Saturday, November 30, 2013

Apple Sharlotka

Another apple cake, this one from Smitten Kitchen. This one is unlike other cakes I’ve made before in that it’s mostly apples, with just a little batter to hold them together. So the apples are really in the foreground, and the cake is not too sweet, which I really liked. The Engineer called it “honest”, so there you have it. I used nutmeg instead of cinnamon to dust on top of the finished cake, because I think nutmeg is underrated; you could go either way or omit the spice altogether.

6 large, tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
ground cinnamon, to finish (I used nutmeg)
powdered sugar, also to finish

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan.

Peel, halve and core your apples, then chop them into medium-sized chunks. (I cut each half into four or five slices, then cut them fairly thinly — about ¼-inch — in the other direction.) Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.

Pour over apples in pan, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter and press it down so that it covers all exposed apples. The top of the batter should end up level with the top of the apples. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out free of batter. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter. Dust lightly with ground cinnamon (or nutmeg).

Serve warm or cooled, dusted with powdered sugar. We imagine it would be delicious with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped or sour cream, if you could find them lactose-free.

Spinach and chickpea fritters

This recipe for a side dish is adapted from Real Simple. When I mixed all the ingredients, I had a feeling that the fritters wouldn’t hold together, and indeed, they had no cohesion whatsoever. So I added an egg to the second half of the batch, and I really liked the result. The recipe below is therefore my version. I served them with poached eggs the first night, for a light dinner, but I went with vegetarian “chicken” the second night for something a little more substantial. Note that you can go crazy with the hot sauce here if you wish, but I prefer my fritters mild. I’d also serve them without the yogurt and sauce.

8 cups stemmed and torn Swiss chard (about 1 bunch) or spinach
1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
1 clove garlic, chopped
½ tsp. ground cumin
kosher salt and black pepper
2 oz. Feta, crumbled (about ½ cup)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)
hot sauce, for serving (optional)

In a food processor, combine the Swiss chard, chickpeas, garlic, cumin, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a large bowl, add the Feta, flour and eggs, and mix until combined. Form the mixture into eight 2½-inch patties. (I used a ¼-cup measure and got 10 patties.)

Heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the patties until browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding the remaining 2 Tbsp. of oil to the skillet for the second batch. Serve with the yogurt and hot sauce (and a main course).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Rosemary Apple Turnovers with Honey

In an effort to use up more rosemary, I made these rosemary apple turnovers from The Kitchn that had been sitting in my list of bookmarks for a while. I’m not sure why I never got around to making them before; all I know is that I feel like I’ve lost precious time with them! They were absolutely fantastic, and just what I wanted for my 1,100th post (already?). They were going like hotcakes, and the only reason they lasted more than 24 hours is because I made sure to save the last one for the Engineer after he came home from work the second day (it was torture staring at it on the baking sheet). They were great as dessert and breakfast, so they would be lovely for a holiday brunch. Plus, they are incredibly easy to make! I made a little more filling, and had the intention of making a double batch, since the recipe calls for 1 sheet of puff pastry and my box of Pepperidge Farm had 2 sheets. However, since the recipe didn’t call for rolling out the sheets of pastry, just unfolding them, it turns out that I needed the whole box for one batch of 8 turnovers. I did put a bit more than a spoonful of filling in each, though, and I recommend it. You could use maple syrup instead of honey, too.

1 recipe single pie crust, chilled* or 1-2 sheets puff pastry, thawed (see note above)
1 large apple, about 8-10 oz., peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice (I used two small apples)
2 Tbsp. honey
¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. minced fresh rosemary (I used a little more)
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375 °F.

In a bowl, combine the apple, honey, vanilla, rosemary, nutmeg, flour, and salt. Set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie crust out to a 17- x 9-inch rectangle. (If using puff pastry, unfold the sheet.) Trim to a 16- x 8-inch rectangle (which, for me, was 2 sheets). Cut the sheet into eight 4- x 4-inch pieces.

Place a generous spoonful of the apple mixture in the center of each square, leaving at least ¾-inches around all sides. Using a finger or a pastry brush, gently apply a coat of the beaten egg to the exposed border of the pastry.

