Friday, May 31, 2013

Batch of links - On fetal origins and such

- The Engineer and I are both currently reviewing our music collections to eliminate songs with “inappropriate content” from the rotation, where innocent ears might pick up things they should not. (This doesn’t mean we’re deleting the songs from our hard drives or getting rid of albums, just removing them from playlists accessible to the shuffle function.) It’s a slow process, especially for me, and I’m just flabbergasted at how many awesome songs are now deemed inappropriate! I was therefore tickled when I came across Rockabye Baby, which has instrumental versions of rock songs that are all appropriate for babies! I particularly liked The Hand That Feeds by Nine Inch Nails and Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2. That being said, they also have songs that we deemed perfectly appropriate in their original version, like most of the Beatles’ catalog. Overall, I’d say we would consider get some albums if the production quality were (much) higher, but as it is, we find it a funny novelty product.

- Here’s something that few people know, including in the LI community: during pregnancy, roughly a third of women experience no change in their lactose-intolerance symptoms, while another third see improvement and the last third gets more sensitive. Of the two thirds that see any change, some revert back to their normal self after pregnancy, but others keep operating at that new level of lactose (in)tolerance. Doctors don’t know why, but postulate it could be because of hormonal changes. Can’t we have some studies on this? Anyway, I personally haven’t experienced any changes, but then again I’m not having lactose very often to begin with. I think I’ll do some gentle testing in the coming weeks to see if I could indulge a bit more until July, though I have very little hope of working my way up to a piece of cheesecake or the things I’ve been craving lately, like an Oreo milkshake, a Dairy Queen Blizzard or a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone covered in chocolate (craving as in “I haven’t had those in forever and really miss them these days”, not as in “I’m pregnant and want weird things”).

- Have you ever paused to think about how many different ways you can get potentially dangerous chemicals in your body, thereby possible affecting your fetus? (If you never gave it any thought, you might want to remain blissfully ignorant and skip this paragraph). Here is a really interesting Time article on fetal origins explaining how scientists are tracing higher rates of diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity and depression to the fetal environment! This field of study is still in its infancy (no pun intended), so there aren’t really any strong recommendations for expectant mothers on things to avoid or aim for, but it’s still pretty scary to think that something I’m doing right now could increase my child’s odds of certain diseases. Plus, another Time article pointed out the side effects on the fetus of certain chemicals. For example, “babies with higher prenatal exposure to pesticides had lower IQs in childhood that those born to women with less exposure. Most of the contact, said the scientists, came from pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables.” What scares me most here is that even eating strictly organic produce wouldn’t prevent that, since certain types of pesticides are still used on certified organic fruits and vegetables… So I’m trying to walk that fine line between “I’m doing everything I can to make sure my baby has the best chances” and “I will not drive myself insane by seeing poison everywhere”.

- On the bright side, though, fetuses do develop memories, and you can make them good ones.

- This type of concern is of course still an issue after birth, as even leading brands of baby products contain carcinogenic chemicals (which they intend to phase out, but when?). Not to mention the iconic Sophie the giraffe, which would not meet standards if it were classified as the “teether/soother” it is instead of as a “toy”. And yet I’m still considering giving it to the baby eventually, though I’m holding off a bit in case the manufacturer starts making a safer one in the next few months…

- Once again, on the bright side, there are some things we don’t need to worry about anymore. For example, we now know for a fact that vaccines don’t cause autism (and here’s a link with a very-easy-to-understand summary of the situation if you’ve missed the whole debacle). For the record, I realize how scary it must have been when doubts were first raised about the MMR vaccine and its possible link to autism, and it sure doesn’t help when celebrities add to the confusion just because they’ve got a platform, but we know better now. And for those who are trying to find an eloquent way to educate people around them, try this open letter.

- I never did talk about my prenatal vitamins, did I? I was in a bit of a bind because I have trouble swallowing pills. Something itty bitty like a birth control pill is fine, but “normal-sized” pills don’t get past me. When I asked my obgyn in Montreal if he could recommend a good brand of chewable prenatal vitamins, he laughed and said I should just chew the regular ones. I was skeptical, and with good reason – it was the foulest thing ever. I resorted to cutting pills in halves or quarters, but decided I was done with that after choking several times. I tried crushing them and adding them to apple sauce, but that was gross too, regardless of the brand I used. I finally found what I stuck to for over two years: a combination of chewable B12 with folic acid (by Swiss Natural Sources) plus chewable multivitamins (by Jamieson). While I loved the folic acid pill, I have to admit I wasn’t crazy about the packaging: see below how the jar is a regular size, but contains only 60 tiny pills at the bottom? I wish they’d put more in the jar instead of wasting all that packaging in air. Anyway, while I loved those vitamins, they proved impossible to get in the States, even with the help of the internet, so I’m now taking Bellybar prenatal vitamins. They don’t taste as good as my previous brands, but they’re not that bad either. I had considered gummy vitamins, which are the most widely recommended, but those don’t contain iron (!), so I wanted something more complete. There are liquid vitamins, too, but if you do the math, that gets really expensive (what I saw would have run me something like $8 a week, whereas now it’s just under $10 a month). Anyway, I’m hoping this will help other women who have trouble finding the right vitamins…

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Big Pink Rhubarb Cake

A few weeks ago, I made a rhubarb tart that looked very promising: it had a coconut custard, along with honey, rosewater and cardamom for flavoring. In the end, though, those flavors did not shine through, the rhubarb should have been diced instead of cut in 2-inch pieces, and there wasn’t enough sweetness to tame it. So I won’t be making that one again. Luckily, though, I found a recipe to redeem the rest of the rhubarb I had in the crisper drawer: the big pink rhubarb cake (the name of which reminds me of the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop for some reason). It’s a retro recipe from the 1950s and it calls for a box of jello powder and some mini-marshmallows; somehow, I bet the original recipe called for a box of yellow cake mix, too. I made it anyway, and it was wonderful. The bottom layer becomes very pink and is a great match for the cake layer. This cake is good any time of the day, be it breakfast, dessert or snack. I’ll be making it again!

