Not Yo Mama’s Neapolitan

Nothing beats the summer heat like a Neapolitan frozen treat. Yonanas comes to the rescue with a healthy fruit “ice cream” which will also be kind to your bikini line.

It’s really summer and it is officially frozen dessert season here in the Northern Hemisphere. As you all know I am a huge fan of ice cream but I have been watching what I eat and when I look at the calorie count of ice cream…yikes. That does not mean I will completely deprive myself of ice cream pleasures but for everyday treats finding a healthier alternative is a huge step in the right direction.

Yonanas Neapolitan

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Irish Bacon Cabbage Millet Soup

Enjoy this lovely and healthy gluten-free Irish Bacon Cabbage Millet Soup for this Saint Patrick’s day! It is just perfect to stay warm during the parade!

It’s Food ‘n Flix time again! In this monthly group a host picks a movie of their choice that pertains to food. Everyone watches the movie and then makes a recipe which the film inspired. It can be any recipe you want. This month’s pick is hosted by Joanne from What’s on the List and she challenged us to travel back in time and to Ireland with The Quiet Man!

Irish-Bacon-Cabbage-Millet-Soup-2

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Lemonade Iced Tea Sorbet

A couple of weekends ago I invited a few friends over for a very simple BBQ. I provided burgers and hot-dogs. I told my guests to bring the rest: salads, mergez, sandwich platters and chips. I knew there were going to be a couple of desserts already but I wanted to offer my gluten and dairy free friend a sweet option.

Sorbet was an obvious choice and it was perfect for the warmer weather. Standard go-to flavors in my home are a no-no. I had to find something original. This Lemonade Iced Tea Sorbet fit the bill. It’s thirst quenching and practically doubles as the usual tea or coffee served at the end of a meal.

ice tea sorbet 04

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Coconut-Spiked Pork with Quinoa and Peanuts

When we were kids everyone could eat anything without any allergies or complications. Well maybe we were not aware of it as much back then – or we were too young to realize – but food intolerances are definitely on the rise. I do count my blessings that I have no need for restrictions. But I have friends who come over regularly for dinner who do so having a nice selection of delicious recipes everyone can enjoy is a plus.

Gluten is one of the big no-nos and I think people who need to suddenly eat gluten-free get very intimidated at first. But there are lots of wonderful recipes tempting to the palate, you just need to experiment. A great resource is the The Complete Gluten-Free Whole Grains Cookbook.

GFWholeGrains2

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A Birthday Feast through Italy appetizers and Avocado Ice Cream

Ah the first big menu planning of the year! It always coincides with my mother’s birthday on April 1st when I have my parents over for dinner. Younger I would choose very long and elaborate recipes that would take an entire day to prepare. Now wiser in years I have learned to plan very sophisticated looking menus consisting of easy but wonderful recipes. If I am well organized I can pop out such a meal in 2 or 3 hours…exhausting ones. The hard part is finding the first inspiration.

In this case it was a bunch of rapini I had bought a few days before. It is not a vegetable I have cooked with very often but after seeing it a blog post ton it I was inspired to try my hand at it again. From there came an Italian theme spread over the whole menu. I like to think of it as  Southern Italian menu filled with cured meats, fish, fresh vegetables, ricotta and nuts. I hope you will enjoy my presentation of the meal….

The evening started of with a cocktail and lovely bites to nibble on while we toasted  to my mom’s birthday: Prosciutto Purses by Giada de Laurentis. A few handfuls of Sesame Roasted Nuts accompanied the purses. I adapted the recipe with walnuts, pistachios and almonds. I did not have the mentioned spices so I used cinnamon, cocoa mole rub, chili pepper flakes and garlic salt.

The Prosciutto Purses are very easy to make. I just used half a cantaloupe and scooped out 9 balls with a spoon. Then I just rolled up the cantaloupe balls with a slice of proscuitto and tied my purse with a sprig of chives. Here is the secret:  blanch the chives briefly until just a bit limp. This way they will not break when you make the knot.

My appetizer consisted of three Zucchini Ricotta Roll-ups per person served on a bed of pureed snow peas. I just cooked the peas till soft in a bit of vegetable stock and added a bit of garlic salt and pepper. I passed this through the blender and got an amazingly colorful shiny dark green puree.

The main course was a simple baked white fish recipe which was accompanied by Polenta with Beans and Rapini, the inspiration dish of the whole menu. A bigger portion could be a vegetarian meal on its own. I went with a soft polenta in which I added cheddar cheese. I loved this dish, the mix of flavors and textures was sublime, from the acidic sweetness of the tomatoes, the earthy mellowing taste of the beans to the perfect bitterness of the rapini.

