Thursday, July 20, 2017

Curly hair

Around the time when I turned 30, my straight hair became wavier and now, it’s definitely curly. This means that I’ve had to change not just hair products but hair care routines as well, and there’s been a learning curve. (This is made harder by the fact that somehow, curly hair has become a statement and mainstream product lines just aren’t helpful, not to talk of hairdressers!) Now that I mostly know what I’m doing, I figured I’d share some resources in case it helps other people out there. (Some of these links are affiliate links, which means that as long as my Amazon store is up and running, if you use it to make a purchase, I’ll get some money off my next purchase.)

I started reading online about care for curly hair, especially the Curly Girl method (more on that in a moment) – namely cowashing more often, and eliminating sulfates (too drying for curly hair) and silicone (too heavy for curls) from hair products. But even with the proper technique, some products work better than others. In the spirit of thorough reviewing, I’ll name-check products I tried even if I didn’t end up liking them; feel free to skip ahead to the paragraph where I get back to the Curly Girl method (in bold font).

Up until last fall, I was using a lot of Organix products – specifically the Quenching + Coconut Curls shampoo and conditioner, along with my trusty argan oil Defining Cream. (For some reason, though, the Curling Hair Butter never really did it for me, as it was either too heavy if I left it in or not enough if I rinsed it out.) I still like those products, though I realize now that they sometimes leave my hair frizzy, perhaps because they contain alcohol.

I mentioned Moroccanoil here, but I actually first heard of it there. I started using their Original Treatment with argan oil on my now-curly hair, to tame frizz. I really liked it, but I’ve since decided that it’s not necessarily any better than the Biosilk Silk Therapy Original Serum I’d been using on my straight hair, and that one is certainly less expensive, so I think I’ll stick to that for now. (For the record, the Moroccanoil Frizz Control spray was no help whatsoever.) I still have more frizz than I’d like, but at least this helps a lot on dry hair.

I tried Herbal Essences Naked Cleansing Conditioner, which was fine but a bit unremarkable. I wanted to love L’Oréal’s EverCurl Cleansing Balm, but even though I liked the results, I wasn’t crazy about the smell. I also tried Joico Co+Wash Curl, but I felt like my hair was too dry after using it (maybe because it contains alcohol?), and I find pressurized canisters impractical (they don’t travel well, for example, and it’s hard to gauge how much product is left at any given time).

Then I focused on hydrating my hair. I haven’t had luck with hydrating masks; I tried Garnier Whole Blends Hydrating Mask (coconut water and vanilla milk formula), but it felt too heavy for my hair. The next step would be a homemade mask with something like coconut oil, but I’ve been putting that off because it sounds messy – I’ll get around to it eventually, I guess. As a post-shower hair gel, I tried but actually did not like Kérastase K Curl Fever – it was hard to dose and I usually ended up with crunchy hair, which I hate even if the curls are decent – and Dippity Do’s Girls With Curls Curl Defining Cream – also less than ideal, and contains alcohol so leaves some frizz. In any event, I’ve now found something that works even better for my hair.

Enter Curly Girl: The Handbook by Lorraine Massey et al., which seriously changed my life (I know it sounds trite, but I really mean it). The corresponding website is I had read a lot online about how to care for curly hair before that. There are other websites that provide both information and products, like NaturallyCurly.Com, but despite my best intentions, I could never figure out if I was a 2B or another kind of 2. But now, with the Curly Girl handbook, I know I have wavy hair and I have clear instructions to follow for my specific hair type. I couldn’t implement everything all at once, but every time I changed one thing in my routine to follow these instructions, my hair got better. I used their technique to squeeze water out of my hair, and the curls were so much nicer already! I switched to a cotton knit instead of a terry cloth towel, and my curls were even nicer (I ended up buying jersey knit pillowcases in colors that match my terry cloth bath towels and use those on my hair). And I know what to look for in hair products. The book also has chapters for men and children, as well as white/grey curly hair, plus tips on cutting and styling curly hair. I strongly recommend it if your hair is curly and you’re not sure how to care for it!

The products that I found and liked enough to use are from two collections. First, from the DevaCurl line for wavy hair, the ”low-poo” cleanser, conditioner, and anti-frizz styling cream. These are on the pricier side, but packages tend to be cheaper (I got one as a gift and bought a second during a 25%-off sale). On the lower-price end of things is the Hair Milk collection by Carol’s Daughter. Predictably, the leave-in moisturizer is too heavy for my wavy curls, but the cleansing conditioner, the (alcohol-free) styling gel, and the cream-to-serum lotion are working out really well. (Sadly, they seem outrageously expensive to procure in Canada…)

As far as hair style goes, I had grown out my bangs already, since with hair as thick as mine and curly to boot, I felt like they were too much to maintain. (It’s actually funny how many people have a love/hate relationship with their bangs!) That being said, my otherwise very nice hairdresser didn’t know how to cut curly hair, despite having naturally curly hair herself (she always straightened hers). So I used the DevaCurl website to find a stylist who could cut curly hair, and I am thrilled with my new hairdresser! It’s amazing how much of a difference the proper technique can make. For the record, she used Redken’s Frizz Dismiss line on me, and I particularly liked the hair mask. I haven’t found the time to go see her since the Fox was born, but I’ve booked an appointment for next month and can’t wait!

Hopefully this post will help some curly-haired people out there love their hair again!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Deo, not B.O.

I wasn’t satisfied with my deodorant several years ago, so I decided to shop around to find something that I liked. I started taking notes on what I tried, to keep track of things. I was thinking I’d just eventually post about the winning product, but then I decided to write about everything that I tried, because sometimes a negative review is just as useful as a positive one. I mean, an experiment that gives you a negative result should be published just so that others don’t waste time and money trying it too, right? So in that spirit, I’ve got a whole bunch of deodorant reviews listed alphabetically by brand below (and maybe people will land on this post looking for keywords, so that will help them too); if you’re thinking “TL;DR” then skip right down to Native or Thai Crystal.

First, some vocabulary. A deodorant is meant to prevent bad smells (the B.O. of my title), while an antiperspirant prevents wetness. Antiperspirants tend to be more irritating and should not be used if you have skin abrasions, for example from shaving. Deodorants are considered cosmetics and are not subject to many regulations; antiperspirants are subject to strict regulations only if they are considered medication (if they are meant to last longer than 24 hours or to treat hyperhidrosis).

A note on ingredients... I had a paper article from an old issue of Protégez-Vous (March 2009, available here if you have a subscription) and I figured I’d sum up what they said about various ingredients, because it’s a reliable source.
- Aluminum salts have not been proven to be harmful in topical use in humans (according to the Canadian Cancer Society), though many doctors still urge caution – these are used in some antiperspirants, not deodorants.
- Parabens are suspected of disrupting the endocrine system; Protégez-Vous recommends avoiding them.
- Phthalates can hide in fragrances and are not labelled (however, it seems the harmful ones are mostly in plastic); some doctors recommend caution, especially for pregnant women or for those with sensitive skin.
- Alcohol can be irritating.
Almost 90% of the 10.500 ingredients used in cosmetics in the U.S. have not been evaluated for toxicity, and companies are not required to give toxicology data before selling their products. Moreover, the cocktail effect hasn’t been studied. To be on the safe side, Protégez-Vous recommends using products labelled “Eco-Cert”, which are at least 95% organic, not tested on animals, biodegradable, contain no fragrances or dyes, and have no ingredients derived from petroleum.

