Saturday, December 16, 2017

Roasted Rainbow Vegetable Bowl

I had leftover radishes from this recipe and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. I made some strozzapreti carbonara with radishes and it was good, albeit not very photogenic. Then I remembered this roasted vegetable bowl on Minimalist Baker and I just had to make it! I adapted a bit, using more root vegetables because I like them and omitting the kale because I didn’t have any. (The original post has weights for the ingredients, but I decided that it’s basically a salad and I’m not bothering to weigh things to the gram; eyeballing it and adapting to taste will do.) It turns out that the radishes were my least favorite item in that bowl, so I’d omit them next time, but the rest was spot-on! It was the perfect lunch for me, making me feel both full and virtuous. And it’s easy to make, too!

For the vegetables
3 or 4 red or yellow baby potatoes (or more), sliced into ¼-inch rounds
½ large sweet potato (or all of it), sliced into ¼-inch rounds
2 (or 3) large carrots, halved and sliced
1 medium beet, sliced
4 radishes, halved (I’d omit them next time)
2 Tbsp. avocado or melted coconut oil, divided
1 tsp. curry powder, divided
½ tsp. sea salt, divided
1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup broccolini, roughly chopped
2 cups chopped collard greens or kale

For the toppings
1 lemon, juiced (about 3 Tbsp.), divided
2 Tbsp. tahini, divided
2 tsp. maple syrup (optional)
2 Tbsp. hemp seeds, divided (optional)
1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Preheat oven to 400 °F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

To the first baking sheet, add the potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, and radishes and drizzle with 1 Tbsp. oil, ½ tsp. curry powder, and ¼ tsp. sea salt. Toss to combine. Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tender.

To the second baking sheet, add the cabbage, bell pepper, and broccolini. Drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, ½ tsp. curry powder, and ¼ tsp. sea salt. Toss to combine.

When the potatoes/carrots hit the 10-minute mark, add the second pan to the oven and bake for a total of 15-20 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of baking, add the collard greens or kale to either pan and roast until tender and bright green.

To serve, divide vegetables between two serving plates and garnish with avocado and season with another pinch of sea salt, lemon juice, tahini, maple syrup (I made a dressing with those), and hemp seeds. You could also garnish with any fresh herbs you have!

Quatre-quarts au sarrasin et aux pépites de chocolat

Bon, vous connaissez le principe du quatre-quarts, hein? Une part d’œufs, une part de farine, une part de sucre et une part de beurre. Plus de la poudre à pâte et une pincée de sel. Avec des pépites de chocolat, c’est plus un cinq-cinquièmes, mais le terme quatre-quarts reste plus facile à comprendre! J’ai craqué pour cette recette sur Chocolate & Zucchini. Puisque j’ai maintenant de la farine de sarrasin blanche et que le gâteau a l’air plus pâle (et plus appétissant) sur le blogue de Clotilde Dusoulier, je l’ai fait une deuxième fois avec de la farine de sarrasin blanche, mais ça a été un désastre! Le gâteau s’est creusé en refroidissant, et toutes les pépites de chocolat sont tombées au fond. On pourrait essayer un mélange moitié-moitié, mais sinon, je recommande la farine de sarrasin brune.

Quand j’ai pesé mes œufs, j’ai obtenu 160 g.; c’est donc les quantités que j’ai mises ci-dessous. Si vous êtes habitué aux volumes, sachez que 160 g. de farine, c’est environ 1 ½ tasse, et 160 g. de sucre, c’est en gros ¾ tasse.

3 gros œufs (voir note plus haut)
160 g. de sucre, et un peu plus pour saupoudrer
160 g. de beurre sans lactose ou de margarine (ou de beurre de coco), fondu et tiédi
160 g. de farine de sarrasin (voir note plus haut)
2 c. à thé de poudre à pâte
¼ c. à thé de sel
160 g. de pépites de chocolat noir

Préchauffer le four à 350 °F et chemiser un moule à cake de papier sulfurisé ou de papier parchemin graissé (mais ne pas laisser le papier dépasser de beaucoup).

Dans un bol de taille moyenne, mélanger la farine de sarrasin, la poudre à pâte, le sel et les pépites de chocolat. Réserver.

Dans un grand bol, battre ensemble les œufs, le sucre et le beurre jusqu’à ce que le mélange soit mousseux. Ajouter les ingrédients secs en une seule fois, puis incorporer à la spatule jusqu’à ce qu’il n’Y ait plus de trace de farine.

