Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers with Pea Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Beets

The other day, I posted a recipe that was the indirect result of my husband’s recent business trip to Ireland: Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burgers with Mango. Insane!

Today I’m posting the first “inspired by that trip” recipe I actually made – the day after he got back. Yes, tired, jetlagged, and just happy to be home, I dragged his ass to the grocery store to get ingredients for it. To be fair, he shouldn’t have shown me his photo and told me about what was in it. He knows what I’m like 🙂

This was developed based on the burger he actually ordered at G Counter, whereas the Tandoori one was based entirely upon a menu description. What he was attracted to about this burger in Ireland was that it’s SO different from anything he’s ever seen locally. Also: he’s addicted to beets.

We made this up as 2 giant burgers, and were full all day. It would definitely work as smaller burgers – 3 or 4 of them. Actually, I bet these would be super cute and elegant if done up as a tray of sliders!

This has many layers of flavour, all of which complement each other without being overwhelming. It’s a very satisfying burger! Additionally, this can be made gluten-free with the appropriate choice of bun (or exclusion of the bun, which is how I had it!)

Moroccan Spiced Lamb Burgers with Pea Hummus, Goat Cheese, and Beets






Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burger with Mango

My husband recently got back from a work trip to Ireland. As I have him trained well (if he’s dining without me, he takes photos of EVERYTHING that he wants me to replicate… including the menu info. Good man!), that meant some fun with creating in the kitchen after he got back.

As I was getting set to make my own version of a lamb burger he had at The G Counter Deli, I happened across a menu item that sounded amazing: “Tandoori spiced chicken burger with mango & lime mayo”. What a great idea! I would have to make my own.

So, I started with a Tandoori marinated chicken breast, as I prefer that to actual ground chicken burgers. I used mango slices, rather than in the mayo… and did a mint, cilantro, and lime mayo – I just can’t bring myself to serve an Indian inspired dish without some sort of nod to cilantro-mint chutney. I may be an addict. Anyway… I also added some red onion for colour and crunch, and cucumber for texture, and as a nod to raita – the creamy dip served with many Indian dishes.

… what an utterly mind blowing sandwich! So many colours, flavours, and textures that both stand out from, and complement each other. The coolness of the cucumber, sweetness of the mango, and the bright green flavour from the mayo spread really work well against the spicyness of the chicken. It all comes together for this amazing, complex, and really well balanced sandwich.

Pretty sure I could live on these… SO good! (Even without a bun, for me!)

Tandoori Spiced Chicken Burger with Cilantro-Mint Mayo and Mango Slices






Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Canadian Election Cocktails

This Canadian election has been the craziest I have ever seen in my entire life.

In my experience (up til 9 years ago when I moved, anyway).. our elections are usually pretty boring compared to the USA. We don’t really get big sex scandals, or many of the “OMG DID YOU HEAR WHAT HE/SHE SAID!?” kind of moments. Everyone is usually pretty middle of the road, election season is usually quite short, and then we move on.

Then we got Stevie, and everything started to change. The tone of elections got a little darker. Ads started to be a little more nasty. This election season is officially the longest we’ve ever had. Stevie and company have just gone WAY off the deep end with unabashed bigotry.

The backlash has been amazing to watch. As I’m writing this, just YESTERDAY ALONE, I’ve heard about Sluts Against Harper, a marijuana dispensary offering weed as an incentive to vote, and Niqabs of/du Canada. Oh, and Danny Williams telling people of his own (former, as he retired) political party to not vote for Stevie, and to not vote at ALL if they can’t bring themselves to vote for another party. (Danny for PM!)

I want my CBC. Curse geo-blocking, I bet This Hour has 22 Minutes and Rick Mercer Report are PARTICULARLY fruitful and fantastic, this go around.

As soon as this election was announced, I knew I would need to be well stocked on alcohol to get through the actual election day, along with all of my Canadian expat friends. It sucks, having our hands tied like this!

So, rather than just make a few gallons of Rum Runners, I thought it would be fun to come up with themed cocktails for the event.

I swear, when I had the idea a few weeks ago, it was with the absolute best intentions. I have a lovely cucumber vodka that I thought would work well for the Green Party cocktail, for instance.

