Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pomelo Bars

After last year’s bumper crop of Meyer lemons, our lemon tree was looking a bit worse for wear! So in the spring, instead of giving it fertilizer meant to boost fruit production, I gave it fertilizer meant to help its overall health. The result is indeed a much healthier-looking tree this year, and I’m glad I gave it a break. It only yielded a single Meyer lemon, but it’s like it poured everything it had into that one fruit: it was big, bright and juicy. I’ve pictured it in my hand and next to a Eureka lemon, for scale. I couldn’t do much with just one lemon, no matter how beautiful it was, so I decided to combine it with some pomelo and make these pomelo bars. The result was lovely, and a nice change from the usual tart lemon bars. I also like the method of making a curd before assembling the bars, to make sure they set up nicely without getting the crust soggy! These were a hit with our family.

Note that the recipe calls for the juice of one and a half large pomelos, but with the behemoths I had, I only needed half of one for the bars! Next time, I’ll just buy one pomelo and top it up with Meyer lemon juice if needed.

For the shortbread crust
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar, sifted
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

For the pomelo filling
6 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup pomelo juice (about 1.5 large pomelos; see note above)
zest from 1 Meyer lemon
5 Tbsp. butter or margarine, softened
3 Tbsp. powdered sugar, to top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Butter an 8”-square pan and dust with flour.

To make the shortbread crust, whisk together both sugars in a small prep bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer or using electric beaters, cream the butter with the sugars for 2-3 minutes until fluffy. Add ¾ cup flour and mix until blended. Add the remainder of the flour and mix again until just incorporated. Press dough into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the edges just turn golden brown (it's alright if the center is still pale white).

To make the pomelo filling, use a wooden spoon to beat the egg yolks and the sugar in a medium-sized aluminum saucepan (do use aluminum, as other cookware will react negatively with the egg yolks and can turn your curd an unpleasant color). Stir in the pomelo juice and butter and turn on the burner to medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly for about 8 minutes or until it thickens just enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Your mixture should never come to a full boil if you're stirring constantly. You want to avoid this for risk of curdling.

When the pomelo curd is thick enough to coat your wooden spoon, remove from the heat source and pour through a strainer to remove chunkier particles that will inevitably develop. Stir in the Meyer lemon zest, and give it a quick stir.

Once the shortbread crust is fully baked, take it out of the oven and lower the oven temperature to 300°F. Pour the pomelo curd on top of the crust, and use a spatula to make sure it's covering each nook and cranny. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 16-18 minutes or until the filling looks set but still slightly wiggles.

Cool the pomelo bars in the pan for at least one hour. Dust with sifted powdered sugar, slice and serve.

Dark Chocolate Nut Butter Cups

Over the holidays, we treated ourselves to some Ritz crackers. They’re a guilty pleasure that we indulge maybe once or twice a year. As I looked through my bookmarks, I saw that I had a recipe for Ritz-stuffed peanut butter cups from Averie Cooks. They looked delicious, and the recipe only makes 4, so it’s not like we were risking over-indulging. But it seemed like a shame to bother melting chocolate and end up with so few cups to show for it, and since I still had most of a jar of homemade almond butter on hand, I decided to try out dark chocolate almond butter cups from Sprouted Kitchen at the same time. It turned out that the Ritz peanut butter cups were just okay, but the almond butter cups were beyond fantastic! This may be due to the quality of the almond butter, but really, they were amazing. Those are the ones I’d make again! Note that for both these recipes, I used silicone muffin liners, which made it easy to pop out the cup once it was solid. In all pictures, the almond cups are on the left, and the peanut butter cups are on the right. I’ve also included a shot where you can see what happens if the filling sits too close to the edge of the cup as you’re pouring chocolate on top – you’ll get a hole on the side. Not a big deal in my book, but if this bothers you, pay close attention as you’re doing that step!

