Friday, January 29, 2016

Deep-Dark-Chocolate Pudding Cake

This is the second recipe I try from Joanne Chang’s Baking with Less Sugar (the first one was vanilla honey rice pudding). I’m a sucker for molten chocolate anything, so her low-sugar version intrigued me. The very first dessert of the sort that I made was Nigella Lawson’s Choco-Hoto-Pots, but in my recollection, those are very sweet, so I was looking to update the recipe a bit. Joanne Chang’s chocolate pudding cakes only contain the sugar already in the chocolate, and they are gluten-free to boot; I only adapted them to be lactose-free. We really liked these! I didn’t miss the sugar at all.

10 oz. (280 g.) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup vegan margarine
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
½ cup coconut milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 °F. Butter six 4-oz ramekins.

Bring a saucepan filled partway with water to a very gentle simmer over medium-high heat. Place the chocolate and margarine in a medium metal or glass bowl. Place the bowl over (not touching) the barely simmering water in the saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and margarine are completely melted and smooth.

In a large bowl, by hand with a whisk, whip the eggs and egg yolks. Whip in the coconut milk, salt and vanilla. Whisk in the chocolate mixture until thoroughly combined.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, or until the outsides of the cakes start to set and feel firm to the touch and the insides are still wiggly and soft when you poke them in the center. (You can bake the cakes further, but if the center is no longer runny, they aren’t really pudding cakes.) Remove the cakes from the oven and let them sit for a few minutes to firm up.

Run a knife around the cakes and carefully invert onto serving plates. Serve immediately. (In my case, I took these pictures immediately, but since the Little Prince can’t eat anything too hot and since the Engineer likes his pudding cakes cold, I held off on serving them. Once these cakes are refrigerated, they become very dense because of all the chocolate they contain.)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Vegan Truffles

I love truffles. It’s like dark chocolate, taken to the next level. But I hadn’t gotten around to making my own, even though I’m stockpiling recipes. Not only do I need my truffles to be lactose-free, but I also really don’t feel like tempering chocolate… Enter Minimalist Baker’s truffles, which basically only call for two ingredients and, as it turns out, are stupid-easy to make. This is a great recipe for beginners! We loved them over the holidays; I’m probably only going to make them if we have guests, and my waistline will thank me.

Of course, you can use this recipe as a jumping-off point: replace the vanilla with finely chopped orange zest, add a tablespoon of nut butter or a shot of espresso, roll them in hemp seeds or coconut flakes or cookie crumbs, sprinkle on some vanilla fleur de sel… Personally, I like my truffles to melt in the mouth, so rolling them in cocoa was the way to go for me. For the chocolate, use something that you like eating on its own (I used Ghiradelli, though I can’t remember if it was semi-sweet or bittersweet – it isn’t vegan, but I can digest it just fine).

9 oz. (255 g. / 1 ¼ cup) dark chocolate, very finely chopped
7 Tbsp. coconut milk, well shaken
½ tsp. vanilla extract (optional, but recommended)
¼ cup (24 g.) unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder, for coating (optional, but recommended)

Place finely chopped chocolate in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Finely chopped chocolate will melt more easily and facilitate the process.

In a separate small mixing bowl, add coconut milk and microwave until very warm but not boiling, about 25 seconds (alternatively, heat in a small saucepan over medium heat until just starting to simmer).

Immediately add coconut milk to chocolate and loosely cover with a cooking lid or towel to trap the heat in. Do not touch for 5 minutes, then lift cover and use a mixing spoon to gently stir, trying not to incorporate air. Continue stirring until completely melted, creamy and smooth. (If, for some reason, you have unmelted pieces left, you can microwave the mixture in 10-second increments until completely smooth – just be careful not to overcook or it can affect the integrity of the chocolate).

Add vanilla at this time and stir (optional).

Set the mixture in the refrigerator to chill uncovered for 2-3 hours, or until almost completely solid. A good test is dipping a knife into the middle of the bowl to see if any chocolate sticks. If it comes out mostly clean, it’s ready to scoop. If there’s still wet chocolate in the center, continue refrigerating.

Once the mixture is chilled and firm, prepare a small dish of cocoa powder for rolling (optional).