For the yellow cake
1 cup sugar
½ cup butter (I used vegan margarine)
4 large egg yolks, beaten
1 cup lactose-free milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

For the rhubarb layer
3 cups rhubarb, sliced into ½"-pieces
½ cup sugar
1 package strawberry jello
3 cups miniature marshmallows
¼ cup powdered sugar (optional)

Grease and flour a 9" x 13" pan. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

First, make the yellow cake batter. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add egg yolks, milk and vanilla until fully mixed. Finally add flour, baking powder and salt to the mixing bowl and mix until fully combined. Set aside.

Evenly distribute the rhubarb on the bottom of the greased baking pan. Sprinkle the ½ cup sugar and contents of strawberry jello mix onto the rhubarb. Layer the marshmallows on top of the rhubarb as evenly as possible. Lastly, pour the cake batter over the entire surface of the rhubarb/marshmallow. It's okay if a few marshmallows poke through, it will be a thin layer of batter.

Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes or until the cake is set. Allow to cool and sift the powdered sugar through a strainer to dust the top of the cake.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Crispy Quinoa Bake

I’ve made a few vegetarian meals that weren’t all that great lately. There was a vegan cream of mushroom soup topped with sautéed mushrooms and a hazelnut gremolata. It was good enough that I will make it again, but not very photogenic, and I didn’t get the texture as smooth as I would have wanted (maybe I should get that Vitamix after all). Then I made a vegan frittata with potatoes and onions (so somewhat like a tofu tortilla española), but that wasn’t a favorite. It actually tasted better topped with parmesan or the leftover gremolata from the soup, and it still would have needed more flavor and/or a green vegetable. Neither of those dishes was very filling, either.

This baked quinoa dish, however, was totally worth it. I made it milder and used a whole red bell pepper instead of half a green one, and it was really, really good. I was even on board with the cooked zucchini! The pictures didn’t come out that great, what with the shiny top on the cheese and all, but you could always broil the dish for a few minutes before taking it out of the oven. I used extra sharp Tillamook cheddar, which I can digest just fine, but feel free to use whatever lactose-free cheese or cheese substitute you like.

1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock if you want)
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, cubed
1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 4-oz. can diced green chiles (I omitted that entirely)
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen corn (I used a can, rinsed and drained)
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. chili powder (I used ½ tsp. Korean pepper)
½ lime, juiced
2 cups lactose-free cheese, shredded (I used sharp cheddar)

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Spray a 9”x13” baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Place the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with cool water for at least two minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, for about one minute. The quinoa should begin to dry out and pop a bit. Add the vegetable stock. Stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and zucchini and cook 3 more minutes.
Fluff the quinoa with a fork and place it in a large bowl. Add onion mixture, beans, green chiles (if using), tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano, chili powder, lime juice, and salt to taste. Mix thoroughly and transfer to prepared baking dish. Bake 30 minutes, top with cheese, and bake 10 minutes more or until melted and just beginning to brown.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

La Nouvelle-Orléans

Bon, on commence par le commencement. Je n’ai pas écrit de billet depuis une semaine parce que l’Ingénieur et moi avons fait un petit voyage à la Nouvelle-Orléans, pendant que je peux encore me déplacer sans trop de problèmes. Pendant ce temps, il y a eu d’importantes inondations à San Antonio, qui heureusement n’ont pas affecté notre quartier (ni le chenil ou se trouvait Darwin), mais qui ont quand même fait trois morts et causé beaucoup de dommages. Jamais je n’aurais cru qu’en quittant San Antonio, où la température est au beau fixe avec une sécheresse depuis plus d’un an, pour me rendre à la Nouvelle-Orléans, j’aurais échappé à une tornade et à une inondation! Mais voilà, c’est ce qui est arrivé. Vous pouvez voir des photos de l’inondation ici – je sais enfin de quoi a l’air le barrage Olmos en action, et c’est vraiment étonnant! Il faut dire que le sol à San Antonio absorbe très mal l’eau, et il y a eu des précipitations d’environ 12 pouces en 24 heures, alors voilà le résultat.

Donc, notre voyage en Louisiane a été magnifique. On a mis un jour à s’y rendre et un à en revenir, plus trois jours de visite avec un horaire laissant place à la relaxation dans la piscine de l’hôtel en fin d’après-midi – c’est incroyable comme ça soulage en fin de grossesse, la piscine. J’ai vraiment adoré le Vieux Carré, avec son architecture, ses balcons en fer forgé garnis de plantes, ses poteaux où attacher un cheval ou une bicyclette, ses colliers accrochés au hasard sur les fils électriques et les pancartes… Sans compter l’escale obligatoire au Café du Monde pour une commande de beignets. J’ai beaucoup aimé aussi l’avenue Saint-Charles, pour ses magnifiques demeures! On a aussi découvert par hasard un magasin vendant de magnifiques meubles, et si j’avais eu le budget et la place dans la voiture, je serais bien repartie avec quelques morceaux! Regardez donc le meuble de rangement, l’autre meuble de rangement, le buffet ou le cabinet! (J’accepte les dons PayPal.)