Ritz Peanut Butter Cups (makes 4)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (you may need less)
4 Ritz crackers (or gluten-free crackers)
6 tsp. peanut butter (1 ½ tsp. per cup), approximately

Place four paper or silicone muffin liners inside a muffin tin or on a flat work surface. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or in a double boiler (my preferred method) and spoon approximately one tablespoon of melted chocolate into the bottom of each muffin liner. Place them into the freezer for a few minutes so the chocolate sets up. While the chocolate is setting, schmear each of the four crackers with peanut butter, approximately 1 ½ teaspoons of peanut butter for each cracker, or to taste. (Take care not to make the peanut butter too dome-like; rather spread it in a manner similar to the white cream center of an Oreo cookie.) Remove the chocolate-filled muffin liners from the freezer and carefully place one peanut butter-covered cracker in each cup. Cover the top of each cup with the remaining chocolate, reheating the chocolate a bit if necessary. Freeze or refrigerate the cups until the chocolate has set up before unwrapping and eating.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (makes about 9)
7 oz. dark chocolate (not to exceed 70%; I think I used about 8 oz.)
½ cup natural almond butter
2 Tbsp. honey (or agave nectar)
1 Tbsp. powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. fine grain salt
sea salt flakes for topping

Break up the chocolate and melt in a double boiler. Stir to make sure it is perfectly smooth.
Set out silicone or paper liners in a muffin tin (this helps them hold their shape). Spoon about a teaspoon of the chocolate into the bottom. Tilt and twist it around so the chocolate coats the side of the liner and rest it back in the tin. Repeat with remaining papers. Mix the almond butter, honey, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt together until smooth to make the filling. Scoop out a teaspoon of the almond butter filling and gently roll it into a ball between your palms. Give it a press down and center it on top of the thin chocolate puddle. Repeat. Spoon chocolate on top of each almond butter ball to cover completely. Sprinkle a teensy pinch of flaked sea salt on each one and chill in the fridge to set.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Coconut and Dark Chocolate Popovers

These popovers turned out great, but I was afraid they wouldn’t. I was so ambivalent about this Doughmesstic recipe as I was making it that I had actually decided to change the instructions completely, but the result ended up so surprisingly good that I revised my position! You see, the original recipe was for 6 popovers, and I somehow assumed that the baker was using a regular muffin tin, as most people do. But in retrospect, I think she was using actual popover mold, which has a greater capacity than muffin molds. I made it in a regular muffin mold, but I felt like a) it used too much oil, and b) there was too much batter. So after melting margarine in 6 tins for the recipe, I ended up greasing 2 more tins, in desperation, to make muffins from the same batter. I thought they would turn out really well, because the 6 popovers looked like a disaster waiting to happen – too much oil in the tin and batter that looked like it would overflow. (I’m including a blurry photo so that you can see what I mean. Note that in all the photos, the popovers are on the left and the muffins are on the right. You’ll notice how much higher the popovers had risen when they were fresh out of the oven!)

However, once baking was done, the muffins had absorbed WAY too much chocolate. This doesn’t initially sound like a problem, really, but the chocolate had changed consistency and had become grainy, which ruined the batter and just made the muffins unpleasant to eat. The popovers, meanwhile, were nice and moist and, most surprisingly, not greasy! It’s possible the coconut flour is responsible for this. So I’m only making two changes to the recipe: grease 9 tins instead of 6 (the amount of margarine has been adjusted accordingly), and place the muffin tins on a baking sheet just in case there’s spillage. If you have popover molds, use those and make 6 instead of 9. Otherwise, trust that the recipe will work for 9 popovers baked in a muffin tin!

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup shredded coconut
3 eggs
1 1/3 cup lactose-free milk
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. dark chocolate chunks (or ½ cup in the original recipe, but a weight was easier for me)
4.5 Tbsp. margarine or butter (I might round down to 4 Tbsp.; or 3 Tbsp. for 6 popover tins)

Preheat oven to 375 °F. Divide the margarine evenly into the cups of your popover pan or muffin tin. Place the pan on a baking sheet and put it in the oven for 3-5 minutes while you are making the batter.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, coconut flour and shredded coconut.

In medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, vanilla, and sugar, then whisk in the dry ingredients. Pour the batter into the margarine-filled cups. Add a few chocolate chunks to each batter-filled cup. Return to oven for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 °F and continue to bake for another 20 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving. (The popovers do deflate, but they are still delicious.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pâté à la viande

C’est drôle que ce billet-là tombe maintenant! Il y a de cela deux ans, au mois près, je lisais ce billet sur Obsessions gourmandes avec une recette de pâté à la viande (que moi, j’appellerais tourtière, mais en admettant que ce terme est utilisé un peu à toutes les sauces chez moi). Un pâté de viande, donc, fait avant les Fêtes, mais un billet qui se retrouve mis en ligne le mois suivant, comme dans le cas de Catherine Draws. Pour ceux qui n’en mangent qu’à Noël, c’est dommage, mais pour les autres… vous allez vous régaler! J’ai un peu adapté, sans sauge ni laurier, même si je ne doute pas que ça aurait été bon. J’ai aussi oublié le jaune d’œuf sur le dessus, alors ce n’est pas aussi esthétique que ça aurait pu, mais peu importe. Il se trouve que c’est ma meilleure tourtière, et elle encore plus simple que la dernière! L’Ingénieur, qui est friand des pâtés de viande jamaïcains en format individuel, a trouvé que ce plat était comme du crack – il n’en revenait pas comme c’était bon. Ça fond dans la bouche, et il dit qu’il aurait tout mangé s’il ne s’était pas retenu (je n’en doute pas). Moi, je trouvais ça assez bon que je n’avais même pas envie de mettre de ketchup dessus! La recette fait deux tourtières, mais l’Ingénieur m’a fait promettre d’en faire quatre la prochaine fois.

2 c. à soupe de beurre ou de margarine
1 c. à soupe d’huile végétale
1 gros oignon jaune haché finement
2 livres de porc haché mi-maigre
sel et poivre, au goût
1 bonne pincée de thym séché
1 bonne pincée de laurier en poudre
1 bonne pincée de gingembre en poudre
1 bonne pincée de piment de la Jamaïque moulu
2-3 feuilles de sauge séchée, réduite en poudre
1 tasse de bouillon de poulet
1 c. à soupe de ketchup du commerce
½ c. à soupe de sauce Worcestershire
1 c. à soupe de farine
2 recettes de pâte brisée double (ou 4 abaisses du commerce)
1 jaune d’œuf battu avec 1 pincée de sel

Dans une grande poêle, à feu moyen, faire fondre l’oignon dans le beurre et l’huile.

Ajouter la viande et assaisonner de sel et de poivre; la faire colorer sans la faire rôtir, en la défaisant au fur et à mesure à l’aide d’une cuillère de bois.

Ajouter les épices, le bouillon de poulet, le ketchup et la sauce Worcestershire. Assaisonner, au goût. Amener à ébullition. Quand le liquide a réduit de moitié, saupoudrer de la farine et mélanger le tout. Ramener à ébullition et laisser réduire encore un peu si nécessaire (pour obtenir un mélange mouilleux, mais pas liquide). Couper le feu et laisser refroidir complètement.

Préchauffer le four à 425 °F.

Abaisser un fond de pâte brisée, remplir le moule de préparation à la viande, puis recouvrir d’une deuxième abaisse de pâte brisée. Foncer la tarte, puis faire un trou au centre de la pâte ou quelques entailles ici et là. Recommencer pour l’autre pâté. Badigeonner du jaune d’œuf.

Cuire au four pendant 10 minutes, puis baisser le feu à 350 °F et continuer la cuisson jusqu’à ce que les rebords du pâté soient bien dorés (40 minutes dans mon cas). Laisser reposer 5 minutes avant de servir. (J’ai congelé un pâté cuit, mais j’aurais pu le congeler cru avant de le badigeonner d’œuf aussi. J’ai servi le tout avec une salade verte, mais je conseille aussi des pommes de terre et des haricots verts.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pasta in Parmesan Broth

I had been saving my parmesan rinds in the freezer for a while, because sometimes I like to make a recipe that calls for throwing a rind in a pot of soup to enhance the flavor. The thing is, though, I haven’t made recipes like that for months and months, so my stash of parmesan was starting to overflow. When I saw this recipe for parmesan broth in Bon Appétit, I decided it was providence. To my surprise, though, I only had about half a pound of rinds, instead of the full pound called for… So I ended up halving the recipe and using the broth to make a pasta dish loosely adapted from their capellini en brodo and I had enough for one meal (2 generous servings). I wish I’d had more, though, because it was so good that I may or may not have slurped the broth from the bottom of my bowl once I was done! The pasta absorbs a lot of the flavor of the parmesan when it cooks in the broth, and the liquid gets thickened slightly from the starch in the pasta – it’s win-win. I’m now hoarding my parmesan rinds once more… The recipe below makes about 4 cups of broth, which you can use to cook about 4 servings of pasta.