Use a tablespoon-sized scoop (I used my cookie scoop) or a tablespoon to scoop out small balls, then use your hands to gently but quickly roll/form the chocolate into balls. Toss in cocoa powder to coat and shake off excess (or leave bare), then set on a parchment-lined serving dish. Continue until all chocolate is scooped. There should be about 16 truffles, depending on the size of your scoop. (If any of the chocolate near the center of the bowl was too soft to form, refrigerate that portion for a bit longer before proceeding.)

Enjoy truffles immediately, or refrigerate for 1-2 hours or overnight. This allows them to set and firm up. Store truffles covered in the refrigerator for best freshness. To serve, let come to room temperature for 10-15 minutes for optimum creaminess.

On a side note, I decided to transfer my dark chocolate almond butter cups to a bite-sized format by using silicone candy molds. This was my first attempt and I ended up making the filling a bit too big (it was almost the diameter of the molds, but in hindsight, it should have been even smaller). As a result, the chocolate didn’t always settle all the way around each candy properly – I’ll know better next time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Duck Fat Cookies

I finally, finally got around to making David Lebovitz’s duck fat cookies for Christmas. They’re the kind of cookies where you roll the dough into cylinders, then chill it before slicing it into discs for baking. I sliced the first cylinder into 15 cookies, but unfortunately, they spread enormously on the baking sheet and looked like the sad ghosts of cookies-that-might-have-been. I was expecting *some* spread, especially since I had used margarine instead of butter, but not to the point that the cookies would be flat and burnt and very unappetizing (even though the thicker ones were really very good). So for the second batch, I let the dough come to room temperature and mixed it with additional flour and baking soda (the proportions being based on one of my mother’s recipes), then shaped it and chilled it again before slicing it. Now *those* cookies were fantastic, so that’s the version I’m giving you below. The yield should be around 3 dozen cookies, depending on how thinly you slice them – mine tend to be on the thicker side.

¼ cup (30 g.) dried currants or chopped dried cherries (I used the latter)
1 Tbsp. Armagnac, Cognac, or brandy (I used apple juice)
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) chilled duck fat
4 Tbsp. (2 oz./55 g.) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used vegan margarine)
¾ cup (150 g.) granulated sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups (175 g.) all-purpose flour
¾ tsp. sea salt or kosher salt
½ tsp. baking soda

In a small saucepan, heat the currants over low heat with the liquor until the liquid is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand in a bowl, cream the duck fat, butter, and sugar on low speed just until well combined. Mix in the vanilla.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add it to the fat-butter-sugar mixture, stirring until the dough comes together. Then mix in the dried fruit pieces.

On a lightly floured countertop, knead the dough briefly until smooth. Shape it into a rectangle, and cut the dough in half lengthwise. Roll each piece of dough into a log 6 inches (15cm) long. (I did this differently because I started by separating the dough into two, then rolled each log until the diameter pleased me. My logs were roughly twice as long, so I’m assuming the diameter of my cookies was smaller.) If the dried fruit makes the dough crumble a bit, press the dough back together and continue to roll it into cylinders. Wrap each log in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes. (The dough can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for up to 2 months.)

To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 °F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Slice the dough into ¼-inch (0.75 cm) rounds and set them on the baking sheets, evenly spaced. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheets midway through, for 12 minutes, until golden brown across the top. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheets until crisp. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Winter Salad with Kale and Pomegranate

For a few Christmases in a row, my sister has made this kale and pomegranate salad that we really like, so I made it this year when my parents spent Christmas Eve with us in Texas. Maybe subconsciously, it was a way to have my sister at the table with us. It’s also a great salad for Christmas, because not only is it red and green, but it has a great mix of acidic and sweet that can help offset some of the richer dishes of the holiday. I only prepare the apple right before serving; the salad keeps well in the fridge, dressing separately, and the almonds should be kept in an airtight container at room temperature. I served it with meat pie and butternut squash sweet potato casserole.

For the salad
¾ cup almonds (100 g.)
2 Tbsp. red wine balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
10-12 big leaves of kale (250-300 g.)
1 pomegranate
2 apples (I used Envy apples)

For the dressing
3 Tbsp. red wine balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Heat a pan and dry roast the almonds for 1-2 minutes. Add the balsamic and as soon as it is gone add the honey and stir for 1 minute. Transfer almonds to a baking shed lined with a silicone mat and let them cool until they are dry. Afterwards, chop them coarsely.

Wash and dry the kale. Remove the stems and use a food processor or mini chopper to chop the kale into a very fine texture. (You can use a sharp knife, but it takes longer.)

