So I’m sure you have not failed to notice that Christmas is on its way. Last Friday (the 13th) it was Lucia which we always celebrate by inviting non-Swedes over to our house and plying them with vast quantities of alcohol and nibbles.
This also kick-starts the Christmas celebrations and is usually when I start to prepare for what to bake and eat over the holidays.
So far I have made the gingerbread house above, saffron buns, gingerbread biscuits (the usual when it comes to Lucia celebrations), mince ‘pie’ baklava (English tradition-ish). The celebrations where made slightly more challenging this year as one of my new friends is vegan and I can’t handle wheat. Que to a lot of test baking and realising that the spelt flour I found in Whole foods doesn’t behave at all like the one from Dove’s in England. Sigh.
I made lots and lots of mince pie filling. Still managed to use it all!
It of course worked out just great and everyone was happy at the Lucia evening and we had left-overs for the next week – win win!
Today I started the process of making our own mince pies. I’m calling it a process as I can’t seem to find any candied peels in food shops around us, so I thought I’d make them myself.
I removed most of the white membrane (to make them less bitter) on (organic) orange and lemon peels and cut them into thin stripes. I’ve had them soaking at home during the day (to remove more of the bitterness) and will make a sugar syrup this evening to coat them in. I’m using this recipe from ‘The Shiksa in the Kitchen’ as it sounds quite easy. Will let you know how it turns out!
I am have been a fan of Elana Amsterdam from Elanas Pantry for a while now – since 2009 when I realised that I (especially my stomach) felt so much better without sugar and wheat. I have her three books and they helped me make and put together a whole dessert table of goodies for our wedding two years ago.
I must admit thought that I haven’t been that good at trying the recipes in her latest book (Paleo cooking from Elanas Pantry) but now I’m running out of ideas of good dinners and we haven’t tried anything new in a while.
You know when you get in to a rut of making the same dishes over and over again and somehow you can’t seem to break the cycle and try something new? That’s where I am at the moment. One of my dear friends is moving away from Boston and decided that she certainty did not need her huge collection of The Food Network magazine and donated them all to me. I have made it my project to go through them all and tear out the recipes I want to try and donate the rest to someone else who could need some inspiration. My thoughts are that this will get me in to some new (and American) recipes and we will get some variation!
Anyway. As I had most of the ingredients for Elana’s Bacon & spring onion (scallion) tart i decided to give it a try! I changed the tart crust to give it a bit more flavour and added more almond flour to it to make it slightly drier. The content of the tart changed as well with a bit more ingredients – get her book for the full recipe!
1 3/4 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup Spectrum all-veg shortening
1 tsp ground garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 tsp dried oregano
Mix all ingredients, but leave the egg to last. The dough should not be sticky but turns more in to a hard ball and is easy to press out in a tart pan. Don’t forget to prick the crust with a fork before putting in to a pre-heated oven (350F / 175 c). Mine was in the oven for about 10 min, until it got a bit of colour. Remember that almond flour browns quicker than regular flour – don’t leave it in there too long. One of the eggs for the tart filling was already whisked up and brushed slightly on to the bottom of the tart (to act as a sealant so that the crust won’t go soggy).
While the crust was in the oven, I cut the bacon into small pieces with a pair of scissors directly into the heated frying pan until almost crisp. I removed most of the fat from the bacon and cut down the spring onions in to the pan along with the garlic, onions and spices and fried until it all had browned nicely.
I removed the tart from the oven to cool down and whisked the other eggs, together with the salt & pepper, in to a big bowl where I then poured in a bacon/spring onion/red onion/garlic mixture. Before pouring it all in to the tart crust, I mixed it together as much as possible, instantly had a thought about topping it with some grated cheese but decided against it in the end.
The tart went in to the oven for about 30 min before I let it rest for 15 min and then served it with the tasty left-overs from the salad we had the night before. The salad was filled with spinach, romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, feta, olives, avocado with a balsamic dressing.
All in all – a very successful new meal!
When living in London, I heard about spaghetti squash through American blogs I followed and never quite understood how a squash could be a pasta alternative. Since moving to Boston, I’ve made it twice at home and although I’m still quite new to it and the possibilities, I still think it’s pretty amazing.
I bought one a couple of weeks ago before our visitors arrived and now that they’ve left, I thought it was a perfect time to cook it all, have it in a box in the fridge and just take it out and use it when I need to make a quick meal. Fast food at its best!
Unfortunately, when I removed the sticker on its side, I realised that mold had been growing underneath so I had to remove about a third of the squash before I put it in the oven. I turned it up-side-down to let it steam and after about an hour, I cut it in half to see if it was done all the way. Unfortunately it wasn’t (so we had just broccoli & mushrooms with the left-over salmon for lunch) so I left it in there for another 30 min before I let it cool down enough for me to tear it apart. What I was left with was lots and lots of ‘noodles’ and two almost empty shells.
Usually when we make roast dinner with chicken, I feel it’s a bit of a waste to just throw away the chicken carcass once it’s been cleaned of all the meat and try to make stock out of it. I don’t make stock every time we’ve had roast as it needs to be looked at from time to time in the kitchen. I can be lazy like that.
But, it does mean that the 80% of when I do have the strength, I boil the chicken carcass with carrots, parsnip, onion and what ever I have at home. This time it was a bit different as I wanted to make more stock for my freezer stash but was too tired. So I just used all the drippings and juices from the chicken, let it sit in the fridge overnight so that it solidified – making it easy to remove all the excess fat in one swift movement (just lift it off like a lid). I then chopped up the few veg I had at home, put it all in a pot with water and let it simmer until it had reduced by half.
Can’t give any measurements as it’s all down to how much chicken juice you get and how much veg you have. But just look at those pictures of the solidified chicken juice. It looks so wrong and yet so lovely!