Sunday, August 22, 2010

Passion Fruit Pie - a sweet little piece of sunshine

My husband's recent birthday was the perfect excuse to prepare something sweet. 
Our passion fruit vine has been giving us so much fruit this year that it was meant to be... passion fruit pie. 
It's like a little piece of sunshine... and it's hard to just have one slice. Enjoy! 

Passion Fruit Pie 

Bottom Crust
1 package of butter cookies (about 20)
1/2 cup of melted salted butter
1 teaspoon of water (if necessary)

Easy, just run the cookies in a blender, add the butter and the water and mix for about 10 seconds. Pour everything in a medium size pie mold or any other pan. Press the crust tightly. It should not be thicker than 1 cm (4 inch). Leave aside.

Passion Fruit Cream
1 small can of sweetened condensed milk
1 small pack of whipping cream (38% fat)
10 g of powdered gelatin or 1 sheet
Pulp from 8 passion fruits

Remove the pulp from you passion fruit before you start anything else. Set aside.
Start whipping your cream until firm. Now dissolve the gelatin in a little bit of hot water. Add the condensed milk, the gelatin and the passion fruit pulp to the whipped cream and fold gently. Pour it into the crust you previously prepared and let set in the fridge for at least an hour.

Passion Fruit jelly topping
Pulp from 6 to 8 passion fruit
1/2 glass of natural peach juice (nectar)
1 tablespoon of sugar
10 g of powdered gelatin or 1 sheet

Now that the cream as set, remove the pulp from you passion fruit, add the peach juice and sugar and mix well. As before dissolve your gelatin in a bit of hot water and add it to rest. Stir very well and carefully pour over the cream. Return to the fridge for at least another couple of hours, just to be sure it won't fall apart and you get nice slices. 

Cheers all!

A Carb-less Nifty Little Salmon dish ... and a start up to a thinner you.

It has been a little over a year now that I decided to cut down on my carb frenzy and all I can say is that it has worked wonders on my health. So, no more big bowls of spaghetti and pizza is definitely a treat for special weekends. I feel lighter and oddly enough, more energized, though I suspect there's a lot of psychology involved. (see unusually large smile when fitting in my favorite jeans)
I realized for some time already that the reason why it is so hard to keep eating right is because... well, once hunger hits, I'm not ready to give it a good fight. If I could only have a way to whisk out something really tasty and filling in less than 15 minutes, I would be out of excuses... and that's just what I set myself to do. 
I went out and bought lots of individually wrapped frozen fish fillet (salmon, tilapia, haddock... any as long as it's a 100% unprocessed fish without anything added to it).

 This is what I'm talking about

I also bought chicken steaks and breasts, wrapped each individually and froze them. Also, ground chicken and turkey meat, divided and shaped into individual portions of no more than 150 grams each (about 5 ounces). I guess I'm pretty much covered, protein-wise. 
As for vegetables, cooking time and shelf-life was a problem so I decided to look for frozen vegetables that could also be quickly prepared and had minimal cooking involved. The best choices where frozen spinach, specially those that already come shaped into nuggets for easy use, mixed cut vegetables are also very convenient. Basically, I look for anything that is small enough to be cooked in no more than 5 minutes and also give a big plus to anything that doesn't require boiling. One of my best finds was dried wakame seaweed. All it needs is to be re-hydrated in some hot water and voila! Plus, it's incredibly healthy and rich in omega 3, doesn't spoil and is relatively inexpensive. I try to always keep cucumbers and tomatoes in the fridge, for a quick add-on to my meals.

I also got myself a digital scale to make sure I keep my carbs in check and a good 8 inch non-stick pan that is just the right size to accommodate the meal I'm setting off to cook... and also pretty much eliminates the need for extra oil.
As for carbs, I'm not a zealot. I'm not sure that cutting them down completely is healthy, but it does make things very hard and I realized soon enough that avoiding them too much always made me feel more hungry, so I compensated by eating more protein and soon enough, my cholesterol levels started to go overboard and seriously... I need that little guilty pleasure, even though it's just at 300 g (10 ounces) a day.

So this brings me back to the last post and that nifty little carb-less dish. 
I just whisked out a piece of salmon out of the freezer and let it slowly defrost (about 15 minutes outside), cut into nice bite-size pieces and set aside. I then rehydrated a handful on wakame seaweed in hot water for 5 minutes, drained and lay them at the bottom of a bowl. Added the salmon, one chopped cucumber, green onion. That's pretty straight forward. What really made this dish a winner  were  the topping: japanese dry seasoning and a slightly spicy soy sauce my husband concocted.

The dry seasoning was sent to me from Japan and as I'm quickly running out of it, I decided to try and reproduce it at home. So here's a close up...

...and that's what's in it:
  • 1 Tbsp of black sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp of white roasted sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp of dried bonito shavings
  • 1 Tbsp of granulated wasabi (optional) - use crushed wasabi peas for a similar taste!
  • 1 Tbsp of chopped roasted nori (seaweed sheets for sushi rolls)
  • 1/2 tsp of fine sea salt 

Mix everything well and keep in a airtight container, preferably in the fridge.

Ok, on with the sauce!

This is pretty easy too! Just mix about 1/4 of a cup of soy sauce with 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of mirin (japanese sweet wine) and 1/2 teaspoon of Shichimi Togarashi, also called japanese 7 spice. Let it sit for a few minutes before using, so you'll get the full taste of that amazing roasted orange peel!
If you don't like spicy, you can freely skip the spicy stuff.

Now, just sprinkle your dry seasoning over the dish and add a couple of tablespoons of prepared soy sauce. 
Here's a wonderfully light meal, perfect for the Summer and so easy to make, there's just no excuse to eat junk.

Have a great week all!