Prepare the pomegranate and cut the apple into thin boats and mix all of it with the kale. (I chopped the apples into bite-size pieces, which are less photogenic but more convenient to eat.)

Make the dressing by stirring everything thoroughly together (I like doing this in a small jar that I shake) and season to taste.

Stir everything together and serve.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Chocolatiest Cookies with Fleur de Sel

I got this recipe from Happy Belly, but it was adapted from a recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini. The main differences are that the former used a mix of white and whole wheat flour instead of the all-purpose white flour called for in the latter, and it also used fleur de sel on top of the cookies instead of in the batter. In my version, I used white whole wheat flour and kept the fleur de sel in the batter while also sprinkling some on top. For the sugar, you can use either granulated sugar or brown sugar, or a mix of the two. Brown sugar tends to play well with chocolate, and it makes for cakier cookies, so that’s what I recommend (either just brown sugar or a mix of brown and granulated sugars). These small cookies are dense and intensely chocolaty, just the way they should be!

This recipe yielded 33 cookies for me; I baked half of the batch right away and kept the rest in the fridge.

1 cup (120 g.) all-purpose flour (see above)
¾ cup (90 g.) cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
4 oz. (120 g.) quality bittersweet chocolate, divided
½ cup (1 stick) vegan margarine
½ cup (100 g.) brown sugar (see above)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 Tbsp. cocoa nibs
½ tsp. fleur de sel, plus more for garnish

In a large bowl, sift and mix together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder.

Roughly chop 3 oz. (90 g.) of the chocolate and place in a heat-proof bowl with the margarine. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water, without letting the water touch the base of the pot, and leave it to melt. Mix together and leave to cool at room temperature.

Finely chop the reserved chocolate and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk the sugar together with the eggs until well combined. Fold in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract. Then fold in the flour mixture until well-combined. Lastly, fold in the reserved chopped chocolate and cocoa nibs, and ½ tsp. of the fleur de sel. The batter will be thick.

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Scoop tablespoons out the dough (I used my smallest ice cream scoop) and roll them into small bite-sized balls. It will get messy. And line them up, spaced 1 inch apart, on the cookie tray. Press down gently and sprinkle on fleur de sel. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes or in the fridge for 10 minutes, so that the cookies don't spread as much when they bake. Then put in the oven to bake for about 10 minutes (do not overbake). The cookies should feel a bit soft as you pull them out of the oven so that they're nice and moist on the inside once they have cooled.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl

I love Buddha bowls, but for some reason I never got into the habit of making them. The Protein Salad I always order at Green is basically a Buddha bowl, after all, and it’s my favorite dish from that place. This Buddha bowl from Minimalist Baker really hit the spot for lunch: the kale and broccolini made me feel virtuous, while the sweet potato and chickpeas were comforting. The best thing was the tahini dressing, though, which both the Little Prince and I loved. I’ll have to keep that recipe handy to use with other similar dishes! I did change the recipe a bit by cutting the sweet potatoes into quarters so they’d cook more thoroughly; I peeled them once they were cooked; and I didn’t roast the chickpeas all the way because I prefer them chewy to crunchy. My onion was also a little less cooked than I would have liked, because I forgot to put it on the pan with the sweet potato. Next time, I’d consider doubling the sauce! Actually, I’ll probably use that sauce anytime I make a similar dish without a fixed recipe.

For the vegetables
2 Tbsp. olive, melted coconut, or grape seed oil
½ red onion, sliced in wedges
2 large sweet potatoes, halved
1 bundle (227 g.) broccolini, large stems removed, chopped
2 big handfuls kale, larger stems removed
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper

For the chickpeas
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
1 tsp. cumin
¾ tsp. chili powder (I used a pinch of Korean pepper)
¾ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. each salt and pepper
½ tsp. oregano (optional)
¼ tsp. turmeric (optional)

For the tahini sauce
¼ cup (56 g.) tahini
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
½ lemon, juiced
2-4 Tbsp. hot water, to thin

Preheat oven to 400 °F and arrange sweet potatoes and onions on a bare baking sheet. Drizzle both with a bit of oil, making sure the flesh of the sweet potatoes is well coated, and place skin side down on the sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven, flip sweet potatoes and add broccolini. Drizzle broccolini with a bit of oil and season with a pinch each salt and pepper.

Bake for another 8-10 minutes, then remove from oven and add kale. Drizzle kale with a touch more oil and season with a pinch each salt and pepper. Bake for another 4-5 minutes then set aside.

