Friday, March 29, 2013

Batch of links

- Do cookies really taste better when dipped in tea? Yes, and here’s why.

- I enjoyed this article, Will everyone please eat gluten? Please? Because you are literally killing me, kind of. It reminds me of my gluten-free pet peeve.

- An explanation of the Helsinki Bus Station Theory, which illustrates critical insight about perseverance.

- Two scientists (and metal heads) have created a mathematical model for mosh pits, including a simulator you can try online.

- Two real estate links (I don’t know how long they’ll be up, but they are working today). First, an old house in Montreal that is in dire need of some renovations. I’m pretty sure the cost of renovating would be outrageous, but without renovations, there’s no way I’d even consider sleeping in that bedroom! I have to admit, though, that the place has beautiful bones, and in its current state, would be perfect to shoot a cool video clip. Any bands out there reading this? The second house is on a beach in South Africa, and I don’t dare even imagine how much it costs. It’s nice to look at pictures, though!

- The cast of The Big Bang Theory performs a song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. You’re welcome.

- And here’s my feel-good video of the week.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Quinoa-Kale Salad with Carrot-Coriander Dressing

People, you have got to try this salad from Gluten-Free Girl. Or at the very least, this dressing. It is beyond awesome! It’s bright, both in taste and color, and is guaranteed to jazz up your meal. I juiced all the carrots that were languishing in my crisper drawer, but if you don’t have a juicer, it would be fine to buy carrot juice at the store (I might even do that next time). My juice separated a little bit, because I have a centrifugal juicer, but then once I used my immersion blender to whiz all the ingredients, it all came together beautifully, and the consistency was wonderful. The whole dish is a bit long to make, because of the different steps going on (hard-boil eggs, roast pine nuts, cook quinoa, make dressing), but it’s well worth it. The Engineer asked how it was made, and I described the process of the dressing to him, after which he exclaimed, “The effect is dynamite!”

Of course, you’re free to change the salad as you see fit; you can omit the nuts or use something other than pine nuts, and omit the eggs for a vegan version. I used 1 cup of uncooked quinoa, which gave me 4 small servings – plus an egg and a handful of chopped kale per person. Leftover dressing goes well with any salad, though, and I had it with chickpeas and avocados later that week. You’ll get a little more than a cup; I kept mine in a Bonne Maman jar in the fridge, and it didn’t separate.

2 tsp. coriander seeds
2 cups fresh carrot juice
1 medium shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
¼ cup champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
¾ extra-virgin cup olive oil (I used ½ cup)
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Set a small pot on medium heat. Add the coriander seeds. Toast the seeds, tossing them around in the pot frequently, until the smell of the coriander releases itself, about 5 minutes.

Pour in the carrot juice and the shallot. Cook until the carrot juice is reduced down to about ¼ cup, about 15 to 20 minutes. (You might want to brush the sides of the pot with a pastry brush once in a while, to prevent the sugars in the carrot juice from burning.) Add the champagne vinegar to the carrot juice and give it a stir.

Pour the liquid in the pot into a blender (I used the container that came with my immersion blender). Blend on medium speed. Slowly, drizzle in the olive oil until the oil is fully incorporated into the dressing, about 2 minutes. Add the cilantro and blend until it’s mixed into the dressing. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Transformation de vêtements - Maternité

Ça fait un bail, hein, que je vous ai parlé de transformation de vêtements? Et pourtant, je me suis un peu recyclée dans la transformation de vêtements à ma taille et leur confection à partir de drap… Je vous montre donc en vitesse le résultat de mes deux dernières transformations, avec des liens vers les tutoriels, pour les intéressées. Pour les deux, je suis partie de chemises d’occasion : quand on achète une chemise qui a déjà été portée, l’important est surtout de vérifier s’il y a des taches (visibles sur le devant, oui, mais aussi sous les aisselles). Une couture défaite, ça se refait, mais une déchirure ou un trou, c’est plus grave. Est-ce que tous les boutons y sont, aussi?

Tout d’abord, j’ai acheté une grande chemise d’homme pour 2,50 $ et je l’ai transformée en me basant sur le tutoriel de DIY Maternity. J’ai commencé par raccourcir les manches, puis avec une retaille, j’ai fait du ruban de biais. J’ai donc cousu le ruban de biais sous le buste et j’y ai passé un ruban décoratif du commerce, pour cintrer la taille un peu. J’ai par contre eu de la misère avec le col. Je voulais faire comme dans le tutoriel, mais sans patron, c’était assez difficile; mes fronces ne faisaient pas un bel effet. J’aurais pu y aller avec une version découvrant les épaules, et même faire une couture ballon à la taille, mais j’y suis allée plus simplement en utilisant le reste de mon ruban de biais pour finir le col agrandi, sans fronces. Je vous mets les photos avant et après.

Ensuite, j’ai acheté une autre chemise d’homme, bleue cette fois, pour 3,50 $. J’en ai fait une tunique en me basant sur un magnifique modèle vu chez Prudent Baby. Encore une fois, j’ai arrangé le col (que je porte de l’une des deux façons montrées sur les photos ci-dessous) et les manches, puis utilisé du fil élastique pour froncer l’avant. Un truc qui n’est écrit nulle part : mettez votre fil élastique en face d’une paire bouton-œillet, pour éviter que la chemise s’ouvre à cause de l’élastique par la suite! Je suis super contente du résultat, d’autant plus qu’il fait très féminin.