In another publication, in an article titled What’s so bad about antiperspirant?, the author says that aluminum was thought to be associated with Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, but the data are inconclusive. And fragrance, which is a proprietary blend of ingredients, can irritate.

A more recent article from Science-Based Medicine concludes that “although it’s possible that there is a link between antiperspirants and cancer, current existing evidence doesn’t support one and doesn’t even suggest potentially-fruitful avenues of research.”

The American Cancer Society also says “there is no convincing evidence that antiperspirant or deodorant increases cancer risk.” This page on WebMD essentially says that while it’s fine to be cautious, you probably shouldn’t worry about the ingredients in your antiperspirant or deodorant.

Based on all that, I acknowledge that I shouldn’t dismiss products that contain aluminum, so there are some below; however, the products I preferred happened not to contain any. Personally, I am looking for an everyday deodorant, because it’s the smell that bothers me, not the wetness. I felt that my criteria were simple, but even with my favorite deodorants, I still had to compromise: 1) I’d rather not have white streaks or stains on my clothes; 2) I do not want irritated skin; and 3) I need protection from B.O. that lasts all day. (For me, this means 12 hours. If it lasts 24 hours, great. I don’t need 48-hour or even 72-hour protection, thank you very much.) To this I’ve had to add: 4) I need something either unscented or with a mild, pleasant-to-me scent, otherwise I’m miserable.

Also, because I know it can make a difference: a) the skin of my armpits is smooth; b) I take a shower in the evening and apply deodorant before putting on my pajamas, and then again in the morning before getting dressed. And yes, I read the instructions, which can be surprisingly different depending on the product.

I currently have a deodorant that I really like (Native, see below), even though it can leave some white residue on dark clothes, but it’s really the best at preventing B.O.! It was actually a last-ditch effort on my part to try one last thing before resorting to homemade deodorants… Here’s a list of what I tried, with notes on each, because my criteria can be different from yours and something else might work for you – or this list might prevent you from wasting money on something useless.

- Bubble & Bee Organic Deodorant Spray in Lemongrass and Rosemary: This smelled absolutely fantastic. There was a slight stinging sensation as I applied it, but it didn’t last. Unfortunately, neither did the deodorant: after applying it in the morning, I didn’t make it to mid-afternoon without odor, and the high that day was only in the low 70s. The instructions do say to reapply as needed, but application isn’t convenient (even just one spray produces enough liquid that it will run down your arm or torso), and anyway, I don’t want to have to reapply during the day. I now think that any instructions that say “reapply as needed” are a dead give-away that one application won’t cut it!

- Bubble & Bee Pit Putty Organic Deodorant in Almond Coconut, meant for sensitive skin. I tried the stick form. This seemed promising, because in addition to the coconut oil, there’s arrowroot powder for wetness protection, and baking soda as an odor-blocker and pH-raiser. The smell was a bit strong, but pleasant. It might leave a bit of white residue on clothes, but I found that this disappeared in the wash without a problem. It was weird to apply, though, as the crumbly consistency means that you can’t just swipe it on, you actually have to rub it in and wait for your body heat to melt it a bit Moreover, it didn’t cut it on a day when the weather was in the low 80s, so in South Texas, this just isn’t going to work.

- Byly Fresh deodorant: This does not irritate my skin and mostly works against the smell. It’s aluminum-free and does not leave any white streaks. The odd thing is, though, that it’s like rubbing a bar of Irish Spring against my armpits – the fragrance is identical! I’m not crazy about it for that reason (and the fact that it’s not 100% effective against smell).

- Clean deodorant in Warm Cotton sounded like a neat idea in theory – cotton to absorb moisture! But the smell is a bit strong, the deodorant itself streaks and leaves white pills in armpits, and it doesn’t prevent the smell or moisture adequately. So that’s out.

- The most mainstream deodorant I tried was Degree Expert Protection with Motionsense, in Cotton Fresh and Active Clean scents. Only $4! It’s an antiperspirant and deodorant stick, which is supposed to kick in when you move, before moisture appears. I have to say, it works on that front, I had no B.O. My main issue with it is its fragrance – it’s horribly artificial and smells to me like cheap perfume, to the point where I can’t stand wearing it. Also, it claims 48-hour protection, which is more than I’d need, but does not even deliver 24 hours. I’m too turned off to buy more sticks in different scents on the off-chance there’s one I’d like. Despite its claim to be invisible, it does leaves a white perfumed residue on clothes, and the only way to get rid of it is by hand-washing and paying extra attention to the pit area (just washing your top in the laundry as usual won’t do it). Because of the strong fragrance and white residue, I don’t like this one.

- Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Deodorant (with Lavender Oil; Aluminum-Free) smells fantastic, goes on clear, and has a pleasant consistency, but is just not strong enough. The last time I wore it, I was indoors all day going about my business (i.e., nothing strenuous), and the air conditioning was set in the upper 70s. The deodorant failed before lunch. Enough said.

- Dove Advanced Care Cool Essentials Antiperspirant: Well, on the bright side, it goes on without white streaks and is gentle on skin (it contains 25% moisturizers). That being said, I’ll never know how long protection really lasts, because I couldn’t stand the smell of the fragrance (which smells nothing like the cucumber OR green tea they promise) for more than a few hours.

- Dr. Hauschka Roll-On Deodorant: I tried both Rose and Sage Mint, and I really love both scents. These are gentle and non-irritating, and I like the natural ingredients. They mostly work on B.O. – I’d say 80% of the time, I’m fine. The thing is, though, that they’re $25 each in Canada (a jar lasts about 3 months). If they worked 100% of the time against B.O., that would meet all my criteria and I’d gladly pay the price, but I feel like it’s a bit steep for something that may not work against the smell when I need it.

- Druide roll-on deodorant: Sadly, this really irritated my skin and I had to stop using it.

- Earth Science Natural Deodorant in Mint Rosemary: It smells good, and it mostly works, but it’s a little hard and chalky. I ended up not liking it.

- Jāsön Soothing Aloe Vera Deodorant Stick: Another one of those natural and organic brands. This one was stiff and hard to apply, and the smell that emanated from me on hot days was more reminiscent of old clothes that have been in a drawer for a while than of actual body odor. Still, I’m not crazy about it.

- Kai deodorant was my favorite for a short while. It contains vitamin E and chamomile extracts and is great on sensitive skin. It comes in a clear stick, so it doesn’t pill in armpits and doesn’t streak clothing. Plus, I really like the gardenia scent, even though I usually prefer something less sweet. However, it costs $24.00 (though it should last a long time), and it doesn’t always take care of the smell. To tell you the truth, it’s about on par with Dr. Hauschka, but I was enjoying the latter more.
[Update: I stopped using it a while, and it’s like the stick started to sweat and a bunch of liquid came out of the bottom, making a mess. Out it goes. (See Origins No Offense below for a similar deodorant that doesn’t liquefy.)]

- Kiehl’s Superbly Efficient Anti-Perspirant and Deodorant is something I really wanted to love, even though it’s an antiperspirant. It’s an unscented cream and, FYI, specifically says it’s fine to use on hairy armpits. I feel like I had to use it several days in a row before it kicked in, but even then, it didn’t offer the 24-hour protection it claimed, and my skin started itching after roughly two weeks.

- Kiss My Face Active Life, Aluminum-Free, in Lavender: It has a clean, pleasant lavender scent and does not irritate, but despite the “Clinically proven all-day protection” promise, it stops working in mid-afternoon. This is not because I’m in South Texas, because the same things happened on several consecutive days of 50s in the am and highs of 70s in the pm. So it’s not a keeper.

- Lafes Deodorant Roll-On, Unscented: I wanted to like this, because it’s natural and organic and unscented and all, but it irritated my skin badly and I had to throw it out.

- LaVanila – The Healthy Deodorant in Vanilla Grapefruit: This was highly recommended in two publications, so I tried it. Unfortunately, just the process of applying it gave me a rash, and it didn’t protect from odor beyond a few hours, so this isn’t for me.

- NANI Naturals’ Unscented Natural Deodorant: This self-proclaimed unisex product is pretty good. It is solid and needs to warm up a bit before you can apply it properly, but I just hold it against my skin for a few second before swiping. It contains things like coconut oil, red palm oil, baking soda, and Kaolin clay. So far, it’s working relatively well – though nothing to write home about – with highs in the 90s. It does, however, leave a residue on clothes. (This deodorant is slightly cheaper on Amazon than on its own website.)
[Update: I think I have coconut oil stains on a pajama t-shirt and yellowish clay or a wax-like substance on two other tops of different colors; none of it goes away in the laundry, I have to treat the stains separately. I don’t have time for this, especially oil stains.]

- Native Deodorant in Coconut and Vanilla (their most popular scent). This is my current go-to! The fragrance is pleasant and it’s completely kept odors at bay so far (though, to be fair, I haven’t worn it in Texas yet, but we did have some very hot days here in Montreal with the humidex factor, close to 100 °F). It leaves a bit of a white residue on dark clothes, but doesn’t irritate my skin at all. (It’s aluminum-free, for those who care.)

- Nature’s Gate Deodorant Stick (Clear Formula) in Spring Fresh Scent is natural, gentle, and doesn’t leave any white streaks. However, two caveats: 1) I smelled something like 10 fragrances in the store display and it is the only one I could even stand; 2) it doesn’t always fight odor all day.

- Origins No Offense: This reminds me of Kai in that it’s also a stiff, round stick that goes on clear and smells good. But like Kai, it’s also not quite sufficient to prevent odor for me. That being said, it never liquefied like Kai did, and it’s slightly cheaper, so I’d recommend it instead.

- Queen Helene Aloe Vera Deodorant: This claimed “all-day strength”, but it only worked about 90% of the time and it gave me a rash. (The label also said “new & improved”, “natural odor protection”, and “clinical results”, if that is any help finding it or making up your mind.) It’s possible the rash was from the fragrance instead of the active ingredients, and it did get better with time, but still wasn’t making me happy.

- Schmidt’s Natural Deodorant in Rose + Vanilla: I *really* wanted to like this, because it has “good” ingredients, claims to fight both odor and wetness, and smells fantastic. Sadly, within 24 hours, I had a rash, so it’s not for me.

- Secret Clinical Strength Antiperspirant and Deodorant (Smooth Solid), Hypoallergenic: This is what I wore on my wedding day, and it did not last past dinner. Is it fair to judge an antiperspirant on that day, though? I eventually used up the whole thing, but was never truly satisfied with it. I mean, if you’re going to be calling it “clinical strength”, you’d better deliver, and I feel like it didn’t.

- Thai Crystal Deodorant Stone is unscented and hypoallergenic (and also comes in a spray). This worked really well for a few years, and I thought I had found something with which I would stick (no pun intended). It’s inexpensive and the stone lasts a really long time, too! Unfortunately, it eventually started irritating my skin (after 2 or 3 stones), and doesn’t work all the time against B.O. The Engineer had the same issue with the spray form. I wonder if this is just a normal issue with any product, that one’s body eventually gets too used to it and it stops working… (To get ahead of any questions, I read that crystal deodorants work by tightening pores and prevent the formation of bacteria which, in turn, cause unpleasant smells).
[Correction: The Engineer says that his skin irritation had nothing to do with the deodorant after all and has gone away completely. He’s fully satisfied with it.]

- Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant in Unscented: This gave me a rash very quickly, so I stopped using it.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Creamy Pasta with Bacon, Peas, and Mint

I wanted an easy recipe for dinner, but I also wanted to take advantage of the fact that I had access to lactose-free cream. Enter this recipe from Not Without Salt, which is perfect for late spring, with its abundant peas and mint. The quantities below are mine, because I wanted a greater yield, but this is highly adaptable. Enjoy!

16 oz. spaghetti (I used linguine or fettucine, I can’t remember)
8-12 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch slices
2 cups frozen peas
1 cup lactose-free cream
1 ½ cups finely grated Parmesan
¾ cup mint leaves
salt and pepper

Cook the pasta in heavily salted water, making sure to reserve some water when you drain the pasta.

While the pasta cooks, sauté the bacon pieces until crispy. Drain off the bacon grease (save it for your eggs or pancakes in the morning, for example, or for roasting potatoes) before adding in the peas. Sauté until just warmed through, then stir in the cream. Add the pasta along with a splash of pasta water and toss the pasta around in the sauce. Simmer gently until the sauce coats the pasta. Stir in a pinch of salt and a good bit of freshly cracked pepper. Add more pasta water as needed. Stir in half of the grated Parmesan.

Transfer the pasta to a serving dish, then tear the mint leaves over top. Finish with the remaining parmesan.

Beauty product recommendations

I started this post ages ago and now realize that I have a lot to say about hair products these days, so that’ll be a separate post. In the meantime, here’s a post about recommendations for beauty products. Note that some (not all) of the links are affiliate links, which means that as long as my Amazon store stays online, if you make a purchase using that link, I might get a discount on my next purchase (not cash back). I wouldn’t recommend products that I don’t love myself, and I tested all these products with my own money. All opinions are mine.

Sandal season is upon us, which means there’s more pressure to have my feet looking good if everyone is going to be seeing them. I like giving my toenails a coat of clear polish, but beyond that, my problem area is my heels, which have a lot of unattractive dry skin on them. I tend to use a pumice stone, but that’s not ideal. I find it doesn’t scrape away all that I would want it to, and it sometimes hurts my heels even when there’s plenty of dead skin left. What ended up making a bigger difference than the pumice stone was actually a moisturizer, more specifically Curel Rough Skin Rescue, which is almost miraculous in its foot-moisturizing properties! I actually found that after one application, I had softer skin than when I only use a pumice stone; applying it several nights in a row works wonders.

That being said, I absolutely have to tell you about the best way I’ve found to physically get rid of the dead skin. The best foot exfoliant I’ve ever tried is BabyFoot Deep Exfoliation for Feet Peel. Caveats: because of certain essential oils in the product, it is counter-indicated if you are pregnant or breastfeeding (and is also counter-indicated if you suffer from diabetes), so I haven’t been able to use it in a while. In a nutshell: soak your feet 30 minutes in warm water, then dry them. Put on the BabyFoot booties (which are filled with gel) and keep them on for 1 hour, then wash your feet with soap and water and soak them again for 30 minutes. (All this soaking time really makes a difference when using the product, according to Amazon reviews. I did this in front of the television in the evening.) The smell of lavender was lovely, but I admit I didn’t notice anything immediately and was wondering whether it was a scam. After one week, however, the dead skin on my feet started to peel off, and continued to peel for a week. After that, I had the smoothest, softest feet ever! It was not only more effortless than a pumice stone, but it worked better, too! You can watch a promotional video here, but the (affiliate) Amazon link I gave you lists a better price for the kit.

I hadn’t spoken about it before on this space, but I had a bout of PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) (also called PUPPS by some) during my second trimester. [Pour les francophones, selon ce que je trouve ici et ici, il s’agit d’un type d’urticaire de grossesse nommé dermatite polymorphe gravidique.] It wasn’t typical in that it was early – onset at 18 weeks, whereas the average is 35 weeks – and symptoms disappeared after a month, though it took another week or so to heal. My OB said my guess was as good as his, but I wonder whether 4 weeks would be the rough duration of most bouts of PUPPP, since it usually disappears after delivery, and labor is often induced early to relieve the mother. In any event, I wanted to share the things that helped with the intense itching: I used hydrocortisone cream mixed with an emollient (to stretch it further) for immediate relief, but I also really liked a soap bar with pine tar and oatmeal, which really made a difference (it worked better than my usual Ivory bar in the circumstances). I also had prescription hydroxyzine (an anti-histamine), which was a blessing in disguise because it helped me sleep so much better at night! I remember being awake several hours each night in my first pregnancy, and I did wake up a lot more when I forgot to take the medicine before bed, so at least that part was awesome.

I’ve had trouble finding good sunscreen. Most of them are uncomfortable to me, leaving me feeling sticky or covered in white residue. I do have a good moisturizer with SPF 15, but with my skin, that isn’t enough to act as an actual sunscreen. However, I now love Ombrelle Ultra Light Advanced Weightless Body Lotion in SPF 50+. It protects against both UVA and UVB rays, it is odorless and hypoallergenic, and most importantly, it absorbs so well that I actually forget I’m wearing it.

I’ve also found new moisturizers that I like. I still use (and love!) the Hand and Elbow Moisturizer by Yes to Carrots, but I’ve more recently started using Moroccanoil Hand Cream in Fleur d’Oranger on my hands and Moroccanoil Body Soufflé in Fleur de Rose on my body. They smell divine! (When the weather gets really cold and dry, though, or when I have to wash my hands a lot, I find that I need something stronger, like Eucerin or Aquaphor or even Triple Cream.)

Stay tuned for posts about deodorants and hair products!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Pain aux mûres et au chocolat, crumble à la cardamome

Une troisième recette des Pâtisseries de Rose Madeleine (les deux premières sont ici et ). Celle-ci, je l’ai faite pour déjeuner, et c’était vraiment délicieux! Je pense que ce serait également excellent avec des framboises et du chocolat blanc, ou même sans le crumble. Ma mère l’aurait préféré sans cannelle, et on peut bien sûr varier la sorte de thé…

Pour le crumble à la cardamome
45 g. (¼ tasse) de farine tout usage
65 g. (¼ tasse) de cassonade
2 c. à thé de cardamome moulue
2 c. à soupe d’huile de noix de coco fondue

Pour le pain aux mûres et au chocolat

405 g. (2 ½ tasses) de farine tout usage
2 c. à thé de poudre à pâte
½ c. à thé de bicarbonate de soude
1 c. à thé de cannelle moulue
1 c. à thé de cardamome moulue
½ c. à thé de sel
1 c. à thé de vanille
3 c. à thé de thé Earl Grey moulu
1 ½ tasse de compote de pommes
¾ tasse de sucre de canne
½ tasse de lait de coco
½ tasse d’huile végétale
140 g. (1 tasse) de pépites de chocolat mi-sucré
145 g. (1 tasse) de mûres congelées

Pour le crumble à la cardamome
Dans un petit bol, mélanger tous les ingrédients du crumble jusqu’à l’obtention d’une texture granuleuse. Réserver à température ambiante.

Pour le pain aux mûres et à la cardamome
Préchauffer le four à 350 °F. Huiler un moule à pain de 9"x5" et le tapisser de papier parchemin.

Dans un grand bol, mélanger la farine, la poudre à pâte, le bicarbonate de soude, la cannelle, la cardamome et le sel.

Dans un autre bol, mélanger la vanille, le thé, la compote, le sucre, le lait de coco, l’huile végétale et les pépites de chocolat. Verser ce mélange humide dans les ingrédients secs et mélanger juste assez pour que la pâte soit homogène.

Verser la pâte dans le moule préparé. Couvrir de mûres et du crumble réserver. Cuire au four de 55 à 60 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’un cure-dents inséré au centre du pain en ressorte propre. Laisser refroidir complètement avant de démouler.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Two-Potato Gratin

This recipe would work well in the winter, but in the first cold days of June in Montreal, it was equally welcome! It calls for half-and-half, so I used half lactose-free milk and half lactose-free cream (you could consider using coconut milk instead of the cream). My mother sliced the potatoes by hand to help me out, though you could use a mandolin if you’re more comfortable with that. I served it with blueberry and green tea duck sausages and cranberry maple sausages (they were both good, but the latter my favorite; the Engineer preferred the former).

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8” thick
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled, sliced 1/8” thick
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¾ cup lactose-free milk
¾ cup lactose-free cream
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you wish)
1 ½ cups grated lactose-free gruyere

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil. Grease a 3-quart shallow baking dish.

Combine the sage and thyme in a small bowl.

In the baking dish, layer 1/3 of the potatoes and 1/3 of the sweet potatoes, alternating the slices. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the herb mixture and 1/3 each of the salt and pepper. Repeat layering to use up all the ingredients.

Combine milk, cream and broth and pour over the potatoes. Place dish on the baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 50 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and bake until golden and bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes longer. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Raspberry Weeknight Cake

I made two recipes with raspberries before leaving San Antonio, in order to empty the freezer a bit (we had most of a bag of frozen raspberries to use up). The first was raspberry and cookie butter baked oatmeal and it was surprisingly mediocre. The second, however, was a “buttermilk” raspberry weeknight cake to die for! It was moist and had the perfect crumb. I topped it with a glaze made with powdered sugar and coconut milk (essentially whisking coconut milk into 2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until reaching the desired consistency). The Engineer had seconds and said he would be all over that had it been made with another fruit, since he’s not fond of raspberries. I think blueberries would be delicious, too.

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free is okay here; I used all-purpose white wheat flour)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthan gum (only if you are using gluten-free flour that would benefit from the addition)
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup raspberries or other fresh fruit
powdered sugar or glaze, for serving (see above)

Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 °F. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk and the vinegar and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, xanthan gum (if using), and salt. Make a well in the center and add the coconut oil, vanilla, and coconut milk mixture. Stir until smooth dough forms with no dry bits of flour. Gently fold in the raspberries (don't worry if they break apart).

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and gently smooth it to the edges of the pan. Bake for 40 to 55 minutes, until the cake is golden on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes, then invert it onto a serving plate. Dust with powdered sugar or spread with icing and serve.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Odds and ends

We made it up to Quebec again this year, and somehow I’m always busier on vacation than in “real life”, so I end up posting less. But all is well, and the trip up was remarkably easy, given the ages of our kids. We made a quick stop at Nick’s BarBQ and Catfish in Carlisle, Arkansas – we had stopped there on our first drive down, and the fried green tomatoes were still just as good. This year, I particularly liked New York State, as we stopped near a beautiful lake in Chautauqua and it was the most restorative rest area ever. Plus, the next day, we had lunch at DB’s Drive-In in Weedsport – the burgers were mediocre, BUT they had lactose-free vanilla ice cream! I was actually able to eat ice cream in a sprinkle-covered cone! Granted, it was only one flavor among 3 dozen or so, but it absolutely made my day.

So, here’s a round-up of recipes I tried without posting about them. Some were a little underwhelming, like sunflower seed pesto or these cretons (though, to be fair, I didn’t have salted herbs and may have ended up under-seasoning the whole thing). But I also made onion-thyme jam, which was fantastic in burgers (along with storebought bacon jam). In that photo, they are next to quick pickled onions, which were also very good – I used them in salads and sandwiches, and they kept well in the fridge for a few weeks.

Salads are a good way to make a quick meal, too. I liked a carrot and pesto salad inspired by this post, but I’d caution you to make sure your pesto is really flavorful, otherwise it’s not worth it. I’d throw in some roasted pine nuts to make things more interesting next time.

For an easy meal, I was also inspired by a pin I found online – the link was broken, but the picture and description were clear enough to allow me to make a delicious salad with lettuce, chicken, bacon, sweet onion, corn, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and a honey-mustard dressing. Delish!

There was a fattoush salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, mint and pomegranate arils, and sumac of course, but the takeaway was the baked pita chips: I tossed pita squares with olive oil, salt, za’atar and sumac and baked them at 300 °F for 10 minutes. Heaven! Those would work in many other salads too, or just as a snack.

I also like tuna salads when they have enough interesting ingredients to complement the tuna (or perhaps I should say: I like tuna salad in sandwiches, for example, and salads with tuna as stand-alone dishes). There are great ideas here, though one of my favorite ways to use it (and I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this before) was based on a friend’s Facebook post. Obviously, this is highly adaptable (it’s a salad, not rocket surgery), but my version had a mix of green and red lettuces, raspberries, avocado, tuna, lactose-free goat cheese, chickpeas, and a dressing that was either lemon or mustard, depending on my mood. Perfect for summer!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Baniques aux bleuets et à l'érable

Selon Wikipedia, la banique (ou bannique) est une sorte de pain plat dense et calorique, un peu comme un scone. Dans le cas de cette recette, le résultat n’était pas dense et ne donnait pas l’impression d’être très calorique non plus… Mais j’ai bien aimé! C’est le genre de pâtisserie qui se sert bien au déjeuner ou en collation. À vrai dire, maintenant que j’y pense, ces saveurs seraient géniales dans un scone aussi! J’ai obtenu 9 petites baniques, qui se congèlent bien en plus.

1 tasse de farine tout usage
½ tasse de farine de maïs
1 c. à soupe de poudre à pâte
1 pincée de sel
¼ tasse de sucre d’érable
¼ tasse de beurre non salé, froid (j’ai pris de la margarine végétalienne)
¾ tasse de lait sans lactose
½ tasse de bleuets

Dans un grand bol, mélanger tous les ingrédients secs. Incorporer le beurre à la fourchette, puis ajouter le reste des ingrédients et mélanger pour former une boule de pâte.

Sur un plan de travail enfariné, abaisser la pâte à la main à 2 cm (1 po) d’épaisseur (la mienne était un peu plus mince, je crois). À l’aide d’un emporte-pièce de 6 cm (2 ½ po) de diamètre, façonner 10 cercles dans la pâte (j’ai pris un verre en guise d’emporte-pièce et j’ai eu 9 cercles) et les déposer une plaque è biscuits recouverte d’un papier parchemin ou d’un silpat. Les couvrir d’un linge propre pendant 30 minutes.

Pendant ce temps, préchauffer le four à 375 °F. Faire cuire les baniques 30 minutes (il a suffi de 20 minutes pour les miennes).

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Moelleux aux pois chiches et au chocolat

J’avais fait, pour le congélateur, des brownies de Coup de Pouce. C’est le genre de recette super santé végétalienne sans gluten, sucrée avec des dattes et du sirop d’érable et contenant aussi de la patate douce et de l’avocat. Texture « fudgy » assurée. Bon, honnêtement, la consistance était bonne, mais ils étaient un peu fades. Ils goûtaient trop « santé », mettons. Je me suis rattrapée avec une autre recette des Pâtisseries de Rose Madeleine, soit les moelleux aux pois chiches et au chocolat (c’était aussi au café à l’origine, mais je n’avais pas envie de mocha, alors j’ai modifié un peu; la recette ci-dessous est la mienne). J’avais moins de pois chiches qu’il le fallait, parce qu’aux États-Unis, on a des boîtes de conserve de 15 onces pour les pois chiches, pas 19. Mes biscuits (ou moelleux, en fait) étaient plus plats que ceux d’origine, peut-être pour ça. Mais ils étaient très bons! L’Ingénieur était impressionné et a dit qu’il n’avait jamais rien mangé de tel (mais d’un ton très positif, on s’entend). La recette est censée donner environ 2 douzaines de moelleux – j’en ai eu 18.

1 boîte de 19 oz. de pois chiches non salés, rincés à l’eau courante et égouttés
40 g. (1/3 tasse) de poudre de cacao
80 g. (1/3 tasse) de cassonade
1/3 tasse de sirop d’érable
1 c. à thé de café moulu
300 g. (1 ½ tasse) de pépites de chocolat mi-sucré
2 c. à soupe d’huile de noix de coco

Préchauffer le four à 350 °F. Tapisser une plaque à biscuits de papier parchemin (j’ai pris un silpat).

Au robot culinaire, mélanger les pois chiches, le cacao, la cassonade, le sirop d’érable et le café moulu jusqu’à l’obtention d’une pâte homogène.

À l’aide d’une petite cuillère à crème glacée, prélever des boules de pâte d’environ 2,5 cm (1 po) de diamètre et les déposer sur la plaque préparée. Aplatir légèrement les boules. Cuire au four 20 minutes.

Retirer du four, transférer les biscuits sur une grille et laisser refroidir complètement. Déposer les biscuits dans un récipient hermétique, puis au congélateur de 2 à 4 heures.

Après ce temps, tapisser la même plaque de papier sulfurisé (j’ai utilisé le même silpat, sans le laver). Faire fondre les pépites de chocolat et l’huile de noix de coco au bain-marie. Plonger entièrement les biscuits congelés dans le chocolat fondu, puis les déposer sur la plaque préparée. Laisser le chocolat figer avant de mettre les biscuits dans un récipient hermétique. On peut les conserver à la température de la pièce s’il ne fait pas trop chaud; j’avais mis les miens au réfrigérateur.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

I was looking for something a bit different for a side dish to serve with turkey meatballs from the freezer. I remembered that I had been meaning to try this dish of roasted cauliflower I saw on Orangette, since this vegetable is more to my liking roasted than steamed. Plus, it was easy enough to pull together! I’d make this again, even though the Little Prince has decided he no longer likes cauliflower.

1 head cauliflower, trimmed
1 medium onion, sliced (not too thinly; about ½”-thick slices)
4 thyme sprigs
4 unpeeled garlic cloves (I chose to peel mine)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup parmesan or grana padano, for grating (I eyeballed it)

Preheat the oven to 425 °F, and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.

Place the cauliflower on a cutting board, and slice it top-down into roughly 1/3-inch slices. Some of the slices will crumble, which is fine. Scoop all of the cauliflower into a large bowl, and add the onion, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Arrange the mixture in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is mostly tender, golden brown, and caramelized at the edges, 25-30 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, and grate a generous amount of parmesan over the vegetables. Return the pan to the oven, and continue to roast for another 5 or 10 minutes. You’re basically cooking it to eye: you want the cauliflower to be nicely caramelized, but you don’t want the onions to burn.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lavender-Honey Scones

This recipe was from a promotional magazine I got once and is available online here. I made these and froze them, and pulled some out a few weeks ago. I used coconut milk instead of cream, and instead of using all-white flour, I used 120 g. of white whole wheat flour and 180 g. of all-purpose white flour. They were a bit dry, even for scones, so I’d bake them less next time; that being said, I loved the flavors! I should probably translate that to cupcakes when I have time.

¾ cup lactose-free cream or coconut milk
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. dried lavender buds
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour (see note above)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
¼ tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a small saucepan combine cream, honey, and lavender. Warm over medium heat until it begins to steam, about 10 minutes. Chill about 30 minutes or until cooled completely.

Preheat oven to 400 °F.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of flour mixture; set aside.

Whisk egg into cooled cream mixture. Add egg mixture all at once to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough by folding and gently pressing it for 10 to 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat dough into a 10” x 4” rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise and in sixths crosswise to make 12 rectangles.

Place rectangles 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush rectangles with additional cream. Bake 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove scones from baking sheet. Drizzle with additional honey, if desired. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Honey-and-Spice-Roasted Carrots with Tahini Yogurt

The meals I made before heading to Canada were a bit lackluster. I finally tried that last recipe from 100 recettes pour toi mon cœur (which I talked about here in English), a sesame chicken with an arugula citrus salad in which I used sugar snap peas instead of asparagus. Good, but nothing to write home about. Same with the beef and pesto manicottis from Coup de Pouce (not online, unfortunately) that I had made for the freezer. There were also chicken enchiladas with tomatoes and avocados that were good, but not photogenic. Luckily, I could count on Molly Wizenberg to make things interesting again.

So I found this roasted carrot recipe on Orangette, though it’s originally by Yotam Ottolenghi. I should probably get his cookbooks, because I usually end up really liking dishes he’s created! This was no exception – very easy to make, very satisfying. I even made it again last week! I ended up serving it with a meat pie from the freezer.

The quantities below yield a generous 4 servings; I halved it when I made it. I roasted the coriander and cumin seeds in a pan, then crushed them with a mortar and pestle. Bonus points if you use yellow and purple carrots as well as orange, it’ll be prettier!

For the yogurt sauce
Scant 3 tablespoons (40 g.) tahini
2/3 cup (130 g.) plain whole-milk yogurt or Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 generous pinch of kosher salt

For the carrots
2 Tbsp. olive oil
scant 3 Tbsp. (60 g.) honey
1 ½ tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 ½ tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme, or a generous pinch of dried thyme
3 lbs. (1.3 kg.) carrots, peeled and cut into index-finger-sized batons
1 ½ Tbsp. cilantro leaves, chopped or not
kosher salt
black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 °F, and line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, and whisk well. Set aside while you roast the carrots.

Combine the olive oil, honey, coriander and cumin seeds, and thyme in a large bowl. Add 1 tsp. kosher salt (if using Diamond Crystal; maybe just ½ tsp. if using Morton) and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk as well as you can; the honey might make it pretty goopy. Add the carrots, and mix until well coated. (I did this with my hands, since the honey wanted to clump instead of coat the carrots.) Dump the carrots onto the prepared sheet pan, and arrange them evenly in a single layer. Roast, stirring gently once or twice, until they are cooked through and glazed, 30 to 40 minutes.

Serve the carrots warm or at room temperature, with a good spoonful of sauce on top or smeared on the plate underneath them. Scatter with cilantro.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Petits gâteaux au citron et à la noix de coco

J’ai été déçue par quelques desserts que j’ai cuisinés après la naissance du Renard. De petits pots au chocolat pas recommandables du tout; des chaussons aux pommes peu satisfaisants; de petits gâteaux au chocolat avec glaçage végétalien très bons, mais pas différents de ce que je fais souvent; un strudel aux poires du livre Chefs de famille correct, sans plus. (Ce livre, soit dit en passant, avait l’air excellent, mais j’ai été déçue. La moitié du livre est consacrée aux biographies des contributeurs, et sur les 60 recettes, j’en ai marqué seulement trois pour les essayer. Espérons que les deux autres seront meilleures!) J’ai ensuite décidé de sortir mon « nouveau » livre de desserts végétaliens, Les pâtisseries de Rose Madeleine, et j’ai jeté mon dévolu sur les petits gâteaux au citron et à la noix de coco.

J’ai pris de la farine de blé blond, pour faire plus santé. La crème de citron dont sont fourrés les gâteaux ne m’a pas vraiment impressionnée, surtout parce que je la trouvais un peu fade et bien moins colorée que sur la photo du livre. Par contre, le glaçage à l’huile de noix de coco, c’est magique! Je me demande où ça a été toute ma vie, ça. Le principe est simple, et pourtant, le résultat est vraiment impressionnant. En gros, on mélange de l’huile de noix de coco avec du sucre glace, puis on met au frigo de 30 à 60 minutes; on ressort ça et on fouette à la main. Et voilà, c’est du glaçage! Et ça tient à la température de la pièce pendant des jours! On s’entend, il ne faut pas qu’il fasse trop chaud; l’été, il faudrait une pièce climatisée. Mais la texture est vraiment géniale, et ce n’est pas trop sucré, en plus. À refaire!

Pour le glaçage à la noix de coco
3 tasses d’huile de noix de coco
1 ½ tasse (225 g.) de sucre glace tamisé
1 ½ c. à thé d’extrait de vanille (ou 1 c. à thé d’essence de noix de coco)

Pour les petits gâteaux
¾ tasse de sucre de canne
½ tasse d’huile de noix de coco fondue
1 boîte conserve de 14 oz. (400 mL) de lait de coco
¼ tasse de jus de citron
le zeste de 2 citrons
450 g. (2 ½ tasses) de farine tout usage
20 g. (½ tasse) de noix de coco râpée
2 c. à thé de poudre à pâte
1 c. à thé de bicarbonate de soude

Pour la crème de citron
¾ tasse de sucre de canne
¼ tasse de jus de citron
¾ tasse d’eau
3 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs
3 c. à soupe d’eau

Pour le glaçage à la noix de coco
À l’aide d’un batteur (je l’ai fait au fouet), fouetter l’huile de noix de coco jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit lisse.

Ajouter le sucre glace et la vanille et fouetter jusqu’à ce que le mélange soit homogène.

Réserver au réfrigérateur 30 minutes (ou jusqu’à 60 si, comme moi, vous aviez fait fondre votre huile de noix de coco pour mieux la mesurer et la mélanger), puis fouetter de nouveau.

Pour les petits gâteaux
Préchauffer le four à 350 °F. Huiler 12 moules à muffins ou les chemiser de petits moules en papier.

Dans un grand bol, combiner le sucre de canne, l’huile, le lait de coco, le jus et le zeste de citron.

Dans un autre bol, mélanger la farine, la noix de coco, la levure chimique et le bicarbonate. Incorporer ces ingrédients secs aux ingrédients liquides en trois fois, en remuant après chaque addition.

Répartir la pâte dans les moules. Cuire au four de 20 à 25 minutes, ou jusqu’à ce qu’un cure-dent inséré au centre d’un gâteau en ressorte propre. Retirer les gâteaux du four et des moules. Suivre les instructions du montage ci-dessous.

Pour la crème de citron
Dans une casserole, chauffer le sucre, le jus de citron et l’eau à feu moyen, jusqu’à ce que le sucre soit dissous.

Dans un petit bol, mélanger la fécule de maïs et l’eau, puis verser ce mélange dans la casserole. Porter à ébullition en fouettant sans arrêt, jusqu’à épaississement.

Verser la préparation dans un bol, couvrir d’une pellicule de plastique et laisser refroidir complètement à température ambiante.

Pour le montage
Faire un trou au centre de chaque petit gâteau à l’aide d’une petite cuillère (je le fais avec un vide-pomme) et le remplir de crème de citron. Couvrir de glaçage à la noix de coco.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Batch of links

- Ramadan etiquette guide: 10 tips for people who aren’t Muslim (pretty self-explanatory).

- A map of popular brunch foods in every state, though “the roundup isn't top brunch foods by volume, but what people in each state like proportionally more than those in other states.” Apparently, people in Texas like stuffed avocado.

- Ten food items that need to rethink their packaging. YES!

- One more reason to consider switching to full-fat dairy. I’m looking at you, Dad.

- It turns out that salty foods don’t actually make you thirsty. My whole life is a lie!

- Protein 101, as well as 10 ways to eat your daily protein (it’s less than you’d think) and 10 vegetarian ways to eat your daily protein.

- Bon Appétit had an article about the history of Maldon salt that was very interesting!

- Remember my batch of links about meal kits? The Kitchn did an actual dollar-to-dollar comparison with groceries for three different services.

- Have you ever seen Jacques Pépin debone a chicken? It is a thing of beauty.

- (Not food-related.) Reclaiming “Jew”: an article about the fact that using “Jew” as a noun is often seen as a slur, even though it is correct, while the adjective “Jewish” is seen as polite.

- (Also not food-related.) Math problems for English majors and math problems for parents, because they’re too funny!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pistachio-Citrus Pound Cake

Here’s something that I made and managed not to taste right away, instead stashing it in the freezer for after the baby was born. It’s a pistachio-citrus pound cake that I found on Orangette, though it’s originally from Bon Appétit. I unfortunately neglected to get a picture of the whole loaf when it was made; instead, I cut it in half and froze everything, and I only tasted it recently. It was delicious! Not too sweet, this pound cake might be more of a snack than a dessert. As for the citrus, you could make it as is (with lemon, orange and lime), but if it’s citrus season, consider using Meyer lemon or tangerines, for example. Note that I put fewer pistachios in the batter than called for, because that’s usually not my favorite place for nuts, but I like them on top of the cake!

2 cups (260 g.) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking powder
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
1 cup (125 g.) shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped; divided

Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 325 °F. Lightly grease a 9”x5” loaf pan. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to line the bottom and the two long sides of the pan, leaving a little overhang. Press the parchment paper into the pan, and grease it lightly, too.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar, and beat until well incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions. Add the juices and the zests, and beat until well combined. (Don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.) Add the flour mixture, reduce the speed to low, and beat until just incorporated. Add ¾ cup of the pistachios, and fold in gently. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup pistachios over the top.

Bake the cake, rotating it halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 ½ hours. Transfer it to a wire rack, and let it cool completely in the pan. Run a sharp knife along the short ends of the pan to loosen the cake; then pull up on the parchment paper to lift the cake out of the pan. (The flavor of this cake is best the day after it’s made. I can tell you that it freezes well, too.)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Granola au gingembre et à l'érable

J’ai fait ce granola et je l’ai congelé avant la naissance du Renard. Je l’ai ressorti récemment pour déjeuner – ça me manquait, le granola! Il s’agit d’une recette du magazine À bon verre, bonne table. J’ai fait une demi-recette, parce que je n’avais pas l’intention de nourrir une armée, quand même; les quantités ci-dessous sont les miennes. (Je ne connais personne qui veut un rendement de 15 tasses pour sa famille!) Pour cette recette, j’ai utilisé des amandes ainsi que des canneberges et des abricots séchés. Selon mon humeur et le contenu de mon frigo, j’aime manger le granola avec du lait sans lactose (végétal ou pas) ou encore du yogourt. Mon yogourt préféré ces temps-ci est le Noosa à la vanille, qui est riche et crémeux et dont les grains de vanille croquent sous la dent. (Noosa, c’est du yogourt australien fait au Colorado, avec des saveurs comme fraise-rhubarbe, miel, cerise et même mangue et chili ou poire et cardamome!)

4 tasses de gros flocons d’avoine
¾ tasse d’amandes ou de vos noix préférées ou encore de noix mélangées, hachées grossièrement
½ tasse de son ou de germe de blé
½ tasse de graines de citrouille
¼ tasse de graines de lin moulues
¼ tasse de noix de coco non sucrée, préférablement râpée
1 c. à thé de cannelle
1 c. à thé de gingembre moulu
¾ c. à thé de sel
1 orange
¼ tasse d’huile végétale
¾ tasse de sirop d’érable
2 c. à thé de vanille
1 tasse de fruits séchés (cerises, canneberges, raisins secs, abricots émincés, pruneaux hachés, etc.), préférablement un mélange
2 c. à soupe de gingembre confit coupé en dés fins

Préchauffer le four à 300 °F.

Huiler légèrement 2 grandes plaques à pâtisserie à gros rebords (ou une rôtissoire).

Remuer dans un grand bol : flocons d’avoine, noix, son de blé, graines de citrouille, graines de lin, noix de coco, épices et sel.

Râper finement la peau de l’orange dans une casserole moyenne. Presser l’orange et verser 3 c. à soupe du jus, l’huile et le sirop d’érable dans la casserole. Chauffer jusqu’à ce que le liquide soit bien chaud. Incorporer la vanille. Verser ce liquide sur le mélange d’avoine et remuer pour bien humecter les ingrédients.

Étaler le granola sur les plaques à pâtisserie. Cuire au four préchauffé en prenant soin de remuer de temps à autre et de faire la rotation des plaques, jusqu’à ce que le granola soit bien doré (40 à 45 minutes). Y incorporer les fruits séchés et le gingembre. Laisser refroidir complètement. (Conserver le granola à la température ambiante, dans des récipients hermétiques, pendant 2 semaines. On peut aussi le congeler. Servir le granola avec du lait ou une grosse cuillerée de yogourt, agrémenté de baies fraîches et d’un filet de sirop d’érable pour en faire un dessert.)

Dark Chocolate and Squash Muffins

These muffins were really something. They contain squash purée, which makes them moist and makes one feel like they’re at least somewhat healthful, and they are delicious. As it turns out, they’re gluten-free, but no one here guessed it. They were especially good warm (I called them “perfect” in my notes), but were great at room temperature after a few days as well.

The original recipe calls for kabocha squash, but I used half a small butternut squash that I had left over from this recipe. I’m pretty sure that any winter squash would do, maybe even sweet potato. Note that the original recipe also recommends homemade squash purée, not canned, as the texture is better. (An easy way to do this is to halve a squash, rub the cut sides with oil and bake the whole thing at 425 °F for 30 to 45 minutes or until tender. The flesh can then be scooped out and puréed.)

1 ¼ cups fine brown rice flour
2/3 cup coconut sugar (I used cane sugar for a bit more sweetness)
½ cup almond flour
5 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. fine sea salt
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup coconut oil, melted
½ cup kabocha squash purée (see note above)
2 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup chopped dark chocolate (I used 4 oz.)
cacao nibs, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 °F and line a 12-cavity muffin tin with liners (I actually ended up with 15 muffins).

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients until mixed. Add the dry ingredients to the wet a little at a time until combined (I used a wooden spoon), then fold in the chocolate.

Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tin, filling each cavity ¾ of the way. Top with a sprinkle of cacao nibs, if desired.

Bake in the center of your oven until a cake tester comes out clean, about 28-34 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove muffins and let them cool completely before eating.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Green & Black's

For some reason, I haven’t been able to find my regular Godiva dark chocolate with sea salt in stores in a while, I’m not sure why. I bought Lindt’s version again, but didn’t like it as much. So I started looking for a substitute and bought a Green & Black’s pure dark chocolate bar with sea salt, which I really liked. Then, as I was renewing stock in our emergency kit, I found two bars of Godiva, so I decided to do a side-by-side comparison.

The first thing I should point out is that Godiva appears to have changed its ingredients since I first wrote about it. It has less iron than it used to (now 15% of the daily value, when it used to be 30%), and it had also become less expensive (before it disappeared). Green & Black’s is about $5.00 a bar, and bars are ever so slightly smaller than Lindt or Godiva (90 g., versus 100 g. for both others). That being said, it is ethically sourced cocoa, so I’m guessing that’s where most of the money goes. Serving sizes are similar (4 squares, with 2.5 servings per bar), so I don’t notice the difference in size. Green & Black’s is technically vegan, though processed on equipment that also comes in contact with milk and tree nuts. It has more calories, and those seem to come mostly from fat – but it’s cocoa butter, which is a vegetable fat and in my mind is similar to coconut oil or avocado, so it’s a good fat and I’m not worried (if I’m wrong, please don’t shatter my illusion). The cocoa butter gives it a smooth mouthfeel and enhances the flavor. It’s also got significantly less sugar than the other brands, about half as much, but is still very good – I normally prefer lower percentages of cocoa, but I really like this. And it’s got 25% of the daily value of iron, which is nice.

So if I see my Godiva again, I’d certainly stock up, but for now, Green & Black is my go-to evening treat.

On a side note, I also tried Alter Eco’s Dark Salted Brown Butter Organic Chocolate bar and loved it. It may not be strictly lactose-free (it contains butterfat), but I stuck to 2 squares per serving and didn’t have any symptoms. The chocolate is smooth and tastes more like caramel than browned butter, but is very enjoyable!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beef Curry

I got this Japanese curry recipe from Bon Appétit and made it right before having the Fox. The original recipe claims to serve 6, but we had more than 8 servings (without guests, I would have frozen the leftovers). Note that I reduced the amount of curry from 3 to 2 tablespoons and, as always, I prefer mild curry. I served it with rice the first night and with couscous the second – so technically, you do need to make a side for this to be a complete meal, but it’s an easy side, and at least the meat and vegetables are taken care of here. This was really good!

For the raita
2 Japanese or Persian cucumbers (I used baby cucumbers)
kosher salt
1 garlic clove
½ cup plain lactose-free whole-milk yogurt
½ cup plain lactose-free whole-milk Greek yogurt

For the curry
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. potato starch or cornstarch
2 Tbsp. water
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 lbs. beef chuck, cut into ½–1-inch pieces
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 medium onions, chopped
1 apple, peeled, grated
3 Tbsp. mirin
1 Tbsp. finely chopped peeled ginger
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. curry powder
2 Tbsp. kuro sato (Japanese black sugar) or 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar + ½ tsp. robust-flavored (dark) molasses
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
½ kabocha squash, peeled, seeded, cut into ½-inch pieces (I used half a butternut squash)
1 large Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces

For the raita
Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise. If using Japanese cucumbers, scrape out seeds with a small spoon. Slice cucumbers into very thin half-moons. Toss in a small bowl with a few pinches of salt. Let sit until salt begins to draw out water from cucumbers, about 5 minutes. Massage cucumbers to release liquid, gently at first to keep them from breaking, then more vigorously as they start to expel water. Rinse in several changes of water, squeeze out excess liquid, and place in a clean small bowl.

Mash garlic and a pinch of salt on a cutting board with the side of a chef’s knife to a paste. Mix into cucumbers along with both yogurts; season with salt. Set aside in the refrigerator.

For the curry
Mix flour, potato starch, and water in a bowl. Set slurry aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high. Season beef with salt and pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook beef, turning occasionally and reducing heat if needed, until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes per batch. Add onions and apple and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, 12–15 minutes. Add mirin, ginger, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until very fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder, kuro sato, garam masala, soy sauce, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until beef is almost tender, 30–40 minutes.

Add squash, potato, and carrots, cover, and cook, adding water by ¼-cupfuls if needed to keep vegetables submerged, until tender, 20–30 minutes.

Submerge a small sieve into curry and whisk reserved slurry into liquid in sieve to combine. Return curry to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until thickened, 8–10 minutes. Serve over rice topped with raita.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Chai-Spiced Medjool Date and Almond Tart

Now here is the perfect dessert if you want something simple and not too sweet! (I mean, I had tried an easy spiced applesauce cake, but it was a bit too one-dimensional for my taste; this tart is different.) It’s a bit more cakey than most tarts and is particularly good served warm, though it was great at room temperature as well. You could use chai tea instead of the spice blend if you want (just grind it well beforehand). The original recipe specified that it could be made in 8 individual tart pans of 3 ¼ inches each, rerolling the dough a few times, but I haven’t tried it. We all enjoyed it (including my parents, who were in town at that point).

For the pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
⅓ cup sugar
1 egg
1¼ cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder

For the date filling
1½ cups chopped Medjool dates (about 15)
½ cup water
1 tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger

For the almond filling
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
¼ tsp. almond extract
½ cup ground almonds
1½ tsp. all-purpose flour

For the pastry
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and continue beating until combined.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cake flour and baking powder, then add to the butter mixture. Beat just until combined. The dough will be very soft. Wrap in plastic wrap and form into a flat disc. Chill at least 2 hours. The dough can be prepared a day ahead.

For the date filling
Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat. While the dates are cooking, mash them with a rubber spatula and continue cooking, about 5 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the mixture is very thick and almost smooth. Transfer the date mixture to a small bowl to cool completely. The dates can be cooked 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. Roll the dough about ⅛ inch (3 mm) thick, and line a 9-inch (23 cm) tart pan with it. Place on the parchment-lined tray. Chill while preparing the almond filling.

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 °F.

For the almond filling
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and almond extract and beat to combine.

Combine the ground almonds and flour together and add to the butter mixture. Beat until smooth.

Spread the date mixture evenly over the chilled dough. Repeat with the almond filling, spreading it over the date mixture to cover.

Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temperature. (The tart can be baked 1 day ahead and stored, well wrapped, at room temperature.)