Monday, April 30, 2012

Homemade Baked Chips

You’re not going to believe these chips. They’re baked, not fried, but that’s not the impressive part. This is: they’re baked in the microwave. And they actually get crispy. Really! All you need is a potato, and seasonings if you wish (something like sea salt, olive oil, maybe some cumin or cayenne or rosemary… the possibilities are endless). I made mine with only sea salt, but next time, I’d consider tossing the raw potato slices with olive oil or safflower oil first.

So what you do is either scrub the potato clean or peel it, then slice it very thinly – I used the food processor, but a mandoline would be good, too. Soak the potato slices in cold water, and pat them dry before making each batch. Season the first batch as you will, then spread the slices on a plate lined with a paper towel so that they are not touching (a potato will yield roughly between 4 and 6 batches). Microwave the slices for 3 minutes at 100% power, then turn all the slices over and microwave for 3 minutes at 50% power. If they are not quite crisp enough yet, continue microwaving at 50% power in 1-minute intervals. Remember to use oven mitts when handling the plate – the potatoes may not be burning hot, but a plate that’s been in the microwave for 30 minutes will be!

The result is crispy potato chips, without all the calories (or mess) of deep frying. If you feel like this is something you want to do often, then it may be worth investing in a silicone tray designed for this: this reduces the need for oil (as the chips won’t stick to anything), and you can stack up to 3 trays at a time, so you’d cut your baking time in half. Plus, as the tray has holes for ventilation, you may not even need to flip the chips. At this point, I don’t think I’d make chips often enough to justify buying a few trays, but if you like the recipe enough, go for it! I served them as a side for veggie burgers here.

Inside-Out Veggie Burgers

I read this recipe on 101 Cookbooks and it made complete sense: when you make a veggie burger with legumes, then put it in a bun, you end up with something heavy that doesn’t have the right consistency. Having the legume patties AS buns and putting the garnish in between them solves the problem! And with this recipe, the patties actually held together well enough that eating the burger with my hands would in fact have been feasible (this isn’t always the case with bean patties). I ended up mostly eating with a fork and knife, though, because it was my avocado that was falling out (the slice of tomato was fine). The Engineer chose to use the bread anyway and said that with the tomato slices and condiments, it wasn’t too dry for him. I couldn’t find any sprouts at my regular grocery store, so I threw in some watercress, but sprouts would indeed have been better. You could always use Boston lettuce leaves and make a wrap with the patties! I served the burgers with homemade baked chips.

2 ½ cups sprouted garbanzo beans (chickpeas) OR canned garbanzos, drained and rinsed
4 large eggs
1 onion, chopped
½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
grated zest of one large lemon
1 cup micro sprouts, chopped (try broccoli, onion, or alfalfa sprouts - optional)
1 cup toasted (whole-grain) bread crumbs
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
fillings of your choice (such as tomato, avocado, caramelized onions or sprouts)

If you are using sprouted garbanzos, steam them until just tender, about 10 minutes. Most of you, like me, will be using canned beans, so jump right in and combine the garbanzos, eggs, onion and salt in a food processor. Purée until the mixture is the consistency of a very thick, slightly chunky hummus.

Pour into a mixing bowl and stir in the cilantro, lemon zest, and sprouts. Add the breadcrumbs, stir, and let sit for a couple of minutes so the crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. At this point, you should have a moist mixture that you can easily form into patties. (Err on the moist side here, because it makes for a nicely textured burger. You can always add more bread crumbs a bit at a time to firm up the dough if need be. Conversely, a bit of water or more egg can be used to moisten the batter.) The original recipe called for making 12 patties that were 1 ½” thick each, then slicing them in half lengthwise after cooking. I thought this might cause the patties to crumble, so I made thin patties right away (about ½” to ¾”), and I actually ended up with 12 anyway. I’m not sure what to tell you about the discrepancy in number, but I do recommend making thin patties.

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium low, add 4 patties, cover, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the bottoms begin to brown. Turn up the heat if there is no browning after 10 minutes. Flip the patties and cook the second side for 7 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties. Carefully cut each patty in half, insert your favorite fillings, and enjoy immediately.

Green - Vegetarian Cuisine and Coffee

Last night, the Engineer and I finally ate at Green, which I’d been meaning to try for a long time. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, though most dishes either are or can be made vegan, and it’s certified kosher (and therefore closed on Saturdays). Nut allergies would be a concern, I think, because there are nuts in several dishes, but people with gluten-intolerance will find quite a few dishes on the menu certified gluten-free. There are now two locations, and we went to the one on the NW Military Highway. The restaurant itself is very laid back and its mission is “to serve delicious and affordable comfort food” to vegetarians, vegans and omnivores alike. I’d like to announce that they have succeeded!

I actually had a lot of trouble choosing from the menu, because so many dishes appealed to me. I ended up with the protein salad: kale, spinach, chickpeas, quinoa, flaxseed, raw pecan humus, carrots, tomato, avocado and charbroiled tofu. I have to say that the tofu was probably the best I’ve ever had, and it really made me want to learn how to cook it properly once and for all. The kale had a great dressing, and come to think of it, there isn’t anything I didn’t like in that salad; it was fantastic. The Engineer had the falafel burrito, which I’ll consider next time because the falafel was absolutely delicious (better than either falafel recipe I’ve made lately, as it had both the right taste and texture). I cleaned up the pieces of falafel left on his plate, I liked so much. There are also dishes with meat substitutes. But FYI, it’s not like it’s all super healthy, because they do have fries and onions rings; it’s just that the healthy options far outnumber the not-so-healthy ones, and they are delicious to boot.