Nous avons visité un bayou dans le parc national Jean Lafitte et avons aussi effectué une visite guidée de deux plantations en dehors de la ville, Oak Alley et Evergreen. Étrangement, j’ignorais qu’elles avaient été utilisées dans des films que j’avais vus, mais je n’en ai été que plus ravie! Oak Alley a entre autres été filmée dans Interview with a Vampire (et dans une vidéo de Beyoncé, pour les fans), et Evergreen a servi dans Django Unchained (la maison de Big Daddy, vous vous en souvenez?). Notre guide nous a dit que seule la canne à sucre pousse dans le sud de la Louisiane, tandis que le coton pourrit dans ce sol trop humide. Et pendant quelques semaines, alors qu’il disait cela, il conduisait son autocar de touristes devant un champ de coton en face d’Evergreen... Il a donc fini par arrêter et aller demander comment ça se faisait qu’ils avaient un champ de coton, pour apprendre qu’il s’agissait d’un plateau de tournage! Quentin Tarantino avait fait planter des bâtons dans le sol et coller du coton dessus. C’est aussi là qu’a été construite la façade extérieure de la fictive Candyland (tandis que les intérieurs étaient sur des plateaux de tournage en ville), mais si vous avez vu la dernière scène du film, vous comprendrez pourquoi on ne peut pas visiter cette maison-là! La plantation Evergreen était à l’origine une ferme (le rez-de-chaussée n’avait pas de murs, l’étage avait un balcon sur tous les côtés, et il n’y avait que trois pièces, plus les dépendances comme la cuisine et les bécosses; le tout a été réaménagé au XIXe siècle avec les escaliers doubles et le rez-de-chaussée, puis rénové en 1944 et une fois encore plus récemment par la propriétaire, qui s’en sert comme résidence secondaire). C’est devenu une plantation grâce à l’essor de la canne à sucre, et sa particularité est que sont encore debout les 22 cabanes où vivaient les esclaves. Je trouve donc que ça fait une visite plus honnête, où on ne parle pas que des propriétaires de la plantation, mais aussi de ceux grâce à qui tout cela était possible, tout en comparant leurs conditions de vie à celles des gens qui habitaient dans la grosse maison.

Côté repas, nous avons vraiment bien mangé! J’avais bien sûr entendu parler de Cochon, mais j’avais décidé que vu mes restrictions alimentaires actuelles, mieux valait ne pas y faire de réservations. Je le regrette un peu, car j’aurais pu y trouver quelque chose, d’autant plus que j’aurais aimé goûter aux croquettes d’alligator… Tant pis! Nous avons essayé deux des endroits recommandés par Bon Appétit le mois dernier. Tout d’abord, l’Erin Rose Bar, pour y manger des po’ boys un midi : heureusement que je savais que c’était là! À prime abord, il s’agit d’un simple bar, mais si on se rend dans la pièce du fond, il s’y trouve une petite cuisine qui sert les meilleurs po’ boys que j’ai mangés pendant le voyage. J’ai pris celui au porc, mariné dans du rhum et du gingembre, plus salade de chou à la lime et aïoli. Un régal! L’Ingénieur a préféré un sandwich à la muffaletta avec fromage et olives, qui a également fait son bonheur.

Nous avons ensuite soupé à La Petite Grocery, où je crois avoir mangé le meilleur repas durant mon séjour : entrée d’ail des bois poêlé serve avec chapelure, grains de pecorino romano et jus de citron (absolument délicieux!), suivie du poulet rôti au thym avec ail, patates douces et chou frisé, puis le petit gâteau aux amandes avec compote de bleuets et sorbet à la noix de coco (demande spéciale, au lieu de la crème glacée au sirop de canne à sucre). C’était divin! L’Ingénieur a également adoré son repas, composé de gratin de crabe bleu suivi du hamburger au fromage avec marmelade d’oignons, roquette, moutarde et aïoli plus frites maison avec aïoli à l’oignon vert et ketchup.

Les deux autres endroits dignes de mention sont Dante’s Kitchen et Crescent Pie and Sausage Company. Chez Dante, j’ai eu droit à un traitement de faveur avec un mocktail sans produit laitier composé spécialement pour moi (j’ai identifié du gingembre et du pamplemousse et j’avais même un palmier en plastique dans mon verre). L’Ingénieur et moi avons partagé le thit kho comme entrée; il s’agit d’une crêpe croustillante à l’oignon vert sur laquelle repose du porc en sauce, avec entre autres des saveurs de piment, d’ail et de gingembre, ainsi que des carottes, du kimchi et de la coriandre. C’était plus piquant que je le croyais, mais ô combien délicieux! Bébé a par contre eu une réaction que je qualifierais de surprise à la suite de ces épices! On nous a aussi servi du pain au maïs avec beurre au miel. J’ai ensuite pris le poulet épicé en sauce à l’érable avec à-côté de pommes de terre et bacon, tandis que l’Ingénieur a préféré le pâté au gibier épicé avec haricots noirs et croûte à l’origan. Pour dessert, nous avons partagé le trio de sorbets maison (non laitiers!) : fraise, citron Meyer et baie mayhaw. Cette dernière saveur nous a conquis!

Enfin, au Crescent, l’Ingénieur a tenu à goûter à la jambalaya et au po’ boy aux crevettes frites avec sauce brune, plats tout à fait typiques de la région. Pour ma part, j’ai essayé le spécial de la soirée, une pizza au poulet au cari avec carottes râpées, canneberges séchées, noix de pécan et minces tranches d’oignons et de pommes en plus du fromage. C’était absolument génial! J’avais malheureusement trop mangé pour goûter au dessert…

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mexican Chocolate Cakes

I’ve had a weird track record with gluten-free brownies. While I’ve made some before with success, the last three have been failures. There was a recipe by David Lebovitz, where he uses corn starch instead of flour, but those came out too thin, too fudgy, too sweet even though I had used 70% chocolate, and they didn’t hold well together (though they tasted good). I wondered whether I should try again by replacing half the corn starch with cocoa powder and doubling the recipe, but decided to abandon it. Then I tried these brownies, which called for all-purpose gluten-free flour – I used Bob’s Red Mill’s mix. The center of the brownies caved in substantially; the edges were rock-hard and inedible, and while the center was chewy and dark and rich without being sweet (delicious, in fact), with a crispy top, the brownies as a whole were a failure. While eating them, I felt like I’d been bad at Christmas and had gotten a lump of coal to eat. And then I tried a recipe from Chatelaine: as commenters had pointed out, these brownies look nothing like the picture that goes with them. The batter was super thick and the brownies were gummy. No good.

