Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pomegranate, Pear and Arugula Salad, with a diet change

I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions. It’s not that I don’t believe in resolutions in general, but a) I don’t feel the need to come up with something to change for every January 1st, and b) if something needs changing, I just change it regardless of the date. That being said, January pretty much coincides with a dietary change on which the Engineer and I have agreed. It came as a result of watching documentaries like Forks Over Knives and reading books like Eating Animals. We’ve basically decided that, both for health reasons and for ethical reasons, we’ll eat fewer animal products. I was already having a day or two each week that were vegan or vegetarian, though as I said, not necessarily Mondays. The way I cook, I like to make about four servings at a time, so that we have enough for two days (it doesn’t take much more time or effort to make four servings instead of two), though sometimes I make only enough for one meal. And we eat out once on the weekend. My new goal is to eat vegan 25% of the time, vegetarian-with-eggs-and/or-dairy 25% of the time, and to be omnivorous 50% of the time. There are a few vegan restaurants in town, but as a general rule, I assume I’ll be eating animal protein on the weekends (especially now that I may have found the best burgers in town). This means that I take charge of the two vegan and vegetarian meals during the week, for a total of three or four days. I’m still not ready to give up any type of food entirely, but I can definitely cut back on animal protein and increase my intake of plant-based foods instead. So I’m still a flexitarian, just slightly more on the vegetarian end of the spectrum than before.

As I was looking through the recipes I posted here, to add the “vegetarian/végétarien” tag, I realized that most of my recipes are already in that category, but that can be misleading. Only a few of my desserts are not vegetarian (I think I’ve used animal-based gelatin once, and bacon a few times, but I haven’t even gone the lard route yet). The vast majority of my breakfasts and side dishes are vegetarian, too. The problem is that I can’t just put a few side dishes on a plate and call it a meal, because my side dishes usually lack protein. And there are only so many lentil curries and couscous platters a girl can eat! So as I’m re-prioritizing my lists and piles of recipes to come up with meals for each week, I’ll sometimes be relying on store-bought veggie protein dishes. I actually felt a little guilty at first, but now I think it’s the same as buying meat sausages instead of making them yourself. Sure, you could make them yourself, and they would probably taste better, but there’s no shame in buying them. So I’ll add product reviews every once in a while. I’ve also added a few vegetarian blogs to my reading list.

I was wondering what to do with my meals that are not vegetarian, but that use animal products only as flavoring instead of as the focus. I’m thinking of soups with chicken broth or pasta dishes with bacon, for example. Should I really let a pasta carbonara fill my meat quota for the week (not including weekend)? And if so, am I obligated to use up the rest of the bacon in a salad on the following week in similar fashion, if I don’t want to freeze it? I’ve since decided that if a meal uses meat as a flavoring rather than a center player, I might have two the same week and make the third meal vegan; this allows me to use up the entire package of bacon (or prosciutto or whatever), while still keeping my meat intake down (after all, a package of bacon in a week seems like a lot for two people, but if that’s the only meat we’re having in five days, it’s not really that bad). So I’ll keep that in mind for February and the following months.

There’s still the problem of where to get our meat. Ideally, I’d like meat from animals that were raised and slaughtered humanely (or eggs and dairy from animals raised humanely), but that can be remarkably hard to find. If I don’t mind buying a whole animal, it’s actually easier, but that’s not an option. There are stores like Whole Foods and, I believe, Central Market where this meat is available, but that’s not the case at our local grocery store (I’ve let the manager know about that oversight, but I doubt things will change any time soon). And to be honest, it’s quite a schlep to go to either one of those places – and also quite a hit on the wallet, as we buy other specialty items when we’re there, too. Perhaps the answer is to buy a lot of meat on those rare visits and to freeze it. I already do it with duck magrets when we’re at Central Market, so I might need to expand my horizons. I found a place online similar to Omaha Steaks, but with humane products. It’s called U.S. Wellness Meats (I haven’t tried their products yet, though). They emphasize the fact that their products are healthier because the animals are grass-fed, as nature intended, instead of grain-fed, but they also say that the animals are raised humanely.

So, all this to say that I made a pomegranate, pear and arugula salad that I’d found in All You magazine and served it with vegetarian sausages, which I believe were Smart Sausages by Lightlife, the Italian style variety. The texture was different from that of a meat sausage, and it didn’t taste like meat, but then again it didn’t make either one of those claims to begin with. The seasoning was actually quite good, and the Engineer said he preferred it to most meat sausages he’s had. I see it as a good way to add some vegetable protein to our plates while still totally enjoying the meal, with minimal effort and without making the same recipes over and over again. Keep in mind that vegetarian meat substitutes are not necessarily healthy, though, as the calorie count can be pretty high, and some are packed with sodium! These had 21% of the recommended daily intake of sodium and 11% of the fat, but I’m not worried about my sodium on the whole (since I buy so few prepackaged meals and don’t use much salt), and at 140 calories per serving, they seemed quite reasonable. They’re refrigerated in the produce section, and I look forward to trying more of them.

On to the salad! We both really liked it, and the pomegranate seeds make it look fancy. See here for how to seed a pomegranate correctly. The salad serves 4 as a side dish (though I recommend peeling and slicing the pears and dressing the salad only right before serving it) and is also good as a light lunch.

For the dressing
½ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp paprika
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil

For the salad
6 cups baby arugula
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2 pears, quartered, cored, cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

In a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients except oil. Whisk in oil.