For dessert, we tried a vegan chocolate chip cookie and two kinds of vegan cupcakes, the s’more and the blueberry-lemonade (flavors vary each day). They were pleasantly dense, moist, flavorful, everything you’d want from a cupcake. And knowing I can eat the frosting without a care in the world… that’s priceless. We look forward to going back!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Liens de la semaine

- Un jeu gratuit pour intéresser les enfants à la cuisine. C’est plus ou moins bien fait (j’ai essayé quelques modules pour voir); il reste des trucs en anglais, mais le plus grand de l’action ne nécessite pas vraiment de lecture. À essayer!

- Traductrice un jour, traductrice toujours. J’ai parlé à plusieurs reprises du livre de Kim Boyce, Good to the Grain. Eh bien, il est enfin traduit en français, et porte comme titre Les douze farines : Manuel de pâtisserie aux céréales complètes. Je suis un peu déçue que les douze farines du livre soient annoncées comme s’il s’agissait des seules farines, mais par contre, je suis vraiment heureuse qu’on utilise le terme correct « céréale complète » au lieu de l’anglicisme « grain entier ». En fait, ce qui m’a fait bondir est un terme dont j’ai eu connaissance sur le blogue Cuisine Campagne : « drop cookie » a été traduit par « biscuit à goutte ». NON! Quand on parle d’un drop cookie en anglais, il s’agit d’un biscuit dont on fait tomber la pâte par petites portions sur la plaque à biscuit; c’est donc drop dans le sens de « laisser tomber, faire tomber », surtout pas drop dans le sens de « goutte »! ROGNTUDJU!

- Quelques mots sur l’apprentissage de l’anglais comme langue seconde au Québec. Je pense qu’on est tous d’accord pour dire qu’il est important d’apprendre à parler anglais et que les cours d’anglais devraient commencer au primaire. Cependant, imposer à tous de faire la moitié de la sixième année en anglais intensif, je pense que c’est trop, pour deux raisons principales. Premièrement, le français est une langue difficile à apprendre, encore plus à maîtriser. Je suis réviseure, et j’ai encore besoin de mon Bescherelle, de mon dictionnaire et de mes livres de référence. Or, c’est au primaire qu’il faut d’une part ancrer cette habitude chez les jeunes, et d’autre part approfondir le perfectionnement du français (qui est tout de même plus important que l’anglais pour un francophone). Sans ça, on se retrouve avec des statuts sur Facebook qui sont à faire saigner les yeux tellement les gens malmènent leur langue maternelle! (D’ailleurs, un de mes amis a déclaré que les étudiants québécois avaient bien raison de s’opposer à la hausse des frais scolaires, parce que vu le piètre niveau de leur français, ils allaient devoir rester à l’université encore bien des années!) Surtout qu’on n’impose pas aux petits anglophones les mêmes exigences pour le français en langue seconde. L’anglais ne doit pas prendre le dessus sur les autres matières. Et deuxièmement, comme il l’est si bien dit dans cet article de Patrick Lagacé, l’anglais, ça s’attrape (d’où la nécessité de la loi 101, soit dit en passant). Il suffit de cours de base à l’école pour apprendre la grammaire et le vocabulaire, puis une fois dans un milieu anglophone (pour l’été, pour une session ou deux), en quelque mois, on est quasi-bilingue. L’anglais , c’est plus facile que le français, alors on peut sortir du milieu de l’éducation pour l’apprendre. Pas besoin de loi 115 ni de cours d’anglais intensif. La preuve : moi, je suis allée au lycée français toute ma vie, mais c’est le fait d’habiter un certain temps à Washington et d’avoir eu la télé en anglais, les films en anglais, la radio en anglais, le restaurant en anglais qui m’a aidé à apprendre à parler anglais pour vrai. Pis là, c’est assez que je suis full bilingue avec un mari anglophone. Donc oui, enseigner l’anglais est important, mais enseigner le français l’est encore plus, voilà.

- Un article sur SOS Dettes, un organisme aidant les Québécois endettés à rembourser leurs créanciers. Le problème de l’endettement est moins marqué au Canada qu’aux États-Unis, mais il existe quand même, et c’est important pour bien des gens d’avoir des conseils financiers et un soutien professionnel. Pour les anglophones, je trouve qu’il existe davantage de ressources (ma préférée est Suze Orman, mais j’entends également beaucoup de bien de Dave Ramsey).

- Excellent article de Légitime Dépense, mettant en vedette Martine Gingras (des Banlieusardises), expliquant comment magasiner en ligne de façon intelligente.

- Répertoire de sites et de plateformes web où on trouve des documents gratuits : livres, radio, télé, musique, cinéma, musées, etc.

- Classement écologique des contenants de repas à emporter. Si seulement tous les restaurants utilisaient des contenants recyclables!

- Et une mention honorable pour Déménagement Myette, une entreprise montréalaise qui utilise des vélos plutôt que des camions de déménagement, ainsi que des bacs réutilisables au lieu de boîtes. Je l'ai découverte par ce billet.

Batch of links

- Burger King will now require its pork and eggs to come from cage-free animals. Hurray!

- NPR article (with audio) about all the microbes that can lurk in ready-to-eat salad bags and what the big companies are doing about it. Molly Wizenberg pitches in at about 8 minutes (and here’s her and Matthew Amster-Burton’s podcast on lettuce).

- Turn a refrigerator ice dispenser into a candy machine: is this the coolest thing or what?!?