Je me limite à cela pour l’instant. Il y a bien sûr des tutoriels pour faire des jeans de grossesse, par exemple, mais encore faut-il sacrifier une paire de jeans et être à l’aise de coudre du tissu si épais avec du tricot, alors très peu pour moi, merci. On peut aussi commencer avec un t-shirt et ajouter des élastiques, sur les côtés ou sous le buste.

Crispy Potato Roast

I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It took me a while to make it, because it seemed a bit involved, but really, it wasn’t. I served it with leftover duck we brought home from a Chinese restaurant, but I imagine this would be good with any meat – after all, potatoes are like the little black dress of dinner and can be dressed up or down to go with anything. I made a half recipe, which was enough for 4 small servings; the recipe below would make enough to serve 6 to 8 as a side. I used the slicer blade on my food processor to slice the potatoes, so that was really effortless and fast; the cooking time is long, though, so that’s really what you have to plan for.

3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or neutral vegetable oil)
coarse salt
½ to 1 tsp. red-pepper flakes (optional; I used Korean pepper, which is milder)
4 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled (smaller diameter potatoes are great, if you can find them)
4 shallots, peeled
8 sprigs fresh thyme
garnishes (optional): bits of goat cheese, crumbles of bacon

Preheat oven to 375 °F. In a small bowl, combine butter and oil. With a sharp knife or mandoline (or, really, a food processor if you have one), slice potatoes crosswise very thinly. Figure out what baking dish you’d like to use: the original recipe suggests a 9-inch round baking dish (a deep dish pie pan would fit this bill), though you could go an inch bigger; an oval 1-½ to 2 quart casserole dish might also be pretty. I used a smaller dish, since I was halving the recipe, so I didn’t have much choice, but you could arrange the slices in whatever dish you like, as long as they fit.

Once you’ve picked the dish that seems the best fit for your slices, pour a tablespoon or so of the butter/oil mixture in the bottom and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the oil mixture with a few pinches of coarse salt and red pepper flakes, if using; this will allow you to season both the top and underside of the potatoes. Arrange your potato slices vertically in the dish.

Thinly slice shallots with your mandoline (or knife) and slide shallot slivers between potato wedges, distributing them as evenly as possible. Brush with remaining oil/butter mixture. Generously season your dish with salt; go easier on the red pepper flakes, if using. Bake 1 ¼ hours, then arrange thyme sprigs on top and bake until potatoes are cooked through with a crisped top, about 35 minutes more. If casserole seems to brown too fast, cover it with foil to slow it down (I did this after 60 minutes). Add any garnishes, if using, and serve immediately.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Duck Fat Pancakes

OK, so I bought duck fat and made latkes, but what to do with the rest? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll love these duck fat pancakes from Bon Appétit. They have awesome crispy edges and rock a sugar shack vibe. They remind me a bit of my friend the Legal Chef’s pancakes, which he makes by folding whipped egg whites in the batter and shallow-frying them in a pan. These are simpler, are the eggs go in whole, but they are thick and fluffy. Serve with lots of maple syrup!

2 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ cup plus 1 ½ tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups lactose-free whole milk
2 large eggs
duck fat (or clarified unsalted butter, melted, or vegetable oil) (about 1 cup)
pure maple syrup

Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk milk and eggs in a large bowl to blend. Add dry ingredients to egg mixture; whisk just to blend. Cover and chill for up to 1 hour.

Melt duck fat in a large skillet to a depth of 1/3" over medium heat. Using a ¼-cup measure and working in batches, spoon batter into skillet. Cook until pancakes are slightly puffed and golden brown and bubbles form and begin to pop along edges, 1–2 minutes. Carefully flip (don’t burn yourself with oil spatters) and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 1–2 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancakes to a paper towel-lined plate. (I kept mine warm in the oven, since it does take a while to cook all the pancakes using just one pan. If you’ve got enough duck fat, keeping in mind that you may have to add some to the pan again at some point, you can always use two pans at once.)

Transfer pancakes to plates. Drizzle generously with syrup.

Batch of links

- Here’s something else I appreciated from the Bon Appétit roundup I mentioned last week: the end of the interview with Aaron Franklin, chef and owner of Franklin Barbecue. For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s said to be THE place for barbecue in Austin; people start lining up bright and early in the morning, even though it only opens around 11:00 am, and often sells out by noon! Bon Appétit asked how long he would stand in line for barbecue himself. His answer? “I can’t eat barbecue anymore. I’d stand in line for a good salad, though.”

- Some companies are thinking of creating food labels that not only tell you how many calories the food contains, but how long or how far you would have to walk to burn them off. For example, one would have to walk about 3 miles, or 78 minutes, to burn off the calories in a 20-oz. soda. I think that’s brilliant, because sometimes just the number of calories is hard to translate into real-life energy expenses.

- Time recently had (another) article on test tube meat. I’ve been hearing about it for a little while, so here are my thoughts. Would I want to eat this today? No way. That being said, if science continues to improve, we could one day have tasty meat that was obtained without the death (or unethical living conditions) of a cow, without growth hormones or antibiotics, without using up too many resources or creating much pollution at all, and at a cost everyone can afford. And that is something I can get behind.

- Hell is my own book tour: this made me laugh.

- And I just had to share this, since I think it’s a big step: “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) supports civil marriage for same-gender couples – as well as full adoption and foster care rights for all parents, regardless of sexual orientation – as the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Biscuits roulés au chocolat et aux dattes

La recette que je partage ici est tirée d’une publicité du temps des fêtes, que j’ai dû trouver dans Coup de Pouce. Il s’agit d’un regroupement d’entreprises qui, avec plusieurs de leurs produits, ont créé un livret de recettes pour se mettre en valeur (ici, il s’agissait de Crown, Lactantia, Naturœuf et Reynolds, mais bien sûr, utilisez votre marque préférée); malheureusement, je ne le trouve pas en ligne, alors je ne vous donne pas de lien. Voici par contre mon adaptation de la recette de biscuits roulés au chocolat et aux dattes, que nous avons beaucoup aimés! La recette d’origine était censée donner 3 ½ douzaines de biscuits, mais nous en avons eu 2 douzaines – sans doute que je les ai tranchés plus épais qu’il le fallait.

