Friday, June 02, 2023

Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake


This flourless chocolate meringue cake would be perfect for Passover – though I made it after then and it was still great. There’s a part of the instructions that I accidently glossed over, but I’d like to point out how important this is: do run a knife alongside the edge of the cake right as you take it out of the oven, before it cools down, so that it can settle evenly as it cools. 

10 oz. (283 g) semisweet chocolate (64%-70% cacao), coarsely chopped 
6 Tbsp. grapeseed, avocado, or other neutral oil 
¼ cup strong brewed coffee 
1 ½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¾ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more 
5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature 
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar, divided 
¾ cup (72 g) almond flour or almond meal 
¼ cup water 

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350 °F. Brush a 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil, making sure to coat sides all the way to the rim. Line bottom of pan with a parchment paper round; brush parchment with oil. 

Heat chocolate, oil, coffee, and salt in a large heatproof bowl set over a medium saucepan of gently simmering water (bowl should not touch water), stirring occasionally with a heatproof rubber spatula, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from heat; add egg yolks, vanilla, and ¼ cup sugar and whisk vigorously to combine. Add almond flour and mix well. (Don’t worry if it looks broken and separated.) Add water and whisk vigorously until mixture comes back together and looks smooth and glossy. Set chocolate mixture aside. 

Using an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat egg whites and a pinch of salt in a large non-plastic bowl until frothy, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until foamy and opaque, about 30 seconds. Beating constantly, gradually add remaining ¾ cup sugar in a slow, steady stream. Increase speed to high and beat until stiff peaks form and meringue is dense and glossy. (Be careful not to overbeat or it will be dry and grainy and difficult to incorporate into the batter.) 

Scoop out a heaping cupful of meringue and set aside. Scrape about half of the remaining meringue into bowl with reserved chocolate mixture and fold gently with spatula until just a few streaks remain. Scrape in the rest of the meringue; fold just until evenly mixed and batter is light and airy. Scrape batter into prepared pan; smooth surface. Spoon dollops of reserved meringue over batter. Using a skewer or toothpick, swirl into batter—a little or a lot; it’s up to you. 

Bake cake until surface is risen and cracked, meringue is light golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out shiny but clean, 60–70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and run a small knife or offset spatula between very top of cake and pan to loosen anywhere it may be stuck (this will help the cake settle evenly as it cools). Let cake cool in pan. 

To serve, run knife around sides again to loosen cake, then unmold.

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Batch of links

- There’s a new skin patch that shows promise in helping kids with a peanut allergy

- Turns out I’ll have to lay off erythritol. Bummer. 

- In the 1930s, some Italians wanted to abandon pasta. Good thing that didn’t last! 

- I’ve been reading more of Virginia Sole-Smith’s writing, such as this piece about the whole Ozempic thing (of which I was peripherally aware through PCOS groups) and this one about kids, weight, and healthy eating), but the one I really want to recommend right now is Underwear Science – Has anyone who designs underwear ever looked at a fat person?. I’ve felt this as an average-size woman, so I can only imagine what it’s like in a bigger body! 

- I love that I got to travel a lot as a kid, but this article about Suzanne Heywood’s round-the-world sailing trip made me grateful I have responsible parents! 

- Did you know Netflix has secret codes?

Poppy Seed Torte


Picture a tart with a poppy seed custard or pastry cream filling, and you’re pretty close to what this is! I was really in the mood for a not-too-sweet poppy seed dessert that didn’t rely heavily on lemon, one of those straight-up deals like my mother’s poppy seed cake. I mean, there is some lemon zest in here, but it’s not like a another dessert that had caught my eye and that I ended up casting aside for that reason. I loved this torte! Note that this is the kind of dish you have to make a day ahead, or at least start early in the morning. I would also consider omitting the cream in the filling to make it more solid. 

For the crust 
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 
¼ cup sugar 
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest 
¼ tsp. salt 
1 stick cold lactose-free butter, cut into ½-inch pieces 
1 large egg yolk 
2 Tbsp. ice water 

For the filling 
½ cup sugar 
4 large egg yolks 
3 Tbsp. cornstarch 
1 pinch of salt 
1 ½ cups lactose-free whole milk 
2 Tbsp. lactose-free butter 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
½ cup cold lactose-free cream (see note above) 
1 Tbsp. poppy seeds 

For the crust 
Pulse the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. Add the egg yolk and ice water; pulse until the dough begins to come together. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a disk. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. 