- A new app called Eatery teaches users about their diet, and the data-mining aspect allows for other nice conclusions, too (types of food according to location or time of the day, for example – as the day wears on, we are less and less likely to make healthy choices).

- I meant to post this earlier, but it somehow got misplaced into my “Sewing” folder… Sorry! It’s a list of possible menu items for a 2012 Oscar party (still applicable for movie-themed parties in general).

- Great post on Gluten-Free on a Shoestring about the myth of cup-for-cup gluten-free flour. And all those recipes look delicious!

- This story has been popping up in the news regularly over the past few months, so I figured I’d post it here. It’s an actual scientific study that says there may be wisdom in eating dessert for breakfast, in that it satisfies cravings and curbs over-eating later in the day. I occasionally eat dessert at breakfast, like a piece of cake or pie, but that’s because somebody has to eat the food before it goes bad! Now I have a scientific reason.

- And finally, the good news of the day: orange cheese, like cheddar, is orange because of the addition of annatto, not artificial coloring. I’ve used annatto before. I confirmed this by actually looking at the ingredients on my package of extra-sharp Tillamook cheddar. This is good news to me because when I was a child, my mother refused to buy orange cheese, in an effort to keep us from ingesting artificial coloring. But it’s all natural! I can now resume the guilt-free orange-cheese eating.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The conclusion of the pyjama saga

Alright, remember that pyjama I made? I didn’t like the top all that much, but the pants rocked. Well, I saw a super simple nightie tutorial on Sew, Mama, Sew! which actually reminded me very much of my flouncy tank top. It’s easy to make and it’s something I wear. The fabric I had used for the pyjama was no longer available on the website where I bought it the first time, but I happened to come across it on another website (Contemporary Cloth), so I knew I had to go for it.

I bought 1 yard of it and went to work. I had enough contrasting fabric left for the band at the top, and I used the scrap fabric from the original too-short pant cuffs for the shoulder straps! Since there’s no closure at the back of this top, it can be a bit of a squeeze to put it on; I wonder if making it with elastic at the top or a button at the front would be a good idea? Anyway, I’m still really pleased with it. My pattern is vertical, in the same orientation as the pants, and now it’s a matching set that I love wearing. Since I had the contrasting fabric and the matching threads already, my only expense was the pattern fabric. It wasn’t on sale this time, so I paid the full $15.52 for the yard; with shipping, it comes out to $20.62 for this top – I think it’s money well spent.

The Engineer's other cakes

Here we are, finally: the rest of the Engineer’s cakes (you can read the first part here). After the baked Alaska, he moved on to trifle, Sacher torte and Black Forest cake.

There was flourless chocolate cake, individual fallen chocolate cakes (looking remarkably risen in the pictures because they were fresh out of the oven), chocolate-hazelnut cake and yule log cake (without little meringue mushrooms, though I may put in a special request next Christmas).

Then he moved on to cheesecakes: New York cheesecake, lemon cheesecake, pumpkin cheesecake and ricotta cheesecake (the latter being understated, but really quite good). I had a bite of each, and an actual piece of the lemon and pumpkin varieties along with Lactaid; the Engineer's coworkers helped with leftovers. These cheesecakes were really good, people! So good, in fact, that the Engineer liked them. He had always disliked cheesecakes, or so he thought, but now it turns out that he’s just really picky about them.

The cake chapter culminated in hot fudge pudding cake (a homely favorite of mine) and sticky toffee pudding cake. Next up, the last chapter of Baking Illustrated: cookies, brownies and bars. The bright side is that all these are easy to make into individual servings and are easy to carry, which means that it should be easy for the Engineer to take some in to work, thereby leaving fewer sugary baked goods to tempt me all day from the kitchen counter. He took a one-week rest and begins the last stretch this weekend.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Summer Corn Salad

This recipe is super simple and calls for only a few ingredients, but it’s so delicious! I would say that the pine nuts are optional, although they don’t get lost in this salad. I realize that they’re expensive, but this isn’t one of those dishes where you feel like you might as well rip up a few dollar bills in teeny pieces and throw those on top of the dish! The Engineer described it as “a bright, pick-me-up salad”, “zippy”, and “a mood booster”. Next time I make it, I’ll probably throw in some fresh basil, too. I served it here with falafel. Enjoy the summer!

5 ears fresh corn, husked
¾ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted (optional)
4 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped (I would like basil, too)
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp good quality olive oil
salt and pepper

In a medium-sized pot, boil the corn until kernels are just soft, about three minutes. Place in a bath of cold water to stop the cooking. Once cool, slice the kernels off the cob and pour into your favorite serving bowl.

Toss in cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, fresh chopped mint, oil and vinegar and mix until just combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Falafel, two ways

I love chickpeas, I love cumin, so falafels are a given. I started by making this falafel recipe from Chow Vegan. I loved the taste of the falafel, but I felt that the little chickpea patties were too mushy and crumbled way too easily, making it hard to keep them in the pita sandwich. (Then again, I did use the food processor instead of mashing them with a fork, so I might be to blame for that. But who would mash all that with a fork when there’s a perfectly good food processor right there?)

I then made another recipe, this one from Bob’s Red Mill. I modified the recipe’s seasonings a bit by using fresh parsley, ¼ tsp garlic powder and ½ tsp onion flakes. I was surprised, because the yield is really small. My beef with these falafel is that they’re very, very dry, but I think that this might be normal to a certain extent. After all, if I had served them in a sandwich with a tahini or yogurt sauce, along with cucumber and tomato, it would probably have been much less noticeable. As it was, I felt like I had eaten that too recently, so I went with a delicious side of tomato and corn salad.