While vegetables are roasting, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add chickpeas to a mixing bowl and toss with seasonings.

Once the skillet is hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and chickpeas and sauté, stirring frequently. If they’re browning too quickly, turn down heat. If there isn’t much browning going on, increase heat. How long you roast them is somewhat subjective – the original recipe said that 10 minutes on medium heat should do it, but I wanted to make sure they weren’t crisp, so I took them off the heat after roughly 5 minutes. Once the chickpeas are browned and fragrant, remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare sauce by adding tahini, maple syrup and lemon juice to a mixing bowl and whisking to combine. Add hot water until a pourable sauce is formed. Set aside.

To serve: Slice sweet potatoes into bite size pieces (and peel them if you wish). Divide vegetables between serving bowls and top with chickpeas and tahini sauce. This dish is best when fresh, although leftovers will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Madagascar Vanilla Frosting

I’m not sure how seasonal pumpkin is for me at this point. Sure, nothing says “fall” like the return of pumpkin-everything on store shelves, but I always buy canned pumpkin purée, and that’s available year-round… I’ll concede that it usually feels warm (either the pumpkin itself or the spices associated with it), so I’d prefer it in the winter than in the summer. Do I say that every time I post pumpkin recipes now? Should I assume all my readers have heard me say that? In any event, I tried a recipe from Petit Lapin, chocolate and pumpkin pots de crème, but none of us were crazy about it (we much preferred the chocolate and sweet potato purée I had made once, and that’s the same general idea).

These pumpkin cupcakes, though, were a nice experiment. They were definitely not sweet, as they are only sweetened with coconut sugar. That being said, I had reduced the amount of vanilla bean paste to 1 teaspoon, because 1 tablespoon seemed like an obscene amount; in hindsight, the cupcakes would have been more flavorful (and would have given the illusion of being sweeter) had I used the full amount. The crumb was moist in a very pleasant way, though. I also tried Dollop frosting, which is vegan and soy-free and also barely sweet. It’s made with sustainably-sourced palm shortening, and the fat was more noticeable than the sugar. It was too stiff right out of the packaging, so I took it for a spin in my stand mixer and that helped the consistency as well as the mouthfeel. Even though it really wasn’t as sweet as most frosting I’m used to, it was somewhat addictive.

The original recipe called for Bob’s Redmill’s all-purpose gluten-free flour, but I used white whole wheat flour, since wheat isn’t an issue for me and I didn’t have all-purpose gluten-free flour on hand. The yield was supposed to be 10 muffins, and that’s indeed what I got. I’m a little annoyed that it’s not an even dozen, but there you go. That means you can have a few spoonfuls of frosting straight out o the package and still have enough to frost all the cupcakes – silver lining!

1 cup all-purpose flour (see note above)
½ cup of coconut palm sugar (or brown sugar if you want it sweeter)
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. of ground nutmeg
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
½ cup canned pumpkin purée
1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp. of vanilla extract)
4 Tbsp. vegan margarine, melted
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 container of Dollop Madagascar vanilla frosting (or equivalent)

Preheat your oven to 350 °F. Line or spray your muffin pan and set aside (this recipe yields 10 cupcakes).

In a medium bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (from flour to nutmeg). Set aside.

Into a stand mixer with paddle attached (or in a bowl with a whisk, really, since there’s nothing to cream), beat the almond milk, pumpkin, vanilla, melted margarine and cider vinegar until combined.

Add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture and beat blend until combined. Scrape the sides down and blend one more time. (I did all this by hand with a wooden spoon.)

Fill each muffin cup about 60% full (I like doing this with an ice cream scoop). Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Once cooled, frost as you wish.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Latkes with starch, from scratch

As always, I have a lot of posts to catch up on. I meant to post an article from The Atlantic last month all about how un-traditional potato latkes actually are. It turns out that, hundreds of years ago, latkes were made with cheese, then with grains. People used schmaltz before they used oil, and latkes weren’t associated with Hanukkah until more. It’s a very interesting article, if you have time for it.

So this year, I tried a new latke recipe for Hanukkah. Not the squash latke recipe I posted about during Hanukkah, but a potato recipe I made during that time and never got around to posting. Look at this as a very early post for the next Hanukkah, alright? The basic principle is outlined in this article on The Kitchn, but the recipe below is from Cook’s Illustrated. Basically, when you squeeze the water out of the grated potatoes, you let the water rest so that the starch collects at the bottom. The water is then carefully poured off, while the starch is added back into the potato mixture, making for crispier latkes. The starch acts as a binder, and this recipe doesn’t even contain flour, so it’s gluten-free (yet I didn’t have any trouble with latkes falling apart).

