Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pasta with Butternut Squash Sauce

I had recipes bookmarked for two kinds of pastas with squash sauce: a squash carbonara from Bon Appétit and a squash alfredo from Post Punk Kitchen. It turns out that while I prefer the method of the latter, I liked the former best. The alfredo, with its white wine and miso and sliced onions, was somewhat unremarkable. Plus, the cashew cream it called for made the sauce almost too thick. That being said, I found it easier to work with roasted, puréed squash, perhaps because it’s relatively hands-off to make and it’s something I could do earlier in the day and have ready to go when it was time to make dinner. Of course, one could use that method to make the carbonara pasta, and that dish could also be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon and using vegetable broth instead of chicken. I share my adaptation of that recipe below, because it was really, really good.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped (I used regular bacon)
1 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage
a 2-lb. butternut (or kabocha) squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½” pieces (about 3 cups)
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
16 oz. fettucine or linguine
¼ cup finely grated parmesan, plus shaved for serving

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8–10 minutes. Add sage and toss to coat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta and sage to a small bowl; set aside.

Add squash, onion, and garlic to skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, 8–10 minutes. Add broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until squash is soft and liquid is reduced by half, 15–20 minutes. Let cool slightly, then purée in a blender until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Reserve skillet. (The purée can be made ahead of time; simply cover and chill. Note that I had too much purée, because I used the whole squash; I froze some for future use.)

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Combine pasta, squash purée, and ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid in reserved skillet and cook over medium heat, tossing and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta, about 2 minutes. Mix in ¼ cup parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

Serve pasta topped with reserved pancetta and sage, shaved parmesan, and more pepper.

Cranberry Quinoa Scones

Another winning breakfast pastry! I found the recipe on Cannelle et Vanille, which means that they happen to be gluten-free. They’re meant as holiday scones, because they combine cranberries and orange, but honestly, they’re good any time of the year. They did not rise like I expected, given the amount of baking powder in them, but they did spread a little (I see the fact that they didn’t rise as a good thing, because scones shouldn’t be fluffy). These were really good, soft and flavorful, with a great crumb. The Engineer even said they were some of the best scones he’s had! The recipe makes 10 to 12 scones.

1 ¼ sticks (10 Tbsp. or 140 g.) unsalted butter
½ cup cold unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup (100 g.) cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup (140 g.) superfine brown rice flour
1 cup (90 g.) quinoa flakes, plus more for topping
1/3 cup (45 g.) quinoa flour
1/3 cup (40 g.) tapioca starch
1/3 cup (70 g.) natural cane sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
zest of 1 orange
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. demerara sugar, for topping

Place the butter in the freezer at least 30 minutes before beginning.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F.

Mix the coconut milk and lemon juice in a bowl and chill for 5 minutes.

Coarsely chop the cranberries in the food processor and set them aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the superfine brown rice flour, quinoa flakes, quinoa flour, tapioca starch, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Take the butter out of the freezer and grate it using the large holes in a box grater. Gently toss the butter into the flour mixture, but try not to touch it too much, as the warmth from your hands can melt it.

Whisk 1 egg into the coconut milk mixture. Add this mixture to the flour-and-butter base and fold with a wooden spatula until it comes together. Fold in the chopped cranberries.

Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead it a few times until it comes together. Form a disk, pat it down, and roll it out to a ¾-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter (I used a glass) dipped in superfine brown rice flour, cut out the scones and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Re-roll scraps once and cut again. (I shaped the last 2 scones by hand, to avoid any wasted dough.)

Whisk the remaining egg in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash. Sprinkle demerara sugar and quinoa flakes on top of each scone.

Bake the scones until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Let them cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes and then cool them completely on a wire rack. They keep well at room temperature for 2 days, or they can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Tuna Tartare with Avocado and Radish

Last time the Engineer and I were at Central Market, I bought some frozen sushi-grade tuna to make this recipe from Bon Appétit, which had been sitting in my folder for a while (because good tuna is hard to come by). I changed the recipe a bit by adding more avocado (2 instead of 1), and next time I would also use less dressing. As it is, the recipe serves 4, though you should consider a side (like this potato salad, which the Engineer thought went really well with the tuna). It’s nice to have something like this at home every once in a while, especially now that we don’t go out as much as we used to!