Lightly coat a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray. Roll out the dough into a 10-inch round on a lightly floured surface. (If it gets too soft, return to the refrigerator until firm.) Ease the dough into the prepared pan and press into the bottom and up the sides, trimming any excess. Pierce the bottom all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 375 °F and set a rack in the lowest position. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet. Line the crust with foil, then fill with pie weights. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven; bake until the crust edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and weights and continue baking until the crust is golden all over, 15 to 20 more minutes (it was less in my case). Transfer to a rack and let cool completely. 

For the filling 
Meanwhile, whisk the sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl until combined. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat (do not boil). Gradually whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and cook, whisking until thick like pudding, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the butter and vanilla. Pour the filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (I skipped this step). Let cool to room temperature, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes. 

Whisk the cream with a mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whipped cream and poppy seeds into the cooled filling. Spoon into the prepared crust and smooth the top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Creamy Spinach Sweet Potato Noodles with Cashew Sauce

Here’s a quick recipe for lunch – or at least, I made it into a quick recipe. You see, my spiralizer is a small hand-held thing that is essentially a pencil sharpener for vegetables. And, you know, I was recovering from a carpal tunnel flare-up, so there was no way I was spiralizing things myself. I ended up getting spiralized butternut squash from the frozen section instead. 

You’ll end up with more sauce than you need, but I don’t recommend halving the recipe because then, you wouldn’t have enough for the blender to really be efficient. You could also add more toppings – the original recipe suggests bacon or caramelized onions, both of which sound great to me! 

1 cup cashews 
¾ cup water (plus more for soaking) 
½ tsp. salt 
1 clove garlic 
1 Tbsp. oil 
4 large sweet potatoes, spiralized (see note above) 
2 cups baby spinach 
1 handful of fresh basil leaves, chives, or other herbs 
salt and pepper, to taste 
olive oil, for drizzling (optional) 

Put the cashews in a bowl and cover them with water; soak for 2 hours or so (I soaked them overnight). 

Drain and rinse thoroughly. Place in a high-powered blender with the ¾ cup water, salt, and garlic. Purée until very smooth. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes; toss in the pan for 6-7 minutes with tongs until tender-crisp. Remove from heat and toss in the spinach – it should wilt pretty quickly. 

Add half of the herbs and half of the sauce to the pan and toss to combine. (Add water if the mixture is too sticky.) Season generously with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and top with the remaining fresh herbs.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Muffins framboises, betterave et chocolat


J’ai fait des pancakes protéinés au chocolat il n’y a pas longtemps, en adaptant cette recette (avec de la poudre de superaliment au chocolat). J’ai trouvé ça correct, sans plus, mais le Petit Prince a tellement aimé que je vous mets quand même le lien, avec une photo médiocre. 

Tant qu’à manger des légumes et du chocolat au petit déjeuner, personnellement, je vous recommande plutôt la recette ci-dessous, tirée du Coup de Pouce d’avril 2023! Pour la betterave, j’ai utilisé des betteraves en conserve; je les ai réduites en purée et j’ai congelé l’excédent. Dans la recette ci-dessous, j’ai ajouté des poids et légèrement modifié quelques quantités. J’ai également réduit toutes les framboises en purée parce que je sais que mes enfants n’apprécient pas les fruits entiers dans leurs muffins; faites comme vous voulez pour les vôtres. 

1 ¼ tasse framboises fraîches ou surgelées décongelées 
½ tasse betterave cuite, coupée en gros morceaux 
¾ tasse sucre 
½ tasse yogourt grec nature sans lactose 
½ tasse huile végétale 
3 œufs, battus légèrement 
1 ¼ tasse (150 g) farine de blé blond 
¾ tasse (75 g) poudre de cacao tamisée 
2 c. à thé poudre à pâte 
1 pincée de sel 
½ tasse pépites de chocolat blanc 

Préchauffer le four à 350 °F. Tapisser 12 moules à muffins de moules en papier ou les graisser légèrement (moi, j’ai obtenu 14 muffins). 

