Monday, 10 June 2019

Pickled Bitter Melon (Foo Gah)

I love pickles....with anything! Bitter Gourd is a vegetable used in Asian countries in a variety of ways. It's supposed to have health benefits. I have never had it pickled so decided to try doing that. As its name suggests, the vegetable is very bitter so one has to "treat" it in a variety of ways to get rid of the bitterness. I salted it, then soaked it in vinegar and water overnight, before pickling it and waiting about 3-4 days to taste it. The results are pretty good. It's a combination of sweet, bitter, acid, and slightly salty. It's a great pickle to go with fish dishes.
2 Bitter Melons (pick the ones that are pale in color and blemish free. If there are slight blemishes, slice them away)
1/2 cup pickling salt
Equal portions of vinegar and water to soak overnight
Brine
1 part white vinegar
.75 part of white sugar
1/8 teaspoon Pickle Crisp Granules
Directions
1. Wash the melons and cut the top and bottom off. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the white pulp and seeds with a spoon. Remove as much of the white pulp as you can without breaking the semi-lunar shape of the vegetable.
2. Cut into 1/4 inch slices and put in a bowl. Mix in the pickling salt and let the salt draw out the water and bitterness. This takes about 4-6 hours.
3. Put in a colander, drain, and rinse off the salt well. Pour boiling water over the pieces and then immediately rinse again with cold water.
4. Make a mixture of equal parts of water and vinegar, and place in a bowl with the sliced bitter melon. Cover and refrigerate covered, overnight.
5. The next day, drain the vegetables well, put in a sterilized mason jar and prepare the pickling liquid. Mix 1 part of white vinegar with .75 part of sugar (1 cup vinegar with 3/4 cup water). Add the Pickle Crisp granules and stir over low heat just until the sugar is dissolved Make enough liquid to cover the pickles in the jar. Do not boil. Pour the mixture over the vegetables in the jar, cover and refrigerate. Leave for about 3-4 days before tasting. They will keep in the fridge for a while.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

Kind of like Kind Bars

These are pretty amazing nut bars that are very delicious. Requires a bit of effort but the end result is worth it. I made them thick but for a thinner bar, use a larger baking tin, maybe somewhere between an 8 inch X 8 inch and a 9 inch X 13 inch. 9x11 is perfect! The recipe is very flexible in that you can use the nut mixture of your choice, even adding a few chocolate chips or butterscotch morsels as well. The Rice Syrup is the constant as it is an integral part of the "glue" that holds the bar together. Other syrups do not substitute well.If you like the bars to be sweeter, add another tablespoon or two of rice syrup.

½ cup raw, unsalted Almonds, cut in half
1 cup of more coarsely chopped Almonds (a quick pulse in a food processor does this)
1 ½ cups coarsely chopped walnuts
½ cup unsalted Sunflower seeds
¾ cup shelled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ cup sesame seeds (you can substitute a puffed cereal like quinoa, millet for this. Puffed wheat grains are too big)
¼ cup Flax Seed meal
1 tablespoon Oat Bran cereal
2 tablespoons Flax or Chia Seeds (your preference)
½ cup Old Fashioned Oats
3 tablespoons oil of your choosing (vegetable, coconut, olive, grapeseed etc)
4 tablespoons rice syrup (you can also use Barley Malt syrup but that gives a stronger, more distinctive taste
“Glue” Mixture
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons rice syrup (I sometimes add a tablespoon of molasses too if I want a darker bar)
2 tablespoons of oil of your choosing
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon of vanilla
Directions
1.      Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut a square of parchment paper that is larger than the baking pan or dish that you have selected to use. There must be overhang of the paper on all sides.
2.      Place the more coarsely chopped Almonds in a sieve and pour boiling water over them. Allow to drain completely.
3.      Mix the rice syrup and oil with the nut/seed/oat mixture and spread that over a large baking sheet, again lined with parchment paper (a lot of parchment paper but makes clean up easier). Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, turning 2-3 times to prevent burning (nuts will do that in a flash, so be careful).
4.      For the “Glue”, combine, cranberries, rice syrup, oil, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla, and pulse in a food processor until it is a smooth paste.
5.      Now comes the “difficult” part, combining the “glue” and the nuts! It’s easy with a wooden spoon but does require a lot of effort as the cranberry mixture has a similar consistency to  a thickset mortar for tiling. It’s also easier if the nuts are still warm from the oven. Try to combine both together so that it looks uniform and there are no “islands” of “glue” remaining in the mixture. You could also use clean hands to do the mixing but that is really “yukky”!
6.      Place the mixture in the parchment lined pan and press down firmly (I use a square of wax paper cut to size and then press the mixture down with that, using my hands to ensure a good compression.
7.      Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30-35 minutes. Let the mixture dry out in the oven until its no longer sticky to touch
8.      Remove from the oven and cut into squares when cool