Fold each piece to form a triangle. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork, or pinch with two fingers. Brush the tops of the turnovers with more of the egg wash. Slice a few small slits in the top of the turnovers to allow steam to escape.

Place the turnovers on a lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.

*If you’re going to use pie crust, I’d recommend this one, though personally I loved the puff pastry.

Onion, Bacon and Butternut Tart

This Whole Foods recipe is one I’ve made for the freezer. I used half of a big sweet onion and 1 clove of garlic, but I’d have followed the recipe if I weren’t breastfeeding. I’d also cook the squash longer, because it wasn’t quite tender yet in the finished tart. That being said, it was delicious, and easy to boot! I particularly liked the dough, which was almost bread-like. I had placed the dough in a 9-inch pie tin, since I wasn’t planning on using a baking stone, but I see on the picture on the website that they made it into more of a rectangular shape… The way I made it, we got 4 servings out of it, with a side of spinach and carrots with sesame dressing (though I would definitely halve the dressing in that one next time).

14 oz. whole wheat pizza dough, thawed if frozen (or use your favorite pizza dough recipe)
5-6 slices thick-cut bacon
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ tsp. fine sea salt (and pepper, to taste)
1 10-oz. package frozen diced butternut squash, thawed (or 1 ½ cups diced fresh butternut squash)
1 ½ cups (about 6 oz.) grated lactose-free Gruyère cheese
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

On a lightly floured surface, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough out to a circle about 14 inches in diameter. (If the dough pulls back strongly, stop rolling, cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rest 10 minutes before continuing.) Transfer dough to a round pizza pan, baking stone or greased baking sheet (I used a pie plate, since I was freezing the tart). Reshape the dough as needed, but you can leave any edges hanging over the sides of the pan (they will be folded later). Cover with a towel and refrigerate.

Preheat oven to 475 °F and place a rack in the middle of the oven (I’d actually recommend putting the rack in the second-lowest position).

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisped, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain; chop or crumble when it is cool enough to handle. Pour all but 1 Tbsp. of grease left in the skillet. Return skillet to medium heat; add onion, garlic, and salt (and pepper, to taste). Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Add squash and cook, tossing gently once or twice, until excess moisture evaporates, 2 to 3 minutes. (I recommend cooking it until it is almost tender – not all the way, since it will cook more in the oven, but maybe al dente, if that term can be applied to a squash.)

Scrape onion mixture into middle of dough and spread evenly, leaving a 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle the top with bacon, then cheese. Brush edge of dough with half the oil and fold over to make a ½-inch rim. Brush rim with remaining oil. Bake until tart is deeply browned and dough is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and cool 10 minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges or squares for serving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Batch of links

- For this once-in-a-lifetime Thanksgivukkah, I really wish I had the energy to make these latke-crusted turkey stuffing fritters with liquid cranberry core and turkey schmaltz gravy. Yum!

- You know how some cities have fruit trees on public property? It isn’t always legal to pick the fruit, but if it otherwise goes to waste, I say go for it (discretely). Here’s an article on a website called Falling Fruit, which catalogs plants with edible parts (mostly fruit trees, but also nuts, herbs, roses, maples, etc.). A great initiative!

- I’ve been making green smoothies with my Vitamix lately. Did you know that you can avoid bitterness by adding acidity, like with lime or lemon juice?

- Crowd-sourced advice about how to opt out of certain birthday party foods without offending the host. I think I keep posting stuff like this because I’m more aware of food sensitivities and restrictions in general. Granted, this column was not about allergies, but as always, people seem to fall in one of two camps: either suck it up and eat the food otherwise you’re weird; or politely make your host aware of your restrictions and offer to bring your own food. I prefer the second camp, personally.

- The FDA will ban trans fats. This is a major step in the slow process of public health policies, and I have to say I’m pretty happy about it.

- Another article about foods sold in the US that are banned elsewhere. In related news, Kraft will be removing the yellow dye from its kid-oriented mac and cheese in Canada and the US, like it does in the UK.

- How not to die from botulism. I’m not canning yet, but this is a great reference!

- Did you know that you can use a Mason jar on some blenders?

- Quirky product: the Nibble Pan. It’s a cute idea, but I think a ramekin would work just as well, no?

- Someone is just as pissed as I am about the fact that people still use the words ”gluten allergy”.

