Sorrel Pesto

Sorrel
Sorrel Pesto

Sorrel is a beautiful plant that is incredibly easy to grow. There is the broad leaf variety pictured above and also a lovely red veined variety that is so pretty with the red throughout.   It is a perennial green that produces early in spring and late into the fall.  It is a lovely plant to grow in your garden and is a super healthy green that is popping up at more and more farmers market stands.  It produces masses of edible green leaves filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium.  In the spring time, it adds a pop of colour and bright taste to an early green salad and later in the year it works well added to other greens in recipes or in making a sauce (it is kind of like the squeeze of lemon juice).  The leaves have a tangy lemony taste that is a little sour and bitter.  Some describe it as a sour apple candy taste.  I love having it in my garden and have enjoyed finding interesting ways to use it.

With the cool Fall weather I am trying to use as many things from my garden as possible before a hard frost comes and limits my choices for me.  The sorrel is still going strong and when I was trying out Chrissie’s Garden Fresh Tomato Soup with the last tomatoes of the season, I couldn’t resist adding something from my garden!  I made a quick pesto with sorrel, garlic, sunflower seeds, salt, and olive oil and found it was terrific with the tomato soup and also terrific as a spread for toast to dip in the soup.  This fresh light tasting pesto adds a boost of flavour to roasted potatoes, gnocchi, pasta, soup, and sauces.  It also makes a wonderful and healthy alternative to butter or mayo on avocado tomato toast or sandwiches.

 

Sorrel Pesto

20 sorrel leaves

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

salt

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Add sorrel, garlic and sunflower seeds to food processor and process until leaves and seeds are ground up.  Add parmesan cheese,  salt and olive oil.  Taste to adjust seasonings, adding salt, olive oil as needed to desired consistency. This pesto will keep well refrigerated or can be frozen for later use.

Creamy Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk

Bowl of Creamy Carrot Soup pictured with crackers
Creamy Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk

This creamy carrot soup is so perfect for these cooler fall days when you want something comforting yet nourishing.  Made with rice to thicken and is creamy and delicious with the added coconut milk.  Simple yet elegant it is complimented perfectly by any variation of fresh herbs.  

 

Creamy Carrot Soup (with coconut milk)

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion

2 garlic cloves

4-5 small fresh thyme sprigs 

4 cups chopped carrots

6 tbsp white rice

4 cups vegetable stock

1 1/2 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)

salt and pepper 

Garnish with coconut butter and finely chopped fresh herbs.

 

Directions:  

Melt coconut oil and heat along with olive oil in large saucepan, over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook until translucent and slightly browned.  Add thyme, carrots, vegetable stock and rice.  Bring to boil and then simmer until vegetables are very soft and rice is well cooked, about 1 hour.  Cool slightly, then puree.  Return to saucepan and add coconut milk, adding extra coconut milk or water to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste . 

 

 

Molasses Butter with Corn on the Cob

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Molasses Butter with Corn on the Cob

This recipe is incredibly easy and incredibly delicious.  It is definitely one of those “Why didn’t I try this sooner?” kind of recipes.  I first got the idea from my sister, who got it from her friend.  I went on line to credit the source because I know it wasn’t original but could only find recipes that used only a little molasses. Trust me, it needs a healthy dose of deliciously rich molasses flavour!

Molasses Butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tablespoons Crosby’s Fancy Molasses

pinch sea salt

Directions:

Using the back of a spoon, spread the butter in a small bowl.  Slowly add the molasses incorporating it into the butter as you go until it is smooth.  Add salt to taste.  Refridgerate and it will firm up.  Remove approx 15 min before serving.  *Don’t be tempted to melt the butter, it won’t turn out the same. You can adjust the quantity to any you want but keep the proportion the same – 2 parts butter to 1 part molasses.

This butter is highly addictive and you will find yourself searching for other things to put it on….to keep you from eating it straight from the container! It is wonderful on corn on the cob, popcorn, cornbread, sweet potatoes,  winter squash, carrots, root vegetables, toast, etc. Good thing a little packs a lot of flavour and goes a long way.

Artisan Bread meets Craft Beer

Beautiful Artisan Easy Sour Dough Bread pictured on a gorgeous cutting board
Artisan Bread with Craft Beer

If you have not heard about this incredibly easy recipe for Artisan Bread, here it is.  It is one of the most popular recipes that was EVER published by the New York Times, The No Knead Bread. Thank you, Jim Lahey, this bread has improved our lives! So easy, my kids can both make it and I have made it many times, with many variations trying to add whole grains and healthy things into it, sometimes with epic fails. This time I tried it using beer to replace the water.

Beers adds something extraordinary to bread. Using a local craft beer instead of the water and the addition of currants and pecans results in a completely delicious gift worthy loaf.   We have also tried it with hazelnuts, dried cherries and dark chocolate with a dark beer and it is awesome*! (It went so fast I couldn’t take a picture of it.)  Beer adds terrific flavour to breads and with so many different styles and flavours in beer, there is an endless variety of options to experiment with.  A dark porter or stout beer will yield a darker bread with more pronounced flavours.  The bread will have all the flavours in the beer but will be much less intense.  As tempting as it will be to save the whole loaf for the adults, the alcohol from the beer burns off during the cooking so bread made with beer does not contain alcohol.

One thing that is tricky about making bread is it can be difficult to tell when it is done.  It is not like other baked goods where a finger press, slight nudge or toothpick gives us the information we need. A fool proof way to measure for the perfect loaf is to measure the internal temperature.  I have started using my kitchen thermometer to test bread and even other baked goods when I’m just not sure.   It turns out that I was slightly under cooking bread which explains why is was sometimes doughy inside.  Using an instant read thermometer, stick it inside the middle of the loaf.  You are looking for 190 degrees for a basic bread and 200 degrees for a bread with butter, milk or eggs.