For the dressing
2 tsp. finely grated lime zest (or 4 kaffir lime leaves)
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. grated peeled ginger

For the tuna
10 oz. sushi-grade albacore or bigeye tuna, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. minced seeded red or green Thai or serrano chile (I omitted that)
1 tsp. minced shallot
kosher salt
2 avocados, halved, pitted
4 radishes, thinly sliced
chili oil (I omitted that as well)

For the dressing
Combine lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and 2 Tbsp. water in a small saucepan. (Alternatively, pulse lime leaves and sugar in a spice mill until a coarse paste forms, then add to pan with juice and water.) Bring to a boil; remove from heat. Cover and let cool completely. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl.
Whisk in soy sauce, vinegar, and ginger to lime mixture to blend.

For the tuna
Toss tuna with 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a medium bowl; add chile and shallot; season lightly with salt. Scoop avocado flesh into another medium bowl; mash with remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Season with salt.
Divide avocado among small bowls. Top each with some tuna mixture, then ¼ of the radish slices. Spoon dressing over avocado and drizzle radishes lightly with chili oil.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Honey Rosemary Ice Cream

I gave the pumpkin ice cream I talked about another go, using arrowroot starch this time to get a better consistency, like I had successfully done with my coconut sorbet. The result was promising as I cooled the mixture before freezing it, but once frozen, it was rock hard again. So when I adapted the recipe for Bon Appétit’s honey rosemary ice cream, I used a Serious Eats article shared by my friend Jen: How to make great vegan ice cream.

The main things I hadn’t been doing before were to make sure the fat content was high enough and to use a liquid sweetener. In this case, the sweetener is honey, so I left that as is (since there was no sugar to swap out for corn syrup). The original recipe also called for 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, so this time I decided to use coconut cream, not coconut milk (though I also used coconut milk instead of cow’s milk). Coconut cream is not to be confused with creamed coconut or cream of coconut, as all these are different things (and Lord knows the linguist in me wishes there would just be clearer terms!). I used Chao Thai coconut cream powder; I know I’ve bought small cans of coconut cream before, but this time I could not find them anywhere. The directions on the package were confusing, because they differed in French and in English (dissolve 1 pack into 1 bowl or 1 cup, respectively, although both specified 150 ml); I ended up using 2 packages and 250-ml cups. And just now as I’m typing this, I see a note on the package (separate from the directions) that says to use 80 ml of water for thick cream and 240 ml for thin cream… Oy! The other thing to note is that I also used 1 can of coconut milk, but this time it was Thai Kitchen instead of Goya. This really made a big difference: Thai Kitchen has guar gum as a stabilizer, and a much thicker consistency than Goya. Come to think of it, that’s probably why my coconut sorbets had worked back when I lived in Montreal, even without coconut cream…

So, not only was the consistency fine this time, and perfectly scoopable right out of the freezer, the taste is wonderful, too. Honey and rosemary is a great combination!

2 cups coconut cream
1 can coconut milk
2/3 cup honey
a 6-inch-long fresh rosemary sprig
5 large egg yolks
a large pinch of fine sea salt

Combine coconut cream, coconut milk, honey, and rosemary in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until small bubbles form around edges of pan. Remove from heat; cover and let steep 30 minutes. Discard rosemary. Return cream mixture to simmer; remove from heat.

Whisk yolks and sea salt in medium bowl. Gradually add hot cream mixture; whisk until blended. Return custard to same saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens slightly and coats back of spoon when finger is drawn across and instant-read thermometer inserted into custard registers 165 °F to 170 °F, 4 to 5 minutes (do not boil). Note that I use pasteurized eggs, so I don’t bother checking the temperature, only the consistency. Strain into medium bowl. Set bowl over larger bowl filled with ice and water; stir occasionally until cool, about 10 minutes. Remove bowl from ice and water. Cover custard with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours.

Transfer custard to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer ice cream to container; cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Batch of links

- This is the porniest food porn of all time. And I love it.

- Can “glutenase” help people with celiac disease digest gluten? The short answer is no.

- What’s the difference between tofu varieties? Also, people avoiding soy can turn to hemp tofu.

- Handy information on Cooking fats and oils.

- It turns out that eating small meals throughout the day, as opposed to fewer, bigger meals, does not promote weight loss.

- Walmart attempts low-cost organic food. As much as I hate setting foot there, I really like this endeavor…

- Bird illustrations made from food. Fabulous!

- An amusing flow chart to help you figure out whether to go to Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s.

- Everything you don’t know about tipping. This started a debate between the Engineer and me about whether a 15% tip is still standard or outdated. (We’re basically thinking it’s outdated in big cities, and perhaps in places where minimum wage is too low.)