- Watch this 14-year-old girl crush an arrogant interviewer. I’d be proud to raise someone like her.

- A TED Talk about coming out of the closet. I love Ash Beckham’s answer to being asked whether she’s a boy!

- Switzerland is considering “maximum wage” legislation so that a CEO wouldn’t make an outrageous amount of money when compared to his employees. We’ve talked about this idea in our household and we think it’s brilliant. It would even be incentive for raising the minimum wage. Did you know that McDonald’s is costing the US taxpayers $1.2 billion annually because it only pays most of its employees minimum wage? Related: how to feed your family from a food bank, a growing problem.

- A bunch of medical news: a Finnish team has made a diabetes vaccine breakthrough, high blood sugar is tied to memory problems, hot dogs are tied to cancer risk, and certain pesticides are linked to endometriosis. I feel I should follow this up with a really interesting article about how kale is destroying your health, which you have to read to the very end to understand how sometimes, the easy conclusion is erroneous. (Although I still don’t trust pesticides.)

- In the weird law category, some Texas lawmakers want to introduce a bill that would outlaw abortions once a heartbeat can be detected, knowing that with modern technology, this is so early in pregnancy that many women simply could not get abortions. And it was just announced that SCOTUS would not intervene to lift the current restrictions that have closed the majority of the state’s abortion clinics. I occasionally feel like I’m living in medieval times.

- And oral sex could have become illegal in Virginia, to protect the children. Yeah, I wonder why the population voted for another governor…

- A very interesting blog post about white privilege and an article about the need for African Americans to dress more formally than Caucasians to receive equal treatment, both written after the Zimmerman verdict.

- Remember Quebec’s Bill 14 project? I’m very pleased to see that it shall not pass. (And here’s some background information for those who weren’t following the issue.)

- My posthumous advice for my daughter – I’m a sucker for these essays.

- Have you heard about the “invisible” bike helmet? “Inflatable” would be a more accurate term. I’m definitely thinking of getting some of these when we start biking as a family! (I can’t believe that Texas law even allows motorcyclists to ride without helmets, but that’s another matter entirely.)

- A chat with Breaking Bad’s science advisor. The Engineer and I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and this interview was great.

- Any Doctor Who fans in the house? Because this is absolutely awesome.

- Incredible colorized photos, which actually show how color can alter our perception. Don’t these look so much more… real?

- Children’s drawings painted realistically. Some of these are fantastic!

- And finally, have you heard about Dinovember? I think that parents who participate must also be the ones who are doing the whole Elf-on-a-shelf thing. Maybe someday I’ll do that.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Pumpkin Doughnut Muffins

As a follow-up to the pumpkin Bundt cake, I continued my annual fall festivities with pumpkin doughnut muffins. I had the exact same recipe bookmarked twice, once on Brown-Eyed Baker and once on Martha Stewart (which, it turns out, was where the recipe originally came from). My main complaint about this recipe, besides the order of the steps that I’ve rearranged below, is that I had just under ¾ cup of cinnamon sugar left at the end. I understand that there will always be some left over, because I need something in which to dip them, but this was such a big amount that it really feels like a waste. I’m currently using some of it to top hot cereal in the morning, but I’m writing half the original amount below, and that’s how I’d make it from now on. That aside, the muffins themselves were really good, and since I made them with white whole wheat flour, they had some pretty healthful aspects (not including the fact that they’re covered in sugar, of course). I like these for breakfast, but they make great snacks, too!

For the muffins
10 Tbsp. (5 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature (or cold margarine)
¾ cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat flour)
2½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1¼ cups pure pumpkin purée
1/3 cup buttermilk (i.e., lactose-free milk with a splash of lemon juice or vinegar)

For the cinnamon-sugar coating
¼ cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted
6 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

For the muffins
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Butter and flour 12 standard muffin cups.

Beat the butter and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and pumpkin; set aside.