Pour la garniture
1 tasse dattes dénoyautées et hachées
1 ¼ tasse eau
¼ tasse sirop de maïs
2 c. à soupe margarine
2 oz. chocolat mi-sucré, haché

Pour la pâte
1 tasse margarine
1 tasse sucre
1 œuf
2 c. à thé vanille
2 ½ tasses farine tout-usage
½ c. à thé sel
¼ c. à thé bicarbonate de soude

Pour la garniture
Combiner les dattes, l’eau, le sirop de maïs et la margarine dans une petite casserole à feu moyen. En remuant souvent, cuire pendant 6 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que le mélange ait la consistance d’une confiture. Retirer du feu; ajouter le chocolat et remuer jusqu’à ce qu’il soit fondu. Laisser tiédir à la température ambiante.

Pour la pâte
Pendant ce temps, battre la margarine et le sucre en mousse. Incorporer l’œuf et la vanille.

Dans un autre bol, tamiser la farine avec le sel et le bicarbonate de soude. En battant à basse vitesse, incorporer le mélange de farine au mélange de margarine. Pétrir légèrement la pâte sur une surface farinée et former un rectangle. Raffermir la pâte pendant 20 minutes au réfrigérateur.

Pour l’assemblage
Sur une surface farinée ou sur un papier parchemin, avec un rouleau à pâte, abaisser la pâte pour obtenir un rectangle d’environ 10 pouces x 14 pouces. Étendre la garniture refroidie sur la pâte jusqu’à 1 pouce du bord. En commençant du côté long, rouler la pâte bien serrée. Mettre le rouleau au congélateur pendant 30 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’il soit suffisamment ferme pour être tranché.

Préchauffer le four à 325 °F. Couper le rouleau en tranches de ¼ pouces d’épaisseur (je l’avoue, les miennes étaient un peu plus épaisses). Les déposer à 1 pouce l’une de l’autre sur des plaques de cuisson recouvertes de papier parchemin. Cuire pendant 15 minutes (18 minutes dans mon cas), ou jusqu’à ce que la pâte soit légèrement dorée. Refroidir complètement sur une grille.

Chili con carne

Moi, j’aime bien ça, le chili maison. Je trouve qu’en restaurant ou en conserve, on ne sait jamais à quoi s’attendre, mais du chili maison, c’est génial. Ma recette préférée, c’est celui de ma mère, mais des fois, j’aime essayer une nouvelle recette. Celle-ci, du blogue Obsessions gourmandes, m’a tapé dans l’œil… Et il est excellent aussi. Dans la recette d’origine, Catherine Draws recommande du bœuf, du veau et du porc. Bon, le veau, ça n’entre pas chez moi, alors je voulais du bœuf et du porc. Par contre, mon épicerie ne vend pas de porc élevé de façon éthique, alors j’ai pris juste du bœuf, finalement, mais j’aurais eu plus de chance chez Whole Foods. J’ai adouci les épices, hein, vous me connaissez, alors je vous mets les quantités que moi j’ai utilisées. (Vous pouvez ajouter des piments chili ou de la pâte de harissa, au goût.) L’Ingénieur a dit que c’est l’un des meilleurs chilis qu’il a mangés et que l’assaisonnement avec la viande était parfait, alors je suis bien contente de ma recette! Les quantités ci-dessous donnent 4 petites portions, que je vous recommande donc de servir avec du bon pain.

1 poivron rouge
huile végétale
1 petit oignon, coupé en petits cubes
3 gousses d’ail, pilées
½ livre de bœuf haché
½ livre de porc haché (ou du bœuf haché, au pire, mais choisissez-le un peu plus gras alors)
1 grosse boîte de tomates en dés, avec le jus
1 boîte de haricots rouges, rincés et égouttés
1 c. à soupe de piment coréen
1 c. à soupe de paprika
2 c. à soupe de poudre de moutarde
1 c. à thé de poudre d’ail
1 c. à thé d’origan séché
1 c. à thé de sel
1 c. à thé de poivre noir fraîchement moulu
½ c. à thé de sucre
Pour garnir : crème sure sans lactose, oignons verts, fromage râpé, chips de maïs bleu, tomates fraîches en cubes

Préchauffer le four à 400 °F.

Couper le poivron rouge en deux sur la longueur et l’épépiner. Placer les deux moitiés de poivron sur une plaque de cuisson recouverte de papier aluminium, la peau vers le haut, puis enfourner sur la grille du haut pour 25 minutes, ou jusqu’à ce que presque toute la peau du poivron soit noire (dans mon cas, des traces noires, c’est assez).

Retirer le poivron du four et le placer soit dans un sac refermable, soit dans un bol recouvert d’une pellicule plastique, et laisser reposer 15 minutes. Ensuite, peler le poivron et le couper en dés.

Entretemps, dans une grande casserole, faire chauffer l’huile à feu moyen et y faire fondre l’oignon er l’ail.

Assaisonner généreusement la viande de sel et de poivre, puis la faire colorer avec les oignons.