Verser dans le moule, saupoudrer de sucre et mettre au four de 25 à 30 minutes, jusqu’à ce que le gâteau soit brun doré et qu’un couteau inséré au centre ressorte propre (c’est-à-dire sans trace de pâte non cuite, même s’il pourrait y avoir des traces de chocolat fondu). Laisser refroidir, puis retirer le quatre-quarts du moule délicatement. Déguster un peu tiède ou à température ambiante.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Figgy Buckwheat Scones

It had been a while since I baked from Good to the Grain, but when I wanted to use some buckwheat flour (since I now have two kinds in my pantry), that’s the first place I turned. I made these figgy scones not once but twice! The first time, I followed the recipe, and the second time, I used a 50/50 mix of light and dark buckwheat flour. . I actually preferred the first batch, with all dark buckwheat (as in the photo on top; the bottom photo is the one with both types of flour). These were really good, and they freeze well!

Note that the recipe for fig butter, which is actually like a fig jam, makes enough for two batches of scones. You can do what I did and make two batches (and freeze some), or halve the fig butter recipe, or use leftover fig butter as jam on toast or bagels or waffles.

For the fig butter (makes 2 cups; see note above)
½ cup sugar
2 whole cloves
1 star anise
1 cup red wine
½ cup port
12 oz. (340 g.) dried Black Mission figs, stems removed
¼ tsp. cinnamon
4 oz. (½ cup or 1 stick) lactose-free butter or margarine, softened

To poach the figs, measure ¼ cup water and the sugar into a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir the mixture together with a wooden spoon, incorporating the sugar without splashing it up the sides. If crystals do get on the sides of the pot, use a clean pastry brush dipped in water to wipe them off. (The goal is to prevent the syrup from crystallizing.)

Add the cloves and star anise. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium flame and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, until the syrup is amber-colored. For even coloring, the flame should not come up around the outside of the pot.

Add the red wine, port, figs, and cinnamon, standing back a bit, as the syrup is hot. Don't panic when the syrup hardens; this is the normal reaction when liquids are added to hot sugar. Continue cooking the mixture over a medium flame for 2 minutes, until the sugar and wine blend.

Reduce the flame to low and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The figs will burble quietly as they are jostled together by the flame; they are ready when the wine has reduced by half. Remove the pan from the stove and cool to room temperature.

Fish out the star anise and cloves. Pour the cooled figs, with their liquid, into a food processor and purée until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the softened butter to the fig paste and process until smooth. The fig butter can be spread right onto the buckwheat scone dough or stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. If it is refrigerated, bring it to room temperature before using.

For the scones (makes 12 scones)
1 cup (135 g.) buckwheat flour
1 ¼ cups (160 g.) all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
4 oz. (½ cup or 1 stick) cold lactose-free butter or margarine, cut into ¼-inch pieces
1 ¼ cups lactose-free cream (I used coconut milk, and would consider using only 1 cup next time)
1 cup fig butter (see recipe above)

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.

Add the butter to the dry mixture. Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing until the butter is coarsely ground and feels like grains of rice. The faster you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe. (I did this in the food processor.)

Add the cream and gently mix it into the flour with a spatula until the dough is just combined.

Use a pastry scraper or a spatula to transfer the dough onto a well-floured surface. It will be sticky, so flour your hands and pat the dough into a rectangle. Grab a rolling pin and roll the dough into a rectangle that is 8 inches wide, 16 inches long, and ¾ inch thick. If at any time the dough rolls off in a different direction, use your hands to square the corners and pat it back into shape. As you're rolling, periodically run a pastry scraper or spatula underneath to loosen the dough, flour the surface, and continue rolling. This keeps the dough from sticking. Flour the top of the dough if the rolling pin is sticking.

Spread the fig butter over the dough. Roll the long edge of the dough up, patting the dough as you roll so that it forms a neat log 16 inches long. Roll the finished log so that the seam is on the bottom and the weight of the roll seals the edge.

Use a sharp knife to slice the log in half. Put the halves on a baking sheet or plate, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. (The dough can be kept, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days.) While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat.

After 30 minutes, take both logs out of the refrigerator and cut each half into 6 equal pieces about 1 ¼ inches wide. Place each scone flat, with the spiral of the fig butter facing up, on a baking sheet, 6 to a sheet. Give the scones a squeeze to shape them into rounds.

Bake for 38 to 42 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The scones are ready to come out when their undersides are golden brown. They are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day, though mine kept well for a few days at room temperature (that is, the ones that I didn’t freeze for later).

