Fearless Fridays: Quiche

 Bacon Herb Quiche made in a peanut and fish free environment because I have allergies and have anaphylaxisTwo weeks ago J and I had no ideas for a Saturday lunch because of the lack of groceries in our house.  After opening all cupboards, freezers and the fridge we came to realize that we had enough to make a quiche! We had bacon…and fresh herbs!

Now, hear me out. I KNOW not everyone keeps a ball of pastry dough or a pre shaped crust in their freezer. (Seriously, why wouldn’t you!) But what people do have access to if they do not want to make their own dough is store bought crust.  I have also had success in making quiche that does not have a crust!I have also had success in making quiche that does not have a crust. Pouring directly into a baking dish gave me the same results as using a crust would. What a great gluten-free option! I think everyone should try and make their own crust though, even one time. Maybe a post should come shortly on that about pie dough.

Quiche is a great and easy recipe to make for a breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Quiche is a baked custard dish. It involves a ratio of eggs and dairy (milk or cream) plus any ingredient you choose to add to the recipe. Once you have the liquid proportion down that you enjoy most, the world is yours in your quiche! Just remember some tips about the milk, the higher the fat content…the creamier the consistency in your quiche. So if you are using skim milk the filling would be more watery than if you were to use a half and half cream at 6% which would result in a firmer and more well rounded flavour (fat is flavour!).

Bacon Herb Quiche made in a peanut and fish free environment because I have allergies and have anaphylaxisBacon and Fresh Herb Quiche 

I find a lot of recipes do not call for blind baking (pre-cooking) their crust.  For me personally, the added step of pre-cooking my crust yields a super crunchy crust that is never soggy.

I cup light cream (6%)
3 large eggs
¼  tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper (or fresh cracked black pepper)
4 strips of bacon chopped (cooked until fat is rendered but not yet crisp)
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives (or 1 tsp dried chives)
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano (or 1 tsp dried oregano)
1 tsp  fresh chopped thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme)
1/2 cup soft goat cheese

For a pre-baked 9” pie crust or greased baking dish.
If you are not pre baking a pie crust, add an extra 20-30 minutes of baking time to the recipe.

In a bowl, whisk eggs and cream together. Add salt, pepper and herbs.

Sprinkle over the bottom of the pie crust the bacon and half the cheese. Pour the filling over the crust and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until quiche has puffed up and the top is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Bacon Herb Quiche made in a peanut and fish free environment because I have allergies and have anaphylaxisOther flavour combinations!
Broccoli and Cheddar
Asparagus and Spinach with Smoked Gouda
Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese
Caramelized Onions with Thyme and Mozzarella
Mushroom and Bacon

A New Friday Theme

I am flattered that my blog name sometimes gets called “fabulous” as an alternative to “fearless”. My friend B has inspired me this week with an idea to combine the two words for a new weekly Friday blog called “Fabulous Fearless Fridays”.

Each Friday I hope to inspire you with a new recipe, idea or meal plan for the upcoming weekend.  Sometimes an extra bit of motivation and encouragement is all one needs to be creative with food.  It has been an honour to have such an enthusiastic audience since the beginning of my blogging journey.  Thank you to you all who listen to my stories.  And thank you for stirring my creative juices. I have enjoyed taking pictures each day to post along with food ideas and information.

As with all my posts, it will be PEANUT, FISH and SHELLFISH free. I also hope to encourage myself in the future to create gluten-free recipes and make other substitutions.

FearlessFoods Goes Camping Part 2

Camping should be a relaxing way to unwind from the hustle of the city. I love to go camping but I am a bit “indoorsy” so I do like to bring the luxury of my indoor kitchen with me to the woods.

A trick for me when I go camping is to make a great meal plan for the duration of the trip and precook at home. Not only does this help me not forget small miscellaneous items (like a can opener or cheese grater) but it helps me create a meal that is exciting, healthy and hits all dietary restrictions.  Long gone is a meal plan that includes tuna salad sandwiches for lunch, peanut butter on toast and boxed convenience foods.

