Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Pear Butter

pearbutter2

I love the magic quality of this recipe, in which just one ingredient – pears – cook in a bit of water until they are completely transformed.  The result is a naturally sweet spread perfect for toast or pancakes, or stirred into some natural yogurt.  It is also a great way to use up any pears that are less than perfect or slightly past their prime.

This is good fun to make with children. They can chop the pears and stir the pot, and will be amazed at how cooking can completely change an ingredient.

Pear Butter

4 large pears or 6 medium (about 1.2 kg total)

200 ml water

Core and chop the pears, but do not peel them, and put in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, about 1 hour.

Once the pears have softened, remove the lid and continue cooking for another 2-3 hours, stirring from time to time, until the mixture is smooth and brown and there is no visible liquid. You will need to stir more frequently towards the end of cooking, to avoid scorching.

Cool to room temperature and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate.

 

Breakfast, Dips and spreads

Blueberry Chia Jam

blueberrychiajam

Happy new year! I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and had a good break. To get started cooking in 2016, I am sharing a recipe that we will be making in my GAPS For Breakfast workshop next week. This workshop is now sold out – sorry! – but I will be holding it again in April 2016. Details of other upcoming workshops are in the sidebar or on my Events page.

Chia seeds are not only loaded with nutrients, but also very versatile in cooking. For those with an egg allergy, chia seeds can be used as an egg substitute. Chia seeds can be used to make a delicious gluten-free porridge. And here they are used to make a pan of runny fruit set into a jam, without the added sugar of traditional jam. Instead I have just added a touch of honey for sweetness. Chia jam is also incredibly quick to make compared to traditional jam, which is more of a “project”. I hope you enjoy it!

Blueberry Chia Jam

300 g fresh blueberries

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

Yield – one small jam jar

Put the blueberries and honey in a pan and heat on the hob stirring frequently, until the blueberries have burst and the liquid is boiling. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the chia seeds and cook for another 10 minutes, continuing to stir.

When the jam has thickened, take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Taste and add more honey if necessary. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Keeps for up to one week.

 

Dips and spreads

Ghee

ghee

Ghee is a type of clarified butter used in Indian cooking. Making ghee from butter involves removing the milk solids that contain casein, leaving only the casein-free butterfat behind. In addition, ghee (like butter) contains very little lactose, so it is generally tolerated even by people who are lactose-intolerant. Ghee is permitted on both the GAPS and GFCF diet.

Ghee is great for frying as it has a higher smoke point than butter. I particularly like using ghee for cooking eggs, and I also like having ghee to hand to grease my cake tins as I don’t cook with butter. In a covered container, it keeps for months in the refrigerator.

Ghee

at least 250g unsalted, organic butter, more if you like

Preheat your oven to 120°C/250°F/gas mark 1/2.

Put the butter into a saucepan or oven dish with high sides. It should fit fairly snugly.

Bake in the oven until the butter has fully melted. The melted butter will split into 3 parts: a milky, nearly solid layer at the bottom; a golden liquid layer in the middle; and a shallow layer of white foam on the top.  Remove carefully from the oven when the foamy top layer has started to brown, after about 45 minutes.

Using a spoon or spatula, carefully skim off the foamy top layer and discard.

Prepare a clean receptacle for the ghee such as a glass jar with a lid. Place a colander over the jar and line with muslin. Pour the golden middle layer through the lined colander into the jar, being careful to leave all of the milky bottom layer in the pan.

Discard the bottom layer of milk solids (do not pour down the sink unless you would like a visit from your plumber!).

Allow the ghee to cool, then refrigerate. It will keep for up to six months in the refrigerator.

Dips and spreads, Side dishes

Cranberry-apple chutney

chutney

This cranberry-apple chutney is one of my holiday staples. Every year I like to make a big batch just before Thanksgiving and pack it into jars, either to serve with festive meals at home or to bring to our hosts as an edible gift. I’ll be testing it out on Thanksgivukkah this year and I think it will go down a treat.

apples

The chutney is lovely with turkey, slow-roasted duck legs or really any roasted bird – and wonderful with leftovers.

chutneyjar

Cranberry-Apple Chutney (adapted from a Nigella Lawson recipe)

700g Granny Smith apples (about 5 medium or 7 small), peeled, cored and sliced into bite-sized pieces

250g dried cranberries

1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped

a thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

350 ml apple cider vinegar

200g caster sugar

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 teaspoons salt

Makes about 3 jam jars of chutney

Place all of the ingredients into a saucepan or dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a rapid simmer, stirring regularly, then lower the heat to a slow simmer.

Cook for 45 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the apples have become soft and the mixture appears thick and jammy.

Transfer the chutney into clean jam jars and close the lids tightly. Once cool, store the chutney in the refrigerator until the holidays are over.

Dips and spreads

Cashew butter

plate

In today’s nut-free schools, it is hard to imagine there was a time when PB&J was the staple of most children’s lunchboxes. It certainly was when I was growing up in 1970s America.

Of course many children big and small still enjoy peanut butter at home. Provided the brand you buy does not contain loads of sugar, salt, hydrogenated oils and other added nasties, peanut butter can definitely be part of a healthy diet. But if you or your child like peanut butter, why not try some other nut butters for variety? All nuts are a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but beyond that each nut has it own nutritional profile. Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E (important for cell membranes), but the cashews I’ve used in today’s recipe contain higher levels of magnesium, iron, zinc and selenium. It’s a great idea to eat a range of different nuts.

It’s also fun and easy to make your own nut butters with whatever nuts you like best – and not much else.

cashew

And once you’ve tasted homemade nut butter, I’d be surprised if you ever bought the stuff in the jar again.

Cashew butter

400g plain, raw cashews

3-4 tablespoons olive oil

a generous pinch of salt

Makes one 500ml jar of cashew butter

Preheat your oven to 190°C/375°/gas mark 5.

In a roasting tin, toast the cashews in the oven until golden (about 15 minutes), stirring or shaking frequently to avoid burning. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Put the cashews in the food processor and blitz while gradually adding the olive oil and salt, until the texture looks like peanut butter.

Scrape into a jar and refrigerate. The cashew butter may seem too liquid at first, but it will firm up after a few hours in the refrigerator.

Delicious on toasted (gluten free) bread, on rice cakes or on sliced fruit.