It must have been a leap of faith, then, that allowed me to try these gluten-free Mexican chocolate cakes not once, but twice. The first time I made this recipe, from Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, I changed the spices a bit and used lactose-free cow’s milk. The unpredictable result was a massive failure, because the little cakes exploded out of their ramekins! What was left in them was good, though, so I decided to make this again with soy milk, as in the original recipe. I’m including a blurry picture because it’s just really funny to see, along with what I salvaged from one of the ramekins.

So the second time, I made them vegan, and used less sugar, too. And now, they’re keepers! I ended up cooking them a bit more the second time, but they were good with some moisture left as well, so it’s totally up to you. You can top them with lactose-free whipped cream or serve them as is.

For the sweet rice flour, what I did was use a spice grinder to pulse sweet rice into flour (I like having sweet rice in the pantry, but did not want to have a third kind of rice flour, so I just make my own). If you do the same, don’t be afraid to really pulse the heck out of it so that it is more powdery than grainy. Note also that for the topping (4 Tbsp. sugar + 2 Tbsp. cocoa), you’ll have too much for the recipe. I think I used about half, and ended up using the rest to make chocolate milk. I wouldn’t hesitate to cut that in half next time.

40 g. sweet rice flour
35 g. teff flour
35 g. sorghum flour
½ cup sugar + ¼ cup sugar
4 Tbsp. + 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ancho chile powder (I only had regular chile powder and used ½ tsp.)
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup soy milk (I don’t recommend dairy milk; see above)
¼ cup vegetable oil (I used safflower)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
boiling-hot water in a kettle

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and flour 6 ramekins (to keep this gluten-free, use more sweet rice flour, or cocoa powder). Put the ramekins on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.

Whisk the sweet rice flour, teff flour and sorghum flour together. Add ½ cup sugar, 4 Tbsp. cocoa powder, baking powder, ancho chile powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk them together.

In a measuring cup, mix the soy milk, oil and vanilla. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients (don’t worry if the batter feels a little stiff). Spoon the batter into the ramekins, filling them about 2/3 full.

Combine the remaining sugar and cocoa powder and sprinkle it evenly over the tops of the ramekins. Spoon 2 Tbsp. of boiling-hot water into each ramekin – do not stir.

Slide the ramekins into the oven. Bake until the water is fully absorbed and the tops are dry to the touch, about 20 to 30 minutes (my oven is on the strong side, so it took only slightly more than 20 minutes, but each oven is different; keep checking). Pull the ramekins from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Multigrain Carrot-Date Muffins

This healthy muffin recipe is from the Sprouted Kitchen cookbook. The Engineer and I thought they were delicious! I’ve modified the recipe below to make it lactose-free, but I’ve also put all the dry ingredients first. I find it such a pain to have to wash things like measuring spoons and cups in the middle of a recipe that I’d rather just deal with the dry stuff first, and wipe clean if need be. (I do use dry measuring cups for the flour, but used a liquid one for the almond meal and bran.)

¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
¾ oat bran (I used wheat bran)
½ cup almond meal
1/3 cup unbleached cake flour
½ cup muscovado sugar (I used brown sugar because I have a surplus)
1/3 cup turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger (optional)
½ tsp. salt
1 cup lactose-free buttermilk (milk soured with vinegar or lemon juice)
¼ cup margarine
1 egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup finely chopped Medjool dates
1 ½ cups loosely packed grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift the dry ingredients together, making sure there are no clumps, and whisk. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract until well combined. Add the dates and carrots and mix.

Gently stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Let sit for about 5 minutes for the batter to poof just a bit.

Meanwhile, prepare your muffin tins by greasing them (I found that paper liners stuck to the muffins too much). The recipe should make 12 standard-sized muffins, but I got 15. Pour the batter into the tins (I use an ice cream scoop for this and it makes my life infinitely easier). Sprinkle a bit of turbinado sugar on top of each muffin (I forgot). Bake until the tops of the muffins are just browed and a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. When just cool enough to handle, twist each muffin out and turn it on its side to release the steam. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container for 4-5 days.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Batch of links

- There’s a new app that lets you boycott various products, based on your beliefs. It makes the job easy by showing you exactly which companies are behind them once you scan their barcode. Yet another reason a smartphone would be useful…

- A video game-themed bar and restaurant that I find pretty neat.

- A typography cake with a hidden message! This is adorable!

- Also, if you like pretty cakes (and who doesn’t?), check out Marcella Robin’s cakes!

- Did you hear that Merida, from Brave, got an unnecessary makeover? I was flabbergasted at first, then outraged, but then I read The Blogess’ commentary and I feel better. Not that Disney couldn’t improve its role models, though.

- In the same line of thought, people last week made a big deal out of a comment by the CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, who basically said that he refused to make plus-sized clothes because he only caters to the good-looking, cool crowd. I didn’t mention it then, even though I thought this made him a douchebag, but now I have to share what this guy is doing in retaliation, because it is full of awesome.

- I loved this speech on adulthood, which is really about consciously adjusting your attitude.