I found with thirty minutes of advanced kitchen time at my house I am able to make quick, delicious and scrumptious snacks. It also cuts down the amount of preparation time of meats if you choose to cook raw products at a campsite.

Some ideas of what to make in advance before a trip to make cooking a breeze:

–          Boil local nugget or baby potatoes for hash browns in the morning (there has been so many times I have been unable to roast potatoes on the fire the night because of a fire ban!)

–          Pancake mix ( the dry ingredients  in a bag and the wet ingredients in a litre mason jar)

–          Cut up vegetables for dinners and fruits for snacks

–          Fresh dips for veggies or a spread for sandwiches

–          Pre marinated meats for barbequing

–          Fresh seasoned ground meat for hamburgers

–          Yummy allergy friendly baked goods to curb any cravings for something sweet so everyone can enjoy a treat no matter what restrictions.

Some ideas of what to pack to take on a camping trip when travelling in a group if you have allergies or anaphylaxis:

–          Salt and pepper from a safe source (I bring my pepper grinder and salt in a mason jar) for no chance of cross contamination

–          Personal plates, serving utensils and cutlery

–          Your own cutting board

–          Knife

–          Dish cloth and dish towels

–          Easy and food-safe snacks for the road

–          Personal frozen water bottles to double as ice packs so there is no sharing of water bottles

–          Fresh herbs from the garden to make dull dinners or sandwiches delicious

Homemade roasted garlic tzaziki made in a peanut and fish free kitchen in Vancouver because I have anaphylaxis. Served on top a marble slab and stored in mason jars.Roasted Garlic Tzatziki

When working with a long English cucumber, cutting the cucumber lengthwise and removing the seeds give the dip a thicker consistency. For an even drier consistency, place the grated cucumber into a towel or cheesecloth and wring out any juice. I find when working with baby cucumbers there is no need to peel or seed when making this dip.

500 ml Greek yogurt

1 tbsp olive oil

½ cup grated cucumber

2 tbsp chopped mint

1 head roasted garlic, pureed

Juice and zest of ½ a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and mint in a bowl until well combined. Add yogurt and cucumber and mix thoroughly. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and store in the fridge and let sit one hour before serving. For a stronger flavour, let sit overnight.

Homemade roasted garlic tzaziki made in a peanut and fish free kitchen in Vancouver because I have anaphylaxis. Served on top a marble slab and stored in mason jars top left and bottom right. Mint leaves from the garden.

Summer Time, Waffle Cones and Sunny Days

Waffle cone components needed to make recipe in a peanut-free kitchen. I have anaphylaxis Summer does not equal rain in most cities, but here in Vancouver that is how the recent weather has been treating us. But keep your chin up! Everyone is still wearing shorts, visiting their local farmers market and filling their kitchens with summertime produce.  I am sorry for the lack of sunshine my little tomato and basil plants!

Since the weather is not a scorcher outside, I am still able to turn on the oven guilt free. This means that J can enjoy warm strawberry rhubarb cobbler, roasted asparagus and brown rice pilaf all from the joy of the oven. (If it was a scorcher though, all of these could be done on the barbeque!!)

But any weather should involve ice cream. Anyone with a peanut allergy should be able to enjoy ice cream .

Like many, my allergies give me the misfortune to not be able to experience ice cream from a restaurant or local cafe. With flavours like peanut butter or pistachio, never mind the shops that have over a hundred flavours like seaweed and tuna, it is not safe for anyone with a nut allergy to eat safely in a cafe. So my choices are either to make it myself or recently I have been enjoying Avalon Ice cream that I am purchasing from my local green grocer. It is made in a peanut free facility.  If you are eating ice cream or waffle cones that are store bought, please make sure you find a brand that is made in a facility that is made without the contamination of ingredients you are allergic to. Always check the ingredient list! You can also call the 1-800 number of the company and ask them any questions if you have any hesitations.