Au robot culinaire ou au mélangeur, réduire ¾ tasse de framboises (voir plus haut) et la betterave en purée lisse. Dans un bol, mélanger la préparation avec le sucre. Incorporer le yogourt, l’huile et les œufs jusqu’à ce que la préparation soit homogène. Réserver. 

Dans un grand bol, mélanger la farine, le cacao, la poudre à pâte et le sel. Ajouter les ingrédients liquides réservés et mélanger à l’aide d’une spatule (j’ai pris une cuillère en bois) en soulevant délicatement la pâte jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit homogène, sans plus. Incorporer les pépites de chocolat et le reste des framboises. 

Répartir la pâte dans les moules à muffins (j’en avais 14 en tout). Cuire au four 25 minutes (23 minutes dans mon cas) ou jusqu’à ce qu’un cure-dents piqué au centre des muffins en ressorte propre. Laisser refroidir sur une grille 5 minutes, puis retirer les muffins des moules et laisser refroidir complètement sur la grille.

Monday, May 22, 2023

Passover Sweet Potato Gnocchi

This recipe was shared by my friend Jen. It is perfect to use up leftover matzo meal from Passover! I have given up on shaping gnocchi, but rest assured that these were delicious nonetheless, and that’s the important thing. The brown butter sauce would be great with sage as well, though I didn’t use any in this recipe because my kids don’t really like it. The recipe below makes 4 small servings. 

1 cup mashed sweet potato (hot or cold) 
¼ cup lactose-free ricotta 
½ cup matzo meal 
¼ cup potato starch (I used corn starch) 
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt 
¼ cup unsalted butter 
10 fresh sage leaves (I feel like this would be too many) 

Mash together the sweet potato, ricotta, matzo meal, potato starch, and salt. When the dough is well mixed, break it into four even pieces. Roll each and cut about a 10-inch roll and cut into small pieces, about 15 per piece of dough. Using a fork, roll the bits of dough to flatten them slightly and make indentations. Boil in salted water just until they rise to the surface. 

In a large saucepan, preferably non-stick, melt the butter and add the sage leaves, after a few minutes add the gnocchi and cook until the sage leaves are crisp and the gnocchi is slightly crisp on the outside.

Spiced Potato Tea Cake


This recipe is from the December 2019 issue of Eating Well. It was absolutely delicious! 

1 medium russet potato (about 12 oz), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces 
1 cup (120 g) cake flour (I used 2 Tbsp. corn starch and topped it up with all-purpose flour) 
1 cup (120 g) whole wheat pastry flour (I used while whole wheat flour) 
1 tsp. baking powder 
¾ tsp. salt 
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
¾ cup granulated sugar 
4 Tbsp. (½ stick) lactose-free butter, melted 
¼ cup grapeseed oil (or other neutral vegetable oil) 
4 large eggs 
2 Tbsp. spiced dark rum 
2 ½ Tbsp. brown sugar 
½ tsp. ground cardamom 
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/8 tsp. ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease a 9”x5” loaf pan and dust it with flour, tapping out any extra. 

Place potato in a medium saucepan, cover with 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Drain and return the potato to the pot to dry for 1 minute. Mash with a potato masher until mostly smooth. Measure out 1 packed cup (reserve any remaining potato for another use). Let cool for 5 minutes. 

Sift cake flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg into a large bowl. 

Pulse the potato and granulated sugar in a food processor just until smooth. Add butter, oil, eggs, and rum; process until smooth. Add the flour mixture and pulse until thoroughly mixed. 

Combine brown sugar, cardamom, cinnamon, and pepper in a small bowl. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the brown sugar mixture. Top with the remaining batter. Tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 °F. 

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes more. 

Run a knife along the edges of the cake. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto the rack to cool completely, about 1 ½ hours.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The hiatus hat

My hobby has caught up to me: I love to knit, and as I typed this, I accidentally typed “I live to knit” at first, and that’s pretty telling. I started about 18 years ago, and after doing it almost daily for over ten years, I’ve got carpal tunnel syndrome. Time using a computer mouse, working on the backend of my business or just doing things for fun, made things worse. 

