Friday, February 28, 2014

More pumpkin for breakfast

We recently hosted our friend the Actor for a week. It was really nice to have company, but it also gave me an excuse to try a few more recipes. One in particular was this baked pumpkin oatmeal – I got the recipe via our mutual friend Jen, who had made it before to great acclaim from the Actor. It has the somewhat unexpected addition of caramelized bananas, but the combination really works! If anything, I’d use 3 bananas instead of 2 next time, because I didn’t have enough to cover the bottom of the dish. Regardless, the Actor said the texture was “godly” (!) and maintains that this oatmeal is “like crack”. The Engineer said it was awesome, and I love it too!

Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal
1 cup steel cut oats
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, divided
4 cups very hot water
2 (or 3) medium bananas, sliced
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, lightly packed, divided
2¼ tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
3 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup maple syrup
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
½ cup pumpkin purée
½ cup lactose-free milk (non-dairy if you wish)
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 ˚F. Lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish (mine was 8”x11”).

Place the steel cut oats in a large bowl with 4 tablespoons of the butter. Pour the hot water over the oats and cover the bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the caramelized bananas. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bananas, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, and ¼ teaspoon of the cinnamon to the pan. Toss gently and cook briefly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.

After the steel cut oats have finished soaking, stir in the old fashioned oats, remaining ½ cup of brown sugar, maple syrup, salt, remaining 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the pumpkin, milk and vanilla. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture.

Spread the bananas over the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oatmeal mixture on top of the bananas. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

With some leftover pumpkin purée, I went ahead and made pumpkin crêpes, though I tweaked the recipe slightly – nobody should be putting baking powder in crêpes, unless they want to end up with pancakes (but then they should make pancakes in the first place). The recipe yields about 10-12 crêpes, and I found them very good, a nice twist on a classic. I served them with maple syrup, but powdered sugar might be nice, too.

Pumpkin Crêpes
1 ½ cups flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 pinch cloves
2 cups lactose-free milk
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 eggs
½ cup pumpkin purée
1 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat warm the milk and butter until the butter’s almost melted. Stir melted completely. Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in the eggs, pumpkin purée, and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until smooth and no lumps remain.

Meanwhile, heat a crêpe pan or nonstick skillet at medium heat. Melt about a teaspoon of butter or margarine (or your oil of choice) on the pan. Pour batter into the pan 1/3 cup at a time twirling the pan so the crêpe batter thins and spreads out covering the pan. Flip when top is almost set. Remove from pan 30 seconds after flipping and place on a cookie sheet in a 200 °F oven. Feel free to melt butter on your pan every few crêpes to prevent sticking. (I found that doing this just once at the beginning was enough.) Serve warm, with maple syrup.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Bean Pie

I’d been sitting on Ashley Rodriguez’s bean pie recipe for a while, mostly because it calls for evaporated milk, which is definitely not lactose-free. I did find a substitute recently, though: mix 2/3 cup dry milk powder with ¾ cup water to get 1 cup of evaporated milk (the link is to one of several sites with this ratio). Now, dry milk powder still isn’t lactose-free, but you know what is? Dry SOY milk powder! So I made my own and forged ahead with this recipe.

For those of you who haven’t heard of bean pie before, it’s basically reminiscent of pumpkin pie, with warm spices and a mashed vegetal substance. It was actually quite good! It was very sweet, and I think that beans are bland enough that they are a great, inexpensive filling here.

My first comment is that the original recipe made WAY too much filling, enough not for 2 pies baked in store-bought crusts, but for 2 pies baked in homemade deep dish crusts – which is to say, 4 store-bought pies. That’s too much for anyone, so the quantities I give below are halved (i.e., 2 store-bought crusts OR 1 homemade deep dish crust). The filling was *very* liquid, so I’ll use 2 eggs as the half-measure for 5 eggs, which should help. As I was making it, I also decided that given the warm spices, I really didn’t think lemon extract or yellow food coloring were appropriate. Since I had so much leftover filling, though, I did try some lemon extract and baked some in ramekins and tasted it both ways. I can confirm I prefer it without the lemon! So that’s reflected below.