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Honey Buckwheat Spice Cake

Let me start by saying that this cake is delicious and that I will be making it again. Now that that’s clear, I can also tell you that it’s dairy-free, gluten-free and refined-sugar-free. If I had started by saying what’s not in it, you might have decided that it was free of too many things, but really, this one is great! The recipe is from Gluten-Free Girl, and Shauna James Ahern specifies a few things that I found interesting. First, she says that cakes made with oil are silkier and more tender than those made with butter – I’ve also read this in baking books recently. I don’t know where margarine falls on the spectrum, but in any event, that’s why this cake calls for oil. She also says that “the secret here is to cream the eggs and honey, the way you might cream butter and sugar. When they are fluffy and increased in volume, slowly slowly drizzle in the oil on the side of the bowl. This will keep the volume and make the structure for the cake.” And that’s in part why it keeps its structure even though it’s gluten-free (and technically, grain-free, since buckwheat isn’t a true grain).

Also, and this is very important: you MUST use light buckwheat flour, not the dark one that most recipes call for. I’m not sure I’ve actually seen it in stores, so I bought a bag from Bouchard Family Farms (for those of you who are wondering, it’s allergen-free and kosher parve, unless anything changes in their factory between now and when you buy a bag). This flour was a revelation to me, because it looks so much like all-purpose wheat flour! It also doesn’t have the strong taste I’ve come to expect from buckwheat. Here’s a photo of some in a bowl so you can see.

After I frosted the cake, it looked a bit monochromatic. Since I had a little bit of leftover frosting, I decided to color it with some beet powder I had on hand and pipe it on. In retrospect, I think I should have colored the whole batch that way! It was delicious (just be aware that the pink may get discolored over a few days until the cake is eaten).

For the cake
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
140 g. light buckwheat flour
140 g. gluten-free all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves
250 g. (¾ cup) honey
115 g. coconut oil, melted
140 g. (2/3 cup) non-dairy milk

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease two 8-inch cake pans with a neutral oil of your choice (I used a regular 8-inch round pan and an 8-inch springform pan). Set aside.

Put the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Turn the mixer on high and beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, about 7 minutes. (If they are taking too much time to come to stiff peaks, add a pinch of cream of tartar.) Use a rubber spatula to gently move the egg whites to a small bowl. Wipe out the bowl of the stand mixer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the light buckwheat flour, the all-purpose flour, the baking powder, the salt, and the spices. Set aside.

In the bowl of the stand mixer, mix the honey and egg yolks on medium until they have become a creamy coherent liquid. Slowly, with the mixer running on low, drizzle in the coconut oil, along the side of the bowl, very slowly. Continue mixing until everything is well combined.

With the mixer running on low, add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, stopping the mixer to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Pour in ½ of the milk and continue alternating dry ingredients and milk until everything is mixed in. Gently, fold the egg whites into the batter until they are fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake until the edges of the cake are starting to pull away from the edges of the pan, the top has a definite spring, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 20 minutes (I found it a bit dry, though, so I would check at the 15-minute mark next time).

Take the cakes out of the oven. Prick holes in the top of the cake and drizzle a little honey over the top (I admit that I skipped this step). Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool completely.

For the frosting
2 cans (13.5 oz. each) of full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup honey
beet powder or gel food coloring (optional)

Open the cans of coconut milk. I like doing this from the bottom, so that I can pour out the coconut water and then scoop out the coconut cream that has risen to the top, which is what you’re after here. (You can freeze the coconut water in an ice cube tray and save it for smoothies, for example.) Put only the coconut cream in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on medium-high until it thickens a bit, like whipped cream, about 3 minutes. With the mixer running on low, add the vanilla and the honey, then the beet powder, to taste. Mix until thoroughly combined.

For best results, refrigerate the frosting for 1 hour before piping.

Green Pancakes

These pancakes are really great if you have leftover spinach that you don’t know what to do with! Not that I wouldn’t buy spinach just for making them, mind you… I decided to double the recipe, which are the amounts that I wrote below – the yield is about 10 to 12 small pancakes. Some kids will love these just because they’re green, but if your kid needs encouragement, consider calling them kelp cakes (if you have a fan of The Octonauts on your hands) or maybe dinosaur pancakes. We really liked these!

2 medium-sized very ripe bananas, peeled
2 cups (packed) fresh baby spinach
2 large eggs
½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour

Combine bananas, spinach, and eggs in a blender (or use an immersion blender). Blend until very smooth – you don’t want any big pieces of spinach in there. Add in baking powder and flour. Pulse a few times until combined (do not overmix – stir briefly with a spoon if needed). A few small lumps of flour are okay. Batter will be very thick. Set aside.

