Salted honey rosemary walnuts - to her core

I had every intention of posting another holiday-themed recipe before Christmas. I had the recipe ready to go – lightly toasted hazelnuts, chocolate. Something slightly sweet, with a touch of saltiness.  But as things go this time of year everything got too busy and I didn’t get round to making and shooting it, so instead I thought I would leave you with somewhat of a wrap-up of some of my favorite recipes doing the rounds at the moment.

Growing up our Christmas lunch was either an Italian feast with my mother’s family, or a traditional roast with my Dad’s. More often than not, we would go to my paternal grandparents for dinner, and lunch was spent with my mother’s family. Nan (with the help of my mother and aunt) would spend days preparing an incredible amount of food. First course would sometimes be seafood – crayfish if we could get it, or prawns, as a modern Australian addition to an otherwise very Italian menu. Next off we would have some simple soup that consisted of a stock flavoured with chicken, vegetables, a few herbs, splash of oil, and homemade pasta pieces. This would be followed by the creme de la creme of all lasagnas, which my Nan would spend days preparing and everyone would fight over who got the corner piece. Following this would be meat and roasted vegetables, plus a simple green salad. Then fruit for dessert with espresso, and perhaps some grappa for the adults. 

Unfortunately as grandparents get old, marriages dissolve, children grow up and people move away, I don’t see my Italian family on Christmas days anymore, and even if I did, the majority of the food I would no longer be able to eat as a non-meat eater. But the memory of this decadent meal cooked from scratch with home-grown ingredients and recipes passed through the generations is what great cooking is about. Good food does not need to be fancy, and though this particular feast took days to prepare, good food doesn’t necessarily have to be time consuming to prepare either. That said, as someone who loves cooking, I quite like the  idea of preparing a decadent feast for my family. So this menu below is perhaps something like what I would like to feed my future family for our Christmas lunch. A mix of wholesome, nourishing dishes, all seasonal and for the most part simple yet impressive. A few dishes that are quite healthy, with a few treats snuck in, and all deliciously mouthwatering. 

With Christmas only a few short days away, presumably you have all got your menus planned already, but just in case – or maybe one to bookmark for next year – these recipes all deserved to be checked out.

 

Appetisers/starters

Cheesy baked ricotta - to her core

Homemade baked ricotta – to her core

Baked brie with boozy fig spread and pecans – the Roasted Root

Ginger, pear and goat cheese endive appetizer – Naturally Ella

Fig, rosemary and goat cheese tartines – Will Cook For Friends

Salted rosemary and honey roasted walnuts – to her core

Cranberry-sage goat cheese crostini – Dishing Up the Dirt

 

The main event

cauli salad

Cauliflower avocado salad with pomegranate – the Smoothie Lover

Sweet potato gratin – Whole Nourishment

Sorghum pilaf with roasted brussel sprouts, cranberries and grapes – Golubka Kitchen

Chili + coconut brussel sprout slaw – What’s Cooking Good Looking

Winter vegetable and gorgonzola galette - Happyolks

 

Something sweet

chocolate hazelnut cake

Hazelnut chocolate cake – Rohkost

Pecan Crumble Pears – Renee Kemps

Satsuma + rosemary pignoli nut cookies – Dolly + Oatmeal

Dark chocolate pistachio torte – Laura’s Mess

Rosewater shortbread – 101 cookbooks

A wee little tipple

Christmas kombucha - to her core

Spiced Christmas kombucha – to her core

Fig and rosemary tini – A House in the Hills

Berry ginger cocktail – Sprouted Kitchen

 Party season pear cinnamon Earl Grey tea fizz – The Holistic Ingredient

Chai hot chocolate – Tasty Yummies

 

pear berry skillet cake collage - to her core

My breakfasts lately are usually quite simple savoury affairs – some veggies (whatever’s in the fridge) fried in a little oil or butter, with an egg thrown in at the last minute, whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, plus a little extra protein if it’s about – some smoked salmon or feta usually. But the other day I was craving something sweet and warming – it may have been due to what seemed to be never-ending grey, gloomy weather, which sparked the need for something warm and comforting.

spiced pear skillet cake - to her core

I remembered seeing a recipe a while back for an apple skillet cake – a concept I had never heard of before – and decided to try my hand at something similar. I didn’t have any apples at the time so instead opted for pears which I fried a little until they were golden and caramalised, added some spices, and then threw it all together with a yummy, mostly grain-free (and completely gluten free) batter. The end result was delicious and light, yet still warm and comforting. One thing I always struggle with when having rich, sweet treats for breakfast, such as pancakes, pastries or sugary porridges or cereals, is that I usually have a sugar crash a few hours later and feel quite sluggish for the rest of the day. This skillet cake however didn’t have that affect – it contains only a small amount of sugar, being sweetened mostly by the fruit, and also quite a bit of protein without too many carbs to lessen the sugar blow.