I’m sharing both recipes here, but I suspect the ultimate recipe might be an amalgam of the two.

Falafel (the slightly mushy kind)
1 15-oz can of chickpeas
1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp Korean pepper (or dried red pepper flakes)
2 Tbsp flour (use all-purpose gluten-free flour if you want)
1 tsp baking powder
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 °F.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a medium bowl and smash them with a fork (the food processor might make the resulting falafel too soft). Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into small balls, about 1 ½ inches in diameter and slightly flatten. Place onto an oiled baking pan.

Bake for 15 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. (Since it’s baked, only the part touching the pan will be browned and crispy; you can flip them halfway through.)

Serve with mini pita pockets, humus, tahini sauce, tomatoes, lettuce and/or cucumber.

Falafel (the dry kind)
1 cup chickpea flour
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp baking soda
1 tsp parsley flakes (I used fresh parsley)
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp garlic granules (I used ¼ tsp garlic powder)
¼ tsp onion powder (I used ½ tsp onion flakes)
2 tsp lemon juice
½ cup hot water
2 Tbsp oil (for frying)

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and blend thoroughly. Add the lemon juice and hot water to the dry ingredients and stir until combined. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.

In a frying pan, heat oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the falafel batter by the tablespoon and flatten slightly. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Place on paper towel to drain oil. Depending on the size of your frying pan, batter will need to be cooked in a couple batches.

A series of failures, and a success with no pictures

Do you know what’s more frustrating that making a recipe and not liking the outcome? Making one and liking it, only to realize later that you forgot to take any good pictures for the blog! *facepalm*

I made things like egg drop soup, which I normally love, but that recipe wasn’t good enough. I tried a new recipe for creamy polenta with sausages and roasted grapes, but it was nothing special. I should have known, since I already have excellent recipes for both roasted sausages with red grapes and polenta. >. I made an onion dip that ended up bitter and atrocious.

For dessert, I made an apple torte with breadcrumb-hazelnut crust, because it looked really good and different from my usual apple pie recipes. The accompanying article had said that the breadcrumb crust was probably created when white flour wasn’t available in Italy during the war. I found the recipe to be somewhat poorly written, the dough to be uncooperative, and the cooking time to be a little off (the torte came out of the oven looking beautiful, but burnt as it finished cooking on the cooling rack). When we ate it that night, I thought it was good for what it was, but questioned whether it was worth the trouble it took to make; as for the Engineer, he said that he’s sure it was good during wartime, but he doesn’t like it. When I had it again on the second day, the crust had become mushy and I was no longer enjoying it, though the apple filling was good. I threw the last few pieces away and won’t be making it again. The following week, I tried a new recipe for chocolate pudding, but the consistency was too thick and the taste wasn’t that great; I'm sure I’ve got better pudding recipes.

For breakfast, I made some sort of cinnamon roll muffins, but they weren’t rolls at all, and they were pretty dry. The point was supposed to be that they’re faster to make than real rolls, but really, the extra time would have been worth it. I’ve got another recipe up my sleeve, we’ll see if that one works out.

As for products, I tried Zevia, a zero-calorie soda that is sweetened with stevia instead of artificial sweeteners. It sounds like it would have everything I like, except that… it turns out I don’t like stevia. It really tastes like artificial sweeteners, which I hate!

Finally, the recipe that is worth sharing: chocolate-cinnamon bundt cake with mocha icing. I ended up making this on a whim, and since all the ingredients are pantry staples, I already had everything that I needed (well, I used regular-sized chocolate chips instead of miniature ones, but that worked out fine). The only problem was that the unmolding was disastrous, so my recommendation is to dust the bundt pan with cocoa after it’s greased (I’ll include that instruction in the recipe below). That’s basically why I don’t have good pictures. The mocha mixture helped camouflage that, but I think it’s more of a glaze than an icing, and I still didn’t get a nice picture of it. Anyway, the cake itself was moist and really good, and all the flavors went well with each other. Next time, though, I might try replacing 2/3 of the oil with applesauce, for a healthier version. I hope you like the recipe!

1 cup boiling water
½ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
4 tsp instant espresso powder, divided
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
2 ½ cups (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
1 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided (or use regular-sized chocolate chips)
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature (I used cold margarine)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Generously brush 12- to 15-cup nonstick Bundt pan with oil and dust it with cocoa.

Whisk boiling water, cocoa powder, and 2 tsp espresso powder in 2-cup glass measure.

Whisk 2 cups flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups brown sugar, vegetable oil, and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds longer. Beat in half of flour mixture, then cocoa mixture. Add remaining flour mixture; beat to blend. Fold in 1 cup chocolate chips. Transfer batter to prepared Bundt pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool the cake 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack; cool completely.

Meanwhile, stir remaining ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tsp espresso powder, and 2 Tbsp water in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts. Remove from heat. Add butter and remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips; stir until butter and chocolate melt. Cool slightly. Using spoon, drizzle icing over cake. Cool cake completely, slice, and serve.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Another tunic with leftover fabric, and a plant coaster

I still had some green print fabric left over from my dress update, so I used a pattern from One-Yard Wonders to make a tunic top. There was some adjusting needed for a proper fit, but overall, it was really quite easy! Just two rectangles of fabric (one with a rounded short edge, for the front), thread and elastic. Make a slit at the bottom of each side for ease around the hips, and sew what is basically double-fold tape for a belt. Done!