Heat a bit of oil or butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Skillet is hot enough if a few drops of water sizzle when flicked onto the surface.

Pour desired amount of pancake batter (I used roughly ¼ cup at a time) into skillet and cook until bubbles begin to form on the surface of the pancakes and the bottoms turn golden brown, about 1-2 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, about 1 minute. Serve with maple syrup.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Matzo Ball Soup

Not long ago, the Little Prince (4 years old) was reading some of his books to the Fox (then 7 months old) – do take a moment to picture the adorable scene. He was reading him his series of books about food (see here), and when he got to Let’s Nosh, he said to him, out of the blue, “Matzo ball soup is my favorite.” I say this is out of the blue because, as far as I know, HE’D NEVER HAD MATZO BALL SOUP IN HIS LIFE. So I decided to call his bluff and make matzo ball soup. Turns out, he absolutely loved it. I mean, we’re all familiar with the phenomenon wherein a child sees a dish and proclaims he doesn’t like it, without even tasting it, right? This was the opposite. On the rare occasion that this happens, take advantage!

So here’s my matzo ball soup recipe, which is little more than following instructions on packages, really. I mean, the way it’s written at the link (on Black Table) is fabulous and well worth the read, but reproducing any of that on here would be plagiarism. That being said, because the Little Prince decided that the only vegetables he likes are “cucumbers, and the ones in matzo ball soup” and because he ate everything in his bowl and had seconds and thirds, I figured I’d share! Of course, if you happen to have homemade chicken stock on hand, use that instead of storebought, and yes you can make your own matzo balls from scratch, but if you want an easy recipe, this is the one. The yield is enough for anywhere between 6 people and a small army.

4 eggs
2/3 cup oil
2 boxes of matzo ball soup mix
6 carrots
1 celery heart
2 small onions
14 cups water (so 3.5 L; use your best judgement based on the size of your pot, up to 5 L)

In a medium bowl, stir the eggs well with a fork. Add the oil and stir again. Add the matzo meal from the boxes of matzo ball soup mix and stir well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the vegetables (in whatever size and shape pieces you want in the soup; this isn’t brain surgery).

In the largest pot you own, bring the water to a boil and stir in the packets of soup mix. Add the chopped vegetables.

Take the matzo ball mixture out of the fridge and, using heaping-teaspoon-sized amounts of dough (I think I used around a tablespoon), roll into balls (which will expand in the soup, don’t worry). Once all the balls are in the soup pot, cover and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 30 minutes and serve.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

More knitting for kids

At the end of last summer, I had finally started knitting a scarf for myself, a project that had been in my queue for a while. I was halfway done when I realized that I had made a mistake somewhere in the stockinette stitch (in addition to a mistake that I hadn’t corrected on literally the second row). So I decided to frog it and start over, but in the meantime, I had more knitting to do for babies!

First, for my friends D. and N., I made a cabled sweater called Get Ziggy. I didn’t know the sex of the baby and I didn’t have enough gender-neutral yarn in my stash, but that was a good thing because it allowed me to buy two skeins of the gorgeous Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted Yarn in Ysolda Red, which I’d been eying for a long time. It’s red with variegations of pink and orange, and while I’ll admit that a solid color would have shown off the cables more, I loved the effect nonetheless. It turns out that the baby was a girl, named Ezri Leora (there are so many cool names in English that just wouldn’t work in French, right?). I had enough yarn left at the end to make a hat, though I suspect it’ll be too big for the baby this winter. I’m throwing in a picture of the Fox modeling it (and trying to understand what a sleeve is), because I had done the same with the Little Prince’s Christmas sweater a few years ago!

Then, for another little girl due after the holidays (name still to be announced), I made the Clara dress that I had first seen here. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light Yarn in Posy from my stash, which worked out just fine. The dress came out a bit bigger than expected (I made the bigger size to use up more yarn), so it’ll be for when she’s older… I now have about a third of a skein in each of Posy and Vermillion left in this yarn. And the button is from my stash.

Finally, when I realized that the Little Prince did not own a scarf (which he’ll need to go to Montreal over the holidays), I decided to make him this fox scarf. (For some reason, the pattern has disappeared from the page in the past few weeks, but it’s pretty basic and appears to be the same as this one.) The pattern called for a fingering weight yarn, so I was eying this one, but then I decided against it. A fingering yarn would make a small, thin scarf, and I wanted something cozier. So I went with worsted weight and bought a skein of Malabrigo Rios Yarn in Glazed Carrot (because I couldn’t resist that delicious color!). I paired it with leftover Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK Yarn in Antler from my stash and used black embroidery floss for the eyes. I recommend worsted weight, I love the finished product!