1 9-inch pie crust (or 2 store-bought crusts in the shallow pans)
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted vegan margarine
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 well-beaten eggs
1 15-oz. can navy or pinto beans, puréed in a food processor (or mashed through a food strainer)
1 cup evaporated milk substitute (= 2/3 cup dry soy milk powder + ¾ cup water)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F and set the oven rack on the second-to-lowest position. Prick the crust with a fork, line it with tin foil and add pie weights. Parbake the crust 20 minutes or so, until it is golden but not burnt.

Cream together the sugar and margarine (I did this in the stand mixer). Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until set, about 50 minutes. (Note that this is the original baking time; I found that both the shallow pie tins and the deeper ramekins were done at the same time, so that’s what I’d go with regardless of what pie plate you use. Just be sure that the filling is mostly set, with perhaps just a bit of jiggle left in the center.)


Remember when I said that I’d order a few edibles on my wish list this winter, while the weather permits it? The first things I got were chocolates from Nicobella Organics: vegan truffles and peanut butter squares. Nicobella is a company that specializes in vegan, organic (and fair trade Theo chocolate) confections which are low in fat and sugar. These chocolates are dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free and now gluten-free, but they do contain nuts and peanuts.

The peanut butter squares are covered in dark (60%) chocolate. They contain few ingredients: the insides are just organic peanuts and organic molasses, while the chocolate is organic cocoa, organic cocoa butter and organic cane sugar, and the squares are topped with Himalayan sea salt. Sadly, I found the peanut butter a bit bland and dry, with the consistency of halva (as opposed to the creamy consistency promised), but the chocolate and the salt really added to the taste. The Engineer said he found the squares really good!

The truffles always contain cocoa mousse (with coconut milk and oil instead of cream) with some kind of flavoring, sweetened with agave nectar or brown rice syrup, all covered in dark (70%) chocolate. They have interesting flavors: walnut flaxseed crunch (which was alright, but I’m not big on nuts in chocolate in the first place), sunflower banana butter (not too sweet, and with a barely-there banana taste), pumpkin chai (more subtle than expected, perhaps because it really is chai and not pumpkin pie spice), blueberry almond (the blueberry hits a bit late and I think the almond is only a sliver as a topping; I love this one!), ginger green tea (*so* subtle, it’s awesome!), and pure cocoa bliss (not bitter at all; I love this one also). They are all made with natural ingredients and should be consumed within two weeks, or refrigerated for up to two months.

All in all, the last three truffles mentioned were my favorites of the bunch, so I’d definitely consider getting those again.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Marble Cake with Meyer Lemons and Chocolate

People, you’re in for a treat. When he tasted this cake from Eat the Love, the Engineer said, “Oh my God! This is the best cake you’ve made… I think…” And he confirmed that was the end of his sentence. In the following days, he said that “other cakes bow down before it”, including the maple carrot cake he’d liked so much recently. He would even like it as a birthday cake (but there are no Meyer lemons on his birthday, usually). I loved this cake as well: it’s got a great crumb and stays moist a long time, so it’ll easily keep for a few days. The glazes are good, too, and help camouflage any imperfections due to unmolding. The lemon flavor in the cake does not take center stage; it merely complements the chocolate, so it’s perfect.

I’ve slightly adapted the recipe below for the order of the steps. Note that my Meyer lemons has been exposed to cold, and it seemed like the pulp inside was completely loose inside the skin, but they were still perfectly good. I’d consider making it with regular lemons, too.

For the cake
zest from 2 Meyer lemons
¼ cup Meyer lemon juice (I got this from the 2 Meyer lemons I’d zested)
¾ cup lactose-free whole milk
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 ½ cups sugar, divided
½ cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
¼ cup golden syrup or light corn syrup
½ cup boiling water
3 tsp. vanilla, divided
1 tsp. instant coffee
1 cup (2 sticks) cold margarine (or butter at room temperature)
4 large eggs

For the vanilla glaze
2 to 2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup lactose-free whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. natural cocoa (not Dutch-processed)
2 Tbsp. lactose-free whole milk

For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Generously grease and flour and standard-size Bundt pan.

