Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peppered Pears

If you are looking for an appie for the holidays, maybe something light and refreshing to precede a big holiday meal, this is a surprisingly delicious option. The idea was related to me by the head honcho at my work, I thought it sounded interesting and it was the perfect simple and light appie I was looking for.

You can see on the plate that I served the pears with some prosciutto and cheese (Irish cheddar)on separate skewers. It was widely agreed that the best combination was all three together, pears prosciutto and cheese living in sweet harmony in one bite, so next time I will skewer accordingly.

Peppered Pears
freshly cracked black pepper

Peel/ core pears and cut into bite-size chunks. Squeeze fresh lime juice all over them, covering thoroughly.Sprinkle pepper over all sides and pile on a serving plate. Skewer with toothpicks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amaretti Cookies and Cranberry-Pistachio Bark

More Christmas baking, and still more to much for cutting back this year! Every year my mom and my sisters and I bake a bunch of cookies/treats and then do a cookie exchange, making up trays of delectable treats for friends, family and coworkers. This year I resolved to only bake two kinds, but that hasn't worked out for me. I just had to make these cute amaretti cookies from Alive magazine, not only are they made from healthy ingredients but they are also gluten-free, perfect for my mom (we try to make all our xmas baking gluten free so that they can all intermingle without concern). They turned out just like the picture in the magazine, and SO yummy!

The bark is, of course, a Christmas no-brainer. Cranberries, good...pistachios, good...chocolate, definately good! Yup these qualify as all good. And I must get it out of my house before there is none left for our cookie trays. I used craisins and pistachios for both kinds, both dark and white chocolate, but you could use any kind of dried fruit and nuts...cashews and flame raisins would have been nice in the dark chocolate. Next time!

Amaretti Cookies
from Alive magazine

1 3/4 cups almond meal
1/2 cup natural brown sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract
zest of 1/2 lemon, grated finely
2 large egg whites
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup natural brown sugar
30 whole almonds (15 blanched and 15 natural)

Combine almond meal, 1/2 cup brown sugar, almond extract, and lemon zest in food processor until smooth (I just did it old-school with a wooden spoon). Refrigerate for one hour. Add egg whites and sorghum flour, combining well; dough will be soft and sticky. Scoop out a teaspoonful and roll between damp palms and then drop into a small bowl containing 1/3 cup natural brown sugar. Gently roll around in sugar, shake off excess. Place on a baking sheet lines with parchment paper and press one whole almond in the centre. Repeat with remaining dough, placing balls 1 inch apart.Bake in a 325F oven for 18 minutes or until golden. Remove to a rack and cool. Sotre in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a week, or freeze them.

Makes 30. The original recipe says 40, but they lie.

Cranberry-Pistachio Bark
This doesn't really qualify as a recipe, it's really just a cheat but man it's yummy and is always a favourite on the cookie tray. Just melt down a block of good chocolate that you've chopped into bits (I did two kinds, Callebaut dark and white). Stir in a good handful of craisins and another of pistachios, you should have about the same amount of nuts/fruit as chocolate. Pour it all onto a cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper, spreading it in a thin layer. Stick that in the freezer until it firms up, then take it out and peel it up off the paper. Break it into jagged peices. Done! And no one has to know how easy it was ;).

OPTIONAL: Just to be fancy, I decorated each kind with the alternate colour of chocolate. Reserve a couple of spoonfuls of chocolate after it's melted and before you add the fruit and nuts, then after you've spread the mixture out on the tray, just heap some melted chocolate on a spoon and wave it over the tray so that it drips in fine lines.I know I know, it's all very high-tech.