Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Apple and Celery Salad with Walnuts and Mustard Vinaigrette

Okay, so it would appear that I’m going through a phase where I like apple-nut salads with honey dressing. You’ll have to excuse me if this gets a little repetitive. The novelty of this Epicurious recipe, though (at least for me), is that it uses an entire bunch of celery, leaves and all. Most recipes call for one or two sticks, then you’re stuck with the rest in your crisper drawer. But not here! The whole thing gets turned into a salad. And a good one, too: I thought the celery might be overwhelming, but it actually mixes in quite well with the nuts and apples. I recommend you assemble this salad only before serving, as always. This makes about 4 servings if it is the main course.

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
2/3 cup finishing quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch celery with leaves
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, cored; each quarter cut into 2 wedges, then thinly sliced crosswise into triangle shapes
¾ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in oil. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper, to taste.

Trim celery leaves and chop enough to measure 1 cup. Thinly slice stalks on deep diagonal.

Combine celery, celery leaves, apples, and walnuts in large bowl. Add vinaigrette and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkles' Strawberry Cupcakes

Sprinkles is generally acknowledged to be the first cupcake bakery, the one that started it all (I’ve never been to any of their locations, but judging by their website, they do have beautiful and delicious-looking cupcakes!). I found their recipe for strawberry cupcakes on the Martha Stewart website and decided to make it. I used frozen strawberries, and a 1-lb bag was plenty. These cupcakes were fantastic: not too sweet, very fruity and quite pretty. I’ll have to start using a piping bag for the frosting at some point, but that’s just a detail. The lactose-free frosting was great, too.

For the cupcakes
2/3 cup whole fresh strawberries (or frozen, thawed)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup whole lactose-free milk, room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (or cold margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature

For the frosting
½ cup whole frozen strawberries, thawed
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold (or cold margarine)
1 pinch of salt
3 ½ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

For the cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners; set aside.

Place strawberries in a small food processor; process until puréed. You should have about 1/3 cup of purée (add a few more strawberries if necessary or save any extra purée for frosting); set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together milk, vanilla, and strawberry purée; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until well combined and fluffy. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and slowly add egg and egg whites until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the milk mixture; mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake until tops are just dry to the touch, 22 to 25 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely in tin before frosting.

For the frosting
Place strawberries in the bowl of a small food processor; process until puréed. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed and slowly add confectioners' sugar; beat until well combined. Add vanilla and 3 Tbsp strawberry purée (save any remaining strawberry purée for another use); mix until just blended. Do not overmix or frosting will incorporate too much air. Frosting consistency should be dense and creamy, like ice cream.

Lactose-Free Marzipan Ice Cream

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while might remember my almond sorbet, which I thought was good, but a little too grainy and watery for my taste. Well, I’ve found what I wanted: it’s basically almond ice cream, which I’ve adapted to be lactose-free and to not leave me with opened, mostly used packages of ingredients. It’s very rich and creamy, and it has the consistency I wanted. The recipe is originally from the stunning blog Cannelle et Vanille.

400 ml (1 can) coconut milk
¾ cup whole lactose-free milk (reduced fat is fine too)
½ tsp salt
198 g (1 tube) marzipan, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp almond extract

Place the coconut milk, whole milk and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil.

In the meantime, place the cubed marzipan in the food processor. When the milk mixture comes to a boil, remove about ½ cup of liquid approximately and add it to the marzipan while the food processor is running. This will break up the marzipan and turn it into a creamy paste.

Add the marzipan mixture to the saucepan with the milk and return to a simmer.

In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a bowl. Temper in the marzipan mixture while whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Immediately strain the custard through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Add the almond extract.

Cool the ice cream base over an ice bath and then refrigerate for about 4 hours. Churn in ice cream machine and freeze. (It may need a few minutes at room temperature to soften before it is served.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wheat Berry Salad with (Blood) Oranges, Feta and Red Onion Vinaigrette

Another whole grain salad recipe courtesy of The Kitchn. While it was good, the problem is that there is way too much vinaigrette for this recipe, and like the poster said, there might be a little something missing. The parsley doesn’t quite make up for it. I don’t know if basil would do the trick, or perhaps avocado (again). Since I have trouble finding blood oranges, I decided to just make this recipe now with regular oranges. Maybe when the blood oranges are in season, I’ll try my luck again. I do like having whole grains like this, though, and this makes for a healthy dinner.

For the vinaigrette
1 medium red onion, sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, minced
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves (from about 3 sprigs)
½ cup plus 2 tsp olive oil
¼ cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tsp sugar
½ to 1 tsp salt

Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and thyme and cook another 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the onion mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the vinegars, ½ cup of the olive oil, sugar, salt, and a few grinds of fresh pepper. Blend until smooth and set aside.

For the salad
½ cup soft wheat berries
2 (blood) oranges, sectioned
3 ounces feta cheese, cut into chunks (or lactose-free equivalent)
handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a medium sauce pan. Add a sprinkle of salt and the wheat berries. Cook uncovered until tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain.

In a medium bowl, combine the wheat berries with 3 Tbsp of the vinaigrette. Stir to combine. Add the orange sections, feta, and parsley. Toss and serve.

Warm French Lentil Salad with Smoked Sausage

I found this recipe on Pork, Knife & Spoon, which is Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef’s other blog. Mine didn’t turn out nearly as pretty as the picture they posted, but it was still very good, and not too complicated. Next time, though, I might leave the onion and carrot in the final product, because it could use a little color. This made a little over 4 servings and was great warm and straight from the fridge for lunch the next day.

1 ½ cups (10 oz) French lentils (also known as du Puy lentils)
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed
¼ tsp black peppercorns, whole
1 small onion, peeled
1 small carrot, peeled and split lengthwise
8 oz. smoked sausage (kielbasa works)
1 cup dry white wine
2 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar, more as needed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
kosher salt
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp walnut oil (didn’t have this on hand, so I used olive oil)
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup scallions, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper

Pick over and rinse lentils.

Stuff the thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns in a pouch of cheesecloth or some little spice bag. Place lentils in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan with the sachet of seasonings, the onion, and carrot. Fill with cold water until the lentils are covered by about two inches of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer uncovered for about 30-40 minutes. Add more water as needed.

Place the sausage in a pan and cover with wine and enough water by about ½ inch and simmer it on low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 ½ tTbsp of the vinegar with the mustard and a dash of salt. Then pour the olive oil and walnut oil (I just had olive oil) in a slow and steady stream, whisking to incorporate into the vinegar and mustard. Season to taste with salt. Drain the lentils and discard the pouch, carrot, and onion (or keep the latter two). Place the lentils in a large bowl and toss with a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar.
Darin the sausage and slice it into ¼-inch thick pieces. Add the sausage and vinaigrette to the lentils, tossing to coat. Stir in the parsley and scallions, then season to taste with black pepper, salt, and vinegar.

Serve warm.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pear Bread

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I’ve been a bit busy. Today, my mother-in-law is flying in, and she’ll be our first houseguest. We’ll be having a real Thanksgiving dinner Thursday, so there will definitely be a post about that! In the meantime, here’s a pear bread recipe that’s become a household favourite. I got the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. It’s a quick bread, not unlike banana bread, but it should rightly be called a cake. The Engineer called it a “delightful, fluffy little bread with some notes of awesomeness” – high praise indeed! The pear gets you when you’re not expecting it, and it really comes through in its graininess and subtle taste. It’s great for fall, and though I first had it for dessert, it’s also wonderful for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup butter, softened, or margarine or vegetable oil
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups sugar
3 or 4 pears firm, ripe pears, depending on size (you’ll need 2 grated cups total, but I don’t recommend you grate them until you are about to use them, so they don’t brown)
2 tsp vanilla extract

Heat your oven to 350 °F and lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan or two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.

Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl, and stir with a fork to mix everything well.

Peel and core pears, then grate them. You’ll want two grated cups total; set them briefly aside. In a medium bowl, combine the butter , eggs, sugar, grated pear and vanilla, and stir to mix everything well. Scrape the pear mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until the flour disappears and the batter is evenly moistened.

Quickly scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the bread is handsomely browned and firm on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a plate or a wire rack to cool completely, top side up. Serve it as is, sprinkle it with confectioners’ sugar or drizzle it with a simple glaze (made from whisking 3 tablespoons buttermilk, a dash of vanilla and 2 cups of confectioners’ sugar together, for example).

I also served it with honey ice cream as well as with the glaze resulting from my failed attempt at a lactose-free frosting for hummingbird cake, but it was wonderful plain.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New shows worth watching

I wanted to mention two new shows that I’ve started watching this fall. The first is Sister Wives. I know what you’re thinking: it’s like a car accident and you can’t help but look, right? Well, not quite. While I admit that my reasons for watching that show at first were entirely voyeuristic, it’s actually made me think a lot. The Brown family members (one man, his four wives and their sixteen children) have said that they started doing this show in order to dispel common misconceptions and prejudices that the general public has towards polygamist families, and as far as I’m concerned, they’ve succeeded.

This family is nothing like the image I had of a polygamist family. They are not part of a sect and do not live isolated in their own community; they are modern people (with modern haircuts, modern clothes and a modern house with modern amenities), have monogamist friends and, for the most part, work outside the home and go to school just like anybody else. One of the teenage girls felt perfectly comfortable saying that this was not the lifestyle she wanted for herself, but that she loved all her family nonetheless. The women were legal adults when they chose to marry Kody, and each wife must not only be made aware of, but approve, the courtship of a new wife. This is basically the origin of the term “sister wife”: the wives have not only a bond with their husband, but with each other as well. There is a real affection between the wives, as well as between them and each other’s children. They form a big family, and this does have certain advantages: some of the wives can work outside the home while knowing that one wife, by choice, will be the homemaker and will be there when the children come home from school. And the first wife, who always wanted a big family but was only able to have one biological child, is thrilled that she has a big family anyway. Also, the husband must nurture his relationship with each partner and must love them equally (so there is no “favourite” wife and no hierarchy among them).

This is not to say that I actually approve of polygamy: I still think that the fact that a woman can’t have several husbands basically proves that the whole logic is flawed and unfair, and it is still inconceivable to me that a woman would willingly share her husband with others. That’s not what marriage means to me. But in the particular case of the Brown family, since they are all adults who made responsible and educated choices that work for them, I also don’t see anything majorly wrong with it.

The Brown family is facing legal problems due to the polygamy. Kody’s marriage to his first wife is legal and binding, but his three other marriages are actually spiritual unions, and therefore not reason to prosecute – unless the law is interpreted to mean that simply living under the same roof constitutes a union, in which case he and his wives could be facing jail time. And here’s the thing: before I watched this show, if someone had told me that a man and his four wives were facing legal issues due to polygamy, I would not have been sympathetic. The law is the law, right? But now, having seen what their life is like... I think that polygamy is not automatically punishable. I mean, if a wife is a minor, it’s wrong. If a wife is forced into the marriage, it’s wrong. If a wife is being controlled, dominated, denied education, isolated or abused in any way, it’s wrong. If a wife is unaware that her husband is courting someone else, it’s wrong. But none of these situations applies in the case of the Brown family. So in their case, even though it’s not a lifestyle I would want for myself, I don’t see how it’s wrong for them.

The second season will start next spring, but there will be a one-hour special this Sunday on TLC. I unfortunately won’t be watching, because that’s when The Walking Dead is on. This is a show – an actual series – about what happens after the world falls prey to an epidemic that turns people into zombies. There are some survivors, who must now fight to live as normally as possible, finding food and shelter, but also trying to keep the zombies away. It’s really well made, and even though I don’t like gruesome things, I’m quite enjoying this show (but good thing it’s only an hour long, because that’s about how much zombiness I can take at a time).

Sauté de porc

Dans son numéro de septembre 2010, Coup de Pouce a publié une recette de sauté de porc aux asperges. Ni l’Ingénieur ni moi n’aimons les asperges, mais la recette avait du potentiel. Je l’ai donc faite en utilisant plutôt des pois mange-tout. Le problème, c’est que la sauce n’a pas épaissi; j’ai rajouté de la fécule de maïs diluée, mais le temps que ça épaississe, les pois étaient trop cuits. Il faut donc les ajouter en fin de cuisson et augmenter la quantité de fécule de maïs, ce que j’ai modifié ci-dessous. Sinon, la recette elle-même n’est pas compliquée. Elle est bonne, même si le porc n’a pas le goût auquel on s’attendrait : ça a l’air d’une recette asiatique, mais la sauce goûte surtout le bouillon de poulet. J’ai servi ce plat avec du riz gomashio. Les quantités indiquées donnent 4 portions.

¼ tasse de jus d'orange
2 c. à soupe de sauce soja ou tamari réduite en sel
1 c. à soupe de miel liquide
1 c. à soupe d’eau
½ c. à soupe de gingembre frais, râpé
1 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs
½ c. à thé d’huile de sésame
½ lb à 1 lb (250 g à 500 g) de filets de porc
2 c. à soupe d’huile végétale
3 oignons verts coupés en morceaux de 1 ½ po (4 cm)
1 tasse de pois mange-tout, coupés en deux
1 tasse de champignons (shiitake ou autres), les pieds enlevés, coupés en tranches
½ tasse de bouillon de poulet réduit en sel
2 c. à thé de graines de sésame grillées (facultatif)

Dans un bol, à l'aide d'un fouet, mélanger le jus d'orange, la sauce soja, le miel, l'eau, le gingembre, la fécule de maïs et l'huile de sésame. Réserver.

À l'aide d'un couteau bien aiguisé, couper les filets de porc en deux sur la longueur, puis en cubes de ½ po (1 cm) d'épaisseur. Dans un wok, chauffer 1 c. à soupe (15 ml) de l'huile végétale à feu moyen-vif. Ajouter les oignons verts et cuire, en brassant, pendant 30 secondes ou jusqu'à ce qu'ils dégagent leur arôme. Ajouter le porc en deux fois et cuire, en brassant, de 3 à 5 minutes ou jusqu'à ce qu'il soit doré et presque cuit. Réserver au chaud.

Dans le wok, chauffer le reste de l'huile végétale à feu moyen-vif. Ajouter les champignons et cuire, en brassant, pendant 1 minute. Ajouter le bouillon de poulet et cuire, en brassant, de 1 à 2 minutes.

Remettre la préparation de porc réservée dans le wok. Verser la sauce réservée, ajouter les pois mange-tout et cuire de 1 à 2 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que la sauce ait épaissi, en remuant de façon à bien enrober les ingrédients. Parsemer des graines de sésame, si désiré.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Muffins au chocolat d'Alton Brown

Une recette en français, pour une fois (le français s’espace de plus en plus sur ce blogue, désolée!). Je tiens cette recette de mon amie Jen, qui l’a elle-même trouvée dans le livre I’m Just Here for More Food d’Alton Brown. C’est du chocolat, oui, mais il s’agit vraiment de muffins et non de petits gâteaux, alors c’est tout à fait approprié pour le petit déjeuner. Ils sont délicieux! Cette recette en fait environ une douzaine, mais j’en ai eu assez pour me faire deux petits ramequins en plus.

2 tasses de farine tout usage
¾ tasse de cacao
1 c. à soupe de poudre à pâte
½ c. à thé de bicarbonate de soude
½ c. à thé de sel

1 ¼ tasse de sucre
½ tasse de margarine, fondue et refroidie légèrement
2 œufs
1 tasse de babeurre (lait sans lactose additionné de jus de citron)
2 c. à thé de vanille

1 tasse de pépites de chocolat

Préchauffer le four à 375 °F. Mettre des papiers dans un moule à muffins (ou le graisser).

Tamiser ensemble les ingrédients secs dans un grand bol.

Mélanger les ingrédients humides.

Ajouter les ingrédients humides aux ingrédients secs et mélanger jusqu’à ce qu’ils soient juste incorporés.

Ajouter les pépites de chocolat. Mettre la pâte dans les moules.

Faire cuire environ 20 minutes, ou jusqu’à ce qu’un cure-dent inséré au centre d’un muffin en ressorte propre. Retirer du four et laisser refroidir quelques minutes. Démouler et laisser refroidir complètement.