Zest the Meyer lemons into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Squeeze the Meyer lemons to get ¼ cup of juice and add to the milk; stir and set aside to thicken.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Make a chocolate syrup by combining ½ cup sugar, cocoa powder, golden syrup, hot water, 1 tsp. vanilla and instant coffee together in a small saucepan. Heat on medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool while you make the cake batter.

Place the margarine and remaining 2 cups sugar in the bowl with the Meyer lemon zest. Cream together until fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium speed. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate each egg before adding the next one. Mix in the remaining 2 tsp. of vanilla. Add about a third of the flour mixture and beat to incorporate. Add about half of the milk mixture and beat to incorporate. Continue alternating flour and milk additions, beating to incorporate each time.

Spoon a third of the batter into the pan with the chocolate syrup. Stir to mix. (I found this chocolate batter to be very liquid, but as I’ve said, the cake turned out fine!)

Spoon half of the remaining lemon batter into the prepared Bundt pan. Add the chocolate batter on top. Spoon the remaining lemon batter on top of the chocolate batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the batter together in a figure-eight pattern throughout the pan once (but don’t overmix, as you want to marble the batter and not blend it). Place the cake in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let sit in the pan for at least 45 minutes (or until the cake pan is still warm to the touch but not hot) and invert onto wire rack to cool completely. (This is where I lost a piece of the cake to the bottom of the pan. Fear not, the glaze will cover it! Just pat it back in place and keep going with the recipe if that happens.)

For the glazes
Once the cake has cooled completely, move it to a cake stand and prepare the vanilla glaze by sifting the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Add the milk and vanilla and stir with a fork. If the glaze is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tbsp. at a time. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk 1 tsp. at a time. Drizzle the vanilla glaze over the cake.

Once you’ve used up the vanilla glaze, make the chocolate glaze (in the same bowl, if you want) by sifting the confectioners’ sugar and the cocoa into the bowl and adding the milk. Again, if the glaze is too thin, add more sugar, and if it is too thick, add more milk. Drizzle the chocolate glaze over the vanilla glaze and let set before serving.

Bison Burgers with Brie, Bacon and Caramelized Pears

Seriously, with that combination of ingredients, it’s little wonder this appealed to me! My only quibble with this recipe is that I found the patties a bit too wet, as they didn’t hold together too well. The burgers, however, were delicious! I got 4 good-sized patties and 2 little ones. You could use lean beef instead of bison, of course.

1 lb. of ground bison
½ onion, grated
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp. salt
⅛ tsp black pepper
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
8 slices center-cut bacon
1 Tbsp. butter or margarine
2 pears, cut in half, cored and thinly sliced
4 tsp. brown sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
4 oz. brie
2 cups arugula
4 buns

In a large bowl, combine ground bison, grated onion, garlic, salt, pepper and Worcestershire sauce. Do not overmix.

In a large non-stick skillet, cook bacon. Drain on paper towels. Remove all but one teaspoon of bacon grease.

In the same pan, melt butter over a medium-high heat, swirling pan until butter browns. Add in pears, brown sugar, salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until just softened, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

Heat a grill pan over a medium high heat. Form bison mixture into four patties. Grill burgers until desired doneness, about 2-3 minutes per side for medium. When the burgers are almost done cooking, top with brie and pour two tablespoons of water into the pan; cover until cheese is melted, about 30 seconds.

Drizzle buns with olive oil and grill until slightly toasted. Slather with a little bit of mayo.

Top the bottom of each bun with a handful of arugula, then the patty, followed by bacon and pears.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Gâteau aux graines de pavot de ma maman

Je me suis rendu compte il n’y a pas si longtemps que je n’ai jamais partagé cette recette sur le blogue. Et pourtant, c’est un de mes gâteaux préférés! J’aime les graines de pavots, mais la particularité de ce gâteau, c’est surtout le glaçage : il s’agit d’un glaçage cuit qui est à peine sucré, presque pas gras, et je le fais sans lactose. C’est un gâteau tout simple avec un goût de revenez-y!