Brainstorming for them, however, took me way off into snarkland.

It’s always fun to describe Canadian politics to my American husband. The parties, what they stand for, how they came to be, key players… things like how minority governments work, what a coalition government is, etc. I don’t know what they teach about Canadian politics, here… but I get the feeling there’s an assumption that it’s basically the same system. NOPE.

As he learned more and more about the whole deal, he failed to hold me back on my snark, and instead egged me on. It was the night we photographed (and subsequently drank!) our Boozy Sparkling Cider Floats recipe, so that didn’t help keep things polite, either 🙂

So… I’m not sure if I should apologize in advance for these recipes (as a Canadian!), or proudly present them as the obvious and necessary result of such an insane election. I mean really: at this point in the Canadian election, is it even reasonable to expect that a post about election themed cocktails would be anything other than really snarky?

Probably not.

So, here we go!

A Note on ingredients: As an expat, these cocktails are made with ingredients that are readily available in Minneapolis, where I live. I have no idea what’s available where in Canada. Really, if I have to watch this shit show FASCINATING election from afar – with my hands tied – I’m going to use what I can to get through it 🙂

Liberal Party

In designing a cocktail for the Liberal party, the obvious starting point was “Red”. From there, I decided that it should have some heat to it, because… well, Trudeau is so PRETTY. I’m not honestly that shallow, but if you look at the history of Prime Ministers in my lifetime… he does stand out!

Additionally, they’re leading the poll I just read, as I write this… so we’re going to go sparkling, and in a champagne glass, to make it celebratory.

1 oz Cinnamon Schnapps
Sparkling Wine

Pour Cinnamon Schapps into a tulip glass, top with sparking wine.

If you’re less concerned about staying on theme with “heat” and want a drink that doesn’t taste like mouthwash, use something like “Pom” Pomegranate liqueur instead of the cinnamon schnapps. Ick!

NDP Party

I really do want to like the NDP, and I tend to… but Mulclair has eyes that remind me of the demons on “Supernatural”. That really throws me off… especially when you consider that the very first reason I disliked Harper, waaay in the beginning, was that his eyes really creeped me out. I digress.

Growing up, I had Gary Doer as a premier, and he was a good guy. Also, I got choked up with Jack Layton feels as I discussed the NDP with my (American) husband. I told him a bit about their evolution as a party, general stances, etc. I told him that I remembered them being a bit more leftist back in the day, and that it seems like they’re moving more centrist – that they’re basically the Liberal Party with a different leader, at times. I brought up the concern about vote splitting.

To make: Squeeze a little yellow food colouring into a glass. Pour half of the Liberal cocktail into the glass, stir to turn orange.

Conservative Party

Oh boy. Initially, I wanted to just do a rocks glass full of Everclear… with the idea of “this is what we’ll need if Stevie gets in again…”. My husband quipped “Plenty of spirit, no SOUL!”… and we were off.

This cocktail retains the base Everclear, because really. I decided – to my husband’s horror – that what it really needed was some Budweiser. Also: bitters.

The bitters is mostly me projecting, as I AM bitter about what that party has become. I’ve voted Progressive Conservative before, and never regretted it. I would vote that way again, in different circumstances (Again: Danny Williams for PM!!)… but I am truly disgusted with what the current iteration of the federal party has done to my country.

To make: Measure about 2 oz Everclear into a tall mug. Add several drops of bitters of choice, stir well. Top with Budweiser. Might wanna chase it with Aspirin, especially if things go poorly in a week and a half.

Honestly, I have no idea how this tastes, there’s no way I’m going to drink it.

Green Party

I’ve never really thought much of the Green Party. Back in the day when I was a young voter, they were VERY far off and unknown, and seemed way too hippie for me.

I was pleasantly surprised by Elizabeth May during one of the early debates. She wasn’t at all what I pictured from the Green Party I’d known of when I was still in Canada, and pretty much came off as the best choice of all of them, based solely on that debate. My husband and I agreed that it was a shame they had no chance in hell of getting in.

So, we decided to go with something greenish, vegetal, and refreshing. The Prairie Cucumber Vodka we used was “certified organic”, so that seemed pretty appropriate too!