- Finally, since I’m a fan of the “Hey, girl” meme, this had me in stitches: Ryan Gosling won’t eat his cereal.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Salade de brocoli au poulet

Bon, ça fait un petit bout que mes soupers ne sont pas inspirants, mais là, ça valait la peine. J’ai adapté une recette de Coup de Pouce (que je ne trouve pas sur leur site); il s’agissait à l’origine d’une salade au dindon, mais j’ai pris du poulet. J’ai acheté un poulet rôti du commerce, parce que c’est moins cher que d’acheter un poulet cru et le faire rôtir soi-même (!), il faut juste de dépecer. À part ça, c’est super rapide, parce que j’ai aussi acheté une salade de brocoli du commerce et des carottes râpées du commerce – que voulez-vous, il y a des soirs comme ça. L’Ingénieur et moi avons beaucoup aimé tous les deux, et je ne manquerais pas d’en refaire!

¼ tasse de vinaigre balsamique blanc
2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
2 c. à thé de sucre
1 pincée de sel
1 pincée de poivre
1 paquet de salade de brocoli
3 tasses de poulet cuit, effiloché
1 ½ tasse de raisins rouges sans pépins, coupés en deux
1 tasse de carottes râpées grossièrement
¼ tasse d’amandes en tranches ou en bâtonnets, grillées (facultatif, j’ai laissé tomber)

Dans un pot en verre muni d’un couvercle, mélanger le vinaigre balsamique, l’huile, le sucre, le sel et le poivre. Fermer le pot hermétiquement et agiter vigoureusement jusqu’à ce que la vinaigrette soit homogène.

Dans un grand bol, mélanger la salade de brocoli, le poulet, les raisins et les carottes. Ajouter la vinaigrette et mélanger pour bien enrober les ingrédients. Parsemer des amandes et servir.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Muhammara et crêpes de pois chiche au cumin

Voici un genre de deux-en-un, dont les goûts me rappellent ceux du Petit Alep à Montréal. Un muhammara tiré de Bon Appétit, servi avec des crêpes de pois chiche au cumin de Chocolate & Zucchini. Pour servir, j’ai coupé quelques crêpes en pointes, que j’aurais aussi pu faire rôtir au four pour les rendre croustillantes, et j’ai utilisé un petit couteau à pâté pour étendre le muhammara sur les crêpes. La recette fera davantage de crêpes qu’il n’en faut pour accompagner le muhammara; j’en ai obtenu 11 en tout (même si la recette dit 20, j’en ai toujours moins) et j’en ai utilisé une dans la recette même du muhammara. Le reste des crêpes peut être réchauffé et servi roulé avec une tartinade de votre choix, ou encore trempé dans un cari. Elles étaient très bonnes, et j’ai aussi beaucoup aimé le muhammara, qui goûtait presque comme celui du restaurant!

Pour les crêpes de pois chiche au cumin
300 g. de farine de pois chiche
2 c. à thé de sel (j’en ai mis juste 1 c. à thé)
2 c. à thé de cumin en poudre
2 tasses d’eau

Dans un bol, mélanger la farine, le sel et le cumin. Ajouter l’eau petit à petit, en fouettant bien pour éviter les grumeaux. Couvrir et laisser reposer au frais 2 heures.

Faire cuire dans une poêle huilée comme des crêpes classiques. Si une crêpe résiste au moment de la décoller pour la retourner, lui donner simplement quelques secondes de cuisson supplémentaire.

Garder au chaud dans un four à 140 °F.

Pour le muhammara
¼ tasse de morceaux de pain (comme du pain pita ou lavash; j’ai pris une crêpe)
1 tasse de morceaux de noix
2 c. à soupe de jus de citron
2 c. à soupe de pâte de tomate
1 c. à soupe de piment d’Alep, OU 1 ½ c. à thé de flocons de piment rouge plus 1 ½ c. à thé de paprika (moi, j’ai pris 1 c. à thé de paprika et 1 c. à thé de piment coréen)
1 c. à soupe de harissa (je l’ai omis, c’est trop piquant pour moi)
2 c. à thé de mélasse de grenade (ou un peu plus, au goût)
2 c. à thé de sucre
1 c. à thé de cumin
2 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
sel, poivre
persil haché

Mettre le pain avec ¼ tasse d’eau dans un petit bol; laisser reposer jusqu’à ce que le pain devienne mou, 2 ou 3 minutes. Transférer le mélange dans un robot culinaire. Ajouter les noix et les sept ingrédients suivants; mélanger jusqu’à l’obtention d’une consistance lisse, ajoutant de l’eau une cuillère à soupe à la fois si le mélange est trop épais. Avec le robot en marche, ajouter 2 c. à soupe d’huile. Assaisonner de sel et de poivre; garnir de persil et, si désiré, de quelques morceaux de noix et d’un filet d’huile. Servir avec les crêpes de pois chiche au cumin, du pain pita ou des crudités.

Chocolate Chunk Bread Pudding

This bread pudding recipe is from the Herbivoracious cookbook, by Michael Natkin, though here’s a link to it on the author’s blog. It is so good! It is soft and chewy (“moelleux” is the word I’m thinking of), not too sweet, and just the perfect dessert. It is rather homely-looking, though, so perhaps only serve it to family and don’t try to impress guests with it! The Engineer agreed it was delicious, warm or cold.

When I made it, I wondered whether the dish called for in the book (9”x13”) was a little too big, and I thought I would try it in a smaller dish next time. Lo and behold, a smaller dish (8”x12”) is what is called for in the blog post! So I’d say either dish is fine, depending on what you have on hand and on how thick you want your pudding. Also, the original recipe called for 7 oz. of chocolate, but I say go ahead and use all 8 oz. you probably have in the package, you won’t regret it.