Pour le gâteau
1 tasse de lait sans lactose
½ tasse de graines de pavot
¾ tasse de margarine
1 ½ tasse de sucre
3 œufs, séparés
2 tasses de farine
3 c. à thé de poudre à pâte
1 c. à thé de sel

Pour le glaçage
2 tasses de lait sans lactose
1 œuf
½ tasse de sucre
6 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs
¼ c. à thé de sel
1 ½ c. à thé de vanille

Pour le gâteau
Préchauffer le four à 350 °F. Graisser 3 moules ronds de 9 pouces de diamètre. Garnir le fond de papier ciré et graisser de nouveau.

Mélanger le lait et les graines de pavot. Réserver.

Travailler la margarine en crème. Ajouter 2 jaunes d’œufs, le sucre et bien battre. (Réserver le 3e jaune d’œuf pour le glaçage.)

Tamiser la farine, la poudre à pâte et le sel. Ajouter au mélange crémeux en alternant avec le lait au pavot.

Battre 3 blancs d’œufs en neige et incorporer à la pâte. Verser dans les moules et étaler la pâte uniformément. Cuire de 25 à 30 minutes.

Pour le glaçage
Chauffer au bain-marie le lait jusqu’à frémissement.

Battre le jaune d’œuf réservé et l’œuf entier. Incorporer ½ tasse de sucre, la fécule de maïs et le sel. Y verser une petite quantité du lait chaud puis incorporer ce mélange au restant de lait. Laisser tiédir et ajouter la vanille. Garnir ente chaque étage du gâteau.

A sort of pad Thai

The Engineer loves pad Thai. I really like it, too, but we each have some pet peeves about it. He doesn’t like bean sprouts, which he sees as cheap filler. I don’t like when food is spicy, and I’m not big on seafood in general. So I adapted this recipe from the New York Times to try it at home. I omitted the sprouts, used seitan because the grocery store was out of tofu (no comment), and swapped the shrimp for chicken cooked separately. I made it less spicy, too, and served it with sriracha sauce on the side. I hesitated to post this because while I felt it was good, it wasn’t great; I think it’s missing something, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Plus, as I was staring at the plate, I felt like I needed to start making pretty food again… The Engineer, however, said this dish was restaurant-worthy, so there you have it. The ingredients below are adapted, but feel free to adjust to your own taste.

14 oz. fettuccine-width rice noodles (mine were brown rice)
¼ cup peanut oil (I used safflower oil, and a little sesame oil)
2 to 4 Tbsp. tamarind paste (I used 2 Tbsp.)
¼ cup fish sauce (nam pla; I also used only 2 Tbsp. here)
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
½ tsp. red pepper flakes, or to taste (well, you know me and my Korean pepper by now)
¼ cup chopped scallions
1 garlic clove, minced
2 eggs
1 small head Napa cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
1 cup mung bean sprouts (I omitted them)
½ lb. peeled shrimp, pressed tofu or a combination (I used cooked chicken and seitan)
½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes, quartered

Put noodles in a large bowl and add boiling water to cover. Let sit until noodles are just tender; check every 5 minutes or so to make sure they do not get too soft. Drain, drizzle with one tablespoon peanut oil to keep from sticking and set aside (I used sesame oil here, because I love the taste). Meanwhile, put tamarind paste, fish sauce, honey and vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring just to a simmer. Stir in red pepper flakes and set aside.

Put remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; when oil shimmers, add scallions and garlic and cook for about a minute. Add eggs to pan; once they begin to set, scramble them until just done.(I like to do this with chopsticks.) Add cabbage and bean sprouts and continue to cook until cabbage begins to wilt, then add shrimp or tofu (or both).

When shrimp begin to turn pink and tofu begins to brown, add drained noodles to pan along with sauce. Toss everything together to coat with tamarind sauce and combine well. When noodles are warmed through, serve, sprinkling each dish with peanuts and garnishing with cilantro and lime wedges.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Banana Coconut Bread

It’s been a little while since I posted recipes of things I’d stashed in the freezer. I’ve got a backlog here, but let me share banana breads. I made two kinds. First, a banana chocolate chip oatmeal bread from Tasty Kitchen, in which I used safflower oil instead of butter. It turned out really well, but overall, I felt it wasn’t exactly note-worthy. Second, though, was this vegan banana coconut bread from Chocolate & Zucchini, and that, ladies and gentlemen, is worth sharing. The Engineer and I both loved, loved this bread! I don’t remember exactly how long it lasted in the house, but I’m sure it was less than 48 hours. As a matter of fact, I’m making another loaf today, just because I have 3 large bananas going brown on the counter and I can’t help myself.

