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coconut macaroons

Easter and Eggs.  Rebirth. Resurrection. Eternal life. Spring. Baby chicks. Bunnies. Asparagus. Hollandaise. Macaroons.

Last week I bought a giant bunch of gorgeous asparagus, and made several batches of hollandaise sauce to adorn it.  So delicious and an easy way to get choline rich egg yolks, and CLA rich butter into our diet.  Only using the egg yolks in hollandaise left me with a jar of egg whites.  In the past that used to mean that an angel food cake was in my future, but now that I steer clear of gluten, I came up with a new plan.

6 Egg whites

2/3 cup honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

7 cups unsweetened wide flake coconut (if you want to read more about the many health benefits of coconut click here)

Into my vitamix (which serves me very well, but you could do this in a mixer or with a bowl and a whiskl) I put the egg whites.  I blended on low power for a minute or so, then drizzled in the honey while it was on.  I kept blending for another minute or so.  The point is not to “beat the egg whites” into a meringue, but they did become smooth, silky and well blended.  Add the salt and vanilla until incorporated.  Pour the egg white mixture over your coconut (in a bowl) and mix by hand.  Let this “batter” sit in the refrigerator for 30 min or more.  It will stiffen up a bit and make it easier to shape into cookies.  Try not to keep opening the refrigerator door to sample the mixture (like I did).  I hear raw egg whites are not good for you.  To shape the cookies you can scoop them with a small ice cream scoop, or use a tablespoon, or do it with your hands (I did), but the idea is to press the coconut together with some enthusiasm.  The will tend to want to fall apart. I greased the baking sheet with coconut oil, but parchment paper or a silpat would have been much better. Bake in a low oven (I have a convection oven, so mine was at 250 degrees-if you have a regular oven try 300) until they are all toasty brown.  After you take them out of the oven let them cool on the cookie sheet.  If you try to move them right away they will fall apart.  After they cooled I found they were difficult to get off the pan, even though I greased it.  So I (pretty pleased with my brilliance) gently heated the bottom of the cookie sheet on a burner for just a few seconds and they came right off.  I was quite delighted with how they came out.  Chewy, sweet, perfect.  Enjoy!  I could imagine instead of balls, you could shape them into little nests to hide a chocolate egg or a dollop of lemon curd.

Root Love

I’ve been doing a little hibernating lately.  It only seems appropriate during the shortest days of the year, and in soggy Portland.  My menu these days reflects my desire for warming, grounding, nourishing foods.

Chicken and root vegetables in white wine

Into my dutch oven start some chicken thighs cooking in white wine, added golden beets, turnips, parsnips, celeriac, rutabaga, garlic cloves.   Simmer in white wine with bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary, peppercorns, whole fennel seed, and a can of diced tomatoes, until the chicken falls off the bone, and the roots are tender.

Eat up and then go back to your good book by the fire!

roots and thighs

Grain Free Goji Berry Granola

I wanted to find a solution to what to eat with greek yogurt when I need a quick and easy snack/dessert.  Having discovered that I am much healthier and happier when I avoid grains in my diet, I’ve been missing my homemade granola.

seeds and such

Into a bowl I started tossing seeds and such.  Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chopped almonds, fennel seeds, ground cinnamon.  I melted a couple of tablespoons of butter and honey together, and tossed with the seeds until they were coated.

Next I spread it out on a sheet tray and baked in a slow oven (300)  until toasty and almost done.  Then I added some large flake coconut and put it back in the oven for a few minutes (watch it closely!) until toasty brown.

"granola"

After the mixture cooled, I added a few handfuls of dried goji berries (AKA wolfberries).  While I don’t usually indulge in dried fruit because it delivers such a big shot of sugar, goji berries have actually been helpful in balancing blood sugar, they are high in antioxidants, and protect the brain and the eyes.  If you are interested in reading more about goji berries click here.

Grain Free, Goji Granola

Store in an airtight container.  Eat as a snack or sprinkled on greek yogurt with berries.  Mmmmm.

Muffin beginnings

Still on my domestic roll here:

Grain Free Banana Raspberry Muffins

Makes 10 large muffins

6 eggs

1 banana, mashed up in the eggs

vanilla (I used a lot- like 2-3 tablespoons.  yes, really!)

cinnamon

1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 tablespoons coconut butter, melted (not coconut oil, but the actually fleshy buttery coconut spread-really hard at room temperature, but delicious and spreadable if you heat it up)

1/2 cup honey, melted

Mix together the wet ingredients.

almonds and coconut flour

1 cup whole, raw almonds

1/2 cup coconut flour

Grind finely in food processor.

1/4 cup flax seeds

Add to wet ingredients.

dry and wet

Mix together and add frozen berries of your choice.  I used raspberries, and I put in about 1 cup and a half.  Fresh berries would work too, but it is January.

Spoon into buttered muffin pan, bake at 325 until done.  I know, that’s skirting the issue.  But it’s true!  You want to check them after about 15 minutes and see how they are coming along.  Then every 10 min or so after that.  You can tell that they are done when they are browned on top, maybe cracking a little, come out of the muffin tin easily.  By all means, break one open and test it!