- There is a crowd-funding effort to open an entirely vegan grocery store in Montreal. It sounds great!

- An update on the Zero8 crowd-funding: the owners have found a new location in Anjou, which should open soon. They still need something like $60k, but they’re trying to get businesses to sponsor them now. Fingers crossed…

- And another crowd-sourcing effort: Wuxia the Fox, an augmented book and iPad app that looks awesome, and somewhat Gaiman-esque.

- Every review of Black Widow in Captain America is wrong.

- An interesting article about the safety (and lack of privacy) of Uber users.

- The forgotten history of gay marriage, because of how much it annoys me when I hear people say that the argument against gay marriage is “tradition”. (Plus, see the spread of marriage equality since 2000.)

- Photos of Iranian women as seen through their hijab.

- Glow-in-the-dark roads are now a reality, and this would be simply awesome if implemented in places where it doesn’t snow much, especially in rural areas without street lights…

- I could swear I posted about this before, but I can’t find any trace of it, so forgive me if you’ve read this before. There’s new(ish?) evidence that autism isn’t just correlated to abnormal gut bacteria, it could be caused by it and perhaps alleviated with proper treatment. I, for one, find this very encouraging.

- In time for 4/20: I’ve already mentioned that marijuana can alter the brain of teenagers, but evidence now suggests that because the brain continues to develop well into the 20s and early 30s, marijuana does, in fact, alter the brain of users, particularly the regions that control emotion and motivation (big surprise there). You can read about it here or here. I’ve also read an eye-opening article in Time titled The Rise of Fake Pot, which explains that even though synthetic pot is sold legally nationwide (because the FDA can’t keep up and ban new forms of it fast enough), it is way more dangerous than the real thing. I’ve never heard of a fatal overdose of marijuana, for example, but that does happen with synthetic pot, and it can also cause massive injuries like organ failure. Basically, it’s like I say all the time: the law should be changed so that any new substance would be approved by the FDA before being allowed on the market, as opposed to the FDA having to scramble to test things only after there are complaints!

- And finally, need help to quit smoking? Try the Quit Smoking Community!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chocolate-Juniper Cake with Milk Jam Crème Fraîche

It took me a while to make this recipe from Bon Appétit, mostly because it seemed complicated at first to adapt it to be lactose-free. And to tell you the truth, I didn’t use crème fraîche, I used lactose-free sour cream, and I really like the extra tang this gave to the mixture, though my milk jam / sour cream ration was higher than called for in the recipe. Basically, the way to make milk jam is to simmer (lactose-free) milk with sugar until the milk turns a reddish-brown, like caramel. The result is not unlike dulce de leche, come to think of it. I made half of the amount in the original recipe and still had plenty for the cake; I smeared the rest on toast. The amount I’m giving below is the one I used, because I don’t see the point of having too much of it left over. The other neat thing about this cake is that it is sliced in bars, which are then rolled around in sugar and caramelized in a pan (this is really fast and not as much of a pain in the a** as it seems).

I was surprised by how much the juniper came through in this cake, and it went quite well with the salt in the moist crumb and the crunchy, sugary exterior. Not to mention the sour cream milk jam mixture! There’s also a mix of hot and cold in this dessert that I find very pleasant. I really, really liked this dish. The Engineer is in agreement, as he said that it was “the most original and interesting cake you’ve made… Yeah. You’ll have to make it again. I heartily approve.” And the second evening, before dessert, he said, “You have no idea how much I’m looking forward to this.”

For the cake
2 tsp. (heaping) juniper berries
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 2/3 cups sugar, plus more for coating
½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
¾ cup buttermilk (i.e., 2 or 3 tsp. vinegar and top it up with lactose-free milk)
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. water

For the crème fraîche milk jam
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 cup lactose-free crème fraîche or lactose-free sour cream

For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat a 13x9x2" glass baking dish with nonstick spray (mine is metal and it worked fine). Line bottom with parchment paper; spray parchment and set aside.

Toast juniper berries in a small skillet over medium heat until aromatic, 2–3 minutes. Let cool. Finely grind in spice mill.

Sift flour, 1 2/3 cups sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and ground juniper berries into a large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk, oil, eggs, and water in a medium bowl. Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Pour batter into prepared baking dish; smooth top.

Bake cake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–40 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill in freezer until frozen, about 2 hours. (The cake can be made 3 weeks ahead. Wrap in 2 layers of plastic; keep frozen.)

