Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ye Don't Say--Salmon for a St. Patrick’s Day Feast?


If St. Patrick’s Day finds you waxing poetic, blazing a warpath to find your only green cable-knit sweater and yearning for a splendid Irish dish—other than stew—for your green day feast—be  brave—think pink. Think salmon! Whistle the Irish Spring tune and follow in the footsteps of Finn mac Cumhail, mythical Irish warrior turned poet. Legend has it, he was given the poetic gifts of magic, insight and the power of words—all from eating the Salmon of Knowledge from the Boyne River. And writing poetry was the ideal protective leisure pursuit for a warrior in those days because poets in Celtic society were considered sacred, mystical beings to be protected from harm or death at all costs.

Manly yes, but I like it too. Whether or not you’re an aspiring warrior or poet virtuoso it’s never too late to begin reaping the many great health benefits from salmon; longevity being one of them.  Chocked full of Omega-3 DHA and EPA fats found in fish oil, vitamins A, C (both powerful antioxidants) and E as well as niacin and riboflavin, salmon is credited with lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke, Alzheimer’s, eye disorders and cancer. To fully benefit from salmon’s “good fat” qualities, always broil, bake or grill it—avoid frying it.

As the Irish say, “Long life to you!”  Fight the good fight, try these tasty salmon recipes and dream big. Perhaps mid-life will see you celebrating your 60th birthday in Ireland dining on salmon, rooming at an ex-warrior’s Bed and Breakfast and penning insightful poetry by candlelight in the wee hours of darkness.

To get you started, here are a few unromantic but cold hard facts for buying and cooking salmon:
·        Choose fresh fillets over frozen whenever possible.
·        Pick tailpiece fillets—they’re sweet and lean.
·        Flesh should be thick, firm, moist and bright in colour.
·        Before cooking, rinse in cold water. Thoroughly pat dry.
·        Cook for 10 minutes per inch (measure at its thickest part) or more to taste at 400F-425F.
·        Done when juices run clear; flesh is opaque, slightly moist and flakes easily.

Salmon with Maple-Nut Crust

1 large tail piece of salmon
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped almonds, pecans or shelled pistachios

Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil. Wash and dry salmon with paper towel and place skin side down on the sheet. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Mix together syrup, curry and mustard. Chop up or crush nuts. Preheat oven to 425F. Spoon half of maple syrup mixture over fillets then sprinkle with nuts. Spoon remaining maple mixture over nuts. Cover the areas of the sheet that don't have fish on them with tin foil pieces. This keeps the oil from splattering and burning. Bake in centre of oven at 425F for 35 min.

 

Sweet n’ Feisty Lime Salmon

¼ cup frozen lime juice concentrate
1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
3 tbsp rum, sambucca or tequila (optional)
1 large (2-3 lb) fillet of salmon (skin on)
1 tsp dried dill
Spoon frozen juice into a measuring cup and stir until a little slushy. In a separate bowl, mix together maple syrup and rum and add thawed lime concentrate. Rinse salmon under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with tin foil and place the salmon skin side down, touching foil, flesh side up. Using a pastry brush, paint ¾ of the lime mixture on the salmon. Sprinkle with dill.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes. Cover the exposed areas of the cookie sheet (outside the sides of salmon) with strips of foil to prevent burning. Bake in preheated 425F oven on the middle rack for 25 minutes. Transfer salmon (with skin on) to a large platter and drizzle reserved juice mixture on top. Scatter lime and lemon slices around the salmon on the edges of the platter and garnish with a few sprigs of dill if you wish. With a large spatula lift fish fillet from skin and serve.

Elegant Dill-Parsley Salmon Loaf

2 cups fresh cooked or tinned salmon, flaked
2 tbsp lemon juice
¾ tsp salt
2 green onions, chopped
2 cups soft breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup light mayonnaise
¼ cup whole milk
For Dill-Parsley Sauce:
Mix together:
¾ cup low-fat plain yogurt
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped (save a few sprigs for garnish)
2 tbsp parsley, chopped

¼ cup capers (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350F. In a bowl combine all ingredients. Pour into a spray-greased 6 cup (1.5L) loaf pan or bundt pan. Bake for 35 minutes until golden on top. Unmold the loaf and slice. Place slices on serving plates, drizzle with sauce. Place a dill sprig on each serving and scatter 4-6 capers over top. Serves 4-6.

