Archive for December, 2012

Happy holly days


December 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Smoked salmon & sundried tomato amuse bouche

amuse bouche

Amuse bouche: a fancy name for bite-sized appetizers, and not the thing you want to be assigned to bring to a holiday party of competitive foodie-types. Much stress and fear of failure went into the creation of this fancy bite, which I concocted at the last minute after worrying about it endlessly beforehand. Everyone loved it (“I told you so,” said my husband (only once, to his credit) who had to suffer through my pre-amuse anxiety), so I am sharing it here in hopes of saving you this ridiculous angst.

I was lucky to have a beautiful ingredient as my guide: a small package of cold smoked lox from my share in Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery (highly recommended if you are in Vancouver or Calgary). I could have served that salmon on bite-sized pieces of an old boot and still turned out a star.

Smoked salmon & sundried tomato amuse bouche
Makes lots!

250 g light cream cheese
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (oil or water-packed)
2 tablespoons olive oil (use the oil from the tomatoes if you are using oil-packed sundried tomatoes)
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Lots of fresh cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons dill (fresh or dried)
A few sprigs of fresh basil
3/4 cup cold smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
Crackers (I used these gluten free seed crackers)
1 small bunch of chives, minced

In a food processor, buzz together the cream cheese, tomatoes, oil, capers, lemon juice and zest, pepper and herbs until it is nicely mixed. Scoop a bit of the cream cheese mixture onto each cracker and top with smoked salmon and chives. Voila! You are fancy party ready.

December 17, 2012 at 10:45 am Leave a comment

Asparagus and Chevre Quiche

asparagus chevre quiche

The inspiration for this quiche comes from an odd, quasi-French place called Las Vegas I visited a few years ago. Such a strange place, Las Vegas, an amusement park for grownups with something for everyone, from the drunken and licentious to the calmer breeds who like shopping, fountains, Cirque du Soleil, and quiet, pretty things.

One day, in search of lunch, I found a vegetarian quiche at the patisserie in my Parisian-themed hotel. I ate the quiche (delicious) while sitting in a white plastic lounger chair beside the pool, which had a perfect view of the fake Eiffel Tower. The taste of that cool, sunny November day has stayed with me, and I’ve tried to recreate it here as a crustless quiche, which is a great gluten-free thing to make. The missing pastry also saves calories that can be better directed into Santa-season cookies.

Asparagus & Chevre Crustless Quiche
Serves 4-6

1 leek, white and light green parts finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small bunch of asparagus
1/2 cup crumbled chevre
2 tablespoons chopped or dried dill
6 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon paprika
fresh ground pepper

Saute the leek in oil until softened, about five minutes. Add the asparagus and cook for just a minute or two until it turns bright green. Add vegetables to the bottom of a greased pie plate and sprinkle cheese on top along with dill and fresh ground pepper. Whisk together eggs and milk and pour over top of vegetables and cheese. Sprinkle the top with paprika and more pepper and bake in a 375F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the quiche has puffed up and started to brown in the centre.

December 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm Leave a comment

Oatmeal cranberry coconut almond cookies

cranberry almond cookies

The thing I like best about cooking, especially baking, is that you get to make exactly what you want. This recipe was inspired by my craving for oatmeal raisin cookies, except that when I have an oatmeal raisin cookie craving what I always actually want is a cookie with dried cranberries, slivered almonds, coconut, and about three times more spice.

The problem with making exactly what you want is that you end up eating cookies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everywhere in between. For that reason the recipe makes only a modest number of cookies. You could double it if you have some cookie eating reinforcements, but at my house there is just me and a dried cranberry hater. Thank goodness it is holiday baking season so I can start giving some away!

Oatmeal cranberry coconut almond cookies
Makes 24 cookies

1 cup flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup coconut
1/3 cup slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together flour, flaxseed, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and powder and salt. Cream butter and sugars; add in egg and vanilla. Stir flour mixture into butter-sugar mixture, then stir in the oatmeal, dried cranberries, coconut, and almonds. Use two teaspoons to spoon out mounds of dough on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon mat, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes. When the cookies start to turn golden brown on the bottom, they are done – the tops should still look pale if you want a chewy cookie. Enjoy!

December 2, 2012 at 12:11 pm 1 comment

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