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Saturday, October 25, 2008

It only tastes expensive

When I was younger, I made presents for my friends and family. Now I am older and I make presents again. Here are a couple of popular items to make and give away in jars. Nice for watching budgets but still feel extravagant.

Homemade Granola
I adapted this recipe from my parents' older version of the More with Less Cookbook

Preheat oven to 350ºF

1 large roaster (I use a large aluminum turkey roaster)
2.25 kg oats (you can reduce for your wants)
1/2 cup skim milk powder
up to 2 cups each sliced almonds, broken pecans, or other nuts that you enjoy
1 cup unsweetened medium coconut (optional)
1 cup roasted green pumpkin seeds (optional)

In a saucepan melt together:
1 cup molasses
1 cup honey
1/2 cup olive oil

Watch that the molasses and honey don't boil over but it is ready to pour into the oats mixture when it bubbles and foams up.
Mix well into oats and nuts and bake for 20- 30 minutes or until browning on top. Stir and bake for at least another 20- 30 minutes. While it is baking, soak dried fruit.

Dried Fruit (I always round quite up on these items and don't really measure at all)

1 cup dark raisins
1 cup craisins
1 cup cut dried apricots
1 cup pitted cut dates
All optional or what you may have on hand. At Christmas I use dried cherries. I also often use currants.

After turning and baking the granola, turn off heat and stir in drained fruit. Leave in oven until all dried.

Fill small sealer jars with granola for gifts.


Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Check out an earlier post for Chocolate Almond Biscotti and try the options. One option that I made today was Lavender Saffron Almond biscotti. I made lavender syrup and used chopped up lavender in the dough as well.

Fill small sealer jars or decorative boxes for gifts.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Turkish Baharat Roast Chicken and Persian Carrots

Turkish Baharat Roast Chicken

It is very easy to roast a chicken to moist perfection. A simple rule that I follow is to roast the meat for 20 minutes a pound at 350ºF. Each oven is different but the drumsticks should wiggle freely and the internal temperature can reach 180ºF.

VERY IMPORTANT! Always, always, always let meat rest after cooking. If you cut into the meat too soon, the juices run out leaving a dry and tough product.

Turkish Baharat Roast Chicken

1 roasting chicken
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 ribs celery, roughly chopped
4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
2 rounded tablespoons Turkish Baharat
2 small heads garlic, sliced in half horizontally
1 tsp sea salt
1 small lemon, sliced open in half
1-2 tbs good olive oil

Place onion, celery, carrots, garlic and lemon in roasting pan. Sprinkle Turkish Baharat over the chicken and inside the chicken cavity. Sprinkle salt and drizzle olive oil over chicken. Place in preheated 350ºF oven for 20 minutes/pound (eg. 6 pound chicken = 2 hours). When chicken is done, remove from oven and let rest at least 10 minutes prior to carving.


Persian Carrots

4-5 medium carrots, sliced on the diagonal
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped dates
1 inch grated fresh ginger
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs brown sugar

In a sauté pan on medium high heat, sauté onions in butter until beginning to soften. Add sliced carrots and stir. After a few minutes, add the raisins, almonds, dates, ginger and salt and pepper. Continue cooking for several minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Add brown sugar and reduce heat until ready to serve.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

Chilled Roasted Beet Soup with a Turkish twist

Chilled Roasted Beet Soup with Turkish Baharat

4-5 large Beets
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs Turkish Baharat
1 head roasted garlic
2-3 tbs good olive oil
1/4 cup champagne or sherry vinegar
1/2 - 2/3 cup orange juice
2-4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

On a hot BBQ, roast peeled beets wrapped in foil until soft, turning to prevent burning. Roast garlic at the same time.

In a large skillet or soup pot, sauté onion in olive oil on medium heat until soft and translucent. Add cut up beets and squeeze out garlic into pot. Sauté until vegetables have softened. Add Turkish Baharat and stir until softened. Add soup stock and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using golden beets, use white pepper.

Remove soup from heat and add orange juice and vinegar. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée until smooth. When soup has cooled, chill in refrigerator at least over night.

Options: Top with a dollop of Creme Frâiche and sprinkle with a few threads of saffron.

OPTIONS: If using Chiogga beets, the soup will be a light pink colour. If using red beets, it will take on a deep velvety red colour while golden will remain a lovely golden colour.