Avocado Green

June 17, 2010

Half a 'cado

Avocados smack of the 1970’s to me. It seems that in the 70’s there was a lot of avocado around. Avocado appliances. Avocado pits sprouting in glass jars with murky water. Avocado shag. I think we’ve all heard of how healthy avocados are, how they’re packed with healthy fat. Here’s a simple recipe for guacamole, multiply it as you see fit. You can never have too much guacamole, right Julie? The guacamole in the photo below was made by Julie. I think she used 16 avocados.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

3 ripe avocados, halved and pitted – I find it best to buy avocados bullet hard and ripen them at home for a couple of days, it works beautifully

1 tablespoon of minced red onion

juice of 1 lime

small handful of chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons of salsa, optional

a pinch or three of sea salt

Mash all ingredients together with a fork or a potato masher. Taste. Adjust seasoning and taste again. Sometimes I add a pinch of cumin, sometimes I don’t.



One Year Crunch

June 10, 2010

Cracker Stack

I have had “write gluten-free cracker recipe” on my to do list for many months. In fact, it may have been on my list for almost a year. June 8th was the one year mark for Baker’s Balance. Huh, a whole year. Just like that. Let’s consider these crackers a celebration of sorts. A crunchy nod to the passage of time. I’m rather pleased with these crackers. And, in retrospect, I’m rather pleased with this past year.

Makes approximately 2 dozen crackers

6 tablespoons brown rice flour

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon xantham gum

1/4 cup water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon agave

a generous sprinkle of Maldon salt

Preheat oven to 375° and place rack in the middle of the oven. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together brown rice flour, buckwheat, sea salt, baking powder and xantham gum. Add water, olive oil and agave and stir with a fork until a shaggy ball forms. Turn out onto your work surface and knead lightly into a smooth ball of dough. Set onto a sheet of parchment that is cut to fit your baking sheet. Place parchment on your work surface and press the cracker dough into a thick rectangle. Dust top of dough with a little brown rice flour and roll out gently with a rolling pin. Roll out to almost the same size as your rectangle of parchment, the dough should be very thin. Now set down your rolling pin and carefully lift or slide the cracker covered parchment onto your baking sheet. Dock crackers with a fork and, using a knife or pastry wheel, cut out any squarish or rectangular shapes that you like. Don’t move them, you can bake them all together. Once baked you can break them apart along the cut lines. Brush lightly with a pastry brush dipped in water and then sprinkle generously with Maldon salt. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they’re a dark, nutty brown.

Eggplant Dip

December 31, 2009

Olive Crowned Baba Ghanoush

If there’s someone in your life who claims to loathe the humble eggplant then make sure to call this baba ghanoush. Baba ghanoush is much more fun to say than eggplant dip. Once salted, grilled, garlicked and pureed, the eggplant will be both unrecognizable and unloathsomeable. Here’s how to make it. It’s super easy and would make a yummy, healthy dip to serve at your New Year’s Eve party.

Makes about 1 cup

2 large-ish, fat-bottomed eggplants

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, plus more

2 tablespoons tahini

1 garlic clove, chopped

a good pinch of dry-roasted and roughly ground cumin – read here for how-to, at the bottom of the post

1/2 lemon, juiced

optional: garnish with olives and a drizzle of olive oil

First thing to do with your plump purple eggplants after washing, of course, is to slice into rounds about 1/2 an inch thick. Sprinkle each side of the eggplant slices with the ‘plus more’ quantity of sea salt, be generous but not crazy. Let sit in a colander for 45 minutes to an hour, this will pull out their water. You can prep the rest of your ingredients while the water extraction is taking place. Or, if that won’t occupy enough of your time, do what I did and head to the closest mirror to fret over your costly new hair-do. Yikes. Return from the mirror on the wall, pre-heat your bbq, grill or broiler, and blot the large coins of eggplant dry. Drizzle the coins with a generous quantity, the ‘plus more’, of olive oil. Now grill or roast these coins, get them smoky-looking, this is their flavour. Well, part of their flavour. It took me about 15 minutes on one side, and 10 minutes on the other. Allow to cool and then pull off their tough, dark skins and discard. Throw the charred eggplant meat into your food processor along with 1 teaspoon of sea salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, tahini, garlic, cumin and lemon juice. Puree until you have a really creamy looking dip. If it’s not quite super-silky, drizzle in another bit of olive oil. That should do. I garnished my baba ghanoush with Smoked Olive Oil and Cerignola olives from Dundarave Olive Company in West Vancouver.

Happy New Year – here’s to happiness, good health, great friends, family and delicious food!

Smoky Eggplant Coin

Figgy in a Blanket

August 28, 2009

Fig in Pig

Fig in Pig

Fat-bottomed figs are ripe! And Oyama sells a superb free-range Berkshire Pig Mountain Herb Prosciutto. Obviously, the thing to do is wrap sweet, perfect fig halves in paper thin slices of this lean prosciutto and throw them on the grill for a few minutes. Admittedly, this is a treat. But it’s not an especially bad-for-you treat. I think it’s a great appetizer if you’re having a party on this last weekend in August, and it couldn’t be easier.

Make as few or as many as you wish

fresh figs, halved


several drops of maple syrup or agave

Pre-heat a gas barbecue or cast-iron grill. Heat it up really hot. Wrap each fig half with a thin slice of prosciutto. The prosciutto will fold around and stick to itself. Place them on the grill and leave them, untouched, for three to five minutes. The little bit of fat on the prosciutto will crisp and sizzle (almost) off and the fat figs will become even plumper as their insides sweeten and warm. Pull them off the grill, pop them onto a plate and finish with sticky droplets of maple syrup or agave. Serve and enjoy!