With the mixer speed set on low, add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of the pumpkin mixture, beating until barely combined. Turn off the mixer and fold the batter a few times with a rubber spatula to catch any pockets of flour that weren't incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffins cups (about a heaping 1/3 cup batter). Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

For the cinnamon-sugar coating
the muffins are resting, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl. Working with one muffin at a time, remove the muffins from the pan, brush all over with the melted butter, then toss to coat in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Return to the wire rack and let cool completely.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pasta and White Beans with Garlic-Rosemary Oil

We have a few herbs growing in our garden still. The oregano that I uprooted and potted last spring is starting to grow back, and the thyme is doing quite well. We didn’t plant any basil this year; the mint could be doing better, because the drip irrigation tube had fallen out unbeknownst to me, but I’m not worried about mint dying. It’s the rosemary, though, that’s reigning supreme these days. It’s been mostly unattended over the summer, and with the rain we’ve had this year, it went from a few branches to this respectable bush:

So I made a few recipes that called for rosemary (well, those that had the word “rosemary” in their title and so showed up when I searched my bookmarks). That’s how I remembered about this pasta from Smitten Kitchen. It took me about an hour to make, so I’m glad I made it when the Engineer could spend more time with the Little Prince – otherwise, make sure your kids can play independently for a while. To tell you the truth, I almost thought this would be a failure, because I puréed the beans and veggies twice instead of once, to thicken them, and the result was still like soup! I ended up mixing the veggies with the pasta, draining the whole thing (!), and then adding the pasta water to create a better sauce. It turned out to be really good, though! The Engineer even said that the vegetables were “honest” in this dish and he liked them; I thought that they played a good supporting role to an ensemble cast. I’m therefore writing the recipe below with less water, to avoid having the dreaded soup consistency, because that’s how I’ll make it next time. I used a sweet onion and a little less garlic than called for, because of the breastfeeding, though I have to admit I didn’t see much of a difference with the Little Prince, even with the legumes in here. This makes about 6 servings.

1 medium onion, cut into big chunks
1 medium carrot, in big chunks
1 celery stalk, in big chunks
6 garlic cloves: 4 left whole, 2 finely chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
½ cup olive oil, divided
coarse or kosher salt
2 to 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 15-oz. cans small white beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 ½ cups cooked beans; save the water)
1 lb. short tube pasta (like ditalini, macaroni or pennete; I used gemelli, not tubular)
1 Tbsp. minced fresh rosemary

Pulse onion, carrot, celery, whole garlic cloves, parsley, and red pepper flakes (to taste) in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat ¼ cup oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat and add vegetable mixture to pot. (Quickly rinse, but no need to fully wash, food processor as you’ll use it again shortly.) Season generously with salt. Cook, stirring from time to time, until vegetables take on a bit of color, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook it into the vegetables for another minute. Add 1 cup water (or bean cooking liquid, if you went that route) and use it to scrape up any bits stuck to the pot. Let simmer until liquid has almost disappeared, about 5 to 8 minutes. (The original recipe had you add 2 additional cups of water or bean cooking liquid here and had you simmer the mixture another 15 minutes to let the flavors meld. I recommend skipping that step and only adding more liquid if things look like they need it. I’ll try it with only the original 1 cup of water next time, plus the pasta water in the next step.)

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente, or still a little firm inside (it needs to still be a little undercooked so that it can absorb some starchy water in the next step, which helps make the sauce). Reserve 1 ½ cups cooking water from your drained pasta.

Transfer one cup of the bean mixture to your rinsed food processor and purée it until smooth, then stir it back into the sauce to thicken it. Add drained pasta and ½ cup cooking liquid to bean sauce and cook the mixture together, adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until the sauce coats the pasta, about 1 to 2 more minutes.

To serve: Heat remaining ¼ cup olive oil in a tiny saucepan over medium-low heat with garlic and rosemary, until sizzling stops. Divide pasta between serving bowls and drizzle garlic-rosemary oil over each. Finish this with a few flakes of sea salt.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

I realize that it’s clichéd, but in the fall, I like eating pumpkin and apples. I feel like it’s almost more of an obligation for me in South Texas, because otherwise it just doesn’t feel like fall, what with the weather still in the 50s and 60s on most days. It’s entirely psychological, of course, and I really can make the same recipes year-round, since I use canned pumpkin purée. (I have made my own purée once, but decided that it was a lot of work, and the stuff from a can is more uniform and doesn’t have any added ingredients anyway.) This year, I started by making this pumpkin Bundt cake, adapting it to use less oil. It was good and very fall-like! The Engineer would have served it with a dollop of whipped cream (or lactose-free equivalent), which I must admit would be a nice addition. Now for some reason, every last one of the pictures I took seems out of focus now that I look at them on my computer, except the one that is not centered. I’ve decided to go with it and call it artistic, because it’s just one of those days; two more pictures are at the bottom of the post.