Quand la viande est cuite, ajouter le poivron et tout le reste des ingrédients. Laisser cuire à couvert à feu moyen-doux (en autant que ça frémisse) pendant 1 h 30, puis retirer le couvercle et laisser mijoter doucement jusqu’à ce que presque tout le liquide se soit évaporé (mais pas tout le liquide; personne ne veut d’un chili sec!).

Servir dans un bol et accompagner de crème sure, de dés de tomate fraîche, d’oignons verts, de fromage râpé et de chips de maïs, au choix.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Creamy Coconut Barley

While spring has definitely sprung in South Texas, some of you are still buried in snow. How about a nice, warm, whole grain breakfast? This recipe is adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen; the original called for pomegranate molasses and arils, but even though I did have the molasses, I decided to go another direction and use peaches – which, it turns out, were fabulous. I think this would be good with berries, or with apples or pears, too. As a sweetener, the first morning, I used coconut syrup, but after that I used maple syrup. I loved it! It’s a nice change from oatmeal and kasha when you want something warm in the morning (not that I have kasha often anyway).

1 ¼ cups barley (I used medium pearled barley)
1 cup water
1 (14-oz.) can coconut milk
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
pinch of fine sea salt
½ cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted (optional)
sweetener of your choice, such as maple syrup or brown sugar
fruit of your choice

Rinse the barley in a mesh strainer. Put the barley and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. When the water is almost absorbed, after about 8 minutes, stir in ½ cup of the coconut milk and the cardamom. Keep the heat at a gentle simmer and stir occasionally, as if you were cooking risotto. Continue to add the coconut milk, about ½ cup at a time, until the barley is cooked through but still al dente. If necessary, add a bit more water and continue simmering until it reaches the desired doneness. Stir in the salt. Divide the barley among 4 bowls (or just spoon out one serving and refrigerate the rest) and top with the toasted coconut, syrup and fruit.

Meyer Lemon Coffee Cake

Here’s what I did with the last of the Meyer lemons from our small tree: coffee cake, with a crumb topping. (See here, here and here for where the rest went. If I’m counting correctly, this brings our total number of lemons to 13; we still have two medium-sized green ones plus some new tiny green ones, but I have no idea if they’ll mature, given that the season is over. Que sera sera!) Note that 3 Meyer lemons were enough for me here, but one had been on the kitchen counter for a while and was very ripe, so it yielded a lot of juice and very little zest (the other two were fresh off the tree and were great for zest, but had less juice). If you buy them, you might want to get 4 or 5 if they aren’t too big, just to be on the safe side.

The original recipe calls for a 9-inch square pan. We’ve had an incredible lot of recipes that call for a Pyrex pan that size lately, what with the Engineer’s baking project, but we can’t find a 9-inch square Pyrex pan ANYWHERE. I think we might buy a stoneware one to round out our collection. As it was, the 8-inch square one was needed for dinner, so I used a 9-inch round springform pan instead, and I would recommend that format. Both the Engineer and I really enjoyed this cake, and it was a great way to end Meyer lemon season.

For the topping
1/3 cup sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon zest
pinch salt
1 Tbsp. fresh Meyer lemon juice
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

For the cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1/3 cup (5 heaping Tbsp.) butter at room temperature or cold margarine
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon zest
½ cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
½ cup lactose-free milk (this should be buttermilk, but will become buttermilk substitute with the lemon juice already in the recipe)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Lightly grease a 9-inch square pan (or a 9-inch springform pan).

Make the topping first. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt. Add in lemon juice and melted butter and stir with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg and lemon zest.

Stir in one third of the flour mixture, followed by the lemon juice. Stir in another third of the flour mixture, followed by the lactose-free milk. Stir in the remaining flour mixture, mixing only until no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour into prepared pan and sprinkle evenly with the topping mixture that was set aside in the first step. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely in the pan before slicing.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Black Sheep Bistro

The Engineer and I just took a 30-or-so-hour trip to Corpus Christi and thereabouts, to see the Gulf of Mexico. We loved our trip, and while on Padre Island, had a wonderful dinner at a little place called the Black Sheep Bistro. It’s a warm and eclectic modern bistro, with funky art for sale (I was mesmerized by a skeleton rendition of the little mermaid) and a strong menu that seems to vary a little according to the season. It’s a great place for a date or special occasion, yet also accommodated families with young children, so the dress code is very flexible. We started with a simple plate of bread to dip in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and grated parmesan. Every time I have something like this, I keep thinking I should serve it at home, and I always forget, but I really should make the effort! The Engineer had the fish of the day, swordfish, served on rice with gumbo (shrimp, scampi, mussels, and sausages), along with a side order of Greek salad (served with lettuce, but made really well). That main dish was off-limits for me, so I decided to settle for the airline chicken. The name doesn’t make it seem really appetizing, of course, but that’s because unless you’re a vegetarian or keep kosher, there’s nothing wrong with roasted boneless chicken breast with herbs. This one, though, really wowed me: it came with fabulous roasted fingerling potatoes and melt-in-your-mouth roasted cloves of garlic, plus a side of veggies that I actually enjoyed (green beans, bell peppers, zucchinis, and mushrooms). I absolutely loved my meal, and I would in fact go out of my way to have it again! We ended the evening by sharing the Billionaire Brownie, a two-layer brownie with caramel sauce topped with praline – yum! I highly recommend the Black Sheep Bistro to anyone in the area.

Batch of links

- Bon Appétit published a list of the 20 most important restaurants in America right now, which is interesting enough in and of itself, but then there’s this quote from David Chang, of Momofuku, regarding his own pick: “Cheesecake Factory. Seriously. They consistently make more people happy than any other restaurant. We can all learn a lot from them.”

- Could there soon be a cure for celiac disease?