To make: Place 2 thin slices of honeydew melon and 3-4 fresh mint leaves in a tall glass. Measure 2 oz cucumber flavoured vodka, a good squeeze of fresh lime juice, and 3 mint leaves into a shaker filled with ice. Shake for 15 seconds or so, strain liquid into prepared glass. Top with sprite.

This one was actually REALLY good. Will totally make it again – definitely a summery drink though!

Bloc Quebecois

Bien que la moitiĂ© de ma famille est originaire de QuĂ©bec , et vit lĂ -bas , je ne l’ai jamais vĂ©cu un endroit avec un membre du Bloc quĂ©bĂ©cois se prĂ©senter aux Ă©lections . Mon exposition au parti a toujours Ă©tĂ© de loin.

Si je suis notamment un cocktail pour le Parti vert , il semble juste de faire un pour le Bloc ! Ils sont , après tout, en avance sur les Verts dans le sondage actuel que je lis.*

To Make: Pour about 1 oz of maple liqueur into a flute glass. Top with champagne.

If you don’t have maple liqueur, use a splash of maple syrup instead. Or, you know, add maple syrup anyway. MMMMM maple syrup…

* Thank you, Shirley, for providing the translation! (As I mentioned to Shirley… I’ve only managed to retain the ruder bits of French that I’ve learned over the years. Whoops)

Canadian Flag

Finally, let’s do a layered shot in honour of the Canadian flag, while we still have one!

First, you’ll want to read my post on doing layered shots, Shot Tectonics: The Science of Layered Shooters.

For the bottom layer, use grenadine.

For the middle layer, use Rumchata

For the top layer, we used Cinnamon schnapps.

Really, again… unless you like that mouthwash taste, find some other kind of high proof, red coloured booze. Go for tasty!

Note: This will turn out nicer if you make it early in the evening, if you know what I mean. Doing layered shots after an evening of developing and photographing cocktail recipes isn’t necessarily the best plan.

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Canada Day Recipes!

When non-Canadians think about Canadian food, they usually go RIGHT for the poutine… but we actually have a ton of other uniquely Canadian foods, many of which are relatively easy to make at home. You know, even when home-as-a-location is no longer in Canada!

Once I immigrated to the USA, pretty much everything I loved back home – and was no longer able to obtain here – became “comfort food”. No matter how ubiquitous it had been back home, no matter how simple… now it was exotic, heart warming, sanity, saving, etc.

So, with Canada Day just 2 days away – and it being THREE WHOLE YEARS since posting my Canada Day Watermelon Bowl Tutorial!), I figured this would be a good time to post a comprehensive list of the awesome Canadian recipes on my blog so far.

Enjoy!

Alligator Pie

Ok, so as a food, Alligator Pie isn’t really CANADIAN… I’m not sure it’s really a thing anywhere, for that matter… but I created this recipe based off a very famous children’s poem back home, so I’m claiming the recipe as being Canadian!

*****

Back Bacon and Peameal Bacon

Back Bacon and Peameal Bacon start off with the same brining process, but utilize different methods to cook them. One is rolled in cornmeal, sliced, and fried… while the other is smoked. Both are awesome. Proper back bacon like this will wreck you for the stuff they call “Canadian Bacon” in the USA!

*****

Butter Tarts

I have two recipes for Butter Tarts posted… Regular and Gluten-free. I even created a Butter Tart Liqueur recipe!

*****

Clodhoppers

Clodhoppers is a well known candy, that originated with a company in my hometown of Winnipeg. This is my recipe for a homemade version – just as good as the “real” thing!.

*****

Cod Au Gratin

I fell in love with Cod au Gratin while living in Newfoundland for a few years, and it still hits the spot. Easy to make, and this version is Gluten-Free!

*****

Cretons

Cretons is a breakfast meat spread from Quebec. First had it when visiting my family in my early teens – hated it at first, love it as an adult.

*****

Crunchie Bars

Crunchie Bars were one of my favourite candy bars back home – chocolate covered sponge toffee!

*****

French Canadian Pea Soup

Ah, comfort food from my childhood. February was ALL about Festival Du Voyaguer… which, really, was ALL about the French Canadian Pea Soup!