The weather is perfect outside (right now…) to enjoy ice cream in these waffle cone bowls. They will be filled later with vanilla ice cream and apple rhubarb compote.

Homemade waffle cones for summer made in a peanut-free kitchen Waffle Cones

1 cup flour

¾ cup sugar

1 egg

½ cup milk

¼ cup water

1 tbsp melted butter

2 tsp vanilla

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and beat with a wire whisk.

Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons into waffle iron until golden brown. Remove and immediately press into any shape you desire.

For a crispier cone, add an additional one or two tablespoons of water into the batter.

Avalon Dairy- http://www.avalondairy.com/products.html

Chive Blossom Vinegar

FearlessFoods

Canning and preserving can be a satisfying and safe way for me to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the summer. I am able to create food that is made in a controlled environment that is fish and peanut free. Each year I try new recipes and I am always looking for new ways to build a complex flavour profile.  One way to do that is to use flavoured vinegar when pickling!

This post was inspired by the website Food in Jars (http://www.foodinjars.com  ), I was thrilled to see a way to use the chive blossoms that were flourishing in my own backyard. You can do this with any amount of blossoms.

FearlessFoods

You will need:

  • Jar or bottle
  • Chive Blossoms
  • Any type of mild vinegar (I used basic white vinegar because I keep quite a bit it at home because of all the pickling and cleaning I use it for)

The following are the steps I used to flavour the vinegar:

 

Sterilize the bottle. I used a 1 Litre milk bottle that I dropped in boiling water for a few minutes.

Cut the tender purple blossoms off of the chive plants and thoroughly wash blossoms with cold running water. I let mine soak in cool water for 10 minutes, then drained off the water (because the sediment had fallen to the bottom), covered with new water and gently swished the blossoms in the water for a few minutes.

Dry blossoms thoroughly

Place in jar to fill ½ to ¾ full. Cover and fill the jar with white vinegar.

Store in cool dark place for a few weeks,( I put mine in the fridge), strain and use accordingly!

I will keep you posted on how I used my chive blossom vinegar! Thanks for the inspiration Food in Jars!

Simple and Fresh Salads for the Sumer

Four Salads

From top left to bottom right: Roasted Beets with Lemon and Fresh Herbs, Cherry Tomatoes with Basil and Olive Oil, Coleslaw with Rice Wine Vinaigrette, Mango Salad with Orange Zest and Mint

Summer is coming and I am getting excited about all the local produce. Direct from farms to the Vancouver farmers market to my garden, these are all wonderful tools I am grateful to have access to. Waiting for the weather to be a bit hotter and drier, I am being patient and waiting carefully for seasonal fruits and vegetables I love.

When it comes to salads, I have to be a bit fussy with the ingredients because of my allergies and intolerances. Not only do I have to avoid putting seafood on top of greens or a sprinkle of toasted pecans, I have to avoid using many raw fruits and vegetables because of my oral allergies. Oral allergy syndrome is an immune system response to proteins found in one or more foods from the same pollen family. As an adult I developed oral allergy syndrome. It is always great to have more information about symptoms and how to prevent further discomfort when eating certain food groups.  For my case in particular, I have to avoid raw apple and pears, stone fruit such as peaches, pears, apricots and raw veggies like celery and carrots. I can eat them cooked, but I avoid and do not consume these particular types of produce.

This week I took a drive down to South East Marine Drive to visit the farms to see what was locally available. I walked away with a mix of local items such as green onions, baby bok choy and new potatoes.  But before I got started cooking up those inspiring and exciting ingredients, I had to tidy up my fridge! It was time for a fridge cleanup!

I was able to compose four light and fresh salads for dinner with my “fridge-clean up” routine. Keeping it simple, I was in and out of the kitchen in twenty minutes after making all four salads.