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
1 bunch thyme
1 bay leaf
3–4 parsley sprigs
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 cup dry white wine
1 lb. parmesan rinds

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, parsley, and peppercorns, stirring often, until garlic is deep brown, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up any brown bits, until liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

Add parmesan rinds and 8 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent cheese from sticking to bottom of pot, until broth is flavorful and reduced by half, about 2 hours.

Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl (or an airtight container if making ahead).

I used the broth to cook pasta by adsorption, so I must have had something like 8 oz. of pasta for 2 cups of broth. That being said, you could also make it “in brodo” (in broth) by using about 2 oz. of pasta for 2 cups of broth. This depends a little on the shape of the pasta – I used shells, because they are easy to grab for little fingers. You can also let the amount of pasta you use determine how much broth is left to serve in the plate. Top with grated parmesan, a few thyme leaves and freshly cracked black pepper.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I don’t seem to have written any notes about these pancakes from Minimalist Baker (I do seem to be looking at that blog more and more often now!). What I remember is that they were easy to make, hearty and satisfying. The recipe makes 5 or 6 small pancakes, so we didn’t have any leftovers, and if the Little Prince had eaten some, I would have probably needed to double the batch – which would have been a good thing, because I love leftover pancakes. I served them with maple syrup, as always. And I’m now thinking I should just stack pancakes for prettier pictures, even though I don’t usually eat them like that!

I do remember, though, that I had put almond butter on the grocery list, and as I was checking the pantry for something else, I realized I had almost a whole bag of almonds sitting unclaimed, so I decided to make my own almond butter. I used this recipe for vanilla bean brown sugar almond butter, and it was by far the best almond butter I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve made it again since then and tried raw almonds, but I really do prefer it with roasted almonds. If you have a Vitamix or something with enough torque to make your own nut butter, I highly recommend it; otherwise, your favorite brand of natural almond butter will do.

1 very ripe medium banana
1 tsp. baking powder
1 flax egg (i.e., 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 3 Tbsp. warm water)
pinch salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. canola oil (or coconut oil)
3 Tbsp. almond milk (or other lactose-free milk)
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup whole wheat or unbleached flour (I used white whole wheat flour)
3 Tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips (non-dairy for a vegan recipe)

Preheat a skillet to medium heat (or about 300-325 °F).

Prepare flax egg by mixing flaxseed meal and water and letting set for 3-5 minutes.

Mash your very ripe banana with baking powder. Add flax egg, oil, salt, vanilla, almond butter, almond milk and stir. Stir in oats and flour until just combined. Sprinkle in chocolate chips and fold gently.

Scoop scant ¼ cup measurements onto lightly greased griddle. Cook for 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve plain or with a small drizzle of maple syrup and a few additional chocolate chips for melting.

Frosted Pumpkin Cookies, Two Ways

I came across two pumpkin cookie recipes last fall and ended up trying them both in December. To tell you the truth, I was hoping to keep just one, but the Engineer and I have different opinions as to which is the best one, so it looks like I’m keeping both!

The first, from Minimalist Baker, is a sugar cookie with frosting. I don’t usually make those types of cookies, so I decided to halve the batch of frosting and use it only on half the cookies (it’s optional anyway), but I had enough for all of them! It should be said, though, that my cookies came out WAY smaller than the ones from the original post, so that might have something to do with it. I had a total of 34 cookies. They were a little soft, which was nice, and the spices complemented the pumpkin nicely. I ended up giving about a dozen to our neighbors, who’d had a rough morning the day before, and the comment I got was, “This is the best pumpkin *anything* I’ve ever had!” These are by far my favorite, perhaps because I found them delicate and not too sweet (which made the frosting welcome). Note that the frosting hardens enough that you can transport the cookies without smearing anything after a few hours.

