Saturday, December 26, 2009

Once Was Lost...

I thought I had lost our family photos for good. I had resigned myself to the fact that they had been sacrificed to the great 'Moving God'. (it also scored a spatula, soup ladle and a cork screw)

I helped my friend clean out her attic and low and behold! There were my box of photos!

This is the best of Christmas presents.

Ahhh! The Ghost of Christmas Past

There are some photos that just tug at your heart strings.

More tugs!

If Christmas is about memories, and family and counting our many blessings, this is the best! I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Some Holiday Whoo-hoo

I really love pumpkin pie, especially at Christmas. However for one person it is really not worth the effort. I also need to avoid cow's milk as much as possible. This recipe is my compromise of pleasure, time and health.

My daughter gave me ramekins and a small butane torch for Christmas last year. I have been putting them to good use. For this recipe you will need four ramekins.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Brulee

¾ cup soy milk (I use So Nice - Vanilla)
½ cup pumpkin puree (or 125 ml can)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
2 Tablespoons Sucanat or cane sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A pinch of ground cloves
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F
Boil 2 cups of water

Combine soy milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, cane sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and vanilla in blender and process until well combined. Add eggs and process until smooth. Tap the bottom of blender container against your palm and set it aside for 5 minutes or so until any bubbles settle.

Divide the mixture between the four ramekins, and put the ramekins into a metal rectangular cake pan (8x8 inches). Add boiling water to the pan bringing the level of the water to halfway up the outside of the ramekins.

Put pan into the oven and bake for 35 or 40 minutes or until the custard has set. Remove ramekins from pan and let cool on wire racks. Can be covered and put in fridge overnight.

I put a thin layer of refined sugar over top and torch it to get a traditional Brulee crust.
This can be served with vanilla yogurt, frozen yogurt, whipped cream or any ice cream type product that you like.

Whipped Green

For an extra rich dairy free whipped cream sort of topping try whipped green. It must be eaten immediately as the avocado tends to oxidize.

½ ripened avocado 1 banana
1 Tbs agave or maple syrup 1tsp vanilla extract or liqueur
¼ cup soymilk or rice milk
A little lemon juice

In a blender, add avocado, banana, vanilla and soy milk and sweetener.
Blend until smooth and creamy. Adjust amount of milk to get the consistency you want. This can be used as a dip for fruit or as a replacement for whipped cream.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Fresh Spring Rolls with the Ultimate Easy Dipping Sauce


These spring rolls are my all time favourite food.  They are like salad and finger food at the same time.  I serve by putting sauce in the bottom of a bowl, and fan the spring rolls in the bowl.

8 large rice paper wrappers
8 ounce package rice vermicelli noodles or bean thread noodle, soften with boiling water and cool enough to handle
4 green onions cut in thin strips
2 carrots cut in julienne strips, lightly steamed and flash cooled
1 red pepper cut in thin julienne strips
3 Tbs fresh Thai Basil cut in thin strips
3 Tbs fresh mint leaves cut in thin strips
3 Tbs fresh cilantro leaves cut in thin strips
1 cup of lettuce cut in thin strips
8 ounces cooked shrimp cut lengthwise in half or tofu cut in thin strips or ……
Use sliced crab meat; pre-grilled chicken, smoked salmon or Spicy Dry Tofu

Prep all your veggies and ingredients in advance
Soften the paper by dipping the rice papers one at a time in a large flat bottomed dish of cool water for about 1 minute.  Hold it by one edge and let the water drain off it.  Lay on a the counter or a cutting board  and let them soften.  Re moisten if necessary.

On the side nearest you, place the meat, tofu, a small handful of noodle, the greens, carrots, pepper, herbs etc and roll the paper around the filling like a jelly roll.   Keep your mass rather long and narrow.  Be careful not to over fill.  Flip in each end and continue to roll trying to keep the roll tight around the filling.

Place on serving dish, seam side down.  To keep them from drying out, cover with waxed paper placed over the top. You can also soak a rice paper and place that on top.  Discard before serving.

Get creative. Anything that doesn’t squeal can be made into a rice wrap.  Some examples are: chicken or mock chicken salad or green salad with a yogurt/fruit dressing.  Dress the salad lightly before you roll.  Don’t have it dripping with dressing, just enough to flavour.

For dressings to dip your spring rolls into:

Mix about a ¼ cup of lightly ground Gomasio into the basic balsamic vinaigrette,
or mix equal parts of peanut sauce with the balsamic dressing.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Basic
2 parts oil to one part vinegar - If you find dressings have too much bite, add 1 tablespoon of water. 
Balsamic Vinegar is strong tasting – so add a little less than the full part
Crush 1 garlic clove and add to oil
Add 1Tbs of Dijon mustard (emulsifier)
Herbamere to taste
This is better made ahead and left to marinate a bit.

Japanese Gomasio
Rinse 1 cup of brown sesame seeds in sieve under tepid running water
Let drain
Use dry cast iron skillet –medium heat 
Cut dulse into small bits
Toast in pan until dulse is crisp
Add 1 tsp Celtic salt –ground fine
Up end sieve and dump in sesame seeds all at once
Spread over bottom of skillet and leave it to dry for a bit
Stir gently and fairly constantly (you may need to reduce heat)
This is ready when seeds are fragrant, slightly golden and hollow
Cool slightly and store in an airtight jar.
Grind about ¼ cup of the seeds using a mortar and pestle and add to the basic Balsamic Vinaigrette.  

Peanut Sauce
¼ cup of crunchy organic peanut butter
Add boiling hot water and mix, a little at a time, just until you get a smooth consistency
2 Tbs rice vinegar
2 Tbs Braggs Aminos or Tamari sauce
1 tsp or more Thai red pepper sauce
1 inch or more ginger root, pealed and grated
1 clove of garlic minced fine
Adjust flavourings to taste
(I mix this with equal parts balsamic vinaigrette)

Oriental Dressing
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup warm brown rice syrup or agave syrup
1 Tbs water
1 Tbs sesame or canola oil
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp grated ginger root
¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
A little hot stuff