Monday 5 December 2022

Advent 2022 - Fast Tracking #9


Today's Challenge: Fast from... oils and fats.

Quite a tough ask, this one. I don't generally eat a lot of high-fat foods or use a lot of fat in my cooking (though I do use quite a bit in my baking) but not to eat, or use, any at all is a bit more challenging. I haven't been able to eliminate absolutely all fat today  - there's a little in the milk in my breakfast porridge, in the sourdough crackers, the aubergine and walnut butter and in my homemade yoghurt but I've done my best within reason.

Today's menu plan:

black tea
apple juice
citrus fruit salad
porridge (made with oats and semi-skimmed milk, diluted with water) and homemade date honey*

*This is a happy experiment from a couple of weeks ago. H went to Saudi Arabia back in September for a work conference, with the request to bring back, if he could, some date honey. Undaunted by his lack of fluent Arabic, he sallied forth into downtown Riyadh in search of an appropriate emporium for this. He drew a blank in lighting upon date honey as such, but he did come back with 2kg of dates (along with some wonderfully aromatic Arabian peppercorns and cardamom pods). 

The Saudi dates were of two types, Medjool and Ajwa. They both had an excellent flavour but were quite dry. "Why don't you turn them into date honey?" H suggested. Why not indeed? So I did a bit of research and had a go. The result is certainly as good as any commercial date honey from the Middle East that I've tasted. The process is simple. You boil the dates with enough water to cover them until completely soft and beginning to disintegrate (approximately a couple of hours). You then strain and squeeze the softened date pulp with very clean hands through some very clean muslin and return the resulting dark brown liquid to a clean pan. This is then reheated and boiled until thick and syrupy whereupon it can be poured into jars and stored in the fridge. It thickens even further on cooling - to the consistency of black treacle. Delicious on pancakes and on porridge and on vanilla ice cream and yoghurt and... and ... and... ! If you discover any dates past their best at the back of your cupboard or have a load left over after Christmas that you don't know what to do with, don't throw them out or waste them - a whole new lease of life awaits them in this versatile, dark syrup! 

eating up low-fat leftovers - sourdough crackers, aubergine and walnut butter, fruit, yoghurt

black tea
Pfeffernuße - the ones I made yesterday which are fine for today too because with just one egg in the mixture and no other fat, they are naturally, virtually fat-free.

fat-free tomato and sweet potato soup* as per Day #4. 

rolls made with yeast, flour, salt and whey left over from yoghurt-making which is naturally fat-free

baked apples stuffed with fat-free damson and hazelnut mincemeat**

*In the past, I've always started soup off by sweating the chopped vegetables in some olive oil (or sometimes butter) but I'm finding this is not as necessary as I thought and I've recently gravitated to simply cooking the vegetables in the stock straight off. As this is how I made the tomato and sweet potato soup last week and it was a big batch, there was plenty left over which I froze and could happily ride again today, complete with fat-free credentials!

** The baked apples were particularly delicious stuffed with some damson and hazelnut mincemeat I discovered in the pantry. 

I made the mincemeat back in August 2020 but because Christmas 2020 celebrations were so compromised and scaled back during the pandemic, we never used most of what I'd made. And last year they got overlooked. The jars had been pasteurised however in the boiling water canner and the mincemeat has kept perfectly. It's a bit of a faff to make because you have to extract all the damson stones but worth it because the flavour is excellent. It happens to be fat-free - the recipe uses no suet, or melted butter, or anything, which is how I like mincemeat. Deploying it as a stuffing for baked apples is a good use for it.

I chose some large dessert apples from the cold-store in the garage rather than using cooking apples so that they would hold their shape during cooking nicely, cored them, scored their middles and spooned in as much mincemeat as the cavities would hold. 

After 25 minutes in a hot oven (210℃) with a splash of water in each baking dish, they turned out beautifully fluffy and sweet. 

I don't know what variety of apples they are. Possibly James Grieve. Or possibly not - it's not at all easy to identify apple varieties unless you know your onions, if you will forgive me for mixing my metaphors!

E x

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