2 ½ cup sugar
¾ cup applesauce
¼ cup canola oil
3 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cloves
1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée
confectioners’ sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, applesauce and oil until blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and cloves; add to egg mixture alternately with pumpkin, beating well after each addition.

Transfer to a greased 10-inch fluted tube pan. Bake 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack. Remove pan and cool completely. Dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Cheesy Sweet Potato Crisps

I adapted this recipe slightly from Carrots ‘n’ Cake. As you’ll notice from the picture, the edges of the crisps got burnt: this is because I don’t have a wire rack that fits over a baking sheet, so I put the crisps right on a non-stick baking mat. This was admittedly a bit of a mistake, but these crisps showed such great potential that I’ve added the wire rack to my shopping list to make them again next time. They’d be wonderful if you could just follow that direction! I would say that the crisps are somewhat like oil-free latkes, but that would be an oxymoron… The cheese here acts as a binder once it’s melted and gives great flavor to the crisps. It’s a easy (and relatively healthy) side dish!

2 sweet potatoes
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
¼ tsp. pepper (and salt, to taste)

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Set a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Spray rack with non-stick spray.

Peel the sweet potatoes. Grate them and squeeze out the moisture; the more moisture you remove, the crispier they get in the oven. (I used the food processor to grate my sweet potatoes, and there was no moisture to speak of.)

To the grated sweet potatoes, add the eggs, cheese, rosemary and pepper (and salt). Mix until combined.

Scoop out potato mixture and set on wire rack, pressing the mixture as thin as possible. (I used an ice cream scoop.) Repeat until potatoes are gone.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are dark around the edges and crispy.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Chili sin carne

Ça m’arrive de faire du chili végétarien et de ne pas en partager la recette parce que finalement, ça tombe à plat. Par contre, cette recette-ci, adaptée de Coup de Pouce, en vaut la peine! Avec le mélange de lentilles rouges et de haricots rouges, la texture est irréprochable; j’ai aussi utilisé mon propre mélange à épices au lieu de l’assaisonnement commercial, alors c’est ce que je vous écris ci-dessous. En plus, c’est simple et rapide comme tout! Pour une version non végétalienne, vous pouvez ajouter du fromage cheddar fort râpé ou de la crème sure sans lactose au moment de servir, ou encore des croustilles de maïs. C’était très bon! La recette donne de 4 à 6 portions.

1 boîte (28 oz.) de tomates en dés
1 boîte (19 oz.) de haricots rouges, égouttés et rincés
1 tasse de lentilles rouges sèches, rincées et égouttées
1 tasse d’eau
½ poivron rouge haché
½ oignon haché (j’ai pris un oignon rouge parce que c’est ce que j’avais)
1 petite boîte (7,5 oz.) de sauce tomate
1 c. à thé de piment coréen ou de chili en poudre
¾ c. à thé de sel casher
1 c. à thé d’ail en poudre
1 c. à thé de flocons d’oignon (oignon séché)
1 ½ c. à thé de cumin
½ c. à thé de paprika ou de poivre de cayenne
6 c. à soupe de pâte de tomates

Dans une grande casserole, mélanger tous les ingrédients. Porter à ébullition. Réduire le feu, couvrir et laisser mijoter, en brassant de temps à autre, pendant 30 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que les lentilles soient tendres.