Let me back up a bit to recap what happened in the previous months. There are small projects I knit, such as another Baby Fair Isle Cardigan with two skeins of Plymouth Yarn Dreambaby DK Yarn in Grey and some pink yarns and buttons from my stash. 

After that, I used a skein of yarn gifted to me by my mother-in-law. She lives in British Columbia, and there’s a local-to-her business called Wild West Dye that makes naturally dyed yarns. She gifted me 100 grams of bulky weight yarn in Firestar, which is a red colorway that I really loved. This yarn is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. It was a joy to work with! It rekindled something in me, because it had been over 10 years since I had worked with bulky yarn – the one with which I learned the craft in the first place. 

I looked up patterns to use up that skein and decided to make the Red Herring Reversible Beanie, coincidentally created by someone local-to-me. I actually had to buy 15 mm circular needles and 9 mm circular needles for this because I didn’t own any that were big enough – I did have a pair of 9 mm, but they were straight needles and therefore not appropriate. After knitting my swatch, I adjusted for gauge (buying more and more needles wasn’t an option), and I love the result! It’s a beautiful herringbone on one side, and ridges on the other, so the hat can be worn either way. 

The only downside to that yarn is that it’s losing some fuzz and I’m afraid it’ll felt, but oh well, so be it. Even though it’s a one-ply yarn, it didn’t break when I was frogging and working it up again, so there’s that.

 As I was looking for hat patterns, though, I had come across a photo of the Everyday Hygge Hat insuch a beautiful colorway that I just had to buy both the pattern and a skein of Malabrigo Noventa Yarn in Anniversario. (I also bought yarn for a third hat, which I will reveal later. The fact that I live in a climate where I only rarely need a hat is but a small detail and I won’t let it stop me.) And I bought some 8 mm circular needles – I was happy to try the SmartStix model I’d been hearing about for so long! 

I started knitting this hat and, after two days (just when I had reached the end of the ribbing pattern), my right wrist gave me some sharp pains. So I took a hiatus from knitting to rest my wrist, even though I still had to spend a day making a panda cake. My wrist got so much worse overnight that I had to make my way to urgent care on the weekend, where I was given a splint and a prescription for painkillers. (I wasn’t even able to fill the latter because I had asked for a prescription for a liquid version, but it turned out that my insurance only covered the pill as the difference in price was exponential. It took a while for a doctor to change the prescription to the pill after I had given my assent, but even then they made a mistake and gave me 10 doses instead of the 100 originally prescribed, so I’ve been hoarding those pills for the next time.) A hand therapist gave me the all-clear to resume normal activities, but did not recommend any exercises or modification of knitting technique, so I guess I’ll be looking for another physical therapist at some point. It turns out that the symptoms I’d been bringing up with my PCP for the past two years, which she had brushed off, were in fact early symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. 

Anyway, knitting at my normal speed and without any frogging, this would have taken me three evenings. In addition to the carpal tunnel break, I also took some time to get the end right – I originally had knit 17 rows after the tip of the front-side pattern before decreasing, and that didn’t leave me with quite enough yarn. So I frogged it and knit 15 rows, which left me with a bit too much yarn, and I frogged again and knit 16 rows before decreasing, which was just right. 

Finally, since the Engineer’s youngest cousin just had a baby named Zelda, I had time to knit a Multiflora cardigan. The mom-to-be said she gravitated toward greens and purples rather than pinks, so I found a few options I liked. The Fox helped me with the final color choice and we settled on Madelinetosh Pashmina Yarn in Lost In Trees. (The photo that shows the colorway truest to life is the first.)

It's a bottom-up cardigan, made in size 9mo. I didn’t have enough yarn to make the matching hat, but at least I didn’t run out while making the cardigan! If I had to do it over again, I would knit the sleeves first, because that would be fewer ends to weave in – you would just graft them on when you got to the arm holes, instead of having to break the yarn at that point to knit sleeves separately. I also found that the buttonholes were a bit too loose for my liking, even though they are only one stitch wide (but the bigger button were too big for the button band, so there’s a chance this cardigan will just stay open). Still, I really loved the delicate floral pattern!