2 cups (260 g.) all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. warm baking spices (such as cinnamon, cloves, ginger or nutmeg)
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 scant cup (180 g.) unrefined cane sugar, plus 1 Tbsp. for topping
½ cup (50 g.) dried grated unsweetened coconut
4 small or 3 large bananas, very ripe (about 300 g. without the skin)
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup coconut oil
2 Tbsp. dark rum (optional)
¼ tsp. cider vinegar

Preheat the oven to 350 °F and line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, spices, salt, sugar and coconut. Stir well to combine.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas well. Add the oils, rum and vinegar and stir to combine.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ones until no trace of flour remains, without overmixing. Pour into the prepared pan, level the surface with a spatula and sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Pull out from the pan and let cool on a rack before serving.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Meyer Lemon Cake

What can I say, it’s citrus season, so I’m making lots of things with Meyer lemons. I made a Meyer lemon risotto with the zest of two lemons (and I froze their juice for future use), but I felt like their flavor was lost and indistinguishable from that of a Eureka lemon. Plus, it was very close to my barley risotto (which is delicious, but I feel like this new recipe isn’t the best use of Meyer lemons and probably isn’t different enough from my standard to warrant republication).

So then I made cake. More specifically, I made this Meyer lemon cake from Food Gal which uses whole lemons, rind and all! They basically replace the butter, while adding a lot of flavor and moisture. The recipe calls for a pound of lemons, which should be about 6 to 8 lemons. In this case, though, since you’ll be eating the whole lemon, I’d recommend getting pesticide-free ones if at all possible. Mine were from my garden, so I wasn’t too worried. I didn’t bother making the lemon glaze (1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice + ½ cup powdered sugar). You could also dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar and decorate it with lemon slices, but I served it plain. The Engineer said that the cake had a neat texture, which he described as “granular without being grainy.” I liked the lemon flavor, and thought the almonds came through nicely, too (hence the texture). I’d say this is a bubbie’s Meyer lemon cake, if there was such a thing!

1 pound Meyer lemons
1 ½ cups whole almonds, ground
½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
5 large eggs, separated
1 ¼ cups sugar
½ tsp. almond extract
¼ cup candied or crystallized ginger, finely diced

Put whole lemons in a large pot over high heat, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. (Let’s be honest here: lemons float. You can’t cover them with water. Just put enough water in the pan that they can move around freely, then cover the pan.) Lower heat to medium and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain; transfer lemons to a bowl of ice water. Cut lemons into quarters when they have cooled and gently remove seeds, retaining as much juice as possible. Blend lemons in a food processor until they’re a smooth, thick purée.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Butter and flour a 9-inch springform pan. (I recommend also adding waxed paper on the bottom and greasing that as well, because I couldn’t get my cake off the bottom of the pan.)

In a medium bowl, mix ground almonds, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir to combine.

Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until thick and pale yellow. Stir in lemon purée and almond extract. Add almond-flour mixture and stir to combine. Stir in candied ginger. Set aside.

Beat egg whites in another large bowl until they form firm peaks. Gently fold egg whites into lemon batter. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake until edge of cake begins to pull away from side of pan, about 1 hour. (If the edges begin to brown too quickly, you can tent them with foil.) Cool on a rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Amazing Greek Yogurt Chocolate Mousse

This recipe was created by Maria Speck. I absolutely loved this mousse! The Greek yogurt gives it both tang and richness, while keeping it lactose-free (and egg-free, which is a concern for some). Since my lactose intolerance limits me, I usually don’t have the luxury of choosing the fat content in my Greek yogurt; I used a fat free yogurt, but as I said, it did taste deliciously rich anyway, so don’t worry about that too much. Plus, there’s no added sugar, which is great. The original recipe was supposed to be for 4 small servings, but to me that was 2 servings, so I’m writing down the doubled version below to make 4 actual servings (you could perhaps stretch it into 6 smaller servings if you absolutely had to).