Au moment de servir, garnir chaque portion de cheddar fort râpé, de crème sure sans lactose ou de croustilles de maïs, si désiré. Bon appétit!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Nutella cookies, two ways

I meant to post about these cookies sooner, but somehow I didn’t get around to it until now. I decided to round up the recipes I had for Nutella cookies to compare them, so here they are. I started with a peanut butter Nutella cookie recipe from Little B Cooks. I made them smaller and skipped the 15-minute resting time in the fridge. After 8 minutes in the oven, they came out ugly, dry, crumbly cookies; they were good, but not great. I stored the leftover dough in the fridge, and the next day, forget it – it had completely dried out and felt like sand. Actually, they reminded me of the Mexican peanut candy: good, albeit crumbly. I wasn’t ready to give up on them, though. I had another recipe that was basically the exact same dough, but with a lower ratio of peanut butter and Nutella to flour, so I thought if anything, those would be even drier! I ended up making my own by using the dough from the 36-hour cookie, and those are keepers! Here is my recipe below, and it makes two dozen cookies (possibly fewer if, like me, you actually prefer this dough raw). Note that you could also makes these with something like Barney Butter or a different nut butter, and a vegan chocolate spread. The peanut butter flavor is more muted than I thought, perhaps because the color of the cookie made me expect it more (whereas I didn’t really expect it by looking at something like comfort cookies, so the flavor stood out more there ).

1 cup cake flour
1 cup bread flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. coarse salt (less if your peanut butter is salted)
1 ¼ sticks (10 Tbsp.) unsalted margarine (or butter)
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
¾ cup peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Creamy Peanut Butter)
1/3 cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream margarine and sugars together until very light, about 3-5 minutes (but do not overmix). Add egg, vanilla and peanut butter, stirring well. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Add the Nutella and mix it in only a few second with the stand mixer, or use a spoon – you want streaks of chocolate, not homogenous dough. Shape into cookies (I made 2 sheets of 12 cookies each; store unused dough in the fridge, covered with plastic wrap, and let it come to room temperature a bit before shaping). Bake for 10 minutes.

The other recipe I had was from Tasty Kitchen. I modified it by omitting the sugar altogether. I have a major sweet tooth, so if I can’t justify adding sugar to Nutella, trust me that it would be way too sweet! Even now, they were practically too sweet for my taste. These were the Engineer’s favorites, though, so we’re definitely keeping the recipe. They were so quick to make, too, that the dough was ready before the oven was done preheating. This recipe also makes about two dozen.

1 cup Nutella
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Mix all the ingredients together well. Form into 1-inch balls. Place on the cookie sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass (I shaped them with my hands). Bake 7-8 minutes or until set.

If you are looking for another recipe to finish that jar of Nutella, how about some Nutella bread puddings?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Liens de la semaine pour nouveaux parents

- Vous manquez de temps pour faire tout ce que vous voudriez? Vu sur Gaga mais avertie : un truc infaillible pour compléter sa to-do list!

- Être nouvelle maman, ou l’art de l’abnégation. Bon, il y a des moments pires que d’autres, mais ça ne fait que commencer!

- La maternité ferait grossir le cerveau. Mais pendant les premières semaines, on a bien l’impression que c’est le contraire!

- How babies are like frat boys (billet en français, fil Twitter en anglais).

- Bien que nous utilisions surtout des couches lavables pour le Petit Prince, nous utilisons quand même des couches jetables pour les sorties et pour la nuit. J’avoue être déçue du design de ces couches : elles ont toutes de petits bonhommes animés commerciaux! Winnie l’Ourson et ses amis, Mickey et Minnie, le Lorax, toujours quelque chose. Pas moyen non plus d’avoir un modèle de couches non sponsorisé qui serait quelques dollars de plus… J’étais donc bien contente d’entendre parler, aux nouvelles, de The Honest Company, qui vend de magnifiques couches jetables hypoallergéniques et relativement écologiques (dans la fabrication, on s’entend). Je ne pense pas en acheter parce que je ne peux pas vraiment justifier le fait de dépenser presque le double pour une couche jetable, mais j’avoue que je suis très tentée!

- J’aime beaucoup lire le blogue Ce que j’ai dans le ventre (lien dans la colonne de droite). J’ai particulièrement aimé les billets sur la grosseur de bédaine pendant la grossesse (voir les commentaires aussi!) et sur l’adaptation de l’aînée à l’arrivée imminente de la cadette.

Batch of links for new parents

- Postpartum perks on

- So, the fourth trimester is now over. I’ve moved from taking care of the Little Prince’s basic needs and catching up on social media stuff while he naps to now actually needing to entertain and engage him, while dealing with the first sleep regression (we’ve had two growth spurts already) and marveling at his increased expressiveness. I already miss the newborn snuggliness and wish I had just held him more, back when that actually did the trick to calm him down. (Although to be fair, these days he’s not upset so much as enjoying the sound of his own voice.)

