While I hate using excuses for neglecting the blog (and 2 months is a loooooong time to be away), I do think I have a rather good one this time around:
Welcome the new addition to our family: Norah Marion!
And no, she didn’t arrive in August/September when my absence started, but my pregnancy was starting to take a toll on my body again near the end, and I literally came home from work, ate, then passed out from exhaustion in front of the TV. Which meant 1) no time for blogging, and more importantly 2) I wasn’t doing any cooking/recipe developing! My amazing husband took on the cooking role most nights during the last months of the the pregnancy. And since the arrive of Ms. Norah on October 1st, our family and friends have been graciously feeding us so we can focus all our energy on our amazing little daughter.
This will be the only Norah-centred post on Gorging George, but if you want updates, head on over to Life of George.
I promise to be back soon once I return to the kitchen!
Kyle and I are on the home stretch now to becoming parents. I’m currently in the third trimester and nearly 31 weeks pregnant! That means we’ve got less than a quarter of this pregnancy to prepare for baby! Yikes. We’re getting excited and of course terrified for the new addition, and all the joys and challenges that will come with baby. We’ve been getting the nursery ready; organizing and cleaning our home to an insane level so we hopefully don’t have to think too much about home-stuff for a bit; and of course, thinking of filling our freezer full of food so when we have become zombies, feeding will be as simple as tucking into the ice chest and turning on the microwave or oven.
A friend (who recently shared a delicious gluten free cinnamon-raison loaf with us!) just let me know that one of the things that helped her get through the first few weeks with both her children was having lots of baked goods in the freezer. Having something substantial that she could pull out for breakfasts and snacks was a lifesaver. I’ve also heard from a few other friends that breast-feeding caused them to crave sweeter foods. I’m sure this is all common advice, but we’re making sure to follow it. We have plans to test many muffin, bread, and of course cookies in order to find our favourites to load up on before baby arrives.
For the past few months, I’ve been reading through Beatrice Peltre’s cookbook La Tartine Gourmande. Some of you may already be familiar with Beatrice through her blog by the same name. Not only is the book filled with recipe-after-recipe of food I desperately want to eat and she breath-taking food photography, but nearly every recipe is gluten free. Beatrice has a wonderful way of combining gluten free flours in order to make baked goods that even those you eat gluten regularly would whole-heartedly enjoy. One of those recipes included one for Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins. They looked and sounded delicious, and really simple to make. Since it’s stone-fruit season, I thought I’d substitute the apples for peaches. These tart, nutty muffins will certainly be welcoming us in the mornings while we get to know baby.
Peach Millet & Oat Muffins
Adapted La Tartine Gourmande by Beatrice Peltre
As I stated above, I swapped the apples in Beatrice’s original recipe for peaches. I also realized that my jar of tahini (which the recipes calls for) was unfortunately expired; but I used almond butter instead, which was a great compliment to the nutty flours.
2 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp almond butter
3 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup millet flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (make sure they’re certified gluten free), plus a little extra for topping
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup finely diced peaches (from approximately 2 peaches, cored & peeled)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 10 paper liners (parchment paper ones are great if you can find them).
Beat together the eggs and the sugar until they are creamy and doubled in size. Add the almond butter, melted butter, and vanilla extract and mix again.
In another bowl, whisk together the millet flour, quinoa flours, rolled oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda until thoroughly combined. Using a wooden spoon, slowly stir in the flour mixture to the egg mixture; combine thoroughly, but make sure you don’t overwork the batter. Stir in the diced peaches.
Divide the batter evenly between the 10 muffin cups, then top each with some rolled oats. Bake the muffins for approximately 25 minutes, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and from the muffin tin, and let cool on a wire rack.
I finally admitted it to myself. August is my favourite month of the year; hands down. A few years ago, if I had been asked, I would have quickly stated July; “It’s the height of summer!” “The days are mostly sun-filled and hot!” “Fall (Winter) is so far away.” But over the years, I have come to realize that I’m happiest during the month of August. Over the past few years we have had some amazing summer days in our neck of the woods during this mid-summer month. Plus the sun begins to set earlier which means three things: 1) easier nights with ever-darkening rooms; 2) the stars making their reappearance; & 3) the aurora begin dancing their way across the sky again. I also enjoy the end of the month, when Kyle and I can snuggle under blankets when the sun sets and the air cools, and enjoy a glass (or two) of wine and settle for the evening – well, obviously that will be a little different this year for this pregnant lady, but you get the idea.
And of course, I fully realized my love for August because it means that some of my favourite fresh foods are at their peak. I’ve gushed again and again on the blog, Twitter, and Pinterest about my love of in-season tomatoes. But oh there is so much more to look forward to: the arrival of this years’s apples; juicy berries (some picked right around home!); sweet corn; and ripe stone-fruit. But what I really enjoy is the bounty I begin to receive from my herb garden. Of course I pick away slightly during the month of July, when the little seedlings begin to offer me a slight tease of what’s to come. But when August rolls around, I am engulfed with the glorious flavours of intensely fresh and flavourful rosemary, thyme, parsley, chives, tarragon, mint, and basil that I clip each day, without ever running out.