12 oz. good-quality dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content, finely chopped
1 cup lactose-free whole milk
2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, or other good-quality orange liquor
2 cups lactose-free whole milk Greek yogurt (see above)
2 to 4 Tbsp. of kumquat jam or orange marmalade

Put the chocolate into a medium bowl. Add the whole milk to a small heavy-bottom saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir with a spatula or a wooden spoon until you have a smooth liquid, then add the Grand Marnier. If you like a boozy dessert, add a little more (I’m perfectly happy keeping it at 2 Tbsp.).

Spoon the Greek yogurt into a small bowl and beat, using a fork, until smooth. Add the yogurt to the chocolate mixture and fold in, using a spatula, until thoroughly combined.

Spoon the mousse into four small serving cups or bowls and chill until firm, at least one hour. Garnish each serving with jam.


Shakshuka is, as far as I know, an Israeli dish consisting of eggs poached in tomato sauce. You can make it spicy to taste and throw in other things like legumes or greens, and cheese if you wish. I got this recipe from Bon Appétit. It calls for chickpeas, which I love, and feta cheese, which I also love even though it isn’t lactose-free. If you have access to lactose-free goat cheese, I’d go with that instead, or you can omit it if you don’t want to take Lactaid. I didn’t use the hot sauce, though I put the bottle of sriracha on the table for the Engineer. I also forgot the pita bread in the freezer (turns out Trader Joe’s has pita!), but I don’t think it was necessary. This dish was a hit for both of us! I’d definitely make it again.

¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded, finely chopped (I didn’t use them)
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
2 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup coarsely crumbled feta (see above)
8 large eggs
1 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
warm pita bread (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 °F.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeños; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add chickpeas, paprika, and cumin and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add crushed tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta evenly over sauce. Crack eggs one at a time and place over sauce, spacing evenly apart. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, 5–8 minutes.

Garnish with parsley and cilantro. Serve with pita for dipping.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Batch of links

- We now know more about nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which affects roughly 6% of Americans. It may have nothing to do with gluten at all and instead be related to different proteins in wheat and other grains.

- Ever wondered what Michaelangelo’s grocery list might have looked like?

- I also like this interview about how blind people cook.

- Why we should stop using the word “veggie”. (I sometimes use it out of habit, but I have to say I agree with the piece.)

- Watch these spices explode in slow motion with music – awesome video.

- Did you know that 4-MeI, found in some sodas, is a potential carcinogen? It’s often part of “caramel coloring” or “artificial coloring”. Based on the article, though, the issue isn’t just whether or not it causes cancer; the issue is that some sodas have WAY more of it than is listed on the label, and in California, that’s illegal.

- An article in Slate claims that conventional fruits and vegetables are no more harmful to children than their organic counterparts. But Civil Eats has a rebuttal. In fairness, both articles make valid points.

- Which is worse, fat or sugar? Identical twins decided to find out.

- I feel like I have to talk about the pedophilia allegations against Woody Allen. You should read Dylan Farrow’s open letter. This put me in a moral quandary, because I usually really enjoy Woody Allen’s movies and his sense of humor, but at the same time, I don’t want to be supporting a man who (allegedly) raped a 7-year-old girl. In the past, I’ve rationalized that certain things can be compartmentalized about people. For example, I’ve had university teachers who weren’t all that good at teaching, but outside the classroom, they were great people, so my overall impression of them was good. Similarly, I can strongly dislike certain aspects of a celebrity (the example I always use is that John Lennon was a drug addict, cheated on both his wives and was not a good father to his first-born) and still like others (I like his music and his activism), and then I have an overall impression (in this case, I feel positive about John Lennon overall). But the distinction here is that addiction, adultery and poor parenting are not illegal, and even though they can create victims, the effects are nowhere near as damaging as the kind of abuse suffered by children who were molested. In all fairness, Woody Allen’s guilt has not been proven, and there’s actually a really interesting article by Robert B. Weide that makes a good case against his guilt. However, the article that to me gives a clearer picture of the situation, while taking both sides into consideration, is Aaron Bady’s article in The New Inquiry. So I’m still not totally sure where I land on this whole thing, but I certainly cannot ignore the allegations.