For the cookies
½ cup (1 stick) vegan margarine (such as Earth Balance), softened
½ cup organic cane sugar + more for topping (optional)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup pumpkin purée
1 ½ cups + 1 Tbsp. unbleached all-purpose flour (sub up to 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour)
½ Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground allspice
1 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk (or other non-dairy milk or lactose-free milk)

For the frosting (optional; this is the halved amount that was sufficient for me)
¼ cup (½ stick) vegan margarine, softened
¼ tsp. cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. pumpkin purée (optional)
¼ tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
splash non-dairy milk (or lactose-free milk)

For the cookies
Put softened margarine in a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer for 1 minute.

Add sugar, brown sugar and vanilla and beat for 1 more minute. Add pumpkin and mix once more.

Set your sifter over a medium mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients and whisk together.

Add the dry ingredients to the margarine and sugar mixture and stir to combine, being careful not to overmix. Then add almond milk and mix until a soft dough is formed. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes (or chill overnight).

Preheat your oven to 350 °F and position a rack in the center of the oven.

Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp. amounts of dough and roll into balls. Place on a clean baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading. Dip a glass into cane sugar and then gently smash the cookie ball down into a disc (I flattened the cookies, but did not use sugar, since I thought it would be too much with the frosting).

Bake on the center rack for 10-12 minutes, or until very slightly golden brown. Let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Prepare frosting in the meantime.

For the frosting
Put the softened margarine in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy. Then add spices, pumpkin and vanilla, and mix once more.

Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time and continue mixing until thick and creamy. Drizzle in a little non-dairy milk to thin. You want this frosting to be pretty thick so it will hold its shape once on the cookies, so only add a little milk and add more powdered sugar if it gets too thin.

Once cooled, frost cookies and top with a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Store leftovers covered at room temperature for up to a few days. Freeze for longer-term storage.

The other cookie recipe is slightly adapted from The Kitchn. It’s a large, soft cookie with a chocolate frosting, and personally, even though those flavors go well together, I thought that the chocolate was a bit overwhelming and too sweet. They were the Engineer’s favorite, though! I didn’t bother cutting out Jack-o’-Lantern faces in them, but please do so if you feel so inclined. I also ran out of eggs making them and ended up using a flax egg along with 2 actual eggs.

For the cookies
9 Tbsp. unsalted butter or vegan margarine, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ cup pumpkin purée
3 large eggs
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. pumpkin spice mix (I used ¼ tsp. of each of the five spices instead)
orange food coloring (or a mix of red and yellow), optional

For the frosting
¼ cup unsalted butter or vegan margarine
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
¼ cup lactose-free milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugars until they're smooth. Mix in the pumpkin purée. Mix in the eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice, then slowly stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Mix just enough to combine the ingredients. Add a few drops of orange food coloring if you'd like a deeper orange color (I didn’t bother).

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Place one rack in the top third of the oven and another rack in the bottom third. Line two baking sheets with parchment or nonstick baking mats.

Portion the cookie dough onto the baking sheets: Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of dough and transfer to the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining dough, positioning the cookies a few inches apart. You should have about 24 cookies. Dip your fingers in water and use them to flatten each mound of dough to about ¼-inch thick.

Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans and swapping shelves once during baking. The cookies are done when they're slightly puffed and just starting to turn a darker shade of golden around the edges. Cool completely.

While the cookies cool, make the frosting. Melt the butter in the microwave, then whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the milk and vanilla, and whisk until frothy. Make sure the cocoa powder has completely dissolved. In a stand mixer with a beater attachment, with a hand mixer, or by hand with a whisk (and a strong arm!), work the powdered sugar into the liquids a little at a time until fully incorporated. The frosting should be thick but spreadable. If runny, add more powdered sugar; if too stiff, work in a teaspoon of milk.
If you wish to make Jack-o’-Lantern faces, follow these steps. Set aside half of the cookies as the "bottoms". With the remaining cookies, use a sharp paring knife to cut a notch from the top of the cookie for the pumpkin stem and then to cut out Jack-o'-Lantern faces. (Optional: To make “pumpkin lines”, you can use a paring knife to score a few lines down the cookie, but be warned that this makes it a bit fragile. The dull edge of a butter knife works well for this too, pressing the lines rather than breaking the surface of the cookie.)