- This article is long, but really worth the read. There’s a new experimental treatment out there for children with food allergies. At the end of the treatment, a child who used to go into anaphylactic shock from cross-contamination with an egg, for example, is able to eat a whole egg without any adverse reactions! The downsides are of course that this is a long, difficult treatment, each allergen has to be treated separately, and the patient must continue to eat the problematic food every day for the rest of his or her life, or risk losing the benefits of the treatment. That being said, I can only imagine the relief one must feel if one’s child is no longer in danger if dying from cross-contamination and can go out to restaurants or birthday parties… This is still a ground-breaking treatment, and seems very promising.

- I don’t know anyone who has time to actually pack bento boxes like these for their kids, but I sure like looking at them! I’m also now following Norwegian photographer Ida Frosk on Instagram, as she makes masterpieces with food.

- An update about Pastagate (see here and here for a recap). Louise Marchand, who was president of the OQLF, has thankfully stepped down, thereby leaving room for people who will modernize the OQLF and its mission; I’m pretty sure we can all agree this is good news. However, we’re now in a situation where the PM is finally involved in this language debate, by trying to pass Bill 14. This bill plans for unnecessary measures such as stripping municipalities of their bilingual status if the percentage of English speakers is below 50% (even if the municipality wishes to keep its bilingual status), or forcing children of military personnel to attend school in French (not necessarily a good idea, since some of them are from Anglophone families and many of them will be moving to Anglophone provinces during their youth, so it would be easier on them to get consistent schooling). While I’m pretty sure that Bill 14 won’t pass, at least not in its current state, I can’t help but wonder why some Francophones (meaning those who came up with the bill itself, and not any of the ones I know personally) think that the best way to defend and promote French is by outlawing other languages, instead of promoting it in schools and society in a more effective manner (and this goes for Francophone schools too, as many teenagers today whose mother-tongue in French don’t master the language enough to be able to understand literary text or to spell it properly when writing anything other than a quick email to friends). The PQ dissatisfaction rate is 68% right now, after only 6 months in power – it took Charest 9 years to get there, and that was with rampant corruption! I don’t know who the PQ really thinks it’s protecting with this war on languages… I believe I understand the intent, but this is really not the way to go about it at all.

- Here’s an article about the disappointing results of teaching financial literacy. It still blows my mind that half of Americans over 50 cannot answer both of the simple questions in the first paragraph…

- There is evidence, however, that teaching good sex really pays off.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Quinoa Frittata

I came across this recipe for an individual serving of quinoa egg bake, which is basically a frittata made in a ramequin with quinoa, red bell pepper and onion. The original recipe, however, was from Whole Foods, and had spinach and cheese instead of the red bell pepper and onion. After seeing both recipes, I felt that either one alone was lacking something. I decided to combine the best of both worlds and make my own, with all the fixings. The quinoa settles to the bottom of the dish and creates a sort of crust, yet I really think of this more as a frittata than a quiche, so that’s the name I’m going with. The recipe below is mine, adapted from the two links above. The only thing I might do differently next time is include some of the cheese in the egg mix instead of only topping the frittata with it. I really liked this, and served it with a salad that was a mix of baby kale, baby chard and baby spinach, along with crack sauce.

1 tsp. butter or margarine
½ cup uncooked quinoa
8 eggs
1 ¼ cup lactose-free milk
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
1 tsp. chopped thyme (I used dried thyme and dried oregano)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
½ small onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups baby spinach, kale or green or your choice, chopped
1 cup finely shredded lactose-free parmesan cheese (or more, see below)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8-inch square glass or metal baking dish with butter; set aside.

Put quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse until cold running water runs clear; drain well.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and quinoa. Stir in onion, bell pepper and spinach (and extra parmesan cheese if you want), then pour mixture into prepared dish. Cover tightly with foil, then jiggle dish gently from side to side so that quinoa settles on the bottom in an even layer. Bake until just set, about 50 to 55 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle top evenly with cheese. Return to oven and bake, uncovered, until golden brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes more. Set aside to cool briefly, then slice and serve.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Two-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

I got this recipe on the blog From Away, probably via Pinterest. These pancakes are super easy to make, and they happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free, too! They reminded me a bit of heavenly hots in that they are very eggy and very light. I served them with blueberries and maple syrup, but I think they’d be great with either jam or chocolate syrup, too. The following recipe makes 2 servings.

2 large, ripe bananas
4 eggs

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Mix very well, or pulse with an immersion blender (my preferred method) or in a blender or food processor.

Spray a griddle with nonstick spray, or oil a pan, and heat over medium-high heat. Cook pancakes in batches, using a few tablespoons of batter at a time, until they begin to bubble and hold their shape. Flip pancakes and cook for 30 seconds more.

Serve with syrup.

Maya Angelou's Smothered Chicken

This recipe is from Maya Angleou’s Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, which has as many good stories as it does recipes. The first time I made it, I was living in Montreal and Dear Sister was staying with me for a while. We both enjoyed this dish very much on a summer evening, then we stepped out to run a few errands (I believe this included a trip to the hardware store, but for the life of me I can’t remember what exactly we needed). The point is that when we came back home, as we were walking in the hallway of the building, we smelled this fabulous chicken dish and said out loud, “Wow, somebody’s eating well tonight!” And when we opened the door to our apartment, we realized the smell was coming from our own kitchen! The thing with many cooking smells is that when you’re in the kitchen, you’re like a frog in boiling water and don’t realize just how good things start to smell, but someone walking in will notice it. (This time, I noticed it after stepping out of the shower a few hours after dinner; it’s really heavenly.)