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Fall outings 2017 - The child-friendly version

In September, we went to the Doseum (pro tip: arrive at 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, to get some time to explore before crowds get there and while there’s still parking). It opened just two years ago and has gotten very positive reviews from most visitors. The exhibits there are very interactive and mostly focused on STEM. There is lots to do for little ones as well, starting with Little Town: kids under 5 can play in a small town with an airplane, grocery store, veterinary clinic, post office, bank, construction site, etc. There is also a playground outside along with a water area (interactive and educational, but kids will get wet, so bring a change of clothes for them).

The Engineer says he was as happy as a kid in a candy store, and the Little Prince was delighted. Personally, though, I confess I am a bit on the fence about the place. I really want to like it, but I feel like it doesn’t compare to places like, say, the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, the Canadian Museum of Nature or the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, or the Children’s Museum section of the Canadian History Museum in Gatineau. I mean, what’s a science center without a Van der Graaff generator? I felt like the Doseum was more of a playground than a museum in many ways. Some of the exhibits seemed nice, but the equipment was defective in some way. Admittedly, I’m not sure to what extent this is because I visited the Canadian museums as a child and the San Antonio one as an adult… Though as a mother to a baby, I do have a few complaints as well. First of all, while the nursing room is a nice idea, it turns out that the space is only made for one person at a time, so the woman who stepped in it literally 5 seconds before me locked the door behind her, leaving me to breastfeed in the (thankfully quiet) glass-walled baby room, but that felt a bit like being in a fish tank and trying not to expose myself to visitors. Then I had to change the Fox’s diaper, so I went to the restrooms and made a beeline for the family restroom. I wondered why there was just one, since it’s a brand new children’s museum and all, but anyway, I stepped in, and you know what is missing in the family restroom? A changing table. I kid you not.

There is an outpost of Bakery Lorraine on the premises if you get hungry, along with plenty of tables (assuming it’s nice enough to eat outside, otherwise it might get crowded indoors), and thoughtfully placed sinks to wash your hands before you eat.

Be aware that if you are an adult without children, you may be refused admittance. Admission is $12 a ticket for all ages. (For what it’s worth, since our initial visit, the Engineer has bought an annual pass for one adult and one child and has returned twice, so he’s fine going there for an hour or two without the pressure to visit every exhibit. The Little Prince loves it.)

In October, we went to the Witte Museum, which has been expanded and improved since our first visit. The museum now has a proper dinosaur gallery, with skeletons of species that used to live in what is now Texas (this was particularly à propos now that the Little Prince has an interest in dinosaurs!). There’s an Acrocanthosaurus and a Tyrannosaurus rex (both giant meat-eaters), along with an Agujaceratops as well as some marine species. The Dinosaur Lab lets kids “excavate” a skeleton from a sand pit, and there are displays that you can see up close – comparing the teeth of herbivores and carnivores, for example. We then visited the Texas Wild Gallery, which shows off the fauna of the various ecosystems in Texas. Plus, there are a few live specimens in the aptly-named Live Lab, like snakes and Speedy the tortoise. We then went to the Body Adventure pavilion, which is really awesome: you get to create a “Power Pass” with a bar code containing information such as your name, age, and sex, then you use it to interact with various exhibits. One allows you to see your own electrocardiogram, but the most fun one was “Pick Up Your Pace” where you walk, skip, or run over 10 feet or so and get a silhouette of your movements along with your stride length and speed. The top floor has exhibits about digestion and anatomy, and if your kid is old enough to ride a bicycle, do use the SkyCycle outside! When you’re done, you get to print out your profile containing all your results. (We were there on a Sunday afternoon and the place wasn’t crowded – we were able to get our turn at all the exhibits we wanted.) There’s also a fun treehouse outside, and we spent some time walking the beautiful grounds. The downside is that many places have steps, making them unfriendly to strollers and wheelchairs. For what it’s worth, the Witte and the Doseum charge roughly the same admission price, but at this point, I’d rather go to the Witte.

