Monday, October 24, 2016

Plum Squares with Marzipan Crumble

I made a few more recipes with stone fruit (a somewhat disappointing apple and peach compote and a delicious peach melba parfait with graham cracker crumble with yogurt), but none quite so good as these late-season plum squares with marzipan crumble from Smitten Kitchen. Min came out thicker than what I was expecting (probably because my pan was 8 inches square instead of her 9 inches square), but they were delicious! The Engineer and I both loved them; the Little Prince wants it known that he prefers less fruit in his desserts.

This recipe calls for an 8-inch square pan, but a 9-inch one will work just as well. You can double the recipe and use a 9”x13” pan, too. I wrote down what Deb Perelman recommends doing with the second half of the tube of marzipan (since the most commonly available brand seems to be Odense, I’m assuming everyone will have this “problem”). You won’t regret it!

For the crust
1 cup (130 g.) all-purpose flour
½ cup (55 g.) sliced almonds, toasted (or almond flour)
¼ tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
¼ cup (50 g.) granulated sugar
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ cup unsalted butter or margarine

For the crumble
2/3 cup (85 g.) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup marzipan or almond paste (about 3.5 oz. of a 7-oz. tube)
1/3 cup (65 g.) light brown sugar
¼ tsp. fine sea salt and table salt
4 Tbsp. chilled unsalted butter or margarine, cut into cubes
¼ cup (30 g.) sliced, toasted almonds

For the filling
1/3 cup marzipan or almond paste (the second half of your 7-oz. tube; optional)
1 lb. plums (about 6 or 7), halved, pitted and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. This is going to make it very easy to remove the bars.

For the crust
Combine the flour, almonds, salt, sugar and extract in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps, maybe 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer the dough to your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. Let cool (you can place the crust in the fridge or even in the freezer, on a cooling rack, to speed this up, but I didn’t bother).

For the crumble
Blend flour, almond paste, sugar and salt in processor until almond paste is finely ground. Add butter and blend, using on/off turns, until coarse crumbs form. Transfer crumble to bowl; mix in almonds.

For the filling
Place the almond paste in between two sheets of wax paper and roll it out thinly. (At this point, mine decided to take on a shape like Texas – go figure.) Cut it into pieces and place it onto your parbaked crust.

Combine all remaining ingredients in medium bowl; toss to coat well.

Sprinkle ½ cup prepared crumble over cooled crust. Top with plum mixture. Sprinkle with remaining crumble.

Bake until filling bubbles thickly and top is golden, about 35 to 40 minutes. If the bars brown too quickly, cover them with foil for the remaining baking time. Cool in pan (again, you can use the fridge or freezer here, but I didn’t bother). Once firm, use the parchment sling to remove the bars and cut them more cleanly on a cutting board. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired, before serving.

Zucchini Pizza

The recipes for the pizza and dough are both from Smitten Kitchen. Deb Perelman calls for a 9”x13” half-sheet pan, but I don’t have those. My pan is about 11”x17”, if I remember correctly, so I made the full recipe of her dough (instead of the 2/3 that she recommends), but even then, I didn’t have enough to cover the pan. It did feel like enough pizza in all, though, but I would have preferred it if it had covered all the surface nicely… Next time, I might increase the dough proportions by a third, especially since I didn’t want a too-thin, crispy dough. Keep in mind that this dough, if you make it, is soft and doesn’t stretch easily, so you can’t just roll it out to the desired size. You could always buy your dough, too, if that’s easier, or use your favorite recipe. I really liked this pizza, though I must admit that the Little Prince was a bit disappointed at the lack of tomato sauce and the high vegetable-to-cheese ratio.

Note that you have options for this pizza dough, depending on your schedule: an overnight schedule (beginning at around 8-9 pm the night before, for dinner around 6-8 pm); an all-day schedule (beginning at around 6-8 am that morning); and a part-day schedule (beginning at around 12 pm). I chose the latter.