The recipe below is the halved version of the one in the book, and is enough to serve 4, though it could be stretched to 6 servings with a side. Maya Angelou recommends serving this with biscuits, but I think mashed potatoes would be wonderful here, too. The chicken this time didn’t come out with a sauce as creamy as the one I remembered from the first time. In my recollection, this dish had been so creamy the first time that I actually thought there was cream in the ingredients, and was surprised to find out this wasn’t the case as I was looking at the recipe again when making my weekly menu. I’m not sure what I did differently this time; I did halve the recipe, sure, but I can’t imagine that I made 8 servings of it for 2 people the first time, either… Anyway, the sauce was more liquid than creamy, but it was delicious, and I do picture it spooned over mashed potatoes. I caved and ate some of the crispy chicken skin (since it turns out it’s not that bad for you) and I loved the dish. The Engineer said it was awesome chicken.

a 3-lb. fryer chicken (I used chicken pieces)
juice of a lemon
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion, sliced
½ lb. button mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth

Wash and pat dry chicken. Cut into pieces, and put in a bowl with lemon juice and water to cover. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Wash lemon water off chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Dredge pieces of chicken in 6 Tbsp. flour (pardon the measurement, which seems a little odd only because I’ve halved the recipe).

In a large skillet (I used my Dutch oven and did this in 2 batches), fry chicken parts on high heat in 2 Tbsp. oil (or more, really, because the bottom of the skillet should be oiled) until dark brown. Remove from skillet.

Add remaining flour (2 Tbsp.) and oil (2 Tbsp. as well) to skillet. Cook flour until brown. Add onions, mushrooms, and garlic, stirring constantly. Put chicken back into skillet. Add chicken broth and water to cover (I only added broth). Turn heat to medium, and cook for 25 minutes (I used a thermometer to make sure the chicken was cooked through).

Friday, March 08, 2013

Batch of links

- Have you ever wondered how food packaging is influenced by local culture?

- What does a serving of 200 calories look like? Here are pictures of 200 calories’ worth of various foods to give you some idea.

- A former omnivore comes out as a vegetarian, which is a pretty big deal when you’re a food writer.

- I found this article on misconceptions and misperceptions amusing. Readers share things that are obvious to most people, but that they only found out late in life. Personally, misunderstood lyrics don’t amuse me all that much, but I do find it surprising to hear of adults who just now realize that pickles are actually cucumbers!

- Looking for a good book? Here are 23 science books so exciting they read like fiction.

- I found this definition helpful, as the Engineer and I never seemed to agree on what differentiates a cult from a new religious movement.

- How the sequester will change how we eat. I hadn’t thought of this, but as cutbacks are enacted in organisms like the USDA, there will be fewer inspectors to deal with all the food that is currently on the market, leading to either less oversight or… less food, hence higher prices.

- And as long as we’re taking about money: here’s a video about wealth inequality in the US, which is pretty shocking.

- Here’s a link to last week’s Time article discussing the minutia of medical expenses and explaining how medical treatment got to be so damn expensive for the uninsured and underinsured. It’s a really long article (31 pages in the magazine, I think, which is why it’s taking me a long time to read it), but it’s very enlightening. I can only hope it will help bring about change on a national scale…

- Girlfriend leads man around the world in stunning pictures.

- We found our son in the subway, one family’s story of adoption and gay marriage, made me happy.

- You know what else made me happy? Batman dropping off a suspect at a police station.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Vegan Brownies

There are a few recipes of vegan brownies that I want to try, but I decided to start with the one that had the fewest ingredients! I decided it was good enough to share. I adapted it from this recipe. These brownies came out thick and with a lovely crumb, more cake-y than fudge-y (which I like). The Engineer said they were awesome. Personally, I find them really good, but I feel like they are not very rich and lack some depth of flavor. Perhaps a recipe with chocolate as well as cocoa would be good next…

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar (vegan)
1 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup of water
2/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used safflower)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients thoroughly. Add vanilla, water and oil, and mix until smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes. Let cool for 4 hours at least for best taste.

Duck Fat Latkes

I’d been eyeing this Bon Appétit latke recipe, which claims that the secret to good latkes is schmaltz (i.e., chicken fat). When I was at Whole Foods not too long ago, though, I thought, “You know what’s better than schmaltz? Duck fat!” So I bought a little container of duck fat and made these latkes with it. They were AWESOME. These definitely belong to the shredded-potatoes-held-together-with-batter camp (as opposed to the batter-with-potato camp), and the crispy edges and taste were wonderful! The Engineer said they were the most latke-y latkes I’d ever made, and that they reminded him of his bubbie’s. If you’re eating these as a main course, make your mom happy and have some greens with them (such as a salad of spinach, tomatoes and green onions with a yogurt ranch dressing). I served them with applesauce and lactose-free sour cream; the Engineer also likes his Hungarian style – with sugar on top. If you keep kosher, then try vegan sour cream instead of regular dairy sour cream. You could also use matzo meal at Passover (and omit the baking powder, which I’m not convinced is necessary), or perhaps use gluten-free bread-crumbs for a gluten-free version.

3 lbs. large russet potatoes (4-6)
1 lb. Vidalia, yellow, or brown onions (about 2); I do recommend a sweet onion, though
2 large eggs
¼ cup fine plain dried breadcrumbs
3 ½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. (or more) schmaltz (chicken fat; optional; I really recommend duck fat!)
2-4 Tbsp. (or more) vegetable oil, such as safflower or canola
applesauce, sour cream, or whatever you serve as accompaniment

Preheat oven to 325 °F. Peel potatoes. Using the large holes of a box grater or the grater disk on a food processor, grate potatoes and onions. Transfer to a large kitchen towel. Gather ends of towel; twist over sink and squeeze firmly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Open towel; toss mixture to loosen. Gather towel; wring out once more.