Coleslaw with Rice Wine Vinaigrette

¼ head of green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 carrot, grated and blanched in boiling water for one minute

2 green onions, thinly sliced

½ tsp celery seeds

Rice Wine Vinaigrette

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine cabbage, grated carrot, green onion and celery seeds in a bowl. In small bowl mix the olive oil, rice vinegar and pinch of sugar. Combine with sliced vegetables and toss to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I found this article to be well researched with a great explanation oral allergies and food intolerances. Read more at: http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Allergy+season+What+when+apples+bite/4602829/story.html#ixzz1PqrW45hI

Mac ‘n Cheese…Meet Caramelized Onions

Happy Father’s Day

A celebration shout-out to all the dads today.

Hosting dinners at my house is a common event when there is a celebration because of my food allergies to fish and peanuts. I am always looking to expand my repertoire because I rarely cook the same meal twice. I like keeping it simple and I do love to make an impression.  With hosting any type of meal, planning in advance is very important. The focus and main priority should be the guests once they have arrived. Like Martha Stewart has taught us, the guest should think your party was executed effortlessly and you just “whipped this up. Mise en place for your recipes should be completed; dishes and clutter should be removed from eyesight.( Of course, this does not always happen because in real life time runs out because of busy schedules and there is never enough dishes in the kitchen.) And honestly, at the end of the day…sometimes you just want to impress your guests.

Onions waiting to be caramelizedThe following recipe is my new “having people over on a weekday night and we are celebrating” meal. This indulgent dish is rich and delicious. I have found it is a great recipe to make in advance the night before and pop in the oven when ready to serve.  I also have made this in my father’s home and split the recipe into two casseroles, one for eating and one for freezing. He suggests when you reheat the casserole from the freezer to add a touch more liquid before baking.

Oven-Baked Orecchiette with Caramelized Onions and Smoked Cheese

You can make this vegetarian by removing the pancetta. This recipe can be replaced with any type of melting cheese like a fontina, sharp cheddar or mozzarella. Serve with a light salad and a glass of wine.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup diced pancetta

2 large sweet onions, sliced thinly

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound orecchiette (little ears) pasta

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup grated Parmesan

8 ounces grated smoked cheese

2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Sauté pancetta in a small skillet over medium heat for three minutes or until crisped and golden.  Drain on paper towels.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and salt them immediately.  Sauté for three minutes or until they are coated in oil.  Turn heat to medium-low and continue to cook onions for 30 to 40 minutes until they become a thick golden mass.

Bring large pot of salted water to boil.  Add orecchiette and boil until al dente 8-12 min.  Drain immediately and transfer to large bowl.  Stir in cream, butter, 1/2 cup Parmesan, onions and smoked cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a buttered baking dish, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and dot with butter.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until pasta is hot and top is slightly browned.

Serves 4.

Published from The Globe and Mail September 2003 by Lucy Waverman and “A Matter of Taste” by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto (An excellent cookbook about seasonal menu recipes and  wine pairing.)

“Huh? There’s fish in it?”

AHHHH!!!! Caesar salad! My nemesis. The salad of death.  A bowl of scariness.

And it’s everyone’s favourite meal. The cheese. The dressing. The CROUTONS. Starting my career as a garde manger line cook , I have made many in my time. Mention of it makes me angry. Angry because I cannot eat it.  “What? You can’t eat Caesar salad? It’s THE BEST”, or “Huh? There’s fish in it?”

Oh hidden allergens. Anchovies are a key ingredient in Caesar salad dressing. Many do not know that Caesar salad dressing has anchovies in it. Terrible. Egg yolks are another common allergy that many people have; it is a key emulsification ingredient to bind together this creamy and delicious dressing. I, thankfully, have outgrown my egg allergy as I have grown older and can consume this delicious and indulgent food group.

So I look the other way when I see people eat it so I do not stare longingly into the dish. My eyes glaze and I try not to drool over the stranger picking up a single crouton with their fingers. But the other night, my friend, C, brought over this AMAZING salad to a family BBQ. It was the Caesar salad I always wanted.

