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.
Glass jar with lid
Measuring cups and spoons
Turn oven to grill and preheat
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
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
Light, fluffy, chocolate chili meringue cookies.
Low salt, spicy treats.
Once baked will last about a month if not eaten sooner. Hide them.
1/2 cup baking sugar
Cocoa with chili and cinnamon
2 cups hazennut meal
Baking sheet with parchment paper
Preheat oven to 400 F
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
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.
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
A large bowl
Plastic wrap or wax paper (either is good)
Pie dish or dishes
Pastry weights (this can be rice or uncooked split peas)
Oven preheated to 400F
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’.
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.
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.
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.
This 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.
Skip the ginger and honey
and add lemon zest to make
lemony tea cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup of baking sugar (fine)
1 stick of butter (4oz)
1 teaspoon of ginger
(2 teaspoons ginger if powdered)
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 desert spoons to shape the mix
baking tray with parchment
Make a wax paper piping bag
Oven preheated to 350 degrees F
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
1 cup of confectioners sugar
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)
Measuring cups and spoons
Wooden Spoon or Silicon spatula
Oven preheated to 325F
Soften Coconut oil with a spoon till creamy. Do not melt.
Add Baking Powder, Xanthum Gum and Coconut Sugar, stir until creamy.
Add Honey, Ginger and egg, stir until all combined
Add Flour and stir until has formed a soft sticky dough.
Use 2 teaspoons to form oval shaped lozenges and spoon onto baking tray covered with parchment paper
Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes until golden brown
Cool on tray then store in an airtight container
I’ve been playing around with the recipe for the past couple of months. Lately, what I’m making is more like fluffy biscuits than scones. They’re light, tall, and more like muffins than those hard flat rock-like things. I’ve been adding eggs, fruit and juice, sometimes leftover jam (well I never eat the last third of a jar of jam, so may as well do something with it) and various spices.
3 cups flour
(or gluten free substitute – don’t forget to add xanthan gum if you go this route)
2/3 of a cup of sugar-like substance
(baking sugar, brown sugar, date sugar, xylitol)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 sticks butter (melted)
(makes all the flavors better)
1/2 cup liquid of some kind
(milk, juice, rice milk)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Put parchment paper on the cookie tray
The key is to avoid overworking the dough
Combine the dry ingredients and any fruit
Melt the butter, pour it in and squish it around with your hands to coat all the flour and make crumbles
Add the eggs and whatever liquid you’re using
Add more flour if you need to just adhere all the ingredients into a ball of dough
Flatten on a flour coated board
Cut out with a cookie cutter
Handle as little as possible
Arrange on the tray and put in oven on a top shelf for 19 minutes
Blueberry + White Chocolate
Add a pint of blueberries and a cup of white chocolate chips to the dry mix
Peach and Orange/Ginger
Add a cup of diced peaches + ginger / orange powder (teaspoon)
Tipsy tarts are a treat for the holidays. Laced with rum and brandy and sweetened with honey, the fruit steeps for a week in the refrigerator.
I tend to avoid cherries and nuts in my holiday fruit mix and instead use a more European combination of raisins, apricots and dates. I start with soaking chopped dates in boiling water with molasses overnight and then add the other fruit until the bowl is half full. Add half a cup each of a decent brandy and a dark rum. This time I included dark agave syrup, and a jar of local honey. Covered with plastic and put it in the fridge, stirring every day for a week. The fruit soaked up the grog and became sticky and delicious.
Spooned the resulting mix into tiny pie tarts (you can make your own or buy them pre-made – there are even gluten free varieties available).
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