I used the last remnants to make what I’m now calling my “plant coaster”. Basically, I had a clay pot / saucer combo that was scratching up an end table, so I needed something underneath the saucer to protect my furniture. I suppose some people use doilies, but those are just not my style. So I’m sticking with my plant coaster! I just determined what finished size I wanted and accounted for seams. When I realized that I didn’t have enough fabric to cut two squares of that size, I broke it down into eight squares (once again, taking new seams into consideration), and when I still didn’t have enough, I made one square on each side itself composed of four squares! Great way to use up all my remnants and whip up a plant coaster for free.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Carrot Slaw with Cranberries and Toasted Walnuts

I made this as a side to corn griddle cakes, and it was really good. It also helped me use up the juice of the orange I had zested for that recipe! The carrots released a bit more water into the bowl than I thought they would, but serving it with a slotted spoon fixes the problem. I love the mix of carrots and cranberries with the sweet citrusy dressing. The green onions would have been great, but by then I had used them all in the griddle cakes, so I had to omit them from the salad. Obviously, you can omit the nuts as well if you wish.

1 lb carrots, peeled and grated
3 Tbsp walnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest, from one lemon
2 Tbsp lemon juice, from one lemon
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice, from one orange
1 ½ Tbsp honey or maple syrup
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp freshly chopped parsley
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper and honey/syrup. Serve cold.

Corn Griddle Cakes with Sausage

I made this recipe from Bon Appétit, tweaking a bit (ha!) to make it vegetarian and less dairy. Instead of regular breakfast links, I used some vegetarian sausage links by Morning Star. They were good and smelled like the real thing, but I must admit I was missing the taste of pork breakfast links (which I never have at home anyway, though). While I do think that either kind of sausage is good in this recipe, my preference would go to ethical pork sausage, if there is such a thing widely available. I liked the taste of the green onions in these griddle cakes, but we had them for dinner and subsequent lunches, not for breakfast; judging by the picture in Bon Appétit, they are omitted in the breakfast version. That being said, these griddle cakes were really good, and both the Engineer and I quite liked them. I served them with a side of carrot slaw.

The original recipe also calls for making orange-honey butter as an accompaniment. I did so, even though it contained too much lactose. I didn’t have enough honey, so I used half honey and half agave syrup, even though the latter is much thinner; I omitted the salt and pepper. While the mixture was good, and needed to offset the dryness of the griddle cakes, I honestly don’t think the butter was necessary. Next time, I’ll use maple syrup and orange zest, which I think will suit the purpose nicely. I’d also halve the recipe, because we had a lot left over after all griddle cakes were gone (and there were a lot of those). That’s what I’m writing down below.

1 ½ Tbsp finely grated orange zest
½ cup maple syrup
¾ cup (about 7 oz) breakfast sausage (vegetarian or ethical pork), casings removed if necessary
1 ½ cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) corn kernels
1 cup yellow cornmeal
½ cup white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly cracked black peppercorns
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp baking powder
pinch of cayenne or Korean pepper
1 ¼ cups buttermilk (I used lactose-free milk with a splash of vinegar)
2 large eggs
6 scallions, chopped (optional)
¼ cup safflower oil or grapeseed oil

Mix orange zest with maple syrup and keep warm.

Cook sausage in a 10" cast-iron skillet or other large heavy nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a small bowl. Add corn to same skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until browned, 5–6 minutes. Transfer corn to bowl with sausage and let cool. Wipe skillet clean and reserve.

Whisk cornmeal and next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk buttermilk (or substitute) and eggs in a large bowl; add dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Fold in sausage, corn, and scallions.

Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in reserved skillet; working in batches and adding oil as needed between batches, add batter to pan by tablespoonfuls. Cook until cakes are crisp and golden brown, 2–3 minutes. Turn cakes over and cook until browned, 1–2 minutes longer. Transfer cakes to paper towels to drain. Serve warm drizzled with orange syrup.

Batch of links

- It is a sad, sad day here in the life of a lactose-free girl. Lactaid has discontinued its lactose-free half-and-half. True, I hardly ever used it, and I’m sure low sales were the reason Lactaid discontinued it. But there’s so much more room for lactose-free cream in the market! I’m looking forward to getting some Natrel this summer when I visit Canada, and I can only hope that Lactaid follows suit in the States and starts making it!

- I’ve said before that too many people are aware only of the term “lactose-intolerant” without actually knowing what that means, which gives way to those people unleashing misinformation unto an unsuspecting general public (things like “goat’s milk doesn’t have lactose” – seriously, were you dropped on your head as a baby?). Anyway, now Miley Cyrus tweets nonsense like “I am allergic to gluten and lactose and that’s why I’m thin.” Sometimes I think people should have a degree before they’re allowed to write on the internet! There’s no such thing as an allergy to gluten OR lactose. There’s gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, wheat allergy and dairy allergy, none of which are the same thing and none of which will prevent you from having a normal weight if the condition is managed properly. Also, note to Miley: when cooking vegan, gluten-free or otherwise, don’t stick your hand in the blender.

- When baking, do you know when to use a metal pan, a glass one, a ceramic or a silicone one? Here are some tips.

- An interesting article about guerilla cooking, or more precisely, cooking lunch in a poorly equipped office.