Simple Oatmeal Pudding

This is a really delicious baked oatmeal pudding that's really simple to make. Unlike a lot of other baked oatmeal recipes, this has a softer, more pudding like consistency. It freezes well and to reheat, remove from freezer the night before, allow to defrost in fridge overnight, then gently warm up in the microwave. It is full of good breakfast stuff and makes for a very filling substitute to the usual bowl of oatmeal.

1 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats, uncooked
1 cup Scottish oatmeal
1/2 cup flax meal
2 tablespoons Arrowroot Flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
¼ cup Maple Syrup
2/3 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruits)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
1 medium Granny Smith or other slightly tart apple, peeled and finely shredded
2 cups milk
1 1/3 cups half and half
4 tablespoons butter +2 tablespoons for greasing Pyrex baking dish
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Juice from 1 lime
1.      In a large bowl, combine the oats, oatmeal, chopped cranberries, chopped nuts, cinnamon, allspice, flax meal, baking powder, coconut, soda, and salt. 
2.       Mix the sugar, maple syrup, butter, vanilla, and molasses with the milk and half and half. Bring to a low simmer, mixing well to dissolve the sugar. Cool in fridge.
3.       Finely shred the apple and mix with the lime juice
4.       Whisk the eggs, and add the cooled milk mixture to this. Add the shredded apple mixture
5.       Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix well. Then pour all into the prepared 8 inch by 8 inch baking dish (I microwave the butter to melt then swirl it around the baking dish to coat it), using a spatula to distribute the solids evenly. However, I also sometimes use a large square of parchment paper, large enough so that the edges overhang the sides of the baking dish. Once the mixture is poured directly into the lined baking dish, it will take the shape of the dish, and makes removal after baking much easier. Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight for the dry ingredients to absorb the wet mixture. 
6.       Bake for 55 to 65 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, in a water bath, until the center is set, firm to the touch, and a cake tester inserted comes out relatively clean (there may be some liquid on it but that will be absorbed as the baked oatmeal cools). To get a nice "crust" on top, place under the broil element for 5-7 minutes, watching carefully that it does not burn. Let cool. If you have used the parchment paper technique described earlier, lift the "pudding" out of the dish by the parchment paper. Place on a cutting board, and cut into large squares, approximately the amount that would fill a breakfast. I got about 8 squares.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Date Oatmeal Breakfast Squares

These are really delicious breakfast squares made with date syrup. They are moist but not overly sweet. They are not low in sugar since the dates have a fair amount of sugar but the trade off is the amount of fiber from the dates, oats, oat bran and flax meal. I got 12 squares and each square is a breakfast for me.

1 cup melted butter
¾ cup pitted dates (about 9 large Medjool dates)
1/2 cup brown Coconut sugar
½ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
½ cup oat bran
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
½ cup flax meal
½ cup unsweetened no fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons Arrowroot flour
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored
Juice from 1 lemon

Instructions
1.      Line 8X8 inch baking tin with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides.
2.      Melt butter. Set aside to cool
3.      Pour boiling water over the dates, sugar and molasses and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Blend to make a syrup
4.      In a large bowl, mix the flours, oats, oat bran, baking soda, salt, flax meal, and cinnamon.
5.      Peel and core the granny smith apple and cut into large chunks. Put in a food processor with the lemon juice. Add the date mixture, melted butter and process to a paste.
6.      Whisk the eggs, vanilla and yogurt together. Add the date syrup paste.
7.      Mix wet and dry ingredients together then spread mixture in a parchment lined 8x8 inch baking dish. Bake in a 350° oven for 40-50 minutes until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Cut into squares when cool.