Unwrap cake and invert onto a work surface; discard parchment. Using a long serrated knife, trim cake to form clean edges. Cut cake in half lengthwise, then cut each half crosswise into 1¼ “–wide bars. (I cut the whole cake, then put the bars I wouldn’t eat right then back in the freezer and did the next step only before serving dessert each time. Believe me when I say it’s worth it.)

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour a layer of sugar onto a plate. Roll each bar in sugar, coating completely. Working in batches, caramelize cake in skillet, turning with tongs to brown evenly, about 30 seconds per side per batch (be careful; the sugar burns quickly). Serve warm, with milk jam crème fraîche.

For the milk jam crème fraîche
Bring milk and sugar to a boil in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar (take care that milk doesn’t boil over). Reduce heat to low. Simmer gently, whisking occasionally, until milk is thick, turns light reddish-brown, and measures scant ½ cup, 40–45 minutes. Transfer jam to a heatproof jar; let cool. (The jam can be made 1 week ahead. Cover; chill.)

Whisk together 1 Tbsp. milk jam and crème fraiche in a small bowl. Add more milk jam to taste to sweeten, if desired. (I used a liberal amount, really.)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Baked Avocados with Salsa

Here’s a recipe that leaves some room for interpretation. Basically, you halve and pit an avocado (or two), fill it with salsa, top it with breadcrumbs and bake it. But the salsa you use can be homemade or jarred, or it can be just plain chopped tomato. You can use olives or bell peppers if you wish. You can omit the breadcrumbs and/or parmesan. The recipe below makes 2 servings as a side; what I did was make more salsa and save it for a second avocado the next day.

1 ripe avocado
¼ cup bread crumbs (gluten-free if you wish)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese (optional, but really good)
1 Tbsp. basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup tomato salsa (such as this one)

Preheat oven to 450 °F.

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic, cheese, basil, lemon juice, salt and pepper; set aside.

Cut the avocado in half and remove pit. Divide the salsa between the two avocado halves. Top with bread crumb mixture. Place on a small baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Cakes au jambon et aux châtaignes

Cette recette s’appelait à l’origine « Cakes au parfum de châtaigne » et a été publiée dans Elle Québec (mais je ne la trouve pas sur leur site). Je l’ai vulgairement adaptée en utilisant du Spam poivré au lieu du jambon de parme. Bon, je vous explique : l’Ingénieur est revenu de l’épicerie une fois avec une boîte de Spam. J’étais aussi consternée que vous! Il a juré qu’il s’agissait d’un article promotionnel gratuit avec autre chose qu’on avait sur notre liste d’épicerie. Bon, soit, toujours est-il que je ne savais pas quoi faire de ça! J’ai fini par l’utiliser ici, et je recommande (parce que le Spam, ce n’est pas fait pour être dégusté, il faut le mélanger à quelque chose). Et puis, bon, dans notre coin, c’est plus facile à trouver que du jambon de parme, aussi. Mon moule à petits cakes donne 6 gâteaux, alors que la recette en prédisait 8, mais c’est flexible, comme vous voyez. Je vous écris mes autres adaptations dans la recette. J’ai beaucoup aimé le résultat!

100 g. de jambon de parme (ou 340 g. de Spam au poivre noir), coupé en morceaux
50 g. de pignons
100 g. de farine de blé
50 g. de farine de châtaigne
1 c. à soupe d’épices mélangées (j’ai pris 1 c. à thé de muscade, 1 c. à thé de cumin et ½ c. à thé de piment coréen; j’avais assez de poivre dans le jambon pour ne pas vouloir en ajouter)
11 g. de poudre à pâte (soit 1 sachet de levure chimique)
3 œufs
1 c. à thé de sel
1 c. à soupe de sucre
125 g. de yogourt nature sans lactose
4 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
50 g. de raisins secs dorés
50 g. de parmesan râpé
1 c. à thé de romarin frais, ciselé
6 feuilles de sauge fraîche, ciselée
1 c. à thé de thym frais, ciselé

Préchauffer le four à 300 °F. Beurrer et fariner les moules à gâteau.

Dans une poêle, faire dorer le jambon de parme, puis les pignons.

Dans un petit bol, mélanger la farine de blé, la farine de châtaigne, les épices et la poudre à pâte.

Dans un grand bol, fouetter les œufs avec le sel et le sucre. Ajouter le yogourt et l’huile d’olive et bien mélanger, puis ajouter les ingrédients secs et mélanger de nouveau. Ajouter le jambon de parme, les pignons, les raisons secs dorés, le parmesan et les herbes et mélanger.