Whisk eggs, breadcrumbs, salt, baking powder, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend. Add potato mixture. Using your fingers, mix until well coated. (Latke mixture should be wet and thick, not soupy.)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Set a wire rack inside another large rimmed baking sheet; set aside. Heat 2 Tbsp. schmaltz, if using, and 2 Tbsp. oil (or 4 Tbsp. oil if not using schmaltz; fat should measure about 1/8 inches deep) in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Drop a small amount of latke mixture into pan. If the fat sizzles around the edges, it's ready. (Do not let fat smoke.)

Working in batches and adding more schmaltz and oil to skillet as needed to maintain 1/8 inches fat, drop large spoonfuls of mixture into pan, pressing gently with the back of a spoon or spatula to flatten slightly. (If mixture becomes watery between batches, mix to incorporate; do not drain.)

Cook latkes, occasionally rotating pan for even browning, until golden brown and cooked through, 2 ½ to 3 minutes per side. (If small pieces of potato floating in the oil start to burn, carefully strain out.)

Transfer latkes to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain, then transfer to prepared wire rack. Place sheet with latkes in oven to keep warm and crisp while cooking remaining latkes. (If you’re a little lazy, like I am, set your oven to 200 °F instead and place your latkes directly on a baking sheet lined with paper towels.)

Serve warm latkes with applesauce and sour cream.

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad with Orange-Coriander Dressing

This salad can be made with winter ingredients (you could even use blood oranges), but it works well in any season. It’s not very warming, but the beans and quinoa make it filling, and the orange segments are quite refreshing! It’s easy to prepare, too. I hope you like it!

1 cup uncooked quinoa (any color), rinsed and drained
2 cups water
2 large oranges
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
½ tsp. honey or agave nectar
½ tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
½ tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 ½ cups (or 1 can) cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
½ small red onion (or 1 shallot), thinly sliced

Place quinoa and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool.

Prepare oranges while quinoa is cooling. Finely grate the zest of one orange and set aside. Supreme both oranges, reserving the juice (squeeze the orange membranes after segmenting), and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together orange zest, 3 Tbsp. of orange juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, coriander seeds, salt, a few cracks of pepper, and chopped cilantro. Adjust seasonings if desired.

Place quinoa, black beans, onion, and orange segments in a large bowl and stir gently to combine. Pour dressing over salad and toss gently to coat.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Liens de la semaine

- Un article qui m’a fait rire : Des effets du sucre sur la prise de poids. En fait, ce qui m’a fait rire, c’est surtout la phrase suivante : « Pour les personnes qui ne savent pas comment perdre leurs quelques kilos superflus, de nouvelles recherches enfoncent des portes ouvertes et conseillent de manger moins de sucre. »

- Excellente conférence TED sur le pouvoir des introvertis, par Susan Cain.

- J’ai parlé du passage d’Aran Goyoaga à Montréal, mais sans mentionner qu’elle était aussi dans La Presse et vous pouvez lire un article ici, avec deux recettes en prime.

- Un article sur les mythes du bio, parce que j’en parle souvent en anglais. En gros, ce n’est pas parce qu’un produit est bio qu’il ne contient pas de pesticides, mais il faudrait quand même une appellation pour un produits qui ne contient pas de pesticides dangereux, il me semble…

- Un autre article qui m’a fait rire : le PQ vote contre ses propres compressions. Parce que ça, ça ne s’invente pas! Remarquez, ce n’est pas ce dérapage qui empêche le PQ de faire des compressions budgétaires dans les universités

- Pour en revenir à Pastagate… À la lumière des problèmes juridiques du Buonanotte, d’autres établissements se sont mis à parler de leurs déboires avec l’OQLF : par exemple, le Caffè in Gamba (et c’est encore de l’italien qu’il s’agit, pas de l’anglais) et la brasserie Holder, en plus de Joe Beef. Bon, là, on va se dire les vraies affaires : oui, le Québec est une province francophone, et oui, il faut protéger notre langue. Tout à fait d’accord avec ça. Mais honnêtement, on s’en crisse-tu de quelle lange est écrite sur les boutons du téléphone, du batteur sur socle ou du micro-ondes, qui de toute façon ne sont pas visibles aux clients? N’est-ce pas mieux de dire « steak » plutôt que « bifteck », que presque personne n’utilise au Québec, d’autant plus que c’est sur une liste d’épicerie rédigée par le chef du restaurant? Pis oui, le terme « W.-C. » était anglais à l’origine, mais non seulement c’est le terme correct en France (donc logique dans une brasserie française), mais en plus, personne ne l’utilise dans les pays anglophones. C’est une expression française comprise des francophones, qui est de plus dans la continuité du thème proposé par l’établissement. Je ne sais pas si les employés de l’OQLF ont un quota d’infractions à remplir ou s’ils sont particulièrement bornés ces temps-ci, mais c’en est devenu absolument ridicule! Au moins, les francophones semblent avoir compris clairement que Pauline Marois n’a rien à voir avec le zèle de l’OQLF, et ceux que je connais n’ont rien contre les anglophones et allophones, mais encore faudrait-il que l’OQLF applique les règlements avec une dose de gros bon sens…

6 girl tops, 4 unisex tops

I used to be pretty much satisfied with the knit patterns I had for baby tops. There were a few that I made often, then I got a pattern book and made more, but I had a certain set from which I deviated very little. And that was fine. But then, there came Pinterest. I saw pin after pin of absolutely adorable baby clothes, most of which went on my to-do list. And now, the time is finally right to knit up a storm!