*****

Honey Dill Dipping Sauce

Honey Dill Dip is SUPER popular in my hometown, but not all that well known outside of Winnipeg. Very simple – only 3 ingredients – and goes so well on so many things. Can’t have chicken fingers without it!

*****

Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce

Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce is one of those things I’d never really associated as being Canadian, til moving to the USA. You can get hot wings anywhere here… but no honey garlic wings to be seen! I reverse engineered a popular brand of honey garlic sauce from back home, and it’s easy to make at home. I particularly love meatballs cooked in this sauce.

*****

Nanaimo Bars

Generally regarded as one of our two main “national desserts” (along with Butter Tarts), you may recognize Nanaimo Bars from their place of honour on the cover of “The Spirited Baker”. I have a few recipes for Nanaimo Bars online: Cherry, Mocha, and Pumpkin Spice

*****

Partridgeberry Pie

Partridgeberry Pie is my favourite kind of pie, which I “discovered” while living in Newfoundland. Partridgeberries (AKA “lingonberries”) grow wild in Newfoundland, kind of a cross between a blueberry and a cranberry. SO good!

I also have a recipe for partridgeberry wine.

*****

Poutine

Poutine… such a simple thing, SO impossible to find done right locally. Good thing it’s pretty easy to make at home!

*****

Puffed Wheat Squares

Puffed Wheat Squares are apparently a Canadian Prairies thing – and it’s a snack you could find ANYWHERE, much like (But VERY much superior to, IMHO!) Rice Krispy Treats.

*****

Tiger Tail Ice Cream

Tiger Tail Ice Cream (or “Tiger-Tiger”, depending on the brand name!) was my favourite flavour of ice cream as a kid, though we usually just got it when visiting my aunt in Ottawa. So, kind of a rare treat. It’s orange flavoured ice cream with ribbons of black licorice caramel!

*****

Tourtiere

I LOVE Tourtiere, a French Canadian meat pie. My recipe, here, is for a gluten-free version, but for those not requiring gluten-free, you can substitute your favourite savoury pie crust recipe.

*****

So, Happy Canada Day!

Now, for my annual sharing of Important Canadian Culture 🙂

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Gluten Free Sauerkraut Buns Recipe (Pyrizhky)

Yikes, it’s been over a month since my last post! Sorry about that. We’ve been super busy with 3 conventions, Pi Day, AND a long road trip in that time. Back now, and it’s about a month til our next convention, so… here I am!

Growing up, I loved Sauerkraut buns… soft little bready balls of joy that would show up at family gatherings. Though we’re not Ukrainian ourselves, growing up in Winnipeg meant that many of the traditional foods from other cultures – Especially Ukrainian – were pretty… ubiquitous. Bacon, onion, and sauerkraut is a pretty genius filling, so it’s no wonder that these were super popular back home.

I’m kind of surprised that it seems like no one I know here in Minneapolis has ever heard of them!

While preparing for Pi Day, I decided that it was time to develop a recipe for a gluten-free version. These aren’t QUITE as soft as the original – and the technique is different for putting them together… but they are full of flavour, inside and out. The bread has a great texture, and they’re easy to make.

Enjoy!

Gluten Free Sauerkraut Buns (Pyrizhky)
Makes about 35 buns

Dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 envelope yeast
1 1/2 cup+ Brown rice flour
3/4 cup gluten-free oat flour
1/2 cup Amaranth flour
1/2 cup Millet flour
1/4 cup Corn starch
1/3 cup Potato starch
2 Tbsp Tapioca starch
3 tsp Xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sour cream

Filling:
1 lb bacon, chopped
1 bag saurkraut (about 19 oz), well drained
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt
Pepper

Melted butter

Prepare the dough:

Gently mix together warm water, sugar, and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of the brown rice flour, remaining flours, starches, xanthan gum and salt. Form a well in the middle, and pour oil, eggs, and sour cream into it. Mix well, then add the yeasty water. Mix until everything is well incorporated, then knead lightly for 1 minute – it will be a bit wet. Place dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise somewhere warm for 1 hour.

As you are waiting for the dough to rise, prepare the filling:

Cook bacon & onions until bacon is almost cooked, but not crispy. Add saurkraut to the pan, cook and stir well until bacon fat is absorbed and everything is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let cool.

