On this important Wednesday (all days are days that matter), we have a heartfelt and detailed request from a certain SHB. Of what you readers have contributed in the past, Ms. B wrote, "I learn so much, and it is fun and interesting."
Now to the challenge. Ms. B is requesting "low-sugar, very low-salt, lower-fat recipes. I know this is restrictive I don't entertain often, but would like to take fewer bowls of fruit and more muffins and side dishes to church dinners and family gatherings."
She continued, "I really need adaptations to wonderful old-fashioned recipes. I eat more beans and barley than meats, but fish two to three times a week."
The background for this request goes something like this. Clearly she is doing her best to be healthy, as she deals with the challenges of diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. That calls for a lot of omissions. "I would like to eat more quiches; however, I eat a small amount of cheese or nutritional yeast because my rheumatoid arthritis hurts when I eat dairy. I use soymilk in coffee and baking."
We are counting on you to offer some varied solutions for this cook committed to good health but longing for good old-fashioned taste. Can you offer vegan options to dairy in recipes as well?
And here is a shopping request, part of it a repeat from an anonymous Exchanger. Where may one find kamut flour and rye flour locally?
WHITE BEAN DIP
Long about last Christmas, Fare Exchangers entered into a discussion of homemade cookbooks. Just last week a new original cookbook cover crossed this desk, and all because one particular man crossed his driveway laden with food for someone in need.
We can easily think of this take-them-a-meal gift as a woman's work, but of course that is not so. Bob Bires is a seasoned cook, and his "Hurry Up and Cook" cookbook is a treasure. I peered over the shoulders, so to speak, of the occupants of the Bires household and came up with a treasure or two. And I am hoping for more.
Mr. Bires favors antipasti and a variety of appetizers, and the sought-after white bean dip is part of that variety.
Crostini With White Bean Puree and Roasted Yellow Peppers
2 cups onions (about 1 large yellow onion)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
8 ounces potato slices, boiled until mashable, or 1 cup bread crumbs toasted in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes
1 drained can white cannellini beans
1/4 cup crème fraiche or low-fat sour cream
Chopped fresh thyme and oregano
Salt and pepper
Slice onions, and saute onions and garlic gently in the olive oil over medium heat until soft. Stir occasionally to prevent much browning. This may take 15 minutes or more.
Then choose the thickener for the spread: the potato slices or toasted breadcrumbs. Obviously, each has a different taste; I like both equally and choose depending on what I have available. Add the potato slices or crumbs and the can of cannellini beans, and heat thoroughly for 5 minutes.
Puree the mix in a food processor, or mash thoroughly if you want a chunkier texture. Stir in crème fraiche or sour cream, and season to taste with thyme and oregano, salt and pepper.
This will keep in the refrigerator for several days, but it will taste much better at room temperature.
Spread on toasted slices of baguette, and top with strips of roasted yellow pepper or grape tomato halves.
The request for ways to use cottage cheese brought some creative ideas. Mildred Folds of Bridgeport, Alabama, sent "a made-up recipe that can be used as salad, dessert or midnight snack."
Fuzzy Pink Stuff
8 ounces Cool Whip (you may use sugar-free)
2 boxes dry red Jell-O (you may use sugar-free)
8 ounces, more or less, cottage cheese
1 can drained crushed pineapple
2 cups miniature marshmallows
3/4 cup coconut
3/4 cup chopped dried cranberries or candied cherries
Mix Cool Whip and dry Jell-O until smooth. Add cottage cheese. Mix well.
Reserve enough pineapple, marshmallows, coconut and cherries for garnish. You can add chopped apples and/or grapes to use up leftover fruit. Then add to the cottage cheese mixture the rest of the pineapple, marshmallows, coconut and cranberries or cherries. Chill, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Variation: I do not use nuts because of allergies, but their addition is optional.
Rosemary Palmer of the blog myhomeandtravels.com shared two Bundt cakes, the first of which appears today.
Whiskey Bundt Cake
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
4 tablespoons Chattanooga Whiskey (or your favorite brand)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Heat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a 9-inch Bundt cake pan with nonstick spray, and set aside. In a medium mixing bowl, combine chopped walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set this mixture aside for later. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt until combined. In another large mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, combining well after each. Mix in sour cream until combined. Mix in whiskey. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients until combined, but don't overmix. Scoop one-third of batter into the prepared Bundt pan.
Sprinkle half of walnut mixture on top of the batter. Scoop another one-third of batter on top of walnut mixture. Smooth this layer evenly. Sprinkle remaining walnut mixture on top of batter. Spread remaining batter on top of walnut mixture. Smooth this layer evenly.
Bake in the preheated oven for 70 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes in pan. After cooling, turn onto serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar.
Notes: The alcohol cooks out during baking. Substitute pecans if you prefer. This would freeze well.
JUST A DASH
Another entry for your antipasti plate from Bob Bires is this easy one: cantaloupe with ham.
"I find prosciutto to be too tough and chewy for these bites. If you sear thin slices of a salty ham and alternate them on toothpicks with cantaloupe balls, you get the same contrast in flavors as the original Italian version."
Having given the expert answer, he acknowledges that "maybe we don't have a good local source for prosciutto."
Do any of you have a local prosciutto that would pass the tenderness test? If you do, we trust you will pass it on.
There will be more appetizer dishes next week, perhaps an intriguing entrée or two, and probably one or two in the sweet category of "The Hereafter," a term that suggests something heavenly. Join us, you hear?
* Low-sugar, lowsalt, low-fat recipes with flavor
* Specialty flour sources
TO REACH US
Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.
Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750