For the dough
3 cups (375 g.) all-purpose flour (bread flour works too)
slightly heaped 1/8, 1/4 or 1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (for overnight, all-day, or part-day schedules respectively, above)
1 ½ tsp. sea or kosher salt
1 ¼ cup warm water, plus an additional tablespoon or two if needed

In a very large bowl, mix all ingredients with a spoon. The dough will be craggy and rough; this is fine, but if it feels excessively so, add another spoonful or even two of water. Cover bowl with plastic and keep at room temperature for approximately 22 (for overnight schedule), 12 (for all-day schedule) or 6 (for part-day schedule) hours, or until the dough has more than doubled. This takes longer in a chilly room and less in a very warm one, but don’t worry too much about this, as the dough is generally forgiving of a loosened schedule. (I like to put my dough in the microwave with the door ajar, which keeps it safe from drafts and provides warmth from the lightbulb.)

Flour your counter very well. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured counter; in the time it has risen, it should have changed from that craggy rough ball to something very loose, soft, sticky and stretchy. Flour the top of the dough and make it into a ball shape (if you are making two smaller pizzas with it, divide it into two balls first). Take hold of it and let the soft dough stretch and fall away from your hands a few times before landing on your prepared baking sheet. Use floured fingers to press and nudge dough into a roughly rectangular shape. Add desired toppings (see below).

For the zucchini topping
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ lbs. (about 5 small or 3 large) zucchini or other summer squash, trimmed
1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt
2 cups (8 oz.) coarsely grated lactose-free gruyere cheese
2-3 Tbsp. plain breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 500 °F. Brush either a 13”x18” rimmed half-sheet pan or two 9”x13” quarter sheet pans (see note above) with olive oil. Used floured (or oiled) fingertips to pull, stretch, nudge and press the prepared pizza dough across the bottom of the pan. The dough will be thin and imperfect; just try to get it even and if holes form, just pinch them back together. (This is where I was unhappy with my dough, aesthetically speaking, but the result was very good nonetheless.)

Use a food processor with a grater attachment or the large holes of a box grater to grate the zucchini. In a large bowl, toss together the zucchini and salt. Let stand for 20 to 30 minutes (more, if you have the time), until the zucchini has wilted and released its water. Drain the zucchini in a colander and then use your hands to squeeze out as much water as possible, a fistful at a time.

Back in the large bowl (wiped out if still wet), toss the zucchini with the gruyère shreds, being sure to break up any clumps of zucchini. Taste the mixture; it should be seasoned enough from the salt, but you can add more, plus ground pepper or pepper flakes if desired.

Spread the zucchini mixture over the dough(s), going all the way to the edges of the pan and piling it a bit thicker at the edges, where it will brown first. Sprinkle messily with the bread crumbs.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the topping is golden. Remove from oven, cut into squares and dig in.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Maple Oat Scones

I love having something special for breakfast (and by special, I mean something other than toast with peanut butter or some such option). But because I also don’t really want to spend the early morning cooking, some of my favorite breakfasts are the make-ahead kind, like muffins or quick breads. I made a great coconut-lemon tea cake, but I can’t really make a post out of it because I lack good pictures (somehow, they were all taken in low light and turned out horrid). I do encourage you to try it, though! Another great recipe was these maple oat scones. The original recipe was gluten-free, but I used some white whole wheat flour for expediency’s sake. Note that if you don’t care about eating vegan scones, you can use lactose-free milk instead of plant-based milk here. I loved these because they were not too dense, just sweet enough, and had the oats that I often crave in scones. Plus, you can’t go wrong with maple!

For the oat scones
1 ¾ cups + 2 Tbsp. flour (gluten-free or not)
½ cup quick oats (I used rolled oats)
1/3 cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. sea salt
4 Tbsp. vegan butter (margarine), chilled
2 Tbsp. non-hydrogenated shortening
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or lactose-free milk
1 tsp. vinegar

For the maple glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk or lactose-free milk

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or silpat. Set aside.