Both sources I linked to above recommend hand-grating the potatoes (because the food processor tends to make longer strands, which interfere with the proper latke consistency), but I really didn’t feel like it. I parent a toddler, I deserve to use my food processor here, and so do you. Instead, I cut the potatoes in 2-inch chunks to make sure the shreds wouldn’t be too long. Also, I forgot the parsley. The latkes were delicious nonetheless!

2 lbs. russet potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and shredded
½ cup grated onion
salt and pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. minced fresh parsley
vegetable oil (I used safflower oil)
apple sauce and lactose-free sour cream, to serve

Adjust oven rack to middle position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 200 °F.

Toss potatoes, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl. Place half of potato mixture in center of dish towel. Gather ends together and twist tightly to drain as much liquid as possible, reserving liquid in liquid measuring cup. Transfer drained potato mixture to second bowl and repeat process with remaining potato mixture. Set potato liquid aside and let stand so starch settles to bottom, at least 5 minutes. (I had about 1 cup of liquid, which yielded roughly 1/8 cup of starch in the end.)

Cover potato mixture and microwave until just warmed through but not hot, 1 to 2 minutes, stirring mixture with fork every 30 seconds. Spread potato mixture evenly over second rimmed baking sheet and let cool for 10 minutes. Don’t wash out bowl.

Carefully pour off water from reserved potato liquid, leaving potato starch in measuring cup. Add eggs and stir until smooth. Return cooled potato mixture to bowl. Add parsley, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and potato starch mixture and toss until evenly combined.

Set wire rack in clean rimmed baking sheet and line with triple layer of paper towels. Heat ¼-inch depth of oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking (350 °F, if you want to bother measuring it). Place ¼-cup mound of potato mixture in oil and press with nonstick spatula into 1/3-inch-thick disk. Repeat until 5 latkes are in pan. Cook, adjusting heat so fat bubbles around latke edges, until golden brown on bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn and continue cooking until golden brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer. Drain on paper towels and transfer to baking sheet in oven. Repeat with remaining potato mixture, adding oil to maintain ¼-inch depth and returning oil to 350 °F between batches. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

(Cooled latkes can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and held at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Alternatively, they can be frozen on baking sheet until firm, transferred to zipper-lock bag, and frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat latkes in 375 °F oven until crisp and hot, 3 minutes per side for room-temperature latkes and 6 minutes per side for frozen latkes.)

If you want a seasonal dessert, consider apple latkes with caramel sauce and lactose-free sour cream!

Filet de porc au cinq-épices

Voici une recette que j’ai trouvée sur le site d’Épices de cru. Il s’agit d’une recette rapide et délicieuse, que nous avons tous beaucoup aimée. J’ai doublé les quantités ci-dessous pour avoir des restes et j’ai servi le tout avec du riz.

Pour la marinade
2 c. à soupe de sauce hoisin
1 c. à soupe de vin de riz chinois ou de gin
2 c. à thé de vinaigre de riz
1 ½ c. à thé de sauce soya
1 c. à thé de sucre
1 c. à thé de gingembre râpé
2 gousses d’ail, hachées finement
½ c. à thé de cinq-épices chinois moulu (j’avoue que j’en mettrais moins la prochaine fois)
quelques gouttes d’huile de sésame grillé
1 pincée de sel

Pour le porc
½ lb. (250 g.) de filet de porc
3 oignons verts
2 c. à soupe d’huile végétale
2 c. à thé de sauce soya

Mélanger les ingrédients de la marinade et réserver.

Couper le filet de porc en tranches de ¼ po. (5 mm). J’ai aussi coupé mes tranches sur l’autre sens de façon à avoir de plus petits morceaux, plus faciles à manger pour les jeunes enfants et les grands adultes qui ne se servent pas de couteau. Des morceaux de taille uniforme permettent d’obtenir une cuisson réussie. Mélanger le porc dans la marinade et laisser reposer 15 minutes.

Entre-temps, séparer les parties blanches et vertes des oignons verts. Couper le blanc en sections de 1 po. (2,5 mm) de long; ciseler le vert.