- For those of you who want to get rid of a few books you won’t read anymore and want to know when/where they’ve found a new home, try Book Crossing. The idea is simple: you sign up on the website and are assigned a tracking number, which you write into your book. You then share it (the preferred method is to “release it into the wild”), and whoever finds it can enter its number online, allowing you to know that your book has found a new reader. Of course, you can always donate books any way you want (charity organization, hospital, library, school, nursing home, etc.), but having a tracking number eases the separation. If you’d rather trade them, consider Paperback Swap. For selling and buying online, there’s always Abe Books.

- Top 10 misconceptions about yoga. I used to do yoga, and I liked it. Maybe I should start again. I’m just so apathetic about working out…

- Sarah Haskins: I just love her take on how the media and advertising treat women – it’s funny because it’s true. Plus, here’s an (unrelated) neat video about the high price of materialism.

- A gallery of real women’s bodies: just enter your height, weight and body shape, and you’ll see pictures of other women with bodies similar to your own. I love this site because I think that most body types are not represented in the media, which can lead women to mistakenly think that their body type is not acceptable.

- And finally, I mentioned before how much I love Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate (not high-brow, but oh-so-good), and the new packaging says that it’s now made with Rainforest Alliance Certified ™ cocoa! One more reason to buy it! (It’s not vegan, but it is lactose-free, and the packaging has no warning about nuts, peanuts or gluten.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quinoa galettes, two ways

A while back, I made quinoa cakes with lemon and parsley, from a recipe on Love & Olive Oil. It called for olives, which I omitted, and my only problem with them was that I thought the onion was too potent; I wanted to grate it rather than chop it. I threw in the last of my Meyer lemons, because I had to use it or lose it (so yes, it was a while ago). On the picture below, you can see the size, texture and color difference between my Meyer lemon, on the right, and a regular lemon, on the left. The Engineer said it was a great way to present quinoa and found these little cakes very flavorful. I would have posted the recipe, too, had it not been for the fact that very shortly after, I saw another one on Cannelle et Vanille that was remarkably similar, but called for sweet potato. I decided to make that one before talking about the galettes. I made it with grated onion this time, and the result was much better.

Both the recipes were fantastic, and it turns out I can’t really choose between them. So I’ll give you both variations here, the lemon one and the sweet potato one, and you can choose what you like. Interestingly, I served the lemon quinoa galettes with a side of candied sweet potato soufflé, because I do think you need some kind of colorful vegetable to go with them (though candied is certainly not the healthiest way to go). I served the sweet potato quinoa galettes with a kale salad.

Quinoa Galettes with Lemon (about 12 galettes)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
½ tsp salt
4 large eggs, beaten
1 medium yellow onion, grated
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp lemon zest
1 cup panko bread crumbs (or gluten-free, panko-style breadcrumbs: buy them, or make them by drying gluten-free bread slices in the oven and chopping them in food processor)
½ tsp salt
½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes or Korean pepper
1 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Place quinoa, water, and ½ tsp salt in a medium saucepan. Stir over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Cover, decrease the heat, and simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until the quinoa is tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. You’ll need 3 cups of cooked quinoa for the recipe.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together onion, garlic, cheese, parsley, lemon zest, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and cooled quinoa. Add eggs and stir until quinoa is evenly moistened. Add water to thoroughly moisten mixture. Quinoa should be slightly wet so it doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Scoop out mixture and compact it into a ¼-cup dry measure; this will give you aesthetically pleasing quinoa patties, which pop right out of the measuring cup into the skillet. The cakes also hold together really well that way. Alternatively, use clean, moist fingers to form patties.

In a large skillet over medium low heat, heat olive oil. Add four to six patties to the hot pan (or as many as you can fit without overloading; you’ll need a bit of room to successfully flip them). Cook until beautifully browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Medium-low heat helps insides cook at an even pace. Remove browned cakes to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with remaining quinoa mixture.

Quinoa mixture will keep, uncooked and covered in the refrigerator for a few days. Just prior to serving, cook as directed and serve hot.

Sweet Potato and Quinoa Galettes (about 8 galettes)
½ cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for frying
1 small yellow onion, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup grated sweet potato
¼ tsp coriander
¼ tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (or gluten-free, panko-style breadcrumbs: buy them, or make them by drying gluten-free bread slices in the oven and chopping them in food processor)
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped chives

Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat. Add quinoa and ¼ tsp of salt. Stir, reduce heat to medium low, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed all the water and is tender. Set aside to cool.

Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and cook the onions and garlic for 3 minutes. Add the grated sweet potato, ¼ tsp salt, coriander, and black pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, and chives. Add the cooled quinoa and sweet potato mixture. Stir to combine.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Spoon 1/4 cup of the mixture and shape it into a round cake (or compact it into a ¼-cup dry measure, which makes for a more uniform cake that holds its shape). Add enough cakes to the pan without overcrowding it. Cook for 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Finish frying all the cakes. Drain them on paper towels if needed.

Kale Salad with Apricots, Avocado and Parmesan

I often like kale salads, when there are enough additions and dressing to make them interesting, and this one was no exception. You can adjust all the proportions to your liking, of course, and eat it for lunch or as a side. I served it as a side to sweet potato and quinoa galettes, and also enjoyed it for lunch (once with crack sauce for a dressing).

6-8 oz of kale
6-8 dried apricots (I used more)
1/3 or so cup cooked beans (I had pinto beans, but use your favorite kind)
¼ or so cup almonds or pecans (optional)
8-10 flakes of Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 avocado
salt and pepper

Remove the tough inner stem from the leaves of kale. Tear all the leaves into bite-sized pieces and put them in a medium-sized mixing bowl.