Répartir la pâte dans les moules. Cuire pendant 20 minutes au four préchauffé. Démouler le laisser refroidir. Servir chauds, tièdes ou à la température ambiante.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Banana Quinoa Muffins

Here’s a recipe that I adapted slightly from the package of Shiloh Farms quinoa flakes I got recently. (The link goes to the company’s recipe on the website, but it differs from the one on the package, which is below with a few tiny modifications.) These muffins were pleasantly moist and plump, and I loved the taste of quinoa with banana. The Engineer also loved them, and never questioned the mix of flours used (I think he still doesn’t know they were gluten-free). These disappeared quickly!

2 medium mashed ripe bananas
2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or canola oil
1 egg
½ cup lactose-free milk
¾ tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup brown rice flour
½ cup quinoa flakes
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
1 ¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Grease a muffin pan (or use paper liners).

Combine bananas with wet ingredients; mix well. Mix dry ingredients in another bowl. Combine mixtures until blended, but do not stir too much.

Spoon batter about into the muffin tin (you should have all 12 cups about ¾ full). Bake about 16 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Self-Saucing Ginger Pudding

This simple dessert recipe is from Jules Clancy’s blog Stone Soup and was also in her free e-cookbook. She has these beautiful 1-cup capacity ramekins to make 4 servings of the pudding, but my ramekins are too small, so I ended up using one big dish to make a single pudding that we split in 4. It worked really well, and this dessert was a hit with both of us! I only used 1 Tbsp. of ginger, because I wasn’t sure how much the Engineer would enjoy, but it was milder than I expected and I’d use a bit more next time.

100 g (3½ oz.) unsalted butter or margarine
1 – 2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
200 g (7 oz.) brown sugar, divided
2 eggs
100g (3½ oz.) self-rising flour (or 1 ½ tsp. baking powder + all-purpose flour)
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare 4 1-cup capacity ramekins or dishes (I greased a single big dish that I normally use for soufflés.)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and add ginger and HALF the brown sugar (100 g. / 3 ½ oz.). Stir and then add eggs, stirring well after each. Lightly mix in the flour until just combined. Don’t worry if there are a few lumps. Divide cake mixture between ramekins or dishes.

Combine the remaining HALF of the brown sugar with boiling water. Pour over the cake mixture. Cover loosely with a large piece of foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes until puddings are puffy and golden.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Gratin de courge spaghetti

Partie sur ma lancée des agrumes, j’essaie de cuisiner avec des ingrédients de saison, quitte à manger des plats semblables plusieurs semaines de suite. J’arrive à la fin de mon trip « courge d’hiver », qui a commencé avec une recette de soupe soleil, puis une trempette à la courge butternut et au parmesan qui était délicieuse! On en a mangé un peu en trempette, et le Petit Prince a beaucoup apprécié le reste comme souper. (C’était d’ailleurs aussi le cas de ce plat de patates douces à la noix de coco et à la vanille.) Pour un plat d’accompagnement plus consistant, par contre, voici un gratin de courge spaghetti, que j’ai fait avec de la crème sure sans lactose. L’Ingénieur n’en raffolait pas, mais moi, j’ai adoré! J’ai servi ce plat avec des magrets de canard aux bleuets.

1 courge spaghetti de taille moyenne
2 c. à soupe de beurre ou de margarine
1 petit oignon jaune, coupé en deux et tranché finement
¼ c. à thé de flocons de piment coréen ou de piment rouge, au goût
1 c. à thé de thym frais
sel et poivre, au goût
½ tasse de crème sure sans lactose
½ tasse de fromage cheddar fort râpé, divisé

Préchauffer le four à 300 °F. Beurrer un plat à cuisson carré de 8 pouces.

Couper la courge spaghetti en deux et retirer les graines. La placer dans un plat couvert, avec ½ cm d’eau, et faire cuire su micro-ondes pendant 10 à 12 minutes, en la retournant à la mi-cuisson.

Pendant ce temps, dans une poêle, à feu moyen, faire fondre le beurre, puis ajouter l’oignon, le piment coréen et le thym et faire cuire jusqu’à ce que les oignons brunissent. Saler et poivrer, au goût.