In November, we went to Kiddie Park, the oldest children’s amusement park in the country (it’s been open since 1925). It’s located in Brackenridge Park, near the zoo and both museums in this post. We went there on a Sunday morning as soon as it opened, and the weather was a bit cool, so initially we were the only ones there. This was of course a plus, but it did give the place a bit of “creepy haunted carnival” vibe! All the rides are conceived for children ages 1 to12; two of the rides are accessible to adults (the helicopters and the carrousel), but there’s one ride with a height requirement of 46”, so make sure your little ones know in advance that they may not be able to go on that one. Honestly, it’s nothing fancy, but I appreciated that adults don’t have to pay admission, and unlimited all-day admission for a child is $13, which is a pretty good deal (you can also pay per ride, but it adds up quickly). Note that the carrousel will be 100 years old next year, and will probably be renovated a bit. I really liked it as it was, though – I put my hand on the back of the saddle of the Little Prince’s horse as I stood next to him – the paint had worn away and the wood was so smooth that I knew I was part of 100 years of parents putting their hand in that spot! There are refreshments available for purchase, as well as a small arcade and the kind of games that allow you to win a stuffed animal if you knock over enough milk bottles. (The downside, as I look back through my videos, is that there’s pop music blaring from speakers. You can’t escape it.) I can’t imagine tweens having very much fun there, but for small children, it’s a great time!

Friday, December 08, 2017

Nouilles udon au porc et aux fèves edamame

J’avais vu cette recette dans Coup de Pouce et je m’étais dit que ça avait l’air très bon. Les nouilles cuites par adsorption, en plus, c’est plein de saveur. Eh bien… ce n’était pas une recette de nouilles cuites par adsorption. J’ai dû rajouter 4 tasses d’eau, parce que ce que la recette est mal écrite. En fait, elle omet de préciser qu’il faut cuire les nouilles udon à l’avance, ou peut-être acheter des paquets de nouilles précuites et emballées sous vide. Alors je le précise plus bas, et je réduis la quantité de nouilles (parce qu’il y en avait trop). Honnêtement, à part cette omission, c’était excellent! Je compte la refaire comme je l’ai écrite. On peut ajouter de la sauce sriracha, au goût.

2 paquets de nouilles udon (200 g. chacun)
1 c. à soupe d’huile de sésame
2 oignons verts hachés
1 c. à soupe de gingembre frais haché
2 gousses d’ail hachées finement
1 lb. de porc haché maigre
¼ tasse de cassonade
2 c. à soupe de sauce de poisson (j’en mets un peu moins)
¾ tasses d’eau
2 c. à soupe de miso
1 ½ tasse de fèves edamame écossées, surgelées
1 ½ tasse de carottes râpées

Faire cuire les nouilles udon al dente.

Pendant ce temps, dans un grand poêlon ou un wok, chauffer l’huile à feu moyen-vif. Ajouter la moitié des oignons verts, le gingembre et l’ail, et cuire pendant 1 minute. Ajouter le porc et cuire pendant 5 minutes, en le défaisant avec une cuillère de bois. Ajouter la cassonade et la sauce de poisson, mélanger et cuire, sans brasser, pendant 2 minutes. Mélanger et poursuivre la cuisson pendant 2 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que le porc ait perdu sa teinte rosée.

Ajouter l’eau et le miso, mélanger et porter à ébullition. Réduire à feu doux, ajouter les nouilles (drainées, on s’entend), les fèves edamame et les carottes, et mélanger pour les enrober. Laisser mijoter, en brassant, pendant 3 minutes. Ajouter le reste des oignons verts et cuire, en brassant, pendant 1 minute pour bien enrober les ingrédients.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Rhubarb Custard Tea Cake

I found this recipe on Eat, Little Bird a few years ago and had been wanting to make it ever since. It makes a gorgeous cake, provided you use bright pink (i.e., forced) rhubarb. There’s a layer of custard baked right into the cake! Both the custard and the cake batter itself call for custard powder, so this is a great recipe for using up that container of Bird’s custard powder stashed in the back of your pantry for when you make Nanaimo bars (though the link also has a version with from-scratch custard that I’d recommend you make with coconut milk, if you don’t mind the extra work).

My problem with this cake, originally, is that it was overbaked. It calls for a whopping 1 h 30 min in the oven; I tented it with foil after 45 minutes and pulled it out altogether after 1 hour. It wasn’t burnt, but was definitely way too dry (another blogger had the same issue). This is particularly disappointing for a custard cake! So I decided to try it again, this time with more custard and less time in the oven. I also added a bit of milk in the batter to moisten it. Since I didn’t have rhubarb for the second go-round, I made it with raspberries.