Cut the apricots into little bits and add them to the bowl with the kale, along with the beans, the almonds, and the cheese. Whisk together the oil and vinegar (or shake it in a small canning jar, which is my favorite method). Pour the vinaigrette and a healthy pinch of salt over the salad and use your fingers or salad tongs to toss and rub everything together.

Just before eating, slice the avocado into cubes and spoon them over the salad. This salad will keep for about 24 hours, preferably refrigerated.

Candied Sweet Potato Soufflé

Remember the candied yams I made for Thanksgiving 2010, using puréed sweet potato instead of solid sweet potato pieces? Right, so I made that again, but on purpose this time, with a different recipe. It’s not a pretty dish once plated, but it sure hits the spot. There’s no point in saying much about it, it’s pretty self-explanatory, so here’s the recipe I adapted from The Kitchn; it makes about 6 to 8 servings as a side. I served it with lemon quinoa galettes.

2 15-oz cans sweet potato purée (or make your own purée by roasting sweet potatoes at 400 °F for one hours, then mashing them)
¼ cup maple syrup (or to taste)
2 Tbsp margarine
2 Tbsp lactose-free whole milk
2 eggs
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
Marshmallows (store-bought or home-made)
bacon crumbles, for garnish (optional)
praline crumbles, for garnish (optional)
snipped chives, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In a stand mixer, combine sweet potato purée and maple syrup (adjusting to personal taste and for the sweetness of the potatoes; keep in mind that marshmallows are very sweet, too.) margarine, milk, eggs, cinnamon, and salt until well combined. Pour mixture into a 10-inch cast iron skillet or an 8-inch square baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove casserole from the oven and increase heat to BROIL. Top the casserole with marshmallows. Cook, WATCHING CAREFULLY, until the marshmallows just begin to melt and brown, about 1 - 2 minutes (mine took 2 minutes, but it was a matter of 30 seconds for them to go from barely blonde to perfectly browned).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Carroty Mac and Cheese

Melissa Clark, we’ve got to stop meeting like this! First I fell in love with your red lentil soup, then there was your granola, then I came across your carroty mac and cheese in last month’s O Magazine (which I bought because I heard about it from three different sources, and it had some really good articles). I’m hereby adding Melissa Clark’s blog to my reading list!

This dish was good and satisfying, everything I would expect from mac and cheese, and it had the added bonuses of being lactose-free and of discretely containing a serving of vegetables per portion! If it were up to him, the Engineer would top the dish with breadcrumbs; apart from that, we wouldn’t change a thing. We got 4 generous servings out of this dish.

3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 12 oz), divided
2 cups whole wheat macaroni (or your gluten-free equivalent)
2 ½ cups coarsely grated carrots
4 Tbsp margarine or butter
¾ cup lactose-free sour cream (or vegan sour cream)
¼ cup lactose-free whole milk
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
¾ tsp mustard powder
black pepper, to taste
¼ cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 °F and grease an 8”-inch square baking pan.

Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water; a few minutes before pasta is finished, add carrots. When the pasta is done, drain, then stir in 2 ½ cups cheddar and the margarine.

In a bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, eggs, salt, mustard powder and a few grinds of black pepper. Fold into pasta mixture and pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup cheddar and the parmesan on top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Muffins aux pommes

Cette recette de muffins aux pommes est adaptée des Gourmandises d’Isa. Au lieu d’utiliser un mélange de farine tout-usage et de farine de blé entier, j’ai utilisé seulement de la farine de blé blond entier, comme je le fais habituellement de toute façon. J’ai eu assez de pâte pour 14 muffins, alors j’en ai fait 12 de taille normale et un gros dans un ramequin, que j’ai mangé pour dessert. Je pensais mettre une demi-douzaine de ces muffins au congélateur, mais ils ont disparu bien trop vite!

2 tasses de farine de blé blond entier (ou 1 ½ tasse de farine tout-usage + ½ tasse de farine de blé entier)
1 tasse de cassonade
1 ½ c. à thé de poudre à pâte
1 c. à thé de bicarbonate de sodium
½ c. à thé de sel
1 c. à thé de piment de la Jamaïque moulu (allspice)
2 œufs
1/3 tasse d’huile de tournesol (j’ai pris de l’huile de pépins de raisins)
1 tasse de compote de pommes
½ tasse de lait de soja (ou de lait sans lactose)
1 ½ tasse de pommes en petits cubes (1 grosse pomme ou 2 plus petites)
2 c. à table de cassonade

Préchauffer le four à 375 °F et préparer un moule à muffins en le garnissant de 12 caissettes en papier.

Combiner ensemble les 7 premiers ingrédients dans un grand bol.

Dans un autre bol, battre les œufs, l’huile, la compote de pommes et le lait. Verser cette préparation sur les ingrédients secs. Mélanger à la fourchette jusqu’à ce que le tout soit homogène.

Ajouter les pommes et les incorporer délicatement.

Verser la pâte dans les caissettes en papier et saupoudrer de cassonade. Enfourner pour 20 à 25 minutes. Vérifier la cuisson en insérant un cure-dents au centre; s’il en ressort propre, le muffin est cuit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salade de haricots à œil noir

Cette recette, trouvée sur Obsessions gourmandes, était à l’origine une recette de salade avec des pâtes fregola sarda. Il s’agit de pâtes en forme de petites boules, plus petites que l’orzo. Je n’en ai pas trouvé ici, alors j’ai utilisé du gros couscous perlé; je crois que c’est un bon équivalent, car le couscous est en fait une pâte, et celui-là avait la bonne forme et la bonne taille. Si vous ne trouvez ni l’un, ni l’autre, je vous recommande d’utiliser de l’orzo. Comme légumes, j’ai mis une grosse tomate, un gros concombre et une échalote; le fromage feta est facultatif (je n’ai pas trouvé d’équivalent sans lactose, mais il est très bon; si vous l’omettez, ajoutez un peu de sel à la salade). Nous avons adoré cette salade santé légère comme tout! Elle est délicieuse seule comme repas, ou en accompagnement (ici, d’un chausson croustillant aux pommes, au bacon et aux oignons caramélisés).