One the hour rise is up, mix remaining 1/2 cup rice flour into the dough. Pinch off a walnut sized piece of dough, and work into a circle. If dough is too wet to work with, add a little more flour. You want it more wet than normal dough. Let stand for another 10 minutes.

Assemble the sauerkraut balls:

Note: I like to wear latex gloves for assembly:

Divide dough into a bunch of walnut sized pieces – about 35 of them.

One at a time, flatten a piece of dough into a circle approximately 3″ across – I like to do this in the palm of one hand. Place a 1 Tbsp mound of filling in the center of the circle. Carefully pull up the edge of the circle up and around the filling, sealing the filling in (like a drawstring bag). Roll around between your hands a bit to get a uniform spherical shape, and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the dough/filling, leaving at least 2″ between dough balls.

Loosely cover cookie sheets with plastic wrap, and allow to rise another hour.

Heat oven to 375F. Remove pastic wrap from cookie sheets, bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and brush liberally with melted butter.

Great served hot, fresh out of the oven, cold, or even reheated. IF they last that long.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Gluten-Free Lembas Recipe

With just a few short days til TheOneRing.Net‘s “One Last Party”, I decided that it was finally time to develop my own Lembas recipe. I think it would be fun to bring it along on our journey (along with our Miruvor!): Cheaper than airport food, healthier – especially in light of the travel, looong hours, etc we are about to subject ourselves to – and, you know.. themeatic. Also, it involved creative problem solving, so a good way to keep me distracted while waiting!

The facts are these…

Lembas is a type of Elvish bread / cake / biscuit from Tolkien’s writings. First made by Yavanna from a special Elvish corn, it was nutritious, and known to be ridiculously sustaining – that “One small bite will fill the stomach of a grown man”, etc. It’s generally theorized that Lembas was based on hard tack – a very dry and bland bread product used for military rations and some traditional Newfoundland cooking.

“”Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith.” – Fellowship of the Rings

“The food was mostly in the form of very thin cakes, made of meal that was baked a light brown on the outside, and inside was the colour of cream.” – Fellowship of the Ring

In the movies, Lembas was shown to be a crumbly white biscuit type food. Apparently they used an unsweetened shortbread that tasted awful. They were presented wrapped in leaves, and tied up with twine.

Tolkien has said that they contain honey, and the “fruit of the Mallorn tree”, which was described as ” Its fruit was a nut with a silver shale” in Unfinished Tales.

Oh, and as one other challenge to this little exercise? Half of our little fellowship is allergic to gluten.

So.. lots of random information to work with, in addition to my own assumptions… and nutritional goals for the finished product.

To me, I picture this as a sweet thing, but not a DESSERT thing. They straight up mention its sweetness, afterall. I picture some of the sweetness coming from the (canon!) honey, but also from dried fruit, which would contribute to the nutrition of it. I think dried apples would work best given the colour description of the interior, but I think apricots are more in line with the complexity of flavour I’m picturing. I decided that there should be a small amount of spice for complexity, and a pinch of herbs to bring it back from being too desserty. In terms of “fruit of the mallorn tree”, I am choosing to interpret that as almonds.

Now, in terms of the nutritious / sustenance properties of Lembas… I wouldn’t have used white flour even if we weren’t working around gluten issues. There’s just no real nutrition there. I decided to use a small amount of masa flour, due to the original Lembas being corn based. Because I have no elven magical corn, it’ll have to do 🙂 Also, I’m supplementing it with protein powder and ground flax to contribute to nutrition. Non-magical, non-valar corn is only slightly more nutritious than wheat flour, after all.

Gluten-Free Lembas
Makes about 8 3″ Lembas biscuits

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp milk
1/2 cup masa flour
1/2 cup gluten-free oat flour (can use millet instead)
1/2 cup vanilla protein powder*
1/2 cup Sliced almonds
1/2 cup Thinly sliced dried apricots
1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup Ground flax seed (flax meal)
1 Tbsp tapioca starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 tsp Cardamom
1/4 Rosemary, finely crumbled/chopped

corn starch, for rolling

Mix butter and honey together just until combined – do not cream it or over beat it. Add milk, gently mix until combined amd smooth

In a separate bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients. Add dry mix to butter and honey, mix until combined. Wrap dough in plastic film, chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Generously sprinkle clean work surface with corn starch, roll dough to 1/2″ thick. Cut into 3″ squares, and carefully transfer biscuits to prepared baking sheets, leaving 2″ between each. Cut a shallow “X” into each cake, if desired.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow cakes (biscuits?) to cool on cookie sheets for at least 5 minutes before moving, cool completely before serving.