So this weekend I made an incredibly simple potato salad – that highlighted the new potatoes used, as well as showcased a few of the herbs plucked straight from my “garden.” Everything came together so easily that it felt like I barely lifted a finger. The only chopping that I did was for the herbs, and if you want to get really lazy about it, you could simply snip them with some kitchen shears (of course this may slightly affect the flavours since the herbs wouldn’t be finely chopped … but it’s summer, no need to break a sweat unnecessarily). We greedily devoured the leftovers from this salad tonight, and discovered that it tastes even more amazing the following day. So if you have the patience, I suggest making this a full 24-hours in advance. Of course if you’re like me, you wouldn’t be able to help yourself before then, so know that the salad is really great the day of too.
Herby Potato Salad
I am certain this salad would taste just as good with any combination of fresh herbs you would like. Perhaps a Greek-inspired mix of fresh oregano, thyme, and maybe a wee bit of rosemary … or maybe something more “traditional” with a big bunch of dill in place of the tarragon. The possibilities are endless, but the point is to back off from all the other things we add to potato salad; while pickles, radishes, onions, celery and all the rest are delicious in potato salad, they don’t belong in this one.
1.5 – 2 lbs of baby potoatoes – preferably yukon gold or red-skinned potatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped
Clean the potatoes and place them in a medium pot. Cover with cold water 2″ above the potatoes and bring to a boil. Allow to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together the mayonnaise, vinegar, tarragon, salt, mustard, and pepper in a medium bowl. When the potatoes are cooled, place them in the bowl and mix thoroughly to dress the potatoes. Cover the salad and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to serve, stir in the parsley and 1 Tbsp of the chives into the salad. Sprinkle the remaining chives over the top of the salad and serve cold or at room temperature (make sure to not leave the salad out for too long or in the heat due to the mayonnaise).
When a lady who loves her bourbon and wine is told she can no longer consume any of it for 9 months, she may get a little stir crazy. It’s not that I wasn’t prepared for giving up alcohol for 9 months – our pregnancy was very purposeful and planned – but a girl can still miss her vices. Lately, I’ve been coming across numerous articles extolling safe alcohol consumption during pregnancy (like these ones: here & here), along with some possible benefits of actually doing so. And while I agree that everything in moderation is typically okay, I have a partner in crime in this 9-month journey to parenthood … and my husband does not want me consuming any alcohol, regardless of potential benefits and safety. And while it is my body, it’s also his baby baking inside of it. Plus, the reality is there are too many ”what ifs” and I don’t think a glass of bourbon or wine is really worth the risk for our baby. But I can dream about October … and my first sip …
Regardless of the harm or benefit of consuming straight alcohol throughout pregnancy, I was delighted to learn prior to becoming pregnant that it is entirely safe to cook with alcohol … and not meaning a glass of wine by my side while I cook, I am of course talking about putting the alcohol into my food. So at times, wine has been flowing into sauces and stews; gluten free beer poured into chilis and marinades; and of course bourbon, slipped into slow cooked ribs and anything sweet that will highlight it’s caramel undertones. So you bet when I decided to make an ice cream filled with apricots and honey, I spiked the fruit just before placing them into my custard base … because I can only wait so long.
Bourbon Spiked Apricot & Honey Ice Cream
1 Tbsp butter
2 cups apricots, chopped (about 4-6 apricots)
2 Tbsp bourbon
2 Tbsp honey
2 cups half-and-half
2 cups heavy cream (also called whipping cream)
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Melt the butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the apricots and lightly saute for 5-7 minutes, until the apricots begin to soften. Pour the bourbon into the apricots, and simmer for another 2 minutes (this will slightly cook away some of the alcohol). Stir in the honey and continue to stir for another minute – be careful, because the honey could burn if left alone on the stove. Transfer the apricot mixture to a heat-safe dish, and slightly mash the apricots with a fork. You want some “apple-sauce-like” texture, but also a few chunks of apricots. Cover and refrigerate the mixture.
Pour the half & half and heavy cream into a medium saucepan. Heat the creams over medium-high heat until they come to a simmer, but not boiling – stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the cream mix to cool slightly. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks and sugar into the bowl of a mixer. With the whisk attachment, beat together the eggs and sugar until the sugar has dissolved into the eggs and the mixture begins to look frothy – about 1-2 minutes.
Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot cream mixture to the egg mixture. Don’t mix in all the cream at once, or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs, you just want to temper the eggs, so be sure to add a small amount at a time. Stir the cream and eggs together to combine, then pour the mixture into the saucepan with the remaining cream. Return the pan to the stove, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the cream comes to 170-175ºF; remove from the heat. If you do not have a candy thermometer, you can judge when the ice cream base is ready to pull from the stove when small bubbles start to form around the edge of the mixture and when the cream coats the back of a wooden spoon. Transfer the cream and egg base into a large bowl and stir in the vanilla. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours, but overnight is best.
Once your ice cream base and apricot mix is thoroughly chilled, pour the ice cream base into the ice cream maker and process according the manufacturer’s instructions. This usually takes 25-35 minutes. During the last 2 minutes of processing time, add the apricot mixture to the ice cream base. Remove the mixture to a freezer save container, and allow to freeze for another 3-4 hours to harden.
Serve in bowls or into your favourite gluten-free ice cream cones…maybe with a splash of bourbon on top if you’re able to indulge!
Disclaimer: Although I mention articles written by other people regarding the possible safe consumption of alcohol during pregnancy, I am not endorsing the use of alcohol throughout pregnancy. If you are considering consuming alcohol during pregnancy, please discuss this with your physician and partner. If you are pregnant and having issues with giving up alcohol throughout your pregnancy, please speak with your health care provider.