1 ½ tasse de pâtes fregola sarda ou de gros couscous
1 boîte de petits haricots à œil noir
2 tomates italiennes (ou une grosse tomate)
2 concombres libanais (ou 1 gros concombre)
80 g de feta (facultatif)
1 petit oignon rouge (ou 1 échalote)
3 c. à soupe de coriandre fraîche hachée
1 gousse d’ail
2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
sel et poivre, au goût

Faire cuire les pâtes selon le temps prescrit sur la boîte, mais surtout pas trop. Égoutter, passer à l’eau froide et égoutter complètement pendant quelques minutes.

Égoutter les haricots à œil noir et les rincer à l’eau froide.

Couper les tomates en dés, puis les concombres et l’oignon en petits dés. Couper également le feta en cubes de la taille que vous voulez.

Mélanger tous les ingrédients dans un grand bol, réfrigérer et servir!

Crispy Turnovers with Apple, Bacon and Caramelized Onions

So what did I do with the rest of my bacon after making pasta? I made these turnovers. And they were absolutely awesome. The Engineer and I both loved them, and he went so far as to suggest that we should have a stash in the freezer, like a secret weapon for unsuspecting guests. I would definitely keep these in mind for a Christmas brunch or something similar. If you want them for dinner, serve them alongside a salad.

2 sheets frozen puff pastry (or you could be super enthusiastic and make your own)
6 strips bacon, diced
2 medium-sized yellow onions, sliced thinly
1 apple (of the baking variety), diced small
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2-3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 egg yolk mixed with one tablespoon warm water
grated lactose-free sharp cheddar cheese (optional)

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and set it on the counter to thaw, still in its package.

Set a large skillet over medium heat and gently cook the bacon until all the fat is rendered and the bacon is just starting to become golden and crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set it on a paper towel to drain.

Pour off all but one tablespoon of the bacon fat. Still over medium-heat, slowly cook the onions with a pinch of salt until they are completely soft and caramelized. For best caramelized flavor, this should take about 30 minutes (but if you’re pressed for time, you can turn up the heat a nudge and cook them faster).

When the onions are as done as you like them, add the apples and another pinch of salt. Cook for 5-10 minutes until the apples have softened but are still firm in the middle. Stir in the cinnamon and a final pinch of salt. Add the cider vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to get up any caramelized brown bits.

Let the cider bubble until the pan is nearly dry again and then remove from heat. Combine the onion mixture and bacon in a bowl. If using, add the cheese when the mixture has cooled slightly.

Heat on your oven to 400 °F. Line two sheet pans with parchment or silpats.

Sprinkle a little flour on your work surface and unfold the puff pastry on top. If there are ridges in the pastry, gently flatten them with a rolling pin. Cut each piece of puff pastry into four equal squares (eight squares total).

Place two spoonfuls of the filling in the middle of each square. Dampen the edge with egg yolk and fold the squares over into triangles. Poke vent holds in the top with a paring knife and brush each turnover with egg yolk. Transfer to the baking sheets, spaced a few inches apart.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tips of each turnover are toasted brown and the tops are golden. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. (These turnovers are at their flakiest within a few hours after baking. Leftovers stored in the fridge will still be delicious, but not as flaky. I stored half of the turnovers raw in the fridge, covered, for baking another night. If you are planning for the long term, it’s better to freeze the turnovers un-baked and then bake them off individually).

Friday, April 13, 2012

Rose barrettes - or, why is it so hard to find an outfit for this wedding?

Dear Sister is getting married next month. And for whatever reason, I think I’m having more trouble getting my outfit together than she is! What I had in mind was a coral dress, but I couldn’t find any (some I saw online but they are no longer available, some I saw in stores but they didn’t fit). I ended up buying this orange dress, which is slightly too big in the upper back. Unfortunately, after some investigation and basting trials, I think it is beyond the scope of what I can fix. If I could just find a nice shawl, shrug or wrap, though, I could keep that problem hidden most of the time… I’d feel a little white trash, but no one would have to know. I managed to find shoes and a purse to go with it, though, because none of what I owned went with orange! That’s really what I’m dealing with for the shawl; orange is a tough color to coordinate. The other dresses I own don’t seem nice enough for this wedding, with the exception of one that is unfortunately a bit too short (come to think of it, that’s why I never wear it; I should consider adding fabric to make a new ruffled hem or something).

In an effort to look nice, I wanted to put some color in my hair, and I had thought of a flower barrette, like this one or that one from Etsy.

In the end, I decided to make my own, using this tutorial from The Purl Bee. The result is surprisingly similar to what I had in mind, and even goes with the dress. The problem is that when I put one on, I’m not sure it looks quite right. So I’ll take them with me and decide on the spot whether I’m wearing one.

All this to say: I’m not 100% sure what I’ll wear to my sister’s wedding, and I’m not 100% sure I’ll wear this rose barrette. But I like this rose barrette and hope you will, too.