- A really good tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman.

- I read a very interesting article in Time not too long ago about America’s pest problem. In a nutshell, I’ve always been under the impression that the reason we have so much wildlife here in suburbia is that we (humans) have encroached on the territories of wild animals by building further and further out. Therefore, it isn’t really the animals that are in our suburbs, it’s us who are in their territory. However, it turns out that for some animals, that simply isn’t true. Take deer, for example. We have tons of them in the area. Well, human presence has basically driven out their predators, so they have multiplied. Also take into consideration the fact that we have planted a bunch of ornamental plants that they like to eat, not to mention the people who buy bags of corn to feed them. So human presence has actually created the abundance of deer that we have now, and those deer WERE NOT THERE before the humans moved in! In light of this, humane hunting seems more acceptable to me than before…

- And as long as we’re talking about pests, here’s a cool video about fire ants: they are capable of acting both as a solid and as a liquid when they are out and about!

- A radiation physicist colorizes X-ray images of nature and the results are beautiful.

- A family is photographed every year for 18 years.

- 40 maps that will help you make sense of the world.

- I liked this quiz, What city should you actually live in? I got Portland, which really isn’t surprising.

- I may officially have to start boycotting Hobby Lobby. I like the store itself because of its great selection and, in my case, because of its extremely convenient location. Employees have good working conditions. I have no problem with the fact that its schedule (closed on Sundays) is tailored on the CEO’s religious faith. What I do have a problem with is the fact that he is unwilling to provide emergency contraception to employees as part of its health care coverage as mandated by federal law. This shouldn’t even be an issue anymore, and if Hobby Lobby shuts down over it, too bad. I’d be sorry to see them go, but I can’t support the company if it’s going to be that backwards.

- Famous movie scenes in the style of the Ottoman Empire: this is really neat.

- And finally, Neil Gaiman reads Green Eggs and Ham.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Meyer Lemon Bread Pudding

It’s been ten years since I became lactose intolerant. Well, it was ten years last month, and next month it’ll be ten years since I figured out what it was and actually started eating lactose-free. It’s also been five years today since I started this blog. I posted about lemon tarts, so it seems fitting to follow it up with this Meyer lemon bread pudding. I adapted the recipe from Bijoux, which I’m pretty sure I found it via Pinterest.

Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are no baguettes at the grocery store here. I ended up with a pain de campagne of sorts from the frozen section, but it worked just fine for this bread pudding. You could use Italian-style bread, brioche or challah if you wanted. I used a total of 6 Meyer lemons (3 for the curd, 3 for the pudding). The Engineer and I both loved this dessert. As always, I prefer it warm (and it makes the bread softer, too); he prefers it straight from the fridge.

For the lemon curd
5 egg yolks
¾ cup granulated sugar
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
juice of 3-4 Meyer lemons (to yield 1/3 cup juice)
1 stick vegan margarine, room temperature

For the pudding
1 French bread baguette, crusts removed, cut into 1-inch slices
2 cups lactose-free whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
juice of 3-4 Meyer lemons (to yield 1/3 cup juice)
pinch of kosher salt

To make the lemon curd
In the top of a double boiler over a pan of simmering water, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice, whisking until the mixture is pale yellow in color and thickened slightly to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the margarine, a tablespoon at a time, until smooth. Pour the lemon curd into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and cool. Refrigerate (for up to 3 days).

To assemble and bake the pudding
Place the French bread slices cut sides down in a lightly buttered 10 x 8 inch oval ovenproof baking dish. Fit the bread slices together in a single layer to completely cover the bottom of the pan. Spread the top of the bread slices with the Meyer lemon curd.

Whisk together the milk, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and pinch of salt, mixing well, and pour over the bread. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, to allow the bread to absorb the milk mixture. Remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes prior to baking.

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Cover the bread pudding with foil and bake on top of a sheet pan for 30 minutes. Remove cover and bake for an additional 30 minutes until puffy and golden brown.

Dust with confectioner’s sugar and serve with lactose-free whipped cream if desired.