If you want to get fancy with it, wrap them in leaves, and tie with twine. (I used collard greens). Oh, and be sure to “like” our Facebook page to see all of the crazy photos we’ll take when out in LA! Marie Porter, Cosplay Costumer!

* Choose your protein powder wisely! If it’s something you don’t like to drink, it’ll make the bread taste weird.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Miruvor Recipe

Well, this is fun. As I started to blog this recipe, I realized that I probably need an “Elvish” category. 🙂 I nested it under my Ethnic Foods category, LOL!

Anyway. A couple months ago, I started work on a recipe for as-legit-as-possible Miruvor. I’d seen recipes out there for cocktails called Miruvor, but nothing that seemed really canon. So…

Miruvor (or MiruvĂłrĂ«) is an elvish drink, from Tolkien’s writings. “Miruvor” was mentioned in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, as “Cordial of Imladris”. Made by the Rivendell elves, its purpose in the stories is to revive those who drink it… sort of an elvish energy drink.

“As soon as Frodo had swallowed a little of the warm and fragrant liquor he felt a new strength of heart, and the heavy drowsiness left his limbs. The others also revived and found fresh hope and vigor.” – Fellowship of the Ring

Elrond gave it to Gandalf, who shared it with the Fellowship – in small doses – explaining it to be precious.

Miruvor was based, in-world, on MiruvĂłrĂ« – a drink created and imbibed by the Valar, in Valinor. MiruvĂłrĂ« was made from flowers grown in Yavanna’s gardens, and has been referred to as “A kind of nectar” by Tolkien, and as a sweet mead by Galadriel. So, enough information to use and build on, but still fairly vague.

While my *serious* Miruvor is indeed a mead recipe, next week’s “One Last Party” seemed like an ideal occasion to break out a bottle of Miruvor… but my brewing batch will not be ready for several more months. I decided to do a “quick” version: liqueur, rather than mead. So… Miruvor, rather than MiruvĂłrĂ«. As with the in-world beverages, my Miruvor will similarly be inspired by my upcoming MiruvĂłrĂ« 🙂

So, as I do not personally have access to flowers from Yavanna’s gardens in Valinor – and because pretty much no information was ever created in terms of the actual FLAVOUR of said flowers, I had to get imaginative. In my mind, it would be a light floral flavour, almost fruity. I didn’t picture it as anything heavy, like rose or lavender, for instance.

In running through my knowledge of edible flowers that were also readily accessible, and deciding whether any were suitable as what I was picturing, it hit me: ELDERFLOWERS. Not only is their flavour pretty much exactly what I was picturing, the name is perfect. Elder flowers… Eldar flowers!

Ok, yeah, Rivendell elves aren’t technically “Eldar” elves, but Elrond WAS captured and raised by Maedhros and Maglor, who WERE Noldor, and therefore “Eldar”, so … Whatever, it’s headcanon now. Elderflowers = elvish.

For this recipe, I decided to use elderflower syrup, as it’s available year round and just a few clicks away on Amazon. You can use IKEA’s Elderflower syrup for a budget version, but I find the D’Arbo White Elderflower Syrup to be vastly superior in taste. Plus, you know… it’s SUPPOSED to be a precious drink, go ahead and spend the extra money to get the really good stuff!

Miruvor

500 ml Elderflower syrup (IKEA or D’Arbo)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
Peel of 1/2 lemon
peel of 1 orange
1 vanilla bean, split
Pinch salt
2-3 cups (500-750 ml) GOOD vodka

In a large pot, combine Elderflower syrup, honey, water, citrus peels, vanilla bean, and salt, whisking until well combined. Bring JUST to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Stir about 2 cups of vodka into the cooled syrup mixture, and taste. Continue adding vodka, to taste, until desired flavour / alcohol level is reached.