Spread a thick layer of frosting over the "bottom" cookies. Top with Jack-o'-Lantern cookies. Add an extra dollop of frosting in the notch at the top for the stem. (If, like me, you didn’t bother making Jack-o’-Lantern faces, you can just frost all the cookies instead of making sandwich cookies. I had enough frosting for all of them.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Raw Cashew Dreamcake

I’ve worked with cashew cream before, mostly in savory applications (like alfredo sauce or butternut squash sauce with pasta), so it was high time I used it in desserts. The best-known example of this is vegan cheesecake, the kind that doesn’t use tofu.

This recipe is from My New Roots; the cheesecake is raw, vegan, gluten-free and low in sugar, and… mind-blowing. As in, omg-where-have-you-been-all-my-life fantastic! Okay, so you do need a pretty powerful blender or food processor to make it (and I can’t recommend my Vita-Mix enough), and I also had to buy a special 7-inch springform pan, but every penny was worth it. The flavoring on the top layer is raspberry, but you could change that up. The Engineer doesn’t like raspberry, but he did say that he liked the texture and concept of this cake, and that if it had been lemon-flavored, he would have been all over it. It would be great with blueberries, I think, but next time, I’m making a chocolate version!

For the crust
½ cup raw almonds (pecan or walnuts will also work)
½ cup soft Medjool dates
¼ tsp. sea salt

For the filling
1 ½ cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 5 hours (overnight is best)
juice of 2 lemons
the seeds of 1 whole vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. alcohol-free vanilla extract; I used vanilla bean paste)
1/3 cup raw coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup raw honey (or agave nectar; I used pasteurized honey)
1 cup raspberries (thaw completely if using frozen; see note above)

Place nuts and dates in a food processor with sea salt and pulse to chop until they are to your desired fineness. Test the crust by spooning out a small amount of mixture and rolling it in your hands: if the ingredients hold together, your crust is perfect. Scoop out crust mixture in a 7-inch springform pan (if you don’t have a spring-form pan, use a small pie plate lined with plastic wrap), and press firmly, making sure that the edges are well packed and that the base is relatively even throughout. (Rinse food processor well if you are using it in the next step.)

Warm coconut oil and honey in a small saucepan on low heat until liquid. Whisk to combine.

In the most powerful food processor / blender you own (decide which one has the most torque – if you have a Vita-Mix, absolutely use it), place all filling ingredients, except raspberries, and blend on high until very smooth (this make take a few minutes, so be patient).

Pour about 2/3 of the mixture (just eyeball it) out onto the crust and smooth with a spatula. Add the raspberries to the remaining filling and blend on high until smooth. Pour onto the first layer of filling. Place in freezer until solid.

To serve, remove from freezer 30 minutes prior to eating. Run a smooth, sharp knife under hot water and cut into slices. Serve on its own, or with fresh fruit. Store leftovers in the freezer. (Since the mold is small, it does make for itty-bitty servings, but with some self-control, you could expect around 6 servings. I have to admit that with no self-control, I would have eaten about half of it the first night!)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Deux sorties

J’allais glisser ça dans mon billet de tricot, mais ça faisait bien trop long! Voici donc un résumé de nos deux sorties « mensuelles » les plus récentes… parce qu’il faut un peu de temps pour s’y remettre pour vrai : en octobre et en novembre, nous étions bien motivés, par contre en décembre, pas du tout. Mais il faut bien commencer quelque part! En octobre, nous sommes allés au Musée McNay pour y voir l’exposition sur les impressionnistes, avec des toiles prêtées par la National Gallery of Art. Nous y avons vu des Renoir, des Monet, des Degas, des Gaugin, mais aussi des toiles d’artistes talentueux moins connus. J’ai tellement aimé la toile « Argenteuil », de Claude Monet, que nous en avons acheté une petite reproduction pour la chambre d’amis. Nous avons beaucoup apprécié l’exposition, d’autant plus qu’il est permis de prendre des photos au musée! À la fin, les visiteurs étaient invités à dessiner leur autoportrait, et je vous montre deux de mes préférés (pour différentes raisons, bien sûr) : McNay Selfie 2k14 et l’adorable autoportrait de Jilly Grace.