Avec une fourchette, gratter l’intérieur de la courge spaghetti pour en faire des filaments et les mettre dans un bol. Y ajouter les oignons, la crème sure et la moitié du cheddar et bien mélanger. Transférer le mélange dans le plat à cuisson préparé et saupoudrer du reste du fromage. Faire cuire au four pendant 15 à 20 minutes, jusqu’à ce que le dessus soit doré. (J’ai mis le mien sous le gril pendant 5 minutes à la fin de la cuisson.)

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Two kinds of pancakes

I tried a few kinds of pancakes recently. The first was a grain-free pancake made with coconut flour, but I didn’t like it and won’t be making it again. I think I like coconut flour best when it’s combined with other flours, not on its own… The other two were big hits, though, so I want to share the recipes. They happen to be gluten-free, but that’s somewhat of a coincidence. I think that the reason they tasted so good was that they had all these different grains in it, as opposed to just wheat, so flavors like corn and buckwheat and oat really made them stand out. The first recipe, Blackberry Farm Griddle Cakes, is from the RSVP section of Bon Appétit. The first batch was what I call “the dog’s pancakes”, because they fell apart, but once the skillet was seasoned after that, it was a breeze. And we both loved them! I think it yielded something like 18 pancakes.

1 large egg
2 cups buttermilk (i.e., 2 Tbsp. vinegar, and top it up with lactose-free milk)
¼ cup pure maple syrup
1 cup gluten-free oat flour (I pulsed rolled oats in the food processor)
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal (I used the one as finely ground as flour)
1/3 cup brown rice flour
¼ cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter or margarine, melted
vegetable oil (for skillet)

Whisk egg, buttermilk, and maple syrup in a small bowl. Whisk oat flour, cornmeal, rice flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients, then whisk in butter until no lumps remain.

Heat a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium heat; lightly brush with oil. Working in batches, pour batter by scant ¼-cupfuls into skillet. Cook until bottoms are browned and bubbles form on top of griddle cakes, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until griddle cakes are cooked through, about 2 minutes longer.

The other recipe was printed on my box of Ancient Harvest quinoa flour. It was also delicious, and didn’t have the caveat of “dog pancakes” on the first go-round. I really loved these. The recipe yields 10 to 12.

1/3 cup quinoa flour
1/3 cup cornmeal (I used the one as finely ground as flour)
1/3 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp. natural cane sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk (i.e., 1 Tbsp. vinegar, and top it up with lactose-free milk)
1 egg

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. In a small bowl, mix the vegetable oil, buttermilk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined.

Pour about ¼ cup of batter onto prepared griddle (I used vegetable oil in a pan set over medium heat). Turn cakes as soon as they are puffed and full of bubbles, but before the bubbles break.

(*Low sodium adjustment: omit buttermilk and baking soda. Instead, use lactose-free milk and increase baking powder to 1 ½ tsp.*)

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Product reviews

Kale has jumped the shark. It’s now available in plastic bags of prewashed, chopped leaves. You may think it’s more convenient than a bunch of kale, but it turns out that the leaves have been chopped whole, stems and all! But the stems are too tough to be eaten, especially raw. I had to individually rip stems of pieces of kale leaves for a salad, which took me longer than ripping off one stem and then chopping each leaf. Take my word for it, you’re not actually saving any time with those bags. Plus, they’re huge, so there’s always kale left over after your recipe… I made pesto to avoid wasting anything.

You know those Dansk butter cookies sold in a pretty tin? Maybe you have them on fancy occasions, but in any event, they are a special treat for both myself and the Engineer, which we now keep in our emergency kit (so we eat them before the expiry date and replace them). It turns out that Dansk also makes a cholesterol-free version, which happens to be vegan! Dansk butter cookies with no butter (so no lactose), and no eggs either. There’s something to celebrate!

It can be hard to eat on the go if you have food restrictions. There’s a new product called Primal Pacs that I tried a few months ago. It’s made for people on a Paleo diet (so it happens to be gluten-free and lactose-free, too) and contains organic grass-fed beef jerky, macadamia nuts, dried cranberries and dried mangoes. I liked the variety in the pack, because bringing too much of one food means I get tired of it quickly. That being said, it turns out I’m not crazy about beef jerky (although it is helpful to chew on when your plane is descending). The mangoes are my favorite part. I’ve still got a few packs, which I’m keeping for day trips.

I tried one of Candle Café’s frozen dinners, the Macaroni & Vegan Cheese (available at Whole Foods). I was looking forward to it, as NYC’s Candle Café and Candle 79 are regarded as some of the best vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the country! While I was happy with the taste of the dish, what I didn’t like was that the orange “cheese” fused into a solid blob in the microwave, instead of melting to a consistency that would have blended more evenly. It was shredded before being frozen, though, so I think it could be remedied simply if they would just mix it evenly into the noodles before packaging it. Other than that, it’s quite good!