- I’ve never been good at being at the computer while breastfeeding, and I barely managed the iPad, but I do want to share two game apps that I think are great for new moms, as you can play with only one hand and without frying all your brain cells. First, Flow Free (which Dear Sister showed my mother, who showed me). You get a board with pairs of colored dots, and you must connect the dots without crossing lines AND while covering the whole board. There’s a timed option if you want, though that stresses me out, and the free version gives you over 100 boards. Second, Color Zen, in which you solve abstract puzzles of colors and shapes, all with a surprisingly soothing musical background. There is no score-keeping, no penalties, just a very relaxing experience to pass the time. There’s a free version, but I’m considering buying more levels because I enjoy it so much!

- I’m also reading 30-Second Theories, which gives an overview of 50 key scientific theories explained in such a way that the layperson can understand them easily, along with short biographies of important scientists. This collection also includes books about architecture, economy, psychology, politics, astronomy and mathematics. Great to read in snippets and feel like you’re doing something totally intellectual not related to child care at all.

- Poo finger, a treatise on poop and parenting. Honestly, it happens the first week, and from then on it’s no big deal.

- Ten true things about the first year of parenthood, one of the best parenting posts I’ve read, along with this one by Matt Walsh. I also liked this post with a bonus recipe (or really, a recipe post with bonus parenting advice).

- I now respond in an entirely different and visceral way when faced with an unhappy, crying infant or child in public. Never mind that it’s not my child, I just want to hold him and make it better. This is very unfamiliar to me and I’m hopping it’ll mostly go away as the Little Prince gets older, though this seems unlikely because I don’t think it was all hormonal. I did have some major hormone surges, to be sure, but I feel more like myself now, and as far as I know, I’m not suffering from post-partum depression (which is more complex than just feeling sad, I should point out).

- An interesting article about how fatherhood changes the male brain and how a father’s presence influences children. On a related note: 9 tips for new dads.

- Did you know that almost half of babies develop flat spots on their head? We make sure to rotate the Little Prince in his bassinette so that his head isn’t always facing the same way, but I must say I’ve notice that he always turns counterclockwise, regardless of where I am. (Also, remember how I had said that I didn’t want to give my child a name that meant “misshapen head”? I find it particularly ironic that the name of the baby in that flat spot article actually IS the name that means “misshapen head”!)

- Here’s a guide to visiting a new baby. We didn’t have to use it, as our friends and family are from out of town and came for overnight stays rather than short visits, but it rang true.

- The importance of a proper family meal, written by Adam Sachs after the birth of his daughter, makes me long for duck again (it’s not nearly as popular here as in Quebec).

- An interesting idea: how to pick a wine that will age well alongside your child so that you can gift it on his/her 21st birthday (or 18th if you’re in Quebec).

- It turns out that how much you talk to your baby could be the single best predictor of his future success. So while it’s entirely out of character for me to narrate life for someone else, I’m making efforts. And I’m narrating in French, of course; I enjoyed this article about the importance of speaking to your child in your native language, and this Time article about how some elementary schools are teaching in two languages because of the benefits of bilingualism on a child’s brain.

- A new study shows signs of autism as early as one month. There’s also a correlation (not necessarily causation!) between autism and the induction of labor. These findings could give us tools to diagnose and treat autistic children earlier in life.

- A little late with this, but did you know that more babies die on their first day in the US than in 68 other countries? It mostly has to do with lack of prenatal care, so let’s hope this trend changes with the Affordable Care Act – if they can get their act together to sign up the population. Finland figured this out years ago.

- Also, things you don’t need for your baby. I’m so glad we never got a fancy bedding set or a Bumbo seat! I intend to do a follow-up on my baby gear post eventually, though.