4 large eggs
2 cups lactose-free whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of kosher salt
14 oz. challah or brioche, preferably slightly stale, most of the crust removed and cut into ¾” cubes
8 oz. high quality bittersweet chocolate, in the 70% range, cut into good sized chunks (not a whole mouthful, but a lot bigger than a chocolate chip)

Preheat your oven to 375 °F.

Butter a large shallow baking dish, around 8″ x 12″ (9”x13” will do too).

Beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk, starting with just a little at a time, until the eggs are well distributed. Whisk in the vanilla extract, sugar, and salt.

Place the cubed bread in the pan. Pour the custard evenly over the bread and toss lightly, trying to get it to absorb without squashing the bread too much.

Add the chocolate chunks and again toss gently to distribute.

Cover the pan with tin foil and cook until it reaches an internal temperature in the center of 185 °F, about 45 minutes for a 9”x13” dish, perhaps up to half-an-hour longer for an 8”x12” dish. (You can also check for doneness with a fork, and as it gets close, by taking a bite. You want it to be well set, but not overcooked and rubbery.)

Let rest ten minutes and serve it forth. A bit of (lactose-free, in all cases) whipped cream, a drizzle of heavy cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream are all very welcome.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Batch of links

- A Mark Bittman article on a new positive approach to cooking targeted at kids, but involving the whole family. I really like the idea!

- Michael Pollan on kosher pork, or the values we associate with our food.

- Anthony Bourdain on getting foodfucked in Quebec (in the best possible way, of course).

- As you may have heard, Montreal finally raised the ban on food trucks earlier this year. However, the new rules put in place are a symbolic fuck you to poor people and immigrants. I don’t know who in government thought this would be a good idea, but they sure didn’t get my vote.

- 7 food practices that are banned in Europe but not in the States, a.k.a. 7 more reasons I wish the FDA and USDA would get their act together.

- You know how The Smoking Gun has published various artists’ tour rider, so we can make fun of their requests? Well, someone has now taken pictures of the objects in various of these riders, which makes for some interesting still lifes.

- Another article on gun control, or more specifically, the Second Amendment. While I’m not arguing it should be repealed, I would like to point out how it’s been twisted from its original purpose. This article, however, explains that no rights are absolute, and that since there are restrictions on all the other amendments, it would only make sense to impose some common-sense restrictions on the Second one, too.

- Photographer uses his iPhone to capture one photo a day of a lonely bur oak, and some are phenomenal (full gallery here).

- Why it’s awesome to be a nerd, by Wil Wheaton.

- Portaits derived from DNA from cigarette butts and gum left in public places. I find this both creepy and cool.

- Here’s one of Derren Brown’s experiements. This Brit is known mostly as a magician/mentalist, but it turns out that he actually conducts elaborate social experiments. In the link above, he examines the effect of perceived luck on behavior, which I found very interesting.

- Have some time to waste? Trust me, you’ll find time for this.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Honey Mustard Broccoli Salad

This salad recipe is from The Sprouted Kitchen, though here’s a link to it on The Washington Post. I didn’t feel like julienning the broccoli stems, so I omitted them altogether, and I forgot the parsley. It was really good, though! I used a Lady Alice apple, and was surprised to see that it did not get oxidized overnight. I also would use 2 Tbsp. of Dijon mustard next time instead of 3 Tbsp., but that’s a matter of personal preference. I ended up with about 3 servings, but if you use the broccoli stems, it would probably yield 4 servings.

2 bunches broccoli with stems (about 1 lb. total)
½ cup unsalted sunflower seeds, toasted
1 apple, such as Gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp, cored and cut into small dice (I used Lady Alice)
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 Tbsp. Dijon-style mustard (I would use 2 Tbsp.)
2 Tbsp. honey (or agave, for a vegan version)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
coarse salt (preferably Himalayan pink salt, though I used freshly cracked plain sea salt)
freshly ground black pepper

Cut the stems from the broccoli and set aside. Cut the florets into bite-size pieces. Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large, lidded pot and steam the florets in a steamer insert for about 1 minute, just long enough to take off the raw edge. Transfer the florets to a colander and let them cool. Meanwhile, use a julienne peeler, mandoline or V-slicer to cut the broccoli stems into matchstick-size pieces (julienne).

Whisk together the mustard, honey, olive oil and vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Season with a pinch or two of salt and a generous amount of pepper. Add the broccoli florets, broccoli stems, sunflower seeds, apple and parsley to the bowl, and toss to coat.

Cover the bowl loosely and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes or until chilled. Serve cold.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Biscuits à l'avoine et aux deux graines

Cette recette-là, ça fait longtemps qu’elle me chicote. Je l’avais faite une fois il y a quelques années, avec de la margarine au lieu du beurre, et les biscuits s’étaient complètement étalés à la cuisson, même s’ils goûtaient bon. J’avais décidé de retravailler la recette un beau jour, sans jamais trouver le bon moment. Mais là, ça y est. J’ai changé les ingrédients un petit peu, en ajoutant du shortening non hydrogéné pour qu’ils se tiennent mieux, mais sans obtenir le succès escompté. Voyez-vous, la recette d’origine recommande d’en faire cuire deux plaques à la fois, une en haut du four et une en bas, en les intervertissant en cours de cuisson. Résultat : les biscuits de la plaque qui était en haut à l’origine se sont étalés, et ceux de la plaque du bas à l’origine (qui est ensuite passée en haut) se sont mieux tenus. Avec le reste de la pâte, j’ai donc essayé de mettre une plaque de biscuits au milieu du four pour toute la durée de cuisson, et là, ça a fonctionné! Dans la photo ci-dessous, j’ai mis un exemple de chaque biscuit dans la rangée la plus près du bord : un biscuit de la plaque du haut à gauche, un de la plaque du bas au milieu, et un de la plaque du milieu à droite. Alors voilà, selon moi, il faut faire cuire les biscuits une plaque à la fois, au milieu du four, et idéalement réfrigérer le reste de pâte jusqu’à en avoir besoin. La recette fait environ 3 douzaines de délicieux biscuits. Le biscuit montré en exemple dans la petite assiette blanche est plutôt ovale, car il a été fait avec les derniers restes de pâte à un moment où l’apparence m’importait moins que le fait de savoir si je pouvais les faire cuire correctement, mais si on y met le moindrement d’effort, ils sont très beaux aussi!