In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, oats, coconut sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add chilled shortening and vegan butter. Using pastry cutter, cut in shortening and butter until small pieces remain. (I always do this step in the food processor, it’s faster.)

Mix together almond milk and vinegar in small bowl, then pour over flour mixture. Gently blend dough until it just comes together. Be careful to not overmix.

On lightly floured surface, place dough. Gently pat into 8-inch circle, about 1 inch thick. Using pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut dough into 8 triangles.

Place scones on prepared baking pan. Bake 16-18 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool slightly on cooling rack.

To make maple glaze, mix together powdered sugar, maple syrup and almond milk. Drizzle over cooled scones. Allow icing to set before serving.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Petits gâteaux miel, rose et chocolat blanc

Ah, comme je m’ennuie du blogue Obsessions gourmandes, qui a malheureusement été retiré de la toile quand l’auteure, Catherine Draws, a cessé d’y écrire! Il me restait des recettes à essayer, moi, en plus! Maintenant, Catherine Draws est copropriétaire du restaurant Lili.Co, où je n’ai malheureusement jamais eu le plaisir de mettre les pieds… Cependant, mis à part son blogue, certaines autres de ses recettes sont toujours en ligne ailleurs, et c’est le cas de ces petits gâteaux miel, rose et chocolat blanc qu’elle a créés pour Danone.

Je n’avais pas de yogourt grec au miel, alors j’ai improvisé en mélangeant du yogourt grec nature avec du miel – il se peut que mes proportions aient été différentes de celles de la recette d’origine, mais le principe reste le même. Gardez en tête que vous n’avez pas à mettre beaucoup de miel dedans, puisqu’il y a aussi de la cassonade dans la recette. Nous avons beaucoup aimé ces petits gâteaux! Nous les avons mangés comme des muffins, mais vous pourriez y ajouter un glaçage (comme celui-là, tiens) pour en faire un dessert plus qu’une collation.

125 g. (4 oz.) de chocolat blanc
3 c. à soupe de beurre salé ou de margarine
2 œufs
1 pot individuel (100 g.) de yogourt grec au miel Oikos (voir note)
1 pincée de sel
3 c. à soupe de cassonade
1 ½ c. à soupe d’eau de rose
1 tasse de farine tout-usage
1 c. à soupe de poudre à pâte
1 pincée de sel

Préchauffer le four à 375 °F. Garnir un moule à muffin de caissettes de papier (il m’en a fallu 9).

Au bain-marie, faire fondre le chocolat et mettre de côté.

Dans un petit bol allant au four à micro-ondes, faire fondre le beurre à intensité élevée 30 secondes à la fois jusqu’à ce qu’il soit tout fondu.

Dans un grand bol, battre ensemble à l’aide d’un fouet les œufs, le yogourt grec au miel, le sel et la cassonade. Ajouter l’eau de rose.

Ajouter le chocolat et le beurre fondu à la préparation. Mélanger.

Dans un petit bol, incorporer la farine, la poudre à pâte et le sel et mélanger jusqu’à homogénéité.

Couler la préparation dans les petites caissettes de papier, aux trois quarts de leur capacité, puis faire cuire pendant 12-15 minutes, ou jusqu’à ce qu’un cure-dent inséré au centre de la pâte en ressorte propre.

Sortir du four et laisser refroidir complètement avant de déguster.

Saturday, October 08, 2016


I decided to make bulgogi after seeing this post, but then I realized that I also had one from Bon Appétit that, based on the ingredients, looked more flavorful, so that’s what I went with. Bonus: there are instructions for using various types and cuts of meat, including chicken, which is helpful since I don’t know where to get the thinly sliced fondue beef that is more common in Quebec and called for in the first post. I used beef from a tri-tip steak that I sliced myself (pro-tip: put the meat in the freezer for 15 minutes or so right before slicing it – the task will be easier). Also, I don’t have gochugaru, and I don’t want things too spicy anyway, so I used 1 tsp. of regular ground Korean pepper. This was fantastic; I’ll be sure to make it again! The marinade is great, but it’s worth getting a good sear on the meat as well. Absolutely delicious!