Knitting patterns for babies can be a little tricky, because most “boy” patterns are often unisex, really (as long as you don’t mind which side the buttons are on), but the “girl” items, either because of style or color, are really just for girls. The Engineer and I do not know the sex of the baby, but I didn’t want to deprive myself of knitting those fantastic girl patterns, so I dug through my stash of yarn and used the “girly” yarn to make them (I still have a few more in the queue). There’s basically a 25% to 50% chance the girl tops will not see any use, but at worse, I’m sure they could be passed on to someone else eventually. The “boy” patterns, though, are unisex, so as long as I sized them correctly, they’ll see some use! I’m leaving the pictures small, but as always, you can click on any of them for a larger view.

The first pattern I’m presenting is actually one that I knit before I was pregnant, for somebody else’s daughter. I made it for the baby now known as June Pettit, Molly Wizenberg’s daughter (I’m a big fan of Molly Wizenberg, mostly for her blog). The pattern is a pebble yoke cardigan on Ravelry (sold for $6.50). I had already made one with leftover yarn from this projectand I knew I really liked the look. The yarn I used for June is Koigu Painter’s Pallet Premium Merino in color P216. The skeins weigh 50 grams, and for the 3-month size, I needed one and a half skeins. The buttons are ceramic; I found them on Etsy. I love how it turned out!

Then, with leftover Koigu yarn, I made an A-line jacket unusual in that it’s knit from side to side, vertically, so it’s a good pattern to show off a variegated yarn! The pattern, by Drops, is free on Ravelry; I had seen it on Posie Gets Cozy. It had me confused at first, because I was knitting it in stockinette stitch, and the wrapped stitches were really obvious. I started over with a different method, and while I got better results, I still wasn’t happy. Only then did I realize that I was supposed to be knitting in garter stitch (which does help the look of the jacket), and that the wrapped stitches do stay visible! Because the yarn is so lightweight, it took forever to knit, too. I used up about 4 skeins for this, plus 3 buttons from my stash.

I also used up some leftover green yarn from this cardigan to make the pattern Mini Chic, also sold on Ravelry. I made the short sleeve version, but the long-sleeved one is equally cute! The pattern was easy, too. The buttons are ceramic and I got them on Etsy. (You’re going to be reading this a lot, because I got 20 ceramic buttons – 10 pink and 10 cream – that I’ve been using for these projects. Plus, the vast majority of patterns I used in this post are from Ravelry, which gets a lot of pins, what can I say!)

With yarn leftover from this other cardigan, I made this adorable Little Pearl Vest (pattern is $5.00 on He Sows, She Sews). The button is from my stash. You’ll notice that I always take picture before blocking garments, basically because I know I’ll end up washing them with baby detergent in a few months anyway, so I figure I’ll just block/shape them at that point. This was another easy pattern, and the bodice is totally customizable with just about any pattern you can think of. It could be worn over a long-sleeved onesie, too.

I also made a ribbed baby jacket with wide lapels (pattern available for free on Ravelry). The pattern itself is unisex, and there is a lot of variation for the number of buttons and their placement, but I had some Crystal Palace Merino 5 in Bossa Nova on hand, so I made it for a girl, with buttons from my stash but originally from Etsy. This is the 6-month size, and it used up 3 skeins. I have a 4th one left, so I might make some matching booties with it (because I have plenty of hats already).

I saw this gorgeous shirt on Posie Gets Cozy; the pattern, Springtime in Hollis, is $5.00 on Ravelry. For the yarn, I used two strands of Tosh Merino Light, by Madeline Tosh, in vermillion. For the 6-month/9-month size, I needed a little more than one skein, but I didn’t make it with a hood. I loved learning the pattern on the bottom of the shirt; it wasn’t hard, but I did have to check after each set of 4 rows, otherwise mistakes were easy to make if I wasn’t paying attention (it should be noted that I knit almost exclusively in front of the television). The buttons are ceramic and I found them on Etsy.

As for the unisex shirts, I started with the Baby Sophisticate, free on Ravelry, because I wanted to use up some Rowan Lima yarn in La Paz colorway. It was a little hard finding a baby pattern for a yarn that thick, though, but once I found it, knitting it was a breeze. If memory serves correctly, it used up 2 skeins exactly. The wood buttons were part of my stash, but were originally from Etsy.

Then, to use up the two other skeins I had, I made a long-sleeved shirt from a free pattern (in French). It’s relatively plain, but it served its purpose well by using up all the rest of the yarn I had in that color.

I also fell in love with this Puerperium Cardigan, free on Ravelry. Since it’s made to be worn in the weeks after birth and since I’m due in July, I made this with short sleeves. I was using Cascade 220 Superwash Yarn in Wasabi, and it didn’t even use up a whole skein! I’m going to have to find other patterns in this gauge, because I have 3 whole skeins left on top of this… The buttons are ceramic and were from Etsy.

Finally, I made this 3-month size baby vest, free on Ravelry. I made it once for a friend’s baby boy in Debbie Bliss Rialto 4-Ply (color Sky), and then I made it for myself in a bright yellow HiKoo CoBaSi yarn (using up about 1 ½ skeins each time). It was my first time working with the CoBaSi yarn, which is made from cotton, bamboo, silk and nylon. While I like how soft it is and how breathable the finished vest feels, I felt that the three strands of the yarn had a tendency to come apart as I was working with them, which wasn’t always pleasant. I do like the finished product, though!