Monday, December 31, 2012

Nutmeg and Black Pepper Popovers

Hang on to your hats, people, because this is a real popover recipe. The last ones were a bit spongy, and not really typical popovers (though they were good). These nutmeg and black pepper popovers, however, were a hit! They have the hole-y, egg-y and moist texture of real popovers, without too much butter, and right in a muffin pan! The recipe is from Bon Appétit. They are best on the day they are made, but the batter keeps in the fridge for a day or so. The recipe was supposed to make 12 popovers; I baked six the first night, but had enough batter left over for 11 the following night; they are good for brunch or snacks, too, if you have extra. I served mine with ginger chicken soup.

2 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1 cup white flour + 1 cup white whole wheat flour)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
3 large eggs
2 ½ cups lactose-free whole milk
3 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter (I used 2 Tbsp. butter + 1 Tbsp. safflower oil)

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, parsley, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until well blended. Sift in the flour mixture and gently whisk, then add the melted butter; do not overmix. (At this point, the batter can be stored in the fridge for a day; simply whisk it again before use.)

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Grease 12 standard muffin tins (it might be more; see above). Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling cups ¾-full and dividing equally. Bake popovers until puffed, golden brown and crispy around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Using a knife or an offset spatula, remove popovers from pan. Serve immediately.

Ginger Chicken Soup

This recipe was originally called Cleansing Ginger Chicken Soup on Bon Appétit. It might be just the thing you need after the indulgences of the holidays, and you could probably adapt it to use leftover turkey (though you would have to add chicken broth). When I made it, I thought it was perfect and just what I needed. Be aware that it’s a very broth-y soup. I reduced the amount of water by half and used 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts along with 5 small thighs with bone and skin. Don’t forget to salt the soup, it definitely needs it. This makes about 8 servings, which I had with popovers on the side.

1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 oz. unpeeled scrubbed ginger, cut into ½”-thick slices
2 garlic cloves, crushed
10 whole black peppercorns
a 3-lb. whole organic chicken, cut into 7 pieces (2 breasts, 2 legs with thighs attached, 2 wings, 1 back)
kosher salt
cilantro leaves (optional)

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large heavy pot. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Add 6 quarts water (I only used 3 quarts, which add up to 12 cups, and thought it was plenty); bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to low; simmer until chicken breasts are just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate; let cool, then cover and chill. Continue to simmer soup, uncovered, until broth is fully flavored, about 2 ½ hours longer.

Remove chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat, including the breasts; discard skin and bones. Place a fine-mesh sieve over another large pot; strain broth, discarding solids in strainer (you should have about 8 cups broth). Season with salt. Return chicken pieces to soup to rewarm, about 5 minutes. Garnish soup with cilantro leaves, if desired.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Batch of links

- Here’s some help to fix food flubs; it’s really about Thanksgiving food, but I feel like we all make basically the same thing again at Christmas, so it’s still relevant. I particularly liked the link because it could have saved us a lot of grief at one particular MeatFest… The Legal Chef hadn’t thawed the turkey early enough, and it was still a bit frozen. This led to an epic fit during which he literally broke the turkey’s neck, declared it ruined and ordered pizza instead. It turns out that a turkey really can be cooked even if it’s still frozen! (Also, I feel less badly about occasionally eating a piece of crispy chicken skin, considering it only has 3 g of saturated fat per pound of meat.)

- Ever paid attention to Christmas song lyrics? There’s one in particular that sounded quite suggestive to me, until I looked it up. In Winter Wonderland, there are the following lyrics: “He’ll say, ‘Are you married?’ / We’ll say, ‘No man, but you can do the job / While you’re in town”. This always sounded to me like they were offering a stranger to play house for a while! It turns out that they are pretending that the snowman they built is a parson, a man who travels from town to town and can perform wedding ceremonies. So it’s really nothing weird. Something that IS weird, though, is Baby, It’s Cold Outside, which basically glorifies date rape. (The link is to 5 offensive Christmas songs that we should stop singing.) The woman in the song keeps saying she wants to leave, but the man keeps coming up with excuses as to why she should stay (it’s cold outside, she’d hurt his pride, etc.). He eventually tells her to go put on some records while he makes her a drink, and the implication is that he’s drugged her (‘Say, what’s in this drink?”). I noticed this for the first time when listening to She & Him’s Christmas album (available for free online on the Tiffany website; you can see the video here. They turned it around in such a way that it’s the woman who’s coming on to the man in an appropriate manner. I am fully aware of the double standard, and while I have to admit it does make things better, I still think I won’t be able to enjoy that song anymore.

- I did it for Hurricane Sandy, not here it is for Sandy Hook: a list of all the victims, with their name and picture. Here’s to hoping for better laws about access to firearms and mental health care.

- How a gun-loving West Texas girl learned to fear assault weapons: a wonderful essay.

- Today marks the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. I remember the shock I got after reading some of their original work after seeing the Disney versions… I tend to prefer the Grimms’ versions, though. And I just happened to watch The Brothers Grimm earlier this week, because I’d never gotten around to seeing it. The tales are better than the movie.

- Great profile on Jerry Seinfeld (really long, but worth it if you enjoy him).

- Portraits of people who look alike but aren’t related at all, by photographer François Brunelle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

The Engineer and I recently attended a holiday potluck thrown by his department. As we’ve been doing these past few years, we brought desserts. The Engineer made some lemon aniseed biscotti, and I made two kinds of cupcakes. The first were velvety beet cupcakes with raspberry icing. Since I was making them for others, I even made a real cream cheese frosting instead of my vegan frosting. Verdict: I shouldn’t have. This frosting didn’t work out too well, and I would have preferred the vegan version. Plus, the cupcakes were a bit dry, and I have better chocolate-beet dessert recipes, so I won’t be keeping this one.

I also made these vanilla bean cupcakes. The recipe itself is a little imprecise, as it says the yield is between 16 and 24 cupcakes, which is a pretty big difference! I only got 14. I also think they should be baked at 350 °F instead of 325 °F, so I’ll write that down below. That being said, they were really good! The frosting was also fantastic and reminded me a bit of my favorite cooked frosting. I did not deviate from the recipe, so it did have lactose, but I’m now thinking it might work with cold margarine instead of softened butter… I’ll definitely try it that way next time.

For the cupcakes
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter at room temperature or cold margarine
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans, scraped)
½ cup buttermilk (lactose-free milk with a splash of vinegar or lemon juice)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line 14 to 16 muffins pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy, about 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Mix in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, then mix in the vanilla.

Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and combine. Add ½ of the buttermilk and combine. Continue in the same manner, with 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the rest of the buttermilk, and finally the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing after each addition until combined.

Spoon out batter into cupcake pan. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out with only moist crumbs. Remove the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting
(Note that this frosting needs a bit of advance planning, as it needs time to cool. You will have about 4 cups of frosting, plenty for this recipe or enough for a 9-inch two-layer cake. Leftover frosting can be refrigerated, covered, for a week; bring to room temperature before using and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. You can also chill it 30 minutes before piping it, if you wish.)

1 ½ cups granulated sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups lactose-free milk
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 2 vanilla beans, scraped)
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter at room temperature, cut into 24 pieces (I’d love to try cold Earth Balance margarine here!)

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Slowly whisk in the milk until the mixture is smooth. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a medium saucepan and pour the milk mixture through the strainer into the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and is thick enough that it starts to become difficult to easily whisk. This could take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes. It should bubble quite a bit at the end and thicken considerably.

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cool to room temperature. This is extremely important, as if it has even a hint of warmth, the frosting won’t beat up properly. You can refrigerate the mixture to speed up the process, but the frosting still needs to be brought back to room temperature before the next step; if it is too cold, the butter won’t absorb into the frosting like it should.

Once the frosting is completely cooled to room temperature, beat the mixture with the vanilla on low speed until it is well combined, about 30 seconds. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat the frosting until the butter has been incorporated fully, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and let the mixer work its magic for about 5 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy. Let sit at room temperature until it is a bit stiffer, about 1 hour. You can then spread it on the cupcakes, or chill it for 30 minutes before piping it on.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

These Chinese scallion pancakes (not to be confused with my Korean scallion pancakes) are perhaps more of a flatbread than a true pancake, but I’m not sure how else to call them. I remember eating them in China when I was little, but I don’t remember having them in Canada or the United States – or at least, they’re probably only served in the more authentic Chinese restaurants here. I used to love them, so I was really looking forward to eating them again.

So, in the I-made-the-mistake-so-you-don’t-have-to category, here’s the thing: once you shape the pancakes, cook them immediately. The recipe says you can put wax paper between them and keep them in the fridge, but that’s a lie. I was going to recommend oiling the paper, but you know what? It’s not enough. Just cook the whole stack right then and there, please! When I made them, they all stuck together, and I could only get two unstuck in decent enough shape to cook them. Sadly, the rest was a waste. But the ones I did eat were fabulous! I didn’t make a dipping sauce, but I ended up drizzling some sesame oil on them and sprinkling then with crushed sea salt and sesame seeds, and they were perfect. This recipe makes 8 pancakes, which are best served as an appetizer or a snack.

2 ½ cups white flour (I used 1 cup white whole wheat and 1 ½ cups all-purpose white flour)
1 cup warm water
canola or other neutral vegetable oil
kosher salt
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped

Mix flour with water until it forms a smooth dough. Knead by doubling the dough over and pressing it down repeatedly, until the dough is even smoother and very elastic. Coat this ball of dough lightly in oil and put it in a bowl also lightly oiled. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for about 30 minutes. (At this point, you can keep the dough in the fridge until you are ready to use it, as long as it is well oiled and covered.)

Cut the dough into 4 equal parts. Lightly oil the back of a large metal baking sheet (I didn’t oil the sheet and everything was fine).

Roll out one part of the dough on the back of the baking sheet. Roll until it is a thin rectangle of about 12x9 inches. Lightly brush the top of the dough with oil (I skipped this), then sprinkle it evenly with a quarter of the chopped scallions and a few pinches of kosher salt. Starting from the long end, roll the dough up tightly, creating one long snake of rolled-up dough. Cut the dough snake in two equal parts. Take each of these halves and coil into a round dough bundle, then roll it out again into a flat, smooth, round pancake.

Repeat with the remaining dough; you will have a total of 8 flat pancakes.

Heat a 10-inch heavy skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, and oil it with a drizzle of canola oil. When the oil shimmers, pick up the pancake dough and lay it gently in the pan. It should sizzle, but not burn. Cook for 2 minutes on one side. Flip the pancake over with a spatula and cook for an additional 2 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown. Repeat with the other pancakes.

Cut the pancakes into wedges with a pair of kitchen scissors or a knife, and serve immediately with soy sauce or another dipping sauce. (I used gomashio instead; see note above.)

Monday, December 17, 2012


L’été dernier, j’ai passé quelques jours dans les Cantons de l’Est, que j’ai trouvés magnifiques. Lors de mon séjour, j’ai visité une charmante boutique où j’ai vu un sac à main de la marque Ressac. Je ne l’ai pas acheté, parce qu’il était un peu cher et un peu trop gros pour mes besoins, mais il m’est resté en tête. J’ai fini par aller flâner sur le site, que j’ai beaucoup aimé, et je suis allée voir d’autres modèles de sacs à Montréal, chez Il était deux fois (un magasin génial où presque tous les objets sont réutilisés, ou « upcyclés »). Finalement, j’ai décidé que mon préféré était le modèle R14 (sur cette page-ci).

Les sacs à main de Ressac sont faits par une artisane de Sherbrooke, Anne Painchaud-Ouellet, qui réutilise des matériaux usagés (comme des chambres à air de vélo) pour en faire de nouveaux objets. Le nom « ressac » est donc particulièrement bien choisi, puisqu’il fait référence à la fois au retour d’une vague sur elle-même et aux sacs à main recyclés. L’apparence et la texture se rapprochent de celles du cuir, en fait; les sacs sont donc agréables au toucher et esthétiques, tout en étant durables et végétaliens (la combinaison des deux n’étant pas évidente).

Dès que j’ai reçu un chèque de paie cet automne, j’en ai profité pour me gâter en me commandant le R14! (On peut commander avec ce formulaire; la livraison aux États-Unis n’a pas été problématique.) On peut choisir la couleur complémentaire du sac; j’ai choisi rouge, puisque mon autre sac à main était rouge. Le sac comporte trois pochettes à l’intérieur, mais j’y aurais aimé aussi une petite poche avec fermeture éclair, pour un rangement discret. Quand même, il est très bien fait, et le tissu choisi pour l’intérieur s’harmonise bien avec l’extérieur. Il reste un peu grand pour mes besoins actuels, mais je le trouve plus confortable à porter que le sac en bandoulière que j’avais auparavant. Je suis donc bien contente de mon achat.

Pour ceux et celles qui sont à Montréal, Ressac est au Salon des Métiers d’Art jusqu’à samedi!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mini Banana-Maple Muffins

Ready for a fantastic breakfast recipe? Here we go: mini banana-maple muffins, from Bakerella via CakeSpy. They were easy to make, tender, moist, fluffy, warm… I’m in love! You can eat these plain, dip them in maple syrup, spoon a dollop of jam on them, it’s up to you! Put them on the menu ASAP, you won’t regret it.

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
2/3 cup buttermilk (lactose-free milk with a splash of vinegar)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup, plus more for dipping
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, melted
1 very ripe large banana, mashed

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 350 °F. Generously grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the buttermilk, egg, 2 Tbsp. of maple syrup, and butter until just combined. Add the wet to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Stir in the mashed banana until evenly distributed.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan. Bake until puffed and golden, 10-12 minutes. Let the muffins cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack, then unmold onto the rack. Serve while still warm, with extra syrup for dipping. You can thank me later.

Rosemary Chicken with Arugula and White Beans

I’ve been saving this Real Simple recipe since last spring. I guess I was saving it as a backup, because it’s an easy recipe that looked right up my alley, so I figured I’d use it when inspiration and energy were low. That time struck recently, and just as I thought, this hit the spot. It’s nothing really original, but I love these flavors. I adapted the cooking (in the oven instead of in the pan, which I now prefer for chicken breasts, especially if they’re not split) and mixed the dressing with just the beans, serving them with the arugula only when I was making the plates. That’s how I recommend this simple and delicious dish.

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 Tbsp. olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper
4 6-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 15.5-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
4 cups baby arugula (about 3 oz.)
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced (or a shallot)

In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together the vinegar, rosemary, garlic, 2 Tbsp. of the oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. (I mixed this in a bowl, then added it to the chicken in the dish.) Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mustard, 2 Tbsp. of the remaining oil, and ½ tsp. each salt and pepper. Add the beans and onion and toss to combine.

If cooking the chicken on the stovetop, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade (discard the marinade) and cook until cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Otherwise, preheat the oven to 350 °F and cook the chicken for 35 minutes, or until cooked just about all the way through, then broil for 10 minutes.

Serve the chicken with the arugula and bean mixture.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Batch of links - A Pinterest Christmas

This year, I made a bunch of the Christmas ornaments for our tree, using Pinterest as inspiration. The reason I made ornaments instead of just buying everything is three-fold: a) it was our first year with a tree, so we needed lot of ornaments all at once; b) buying everything would have been expensive; c) I didn’t want the tree to look all matchy-matchy, so making different types of ornaments helped give it that collected-over-the-years look (though I still have a lot of red). I’m not going to give any tutorials for this, but I figured I’d link to the sites with the tutorials, in case any of you need last-minute ornaments or crafts to keep the kids busy during vacation.

I made…
- a button wreath ornament, with inexpensive green buttons found in bulk on Etsy.
- a bottle cap snowman, with 6 caps instead of 3 to make sure the back looks nice, too; I love this one. I channeled my inner tween and made a friendship bracelet for a scarf.
- a twisted felt garland, using felt from the craft store ($6 in all), making 1.50”-wide strips with 2.75”-long slits spaced 0.75” apart.
- a flower pot reindeer ornament (I had the mini flower pot and was NEVER using it, so it made sense, though the cost of the other accessories adds up).
- some colorful painted balls, with a cheaper brand of acrylic paint. I made one red, two turquoise and two orange, to add some color to the tree. Please, use plastic instead of glass, much less breakable!
- some mirror ornaments, to reflect lights.
- two felt mittens with scraps I had lying around.
- two star ornaments (using the image as a rough guide only).
- some clay cookie-cutter decorations, with what seemed like a metric f*ck-ton of red food coloring I had bought in bulk on Amazon and hadn’t used in two years.
- a jingle bell garland with an i-cord knit from really cheap craft store yarn.
- an oversized yarn ball ornament, because I knit and I had cheap yarn left over from the garland. (I have no clue what to do with the rest, because Lord knows it’s too scratchy for garments!)
- a ruffled tree skirt, though I had to make some modifications. My machine doesn’t do ruffled edges or basting stitches, so I sewed a folded-over edge and sewed my strips more folded than ruffled. If you change the dimensions, you’ll actually have to use pi to calculate how much fabric you need! I got printed cotton that was between $3.99 and $7.99 a yard, and the fleece was $5.60 a yard.

The awesome personalized dog ornament is from Orvis; it was expensive, but worth every penny! We don’t have a size-appropriate tree topper, because the store was all out and I didn’t have the energy to make one anymore. We’ll make sure to get one for next year.

The pictures of the lighted tree were taken using the tutorials both here (where I first saw it) and here (where I feel the explanations are more detailed).

[Update, January 26th, 2024: I could have sworn this belonged here, and since I don’t know where else to put it… I had made these two gingerbread ornaments that, this year, I frankly saw as unintentionally scary. (I thought they were from this batch of ornaments, I guess I was wrong.) Anywhoo, I found <a href="">this tutorial</a> and used <a href="">this template</a> at 75% to upgrade them. I had the felt in my stash and reused the ribbons, beads, and buttons. This time, instead of a blanket stitch, I practiced my whipstitch. Etsy-worthy they are not, but they are definitely a step up!]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Batch of links

- Have you ever been travelling and wished for a home cooked meal? Do you ever want to host dinner parties with people from around the world? Enter Meal Sharing, an online community that allows you to do just that.

- Edith Windsor, an 83-year-old widow, is going to the Supreme Court to fight a law that requires the federal government to deny marital benefits to gay and lesbian couples living in states that allow such unions (more on her here). I hope she wins.

- I already spoke about how global warming is affecting food prices, corn in particular. Now the effects are being felt on wheat, which is a cool-weather crop. This would negatively affect traditional pasta production (you can make pasta with other grains, of course, but it’s not quite the same). Wheat, corn and rice are the three grains most consumed worldwide, and all three are affected negatively by current climate change.

- How to have the Happy Meal talk, assuming you don’t want your kids worshipping junk food as they grow up.

- TED Talk: Your brain on video games. I was pleasantly surprised by this; I’m sure the Engineer will say that he knew it all along (he’s playing Magic – The Gathering as I type this).

- Finally, I’ll leave you with two movie trailer, both for May 2013. There’s Star Trek 2, which looks just as fabulous as the last one; and there’s Man of Steel, which looks a million times better than the last one! I’m so excited that it seems like they finally got it right with this movie. Hopefully this will lead to a decent Justice League movie!

Liens de la semaine

- Le volet gourmand du festival Montréal en lumières laisse à désirer, selon Marie-Claude Lortie (et après avoir lu son article, je suis bien d’accord!).

- Un article intéressant dans la revue Les Diplômés de l’automne 2012 : La télévision qui se mange (cliquez, puis faites défiler vers le bas jusqu’à la page 8). Cela traite de toutes les émissions à thème culinaire qui sont en ondes actuellement (c’est vrai, ça doit être un record) et de la façon dont ça influence, ou pas, notre comportement.

- Gérard Depardieu met sur le marché son pied-à-terre parisien. J’ai vraiment aimé le diaporama!

- Selon la NASA, la distorsion temporelle serait possible!

- Saviez-vous qu’il y a un éléphant qui parle coréen? Je n’utilise pas de guillemets ici, car l’éléphant vocalise vraiment des mots coréens. Je trouve ça génial!

- Enfin, un petit film animé que j’ai bien aimé : Le Taxidermiste.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ça, c'est de la tarte!

Je voulais faire une grosse tarte aux pommes, en utilisant mon oiseau en céramique Le Creuset acheté à Austin. J’ai donc fait la super tarte aux pommes d’Alton Brown. J’admets tout de suite que je n’ai pas utilisé l’alcool de pomme. Je suis tannée d’acheter des bouteilles d’alcool, même petites, pour les utiliser une fois dans une recette et puis plus jamais ensuite (puisque l’Ingénieur et moi buvons très peu d’alcool, question de goût). À Montréal, on a déjà fini avec un bar super bien garni, que personne, même nos invités, n’utilisait. Alors bon, j’ai laissé tomber ici. Et ça aurait été toute une tarte, à en croire la recette : un mélange de pommes granny smith, braeburn, golden delicious et honey crisp, avec de la gelée de pomme, de la farine de tapioca, du jus de lime et des grains du paradis. Il faut presque une journée pour cette tarte-là! Pis finalement… bof. Elle n’est pas plus impressionnante que ça! Surtout que le dessus a brûlé bien avant que la tarte soit cuite, même si je l’avais placée sur la grille la plus basse du four. J’aime utiliser de la farine de tapioca au lieu de farine de blé pour absorber le liquide; j’aime l’idée d’un mélange de différentes variétés de pommes ainsi que l’ajout original de grains du paradis. Mais je crois que cette tarte ne mérite pas d’être refaite telle quelle.

Je me suis donc rabattue sur la tarte aux pommes, à l’érable, au cheddar et à la fleur de sel de Coup de Pouce. Le fromage se remarque un peu par son apparence, mais à peine par son goût. Il a fallu que je dise à l’Ingénieur de quel ingrédient il s’agissait, et ensuite que je lui explique que certaines personnes mangent leur tarte avec un morceau de cheddar fondu sur la pointe, plutôt qu’une boule de crème glacée. Le sirop d’érable et la fleur de sel vont à merveille dans la recette! Les pacanes se remarquent moins que je croyais, aussi, alors elles n’étaient pas réellement de trop, mais on pourrait les laisser tomber quand même si on préfère. Je dois avouer que la recette de croûte n’était vraiment pas impressionnante, alors je recommande plutôt la pâte brisée de Martha Stewart ou la pâte à tarte de l’Ingénieur (que j’ai publiée il y a trois ans pile aujourd’hui, tiens!). Pis bon, le plus drôle, c’est que j’ai oublié mon oiseau, vu que la recette ne le mentionnait pas (c’est culturel, l’oiseau en céramique?). En tout cas, cette tarte était vraiment bonne et, comme on dit par chez nous, bourrative. Celle-là, l’Ingénieur et moi la recommandons chaudement!

½ tasse de sucre
3 c. à soupe de farine
½ c. à thé de cannelle (facultatif)
6 tasses de pommes McIntosch pelées et coupées en quartiers (environ 8 pommes)
1 ½ tasse de cheddar fort sans lactose râpé (environ 6 oz./180 g.)
¼ tasse + 2 c. à soupe de sirop d'érable
½ tasse de pacanes grillées, hachées grossièrement (facultatif)
1 à 2 c. à soupe de lait sans lactose
½ c. à thé de fleur de sel

Préchauffer le four à 425 °F et placer la grille à la position la plus basse. Mettre une abaisse de pâte à tarte dans une assiette à tarte profonde de 9 pouces de diamètre. (Facultatif : y mettre un petit oiseau en céramique.) Réserver la deuxième abaisse.

Dans un grand bol, mélanger le sucre, la farine et la cannelle, si désiré. Ajouter les pommes, le cheddar, ¼ tasse du sirop d'érable et les pacanes et mélanger délicatement pour bien enrober les pommes.

Déposer la garniture aux pommes sur l'abaisse dans l’assiette en faisant un léger monticule au milieu. Recouvrir de la deuxième abaisser et faire deux ou trois entailles au centre pour permettre à la vapeur de s'échapper (sauf si vous avez mis un oiseau dedans). Sceller en pressant légèrement les deux abaisses. Badigeonner le dessus de lait.

Cuire dans la partie inférieure du four préchauffé à 425°F pendant 20 minutes. Réduire la température du four à 350°F et poursuivre la cuisson pendant 40 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que la tarte soit bien dorée et la garniture, bouillonnante (si la croûte dore trop, couvrir le pourtour de la tarte d'un cache-bordure ou de bandes de papier d'aluminium). Mettre la tarte sur une grille, la badigeonner du reste du sirop d'érable et la parsemer de fleur de sel. Laisser refroidir pendant 1 heure. Servir tiède. (Vous pouvez préparer la tarte à l'avance, la laisser refroidir complètement et la couvrir. Elle se conservera jusqu'au lendemain à la température ambiante ou jusqu'à 1 mois au congélateur, glissée dans un sac à congélation.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mushroom and Chipotle Tacos

This is a recipe that my friend Jen gave me, to use up some more of those chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I adapted it to what I had in the fridge, so I threw in some chopped red bell pepper and green onions in addition to the mushrooms, and I used extra-sharp cheddar, which I can digest (the original recipe called for mozzarella). I used only one chipotle pepper, but depending on how much heat you want, you could use two or three. The original recipe calls for 12 corn tortillas; I used wheat flour tortillas, which are often a little bigger (though they weren’t the plate-sized variety), and I ended up with 5 tortillas, though I might have been able to stretch it to 6 if I had tried. That being said, I really enjoyed them, and it’s nice to have another use for the chipotles! The Engineer did say that he wanted more “grit” in these tacos, like either ground beef or seitan, but I really didn’t feel like anything was missing. I served the tacos with a cucumber and pomegranate salad.

1 ½ tsp. EVOO
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
6-8 oz. mushrooms, stems discarded and sliced (shiitakes, oysters or any wild variety; I used button mushrooms)
1-3 canned chipotle chilies en adobo, seeded and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
optional: chopped bell pepper, green onions
12 corn tortillas, warmed (you may need fewer)
8 oz. extra-sharp cheddar, shredded (or use your favorite lactose-free cheese)
½ tsp. chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. epazote

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softening and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms (plus any optional add-ins) and stir constantly until they have softened and any juice they release has evaporated, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the sliced chilies, then taste and season with salt. Stir in the shredded cheese. Fill the tortillas with the mixture, sprinkle with thyme and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Note that if you have any leftovers, all tacos should be filled immediately, before the cheese cools.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Thanksgiving dinner

I’m finally getting around to posting about Thanksgiving! Better late than never, right? Since it was just the two of us this year, I made quails instead of a turkey. I found the quails in the frozen section, in a box of 4, so with all the sides, it gave us two meals with meat, then a few vegetarian meals. I have to say the quails were even smaller than I thought – I was convinced I’d had quail at a restaurant before, but my recollection of it was a slightly bigger bird. Now I’m not sure if what I had was a big quail or a small guinea fowl or what… But these were great, and like I said, we had plenty to eat. I followed the suggestion on the box and made a pomegranate-honey glaze (one part pomegranate juice to one part honey, though I was running out of honey and did a 2:1 ratio instead), and it was delicious.

As sides, we had griddled polenta with caramelized onions and goat cheese (found on Food 52 via my friend Jen), sweet potato casserole with coconut (from Real Simple), and cranberry-orange relish with mint (from Bon Appétit). Plus French fried onions, which are a once-a-year indulgence (I say that, but I think the last time I bought some was at VermonFest 2009!). First, about the polenta: it was a recipe that I had tried before, and it hadn’t worked out, because the polenta never set properly (so I had creamy polenta instead of polenta squares). At the time, I thought it was because I had used too small a dish to let it cool, and the increased thickness had prevented it from hardening. I was eager to get it right, so I decided to make it here as a side. Would you know that it almost failed again, even though I used a bigger dish? It turns out that the recipe called for cooking it too short a time: 5 minutes might be fine for some brands, but for others, it’s more like 30 minutes before polenta is ready. So I’ve made that modification in the recipe below, and this was a success. If you can’t find lactose-free goat cheese, you can absolutely omit it (I just love goat cheese). The recipe is below.

Next up, the sweet potato casserole with coconut. I never had sweet potatoes prepared a sweet way (with brown sugar and cinnamon and marshmallows and such) before moving here a few years ago, with the exception of sweet potato pies. To me, this way of preparing a sweet potato side dish is quintessentially American and specific to Thanksgiving, so I’ve been eager to make it. And while I enjoy the first few bites, I now realize that really, it’s the first thing I get sick of on the plate and in the leftovers. So while I like the concept in theory, I think I much prefer roasted sweet potatoes (with a little oil, salt and pepper, and herbs) to the sweetened ones. Next year, I’ll probably just stick to regular potatoes, in a mash or a gratin or something classic.

As for the cranberry-orange relish with mint, it was a gamble, but it paid off. My go-to cranberry sauce is this one, but every once in a while I try something else, just in case I’m missing out. I found out I wasn’t crazy about cranberry chutney, but I still took a chance on the relish, after realizing that the ingredients don’t include vinegar or dill. I halved the recipe, but I made a mistake when adding the sugar and added the full amount. It turns out that I prefer it that way, because it’s then closer to my sauce than to chutney (and the author of the recipe actually says that he had halved the sugar to begin with, so I guess I’m just taking this dish back to its roots). This cranberry relish had a fresh and complex taste that I really enjoyed, and a chunky texture that made it easy to scoop up on a fork. Below is my version of the halved recipe, which I’d say is enough for about 8 people.

Finally, for dessert, we had pumpkin pie. While I love pumpkin pie, I wish I could find one amazing recipe and juts stick to that one. This year, I made the one from Bon Appétit. It was good, but not great. In the interest of full disclosure, though, it should be sad that I inadvertently left a lump of spices all clumped up together (you can see it in the pictures: before the pie is cooked, it doesn’t show, but once cooked, the pie has a dark spot at 9 o’clock). The Engineer is the one who got that piece, but this was no gâteau des rois! He promptly spat it out. We laughed about it, but it made me realize that the pie should have tasted more like the spices, so perhaps it didn’t get a fair shot. (Note that I got 2 extra ramekins out of this, but that’s because I was cooking and baking so much that day that I bought the pie dough, and those premade shells are always small; if I had made my own and used my own pie dish, it would all have fit).

Griddled Polenta with Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
For the polenta
2 cups lactose-free whole milk
2 cups water
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup polenta
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

For the topping
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced in ¼” slices
2 oz. (or more) goat cheese, crumbled
honey, to drizzle

Bring the water, milk, and salt to a boil. Slowly whisk in the polenta. Turn heat to low, and continue whisking until polenta is smooth and creamy (depending on the brand, this could take anywhere between 5 minutes and 30 minutes; be sure to follow directions on the package). Spread the polenta in a 9x13 baking dish, and set aside to cool.

While the polenta is setting up, add the butter and olive oil to a heavy-bottomed skillet set to medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions and a sprinkle of kosher salt, and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, golden, and caramelized- about 20-25 minutes.

Pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil into another skillet, set over medium heat. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut out circles of the firm polenta, and place in the heated skillet (I just used a knife and cut out squares). Cook until slightly browned and crusty on one side, about 2 minutes, then flip and cook the other side another 2 minutes.

To assemble the polenta cakes, place on a plate, add caramelized onions to each cake, top each with about a teaspoon of crumbled goat cheese, and drizzle with honey. Enjoy!

Cranberry-Orange Relish with Mint
1 12-oz. bag fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries
1 or 2 tsp. orange zest, finely grated
2 navel oranges (take the zest from 1; blood oranges would be nice, too)
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
1 ½ tsp. fresh, peeled and minced ginger

Pulse the cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the orange zest and set aside.

Using a sharp paring knife, remove peel and white pith from oranges. Working over a medium bowl, cut between membranes to release orange segments. Coarsely chop segments and add to cranberries. Stir in sugar, red onion, mint and ginger. Cover and let stand at room temperature 2 hours. (Beyond that, chill.)

Note that I didn’t add the orange juice from the bowl to the relish, as it will produce quite a bit of liquid on its own.

Pumpkin Pie
1 ½ cups canned pumpkin purée
2 large eggs
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
½ cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. kosher salt
1 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Whisk the pumpkin and eggs together in a large bowl. Add milk, maple syrup, flour, spices and salt; whisk to blend well (and watch out for pockets of spices!). Pour filling in pie crust. Bake until center is just set, 55 to 60 minutes. Transfer to wire rack; let cool.

You can serve it plain, but for a few pieces, I indulged myself and used canned soy whipped cream.