I served this with rice with gomashio and green beans.

¼ pear, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
2 Tbsp. soy sauce (or tamari sauce)
1 Tbsp. gochugaru or 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. grated peeled ginger
1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 lb. boneless pork loin, trimmed hanger steak, boneless short rib, or skinless, boneless chicken
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
kosher salt
sliced scallions (for serving)

Combine pear, garlic, soy sauce, gochugaru, ginger, sugar, and sesame oil in a large resealable plastic bag or medium bowl. Using a sharp knife, slice meat into very thin strips (see note above). Add to marinade, seal bag, and squish everything around until the meat is coated. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes, or chill up to 8 hours.

Heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high until oil is shimmering. Remove half of meat from marinade, letting excess drip back into bag; season lightly with salt and cook in a single layer without moving until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Toss meat and continue to cook, tossing occasionally, until cooked through and crisp at edges, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, remaining meat, and more salt.

Serve topped with scallions.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Raspberry and Rosewater Cheesecake

I bookmarked this cheesecake a long time ago, before I even knew there would be lactose-free cream cheese on the market one day. I originally saw it on Design Sponge, but the recipe is by Christelle Tanielian (so those of you who speak French can get her French version here). I rewrote a bit of the instructions to be clearer.

The crust is made with biscuits roses de Reims (affiliate link), which gives it a beautiful pink hue! That being said, I think that 250 grams was a bit too much, and considering that each package contains 100 grams, I’d just use 200 grams next time – the crust would then be thinner than on the pictures, and I think that’s fine. They contain eggs and wheat as well as possible traces of soy and tree nuts, so I’ve adjusted the tags accordingly. If you want a substitute, the closest you would come in taste and texture, in my opinion, is ladyfingers, though you’d miss out on the pink hue. You could also use Nilla wafers, Speculoos, or graham crackers.

I loved both the look and flavors of this cheesecake! However, the Engineer didn’t like the cheesecake base, even though he really enjoyed this one. I think it’s because this cheesecake doesn’t contain any sour cream, so the base tends to be sort of a one-tone thing, but that creates a better backdrop for the other flavors, so it’s a trade-off.

The top of the cake was so glossy that I didn’t realize it reflected other objects at the angle at which I took the pictures, so please ignore the yellow spot on its upper left surface in the penultimate picture. That is all.

For the crust
200 g. biscuits roses de Reims (see note above)
90 g. (3 oz. or 6 Tbsp.) butter or margarine, melted (coconut oil would work, too)

For the filling
750 g. (three 8-oz. packs) lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
150 g. (¾ cup) granulated sugar
3 eggs
2-3 Tbsp. rosewater (to taste; I used 3 Tbsp.)

For the raspberry topping
100 g. (½ cup) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. corn starch
½ cup water
185 g. (1 ½ cup) frozen raspberries
1-2 Tbsp. rosewater (to taste; I used 2 Tbsp.)

For the crust
Finely grind the biscuits roses de Reims and mix in well with the butter (I did this in the food processor). Grease an 8-inch (22 cm) springform pan and press the cookie mixture evenly into the pan using the bottom of a glass or spoon (and up the sides if you wish, as well). Put aside in the freezer.

For the filling
Preheat the oven at 300 °F. Fill a pan with water and place it on the lowest rack of the oven (this will help keep the cheesecake moist as it bakes).

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition, then add rosewater while beating on low speed until the texture is creamy.

Place the springform pan with the crust on a baking sheet (to prevent making a mess if it drips) and pour the filling evenly into the crust. Place the baking sheet with the cheesecake in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 60 to 70 minutes. Once the oven has been turned off, let the cake cool inside the oven and leave the door closed. Once it is completely cooled, put it in the refrigerator overnight.

For the raspberry topping
Place the sugar and corn starch in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat. Add water and stir well.

Add the frozen raspberries and crush them using a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir continually for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in rosewater, and allow to cool completely. I strained the mixture to remove the seeds, but this is not absolutely necessary.