Dilly n’ Caper Smoked Salmon Salad

Dressing:
2 tbsp light mayonnaise
2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tsp white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
1 small garlic clove minced
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped

Salad:
½ cup chopped red onion
12 slices (about 8 oz) smoked salmon, cut into thin strips or leftover cooked salmon
2 tbsp capers (bottled is fine)
6-8 cups mixed spring greens or watercress, washed and loosely torn into pieces
½ cup Pumpernickel or Sourdough croutons (optional)

Whisk together mayonnaise and yogurt, vinegar, dill, parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Pour over greens and toss to mix. Sprinkle red onion and capers over top and toss gently. Place salmon strips over top and toss very gently. Serve with Pumpernickel or Sourdough bread croutons if you wish.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Buckle up for a Mission of Gluten Free Bread baking (and cookies too!)



Gluten Free Bread baking is not for the Faint of Heart!

Mr. Hunt, this isn't mission difficult, it's mission impossible. "Difficult" should be a walk in the park for you.

And your mission, M. Hunt, should you choose to accept it, is to make a Gluten Free Loaf of Bread with the trusty help of Ms. Breadmaker. She must be armed with a Gluten Free bread cycle. She has been assigned to guide you on this mission because, without her smarts and clever assistance you are likely to fail miserably in accomplishing the task.

One thing you must know about the GF Bread assignment before you embark upon it, is that all of the starch and flour players are extremely temperature sensitive—meaning they cannot be cold. They must be at room temperature or be warmed before being mixed together. If you don’t tend to their quirky temperaments, they will hive off in little clumps and ruin your party. So, make them feel welcome, and encourage them to mix and mingle as a group. They particularly like being whisked together and whirled about in a big warm stainless steel bowl. Be mindful of the liquid ingredients too on your mission. They too must be warm to be cooperative and helpful.

The main reason you want Ms Breadmaker as your trusty mission chum however, is because GF bread dough is extremely sticky and therefore very hard to transfer and move about...i.e. to baking pans, or to shape into loaves. It is simply easier to bake the dough in the breadmaker. Believe me, I am a free agent who can attest to this. After many trials and tribulations—which yielded several little inedible doorstops—I have chosen to simply press 6 for the Gluten Free Cycle and let Ms. Breadmaker do her magic! 
So, strap on the apron and let's get started:

(Please note: To reward you for your persistence and patience, I have included recipes for delicious, easy-to-make Gluten Free cookies!)

Tips for making Gluten Free Bread in the breadmaker:

  • Get to know your breadmaker and write down on a label affixed to the machine, when the kneading cycle ends so you can remove the bread paddles from the dough before the baking cycle begins. Because the dough is sticky the paddles will bake into the bread and become hard to remove afterwards.

  • Be sure to have all ingredients at room temperature or warmed as instructed. The ingredients MUST be warm when making gluten free bread otherwise the dry ingredients may clump together and the dough won’t mix well or rise properly.

  • Read the entire recipe before embarking on this mission.GF bread is UBER-fussy to make..until you get the hang of it!

  • Use wet hands take the bread machine paddles from the dough after the bread machine kneading cycle has ended

  • Use a wet spatula to smooth the dough out before the rising and baking cycle begins.


Tools needed:
·      Breadmachine with a gluten free bread cycle
·      A meat or food thermometer (Why? To test the temperature of the warm water used in the recipe to 110F – 115F AND to test the baked bread for doneness)
·      Large stainless steel mixing bowl (Why metal? Because you will be placing the bowl in the oven)
·      Strong handled rubber spatula (Why? To help the breadmachine mix the dough. Tip: Wetting it will prevent the dough from sticking to the spatula, making it easier to spread the dough.)
·      Oven timer (Why? to remind you to remove the bread machine paddles before the baking cycle begins)

Basic Gluten Free White Bread for the Breadmachine
Mix the following dry ingredients together in a large metal bowl. The starches have a tendency to clump so mix the ingredients thoroughly. After mixing: warm the ingredients in the bowl in the oven at 200F for 5 minutes. TIP: Be sure to use oven mitts when removing the hot bowl from the oven!
·      3 cups white rice flour (you may vary this by using 2 cups white rice flour and 1 cup brown rice flour)
·      1 cup dry skim milk powder
·      2 tsp salt
·      ¾ cup potato starch
·      ¾ cup tapioca starch
·      ½ cup cornstarch
·      4 ½ tbsp. sugar
·        1 ½ tbsp. xanthan gum
·        3 ¼ tsp bread machine yeast