Spaghettis crémeux aux épinards et au citron


Cette recette est tirée du numéro d’avril 2023 de Coup de Pouce. C’était à se rouler par terre tellement c’était bon! Les quantités ci-dessous donnent 4 bonnes portions. 

12 oz spaghettis ou autres pâtes longues (j’avais des spaghettis de blé entier) 
1 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive 
½ oignon haché finement 
2 gousses d’ail hachées finement 
¼ tasse de vin blanc sec (je ne l’ai pas utilisé – j’ai pris du bouillon de légumes) 
1 paquet de jeunes épinards (142 g) 
1/3 tasse de feuilles de basilic frais tassées (et quelques-unes pour décorer) 
1 citron (le zeste râpé et le jus) 
1 tasse de préparation crémeuse de soya ou de crème sans lactose 
fromage végétalien ou parmesan (facultatif) 
sel et poivre 

Dans une grande casserole d’eau bouillante salée, cuire les pâtes de 8 à 10 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’elles soient al dente. Réserver ½ tasse de l’eau de cuisson et égoutter les pâtes. 

Entre-temps, dans un grand poêlon, chauffer l’huile à feu moyen. Ajouter l’oignon et l’ail et cuire 5 minutes en brassant. Ajouter le vin et poursuivre la cuisson 2 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’il se soit évaporé. Ajouter les épinards, en plusieurs fois, et cuire, en brassant, 2 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’ils aient ramolli. Saler et poivrer. Au mélangeur, réduire en purée lisse la préparation aux épinards, le basilic, le zeste et le jus de citron et la préparation crémeuse de soya. Rectifier l’assaisonnement si désiré. 

Verser la sauce dans le poêlon. Ajouter les spaghettis et mélanger, en ajoutant suffisamment de l’eau de cuisson réservée pour bien enrober les pâtes. Réchauffer 1 minute. 

Au moment de servir, parsemer de fromage et de feuilles de basilic, si désiré.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Chocolate Beet Molten Cakes


I tried two recipes for molten chocolate cakes. One was Paleo and what I have to say about it is that it didn’t unmold as promised, it was very flat, and it wasn’t great. Then there was this recipe for chocolate beet molten cakes, taken from Aran Goyoaga’s Small Plates and Sweet Treats. Not only are these delicious, they are also nutritious thanks to the beet purée and almond butter. I loved these! (And absolutely nobody complained about the beets.) 

The original recipe says that you can omit the beet purée and simply use butter instead of the almond butter if you want, but I like both these ingredients in here! Note that you can take the easy way out and purée canned beets, freezing the excess for another recipe or a second batch. 

1 medium-size red beet (leaves and stem removed) 
6 oz. (170 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped 
¼ cup (60 g) smooth almond butter 
2 eggs 
2 egg yolks 
1/3 cup (50 g) dark muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar) 
2 Tbsp. superfine brown rice flour 
¼ tsp. fleur de sel 

Fill a small pot with water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the beet and cook until tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Insert a knife in the center to see if it is cooked all the way through. Drain the water and let the beet cool enough to handle. Peel the beet and cut it into chunks. Purée it to a smooth paste in a food processor or blender. Measure out ¼ cup (60 g) pf the purée and set aside for the recipe; the rest can be refrigerated or frozen and reserved for another use. 

Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Grease 4 (4-ounce) ramekins; place them on a baking sheet and set aside. 

In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and almond butter. Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and let the chocolate melt slowly over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally to ensure that the chocolate doesn’t burn on the bottom. Transfer the bowl to a rack and let cool slightly. 

Meanwhile, combine the eggs, egg yolks, and muscovado sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high speed for 5 minutes or until thick and pale (don’t skip this step, it’s worth it!). Add the chocolate mixture, beet purée, superfine brown rice flour, and fleur de sel. Whip over medium speed until it comes together into a smooth batter. Make sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. 

Divide the batter among prepared ramekins. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the edges are set but the center is still soft. Serve warm.