Remove cake from the pan and transfer to a plate. Spread the topping over the chilled cheesecake and decorate with fresh raspberries if you have them. Refrigerate for an hour and serve.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Batch of links - Food deliveries

This post has been in the works for a long time, mostly because whenever I think I’m basically done, I come across another relevant link! I wanted to round up links about food delivery, more specifically meal kits, ready-made meals and grocery delivery services. I’ve divided the links in sections below.

First, a short intro on meal kits, for those of you not familiar with them. Here is an article on The Kitchn titled How meal kits made my marriage better, essentially because one spouse was handling the bulk of the cooking while the other spouse, when it was his turn, had trouble planning and executing a recipe. Meal kits eliminate the need to plan and shop, and the pre-portioned ingredients make prep a breeze. Yet you still get a good home-cooked meal out of it! I admit this would be a draw for our family, because I find that meal planning takes a lot of mental energy.

The same was true for Bryan Walsh of Time magazine: like 1/3 of Americans, he didn’t cook, mainly because he was scared of the process, which seemed complex, confusing, and a little scary to him. His wife is a good cook, but he wanted to take more responsibility for housework, so he turned to meal kits to help him learn to cook. “According to the consultancy Technomic, the global meal-kit market topped $1 billion in 2015 and is projected to hit $10 billion by 2020,” so he’s clearly not the only one feeling that way. Even though instructions are clear and often illustrated, though, you still need to actually do the work: chop vegetables, cook chicken to at least 165 °F, etc., so it’s possible to mess up dinner (and at $8 to $12 per person per meal, it isn’t cheap, but it’s still less expensive than a restaurant). Over a year, however, he reports greatly improving his skills and broadening his palate. It even gave him “the confidence to try cooking without training wheels.”

Meal kits
These seem to be the most popular right now. You pick your meals on the website, and the ingredients are sent right to your door. There are too many services to list them all, but here are reviews of Home Chef, Blue Apron, Chef’d, Plated, Peach Dish, Terra’s Kitchen, and Hello Fresh, as well as a round-up of several options to help you choose (all on The Kitchn).

And to vary my sources a bit: a review of Blue Apron by a professional chef, a review of Plated, and a review of six meal kit services, with a clear winner.

Real Simple also did a face-off with 15 national services and distilled it down to six, based on your priority (fastest to prepare, most customizable, etc.); the results are here. For me personally, while just not having to come up with a meal idea and not having to shop for it would already be a weight off my shoulders, I’d certainly prefer to take it one step further and buy ingredients that come fully prepped – that would be Fresh Realm.

There’s also a very complete review of Blue Apron by a long-time user. I found it interesting, but I disagree with one point: he compares the cost of Blue Apron with that of dining out and therefore concludes that he’s saved money. To me, even though you obviously save time because you don’t have to bother with meal planning and grocery shopping, I’d still compare that service to cooking at home, so I’m not sure how cost-efficient a $10/serving meal is.

Some celebrities are getting in on the game, too: Jamie Oliver has teamed up with Hello Fresh, while Martha Stewart has a partnership with Marley Spoon.

In San Antonio, we have a service called Sue Sheff; they use local ingredients as much as possible, and the meals are dietician-approved. I haven’t tried them, but I’d consider it, especially since there’s no subscription fee! As one of the founders said in the July 2016 issue of San Antonio Magazine, “Our customers have turned out to be busy people who value the idea of home cooking using some local ingredients.”

Canadians can try Good Food, and I’m sure there will be more and more options as time goes on.

There are also vegan options, like Purple Carrot (with which Mark Bittman was affiliated) and Beyoncé’s vegan 22 Days Nutrition. Another service, Sun Basket, has vegan as well as paleo and gluten-free options.

There are many reasons why people chose meal kits, such as saving time, remedying lack of inspiration, or trying new foods without being stuck with most of a container in your pantry for the next several years (we’ve all been there). That is, of course, if you don’t mind all the packaging waste and added expense, although it may help curb food waste since you only get as much of any ingredient as you need for the recipe (this does depend a bit on how you shop/cook to begin with).

