Friday, December 25, 2009

Spinach and Artichoke Spread with Goat Feta

I wanted another dip or spread to have with the sun-dried tomato jam for a light lunch. I had a big jar of marinated artichoke hearts in the fridge so decided to base it off of that. I used to make spinach and artichoke dip but that was laden with mayo, sour cream and of course, cow's milk mozzarella. I wanted something my dairy-free, egg-free sister could have so that was out of the question.

I really like the combination of spinach and artichoke so I thought of substitutes for the mayo and dairy add-ins. I came up blank. Sometimes, it's better to just leave it as simple as possible, and that's what happened here.

Spinach and Artichoke Spread with Feta


1 pkg frozen chopped spinach
About 10 marinated artichoke hearts
About 2 tbsp of the artichoke marinade
Olive oil for drizzling
Some feta cheese

In a saucepan, bring salted water to a rapid boil. Add chopped frozen spinach and cook according to package instructions.
In a food processor (or by hand) coarsely chop the artichoke hearts.
Drain spinach, and squeeze out as much of the water as you can.
In a bowl, combine the spinach, artichoke hearts, marinade, salt and pepper.

Heat the spread (either in the microwave or oven) and drizzle with olive oil.
Serve on bread or crackers, and with feta.

I know "some feta" is really not helpful but it really depends on how much you like feta. If you like it a lot, use a lot. If not, then whatever. You could even crumble the feta into the spread before heating it up, but I wanted to give people the option of adding the feta to their bread/cracker or not.

I think this spread could also be tossed with hot pasta (with some additional olive oil) as well. My sister was able to enjoy this spread and the rest of us cut various-sized chunks of feta cheese to have with ours.

Sun-dried Tomato Jam

I saw this recipe on a blog I linked to from a cooking forum I like to frequent. It's perfect for a light lunch or to take as an appetizer to a party. I made it for my mother-in-law over American Thanksgiving, and she really loved it. I tend to love sour, tart flavours (like sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, etc.) but my husband doesn't. The great thing about this jam is you can mellow out the tartness of it by pairing it with cheese. We used goat cheese because that's what the recipe recommended but I'm sure it'd taste great with mozzarella or other cheeses as well.

Just a note: I'm not sure about adding a whole cup of water to this jam. It took a really long time to cook down (not 5-10 like the recipe says), maybe about an hour! Even though I cooked it for much longer than instructed, I still ended up scooping out a lot of liquid and oil. I guess the tomatoes (packed in oil) release a lot of the oil as they cook.

When I made this for my in-laws, the enjoyed it with lovely baguette slices. I had it with tortilla chips and it went really well with them. I've also had them with gluten-free crackers and they went well with those, too.

I think this recipe will become a part appetizer staple... if I can figure out that too-much-liquid/oil issue.

Sun-Dried Tomato Jam
Source: Everyday Italian

8oz jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped, 1 tbsp of oil reserved
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper Crostini:
1 baguette, cut into 3/4-inch slices
1/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
5 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves


For the Sun-dried Tomato Jam: Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the reserved sun-dried tomato oil, onion, and garlic. Stir and cook until the onions are soft and beginning to brown at the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the sugar, vinegar, water, chicken broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue simmering until most of the liquid is reduced and the mixture is the consistency of jam, about 5 to 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

For the Crostini: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the baguette slices on the baking sheet. Drizzle the bread slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until lightly toasted, about 12 minutes. Place the soft goat cheese in a small bowl. Stir in the thyme.
To assemble: Spread the crostini with Sun-Dried Tomato Jam and top with the goat cheese mixture. Transfer to a serving plate and serve.

Yields: ~ 24 servings

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dairy-free,spelt gingerbread cookies

I loooove gingerbread! A few years back, I started making Martha Stewart's recipe which calls for some ground black pepper. Wow, that pepper really made those cookies pop!

Fast forward a few years and the naturopath's advice to avoid dairy and wheat... Boohoo! Well, I knew a girl with a wheat allergy in high school, and she ate a lot of spelt products so that was one of the first grains I turned to for baked goods.

Through an internet search, I came across this blog, which had a great-sounding recipe. I accidentally added the sugar to the dry mix rather than the melted butter/molasses, which resulted in some sugar crystals in the cookies but hey, that's not the end of the world.

Compared to regular GBC (gingerbread cookies) made with wheat flour, these ones came out lighter and a bit puffier. I guess with baked goods, spelt will never yield the same results as flour. I'm not sure if you could poke a hole in the top of these and hang them on your tree, but they are excellent to nibble on while decorating your tree!

Puffy man and snowman

I modified the amount of spices, and ended up adding about 3 tbsp of spelt flour to the dough because it was quite soft.

Spelt Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Rackle's Ramblings
Yield: About 3 dozen cookies


2 cups unbleached organic whole grain spelt flour, sifted (plus more for rolling)
1/4 - 1/2 cup finely chopped (minced) crystallized ginger (optional) I omitted this
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1-2 tbsp ground ginger (I used 2 tsp)
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon (I used 1 tsp)
1 tsp ground cardamon (omitted)
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground coriander (omitted)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 cup unsalted organic butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/3 cup Sucanat (organic fair-trade evaporated cane juice) (I used yellow cane sugar)
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses
1 large organic/free range egg, beaten


In a sauce pan over very low heat, melt butter (or butter substitute) and add molasses, then sugar, stirring until dissolved. Turn off heat and let cool a few minutes, then add beaten egg.

In mixing bowl combine flour, spices, salt and baking soda. Gradually add liquid ingredients to flour mixture, stirring each time until flour is completely absorbed. When the dough becomes too stiff to stir, it should be ready to be kneaded by hand. If dough sticks to hands, add small amounts (1 tbsp at a time) of flour until dough no longer sticks and is firm but pliable and shiny. Shape into a round, wrap in plastic or cover in a bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours.

Place oven racks in the middle and pre-heat oven to 350.

On a floured surface, roll out dough using floured rolling pin. I just put the same piece of cling wrap the dough was wrapped in over the dough and rolled over it with an unfloured rolling pin.
to 1/8" thickness.

Once you cut as many cookies as possible using your cookie cutters, pull away the excess dough and place dough shapes on baking trays lined with parchment (not wax) paper. Place trays on rack positioned in middle of oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, depending on size of cookies.

Cool on wire racks. These cookies get crunchier the more they cool so be patient!