While the dry ingredients are warming in the oven, prepare and mix together the following wet ingredients and place them in the breadmachine pan.
·        2 ¼ cups warm water (Warm to between 110F – 115F. Test with meat thermometer)
·        4 large eggs at room temperature (Warm them by placing them in a bowl and covering them with hot water. Let stand for 5-10 minutes) Crack the eggs into the breadmachine pan and beat them lightly with a fork in the pan.
Add to pan:
·      1/3 cup canola oil
·      1 ½ tsp cider vinegar

Place pan in breadmachine. Choose the Gluten free cycle. Press Start. When the breadmachine begins the mixing cycle, open the lid open and gradually add the warmed dry ingredients with a large scoop or big spoon. Scrap down the dry flour from the edges of the pan with a dry rubber spatula and help the mixing, if necessary. Close the lid.

NOTE: Set your oven timer for about 20-25 minutes to remind you to remove the bread machine paddles from the dough after the kneading cycle ends and before the rising and baking cycle begin. The dough is sticky so wet your hands with cold water before plunging your hands in the mixed dough to remove the bread machine paddles. I remove the paddles because they tend to get stuck in the baked bread. After you have removed the paddles, wet a spatula and quickly smooth out, and flatten the top of the dough to yield a well formed loaf.

When the breadmaker beeper indicates the bread is baked, use an oven or meat thermometer to test for doneness. Place probe on the middle of the loaf. Temperature must be 200F or higher.

Remove bread from the breadpan and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Tip: End crusts make nice croutons when chopped up and tossed with a little olive oil and chopped garlic. Spread on a low-rimmed cookie sheet and toast in the oven at 325 for about 20 minutes. Or make breadcrumbs with the end crusts. Chop up, spread on a low-rimmed cookie sheet and toast them at 325 in the oven for about 20 minutes. Chop finely in a food processor. Store crumbs in the freezer.

Cinnamon Raisin Gluten Free Bread for the Breadmachine
1 ¾ cups brown rice flour
½ cup potato starch
¼ tapioca starch
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup dry skim milk powder
1 tbsp xanthum gum
1 ½ tsp breadmachine yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 ½ cups raisins

1 cup water (water temp should be between 110 and 115F)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp cider vinegar

2 eggs lightly beaten (warm eggs in their shells in warm water)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten (warm eggs in their shells in warm water)

Use your breadmachine, with the Gluten Free option to make this bread. I select the largest loaf size (2.5 or 3 lbs) and the default bread colour setting (medium), i.e. not dark or light.
  •   Warm 4 eggs in their shells, in hot water in a bowl and set aside.

  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large metal bowl. The starches have a tendency to clump so mix the ingredients thoroughly. If the room temperature is cold, you may warm these ingredients in the metal bowl in the oven for a few minutes at about 200F.
  • Place warm water in the breadmachine breadpan. Add oil and cider vinegar.
  • Add 2 egg yolks and 2 egg whites, lightly beaten, into the breadpan.
  • Place breadpan in the breadmachine. Close lid and choose the Gluten Free cycle, largest size loaf option and press start.
  • When mixing cycle begins, with a large scoop or spoon slowly add the warm dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, as the breadmachine mixes. Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  • Close lid.
  • Set oven timer for 20-25 minutes to remind you to remove the breadmachine paddles from the dough at the end of the knead cycle and before the rising and baking cycle begins.
  • When timer sounds, be sure the mixing cycle has ended, then wet your hands with cold water and remove the paddles from the dough. Smooth out the top of the dough with a wet spatula. Close the lid and allow the rising and baking to continue.
  • When the breadmachine beeper indicates the bread is baked, open the lid and test for doneness (200F is done!) with a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the bread.
  • When baked through, remove the breadpan and shake the bread out of the breadpan and allow it to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Robust Gluten Free Brown Bread for the Bread Machine
1 ½ cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
½ cup amaranth flour (ground amaranth seeds)
2 tbsp dry skim milk powder
1 tbsp xanthum gum
1 ¾ breadmachine yeast
1 ¼ tsp salt

1 ¼ cups water (temperature must be 110 to 115F)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp liquid honey
2 tbsp molasses
1 tsp cider vinegar

2 eggs lightly beaten (warm eggs in their shells in warm water)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten (warm eggs in their shells in warm water)

Use your breadmachine, with the Gluten Free option to make this bread. I select the largest loaf size (2.5 or 3 lbs) and the default bread colour setting (medium), i.e. not dark or light.