Chauffer un wok à feu vif. Y verser l’huile et ajouter le blanc des oignons verts. Faire sauter 15 secondes. Ajouter la viande et remuer jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit cuite et encore juteuse (environ 2 minutes). Verser la sauce soya. Bien mélanger et verser dans un plat de service.

Servir avec du riz et garnir des oignons verts ciselés.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Pancakes à la courge musquée et à la fève de tonka

Je viens de découvrir la fève de tonka. Ou plutôt, je viens d’en découvrir le goût, parce que j’en avais entendu parler depuis plusieurs années quand même. J’en cherchais de temps à autre dans le rayon des épices, sans succès. Non seulement c’est assez rare, mais en plus, il se trouve que la FDA en interdit la vente en tant qu’épice aux États-Unis! En effet, elle contient de la coumarine, qui peut être toxique pour l’humain (selon Wikipedia, il en faudrait environ 275 mg/kg). Bon, soit, mais la casse contient également de la coumarine, et Dieu sait que les Américains raffolent de la casse! Toujours est-il que c’est parfaitement sécuritaire en petites doses. J’en ai commandé en ligne, d’une entreprise qui s’est trouvée être un magasin de fournitures wiccanes… Avoir été à Montréal, j’en aurais commandé chez Épices de cru!

Alors, donc, j’ai commencé par faire une recette de Catherine Draws : des pancakes à la courge musquée et à la fève tonka. Et je suis tombée sous le charme de la fève de tonka… C’est le noyau d’un fruit et on l’utilise comme la muscade, en la râpant. Elle a plus un parfum qu’un goût; ça rappelle un peu la vanille, mais plus délicat, plus foral. C’est vraiment délicieux! Si vous l’utilisez dans un plat sans en avertir les convives, il y a de bonnes chances qu’ils lui trouvent un goût de je-ne-sais-quoi, à la fois familier et indéfinissable. J’ai bien hâte de refaire cette recette! (À noter que j’utilise le terme « pancake » pour différencier des crêpes minces européennes, puisqu’ici il s’agit bien de crêpes à l’américaine.)

1 tasse de farine tout-usage
2 c. à thé de poudre à pâte
1 ½ c. à soupe de cassonade
½ c. à thé de sel
2 pincées de fève de tonka râpée finement
1 œuf
2/3 de tasse de babeurre (du lait sans lactose avec un peu de jus de citron)
1/3 tasse + 2 c. à soupe de chair cuite de courge musquée, en purée
1 noisette de beurre ou de margarine (ou de l’huile végétale)
yogourt nature sucré, miel, sirop d’érable (au goût, pour servir)

Dans un grand bol, mélangez la farine avec la poudre à pâte, la cassonade, le sel et la fève tonka.

Cassez l’œuf sur les ingrédients secs, versez le babeurre par-dessus, puis battez le tout vigoureusement à l’aide d’un fouet.

Quand le mélange est homogène, incorporez la chair de courge musquée.

Laissez reposer le mélange au réfrigérateur pendant 30 minutes.

Préchauffez le four à 212 °F.

Dans une poêle antiadhésive, faites fondre une très petite quantité de beurre à feu moyen-doux. Essuyez l’excédent avec un papier absorbant. (Trop de beurre mènerait à de moins jolies pancakes).

À l’aide d’une louche, versez une petite quantité de mélange dans la poêle. N’étendez pas. Faites cuire à feu doux jusqu’à ce que de petites bulles s’ouvrent dans la pâte. Retournez alors la pancake, et faites-la cuire encore 30 secondes. Transférez-la ensuite dans l’assiette se trouvant au four, puis recommencez jusqu’à épuisement du mélange.

Quand toutes les pancakes sont cuites, servez-les garnies de yogourt nature sucré, d’un filet de miel ou de sirop d’érable.

Skillet Baked Ziti

I’m back, after a little post-holiday hiatus. This time, I’d like to share an easy recipe from Serious Eats, which my friend Jen shared. The pasta is cooked by adsorption using chicken broth, though you could use vegetable broth instead. The yield is smaller than the recipes I normally post: you’ll probably get only 4 small servings out of this. That being said, it was really good, so I wouldn’t hesitate to make it again.

1 Tbsp. olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated with a microplane (about 1 Tbsp.)
1 tsp. dried red chili flakes (or to taste)
a 28-oz.can whole peeled tomatoes
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cup homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken broth
3 cups uncooked penne or ziti
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella (I used Daiya’s vegan substitute to avoid lactose)
½ cup picked fresh basil leaves, cut into strips

Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat the oven to 400 °F.