- And to end on a high note: 24 kids who are clearly being raised right and 28 of the greatest moments in the history of parenting.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Butternut Squash, Pea and Feta Quiche

I made this quiche for the freezer early last summer. It contains feta, so it isn’t lactose-free; I haven’t found a good substitute for that particular cheese. I really liked how thick the filling was, since it uses Greek yogurt along with the usual eggs and milk. You might want to use fewer peas to get a consistency closer to that of a typical quiche. For the dough, I used a half-recipe of my usual pâte brisée, since I was making only one quiche, and I made a half-recipe of the filling below to fit a regular 9-inch tin pie plate. However, given that I ended up using half a butternut squash and half a package of feta, I really think it makes more sense to make two of these quiches at a time and freeze whatever you’re not eating right then.

2 pâtes brisées (recipe of your choice) in 9-inch pie plates, or 1 in a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate
one small butternut squash, peeled seeded and cubed
1 tsp. olive oil
227 g (8 oz.) feta cheese, cubed
2 cups shelled English peas (I used frozen peas)
4 eggs
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup lactose-free Greek yogurt
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Line the quiche crust(s) with a piece of parchment, and weigh the tart crust(s) down with pie weights or uncooked beans, and bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Remove the beans and parchment paper, and return to the oven. Continue baking for 5 to 7 min, until the bottom of the crust(s) is no longer glossy. Remove from oven and let cool. (In my case, I found that baking the crust a total of 15 minutes did the trick.)

Turn down the oven to 375 °F. Toss the cubed butternut squash with the olive oil. Spread the squash on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, until cooked but not completely very soft. Remove from oven.

Place the butternut squash, cubed feta cheese, and English peas in the prepared quiche crust(s).

In a bowl, whisk to combine the minced garlic, eggs, yogurt, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Pour the egg mixture into the crust(s). Bake for about 55 minutes, until the center is just set. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for at least 45 minutes before serving. (I served this with a salad of quinoa, kale and crack sauce, but just the greens would have been enough. Especially when I realized how popular quinoa and kale have been lately, I felt like I had followed a trend, but I really do like them! My mom was making quinoa back in 2000, if that gives me any cred.)

Monday, November 04, 2013

Brown Sugar Pear Clafoutis

This fantastic recipe is from Orangette. Molly Wizenberg discovered clafoutis at a Parisian restaurant called Le Repaire de Cartouche. Coincidentally, I had dinner there once with my family (or was it l’Auberge du Clou?), when we were visiting my cousin and his girlfriend (I believe this was in the summer of 1999); I remember having magret de canard and, for dessert, a molten chocolate something. Again, in 1999, this wasn’t on every other restaurant’s menu, so I think if anything that place is where I discovered the molten chocolate cake – I wish I had thought of that when I wrote up posts about similar recipes! Suffice it to say it was a very good meal, since I actually remember it 14 years later. And people, let me tell you: this clafoutis recipe is the best I’ve ever made, which is saying a lot. I just thought “Oh, yeah!” when I was eating it (say it with your Barry White voice), and the Engineer and I both immediately had seconds. As a matter of fact, he said that it’s now on his top dessert list. I’ll be using it as my go-to recipe from now on, changing the fruit depending on what’s in season. Add the ingredients to your next shopping list, you’ll be thanking me (and Molly Wizenberg).

butter or margarine, for greasing the pan
about 2 tsp. granulated sugar, for dusting the pan
1 large (about 225 to 285 grams, or 8 to 10 ounces) ripe pear (I used two smaller ones)
1 ¼ cups lactose-free whole milk
1 cup (155 g) brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt or table salt
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 375 °F. Butter a 9 ½-inch pie plate and dust it lightly with granulated sugar. Shake out any excess. (The recipe made more batter than I thought, so I was glad I used my deep pie plate here.)

Peel and core the pear, and slice it thinly. (I cut mine into about 12 slices each.) Arrange them on the bottom of the prepared pan, but don’t arrange them TOO carefully, as they’ll move and even float away when you pour in the batter.

In the jar of a blender, combine the milk through flour. Blend on high speed for 1 minute, stopping once, if needed, to scrape down any flour that may stick to the sides of the jar. (Note that I used my Vitamix for this, now that I finally have a blender, but when I’ve made clafoutis before, I always whisked everything by hand, so I’m sure you could do that too.) Pour the batter over the pears.

Bake until the custard is puffed and golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes (mine took 40 minutes). Cool on a wire rack. The custard will deflate a little as it cools.

Serve at room temperature or chilled.