These muffins are high in protein, good fats, and fiber.  And fairly low in sugar.  They keep well and are a handy snack to have around!  I’m going back to my den now!

raspberry muffins

Yesterday I was reminded that I actually have some followers out there!  Hello people! I have some pictures to share from the last few months. They are all the things that I wanted to blog about but never got around to it!

Calcifer

Meet Calcifer, our new stove

Baking Gluten Free Blue Cornmeal Biscuits

Roasting Chickens and Vegetables

Roasted Delicata Squash With Fennel Salt

Yesterday I catered a lunch at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral where I served a red quinoa salad.  It was a hit with the crowd and requests were made for the recipe. I can recreate the ingredients, but not the proportions.   It is really flexible though.  Do not worry about proportions.    For the record, the salad I made was heavy on the vegetables, light on the quinoa.  Many people have not heard of quinoa, and many who have think that it is a grain.  In fact it is an edible seed and has a great nutritional profile.   Click here for nutrition data on quinoa.  It is gluten free, high in amino acids (protein), and fiber.  It is delicious, easy to cook and very versatile!

Here’s what I did:

Cook the red quinoa in chicken stock. (cooks just like rice 1:2 quinoa:liquid).  Let it steam a little in the pot so it gets fluffy.  Let it cool.

Chop a bunch of veggies.  I had broccoli, scallions, green cabbage, shredded carrots.

Make the dressing.  In  a food processor, combine:  cilantro, mint, fresh lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, salt, olive oil.

Mix the cooled quinoa, the raw veggies and the dressing.  Chill until ready to serve.  Just before serving, toss with crumbled feta cheese.

Red Quinoa Salad

Today I whipped up my favorite gluten free corn bread to go with the leftover salad for lunch.  This recipe is thanks to my sister in law, Betsy.

Blue Corn Cornbread

Did you know, that one more thing to worry about when it comes to nutrition, is if our food has been genetically modified?  Corn is one of the most genetically modified crops along with soy, canola oil, and tomatoes.  In order to be safe, make sure you are getting organic corn products (if it is yellow or white corn).  Blue corn and popcorn are not genetically modified.

Blue Corn Bread

Preheat your oven (oh, my lovely Calcifer!) to 450 degrees.  Preheat an 8 inch cast iron skillet in the oven.

In a small bowl mix 2/3 cup blue cornmeal with 2/3 cup boiling water.  It should make a stiff batter.  Add 2 eggs, 1 T honey, and 1 1/2 cups almond/hemp/soy or buttermilk.  Stir to combine.

In a larger bowl, mix 1 1/3 cups blue cornmeal with  1 tsp salt, 2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda.

Mix the wet into the dry.  Add chopped bits of ham, bacon, scallions, green chilies, cheese…

Meanwhile, after your skillet gets hot, add 2 T butter to the hot pan.  Swirl it around until it melts and coats the inside of the pan.  Pour the excess into the batter and stir in before adding the batter to the hot pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or so, until it is firm, lightly browned on top and has a lovely crack around the edge.

Lovely golden crust and blue bread

Butter from grass fed cows is the perfect accompaniment

ain't christmas without it

ain't christmas without it

Every Christmas one of my favorite things to make is pan forte.  An Italian holiday confection made from nuts and fruit, pan forte translates as “strong bread.”  It is chewy, spicy, nutty deliciousness.  Put a slice in your pocket when you go skiing and you can have a nutrient dense, energy packed snack to keep you going.  I get great pleasure when I package the pan forte.  I wrap each square in wax paper, then brown paper (I cut up a grocery bag), tied with ribbon and sealed with sealing wax.  I love the way they look!  I make enough to give to family and friends and a few extra to have on hand for hostess gifts.  I’ve adapted this recipe from Nancy Silverton’s version in Pastries from the La Brea Bakery.

Pan Forte
makes one half sheet pan (13 x 18 x 1) prepare the pan with light oil and parchment

  • 3 cups whole raw almonds
  • 3 cups whole raw hazelnuts

toast the nuts separately in a 350 degree oven for 10 or 15 minutes until they are brown and toasty smelling.  Put the hazelnuts into a dry dish towel and rub them together to get rid of some of the dry skins.  Put the nuts in a bowl and add:

  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground black pepper (I like it spicy, you can add less if this scares you)
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup barley flour
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2.5 pounds mixed dried fruit

I have experimented a lot with different kinds of dried fruit.  Sometimes I use chrystalized ginger in the mix,  I always use dried peaches, figs, golden raisins, dried cherries, apricots, prunes.  Cut them all up into manageable pieces (1/2 inch or 1 inch).  Add the dried fruit to the nut/spice mixture and stir  to coat the nuts and fruit with the spices and flour.  Meanwhile… on the stove:

  • 1 1/3 cups honey
  • 2 cups sugar

Bring the sugar and honey to a boil in a saucepan.  The sugar should dissolve in the honey.  Cook without stirring.  Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer (224 -240 degrees).  Working quickly at this point you will pour the honey mixture over the nuts and frut, stirring to combine.  It will be very thick and you must work quickly because as it cools it becomes nearly impossible to stir.  Pour it into the prepared pan.  Using wet hands, press the mixture into the pan.  Bake for one hour at 300 degrees.  Let it cool slightly before taking it out of the pan.  Cut the edges off.  Cut into twelve rectangles.  Wrap when cool.  Pan forte keeps well when wrapped.

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