(vegan & gluten free) amaranth ‘n cranberry scones. Without fear of sounding like a ganster, these scones are pretty dope. Seriously. There are great scones, and then there are grrrrr-eat scones- and these happen to fall into the later category.
Also this is not my first rodeo when it comes to food blogging, two years ago I was cooking it up over at gnom-gnom.com. You can say that life and work got in the way, I was subsequently diagnosed with coeliacs disease, and so had to modify my way of cooking. I decided to start fresh over here, clean slate for a new stage. But these scones are the gluten free version of one of my most popular (and praised) recipes from over there.
And guess what? They may have just gotten even better.
Back then I might have just been willing to bet my taste buds for these guys. And well, I still am. That good.
Call it getting in the Christmas mood, but I cannot get enough of this winter fruit. Incorporated into these scones, they provide a lovely tartness and contrast against the earthy amaranth (which I increased in the gluten free version).
p.s. these might be vegan, but if you are not vegan I suggest pulling a food-oxymoron here and slathering a touch of ricotta. Otherwise some good quality coconut yoghurt (or whipped cream) will work great as well. And don’t forget the drizzle of maple syrup. Supreme.
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amaretti. Amaretti are special little biscuits, for they might not be lookers per say, but once you take your first bite you get why these guys have stood the test of time to have become classics. The nice thing about them as well are that they are ‘naturally’ gluten free, aka. the recipe was not adapted in any way for us coeliacs to be able to enjoy (hooray!). And hey, they are also an absolute piece of cake to make, if you don’t mind me saying (keep this on the down low please).
These little Italian biscuits also hold a special place in my heart. You see, it was the first (baking) recipe which I successfully carried out back in my university years, and you just never forget your first.
I was a late bloomer in the kitchen, and only became truly interested in my later years of university (shame on me). There was loads (loads) of experimentation (most of it pretty unsuccessful, to say the least), but after a while I got the hang of baking (precision, precision, precision).
Easy peasy to whip up, but with a taste that rivals even the most complex of biscuits. Almond flour, sugar (I have since switched to evaporated cane juice and it works perfectly), egg whites and a dash of almond extract (please use natural, it makes an absolute difference). That’s it.
A crunchy crust and a soft and chewy centre, it is no wonder these are an Italian staple. Give them to loved ones in little baggies (I have) or simply make for yourself (I have as well), these keep extremely well for at least 3 days (probably longer, but they are always gone at chez van der Hulst before I can test the theory).
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bacalao (salted cod). Bacalao (salted cod), is a dish traditionally served in Mexico (and Spain) during the Christmas to New Year period and one of my all-time-favourite dishes without a doubt (and if you know me, this is saying a lot!). I remember Christmas after Christmas as a kid sitting with my mother (and company) to shred the cod. Eagerly anticipating it (even more so than the turkey).
It is time consuming yes, but worth every bit of the work. This is my grandmother’s recipe, a take on the Spanish bacalao a la vizcaína. It really is a very special recipe, and one of the dishes she came to be known for throughout her lifetime. Her ‘secret’ was to shred the cod as thinly as possible (instead of leaving it in chunks), and to subsequently fry it in small batches. Hers was also dry, rather than ‘soupy’, so it makes for killer leftover sandwiches (even if you are a coeliac like myself, still make an effort to find a good gluten free bread).
And, this may sound cocky (but I’ll risk it anyways), let me tell you that doing the bacalao this way really does result in one of the best bacalaos I’ve had (if not the best one). And I haven’t been the only judge of this.
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thyme sautéed mushroom polenta. Otherwise known as polenta con sugo di funghi, this might just be the dish to fool the crowds in that you have been slaving away in the kitchen for a few hours. Not forty minutes, tops.
Polenta is also at the top of my list for heartwarming winter dishes. And this one is so simple to make, that it’s a quick and healthy winter staple over here at our home. Polenta also holds a special place in my heart, as after being diagnosed with coeliacs disease a year ago, it was the first dish I ran to in order to substitute my much loved pasta (and before I realised the wonderful pasta options available out there!).
Using good quality polenta (organic preferably) will also result in a creamier and tastier polenta, that will mean using less butter and very little Parmigiano (unless you are going down that route). Also, it was not a bad tip via Ottolenghi to make twice as much polenta, set aside part of it, and fry (or toast) the rest of it the following day in olive oil for a salad (serious yums).
And while over here in Mexico we never have a problem with procuring great tomatoes during the winter, during my years in London I made the sauce using canned tomatoes in the winter (so feel free to do so, if all you see is yellow instead of red at the supermarket in your neck of the woods).
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(vegan & gluten free) salted chocolate tarts. If I had to describe these (salted) chocolate tarts in just one word, awesome would be it.
These (rather decadent) chocolate tarts are proof that flavour need not be sacrificed for the sake of healthier ingredients. The filling is rich and smooth, definitely leaving you to wonder about the whole vegan part of the equation. And the hazelnut and thyme pairing of the crust is well, just divine.
With winter comes a bit of decadence, and these chocolate tarts definitely fit the mould. I personally like to use pure cacao paste, but the next best thing would be 99% cacao chocolate (Lindt makes it). Also, while the ground chia seeds may seem unimportant- do not omit them, as they are what binds the whole thing together.
And hey, if hazelnuts are not your thing, just do the tartlet cases all almond. But I personally love the hazelnut-chocolate combo (hint hint! Nutella). I also like to make these tartlets as a 50-50 chocolate-filling-to-hazelnut-crust ratio, but feel free to play around. These are no chocolate soufflé, so feel free to adjust ratios such as sweetness a bit according to taste.
Just do not forget to sprinkle a touch of great quality salt right before serving (I favour Maldon), or a pink himalayan will work great as well.
p.s. the chocolate filling is also pretty amazing on (warm) toast. Fairly similar in taste to the Dutch hagelslag (chocolate sprinkles).
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