Monday, 2 September 2019

Oat and Nut Breakfast Bar

These bars are not too sweet, and are made with mainly oats, some nuts and dried fruit. There really isn't a substitute for the rice syrup as that is what gives the bars the shiny, hard finish. I sometimes add 2 tablespoons of dried fruit and chocolate chips just to make the mixture more interesting!

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
       ½ cup oat bran (for a lighter, more "puffy" bar, replace the oat bran with a 1/2 cup extra of puffed millet)
       ½ cup puffed Millet
       1 tablespoon arrowroot flour
        1 tablespoon flax meal
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cups almonds, pecans, walnuts or peanuts, left whole
1/4 cup maple syrup (you can also use a half and half mixture of maple syrup and molasses)
1/3 cup Brown rice syrup
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1. Adjust oven rack to the middle of the oven and set the temperature to 375 degrees
2. Line an 8 x 8 inch baking dish lined with parchment paper. Let the edges of the paper overhang on all sides.
3. Combine the oats, puffed millet, oil, nuts, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and mix until the oats are evenly coated with the oil. Bake in oven until light golden in color. Remove from oven and add to the oat bran, flax meal and arrowroot flour in a bowl. Lower the oven temp to 300 degrees.
4. Combine the maple syrup, and rice syrup in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until it forms a thread when dropped from a spoon (about 230 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and add in the vanilla.
5. Combine with the oats, nuts etc in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the oats are thoroughly coated with the syrup mixture. Transfer the granola mixture to the prepared baking sheet and spread in an even layer. Use a large spatula to spread evenly. Cut a square of wax paper and cover the top of the spread mixture, pressing down to pack it tightly with your palms so that it fits the baking dish. Press with your palms of both hands until the mixture is compressed into a flat, tight, and even layer. Bake until golden in color, about 35-40 minutes.
6. Cool in the baking sheet, on a wire rack, for 10-15 minutes before cutting into bars (I cut into 16). Use a sharp knife. Cut the bars while they are still warm. Do not wait longer than 15 minutes before cutting the bars. They harden up significantly as they cool. Store in an airtight container or wrap in foil and freeze. Thaw before using.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Easy Jerk Shrimp

This is a very easy way to make jerk shrimp at home using any of the prepared wet jerk seasonings that are available (Spur Tree, Walkerswood, Grace etc). It is done in "Bunjay" style, which is frying the seasoning in a little oil until it starts to clump together, dries out a bit, then adding the shrimp and sauteing some more until the seasoning becomes slightly charred and sticks to the shrimp. Great as an appetizer or as a meal with salad.
10-12 large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
2 tablespoons Jerk seasoning of your choice
1 tablespoon Pickapeppa Sauce
1 tablespoon oil
Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok. Add the jerk seasoning and pickapeppa sauce and saute until the seasoning starts to clump together and the flavor is released. Add the shrimp and stir fry until the seasoning starts to stick to the shrimp and they turn pink. Keep stirring until most of the seasoning has stuck to the shrimp. Plate and enjoy.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Blueberry Oat Breakfast Squares

These breakfast squares are based on my original oat squares. Decided to try using blueberries since they are in season. This required some tweaking of the original recipe but they are really good and filling. Also, not too sweet. To freeze and reheat, I wrap each square in foil, and then put them in a freezer Ziploc bag. When I know I'll have one for breakfast, I take it down the night before and put it in the refrigerator. To reheat, remove the foil, wrap in a damp paper towel and warm in microwave for 5 minutes and 30% power.

    1/2 cup maple syrup
    1 tablespoon molasses
    1 cup butter
    1/4 cup brown sugar
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
     ½ cup oat bran
     1/3 cup unsalted, raw pumpkin seeds
    3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    ¾ cup all-purpose flour
    ½ cup flax meal
    ½ cup Greek Style yogurt
    ½ cup half and half (or buttermilk)
    1 teaspoon vinegar (omit if using Buttermilk)
    2 tablespoons Arrowroot Flour
    1 cup fresh or frozen Blueberries
1.      In a bowl, mix together the oats, pumpkin seeds, oat bran, flax meal, cinnamon, flours, baking soda, salt. Add the blueberries to the flour mixture so that they are coated with the flour. This helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the batter.
2.      In a large saucepan, melt together the butter, half and half, molasses, vanilla, sugar, and maple syrup. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 5 minutes until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Set aside to cool.
3.      Whisk eggs, and yogurt, mixing well.
4.      Add the cooled butter mixture, whisk, then add the oats, blueberries, oat bran, flax meal, cinnamon, flours, baking soda, salt. Add the vinegar then mix with a wooden spoon until incorporated.
5.      Spread mixture in a parchment lined 8x8 inch baking dish. Make sure the parchment paper overhangs on all sides.
6.      Bake in a 350° oven for about 1 hour until top is golden brown and a tester inserted comes out clean. The finished product should be firm to touch. Cut into 8 squares when cool.

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
1 part white vinegar
.75 part of white sugar
1/8 teaspoon Pickle Crisp Granules
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
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