The result was delicious, and much better than the first cake. The Engineer said that if I had used blueberries, he would have loved the cake as much as I did. And for what it’s worth, I now realize that it’s pretty low in sugar, too, so I certainly wouldn’t feel badly making it again. The version below is mine.

For the custard
3 Tbsp. custard powder
6 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ cup lactose-free whole milk
1 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For the cake
1 ¼ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 cup custard powder
1 ½ sticks (¾ cup) lactose-free butter or margarine, at room temperature
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
¼ cup lactose-free milk
1-2 fresh rhubarb stalks, ideally pink (or other fruit, like raspberries or blueberries)
1 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or margarine, melted
1 Tbsp. coarse sugar

First, make the custard by mixing together the custard powder and sugar in a small saucepan. Whisk in the milk and bring the pan to a boil, stirring frequently. The mixture will start to thicken very quickly and, when it does, take the pan off the heat. Whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Let cool (you can refrigerate it until ready to use, in which case I recommend covering the surface with plastic wrap to prevent pudding skin from forming).

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Cover the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan in such a way as to trap the paper between the bottom and sides of the pan (I find that this is very helpful in preventing the paper from moving with thick cake batter). Grease the paper and sides of the pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and custard powder

Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the flour, alternating with the milk. The batter will be quite thick, but it should still be spreadable.

Using a small spatula, spread half of the cake batter in the pan, covering the entire surface. Spread the custard over the cake mixture. Dollop spoonfuls of the remaining cake batter over the custard and carefully spread the cake batter to completely cover the custard.

Chop the rhubarb stalks in 4-inch lengths and slice them to be roughly ½-inch thick. Arrange the rhubarb like the spokes of a wheel, trimming where necessary.

Brush the top of the cake with melted butter and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. (Note that these cook times worked in my oven, which runs on the hotter side of the normal range, with the extra milk in the batter and with the custard coming straight from the fridge.)

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

A brown butter spice cake, to celebrate

You know what I was celebrating? The fact that my local Whole Foods finally carries Green Valley Organics’ lactose-free butter! The first time that I saw it, I bought two pounds, because why not.

So I made garlic bread first, and then I remembered this recipe from the holiday 2016 issue of the LCBO’s Food and Drink. (This is a timely recipe for the upcoming holidays, though there’s obviously no requirement to wait for holidays in order to have spiced anything.) The original recipe had you add spices to the butter and then brown it, to develop the flavors, but I’m going to absolutely insist that you brown the butter first, then add spices and let them steep a bit, so I’m changing the recipe to reflect this. My reasoning is that if the spices are coloring the butter already, it’s easy to over-brown it and start burning some of the milk solids (ask me how I know). But lactose-free butter is like gold, and wasting it is a tragedy! Brown butter is certainly best, but even if you under-brown the butter, melted butter is still good (whereas burnt butter isn’t). Also, note that I had to refrigerate the frosting a bit to get the proper consistency for piping. Needless to say that this was really, really good (and impressive to behold – I think the Little Prince fell in love with this cake the moment he saw it).

For the spice cake
½ cup lactose-free butter
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped, both seeds and pod reserved
2 cinnamon sticks, crushed (I used only 1)
1 tsp. whole cloves, crushed
⅛ tsp. nutmeg
⅛ tsp. allspice
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
½ cup lactose-free whole milk, at room temperature

For the icing
¾ cup lactose-free butter, at room temperature
1½ cups icing sugar, sifted
2 packages (each 250 g./8 oz.) lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla

For the cake
Place the butter in a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Cook the butter until it is foamy and a nut-brown color, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the vanilla seeds, vanilla pod, crushed cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes (I let it steep for nearly 30 minutes). Strain the butter into a small bowl, pressing on the solids, then chill butter until firm, about 2 hours.

Set the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 350° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the chilled brown butter on medium speed. Add the brown sugar and continue beating until fluffy and lightened in color, about 5 minutes.

Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk then add them gradually to the butter mixture, beating to combine.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry. Stop the mixer before the last addition of flour is fully incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish mixing with a rubber spatula. Spread the batter into the pan.

Bake until golden brown on top, and just until the edges are beginning to come away from the sides of the pan, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

For the icing
Place the butter and icing sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat until completely smooth.

Add the cream cheese, beat until combined and very smooth, then beat in the vanilla. (I had to refrigerate my icing at this point to get a good consistency.)