  •   Warm 4 eggs in their shells, in hot water in a bowl and set aside.

  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large metal bowl. The starches have a tendency to clump so mix the ingredients thoroughly. If the room temperature is cold, you may warm these ingredients in the metal bowl in the oven for a few minutes at about 200F.
  • Place warm water in the breadmachine breadpan. Add oil and cider vinegar.
  • Add 2 egg yolks and 2 egg whites, lightly beaten, into the breadpan.
  • Place breadpan in the breadmachine. Close lid and choose the Gluten Free cycle, largest size loaf option and press start.
  • When mixing cycle begins, with a large scoop or spoon slowly add the warm dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, as the breadmachine mixes. Scrape down the sides with a spatula.
  • Close lid.
  • Set oven timer for 20-25 minutes to remind you to remove the breadmachine paddles from the dough at the end of the knead cycle and before the rising and baking cycle begins.
  • When timer sounds, be sure the mixing cycle has ended, then wet your hands with cold water and remove the paddles from the dough. Smooth out the top of the dough with a wet spatula. Close the lid and allow the rising and baking to continue.
  • When the breadmachine beeper indicates the bread is baked, open the lid and test for doneness (200F is done!) with a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the bread.
  • When baked through, remove the breadpan and shake the bread out of the breadpan and allow it to cool thoroughly on a wire rack.

Gluten Free Lemon-Chocolate-Pistachio Sugar Cookies
½ cup white rice flour (or brown if you prefer)
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup potato starch
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup softened butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
 2 tsp freshly grated lemon rind
2 large egg yolks

½ cup chopped pistachios
1/4 chocolate chips

1/3 cup white sugar (to roll cookies in)

  •  Heat oven to 350F
  •  Mix together in a large bowl: dry ingredients (white flour to salt)
  • Using a food processor, whirl butter to soften completely, add sugars and pulse to blend thoroughly.
  •  Add lemon juice through to egg yolks. Pulse well until blended.
  • Add flour mixture 1/3 cup at a time and pulse until well blended.
  • Add pistachios and chocolate chips, pulse lightly just enough to add evenly in the dough. 

Cover to large baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place on the baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 15 minutes, then flatten balls in a crisscross fashion and bake about 6-10 minutes longer. Remove pans from oven and let cookies cool on the pans for another 5 minutes. Then remove cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

This recipe makes about 24-30 cookies. PS: I like cookies on the small side!

Gluten Free Orange-Chocolate-Walnut Sugar Cookies
½ cup white rice flour (or brown rice flour if you prefer)
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ cup potato starch
1 tsp xanthum gum
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
¼ cup softened butter
1 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
 2 tbsp freshly grated orange rind
2 large egg yolks

½ cup chopped walnuts
½ chocolate chips

1/3 cup white sugar (to roll cookies in)

  •  Heat oven to 350F
  • Mix together in a large bowl: dry ingredients (white flour to salt)
  • Using a food processor, whirl butter to soften completely, add sugars and pulse to blend thoroughly.
  • Add orange juice through to egg yolks. Pulse well until blended.
  • Add flour mixture 1/3 cup at a time and pulse until well blended.
  • Add walnuts and chocolate chips, pulse lightly just enough to add evenly in the dough. 

Cover to large baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place on the baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 15 minutes, then flatten balls in a crisscross fashion and bake about 6-10 minutes longer. Remove pans from oven and let cookies cool on the pans for another 5 minutes. Then remove cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

This recipe makes about 24-30 cookies. PS: I like cookies on the small side!

Gluten Free Quinoa Ginger Molasses Cookies

½ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup molasses
2 cups quinoa flour
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves

¼ cup white sugar (to roll the cookies in)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream the butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the egg and molasses. Set aside.
Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and blend well. Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms.

Roll the dough into 1 ½ balls. Place the ¼ cup of white sugar in a shallow bowl and roll each ball to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake on the centre rack for 8-10 minutes.  (In my oven, I bake them for 16 minutes on the oven’s two middle racks, then turn the baking sheets around and switch the placement on the racks and bake for another 4 minutes.) The cookies should look puffy and slightly browned on the bottom when you remove them from the pan. Let them cool for 1 minute to set before removing them to cool completely on a rack.

The recipe calls for storing them in the refrigerator for 1 week or 4 weeks in the freezer.