my energy balanced throughout the whole day.
My considerations for breakfast are (1) high protein (2) low salt and (3) tasty and nutritious. I just noticed that I like to garnish with strawberries or grapes when I looked at the images. Here are my 10 favorite ways to a healthy breakfast.
Fabulous fruity oatmeal
Baked savory frittata
Divine date loaf
Fresh fruit salad
Sweet and savory fried rice
1. Fabulous fruity oatmeal
One of the best dishes of oatmeal I had in recent years was at a restaurant. It was a shallow bowl of oatmeal with mango puree and raspberries in the center on top. This started my love affair with fruit in my oatmeal, and not just the usual raisons. I tried fresh fruit in season, little cups of fruit in juice (peaches, pears, oranges), diced prunes and dates, mango slices and bananas. Sometimes, I tried more than one at a time! I stopped adding milk, yoghurt, cream or any dairy to the breakfast. I also stopped adding sweetener most of the time, as the fruit was sweet enough. On the odd occasion, I’d add a little maple sugar, date sugar or honey, depending on what fruit choice I made. If the fruit was not juicy enough on its own, a little mango nectar is a perfect addition.
2. Easy savory frittata
I was first introduced to these by the fabulous Jane. When we were at the ICU, she sent along what she calls egg muffins to help keep me fed on healthy snacks. A couple grabbed from the refrigerator, and taken along in a plastic bag would keep me going all morning. They had some onions and green peppers, garlic powder, pepper and salt. And love of course; love is always the most important ingredient. It took a couple months before I was making my own; they are made in a muffin pan, and can have many optional ingredients. Nowadays, I make a dozen on the weekend in half an hour, and carry them with me for quick snacks on the go. Heated for 30 seconds, two make a perfect breakfast. Savory frittata recipe>
3. Flatbread roll-ups
Almost any flatbread will do for this recipe, depending on what you have on hand. I like fresh corn or flour tortillas, potato flour flatbread, pancakes or crepes, or even the various thin-bread you can get now in most stores. The roll-up is just the medium to keep the ingredients off your fingers. I like using fillings like peanut butter and honey, banana, strawberries and nutella, potato salad, stir fried veges and tofu, vege bolognese, eggs and cheese, leftovers of various kinds – mashed potatoes with chicken breast and tomato for example.
4. Divine date loaf
One of my favorites from childhood. Date loaf or date bread is tasty, nutritious, and full of bliss. It has dates, molasses, date sugar, flour, egg and butter, though not in that order. My sister has a great post on how to make it here. Delicious for breakfast, or an in-between meal snack. It is also easy to eat slices on the road, while driving. Divine date loaf recipe>
5. Living yoghurt
I’m a big fan of yoghurt with live cultures, especially probiotics. It helps balance your stomach, which is perfect after a night where you stayed up too late, or ate weird food the day before. I like to add fresh sliced fruit, berries and a little local honey for the burst of flavor and for color. Colorful foods wake up my senses in the morning. Usually, this is paired with a protein drink made from fresh juice and WPI (whey protein isolate) for the energy.
6. Rock cakes
I know, that sounds like an odd name for a breakfast food – rock cakes. However, it is the Australian name for scones with dried fruit in them. If you are making scones and the dough gets overworked, the scones will not be as light as what Americans call biscuits, and which we Aussies call scones. So stick some golden raisons, chopped dates or fruit peel in them, and serve with butter and jam. A drizzle of honey adds joy.
7. Protein smoothies
Simple and delicious. I make these every morning, and take one to my sweetie to help him wake up. I found that protein wakes my brain up faster than tea or coffee, though tea in the morning is a must for the day. I like orange, guava, mango and pineapple juice, and use some or all as a start and about 18 oz. We like Whey Protein Isolate, or WPI, as it dissolves completely. We get it from Super Supplements, though my sister tells me she also found it in a health food store in Sydney. Mix it up with a blender, or shake it in one of those handy mix bottles with the round ball in it. Serves two. Optional additives are vegetable juices, a blended banana, flax seed oil or wheat germ. The juice gives an energy boost, and the protein sustains you through the morning. One thing to keep in mind is to use whole juices, rather than extracts, and if you fresh squeeze your fruit, it’s like a taste of paradise.
8. Fresh fruit salad
All the texture, flavor and delight to the senses. Fresh fruit, in season, is a fabulous way to begin the day. Don’t forget to include baby tomatoes (also a fruit) in the mix, with edible flowers if you like them. One of my favorite ways to enjoy fruit salad is to prepare a batch for a few days, slice up cheese ahead of time and serve the cheese on the side.
9. Tiny quiches
These small quiches are just the same as large ones, only cuter and made in a tiny muffin pan. Colleen’s pastry recipe is a good choice for the crust, nice and thin. Add mushrooms, scallions, veges or salmon and bacon if that’s how you roll. Mix the eggs up with heavy cream for a rich taste, and cap it with grated cheese. Quick and easy once you have the pastry made, and you can make pastry in batches to freeze. Cook in a 375 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. While a few of these are great for breakfast, keeping some on hand is helpful for casual guests or afternoon tea as well.
10. Sweet savory fried rice
Fried rice is just as good for breakfast as it is for dinner. As a dish, it started life as a way to use up leftovers like day-old rice, odds and ends of vegetables, plus whatever spices you have on hand. When you take the notion of good coconut oil, sweet ingredients like corn, zucchini, maui onions and some crushed pineapple, and add golden raisons and an egg, it’s just about the perfect breakfast. Serve over wilted baby greens and, if you’re adventurous, stir in a nice big spoonful of jam. Fried rice recipe>