Sun Dried Tomato Dip

HEALTHY  ‘TASTY’ DIP
sun-sdried-tomato_dipNow that you have made your decorated goat cheese, you can make a tasty and healthy dip to serve with it. The dip is very versatile.This dip is great with crudités or crackers, on sandwiches, or with cold meats. It can be made a day or two in advance and served at your chalet, lake house, sailboat or right at home. People always enjoy this combination goat cheese /sun dried tomato spread. This pairing pops with flavour and is a big hit with my friends.  I am often asked where I bought it!  Instead of crackers or I prefer sourdough baguette slices. Crisp and tasty. Although crackers have evolved to gluten free and no preservatives which you can buy at your local supermarket. I find that most of these healthy crackers are very flavourful and will change the taste of my goat cheese / sun dried tomato dip.  Over my years of reading about healthy foods, I would always come across the information that with respect to bread, we should eat rye bread or sour dough. I was puzzled by the sour dough as it was white bread after all. Then one day I came across some information that explained it.

RECIPE
Ingredients
1 package (3 1/2 oz) sun dried tomatoes
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves peeled
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar substitute (optional)
1 green onion coarsely chopped including green tops

Directions                                                                                                                                                                   

sun-dried-tomatoesCombine all ingredients in a food processor.  Use the pulse feature until everything is chopped to a coarse consistency not liquid.  Refrigerate until needed.  The flavour is even better the next day.  Serve at room temperature over goat cheese with toasts or crackers.

This is a tasty dip and will keep in your fridge for 7 to 10 days, limited only by the freshness of the herbs.  You can then make this in advance or use up the left overs as a salad dressing, to toss your vegetables and some more olive before roasting or add to a soup for more flavour.  The addition of mayonnaise or buttermilk will transform any leftover dips into sauces or salad dressings.

EVENING OUT:  I just brought the sun dried dip to a birthday party last night.  I paired it with a goat cheese log rolled in herbs.  There were herb crackers and whole wheat sourdough croutes.  This was a big hit!  People kept going back again and again for more.  They were addictive.  This was more popular than the smoked salmon platter!

didyouknowFOOD FACT: The acid in the sourdough slows down the absorption of the bread. That is how the San Francisco gold miners were able to sustain themselves all day long with just a loaf of sourdough bread. Hence the San Francisco sour dough loafs. The flour/simple carbohydrate  is broken down into sugar which starts even in the mouth with salivary amylase and eating a slice of white bread is not so different than having a piece of pound cake as far as your body is concerned.

Do you want a piece of white bread? Then…eat sour dough bread. It is healthier!

Beet Salad with Pecans and Feta

It All Starts From A Seed
I already have my beet seeds ready for spring planting in early April (in Toronto, Ontario, CANADA). It’s been a chilly March which may force me to plant my seeds in late April this year. I really enjoy beet salad, especially when paired with goat cheese. Soft goat cheese or feta cheese both work well in this salad. I was inspired after I made Wolfgang Puck’s Goat Cheese Napoleons for the first time. Amazing! I love beets so much that I now grow them in the garden at the lake house. Last year, as most years, they were left unattended ..and Mother Nature watered my beets.  I liked to pick my baIMG_0003by beets when they are about 1″ in size. When I served my beet appetizer to Chef Jamie, a weekend guest, his eyes immediately opened wide. He couldn’t believe the flavour. I bought the same type of seeds this year; golden and ruby beets. My favorite golden beets are sweeter than their deep red sibling. Even the greens from the golden beets are sweeter.
This year, I decided to grow beets in my balcony pots in Toronto. I will still faithfully plant them in the north country by the lake. I fear the Toronto smog may take its toll on my city beets. It will be interesting to see how they both turn out; the country beets and city beets.