Remove the cake from the pan and, if necessary, level the top with a serrated knife. Place on a cake plate. Spread a thin layer of icing over the top and sides to set the crumbs. Transfer the remaining icing to a piping bag fitted with a rose tip (or any other decorative tip) and, beginning in the middle of the cake, pipe the icing in a continuous concentric swirl from the center to the edge. (You can add a layer of icing to the sides before this, or pipe the icing onto them in the same manner; a cake turntable makes this step a little easier. Of course, you can also spread the icing with an offset spatula.)

The cake can be refrigerated, but bring to room temperature (about 1 hour) before serving.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Gluten-Free Coconut Bread

I found this recipe in Bon Appétit, though it’s originally from Bam Bam Bakery in Portland, Maine. I made some substitutions, because I don’t want to clutter my pantry further by buying more specialty ingredients. I once had sorghum flour, but I used it up, so after some googling, I used oat flour instead (which I made by pulsing rolled oats in the food processor). I replaced some of the oil with applesauce, which I wrote down below. I only had fine macaroon coconut, so I omitted the step of toasting it in the oven, for fear of burning it. That’s also what I used on top, although the recipe probably meant what I refer to as coconut chips (the illustration and the photo online seem to confirm this). This also meant that the top of my bread may have darkened prematurely, so maybe I’d bake it closer to 60 minutes next time instead of the 70 minutes for which I baked it. That being said, the crumb was moist and had a great texture. I know I said I’d stop saying this, but you really couldn’t tell this was gluten-free!

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (see note above)
1 ½ cups white rice flour
¾ cup sorghum flour (I used oat flour)
¾ cup tapioca starch
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. xanthan gum
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup applesauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. coconut extract (optional, but I didn’t have any on hand)
4 large eggs
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (coconut chips, really; see note above)

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350 °F. Line a 9x5" loaf pan with parchment, leaving overhang on long sides; coat with nonstick spray.

Toast shredded coconut on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned, 5–7 minutes. Let cool. (I omitted this step, because my shredded coconut was too fine, in my opinion, to withstand browning. I could have done it in a pan to keep a closer eye on it, I suppose, but this tasted fine to me.)

Whisk rice flour, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat sugar, coconut milk, oil, and coconut extract, if using, in a large bowl until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth, about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat mixture until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in dry ingredients. Increase speed to medium; beat batter 5 minutes. Beat in toasted coconut. Scrape batter into prepared pan; top with coconut flakes.

Bake bread until top springs back when gently pressed and a tester inserted all the way to the bottom comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 80–95 minutes (even now, this seems like an obscenely long time to me; I left it in 70 minutes, and would check at the 60-minute mark next time and/or tent the top with foil at that point). Transfer pan to a wire rack and let bread cool in pan at least 10 minutes. Turn out bread onto rack and let cool completely.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Pain à l'ail gratiné

Maintenant que j’ai réussi à trouver du beurre sans lactose aux États-Unis (merci Green Valley Organics et Whole Foods!), je peux recommencer à manger du beurre! J’ai essayé des patates douces rôties au beurre, mais je les ai trouvées correctes, sans plus. Par contre, ce pain à l’ail gratiné était absolument délicieux! Je ne changerais qu’une chose : je trancherais le pain au complet, parce que sinon, c’est trop difficile à mon goût de s’en servir une tranche sans se beurrer les mains, surtout quand il est encore chaud! Sans doute que je perdrais un peu de garniture dans le papier d’aluminium, mais je pense que ça en vaudrait la peine. J’ai servi ça avec du spaghetti, un classique!

1 baguette (ou un pain ciabatta)
6 c. à soupe de beurre sans lactose
4 gousses d'ail, finement émincées
2 c. à soupe de persil, finement émincé
2 c. à soupe de ciboulette, finement émincée
¼ de tasse de parmesan râpé
1 pincée de fleur de sel

Préchauffer le four à 425 °F.

Couper la baguette comme pour en faire des tranches minces, mais sans traverser complètement le pain, pour qu'il se tienne (je couperais complètement, moi; voir note plus haut).

Dans une petite casserole, faire fondre le beurre. Fermer le feu. Ajouter l'ail, le persil, la ciboulette et le sel.

Déposer la baguette sur un grand papier d'aluminium. Avec une cuillère, déposer du beurre à l'ail dans chaque cavité, puis le reste sur le dessus.

Déposer ensuite un peu de parmesan dans chaque cavité.

Recouvrir complètement le pain avec le papier d'aluminium, puis le faire cuire environ 15 minutes. Ouvrir le papier d'aluminium puis faire cuire environ 5 minutes supplémentaires.

[Mise à jour, 22 janvier 2018 : Je confirme, je préfère trancher le pain au complet!]