½ tasse de margarine
½ tasse de shortening végétal non hydrogéné
1 tasse de cassonade tassée
2 œufs
1 c. à thé de vanille
2 tasses de flocons d'avoine
1 ½ tasse de céréales de riz soufflé (de type Rice Krispies)
½ tasse de farine tout usage (voir la ligne ci-dessous)
½ tasse de farine de blé entier (j’ai pris en tout 1 tasse de farine de blé blond entier)
¼ tasse de graines de tournesol non salées, décortiquées
¼ tasse de graines de citrouille, décortiquées
½ c. à thé de bicarbonate de sodium
½ c. à thé de poudre à pâte
¼ c. à thé de sel

Préchauffer le four à 350 °F et placer la grille au milieu.

Dans un grand bol, à l'aide d'un batteur électrique, battre la margarine, le shortening et la cassonade jusqu'à ce que le mélange ait gonflé. Ajouter les œufs, un à un, en battant. Incorporer la vanille en battant.

Dans un autre bol, mélanger les flocons d'avoine, les céréales de riz, la farine tout usage, la farine de blé entier, les graines de tournesol et de citrouille, le bicarbonate de sodium, la poudre à pâte et le sel. Incorporer les ingrédients secs au mélange de beurre et mélanger jusqu'à ce que la préparation soit humide, sans plus.

Laisser tomber la pâte, 1 c. à soupe à la fois, sur une plaque à biscuits tapissée de papier-parchemin, en espaçant les biscuits d'environ 2 po. Cela fait environ 12 biscuits sur la plaque. Cuire de 10 à 12 minutes ou jusqu'à ce que les biscuits soient dorés. Déposer les biscuits sur des grilles et laisser refroidir complètement; répéter avec le reste de la pâte.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Batch of links

- I really enjoyed this family’s time-lapse video of a year in their community garden; it makes me look forward to having raised beds and gardening with more varieties of vegetables (and strawberries, I need fresh strawberries). By the way, did you know that urban farming tends to lower the crime rate?

- Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day is May 17th this year.

- This site lists everything you can get for free on your birthday from various companies (in the U.S.). My birthday falls very close to Christmas, and with the travelling and festivities involved during the holidays, I never end up having time to use any of these ideas, but I’m sure some people can benefit!

- Here’s a round-up of outrageously sexist ads, with a commentary of how they affect the way men and women view themselves.

- You’ve heard about the 4th-grade “science” quiz, right? Turns out it’s real. Granted, it was given by a private Christian school, not a public school, but I still have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that some kids are still being taught this in the 21st century, but it does explain some of the stupid thing coming out of people’s mouths…

- The cheat sheet version of the language situation in Quebec.

- A fascinating New York Times article titled Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit, about how some symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation can easily be confused with symptoms of ADHD. Obviously, treating ADHD when the problem is really sleep deprivation isn’t optimal! It’s also interesting to note that chronic sleep deprivation in children has increased in recent decades, as has the rate of diagnosed ADHD…

- There’s now a way to potentially diagnose autism at birth so that treatment can be started right away, as opposed to waiting until your child is a toddler to get a diagnosis and then a few more years until you can get adequate care… This test isn’t standard yet and at this point is only recommended for parents who already have an autistic child, but there’s a lot of potential there.

- And finally, a bunch of links about pot, which fell in my lap this week. First, hard evidence that cannabis use in one’s teens leads to an irreparable drop in IQ (which is not the case when one either doesn’t use pot or starts using it in adulthood). A commentary targeted at those who say using pot makes them better at parenting (hint: your kids are not oblivious), plus evidence that an older sibling’s behavior can have more influence than parental influence (which works both ways: an older sibling setting a good example will help the younger ones despite hard conditions, but the opposite is true as well). And last, a neat video titled The Accidental Stoner, about how a journalist reporting on pot accidentally got high on the job – and how today’s pot can be much stronger than what was available in previous decades.

Liens de la semaine

- J’en avais déjà parlé, mais je le redis : j’adore le principe des Fermes Lufa, où une quarantaine de variétés de fruits et de légumes sont cultivées sur un toit à Montréal, sans pesticides. Les abonnés reçoivent un panier par semaine et peuvent même en choisir le contenu. Il faudrait que je me trouve quelque chose comme ça par chez moi… En tout cas, je reparle de ça parce que j’ai découvert Tagada, qui crée des paniers d’épicerie gourmets complets chaque semaine, selon différentes formules. L’idée m’a l’air excellente!

- J’ai beaucoup aimé ce reportage avec des photos montrant ce que mangent différentes familles en une semaine. Il y a d’énormes différences dans les quantités et les prix, mais aussi dans les variétés de nourriture!

- Voici un article décrivant un atelier pour initier les enfants à la dégustation. Puisqu’il a eu lieu dans le cadre d’une dégustation d’alcool (les enfants buvaient autre chose!), je comprends que certains s’y soient opposés, mais je trouve l’idée de base vraiment géniale.

- Un petit article sur le projet de loi 14 que j’ai bien apprécié.

- On le sait bien, le Premier Ministre canadien n’est pas un ardent défenseur de l’environnement. Mais là, il a enlevé le mot « environnement » du site météorologique gouvernemental, en plus de changer la couleur du fond de page de vert à bleu. Vous ne trouvez pas qu’il exagère?