pears - to her core

chopped pear - to her core

I absolutely love the texture of this cake – if you come by here often you’d know by now that I’m not the biggest fan of your standard run-of-the-mill cake, this however taste like a cross between a cake and a baked pudding, dotted with moist caramalised spiced pear and sweet bursts of blueberry. It’s best enjoyed hot out of the oven, but it can be enjoyed heated up the next day as well. After that – I’m not sure sorry, it didn’t last that long in our house!

pear skillet cake - to her core

pear and berry skillet cake - to her core

Spiced pear and blueberry skillet cake

Yield: 2 serves

Spiced pear and blueberry skillet cake

Inspired by A Tasty Love Story

Ingredients

  • 2 pears, cored and cubed
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2/3 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
  • Batter
  • 1/4 cup each almond meal, coconut flour, brown rice flour
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1 egg, lightly whisked
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 heaped Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C | 390 F
  2. Heat butter in ovenproof pan over medium to high heat.
  3. Add pear and fry a few minutes until starting to brown on each side.
  4. Add coconut sugar and cook until golden brown. Stir through spices. Remove from heat and stir through spices to coat.
  5. To make the batter, add all the dry ingredients to a mixing bowl and then whisk in the wet ingredients.
  6. Scatter the berries over the pears and then pour over the batter. Bake in 200 C oven 25 - 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Serve topped with fresh berries and coconut yoghurt or whipped coconut cream.
http://tohercore.com/spiced-pear-blueberry-skillet-cake/

cinnamon gluten-free shortbread - to her core

With only ten days until Christmas, I thought it would be timely to post a Christmas cookie recipe. This recipe is a by-product of my love affair with what would have to be one of my favorite and most used spices, cinnamon. I wanted to make a cookie (or “biscuit” as we call them here in Australia – though at Christmas time for some reason I just feel ‘cookie” sounds more appropriate) that really symbolised Christmas, and for me that would have to be shortbread. I have fond memories of not only baking shortbread at home when I was younger, but we also used to give my Nan a tin of bought shortbread which we would then all go on to eat ourselves – poor Nan!

shortbread collage 3 - to her core gluten free shortbread - to her core

I have been working on making a gluten free version of shortbread and though they are not exactly the same as traditional shortbread made with plain flour they are a pretty damn good alternative. The plain flour has been swapped out with a mix of sorghum flour, potato starch and coconut flour, which not only eliminates gluten from the recipe, it also increased the nutritional portfolio. I also had luck using a combination of brown rice flour, buckwheat and coconut, though that combination lends to a slightly drier and crumblier cookie. The cookies will be quite crumbly anyway – as is traditional shortbread.

I have reduced the sugar slightly as well, and used a less refined sweetener in coconut sugar, however I have kept the fat content pretty much the same – after all it’s the buttery-ness of the shortbread that I feel gives the cookies their distinctly delicious flavour.

As shortbread is traditionally made with icing and/or caster sugar, I blitzed the coconut sugar in my Vitamix to make it more powder. This could easily be done in a food processor instead, or alternatively you could always use the coconut sugar as is.

cinnamon shortbread - to her core

whipping shortbread - to her core

These cookies and smooth yet slightly crumbly with that unmistakable buttery flavour. They also have a more developed, almost caramel-y sweetness to them from the coconut sugar, beautifully accented by the cinnamon. These cookies are perfect plain and dunked into a hot cup of tea, but I imagine they’d also be a great base if you felt like jazzing them up a little – some ground cloves and orange rind would work well, or for something a little different, a small amount of finely chopped rosemary or lavender would work great here too.

gluten-free cinnamon shortbread - to her core

Cinnamon shortbread (gluten-free)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 165g organic butter
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 150 C | 300 F
  2. Add the coconut sugar to a high-powdered blender or food processor and mix 20 sec on high to powder it.
  3. Cream the softened butter, powdered sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer for a few minutes until creamy. Stir through flours and spices. Note that the mixture will be quite crumbly, however it should still stick and hold together when pressed between two fingers.
  4. Shape into little flat discs and use a fork to press holes into the top. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom of the cookies.
http://tohercore.com/cinnamon-shortbread-gluten-free/