In a large bowl, toss arugula, pomegranate seeds and pears with dressing; serve.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Roaring Fork

The Engineer and I found a new restaurant we really like. Well, actually, the restaurant itself isn’t new, but the fact that we tried it is. So… we newly found a restaurant we really like. It’s the Roaring Fork which features “wood-fire cooking and American cuisine”. The atmosphere was really nice, with the smell of wood fire coming from the open kitchen and soft lighting in the eating area. Service was courteous, friendly and efficient. The menu is short (though the wine list seemed researched), and our food was absolutely delicious.

We started with the kettle of green chili pork, served with warm tortillas; the heat level was just about the upper limit of what I can eat without too much pain, and the Engineer declared it perfect. I then had the Kobe burger with mushrooms, bacon, pesto aioli and crispy fried onions (hold the pepper jack cheese), with a side of fries. I really loved it! The Engineer had the herb crusted chicken sandwich, with tomato, guacamole and slaw, the latter of which was slightly sweet, perhaps from honey. I tried it and almost wished I had ordered that instead. He had a side of green chili mac & cheese instead of the fries, at no extra cost. The specialty main dishes of the restaurant also looked really good, and they offer steaks à la carte (off the menu, but waiters know). We were too full for dessert, but I did appreciate the choices, like an ancho chocolate cake with cinnamon cream, pecan pie or crème brûlée (they don’t seem lactose-free, but the first is original and very appealing to me). There are specials for happy hour, and a rewards program, too!

I particularly liked the place because I feel like it offers a good option for a restaurant that is accessible (from our house, which would obviously not suit someone living much further south), fancy enough to be special but not expensive enough to be reserved for once in a blue moon. We look forward to going back!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

I don’t remember when I stumbled upon this brownie recipe, but I probably kept it both because they looked relatively healthy (or at least, healthier than typical brownies) and because they’re gluten-free (I love finding gluten-free pastry recipes, especially when they don’t require a lot of different flours). These brownies call for black beans instead of the wheat flour; the result was a very chocolate-y brownie, though they are more fudge-y than cake-y, somewhat like certain flourless chocolate cakes. However, I found them a bit flat – you know of my penchant for thick brownies – and I wonder whether it would be possible to double the recipe and just cook them a bit longer. I recommend that you eat them at room temperature, to make sure you can’t taste the beans (if you used quality cocoa, this won’t be a problem), and the Engineer loved the brownies with a scoop of lactose-free vanilla ice cream.

1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 eggs
3 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
¾ cup sugar
1 handful chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven at 350 °F. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish.

Mix first seven ingredients together in a blender or food processor until puréed. Stir in the chocolate chips, if using, and pour into the baking dish. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Let cool completely before cutting.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Est-ce que ça se fait, partager une recette sans photo? J’ai cherché comme il faut, car j’étais persuadée d’en avoir, mais c’est peine perdue. Il n’y a pas de trace de cet houmous, même si je l’ai fait à deux reprises. (Soit dit en passant, j’ai toujours dit humus, mais apparemment que ce n’est pas français dans ce contexte.) Il s’agit d’une recette que j’ai trouvée sur un sac de farine de pois chiches de Bob’s Red Mill. La première fois que je l’ai faite, j’ai pensé : « Enfin! J’ai trouvé le secret de l’houmous du Jerusalem Grill! » C’est que je ferais un repas complet de leur houmous avec quelques pitas. La texture est différente de l’houmous fait avec des pois chiches passés au robot; elle est beaucoup plus lisse, plus comme une trempette que l’houmous que je fais habituellement. Je trouvais par contre que l’assaisonnement n’était pas tout à fait au point, j’aurais mis beaucoup plus de tahini. J’ai ajouté du cumin, mais il manquait encore quelque chose (la sauce sriracha passait inaperçue, quand même, ce qui est bien). Fallait-il simplement davantage de tous les assaisonnements?

J’ai donc refait l’houmous en utilisant davantage des ingrédients par rapport à la farine de pois chiches, et en goûtant au fur et à mesure. C’est là que j’ai remarqué : tout était excellent jusqu’à ce que j’ajoute l’huile d’olive, et tout est devenu fade! J’ai donc ensuite rajouté de l’ail, du cumin et du tahini, et c’était parfait. Cependant, avec la farine de pois chiches, la consistance de l’houmous épaissit beaucoup dans les heures qui suivent sa préparation, et surtout au réfrigérateur, au point que ça en devient déplaisant, alors à moins d’en faire pour recevoir beaucoup de monde, je pense qu’il faut réduire la recette de moitié. Ce que je vous donne ci-dessous est donc la demi-recette, avec mes quantités d’assaisonnement, mais en tenant compte de l’huile d’olive. Je vous conseille de goûter en préparant le tout, pour ajuster selon vos goûts.

¼ tasse + 2 c. à soupe de farine de pois chiches
1 ¼ tasse d’eau
2 ou 3 gousses d’ail, émincées
2 c. à soupe de bouillon de poulet ou de légumes (allez-y fort sur la base de bouillon)
3 c. à soupe de tahini
jus d’un citron (¼ tasse)
un soupçon de sauce forte (comme de la sauce sriracha ou tabasco)
¾ c. à thé de cumin
sel et poivre, au goût
2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive

Amener l’eau à ébullition et y ajouter la farine de pois chiches. Bien mélanger avec un fouet et faire cuire 1 minute, en mélangeant constamment. Réduire le feu au plus bas et laisser mijoter 5 minutes. Fermer le feu et laisser refroidir.