MY FAVORITE BEET SALAD
Ingredients
6 medium beets
1/2 cup feta cheese, cubed
3 cups baby arugula or other tender greens(like watercress, baby spinach, etc.)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate syrup
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
freshly ground pepper
salt to taste, if you wish
Optional: 1/2 cup toasted pecans
Serves 4 people.
Single Servings: refrigerate what you don’t plan on eating. It will be hard to resist not having this salad the next day for lunch or dinner.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rinse the beets and cut off the greens, saving them for another use. Hint: chop and freeze the greens if you are not using soon.
3. Bake beets in the oven for 45 to 60 minutes until tender. I am using my glass baking containers for this instead of the classic foil.
4. Let them cool and then slip the skin off using gloves or paper towels to protect your hands from colouring. Cut into edible sized pieces.
Optional: You can toast your pecans in the oven for about 10 minutes, leave them untoasted (healthier but not as tasty) or candy them (not as healthy but yummy!)
5. Combine ingredients for the salad dressing. I do not use any salt in this dressing. I find that I do not miss it. The feta is salty enough.
6. Toss the greens in the dressing reserving some to drizzle on top of the salad. Place the greens in the serving bowl. The beets and pomegranate seeds are scattered on top. Then I layer on the feta and pecans but do not toss them. The feta will just stain from the beets. Drizzle more dressing on top and serve.

WHEELSVARATIONS: Finely chop some of your beets. Toss the beets and pomegranate seeds in the dressing and place this mixture on the ends of  endive leaves.
When making my salad I substituted 1 tablespoon of brain octane oil for one of the tablespoons of olive oil.
Candied PECANS
For candied pecans, add a pinch of cayenne pepper to 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Toss the 1/2 cup of pecans in the syrup and roast in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet at 325F for 10 minutes. Yummy! If you have guests, you need to make sure to make extra candied pecans. While the pecans are cooling, you will inevitably find those taste testers in the kitchen. Some pecans will magically disappear.
Sprinkle finely chopped feta cheese on top of the minced beets that are on the endives and serve as an hors d’ourve or appetizer for your guests.
endive-appetiser_feta
WHAT’S NEXT. . .
You can freeze your beet greens or leave them in the refrigerator. NEXT…I will provide a new and unique recipe on how to use your beet greens. I am tired of just steaming, sauteing, or putting them in soups. Something new coming up on my next blog. A healthy, tasty recipe you may have never thought you would dream of making.

Healthy Snacks and Appetizer

Craving a snack?  Need an appetizer to serve?  Why bother with a cracker? Use nature’s vessel.  Have you been putting your sandwich fixings in a piece of lettuce to avoid carbs and gluten?  Well, now you can substitute a piece of endive for the proverbial cracker. You can use this for tuna salad, egg salad, salmon salad, Caesar salad, beet pomegranate orange salad, beet pomegranate feta salad, the list goes on….. It adds just a little bite to your snack. As much as I am an anchovy hater, I will even add some anchovy paste to my egg salad to give it a bite.  When you bite into your food, you want it to just slightly bite youIMG_3553 back.  Yum! Yum!

Sun Dried Tomato Dip Recipe

3/4 cup olive oi1
1 1/2 oz. re-hydrated sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
2 tablespoons roasted red peppers
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs Italian flat leaf parsley
5 basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 green onion

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend to a course consistency. The flavour will be better the following day as they permeate the oil.  Serve with goat cheese, crudities, crackers or on cold meats. Delicious!

Decorated Goat Cheese

menu_flower Spring is just around the corner. Here is an idea that will wow your friends and welcome spring with a goat cheese appetizer. Have you seen those lovely decorated goat cheese rounds in your grocer’s deli case? They are so easy to make. Put a piece of plastic wrap in a small container that is a shape you wish to duplicate. Place a piece of washed herb, edible flower(s), olives, crushed coloured peppercorns, whatever you wish on top of the plastic wrap. Place a piece of goat cheese on top, pressing the sides into the corner of the container. I wrap the plastic wrap on top and at the end, press it on the counter top to flatten the base. Refrigerate overnight and you can unmould it onto your serving dish. It looks so much more appetizing when presented this way. Remember, the eye does half the eating. Beautiful!

didyouknow FOOD FACTS: Some things you may not know about goat cheese. While cheese and milk from cows is most popular in the United States, on an international scale, goat cheese is actually more commonly consumed.
If you want to get technical, cheese made with goat milk has a higher amount of medium-chain fatty acids. You don’t necessarily have to know the science behind these acids, but they account for the cheese’s signature tangy flavor, and also make goat cheese easier on the digestive system, so those with lactose sensitivities often find goat cheese easier to digest.