I tasted Savoy Sorbet’s lavender flavor, which had been intriguing me for a while. It’s a very clean flavor, basically just lavender with a bit of lemon, though there’s a somewhat bitter finish. There’s also vodka in there, to prevent the sorbet from freezing into a block of solid ice, but you can’t taste it. The sorbet is scoopable, but you won’t be able to get nice, round scoops out of it. Overall, I see it more as an entremets sorbet than a dessert, and I must admit I don’t serve entremets, so that’s a bit disappointing. I think I’ll try adding lavender to a vegan ice cream eventually, that would be more my thing.

I tried Li-Lac’s marzipan acorns. The green version I got has pistachio flavor, though I must admit I feel it’s gotten lost in the marzipan. It does go really well with the dark chocolate, though, and they’re just sweet enough. While I really enjoy these and only savor one on occasion, to make them last, I have to admit I feel like they’re not *that* special. By that, I mean that any chocolatier worthy of the name should have something similar (but whether or not they do is another matter entirely), so it may not be worth it to send to New York for them, as good as they are… That being said, they are delicious, and once I offered some to the Engineer, he just plowed right through them and heartily approves. I do like Li-Lac’s selection, though, as well as their motto (“Stubbornly old-fashioned since 1923”), so maybe we’ll try more of their confections another time.

I also tried a variation of Vosges’ bacon bars (oddly, not shown on their website). It’s called simply Mo’s Cinnamon & Sugar Bar: a dark chocolate with smoky bacon, as usual, but this one is paired with cinnamon sugar. I really liked it, and the Engineer, who normally doesn’t like this stuff, kept going back for more this time. (Plus, have you seen their spring and Easter lineup this year? Crispy carrot chocolate rabbit, three smaller flop-eared bunnies, plus Wandering Rabbit pistachio and hazelnut truffles and white chocolate strawberry lemon caramels, chocolate eggs, a giant enchanted mushroom with a smaller toadstool version, Les Fleurs du Chocolat collection... They do have Easter sets like the Birdcage and the Hatbox, but what I would really like is a mix-and-match set at a lower price-point. I have to admit that I love gawking at the high-end Vosges items, though, including a pink slab of agate with the edges gilded in 24-k gold leaf, which was paired with a Fleurs du Chocolat truffle set for $400 and is completely sold out!

On a non-food related topic: remember when I had recommended the O-Cedar ProMist mop? Mine had stopped spraying properly, so I contacted their customer service. They walked me through various trouble-shooting steps, and I had to admit that it was my fault for storing it upright with liquid still in the tank (it was just water and vinegar, but it should definitely be stored empty). And get this: even though it was my fault for misusing it, the company sent me a brand new mop, entirely free of charge! I’m really thrilled with them and, as I still love that mop, I really recommend O-Cedar! (And for dusting, I like E-Cloths.)

Finally, you might remember my preference for pants with an elasticized waist – really, I should say pants without a button, because otherwise I sound like a fashion disaster. I hadn’t been able to find good ones lately (well, not including maternity jeans), but now I’ve got some pull-on boot-cut jeans by Jag, which I love. They fit well and are exactly what I’m looking for. Too bad they only come in one color…

Friday, April 04, 2014

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Well, it’s a good thing I haven’t had to pass drug screenings recently, because I’ve eaten A LOT of poppy seeds. After the muffins, I made poppy seed hamantaschen for Purim, and then this chicken casserole from The Kitchn. Casseroles are a Southern comfort food, and the Engineer confirmed that he indeed felt very comfortable eating this! I had to modify the recipe a bit, replacing the evaporated milk with a soy substitute and using lactose-free sour cream instead of crème fraîche, though if I had been in Canada, I would have used lactose-free cream to make crème fraîche. The Engineer and I both absolutely loved the results! In fact, this was one of his favorite dinners, ever. The Ritz crackers on the topping take this casserole from good to outstanding. Next time, I would make two casseroles and freeze one. With our appetite, this yielded 4 servings.

