As Christmas day approaches, we have already been stuffing ourselves with the abundance of desserts, drinks and rich meals over the holiday season. It , therefore, only seems appropriate to have a cleansing meal before the gluttony of Christmas day begins. Bean cassoulet has been a tradition in our family for several years but I wanted to take out the fat component of traditional bean stews composed of duck confit and pare it down to its flavour and hardiness. I combined several recipes to come up with this tasty and relatively fast meal which is really a show stopper its own right. I like to buy chorizo lamb merguez for its spiciness , flavor and leanness but you can substitute any sausage you like. What makes this cassoulet particularly unique is it’s spinach walnut pesto and parmesan crostini instead of the traditional bread crumb topping.
I’ve made a lot of gluten-free cakes and all too often, they tend to be dry and flavorless. This recipe is a nice surprise with great texture and flavour. I found that the buttermilk in this recipe really helps to moisten these beauties and the apple cider was a great flavor component. They are very reminiscent of a traditional cake doughnuts and when you add a little coconut glaze with sprinkles, they look just like the real thing! Don’t forget to get yourself a doughnut pan so you can bake these in the oven.
I discovered this recipe in River cottage-veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I modified the recipe slightly, making it simpler to make and added a little more heat and vinegar by adding hot pickled banana peppers. This appetizer spread is best made a day or 2 in advance to allow the flavors to mellow . Store in covered containers in the fridge and it can last for weeks. It’s best served at room temperature and is delicious on dried crostini’s for a dinner party. This makes approx. 2 cups.
Ever wonder what to do the rest of the gigantic watermelon you bought that doesn’t fit in the fridge and you can’t seem to consume fast enough ? The trend has been watermelon gazpacho and what a delight. It is such a nice flavor and perfect for the summer heat when served chilled. This recipe is modified from several I found online and really works well with a grilled main course.
4 cups rough chopped seeded watermelon or whatever fits in your blender
¼ cup olive oil
2 TBLS minced onion
½ cucumber seeded and rough chopped
2 TBLS minced fresh or dried dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice from 1 lime
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
Put all ingredients into blender. Pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and as many chilis as you like depending on the heat you like. Pour into bowls and serve with crumbled feta and minced cucumber and watermelon to garnish. It's even better served chilled.
Although I’ve cooked cod and other white fish a multitude of ways including battered fish and chips, I find the best results come when it’s breaded and seared. This gives the fish a nice crunch and also holds it together better. The easiest and pretty fool proof way is breading it first in flour, then egg and then a Panko bread crumbs. I modified the recipe to gluten free using rice Chex cereal and found the results to be equally tasty. Rice Chex cereal works well as a Panko replacement. Just grind it up in the blender and you have your crumbs ready to go. Try serving this with quinoa and steamed chard as a great summer dinner.
Beet borscht is such a delicious, colorful comfort soup packed with vitamins and flavour. I like to buy the whole beets with leaves and stems for more flavor and texture. If you can’t find them with the leaves, you can always add some diced kale for a little green. My son loves this soup which is a good sign. It’s delicious every time.
Black bean brownies are one of the first desserts I discovered when going gluten free. I was amazed and wowed by their great texture, moistness and flavour. Nobody would even know they’re eating a high protein dessert. Best of all , my son thinks these are terrific so this is a great treat to fill your kids up with vitamins and fiber. Remember to grease your pan thoroughly and let your brownies cool before removing from the pan or they’ll break up a little as mine did this time around. Enjoy!
My son has been yelling for chicken satay’s lately ever since we went to a Malaysian restaurant in our neighbourhood. To get away from too much sodium and the possibility of gluten in the soy sauce, I finally made my own. Although my son says they’re not as good as the restaurant ( I suspect it’s the salt content), he still ate them ravenously off the stick including the cucumber salad that accompanied it. Although there are a multitude of recipes off the internet, I looked for the easiest that best emulated the flavours I was looking for. These are flavourful and tender and once marinated, very fast to make.
I’ve loved salmon cakes since I was a kid. They’re quick to make and with a few ingredients around the house, always great for the last minute dinner. My son thinks they’re great , too as long as the capers are omitted so it’s up to you.
Looking at my browning bananas in the corner that my son refuses to eat, I had to come up with something before they went into the compost. After freezing a few for later baking projects, I decided to use one in a black bean soup. I found this recipe online somewhere but have since modified it, increasing the seasoning and turning up the heat .