(No Eggs, No Anchovy) Caesar Salad

From the Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook

This delicious recipe is taste so fresh with all the bright flavours of lemon and capers. Make your own croutons , gluten free if needed, to finish off this “classic” recipe.

1 roasted garlic bulb, cloves squeezed out, peel discarded

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp capers

1 tbsp caper juice

1½ tsp Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves, minced

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper

⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except oil to a food processor or blender; blend until almost smooth. Add olive oil in a slow, thin stream until dressing is thick and creamy.

To serve, toss enough dressing just to coat with torn romaine lettuce leaves; add homemade croutons. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

Homemade Croutons

6 slices of bread, cut into cubes (I had leftover bits of misc. bread in my freezer)

3 tbsp  butter

1 clove of minced garlic

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and white pepper

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt butter in small frying pan and add the garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant. Off heat add oregano, salt and pepper and stir until well combined.

Place bread cubes in a large bowl. Pour butter mixture over bread cubes and immediately toss to combine. Spread bread cube on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until dry and golden brown. This will take approx. 10-15 min depending on the size of the cubes.

 

 

 

The Joy of Cookbooks

Learning, reading and cooking from cookbooks helped me to become empowered in the kitchen. When managing my allergies I feel that cooking in my own kitchen is the safest environment. As a kid being exposed to my family cooking everyday was wonderful, and as I look back on my childhood, cookbooks were just as important. I never once felt that my edible world was small. Reading cookbooks opened my imagination, challenged my skills and gave me a freedom from anaphylaxis.

From childhood memories of forcing my mom to stay in bed while I made her breakfast in bed to working full time in professional kitchens, reading cookbooks stimulated my mind and mentally challenged my culinary foundation.  I read about muffins and why not to overmix the batter. I read about marinating and how they helped create added flavour and balance. I read about seafood to gain knowledge about a product I would never be able to eat. The most important lesson I learned about cooking was that I could be in control of what I ate if I cooked it. And if opened my imagination in the kitchen I could create a world where I felt like I was not missing anything. I could ignore all those comments like “Oh my, what CAN you eat!” or “Meh, you are not missing anything, it is gross anyways.”  Of course the challenge is with allergies to feel safe, maintain a nutrient rich diet and not feel excluded from group events.  We do not have a choice to not eat something; we have a responsibility to put our health and safety first.

I am thankful to have been reading books from the library for as long as my memory can jog backwards. It was a weekly event in our house; my mom drove my brother and I to the local branch to pick up books to read (it was common to have as many as our arms can carry with our chins resting on the top of the pile). Man, I loved it. The only thing I hated was the smell of the carpet. That was my least of my worries once I got into the children’s section. Highlights were the blasting through the cookbook section by the age of eleven, twirling the paperback stands to find another book in the newest novel in a children’s series, and trying to ignore the feeling of nausea because I started to read in the car.

Thank you to all the authors and chefs for allowing us readers to read about wonderful dishes, create a sense of freedom and stimulate our own creativity.

There has to be a first entry

Hello fellow blog followers!

I have set out to create a blog that I can share with an audience who loves sweet and savoury foods, who has or deals with someone with food allergies and enjoys reading and creating new flavours in the kitchen.

I have been terrified of admitting I have anaphylaxis to fish, shellfish and peanuts and I hid behind them for many years. I felt ashamed to share my personal struggle to others. Obviously I had a great deal of respect for this life threatening allergy, but …

.. why did I push my personal boundaries and become a professional pastry cook?

That’s right. I chose to work in the culinary field. My passion for food and cooking has been a great source of joy and pleasure to me. Plus I think anyone who knew my personality knew that there were no other options for me. I lived and breathed food every day. But also over the years, many people have asked me how I deal with having anaphylaxis. Questions about management, personal experiences and working in professional environments were topics many people were interested in learning more about.

But the best questions are always, “Could I have this recipe please?”, or “HOW did you make this? Yum!!!”

And that is my inspiration for Fearless Foods! Enjoy.