C’était également la première sortie culturelle du Petit Prince, alors nous en avons profité pour lui montrer d’autres recoins du McNay. Il faisait un temps superbe, environ 30 °C (quand même plus que la moyenne pour ce temps-là de l’année). À propos, j’ai lu récemment un article dans San Antonio Magazine expliquant que San Antonio se veut une destination culturelle internationale, et les directeurs des grands musées locaux pensent y arriver dans environ cinq ans. On verra bien!

En novembre, nous sommes allés visiter le parc naturel Lost Maples, connu pour ses érables avec de belles couleurs automnales (une rareté au Texas!). Bien sûr, il faut attendre le bon moment de l’année, après une période de froid – heureusement, le site donne des mises à jour avec photos chaque semaine en octobre et en novembre!

Ça a été une drôle de sortie, en fait. Nous y sommes allés le 14 novembre, un vendredi (pour éviter la foule de la fin de semaine, sachant qu’on était dans la période propice pour les feuilles). Malheureusement, cette journée-là, il faisait un temps gris et venteux, avec des températures juste un peu au-dessus de zéro. Les feuilles étaient belles, mais on a eu froid! Quand même, le Petit Prince portait sa tuque grise et rouge ainsi que ses mitaines, et j’avais fini de tricoter le chandail Binic jaune l’avant-veille (le voilà, le lien avec le billet sur le tricot!). Son manteau et ses bottes n’étaient pas encore arrivés (on commande par Internet, parce que le linge d’hiver au Texas, on oublie ça), mais il avait ses bottillons verts de Shrek et une bonne couverture, alors dans la poussette, ça allait. Mais en fait, c’était ça l’autre problème!

Je m’étais renseignée d’avance pour connaître les sentiers « faciles », et le parc était accessible en chaise roulante (y compris une des toilettes chimiques portatives, c’était la première fois que je voyais ça!), alors je m’étais dit que ça irait avec la poussette. Après tout, j’ai marché dans des parcs au Maryland où certaines pistes avaient un trottoir en bois et des rampes, avec très peu de dénivelé, alors… Une fois sur place, je demande conseil aux guides, et on me confirme que je devais prendre le sentier est (East Trail) avec la poussette parce que c’était le plus facile. Alors on se lance, et au premier tournant, qui n’est qu’à quelques dizaines de mètres du stationnement... il faut traverser à gué sur des pierres disposées en ligne relativement droite, mais espacées d’un pied environ. Pas fait pour les poussettes, cet endroit! J’ai traversé en portant le Petit Prince, l’Ingénieur a traversé en portant la poussette. Le sentier lui-même était très rocailleux, difficile pour les roues. Rendus au troisième gué, on a rebroussé chemin. On s’est dit que ce serait très agréable de revenir quand le Petit Prince pourrait marcher quelques kilomètres tout seul, et on s’est dit aussi que Darwin aurait adoré cette promenade. En fin de compte, ce ne sont que certains terrains de campings qui sont accessibles aux fauteuils roulants – on s’en souviendra.

En décembre, ça ne compte pas vraiment comme une sortie officielle, mais j’ai eu le loisir de voir deux films qui ne jouaient que dans quelques salles en ville : The Theory of Everything et Wild.
The Theory of Everything, c’est l’histoire d’amour de Jane et Stephen Hawking (le célèbre physicien théoricien et cosmologiste britannique). C’est adapté du mémoire de Jane Hawking, et le film met en vedette Eddie Redmayne et Felicity Jones. Ce n’est pas pour ceux qui veulent entrer en profondeur dans la physique théorique ou explorer la carrière de Stephen Hawking, c’est vraiment un côté plus grand public et humain qui est présenté, et j’ai beaucoup apprécié. De plus, la prestation d’Eddie Redmayne est vraiment époustouflante!
Wild, c’est l’adaptation de l’excellent mémoire de Cheryl Strayed, réalisé par Jean-Marc Vallée et mettant en vedette Reese Witherspoon. J’ai adoré! Il faut dire que j’avais adoré le livre aussi, mais je recommande quand même ce film aux personnes qui n’en auraient pas entendu parler. En gros, c’est l’histoire de l’été des 26 ans de Cheryl Strayed, juste après son divorce mais surtout, quatre ans après la mort de sa mère, dont elle ne s’était jamais remise; elle décide de remettre de l’ordre dans sa vie en marchant seule le long de la Pacific Crest Trail, du sud de la Californie jusqu’en Oregon.