Heat the oil in an oven-safe 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and a pinch salt and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, breaking up the tomatoes with a potato masher as they soften until the sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a gentle simmer.

Add the pasta and cover. Raise the heat to medium, making sure there are active and vigorous bubbles. Cook, stirring occasionally to make sure the pasta isn’t sticking, until the pasta is just firm, following package directions for timing (12 to 15 minutes).

Remove lid, season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in the parmesan, and spread the mozzarella on top (a few stray chunks of mozzarella never hurt). Transfer to oven and bake until cheese has melted and is starting to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Top with basil and serve.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Batch of links

- I realized that I haven’t yet talked about Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain (affiliate link), and I must remedy that! I read this book last spring and absolutely loved it. It discusses the extrovert ideal (including the charismatic leadership and groupthink that are so prevalent these days), the biological and cultural predispositions to introversion, and how to function as an introvert (how to talk to extroverts, when to act more like them, etc.). It also dispels some myths, for example explaining the difference between someone who is an introvert and someone who is asocial. Every page I read made me nod my head, “Yes. Yes, that’s me!” I highly recommend it if you are an introvert or if you are trying to understand introverts. You can see the author’s TED Talk here (I had linked to the French version a few years ago). Bonus: a Buzzfeed list of 17 graphs that are way too real for introverts.

- A neat animated video on blame, and one on the difference between empathy and sympathy, both narrated by Brené Brown.

- A couple moving to New York wasn’t sure which neighborhood would be best for them, so they had the brilliant idea of renting a dozen Airbnb apartments for a month each before deciding where to settle down.

- A really great, really moving article about death, written by a father of two after his wife passed away from cancer and their best friend came to help. An excerpt: “I was in shock and stayed there a long time. We don't tell each other the truth about dying, as a people. Not real dying. Real dying, regular and mundane dying, is so hard and so ugly that it becomes the worst thing of all: It's grotesque. It's undignified. No one ever told me the truth about it, not once. When it happened to my beloved, I lost my footing in more than one way. “

- And an essay titled One Bouquet of Fleeting Beauty, Please, about the impermanence of life as seen by an assistant florist. (This hits home to me mostly because I used to be an assistant florist too.)

- Apparently, having a doppelgänger is not that unusual – each of us might have a half-dozen or so around the world.

- Did you know there’s a new way to learn written Chinese? It looks very promising, too.

- I’ve been reading a lot of articles about the “death” of handwriting. Not just the loss of handwriting to keyboards, but the loss of cursive to script.

Forty-five (!) US states have dropped teaching cursive in favor of using keyboards, even though studies show that kids who learn cursive script exclusively in their early education have a leg up on others as far as quality of writing goes. Specifically, learning cursive over script (the two types of handwriting) allows kids to have better grammar and spelling, as well as to write more quickly and more legibly. Notably, there are no more problems with mirror letters and spacing, and kids understand words and sentence structure more easily. Keyboards should only be introduced once some form of handwriting has been mastered. (All this info is from an article published by the Université de Montréal.)

Actually, a very interesting article in The Atlantic explains how the ballpoint pen killed cursive. You see, cursive was natural when everyone used fountain pens, but a ballpoint pen actually makes it harder to write in cursive, making script a more natural approach. I learned cursive with a fountain pen (though I have since switched to a cursive-script hybrid using ballpoints), and it didn’t even occur to me that some people don’t know how to use a fountain pen until I met the Engineer – he has no problem with a ballpoint, though, but looking at him with a fountain pen, you would think the pen had a mind of its own and was intent on defeating his attempts at writing! We were obviously in different school districts, though this make me wonder what schools still use fountain pens these days.

A Time article titled The paperless classroom is coming showed both sides of the analog vs. digital debate: teachers say they observe a 20% improvement in the quality of student writing when using digital word processing (as opposed to longhand), and schoolboards do everything they can to bring technology to classrooms. But parents worry that their children won’t know how to write by hand properly and they are left out of the loop when there is no paper trail; plus, doctors warn of physical ailments tied to looking at blue light from a screen too long or sitting at a desk made for pen and paper while using a computer. Obviously, one can have a much more interactive classroom with computers or tablets, as well as teaching methods that are more tailored to each child, but I worry that something important is lost as well when computers are introduced too early in development.