For the casserole
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup chicken stock
2/3 cup soy milk powder, mixed with ¾ cup water
2-3 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
8 oz. (1 cup) room temperature lactose-free crème fraîche or sour cream (see above)
1 tsp. kosher salt, or to taste
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
8 oz. wide egg noodles
3 cups cooked, chopped chicken (from 1 rôtisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts)
1 splash of hot sauce, such as Tabasco, or to taste

For the topping
1 cup crushed butter crackers, such as Ritz (from 1 sleeve)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

For the casserole, preheat oven to 300 °F. Lightly grease an 11” x 7” (medium-sized, 2-quart) baking dish.

Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until thick and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock and ¾ cup of the soy milk mixture, followed by the garlic cloves. Continue whisking until the mixture is very thick and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Discard the garlic cloves. Fold in crème fraîche or sour cream and season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Stir in egg noodles and cook until al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain but do not rinse; return the noodles to the pot.

Stir the chicken and milk sauce into the noodles. Season with hot sauce and additional salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish; pour the remaining soy milk mixture evenly over the top.

For the topping, transfer the crushed crackers to a small mixing bowl. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Add the butter, olive oil, and poppy seeds to the crumbs and use a fork to combine. Scatter the topping evenly over the casserole.

Bake until golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

White Sweet Potatoes with Mirin and Honey

This is a recipe that I adapted a bit from Bon Appétit: I don’t have a cast iron skillet, so I just used the one that goes in the oven up to 500 °F, and the results made me very happy. I may not have gotten the same amount of color or caramelization as I would have otherwise, but these potatoes were delicious nonetheless (they’re basically vegetable candy). The mix of mirin and honey worked really well! I got my white sweet potatoes at Whole Foods, which usually has a selection of 4-5 different kinds, but I think orange sweet potatoes would be just as good. I served them with Asian barbecued pork, though Bon Appétit recommends roast duck or pork chops.

2 large white sweet potatoes (about 2 lbs. total)
½ cup mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. corn oil (I used safflower oil, I think)
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (vegan margarine would be okay)
coarse sea salt (preferably Maldon)

Preheat oven to 450 °F. Place a well- seasoned 8"–10" cast-iron skillet in oven.

Pierce potatoes in several spots with a fork. Microwave sweet potatoes on high for 5 minutes. (Alternatively, wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 450 °F until tender around edges but still hard in center, 30–35 minutes.) Transfer potatoes to a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Whisk mirin, honey, vinegar, and salt in a medium bowl. Peel sweet potatoes and cut crosswise into 1"–1½"-thick rounds. Add to mirin mixture; toss to coat.

Using oven mitts, carefully remove heated skillet from oven; add oil and swirl pan to coat. Add sweet potatoes and mirin mixture to skillet, arranging potatoes cut side down. Bake until sweet potatoes are caramelized on one side, 15–20 minutes. Turn sweet potatoes, rotating them around pan to avoid hot spots, and cook until tender and caramelized, 5–7 minutes longer.

Transfer sweet potatoes to a platter. Add 2 Tbsp. water to skillet, scraping up browned bits. Add butter, swirling pan to melt and combine. Pour sauce over sweet potatoes. Season with salt.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Beet and Poppy Seed Muffins

The recipe I’m about to share is from Cannelle et Vanille. These muffins happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free, though that wasn’t what drew me to the recipe. My love for pairing beet and quinoa is well documented, and the poppy seeds seemed to fit really well with the two. It turned out to be so much better than anticipated! These muffins were fabulous, both warm from the oven and at room temperature the next day. They were moist and absolutely delicious. Actually, they might be my new favorite muffins, and are definitely in my top 5 all-time best muffins. It’s too bad the recipe only makes 9! (Note that these were fast to make for me, as I already had beet purée in the freezer.)

1 medium red beet
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup (70 g.) superfine brown rice flour
½ cup (50 g.) almond flour
¼ cup (35 g.) quinoa flour
2 tsp. poppy seeds
¾ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp. (75 g.) light muscovado or brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
¼ cup melted coconut oil

In a small pan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Add the beet, cover the pan, reduce heat to medium, and cook until a knife can be inserted in the center. Time will vary depending on the size of the beet. Drain the water and let the beet cool enough to handle. Peel it and cut it into chunks. Purée in the food processor. Measure out ¼ cup (60 g.) beet purée and reserve. Freeze the rest for another time (and use the Search function on this blog if you need ideas on how to use it).

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a muffin pan with 9 paper liners.

Mix the coconut milk and lemon juice in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the superfine brown rice flour, almond flour, quinoa flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, muscovado sugar, vanilla seeds, coconut milk mixture, coconut oil, and beet purée. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and whisk to combine.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a cooling rack.