Transformation de vêtements - Petits chandails

Ça fait longtemps que je ne vous ai pas parlé de transformation de vêtements, alors voici. J’ai eu le temps avant les fêtes de faire un peu de couture (parce que l’Ingénieur amène le Petit Prince au parc la fin de semaine, ce qui me donne une heure ou deux à moi). J’ai reçu en cadeau une surjeteuse, que je trouve vraiment géniale, même si je ne m’en sers que depuis peu. J’ai recyclé quelques t-shirts dont se débarrassait l’Ingénieur pour en faire des chandails à manches longues pour le Petit Prince – et en plus, j’ai pu faire la manche de la bonne longueur pour lui! Et le col aussi, en fait, parce que sa tête est proportionnellement grosse pour son âge, alors ça passe serré dans bien des chandails du commerce… Je joins des photos où je me suis amusée à embrouiller son visage.

Je me suis inspirée du tutoriel pour le 90-Minute Shirt sur Dana Made It, mais j’ai fini par acheter et utiliser un patron de cache-couche de Mamma Can Do It. Parce qu’en fait, quand j’essaie de faire mes propres patrons, ça ne marche jamais à mon goût; l’investissement pour un vrai patron en vaut donc la peine pour moi puisque le but, c’est que ce soit mettable. Alors bon, une fois que j’utilisais un vrai patron et que j’avais compris le fonctionnement de la surjeteuse, ça a été comme sur des roulettes! C’est super rapide et pas compliqué du tout, donc c’est très satisfaisant, et en plus, l’écolo en moi est incroyablement heureuse de pouvoir recycler du linge!

J’ai fait un chandail jaune et un rouge, et pour ne pas trop dépenser d’argent sur le fil (parce que ça revient un peu cher quand même, quatre bobines de surjeteuse, même si ça dure une éternité), j’ai choisi du fil orange pour faire un petit contraste. On s’entend que mes chandails ne sont pas aussi beaux que ceux d’une professionnelle, mais grâce aux coutures surjetées, ils sont quand même de loin ce que j’ai fait de mieux avec du tricot jersey! Surtout que je peux récupérer les bords existants pour le bas du chandail et le bout des manches… Dans les deux cas, j’ai utilisé le patron 24-36 mois en version ajustée pour le dos et le devant (le Petit Prince a 17 mois), mais j’ai les manches ont la longueur 9-12 mois (et j’ai décidé de la longueur du torse en me basant sur un chandail qu’il a déjà), et ça lui va parfaitement.

Pour le chandail jaune, j’avais commencé par essayer de faire mon propre patron, ça a foiré, et j’ai ensuite cousu un nouveau morceau de tissu en place pour mieux tailler le haut. Je pourrais aussi utiliser cette technique pour faire un t-shirt deux couleurs… J’ai poursuivi en essayant de faire un chandail qui ferme sur l’épaule, mais sans bon patron, ça laisse à désirer. J’ai simplement mis du velcro sur l’épaule gauche. (C’est visible sur deux des photos, prises de dos toutes les deux. L’autre épaule est cousue tout le long sur l’envers du travail.) Il me faudrait une machine à coudre qui prenne une aiguille double pour pouvoir faire un bord « professionnel », alors j’ai décidé de laisser la couture surjetée orange apparente. Ça aurait fait mieux si TOUTES mes coutures étaient comme ça, y compris une couture décorative sur les épaules, parce qu’au moins, ça aurait eu l’air vraiment voulu. Il me faudrait bien de la pratique pour voir ça joliment!

Pour le chandail rouge, j’ai suivi le patron acheté et j’ai fait un col enveloppe. C’est simple à faire et c’est parfait pour mes besoins. J’ai l’intention d’en faire en d’autres couleurs comme celui-là, selon ce qui se trouve dans ma pile de linge à recycler. Je voudrais aussi faire des chandails ou des robes pour ma nouvelle nièce, puisque j’ai beaucoup de linge rose dans cette pile! Il me faudra trouver de bons patrons faits pour le tissu en tricot jersey…