Strain through fine cheesecloth or a coffee filter, discarding peels. Funnel into clean wine or liqueur bottles.

After bottling, you should let it age for about a week in a cool place before drinking it – IF you have that kind of patience! Aging results in a smoother, more mellow flavor.

No-Tomato Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe (Gluten-Free)

I love quinoa. The taste is decent, and it’s a fun texture to eat. When I first started eating it like a decade ago, it was mostly in soups, as a healthier (and more fun!) alternative to noodles or rice. Sometimes I’d serve it on its own, almost like a rice… but it was only a few years ago that I started using it in what’s now my favourite application for quinoa: tabbouleh!

Even before discovering that I need to be gluten-free, I found that I actually preferred the taste and texture of quinoa to the traditional bulghur wheat used in tabbouleh.

Beyond being inherently gluten-free, this recipe was created with another need in mind – my husband’s utter hatred of tomatoes. I wanted a tabbouleh I could share with him, rather than hoard for myself. So: red peppers.

Usually, I’d consider this more of a summer thing, but I’ve been craving it lately, so did up a batch yesterday. Sitting here on Christmas eve munching on some… it has green, red, and mint involvement. I’m officially declaring it holiday canon.

So say we all?

No-Tomato Quinoa Tabbouleh






Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

How to make Peameal Bacon and Back Bacon

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the annoying things about living away from my homeland is the lack of availability of many of the grocery basics, treats, and general comfort foods of home. For the most part, they’re easy enough to make, once I put my mind to developing a recipe (Tiger Tail Ice Cream, or Honey Garlic Cooking Sauce, for instance!)

Recently, I was disappointed with a purchase of “Canadian bacon” (we don’t call it that – it’s back bacon!). I lamented the lack of availability of not only GOOD back bacon, but also peameal bacon. My husband had never even heard of peameal bacon, and had only ever had “Canadian Bacon” as they sell it here in the USA… anemic, flavourless, very blah ham product. This was a situation that needed to be rectified!

So, I did some research on recipes and techniques, and created a recipe of my own, using the flavours I wanted. I ordered a few necessary items – including Prague Powder, which I’d never even heard of – and then called my husband to let him know that I was taking up a new hobby – curing meat. You know you’ve married well when such a declaration isn’t met with some variation of “WTF? Because we don’t have enough hobbies?”, but with “Awesome! I’ve been meaning to take up smoking meats! We can do both!”!

Anyway, both back bacon and peameal bacon start out the same – soaking in a flavourful brine for a few days – and then veer off in different directions from there:

Peameal Bacon is then rolled in cornmeal (Back in the day it was crushed up dried peas), wrapped, and chilled. It’s then cut into thick slices and fried up as needed, usually served in sandwiches. So far as I can tell, peameal sandwiches are mostly a Toronto thing… I have no idea why. They’re fantastic!

Back Bacon skips the cornmeal, and gets smoked until fully cooked. You can serve it as-is, though it’s usually reheated in some form: fried as part of breakfast or in a sandwich, or thinly sliced and used to make pizza. I promise you, making a pizza with this will wreck you for all other pizzas. I made a spicy Hawaiian one the other day – back bacon, pineapple, thinly sliced jalapenos, and a drizzle of sriracha.. spectacular!

Says Porter: “It has a better texture than the stuff I’ve had – firm but not stringy or chewy. Much better flavor, more character. I definitely see a big difference, and I’m not going back”

While back bacon requires smoking – usually requiring special equipment / technique – peameal bacon is ridiculously easy to make, and requires no special skill or equipment. I was really kicking myself for not having done it sooner!

Note: This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites. While I’ll only ever link to items that I, personally, wholeheartedly recommend, I do need to put that disclosure out there!






With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

Savoury Alligator Pie Recipe

A few weeks ago, my friend Charlotte posted something to the effect of “When I say ‘Alligator Pie’, you say what?” as a Facebook status. To me, the answer was obvious – “If I don’t get some, I think I’m going to die!”.