The meal ended with a wonderful gluten-free Blueberry Almond Cake. This cake is just about all eggs, 6 to be exact. I followed the recipe but added some blueberries: I poured half the cake mix in the pan, sprinkled the berries and then covered then with the other half. I think this made the cake but my cake deflated. A little simple looking but there was no shortcoming in taste.

A very unusual but perfect pairing was a portion of homemade Avocado Ice Cream. I had this ice cream in the freezer for a while and had just enough for 3 small portions. I melted a bit the ice cram down and placed it in 3 canellé mold. The resulting presentation is reminiscent of the classic Tartufo ice cream.

Avocado Ice Cream

Avocado Ice Cream

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 1/4 cup milk

3 ripe avocados

Directions

Peel and seed the avocados; put flesh into a blender with the milk and purée. Pour all the ingredients an ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Buon appetito!

Chocolate Apple Pie with Nut Crust

Looking for a practically guilty free pie when the sweet tooth attacks? Well I have a recipe for you. This recipe was given to me by Stef. The crust of the pie is made of crushed nuts, and egg white and a bit of sugar. That is it. You could fill it any way you like but here is our somewhat low cal version. Note the ingredients are to make one pie, we just happen t make two when he showed me.

Chocolate Apple Pie with Nut Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups crushed nuts of your choice (we did 1/2 almonds and 1/2 hazelnut)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar is desired
  • you can add cinnamon, nutmeg or what you like for extra flavor
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 apples
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • cinnamon to taste
  • sliced almonds
  • 2 oz dark chocolate, melted

Directions:

  1. Crush your nuts if whole, use about 1 cup of whole nuts to get 3/4 cups crushed.
  2. Mix nuts with egg and sugar plus spices is desired.
  3. Spread in a pie shell evenly and cook at 350F till the crust is golden.
  4. Melt chocolate and mix in cream until homogenized. Spread in the bottom of crust.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of sliced almonds.
  6. Peel and core apples and then cut in thin slices.
  7. In a pan melt the butter and add apples with sugar and cinnamon. Cook until just tender.
  8. Poor apples into the pie crust and spread evenly.
  9. Sprinkle a few sliced almonds again and swirl decoratively the remaining dark chocolate.
  10. Refrigerate 2 hours before serving.

Ethnic Neighbourly Surprise: Sholleh Zard

I was running late a bit for my bus to meet friends for a birthday dinner. As I was locking my door my new neighbor from across the hall came out with a tray of 3 big bowls of what looked like a yellow rice pudding. My new neighbours are Iranian, actually like the ones before. The lady barely speaks English (although I noticed her vocabulary has already somewhat improved) but we try to communicate. I think my eyes getting big like saucers was an international sign.

I told her that looked really good. She got that. Then she kept pushing the tray a bit towards me. We mumble a few words we both understood. Finally she actually meant what I though: please take a bowl. Wow! She gave me a bowl of her homemade dessert and I barely know her. How sweet! I was so touched. I thanked her profusely and quickly got back into my apartment to put the bowl in the fridge. But before that I tried to ask her what was in it. All I got was Sholleh Zard. Yeah that meant nothing to me. What I did know was that sharing food is a sign of respect and saying ‘I like you’. I knew it was rice pudding but what was in it. I had to wait till I got back home that evening to investigate.

Sorry, tasted before thinking of taking a picture

I am not a stranger to Persian cuisine as I have had several Iranian friends in my adult life. It took very little time for me to find a recipe online. It is a Sweet Persian Rice Pudding flavored primarily with rose water and saffron which gives it a distinctive yellow color. This perfumed bowl of rice is divine!

Sholleh Zard

  • 1 cup of basmati rice (or any rice)
  • 6 cups of water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup of rose-water
  • 1.5  or 2 cups of sugar
  • 250 grams of butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of saffron
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup slivered pistachios
  • Cinnamon, pistachios and/or almonds to garnish

Wash rice a few times until the water is clear, then drain. Add water, rice and salt, and bring to a boil, removing the foam. Simmer until the rice softens completely, about 45min. add sugar and stir well.

Crush and dissolve saffron in 1/4 cup of hot water. Add to rice rose water, sugar, butter and saffron. Stir well and cover. Simmer on lowest setting for another 30 min until the pudding is thick and creamy. Add a bit of water at a time if necessary  Serve with pistachio, almond and cinnamon sprinkled on top.

Obviously I will be returning her clean bowl once I am done with a English translation of the name of her recipe and will prepared a sweet Quebec treat for her! I am thinking Maple Syrup Pie.