Orchids and meringues
John and I had a dinner party last night to celebrate our (gasp!) 49th wedding anniversary. Oh, do those years slip away.
One of the friends we had over is on a low-fibre diet which meant foods like legumes were forbidden and everything had to be cooked very well. Here was our menu:
- Creamy Tomato Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese served with my husband’s fabulous, homemade Challah Bread (regrettably not gluten-free, but it’s his specialty)
- Lamb Shanks, Braised in Red Wine and Chicken Stock with Carrots and Celery and served over White Rice
- Puréed Cauliflower, Zucchini, and Leeks
- Roasted Shallots with Balsamic Vinegar
- Mocha Tapioca Pudding
- Cocoa Meringue Cookies
The only dish I had made previously was the soup (the link). Everything else was an experiment. One of the things I enjoy about having a dinner party is that I give myself permission to try out new things. Like making meringue cookies.
Cookies are rarely on my radar because they bring out my Cookie Monster and invite serious, over-the-top gluttony. You know, eat one, eat another one, and…keep right on going. Even in my cookie-baking days with small children, I never made meringue cookies. Up until now, I had been discouraged by the amount of sugar they require and the high-calorie cost of chocolate, if I decide to use it.
But I had an unopened carton of egg whites in my fridge, and research revealed that I could use cocoa powder—the dieter’s alternative to chocolate. In Weight Watcher terms, cocoa powder is 1 point per 3 tablespoons as compared to semisweet chocolate which is 6 points per 3 tablespoons. (For more info, check out “>All About Cocoa Powder.)
The result was everything meringue cookies should be—light, crunchy in the centre, and deliciously chocolate.
Recently, I got a reader comment that surprised me.
Katherine from the Kat’s Health Corner blog was remarking on my Pumpkin Currant Muffins and wrote, “I love how you combined the chickpea and quinoa flours — how creative!” What surprised me was the praise. (But thank you, Katherine, thank you!)
The truth is I’m driven, not so much by the desire to be creative, but by the search for low-calorie GF flour/starch blends for baking.
This post could be called “When Two Recipes Converge.” Interestingly, these two converging recipes don’t, at first glance, appear to have anything in common.
Well…they’re both sweet. I’ll give you that.
My creative moment arrived when I idly wondered what would happen if I replaced the banana in the quinoa cookies with something else to give them a different taste and texture.
What would do the trick? Grated carrot came to mind (another day’s project), but I had, on hand, a very large, already cooked sweet potato.
(The sweet potato was shaped like a pistol, which doesn’t have anything to do with anything, but I’m sharing so you get the full flavour of this creative moment.)
I had nuked the sweet potato for the bean bake but had more than I needed—about ½ a cup too much. (Basically, the handle of the pistol.) What to do? Aha! And the cookie mix, as they say, thickened.
I used the spices from the bean bake recipe and also the currents. I altered the flour from the cookie recipe to get rid of the almond meal—too high in calories to have with the currants. (Have you ever noticed that diet baking is a continuous process of taking from Peter to pay Paul?) And, as usual when you change GF flours, the liquid requirements change too. Hence more applesauce and some milk for good measure.
So, without more ado, let me introduce you to another yummy, protein-packed, low-calorie cookie.
So far, on this blog, I’ve avoided cookies. I have some good excuses—no children at home anymore and, well, fear of the Cookie Monster.
You know this ogre.
She has tentacles that go straight into your sweet tooth and carb cravings. You will try to quit after one or two cookies while the monster manipulates your taste buds so that the first cookie—nay, the first bite—creates a powerful urge to keep right on going.
For those of you who can eat a whole bag in one sitting—YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
So I’ve avoided cookies for good reasons. Then I spotted a recipe that had good health and diet potential because of the quinoa which is high in protein and, therefore, stomach-filling. I did some adjusting to give it even more protein and reduce calories, and I kept the sweetness at a low ebb so it wouldn’t arouse the sleeping, but ever vigilant, monster.
My spouse was the first sampler. “It’s good,” he said, “but I thought it would be sweeter. Cookies are usually sweeter.”
See how the food manufacturers have trained our palates?