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.

 

Snacks

Rosemary Breadsticks

rosemarybreadsticks

Here is one the recipes from my GAPS on the Go workshop last week, where we made lots of snack and lunchbox foods – and then sat down and ate them! Thanks so much to everyone who came. If you missed out watch this space, as I will be offering the workshop again next autumn.

Rosemary breadsticks (adapted from the Against All Grain cookbook)

200 g ground almonds

1 large egg

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic granules

1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Makes 16 pencil-length breadsticks.

Preheat your oven to 180 C.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well using a hand-held mixer (or a stand mixer if you have one).

Divide the dough by half, then half again 3 more times until you have 16 equal parts. Roll each part first into a ball, then into a pencil shape using your fingers. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 12 minutes turning once halfway through.

Important: these breadsticks are quite soft when they come out of the oven. For crispy breadsticks, cool and dry on a rack for 48 hours.

Breads and crackers

Sesame seed crackers

crackerstack

Happy new year! I wish you all a happy and healthy 2015.

My kids just went back to school today, and I had a great day doing some baking while listening to Serial (which I highly recommend). The breads I am developing are still a work in progress. These grain-free crackers, on the other hand, turned out really well. They are tasty enough to eat plain but also perfect as a base for whatever topping you fancy: sliced avocado, bean dip, nut butter, etc.

Perfect for an after-school snack.

crackerrack

Sesame seed crackers (adapted from Elana’s Pantry)

300 g ground almonds

100 g sesame seeds (I used half black and half white)

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 large eggs

2 tablespoons olive oil

Makes approximately 80 crackers in two batches.

Preheat your oven to to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the ground almonds, sesame seeds and sea salt in a bowl.

Whisk the eggs and olive oil together, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix well. The dough will be very dry and crumbly. After initially mixing the dough with a spatula, I found it easier to work the dough with my hands until well blended.

Divide the dough in two half and set one half aside.

Place the other half of the dough on the baking sheet, and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Roll the dough out thinly between the two sheets of parchment paper. The dough should be evenly rolled out (check there are no holes!) and cover the entire surface of the baking sheet.

Remove the top sheet of baking parchment and cut into squares or rectangles with a pizza cutter or sharp knife.

Bake for 15 minutes, until firm and slightly browned. Cool, then carefully break apart the squares before serving.

Repeat with the other ball of dough, or refrigerate for up to five days before using.

 

 

Breakfast, Eggs, Snacks

Breakfast Muffin Frittatas

frittatafork

Healthy breakfasts have been on my mind a lot lately. I have been working on quite a few new breakfast recipes for the blog. I have also been trying to shake things up at home with some new breakfast ideas since the new school year started. I even talked with Mark Forrest on BBC Radio about healthy breakfasts a few days ago.

I would love to hear from you about how you keep breakfast healthy and interesting – please do speak up in the comments section.

In the meantime, these muffin breakfast frittatas were a hit at home. I made these with some (leftover) roasted courgette and pancetta but any vegetable, meat or fish would work (as well as cheese for those of you who eat dairy). My kids brainstormed some combinations they would like, so next up will be peas + spinach and potatoes + salmon. I made them for breakfast but they would also work well in a lunchbox or as a snack on the go.

Breakfast Muffin Frittatas

8 eggs

salt and pepper

whatever fillings you fancy – I recommend about 2 cups of vegetables and 1 cup of meat or fish – prepped and chopped

ghee or oil

Makes 12 muffin frittatas

Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Grease a muffin tin or silicone muffin tray with a bit of ghee or oil.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy and season with salt and pepper. Mix in your chosen fillings, then distribute into the muffin tin sections.

Bake for 20 minutes, then allow to cool for a few minutes before removing the frittata muffins from the muffin tin.

Breads and crackers

Cashew Nut Bread

cashewbread

One of the most common questions that I get asked by my GAPS patients is … “what about bread?”

I have been trying for months to develop a GAPS-friendly bread recipe. Finally, I remembered a delicious cashew nut bread that I made at a Gluten-Free baking workshop I took a few years ago at Leiths School of Food and Wine, taught by the delightful Adriana Rabinovich of glutenfree4kids. With a few adjustments and a bit of trial and error, I came up with this grain-free version. It is lovely with a bit of sliced avocado, or smeared with honey, or dipped in olive oil, or just eaten plain right out of the oven.

Cashew Nut Bread (adapted with permission from a recipe by Adriana Rabinovich)

200 g cashew butter

6 eggs

50 g ground almonds

50 g coconut flour

35 g milled seed mix (such as Linwoods milled flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seed mix)

1/2 teaspoon salt (a bit more if your cashew butter is unsalted)

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Makes 10-12 slices

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Combine eggs and cashew butter in a large bowl and mix well.

In another bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Fold into the egg and cashew butter mixture, then transfer to a lined, greased loaf pan. I use a 25 cm silicone loaf pan greased with ghee (which is casein free), but you could also use a bit of sunflower oil to grease the pan. Smooth the top of the batter with a fork for an even surface.

Bake for approximately 35 minutes, then cool on a rack before removing from the loaf pan. This bread is best eaten within 24 hours.

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.

Snacks

Kale Chips

kale

Happy new year! Here’s wishing each and every one of you a wonderful 2014 filled with good health and delicious food.

It’s been a year now since I started the blog section of my website. Thanks so much to all of you who have supported me and cheered me on. My most popular post of the year was Slow-Roasted Duck Legs, with 261 hits! I have big plans to continue posting recipes and fact sheets this year. In particular I will be adding more GAPS-friendly recipes, as GAPS has been increasingly significant in my clinical practice.

Kale chips might be a little bit 2013 by now, but they are still easy and delicious. So if you have never made them, I urge you to have a go. I used curly purple kale, but any variety works for this recipe.

Kale chips (adapted from a David Lebovitz recipe)

1/2 of a head of kale (about 6 large leaves)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

Serves four as a snack

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Wash the kale leaves and dry in a salad spinner. Tear the leaves into large bite-sized pieces, taking care to discard the tough central stem. Toss with the olive oil in a bowl, then arrange the kale on a baking tray in a single layer.

Bake for 20 minutes or until crispy. Remove from the oven and put the kale on some kitchen paper to blot excess oil. Sprinkle very generously with sea salt, and serve as a snack.