- Un enseignant du cégep se vide le cœur au sujet de l’éducation québécoise aujourd’hui. Et il a tellement raison! Je vois toujours, sur ma page Facebook, la manière dont mes cousins francophones écrivent : de façon phonétique, sans distinguer un verbe d’un possessif, sans accorder leurs adjectifs, etc. C’est à faire saigner les yeux et l’âme! Et dans tout ça, le ministère de l’Éducation fait des réformes sans vraiment s’attarder sur la nature du problème et les solutions pour le régler… C’est vraiment déplorable!

- Comment découper du papier sulfurisé aux dimensions d’un moule à cake, technique qui fonctionne aussi avec un moule à pain.

- Enfin, quelques articles sur la perception des blogueurs culinaires par la société. J’ai d’abord lu un billet de Catherine Draws sur Obsessions gourmandes, Se prouver avec un portfolio - parce qu’apparemment, quand on aime tant quelque chose qu’on le fait par plaisir, on n’est pas pris au sérieux. Je pense que cela a tourné au ridicule dans le cadre d’un récent concours organisé par Urbania, qui cherchait un « passionné de bouffe au Québec » avec un vrai talent pour la communication… et qui a automatiquement éliminé les candidatures de blogueurs. Voici ce qu’Héloïse Leclerc, du blogue 180 degrés, avait à dire sur le sujet. Personnellement, je trouve absolument ridicule qu’on cherche quelqu’un qui soit passionné par la nourriture et doué en communications, mais qu’on insiste pour éliminer les gens si passionnés qu’ils communiquent sur un blogue! N’importe quoi. Un pigiste sans blogue peut être passionné, mais quelqu’un qui n’est pas professionnel rémunéré et qui n’a pas de blogue ne remplit pas vraiment les critères, non? Je ne comprends vraiment pas pourquoi c’est vu comme une tare, surtout quand c’est un beau blogue comme Obsessions gourmandes…

Dans la même veine, voici l’opinion de plusieurs blogueurs culinaires sur les attentes des restaurateurs (en anglais et en français), écrit en réponse à cet article point de vue des restaurateurs (en anglais).

Raw Thai Mango Salad

Here’s an original salad that I enjoyed. I had to use frozen peas (thawed) instead of snap peas, and because I couldn’t find tamarind juice, I diluted a bit of tamarind paste, hoping to get the same result. The problem with tamarind paste is that it is intensely brown, like soy sauce, and it colors the entire dish. When your dish is made of fresh fruits and vegetables, though, that brown does make it look unappetizing (even though it tasted great). I must admit that I also didn’t present this salad quite the way the original recipe intended, because, well… Ain’t nobody got time for that. You should check out the picture at the link, though, it really is pretty! This recipe makes 2 or 3 servings as a main dish, perhaps 4 as a side dish. Hopefully you’ve got tamarind juice that isn’t too color-saturated!

1 yellow Thai mango
1 zucchini
1 cucumber
150 g. snap peas
fresh coriander
fresh mint
2 Tbsp. tamarind juice
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp. agave nectar or honey

Slice mango, chop snow peas, coriander and mint. Using a spiralizer, make zucchini noodles and cucumber ribbons. To make the dressing, mix tamarind juice, lime juice, agave and salt. Toss together zucchini noodles, the snow peas and the fresh herbs and mix in the dressing. Top with cucumber and mango slices and serve.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Spiced Rhubarb Cobbler

I wasn’t sure I’d post this recipe. I had almost decided not to, because while it was good, it came out very homely-looking. I mean, it’s not like cobblers have ever won beauty pageants anywhere, but I had made this recipe before and I remembered much prettier results. But you see, I found out this week that someone very dear to me had passed away. My aunt Catherine (who was really my great-aunt, but was closer to me than my actual aunts, with the possible exception of my Fairy Godmother) loved fruit-based desserts. In fact, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she had thought the homelier, the better. I can’t remember whether I had shared that recipe with her already, but I know she would have enjoyed it.

The recipe is originally from a 2003 issue if the LCBO’s Food and Drink. I had it in French, but as I look now at the original English version, I realize that one thing I was going to warn you about (don’t leave the rhubarb on the stovetop more than a few minutes at most) is actually very clear in English and was completely mistranslated in French, which is why my rhubarb turned to compote without any big pieces left… So this version should clear things up; just try not to let your rhubarb dissolve. Also, note that the amount of sugar is fine if your rhubarb is very bitter, but some varieties are sweeter than others, so don’t be afraid to taste yours and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly.

For the cobbler
6 cups rhubarb (diced, see below)
1 ½ cups granulated sugar (see note above)
3 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 vanilla bean (to gather seeds, cut vanilla bean in half with the point of a knife and scrape out seeds)
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder (I was out and used allspice instead)
2 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine

For the topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup lactose-free milk
1 egg, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

If rhubarb stalks are thick, peel away the outside with a paring knife. Dice rhubarb and place in a saucepot.

Combine sugar with cornstarch, the scraped seeds from vanilla bean, cinnamon and Chinese 5-spice powder. Add to rhubarb and stir in with water. Bring just up to a boil, stirring on occasion and pour into a 4 cup (1 L) baking dish. Dot fruit with 2 Tbsp. butter.

For cobbler topping, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Melt butter and warm milk to room temperature and combine. Whisk egg into milk mixture and pour over flour. Stir just until batter is evenly incorporated-it will look like thick pancake batter.

Spoon cobbler topping over rhubarb, leaving spaces between spoonfuls for the topping to expand.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cobbler looks cake-like underneath when a center piece is lifted (I used a toothpick to gauge whether it was cooked through). Serve warm, with a generous scoop of lactose-free vanilla ice cream if you wish.