As for cost, here’s a dollar-to-dollar comparison with grocery shopping, although you should keep in mind that different services will have different fees, including in some cases membership fees.

For more information, here’s a cursory behind-the-scenes look at the businesses, with a more interesting article about Blue Apron specifically.

There’s also Foodstirs that I thought looked interesting, perhaps mostly for people who are intimidated by baking or who want to buy a kit to make cupcakes with their kids and decorate them in a Pinterest-worthy way without too much trouble. The baking mixes don’t contain the “bad” ingredients of most commercial mixes. Personally, though, I wouldn’t spend $25 on a dozen cupcakes that I make myself, even if the toppers are included.

Ready-made meals
There are businesses that deliver ready-made meals: some are essentially restaurants without a store-front, but create meals designed to still look and taste good after a 20-to-30-minute trip in a box; others ship frozen meals to your doorstep.

If you live in Manhattan, David Chang has a food delivery service called Maple this “restaurant” focuses exclusively on delivery, so prices are lower. If you live in San Francisco, Seatlle, New York or Los Angeles, there’s Munchery, which delivers chilled meals to your door. Spoonrocket went under, but Sprig is still operating. A little Googling even led me to vegan meal deliveries in San Antonio.

In addition to these, there are also services that will pick up your favorite dishes from local restaurants and deliver them to your home. For example, Favor lets you order from any restaurant and have food delivered within an hour; this is available in San Antonio, but only in the more central areas of town, not outside the second beltway. Those of you with a mobile device can also try UberEATS, which is basically an Uber driver delivering your food.

In Montreal, try Avec plaisirs, which delivers bento boxes for at least five people – this is great for office workers at lunch time, though perhaps less so for families who lack time to make dinner. Plus, Hungry Box will even deliver an equivalent meal (sandwich and salad) to someone in need – this is also more of a work lunch option.

Four Canadian provinces can also get frozen meals delivered from MamaLuv. This used to be my go-to gift to new parents, but since the company isn’t really allergen-friendly or kosher, I had to come up with other ideas in recent years. I’m not sure there is an American equivalent, at least not one framed specifically as “gifts” for new parents, people going through a rough patch health-wise, etc. Then again, there are so many ready-made meal companies out there that it hardly matters (as long as one can get deliveries without a subscription).

If you have to eat gluten-free, you won’t be left out, thanks to Freshly; the meals are delivered frozen to your door.

For people who like to snack, Graze looks absolutely awesome! There are over a hundred different snacks, and each $11.99 box contains 8 snacks. If I weren’t afraid of getting fat, I’d totally sign up for this. The food looks fantastic! The downside is that you can only enter preferences and someone on their staff chooses snacks for you, and then you can give feedback. If you want to choose your snacks from the start, then Nature Box would be a better match. Click here for more snack delivery companies. Another option is Love with Food, which has a plan curated to be gluten-free

I also like the idea of Try the World, which sends curated boxes of food items from a different country every other month. In Canada, try Food Trip To…, which is basically the same concept, with a bonus playlist (although you can order boxes only when you feel like it, without a subscription).

Grocery deliveries
If you want to get groceries delivered, there are services like Instacart. It’s obviously a little more expensive than going to the store yourself, but it saves you time and can even save you extra expenses: you can get stuff delivered from Costco without being a member! Delivery is actually not that expensive, about $3.99, and the prices are supposed to be the same as what’s in store. The link has a very good pros and cons chart. Plus, some people say having groceries delivered actually saves them money. Another service is Shipt, though you have to pay for an annual membership. (This, to me, makes it less attractive because I only see myself using such a service temporarily, say if I have a newborn or am recovering from an illness. Or on the rare occasion when I run out of something and need it urgently, but my child is napping. That being said, it could make it more attractive to someone with a chronic illness or disability, or perhaps the elderly.) This is assuming that your grocery store doesn’t let you order online already (ours does, though we’ve never used the service).