Dans un robot culinaire, mettre le mélange de pois chiches, l’ail, le bouillon de poulet, le tahini, le jus de citron et la sauce forte; mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention d’une consistance homogène. Ajouter le cumin, le sel et le poivre, puis actionner le robot et verser l’huile d’olive pendant que le moteur tourne. (Une fois que le mélange est homogène, vous devriez le goûter et décider s’il faut ajouter de l’ail, du jus de citron, du cumin ou du tahini.)

Mettre le mélange dans un bol, recouvrir d’une pellicule plastique et laisser reposer à la température de la pièce pendant une heure (le mélange va épaissir). Servir avec du pain pita, des craquelins ou des légumes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Root Vegetable Tagine with Spice-Roasted Chickpeas

When Bon Appétit published this recipe, my sister and I both emailed it to our mother for her new Emile Henry tagine, even though neither one of us had tried the recipe yet. I finally got around to it, but I changed it a little. I didn’t use celery, because the recipe only called for one stalk and I knew the rest of it would go to waste in my vegetable drawer. I also omitted the turnips, because neither the Engineer nor I like them; I added more sweet potatoes to compensate. And I didn’t use olives, because I don’t like them (if we had had any on hand, I would have topped the Engineer’s serving with them, but we didn’t).

You do have to start this dish early, because the spice-roasted chickpeas, roasted spices and preserved lemon take a bit of time, but after that, it’s really easy. It still felt pretty labor-intensive when I was cooking for dinner just an hour after lunch, so I hoped it would be good! I wasn’t too sure about the preserved lemons, because I like them candied in sugar, but I’d never had them preserved in salt before. In the end, since I chopped them in small pieces, they lent a nice bright taste to the dish without overpowering it. The really nice thing was the roasted chickpeas, though, because they gave the dish some crunch. By themselves, they would also make a great snack. I felt that the dish, though good, was missing a little depth, but in its defense, I did omit three ingredients! The recipe makes enough for 6 generous servings.

For the spice-roasted chickpeas
¾ tsp cumin seeds
¾ tsp coriander seeds
1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed, well dried (I spread them out on a paper towel)
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
pinch of cayenne pepper (I used Korean Pepper)
coarse kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Toast cumin seeds and coriander seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Place chickpeas, olive oil, pinch of cayenne, and ground spices in medium bowl. Sprinkle with coarse salt; toss to coat evenly. Transfer to small rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven until lightly browned and crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Reheat in 400 °F oven until warm, about 5 minutes, before serving, if desired.)

For the tagine
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper (I used Korean pepper)
¼ tsp turmeric
4 ½ tsp coarse kosher salt, divided
1 lemon, thinly sliced
½ cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ Tbsp tomato paste
1 ¼ cups ½-inch cubes peeled carrots
1 celery stalk, chopped
4 cups water
1 ¼ lbs red-skinned sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb turnips (about 2 medium), peeled, cut into ¾-inch wedges
¾ cup brine-cured green olives, pitted, coarsely chopped (as I said, optional)
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (about 1 oz; not oil-packed), thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp dried mint (I used 1 fresh leaf, sliced very thinly)
1 10-oz box plain couscous (about 1 ½ cups), cooked according to package directions
spice-roasted chickpeas

Toast coriander, cumin, and caraway seeds in small skillet over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Cool. Transfer to spice mill; process until finely ground. Transfer to small bowl. Add red pepper, turmeric, and ½ tsp salt.

Mix lemon slices, lemon juice, and 4 tsp coarse salt in small skillet. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lemon slices are almost tender, about 10 minutes. Cool preserved lemon. Drain and chop.

(Spice blend and preserved lemon can be made 1 week ahead. Store spice blend airtight at room temperature. Transfer preserved lemon to small bowl; cover and chill.)

Heat olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sprinkle with salt and sauté until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add toasted spice blend, garlic, and tomato paste; stir 1 minute. Add carrots and celery; stir 2 minutes. Add chopped preserved lemon, 4 cups water, sweet potatoes, turnips, olives, and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer with lid ajar until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. Stir in parsley, cilantro, and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Spoon couscous into large bowl, spreading out to edges and leaving well in center. Spoon vegetable tagine into well in center. Sprinkle spice-roasted chickpeas over and serve.

Montée de lait

Je viens de terminer la lecture de L’Art de vivre selon Joe Beef, la version française de The Art of Living According to Joe Beef. Bien que j’aie beaucoup aimé le contenu du livre, je dois avouer que la traduction française, faite par Parfum d’encre (avec une équipe de deux adaptateurs, deux traducteurs et deux réviseures), laisse à désirer. Je ne peux pas parler d’erreurs de traduction dans le sens des mots, car je n’ai pas la version d’origine pour faire des comparaisons. Il y a des mots traduits pour un public européen, ce que je crois être une erreur, puisque toute l’action se passe dans une province francophone d’Amérique du Nord (donc le repas du matin est le déjeuner, pas le petit-déjeuner, et ainsi de suite). Il y a des fautes de frappe, des articles manquants, des virgules balancées un peu au hasard dans le texte (donc il y en a en trop et il en manque ailleurs), des parenthèses esseulées, des verbes et des adjectifs mal accordés avec leur sujet, des phrases mal tournées (« deux cuillères à soupe de poudre de café en poudre », ça a quelle consistance, d’après vous?) et surtout, des « nous » et des « on » qui font référence au même sujet et dans la même phrase en plus! C’est peut-être alors plus une question de révision que de traduction, mais toujours est-il que lorsqu’un texte « sent » la traduction, lorsque je ne peux pas lire plus de trois phrases sans « accrocher » sur quelque chose, il est évident que la qualité de la version traduite n’est pas à la hauteur. C’est dommage, pour un si beau livre écrit par des gens qui parlent français!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Bossa Nova Skirt