 

Artisan Bread with Craft Beer (studded with pecans and currants)

Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cup beer (I used a lager)

3 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup currants

1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans

1/2 tsp yeast

1 tsp salt

Directions:  Mix everything together ( I used a stand mixer with dough hook but you can easily do this with a bowl and spoon).  Cover and let rest over night or at least 12 hours. Sprinkle parchment paper with flour, bran or cornmeal and turn bowl upside down so that the dough will drop onto the parchment paper.  Sprinkle with flour and gently fold dough over a few times to form a ball.  Cover and let rest another 1-2 hours.  Heat oven with dutch oven inside to 450 degrees.  When hot, put dough (still on parchment paper) inside dutch oven, cover and bake 30 minutes.  Remove lid and bake another 10 minutes or so until crust is golden brown. Test with thermometer to be sure the bread is cooked in the middle.  Your house will smell amazing and it will look incredible but try your best to wait at least 10 minutes before cutting.

*use a porter or stout beer, add 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate, 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries, and 1/4 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts

Have you tried the No Knead Bread recipe and what are your variations?

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (with black beans)

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies displayed on a plate
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

Filled with protein, fibre, low in sugar, no added oil or fat, high in antioxidants and incredibly delicious? You will never believe the main ingredient in these dark chocolate peanut butter morsels is…..BLACK BEANS! I was skeptical too when I read about black bean brownies on various blogs, but honestly if you haven’t tried them yet, you will be amazed at just how good they are.  I have a lot of combinations, coffee, chili powder, candied ginger, but the family favourite is this recipe with peanut butter.    

Simple and quick, these come together in about 10 minutes (with the help of the food processor) and they bake quickly too, especially these small size square ones. This dessert or treat is truly guilt free!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies (with Black Beans)

Makes 24 squares

1 can or 1 3/4 cup cooked black beans (if using canned beans, rinse well and drain them well)

2/3 cup cocoa

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons milled flax

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup natural peanut butter (Natural peanut butter contains only peanuts and salt)

few tablespoons of chopped peanuts

Directions:  Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix flax with water and set aside while you put everything else in the bowl of the food processor, and then add the flax and water mixture.  Blend well until beans are pureed and everything is well incorporated.  It will look like hummus with an easy spreading consistency.  Add a little water or milk to thin if necessary. Scoop into prepared pan and top with chopped peanuts or chocolate chips if desired.  I used a silicone baking sheet with squares so no greasing was necessary.  If using a conventional muffin tin, line with parchment cups or grease well.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10- 25 minutes.  My silicone baking squares made 24 and took just over 10 minutes but a conventional muffin pan would make 12 brownies and take about 20-25 minutes.  They are done when the look dry on top and they have moved a little away from the edges of the pan.  They should be moist in the middle. Let cool in pan before removing gently.  Best enjoyed the day they are made.

The inspiration for this recipe came from many blogs, especially Minimalist Baker and My Little Celebration.

 

 

Lemon Balm Pesto

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Lemon Balm Pesto

Lemon Balm is a perennial herb from the mint family.  It grows very quickly and is quite a beautiful plant.  It has a refreshing light lemon aroma and flavour and many believe it aids digestion, and has a calming affect. It attracts bees, butterflies and birds and is a lovely addition to any garden.  

It is probably most commonly used in tea or ice tea but it really can be used anywhere in cooking where you want a light lemon flavour.  Mixed with butter it is wonderful to add to potatoes, asapargus, or any spring vegetable.  

Lemon Balm can be used in many ways and here I have combined it with green garlic (the tender young shoots from planted garlic cloves), pine nuts, olive oil, and salt for a delicious light lemony pesto. (Please note that you can use garlic chives or garlic cloves to substitute for the green garlic.  The green garlic or chives give a lighter garlic flavour whereas the cloves would be a stronger garlic flavour.) This pesto is incredible mixed with goat cheese or yogurt cheese, tossed with potatoes, pasta, rubbed onto salmon, chicken, or anywhere you would use pesto. 

Lemon Balm Pesto

1 cup lemon balm leaves
1/4 chopped green garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Put everthing into small bowl of food processor and process until smooth.  

Chive Blossom Yogurt Cheese

So pretty, these little purple flowers add pops of mild Chive flavour to this delicious fresh Yogurt Cheese
Chive Blossom Yogurt Cheese

I love the pretty purple flowers on chives this time of year and love finding new ways to use them during the short time they bloom.  They add special touches to dips, spreads, salads, potatoes, etc.  Combining chives and a soft fresh cheese is a natural combination and is a perfect sandwich spread to top with cucumber, tomato, avocado, roasted vegetables, sprouts, etc.

A perfect cheese to highlight chive flowers is yogurt cheese.  It is so easy to make. Similar to quark cheese, this simple, light cheese is very versatile and can be used in place of butter, margarine, cream cheese, etc.  Yogurt cheese is low in fat, is a source of protein, has many nutrients and also has gut friendly beneficial bacteria.  

To make yogurt cheese you will need plain yogurt, a sieve, cheese cloth and time. Line a sieve with a few layers of cheese cloth and place it over a bowl.  Empty one container of plain yogurt (750g) onto the cheesecloth lined sieve, cover and place in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours.  The longer you leave it, the firmer the cheese will be.  It is important to use a yogurt that contains no gelatin. Once the cheese is made you are ready to add flavours.   

Chive Blossom Yogurt Cheese

Yogurt cheese

1/4 cup tender chives and chive blossoms, finely chopped

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Black Pepper

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt cheese, chives and chive blossoms.  Add 1 tsp olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.  Mix until well combined.  Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours for flavours to develop.  Garnish with chive flowers and a little more olive oil. Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups.