Friday, January 21, 2022

Everyday Lentil Soup

 Last fall, I made a few soups that were unremarkable. There was a carrot, apple, and curry soup topped with extra-sharp cheddar that, while good, was nothing to write home about. I also tried a soup with TVP, cabbage, sweet potato and tomatoes – I thought it was fine, but the kids refused to touch it, and the Engineer was flat-out repulsed by it, although he couldn’t figure out which ingredient it was (he said it tasted bitter to him, so maybe the cabbage?). Anyway, obviously not making that again. 

This everyday lentil soup, however, was just what I was looking for! It’s also perfect for the cold weather we’re having right now. It was savory and hearty and just hit all the right notes for me. 

There are two types of lentils in here, because the red lentils will dissolve and thicken the broth while the green lentils will hold their shape. The original recipe made 4 servings, but I wanted more, so I changed the proportions a bit – the amounts below are mine. Keep in mind that you can always add more broth to taste, but this was the right consistency for me. 

Suggested toppings are parsley and parmesan, but I imagine that this would also be great with feta, or roasted nuts and seeds. You could also serve the soup with crusty bread. 

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
1 yellow onion 
2 large carrots 
1 medium sweet potato 
2 stalks of celery 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
½ tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste 
½ tsp. lemon pepper (I used black pepper and a splash of lemon juice) 
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs 
¼ tsp., red pepper flakes, or to taste 
¾ cup green or du Puy lentils 
¾ cup red lentils 
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
½ tsp. turmeric or coriander 
2 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or olive oil (I omitted it) 
3 cups roughly chopped kale garnish of choice (see note above), optional 

In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Chop the onion, carrots, sweet potato, and celery into roughly ¼” pieces. Put all the vegetables, including garlic, into the warm pot with the sea salt and sauté until just softened, about 5-6 minutes. 

Stir in the lemon pepper, Italian herbs, red pepper, green lentils, and red lentils. Add the broth and stir. Turn the heat to low and cover. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes until everything is tender but not mushy. 

Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), blend up about half of the soup just so it gets thicker (but nowhere close to purées – you still want the texture of the vegetables to come through). Turn off the heat. Stir in the turmeric, butter/oil and kale and stir for the greens to just soften and marry into the soup. Taste for seasoning. 

Serve each bowl with a squeeze of lemon and a generous sprinkle of parsley and parmesan.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Raspberry-Hibiscus Poke Cake


I decided to make this raspberry-hibiscus poke cake from Bon Appétit because we had a lot of hibiscus tea left over from one of the Engineer’s recipes, plus egg whites in the freezer. We really liked this cake! To be fair, the Fox didn’t eat it much, but the Little Prince said it was one of his favorite cakes ever. 

I have to say that this cake definitely wasn’t going to come out of the pan in one piece, so I left it in the pan. Individual pieces could be removed without too much trouble, so it worked out fine, but if unmolding it is important to you, line the pan with parchment paper first. Also, the topping never whipped up to stiff peaks like it was supposed to, but that could be my fault because I used a vegan substitute for the whipping cream and it may not have reacted properly to the recipe. That’s on me. However, since my cake was still in the pan, the frosting just levelled itself evenly over the surface and, once refrigerated, gelled with a nice smooth top. Perhaps this would not have happened had my cake not still been in the pan, so I guess two wrongs make a right? 

For the cake 
1 cup (2 sticks) lactose-free butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces 
3 cups (345 g) cake flour 
1 ½ tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. baking soda 
½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt 
2 cups (400 g) sugar
6 large egg whites 
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
½ tsp. almond extract 
1 ½ cups buttermilk substitute (1 ½ Tbsp. lemon juice + top up with lactose-free milk) 

For the filling
2 12-oz. bags of frozen raspberries, thawed 
1 Tbsp. unflavored powdered gelatin 
½ cup (100 g) sugar 
¼ cup dried hibiscus flowers 

For the topping 
1 10-oz. bag of mini marshmallows 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 ½ cups lactose-free whipping cream or substitute (see note above), divided 

For the cake 
Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 325 °F. Grease a 13”x9" baking dish (as per my note above, I would also line it with parchment paper and leave some overhang on the long sides of the pan). 

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. 

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating to blend after each addition and scraping down sides and bottom of bowl occasionally, until very light and airy, about 3 minutes. Beat in lemon zest, vanilla extract, and almond extract. 

Reduce mixer speed to low, add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 2 minutes. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth out evenly to edges. 

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 45–55 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 15 minutes. 

For the filling 
While the cake is cooling, place raspberries in a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, press down on raspberries until you have 1 cup juice; discard solids (or save for another use). Sprinkle gelatin over; let sit 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, stir sugar, hibiscus flowers, and 1½ cups boiling water in a small bowl to combine and let sit 10 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into bowl with raspberry mixture; discard solids. Whisk until filling is smooth. 

Using a chopstick, poke holes down into the cake at 1" intervals. Slowly pour filling over cake, letting it seep into holes. Chill cake while you make the topping to let the filling set up a bit. 

For the topping 
Heat marshmallows, vanilla extract, and ½ cup cream in a medium saucepan over medium, stirring constantly, until marshmallows are melted, about 3 minutes; chill remaining 1 cup cream until ready to use. Let marshmallow cream cool, about 30 minutes. 

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat chilled 1 cup cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Scrape in marshmallow cream and beat until almost stiff (see note above). 

Turn cake out onto a platter. Turn right side up and spoon marshmallow whipped cream on top. Spread to edges, making dips and swirls. 

Note that I froze several individual pieces, and they were great when thawed!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Chia Quinoa Muffins


The Fox often needs to have options for breakfast, otherwise he is likely to have a meltdown (assuming he didn’t get enough sleep and doesn’t have something delicious offered to him). He tends to like muffins if they are “dry” (as opposed to, say, these moist chocolate protein muffins), so I decided to try these chia quinoa muffins

I used 2 cups of white whole wheat flour instead of a mixture of white and whole wheat. I liked these muffins, but must admit that they were a bit bland – they were best spread with butter or jam. They placated the Fox, though, so that’s a win! 

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup whole wheat flour 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1 ½ tsp. baking powder 
1 tsp. salt (I would use ½ tsp. next time) 
2 Tbsp. chia seeds 
¾ cup unsweetened almond milk 
1 egg 
¼ cup lactose-free plain Greek yogurt 
1/3 cup honey 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a muffin tin and set aside. 

If you haven’t done so already, cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool for at least 5 minutes. 

In medium bowl, combine quinoa, flours, baking powder, salt and chia seeds. 

In a smaller bowl, whisk together milk, egg, yogurt, honey and vanilla extract. Slowly add to quinoa mixture and stir until just combined. 

Divide mixture evenly among muffin cups and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool until warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

More Sheet Pan Gnocchi

 Last winter, I tried a few potato dishes that looked very impressive (and, in one case, both labor-intensive and time-consuming), but they were a big let-down. There was this potato galette, for which I actually got the golden crust I was looking for, but the galette came apart in the middle upon unmolding just the same. 

I also made this tater tot egg bake, which also just fell apart. I should have been more aggressive using a spatula to loosen it before flipping it, and it seems like the whole thing would have been better made in the oven anyway! 

Then I found out I needed fewer carbs, so I haven’t eaten as many potatoes, but recently I’ve been steering back toward a flexitarian diet and was at a loss for a vegetarian main, so I made sheet-pan gnocchi. Lots of carbs, but really good and so easy! The quantities below yield 4 servings. 

½ large red onion, cut into ½"-thick wedges 
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled 
2 pints cherry tomatoes 
a 17.6-oz. package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi 
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling 
1 ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp. Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste 
freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice 
2 cups baby arugula 
1 cup basil leaves, large leaves torn 
2 oz. parmesan, shaved 

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425 °F. Toss onion, garlic, tomatoes, gnocchi, 3 Tbsp. oil, and 1¼ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt on a rimmed baking sheet to coat; season generously with pepper and toss again to combine. 

Roast, stirring once or twice, until gnocchi are golden and starting to crisp, most of the tomatoes have burst, and onion is golden, 25–30 minutes. 

Remove garlic from baking sheet, peel, and place in a small bowl. Mash with ¼ tsp. salt (garlic should be quite soft). Whisk in lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil; season dressing with pepper and more salt if needed. 

Add arugula, basil, and Parmesan to baking sheet and drizzle dressing over; toss to combine. Divide among plates and drizzle with a little more oil.

Tourtière de ville


Une recette de tourtière avant les Fêtes, ça vous dit? C’est une recette que j’avais faite l’année dernière et dont j’ai oublié de vous parler en délai raisonnable, alors j’ai attendu cette année (donc je ne suis pas en retard, mais en avance). Il s’agit d’une recette de 3 fois par jour. C’est une tourtière de ville parce qu’en ville, on n’a pas de gibier, alors on prend du porc, j’imagine! Nous avions beaucoup aimé. Comme accompagnement, j’avais une salade de brocoli une fois, puis des patates douces rôties à l’érable (délicieuses, mais il faudrait les couper en cubes bien plus petits que sur la photo). 

4 abaisses de pâte brisée (maison ou du commerce) 
1 c. à soupe d’huile végétale 
1 tasse d’oignons hachés 
1 gousse d’ail hachée 
2 lb. de porc haché 
1 ½ tasse d’eau froide 
1 pomme, pelée et râpée (½ tasse) 
1 pomme de terre, pelée et râpée (½ tasse) 
1 c. à thé de sirop d’érable 
½ tasse de flocons d’avoine instantanée 
1 c. à thé de sarriette 
1 c. à thé (moins, pour moi) de quatre-épices (ou cannelle, clou de girofle, muscade) 
2 feuilles de laurier 
2 c. à thé de sel 
1 œuf battu (pour badigeonner la pâte) 

Dans une casserole, à feu moyen, faire chauffer l’huile végétale, puis faire revenir l’oignon et l’ail pendant 5 minutes. Ajouter le porc haché et l’eau froide, puis porter à ébullition. 

Ajouter le reste des ingrédients, à l’exception de l’œuf. Couvrir et cuire à feu moyen pendant 45 minutes en remuant régulièrement. (J’ai ensuite fait cuire un peu plus longtemps à découvert, pour que l’eau s’évapore.) 

Enlever les feuilles de laurier, rectifier l’assaisonnement au besoin et laisser refroidir complètement au réfrigérateur. 

Foncer 2 moules à tarte avec 2 abaisses de pâte brisée. Garnir du mélange de tourtière froid (environ 2 tasses par tourtière). 

Badigeonner le rebord extérieur de la pâte avec l’œuf battu. Placer une 2e abaisse sur chaque tourtière et refermer les bords. Réfrigérer pendant 30 minutes, puis badigeonner le dessus de chaque tourtière avec l’œuf battu. 

Cuire au four à 425 °F pendant 15 minutes. Réduire la température à 400 °F et cuire pendant 30 minutes supplémentaires, ou jusqu’à ce que la croûte soit dorée.

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Don't mind me...


… I’m just over here, stuffing peppers. As one does. I don’t want to make my family sick of them, but bell peppers are one of my favorite vegetables (even though I disliked them as a child), so this is an easy one for me right now. I tried this version with lentils and TVP and really enjoyed it (I actually have enough filling for another 6 bell pepper halves or so in the freezer). 

I also tried scrambled egg whites, both with and without cheese, but they are not for me. 

Then I married the bell peppers and the eggs with these bell pepper eggs-in-a-hole. I made them a bit differently, cutting my bell peppers in half lengthwise and using 8 eggs (instead of taking off the top and using 4 eggs – but it was 4 servings anyway). These were great! 

4 bell peppers (assorted colors), tops and seeds removed (see note above) 
1 cup shredded lactose-free cheddar 
4 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
 kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper 
4 large eggs (see note above)
freshly chopped parsley or cilantro, for garnish 

Preheat oven to 400 °F. 

In each bell pepper (half), add cheddar and cooked bacon. Crack an egg on top and season with salt and pepper. 

Bake until whites are cooked and yolks slightly runny, 20 to 25 minutes. 

Garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Friday, December 10, 2021

Cookies and Cream Pie


I had originally planned on making this Oreo pie for Thanksgiving dinner, but I decided that we had quite enough food (including a dessert already), so I made it the following week. It’s super easy to make (it sets up in the fridge), and, you know, you can’t go wrong with Oreos, right? Well… it turns out that my family didn’t like the cream cheese in this particular dish. (For the record, I used lactose-free cream cheese that is real dairy and tastes the exact same as “regular” cream cheese.) I really liked it, though! I recommend this despite my family odd tastes. 

The recipe calls for a total of 36 Oreos, which is one 14.3-ounce package. I bought a slightly bigger package so that I’d have a few with which to decorate, as well as a few to eat straight up. 

For the crust 
24 whole Oreos (Double Stuf or regular) 
5 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, melted 

For the filling 
1 cup lactose-free whipping cream or substitute, cold 
8 oz lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature 
¾ cup (90 g.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
12 whole Oreos (Double Stuf or regular), chopped 
more Oreos or whipped cream, as desired for topping 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. 

In a food processor, pulse the whole Oreos into a fine crumb. You should have about 2 cups. Add the melted butter and process again. Press tightly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool (and turn off the oven) as you prepare the filling. 

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream into stiff peaks on medium-high speed, about 4 minutes. Set aside. 

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until perfectly smooth and creamy. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed until combined. Make sure there are no large lumps of cream cheese left. 

With a rubber spatula, fold the whipped cream and chopped Oreos into the cream cheese mixture until combined. Go slowly, as you don’t want to deflate the air in the whipped cream. 

Spread the filling into the cooled crust. Use an offset spatula to smooth down the top. 

Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. (You could also freeze the pie.) 

Before serving, feel free to garnish the pie with more Oreos and whipped cream (keep in mind that the Oreos will soften up over time). Use a clean, sharp knife to slice the pie (to get really neat slices, clean the knife between each slice).

Sweet Potato Pancakes


Thanksgiving was pretty uneventful this year. I made my usual line-up of sides and threw in a vegetarian gravy for good measure – it was, indeed, good, but I was the only one eating it, and I still prefer my cranberry sauce, so I won’t make it again. I also made a sweet potato and marshmallow pie, but it didn’t work out. While the filling was fantastic, the crust sucked and the marshmallow topping was a burnt, gooey disaster. Luckily, I had leftover sweet potato purée with which to make these sweet potato pancakes the following weekend. 

This makes 14 pancakes. I’m leaving the instructions to make sweet potato purée below because some of you might appreciate the faster microwave method, but I just did this ahead of time my usual way (1 hour in the oven at 425 °F, then peeled and puréed in the food processor). 

¾ cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (from one 9-oz. sweet potato) 
2 large eggs 
2 cups lactose-free buttermilk substitute 
2 Tbsp. maple syrup 
2 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, melted 
2 cups all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat) 
1 ½ tsp. baking powder 
1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt 
1 tsp. baking soda 
½ tsp. ground cinnamon 
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg 

Preheat oven to 200 °F. Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet. 

Prick potato all over with a fork. Place in a microwave-safe bowl with 1 teaspoon water and cover. Microwave on high until tender when pierced with a fork, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool. Discard water. Split potato and scoop flesh into bowl; discard skin. Mash to make ¾ cup. 

Beat eggs and buttermilk in a large bowl. Add potato, syrup, and butter; whisk until well combined. 

Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Add to buttermilk mixture. Gently stir until few dry spots remain; do not overmix. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high. Brush with oil; reduce heat to medium. Cooking in batches, add ⅓-cupfuls of batter to skillet, flattening tops slightly. Cook until bubbles rise to surface and underside is golden brown, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until puffed and golden brown on other side, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; keep warm in oven. Repeat with oil and remaining batter. Serve with chopped pecans and more syrup, if desired.

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Tahini Brownies

I realized that I had never made any recipes from Real Sweet by Shauna Sever, so I set out to remedy that with her dark, fudgy muscovado brownies. And it turns out… they were way too sweet for me! You see, Real Sweet isn’t a no-sugar cookbook so much as a no-refined-white-sugar cookbook. This recipe still had muscovado sugar and brown rice syrup, and perhaps those do have more nutrients than cane sugar, but they’re still sweeteners. Anyway, I’ll try more recipes from that book eventually, but I won’t make that one again. 

I also made a recipe that I had kept in my pantry for a long time: Scharffen Berger’s velvet chocolate cake (the recipe is no longer on their website, but here’s a photo of it if anyone’s interested). This cake, while good, was a complete disaster because it completely fell apart upon unmolding, despite all the precautions I took. I served it like chunks of mousse in a bowl, and it still tasted fab, but I was disappointed. 

Then I tried Soom’s new dark chocolate tahini with sea salt. It’s really good, though I was disheartened to see that their chocolate tahinis now use cane sugar instead of maple syrup. Anyway, I couldn’t resist making these dark chocolate sea salt brownies of theirs, which happen to be gluten-free and dairy-free. These were really good! Coincidentally, the kids had been craving brownies, so they were really happy with these as well. 

If you want to make these but don’t have access to Soom, try the substitute listed here

1 cup Soom Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt Tahini 
1 cup brown sugar 
2 large eggs 
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips 
2 Tbsp. coconut oil 
½ cup (50 g) cocoa powder 
flaky sea salt and more chocolate tahini, for topping (optional) 

Preheat to 350 °F. Line an 8” square baking pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with non-stick cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk tahini, brown sugar, and eggs until combined. 

Combine chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 75 to 90 seconds, stopping to stir every 30 seconds, until melted and smooth. (I did this in a double boiler.) Let cool for 5 minutes. 

Pour melted chocolate mixture into tahini mixture; mix well to combine. Fold in cocoa powder. (Batter will be thick.) 

Transfer to prepared baking pan and spread evenly. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let cool in pan for 30 minutes. 

Use flaps of parchment paper to remove brownies from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing into squares. If desired, drizzle extra chocolate tahini on top and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.