This pattern, which I made right before the holidays, was free on Fabric.com; the site’s page helpfully lists recommended types of fabric and notions all in the same spot. It’s the same skirt pattern that I had used with my turquoise knit, but this time, I used a rayon challis weave, and it worked just fine. Rayon is a bit slippery to knit with, but this Prudent Baby tutorial gives some pointers. The gist of it is that it’s super important to prewash the fabric (duh), and that if you use a ballpoint needle, polyester thread and walking foot, you should be fine. In the comments, there’s also the helpful tip of laying out your fabric on top of a sheet before cutting it, to prevent it from slipping.

Rayon was much better suited for that skirt, because of the way it falls and drapes nicely. The pattern itself was really easy, though after having made it once before, I decided to lengthen it by a few inches when I traced it out onto my Swedish tracing paper. It’s basically just eight panels sewn together, with an elastic waist. I did use French seams, to make the inside pretty too, so perhaps I should have made all the panels 1” wider to compensate, but the skirt still fits. Because of the interlining fiasco with my last skirt, I only used one layer of fabric. The fabric is somewhat thin, but I think I’ll add a half-slip just in case.

Cost-wise, I’m pretty pleased with myself. I used 3 yards of fabric on sale at $3.49 a yard, paid $3.35 for the ballpoint needles (which I’ll use again, of course), $1.08 for the elastic, $1.75 for the thread, and the pattern was free, so the grand total comes to $14.90 (no taxes, free shipping, though I had ordered a $1.75 sample before committing to the fabric). I got more of the fabric, since I originally wanted to add an interlining and thought the sale price was really good, so I’ll make something else with the rest, but I don’t know what just yet. (And by the way, that mirror is one of the things I got at Hats Furniture Haus last month.)

Sans fanfare

Sans fanfare, je partage avec vous quelques liens et photos éparpillées sur mon ordinateur depuis des semaines. Il s’agit de plats dont je n’ai pas parlé ici, pour diverses raisons. Comme parce que c’est tellement simple que je me sentirais gênée de donner une recette, mettons pour le yakisoba de Tea and Cookies.

Ou parce que j’ai déjà publié la recette, dans le cas des magrets de canard rôtis avec poires au miel.

Ou parce que je n’ai tout simplement pas aimé ça. Je pense surtout à la salade chaude de carottes et de hijiki; j’ai beau essayer, mais je n’aime pas les algues cuites!

Il y a eu aussi le gâteau aux oranges et à l’huile d’olive de Leite’s Culinaria, qui ne nous a pas impressionnés et ne vaut pas la peine d’être refait.

Par contre, cette semaine, j’ai fait une recette du tonnerre, alors quand je mettrai en ligne la purée de pommes de terre au safran, vous attacherez bien votre tuque!

Feux sur Montréal

Je ne sais pas si vous êtes au courant, mais Montréal fait parler d’elle un peu partout ces temps-ci! Il y a une série de publicités disjonctées pour des festivals comme Montréal en lumière; je n’ai pu trouver aucune image en ligne, alors j’en reproduis une ci-dessous, trouvée dans l’épicurien Bon Appétit.

Ce même magazine avait publié un petit guide touristico-culinaire sur Montréal pour le temps des fêtes 2010; il mentionne toujours Joe Beef, parle du livre de cuisine, cite Frédéric Morin, et dans le numéro de janvier 2012, c’était au tour de Martin Picard et de la cabane à sucre du Pied de cochon.

Ce magazine culinaire n’est pas le seul à parler de Montréal; il y a aussi le magnifique A little relish, un magazine en ligne dont le deuxième numéro est consacré à Montréal. Et surtout, surtout, Anthony Bourdain qui passe 26 heures à Montréal dans le cadre de son émission The Layover (si vous avez une quarantaine de minutes et comprenez l’anglais, ça vaut la peine, c’est très bien fait!). Et une pub d’Adidas (qui ne parle pas de nourriture, celle-là, mais met en vedette le métro).

Enfin, le site de Tourisme Montréal est très bien conçu, et la version en anglais est superbe (rares sont les sites bilingues bien faits!). Il y a en plus un blogue et un vidéo présentant Montréal en deux minutes que je trouve génial. Tout ça pour dire que j’aime beaucoup ma ville!

Creamy Saffron Yogurt

For dessert after the coconut chicken curry, I made some creamy saffron yogurt adapted from a recipe published in the same menu in Châtelaine. Mine is easier, but I find it’s better not to follow a set recipe for it (I did last time, and ended up with way too much of the spices). Basically, you need lactose-free yogurt; you can use plain yogurt and add a bit of sugar, or use vanilla or honey yogurt and leave it as is. You can strain it to thicken it if you want, but it’s not necessary. Throw in a pinch of ground saffron and a pinch of ground cardamom and mix well (adjust the spices from there, but remember that a little goes a long way). Top it off with some sliced mango and perhaps pomegranate seeds or raspberries, and you’ve got yourself a healthy dessert with Indian flavors. Bon appétit!

Coconut Chicken Curry

This is my mother’s recipe for chicken curry, which she adapted slightly from Châtelaine by omitting the water (as do I) and by reducing the amount of spices. I’m reproducing it below with the original amounts, but feel free to adjust it to your taste. Sometimes, my mother throws a peeled and cubed sweet potato in there with the coconut milk, for extra color, which is a pretty good idea considering that the dish doesn’t have any vegetables otherwise apart from the onion. I served it with brown rice, but lentils and naan bread would be wonderful.

1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 whole cloves
1 Tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 tsp ground cumin
1 to 2 tsp chili powder (I used 1 tsp of Korean pepper)
1 tsp salt
¾ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp mustard powder
400-mL can unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander
2 to 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Heat oil in a large wide saucepan set over medium-low heat. Add whole cloves to pan and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add onion and garlic. Stir often until onion softens, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add chicken. Stir-fry until golden-tinged, from 4 to 5 minutes. Then stir in ginger, cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, salt, turmeric, cardamom, and mustard powder. Stir in coconut milk. Taste, and for more kick, stir in remaining teaspoon chili powder.

Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often, until chicken is cooked, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in coriander and 2 tsp lemon juice. Taste. Add remaining teaspoon lemon juice, if needed. Serve immediately.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Couscous Salad with Winter Squash and Cranberries

This recipe, from The Kitchn, was really good. I like having a healthy vegetarian dish that’s easy to make and filling, and this hit the spot. The mix of spices was really good. I used butternut squash, which is my favorite, but you could use other types (like buttercup, to name just one). I used red wine vinegar instead of white wine vinegar (that’s what I have in the pantry), and I forgot about the orange zest. I also didn’t use nuts. If you can’t find lactose-free goat cheese, or if you want a vegan version of the dish, omit that, too.

1 medium butternut squash (or other hard winter squash), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
¾ cup uncooked couscous
1 cup water
1 onion, diced
4-5 Tbsp white wine vinegar (I used red wine vinegar)
2 Tbsp olive oil
zest of one orange
½ tsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1-3 tsp salt, to taste
1 can chickpeas, drained
½ cup dried cranberries
2 oz lactose-free goat cheese (if desired)
½ cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (if desired)

Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Toss squash with a bit of olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast squash, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool before combining with other ingredients.

Heat water in sauce pan to boiling. Add couscous and stir. Remove pan from heat, cover with a lid, and let sit for about 10 minutes until the couscous has absorbed all the water. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Sauté onion in a skillet over medium-high heat until translucent. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, zest, spices, and 1 tsp of salt.

In a large bowl, combine squash, couscous, onions, chickpeas, and cranberries. Pour on the vinegar-oil dressing and stir to combine. Taste to check seasoning and add salt if needed.

If including, crumble the goat cheese into chunks and gently fold into the salad. (Note: Make sure the salad is room temperature at this point or the goat cheese will melt.) Top each serving with a sprinkle of walnuts (if desired) and enjoy. This salad can be served at room temperature or cold.

Maple Corn Bread

This recipe, from Real Simple, seemed like the perfect complement to the chili I was making. Chili and corn bread sounds like a very Southern pairing to me, but this corn bread had a little Canadian twist with the addition of maple syrup, both in the batter and on top. The result was a fluffy, moist corn bread with a sweet, crunchy glazed top. It was a big hit, especially with the Engineer, and might become my go-to cornbread from now on.

¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter or margarine, melted and cooled, divided; plus more for the pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
2 cups cornmeal
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups lactose-free milk
4 large eggs
¾ cup pure maple syrup, divided

Heat oven to 425 ° F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the milk, eggs, ½ cup of the maple syrup, and ½ cup of the butter; whisk together the wet ingredients, then incorporate the dry ingredients until just combined (do not overmix).

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ¼ cup of butter and ¼ cup of maple syrup. After removing the corn bread from oven, brush with the butter mixture. Cool completely in the pan, then cut into pieces.

Chili with Chocolate

I was dying to try one of those recipes that calls for unsweetened chocolate in a savory dish like a beef stew (not a mole, just chocolate in a sauce to bring out certain notes). I had been seeing this trick, if you can call it that, in several places and was really intrigued. I decided to try David Lebovitz’s Chili with Chocolate, since I also had some good heirloom pinto beans by Rancho Gordo to use. (I realize that officially, Texas chili doesn’t have beans, but that’s not how I was raised.) I made a few changes, such as the use of only 12 oz of beer (which is enough and easier to manage, as you don’t end up with a mostly full bottle to use when you don’t even like drinking beer) and modifying the spices to suit my taste. While I did buy a fresh chili pepper for this, seeded it and minced it, I chickened out and ended up serving it as an optional topping for the Engineer’s use. My verdict is as follows: this chili is good, but not great. While the chocolate is undetectable (as it should be), and while the browned meat was a good idea in theory, I actually prefer my mother’s chili (which uses ground beef). I promise I’ll get around to sharing that recipe eventually.

The first two steps of this recipe should be done the day before. It makes something like 8 servings, so I froze some of it. I served this chili with maple corn bread, which seemed a very Southern thing to do, and I really recommend it.

1 lb dried red or variegated heirloom beans
2 lbs beef stewing meat, such as boneless short ribs or chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes (or smaller)
3 tsp salt, divided
1 bay leaf
2 to 4 dried chili peppers, or 1 fresh chili pepper, minced (adjust this to suit your taste, or omit it)
2 Tbsp cooking oil
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2-3 tsp red chili powder (I only used 1)
1 tsp ancho chili powder (I used Korean pepper)
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
12 oz beer (the original recipe calls for 2 cups)
2 15-oz cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
3 Tbsp cider vinegar or lime juice

Rinse the beans and sort them to remove any debris. Put in a bowl and cover with cold water and let soak overnight.

Put the cubes of beef in a freezer bag with 1 ½ tsp of salt, massage gently, and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, drain the beans, put them in a saucepan, and cover with several inches of water. Add the bay leaf and bring to a full boil for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook until tender, one to three hours, adding more water if the water boils away. (One hour was enough for me.) Once done, remove the bay leaf.

In a large casserole or Dutch oven (at least 6 quarts), heat the oil. Working in batches so you don’t crowd the pan, brown the pieces of beef, resisting the urge to turn them until they are truly dark on each side. The browning adds a great deal of flavor. As the pieces brown, remove them to a separate plate and brown the remaining pieces. If necessary, add a bit more oil to the pan as you go.

If using dried chili peppers, snip them into a small bowl in very tiny pieces with scissors and pour just enough boiling water over them to cover. If using a fresh chili pepper, remove the stem and chop it finely. (You can either discard the seeds, which are hot, or use them.)

Once all the meat is browned, fry the onions in the pot until they are wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic as well as the remaining 1 ½ tsp salt, chili powders, oregano, cumin, and paprika, and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to release the flavors of the spices.

Add the beans to the pot along with their liquid, as well as the chili peppers, beer, tomatoes (and their juices), brown sugar and chocolate.

Simmer the chili at the absolute lowest temperature possible (consider using a flame tamer), for at least 1 hour, or until the meat is tender. If necessary to cook much longer, you may need to add additional water if the chili becomes too thick. When done, stir in the vinegar or lime juice. Taste and adjust any seasonings, such as the chili powder and the salt.

Serve with your choice of lactose-free sour cream, sharp cheddar, green onions or cilantro.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Porc à l'orange du Sichuan

Cette recette, ça fait longtemps que je veux la partager avec vous. Elle est tirée du magazine de la LCBO, À bon verre, bonne table et quelque peu adaptée à mes goûts. J’en ai aussi profité pour tester une recette de sauce hoisin, pour en faire une version sans gluten végétalienne (donc acceptable pour les gens ayant des allergies au poisson, entre autres). Pour faire la recette de porc sans gluten, utilisez de la sauce tamari sans blé au lieu de la sauce soya. J’adore le porc apprêté de cette façon et je le sers toujours avec mon riz au lait de coco. Quand l’Ingénieur et moi avons commencé à nous fréquenter, je lui ai fait cela pour son anniversaire, et il a tant aimé ça que les 4 portions ont disparu le soir-même. Bon appétit!

Pour le porc
1 lb (500 g) de filet de porc
1 blanc d'œuf
1 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs
1 c. à soupe d'eau
1 c. à soupe de sauce soya

Pour la sauce aigre-douce
1 c. à soupe de sauce hoisin
1 c. à thé de sauce au piment asiatique (au goût)
2 c. à soupe de sauce soya
3 c. à soupe de jus d'orange
¼ tasse de Triple Sec (facultatif)
1 c. à thé de cassonade (facultatif)

Pour la sauce aux poivrons
3 c. à soupe d'huile végétale
2 c. à soupe de zeste d'orange, coupé en julienne
1 c. à thé d'ail haché finement
1 c. à soupe de gingembre haché finement
1 poivron rouge, coupé en cubes
1 poivron orange, coupé en cubes
1 c. à thé de fécule de maïs
1 c. à soupe d'eau

Couper le porc en cubes de ½ po (1 cm). Placer dans un bol. Mélanger le blanc d'œuf, la fécule, l'eau et la sauce soya ensemble et ajouter au porc en remuant.

Mélanger les ingrédients de la sauce aigre-douce ensemble et réserver.

Chauffer 2 c. à soupe d'huile dans un wok à feu vif. Égoutter le porc et ajouter dans le wok. Faire sauter le porc jusqu'à ce qu'il soit juste rose à l'intérieur, environ 3 minutes. Retirer du wok et réserver. Essuyer le wok.

Pour la sauce aux poivrons, ajouter le reste de l'huile dans le wok. Faire sauter le zeste d'orange pendant 30 secondes, puis ajouter l'ail et le gingembre. Remuer ensemble. Ajouter les poivrons et faire sauter jusqu'à ce qu'ils soient dorés et ramollis, environ 2 minutes.

Remettre le porc dans le wok avec son jus, ajouter la sauce aigre-douce et porter à ébullition. Mélanger ensemble l'eau et la fécule et verser dans le wok en remuant. Porter à ébullition en remuant et cuire jusqu'à ce que la sauce épaississe. Servir immédiatement, avec du riz.

Braised French Onion Chicken

This dish (created by Faith Durand of The Kitchn) is just like a French onion soup, but without the soup, and with chicken instead of bread. It’s a good winter meal, hearty and rich without being too heavy. I served it with mashed potatoes, though green beans and bread would work well, too (especially if you use the bread to soak up the sauce). I really liked it, and even the Engineer had no complaints (he normally dislikes French onion soup). It takes a while to make, so it’s a good weekend dish; it makes about 6 servings.

3 Tbsp unsalted butter or margarine
2 lbs onions (about 3 big onions), sliced into thin half-moons
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 small sprigs thyme, leaves only
a 4-inch sprig rosemary
2 cups chicken broth, divided
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 oz lactose-free Gruyère cheese, finely grated or shaved (about 1 cup)

Melt the butter in a deep 10-inch sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter has melted completely and foams up, add the onions. They will fill the pan to the top, at this point. Stir as you add the onions to coat them in the butter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and black pepper. Cook the onions for about 40 minutes over low or medium heat, stirring occasionally.

When the onions have developed an evenly light beige color throughout, add the garlic, thyme leaves, and whole rosemary sprig, and cook for a few minutes more, stirring frequently. Turn the heat up to high and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You want dark, slightly burnt spots to appear on the onions, and for them to develop a rich mahogany color. When the onions get quite dark, add 1 cup of the beef or chicken broth. Add it slowly, stirring and scraping the pan vigorously to scrape up any burnt or stuck-on bits. When the liquid has been added, bring it back up to a simmer and simmer lightly for 5 minutes, or until it is somewhat reduced.

Take the onions off the heat and pour them into a 3-quart oven-safe dish with a lid. (If you don't have a Dutch oven or another oven-safe dish with a lid, you can use a 9x13-inch baking dish. Just cover it tightly with a double layer of foil.)

Heat the oven to 325 °F.

While the onions are cooking, brown the chicken. Heat another 10-inch or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken thighs dry and season lightly with kosher salt and black pepper. When the skillet is hot, add the thighs and brown for about 3 minutes on each side, 6 minutes total. When they've developed a golden-brown crust, remove from the pan and set on top of the caramelized onions in the baking dish.

Add the remaining 1 cup broth to the pan. Stir vigorously, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Whisk in the balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Pour this sauce over the chicken and onions, and put the lid on the baking dish. The chicken and onions will look quite saucy; there will be plenty of liquid in the baking dish. (At this point you can refrigerate the dish for up to 48 hours. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking, or else add about 5 minutes to the bake time.)

Bake at 325 °F for 30 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven and turn the heat up to broil. Take the lid off the baking dish, and sprinkle the cheese evenly over the top of the chicken. When the broiler has heated up, return the dish to the oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden on top.

30-Minute Rolls

I found this recipe on The Littlest Crafter: these rolls are not only super quick to make, they are also absolutely delicious! The Engineer had more than one, saying that they deserved an encore. I’ll be sure to keep this recipe on hand next time I want rolls! The quick rising time also came in very handy because the night I made them, I had actually forgotten about them until about an hour before dinner, and I still had plenty of time. I served them warm, with coconut red lentil soup.

1 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
1/3 cup oil
2 Tbsp yeast (I believe I used active dry yeast)
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg
3 ½ cups flour (I used white flour here)

Preheat the oven to 400 °F. Grease a 9”x13” pan and set aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine the water, oil, yeast and sugar and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.

Using the dough hook attachment, mix in the salt, egg and flour. Knead with the hook until well incorporated and the dough is soft and smooth (just a few minutes).

Form dough into 12 balls and place them in the greased pan. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Enjoy!

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

This awesome soup from 101 Cookbooks was a hit in our household, and I’m sure to make it again. The seasoning was fantastic, though it should be said that I used chicken broth instead of water. I also used more peas than the original recipe called for (1 ½ cups each instead of 1 cup), and only 6 cups of broth – plus the coconut milk. The consistency seemed soupy to me, but the author says that you can make it thicker and spoon it over rice or farro. Note that it is a thick soup, and the addition of green onions and raisins actually works really well. You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan by using a fake chicken broth or vegetable broth if you don’t want water, and oil instead of butter. I served the soup with 30-minute rolls, which I also strongly recommend.

1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup red lentils
6 cups broth (or water), plus more to taste
1 medium carrot, cut into ½-inch dice
2 Tbsp fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 Tbsp curry powder
2 Tbsp butter, margarine or vegetable oil
8 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 14-oz can coconut milk
2 tsp fine grain sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped

Give the split peas and lentils a good rinse - until they no longer put off murky water. Place them in an extra-large soup pot, cover with the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and add the carrot and ¼ of the ginger. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the split peas are soft.

In the meantime, in a small dry skillet or saucepan over low heat, toast the curry powder until it is quite fragrant. Be careful though, you don't want to burn the curry powder, just toast it. Set aside.

Place the butter in a pan over medium heat, add half of the green onions, the remaining ginger, and raisins. Sauté for two minutes stirring constantly, then add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute or two more.

Add the toasted curry powder to the tomato paste mixture, mix well, and then add this to the simmering soup along with the coconut milk and salt. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or so. The texture should thicken up, but you can play around with the consistency if you like by adding more water, a bit at a time. Or simmer longer for a thicker consistency.

To serve, sprinkle each bowl generously with cilantro and the remaining green onions. (I topped mine with some lactose-free sour cream, and it was perfect.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gigi's Cupcakes

Right before Christmas, the Engineer and I bought some cupcakes at Gigi’s Cupcakes to try them out; we had two that evening, and froze the other two for a week or so, to enjoy them after the holidays. The shop itself was nice, and I appreciate that they have some space with tables and chairs for people who want to linger a bit and eat on the spot. It can take a while to choose, too, as there are over 60 flavors in all – though “only” about a dozen each day. Take a look at their menu!

The cupcakes are beautiful and look very impressive because of their mile-high frosting, though that makes them a bit hard to eat. I must admit that I ate them on a plate with a fork, scraping most of the frosting away. The cakes themselves, though, were fabulous. The crumb was moist and flavorful, and I’d have them again any day!

The flavors we tried are vanilla (the one with the Christmas tree frosting), Scarlett’s Red Velvet (the one with the angel; it was good, though not very red at all), White Midnight Magic (delicious chocolate cake with chocolate chips on a cream cheese frosting) and Canadian Bacon (my favorite; it was a bacon-maple cupcake with maple frosting topped with crumbled bacon). They were all very good.

I’m not sure I’d go out of my way for those, probably because the frosting is a bit off-putting (especially for someone who’s lactose-intolerant), but then again, I’ve only really been out of my way for Montreal’s Cocoa Locale (or more accurately, I’ve deliberately made it my way on more than one occasion). That being said, I could easily be convinced to pull over if I’m driving by!

Chickpea Casserole

I’ve mentioned that I like casseroles because they’re the ultimate meal-in-one. This one has the added bonus of being vegetarian, using chickpeas for protein, and is pretty light on the dairy. I did make it lactose-free, using Lactaid’s cottage cheese. I also used a red onion instead of the shallots. While the consistency was good, I found it a bit bland, and I would add some grated sharp cheddar to the chickpea mixture next time (added below). We had leftovers for days with this dish!

3 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 5 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup cooked brown rice
4 large shallots, minced or grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
juice and zest of 1 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten
1 cup lactose-free cottage cheese (ideally the small curd variety of cottage cheese, but beggars can’t be choosers)
¾ cup plain lactose-free yogurt (ideally full-fat yogurt, and not Greek yogurt, which has too little moisture)
a big handful of grated sharp cheddar (optional)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 stalks fresh rosemary (leaves only)
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 °F and lightly grease a 9”x13” or other 3-quart baking dish with olive oil.

In a large bowl, mix the chickpeas with the rice, shallots, garlic, and lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the beaten eggs in a medium bowl with the cottage cheese, yogurt, cheddar, and ½ cup of the Parmesan cheese. Finely mince the parsley and fresh rosemary leaves. Stir the cottage cheese mixture and herbs into the chickpea mixture.

Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining ½ cup Parmesan and the bread crumbs. (At this point the casserole can be covered and refrigerated for up to 24 hours.) Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Engineer's cakes, with a recipe

I was looking for something somewhat meaningful for my 700th post, and I decided that the Engineer’s cakes are it. I was waiting for the end of the cake recipes, but this cake chapter in Baking Illustrated is really long, and we’re still not done! (Plus, I’ve had these pictures on my hard drive forever, y’all.) It should be said that the Engineer is really taking this seriously, making sure all ingredients are at the right temperature and eschewing substitutions. In this case, the fact that he didn’t have any baking experience before starting this project actually worked in his favor, because he didn’t have any bad habits to break. I’ve got a lifetime of measuring dry ingredients in volume (and usually not even in dry measuring cups), just because that’s the way North American home cooks have always done it. But he’s doing it the proper way, and I have to admit that it really does make for better cakes. So I think I’ll make an effort to do things the proper way (weigh) too, when a recipe gives me weight measurements.

To recap, there was angel food cake, chiffon cake, pound cake, upside-down pineapple cake and apple cake.

There was carrot cake, crumb coffeecake (the one with pecans on top, which was great), sour cream coffeecake, chocolate sheet cake, yellow cupcakes with chocolate frosting, yellow layer cake, white layer cake, coconut layer cake, sponge cake and Boston cream pie.

Then there were three more kinds of chocolate cakes (chocolate layer cake, German chocolate cake and devil’s food cake). Plus a génoise layer cake with almond buttercream and raspberry filling before the holidays, a raspberry jelly roll for New Year’s Eve, and last weekend, a baked Alaska (with lactose-free ice cream, of course).

We’ve got a lot of lactose coming up with fruit trifle this weekend (there’s still no lactose-free cream in the States), and about a month and a half after that, four kinds of cheesecake (the irony is that the Engineer doesn’t even like cheesecake, and since I can’t really eat it, his coworkers will be well-fed).

I’ll share the devil’s food cake recipe here, because we changed it a little and absolutely loved the results. The original recipe calls for three 8-inch cake pans and a lot of buttercream frosting, but we used a 10-inch springform pan and served it plain – perfect. We even made it with lactose-free sour cream from Green Valley Organics, so I could eat it without getting sick!

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
¼ cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 ¼ cups boiling water
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¾ cup plain cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened but still cool
1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ cup sour cream (lactose-free, or use lactose-free plain Greek yogurt)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan; line the bottom with wax paper and grease again.

Combine the chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl; pour the boiling water over and whisk until smooth.

Sift together the flours, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Beat the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and beat at high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula. With the mixer at medium-high speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Reduce the speed to medium; add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined, about 10 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

With the mixer at low speed, add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by about half of the chocolate mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture; beat until just combined, about 1 second. Do not overbeat. Remove the bowl from the mixer; scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and stir gently to thoroughly combine.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth it out to the edges with a rubber spatula. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes (at least that’s what it took in our oven, as opposed to 20 minutes for the three 8-inch cakes). Cool on a wire rack before unmolding.