She ended up getting some weird responses, none seeming to know what she was talking about. I was kind of perplexed – Alligator Pie was SUCH a popular poem / book growing up, how could people not know what she – a fellow Canadian – was talking about? I had assumed the book to be British, on account of the style of artwork I remembered from it … and if it had been crazy popular back home, surely her American friends had heard of it, right?

Well, I guess I should have realized it from the hockey references… but as it turns out, the book is Canadian. I guess that explains the confusion! ANYWAY.

This time of year, I end up obsessed with Alligator meat. It finally cooled down enough for me to attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival a couple weeks ago, and – in my mind – the alligator sausage there is the absolute best part of fest. (Aside from all my friends that work there, I mean!). Shortly after our day at fest, I happened across some frozen alligator meat in the grocery store, so I picked it up… thinking I’d make some sausage at home.

Well, having “Alligator Pie” stuck in my head, I ended up deciding that I should make some. I knew “Alligator Pie” existed in a few different incarnations as a dessert… some as a green coloured cream pie, others more like a pecan pie, with the nutty surface being representative of alligator skin. However, I had never heard of an ACTUAL alligator pie. As one of the most literal people ever (Seriously, Drax is my spirit animal)… it had to happen.

Because there wasn’t really something pre-existing, I could pretty much do whatever I want! I decided to start with a proper cajun trinity – onion, celery, and green peppers – as a nod to gator meat as a very southern thing. (Says the Canadian, making a pie about a beloeved Canadian poem!). I flavoured it with some of the same seasonings I could taste in the alligator sausage that I loved so much… but only as an accent. I didn’t want it to be a sausage pie, after all. I wanted it to be like the savoury pies I’d grown up with – some meat, some vegetables, a little gravy, and a ton of flavour.

This ended up a huge hit with both my husband and a couple other friends that happened to pop by the night I made it… including The Pink Dalek, who almost didn’t share with her mom! The meat was tender and juicy, and the flavours all worked very well together.

This recipe will work well with your favourite pie crust recipe, or even with store bought crust. Looking for a tasty gluten-free pie crust (the filling is inherently gf!)? You should buy a copy of my book, Beyond Flour – pie crust is only one of the many “as good or better than the gluteny original!” recipes in there.

Enjoy!

Alligator Pie

2 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 lb alligator meat, cut into small pieces
1 lb pork loin, cut into small pieces
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 dried oregano
Pinch dried thyme
pinch cayenne powder
1/2 cup chicken broth or dry white wine
2 tsp corn starch
Salt and pepper

1 double crust recipe of pie dough, prepared (or store bought)

1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 425 F

In a large pan, melt butter. Add onion, peppers, and celery, cook until veggies start to soften. Add garlic, meats, and seasonings, continue cooking until meat is browned. For a finer texture filling (as pictured), I transferred the mixture to my food processor and blitzed it a few times, but this is optional.

Whisk together broth and corn starch until smooth. Add to pan, bring to a boil. Allow to cook until liquid becomes quite thick. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide dough into 2 parts – one slightly bigger than the other. Roll the bigger section out , use it to line a deep-dish pie pan* – carefully working it into the corners. Fill pie pan with alligator filling, spreading it into the bottom edge and mounding it in the center.

Roll out the second part of dough, cover the pie filling. Crimp the edges as desired, poke a couple of slits in the top. If desired, roll any extra dough very thin, cut into shapes, and apply to the crust for decoration. Whisk together egg and water, brush over the entire top of pie.

Whisk the egg together with water, use a pastry brush to coat the entire crust with a thin wash of this glaze. Cut thin strips of aluminum foil, gently wrap over the outside edge of the crust to protect it from burning.

Bake for 30 minutes, remove foil, and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Serve hot!

* I couldn’t find my deep dish pie pan when actually making the pie, so I used a quiche pan – works just as well!

With 2017 being Canada’s 150th birthday, it’s about time I wrote the Canadian cookbook I’ve been planning for YEARS.

“More than Poutine” will be a Canadian cookbook like no other – written by a Canadian living away, it includes both traditional homecooking recipes, as well as homemade versions of many of the snacks, sauces, convenience foods, and other food items that are hard to come by outside of Canada!

High quality gluten-free versions of most recipes will be included.

The Kickstarter for “More Than Poutine is live, here. Please consider backing, and sharing the campaign with your friends!

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.