There are other services like Good Eggs, Foxtrot or Peapod, but you always need to be in certain major cities to have access to those services, so they’re certainly not convenient for everyone.

In their August issue, San Antonio Magazine had a great comparative chart of local grocery delivery services. I can’t find it on their website, but I took the liberty of scanning it and posting it below. The services are broken down according to various criteria, so you can really make an informed decision based on your shopping habits and what you want from such a service. Some of these are available nationally as well.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Cherry Poppy Seed Loaf Cake

This isn’t exactly seasonal, because I didn’t use fresh cherries. I could have, at the tail end of the season, but then I thought of how much easier it would be to use frozen cherries instead of having to pit all those cherries myself, and laziness won out. This means I had to increase the baking time, however, but I knew that going in. The Engineer and I both really enjoyed it, but the Little Prince has somehow decided that the only thing that can replace his peanut butter toast in the morning is pancakes, so no dice with him. The recipe is from David Lebovitz’s blog.

For the streusel topping
¼ cup (35 g.) flour
2 Tbsp. old-fashioned (rolled) oats
2 Tbsp. light or dark brown sugar
2 tsp. poppy seeds
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon or cardamom
1 pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, salted or unsalted, at room temperature

For the cake
1 ½ cups (210 g.) flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup (150 g.) granulated sugar
grated zest of 2 large lemons
½ cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola or grapeseed
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (225 g.) plain lactose-free whole milk yogurt
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 ½ cups (210 g.) pitted cherries, sweet or sour (fresh or frozen)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Butter a 9x5-inch loaf pan, dust with flour, and tap out any excess.

Make the streusel by mixing the ¼ cup flour, oats, brown sugar, poppy seeds, cinnamon or cardamom and salt in a small bowl. Add the butter and use your fingers to break the butter into small pieces, until the streusel is in small bits. Set aside.

To make the cake, whisk the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt together in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together very well with your fingers, encouraging the lemon oil to saturate the sugar. Whisk in the oil, eggs, yogurt and lemon juice. Add the flour mixture all at once, stirring with a rubber spatula until it’s almost completely incorporated. Fold in half of the cherries and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Dot the remaining cherries over the top and sprinkle with streusel. Bake the cake until golden brown on top and it feels set in the center, about 45 to 50 minutes. (Since I used frozen cherries, mine took closer to 75 minutes. Just insert a toothpick in the center to check for doneness.)

Let the cake cool on a wire rack. When cool, run a knife along the outside of the cake to help it release from the pan and tip the cake out of the pan.

Rosemary Chicken, Bacon and Avocado Salad

This salad is unbelievably flavorful! The chicken is cooked in bacon grease, which obviously helps a lot, but the rosemary is also a wonderful addition, not to mention the dressing. This was a big hit in our house (even the Little Prince, who did not care for all the elements of the salad, found enough in there to keep him happy). I found the recipe on How Sweet It Is. The proportions below have been doubled from the original recipe, because I wanted leftovers; as always, I only sliced the avocado when I was ready to serve it.

For the salad
8 slices thick-cut bacon
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3-4 Tbsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
6-8 cups spring greens and/or butter lettuce
1 bunch watercress
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 large avocados, thinly sliced

For the rosemary vinaigrette (quantities can be doubled if you want a lot of vinaigrette)
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. finely minced fresh rosemary
salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add the bacon. Cook until it's crispy and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon and place it on a paper towel to drain any excess grease.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cover with the rosemary. In the same skillet used in the previous step, over medium-high heat, add the chicken and cook until golden and crisp on both sides, about 5 to 6 minutes per side (make sure it is cooked through). Remove the chicken and let sit for a moment while you assemble the salad, then slice it.

Toss the greens with the watercress and the tomatoes. Top with the sliced chicken, the bacon and the avocado.

Whisk together all the ingredients for vinaigrette (I like to shake everything together in a small jar).

Drizzle the salad with the rosemary vinaigrette!