Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chocolate Haupia Pie Squares

Have you heard of haupia? It’s essentially a Hawaiian dessert made with coconut milk that has been thickened to a gelatinous consistency. It’s the kind of thing that, at a buffet, I would avoid just because I don’t know whether it’s dairy or not. This recipe, though, is dairy-free – heck, it’s vegan and paleo, so enjoy! Just remember to make it a day ahead to give it enough time to solidify. The crust came out a bit too dry and crumbly for me, so I’d use more dates next time, or less cocoa, and refrigerate it until the filling is ready. I think this would also work with another type of chocolate crust if you wanted to make something without nuts and with flour, for example. In any event, everyone here liked it!

For the chocolate crust
⅔ cup raw almonds
⅔ cup raw pecans
10 large medjool dates, pitted (or more, see note above)
6 Tbsp. raw cacao powder

For the haupia
½ cup arrowroot powder/starch
¾ cup water
1 can full fat coconut milk
4 Tbsp. raw honey or maple syrup
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup dark chocolate, chopped and melted

For the chocolate crust
Pulse the nuts in the food processor, leaving a few small chunks. Add the dates and process until creamy. Add the cocoa and process one last time until well combined. Spread evenly on the bottom of an 8”-square pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside in the refrigerator.

For the haupia
Combine the arrowroot powder and water in a saucepan and mix until all the arrowroot has dissolved.

Add the coconut milk and honey; slowly cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla extract. Slowly pour mixture over the crust and refrigerate overnight or until the coconut layer is firm.

Cut into squares and drizzle with melted dark chocolate. (I decided to drizzle the chocolate on top before cutting the bars, as it’s less messy.)

Carrot Orzotto

Here’s the last of the saved promo recipes that had been cross-pollinated in Better Homes and Gardens as well as Coup de Pouce. I don’t know if you remember the carrot risotto I once made, adapted from Dirt Candy? I really only made it once, because it was so labor-intensive. But this recipe is like its fast, easy cousin, and I’m sure I’ll actually make it again. Plus, I love orzo! I used store-bought julienned carrots; shredded would work, too. It came out really great, and the lemon juice really brightened it up. I served it without feta, though I’m sure it would be great with it if you can digest it. I served it with turkey breasts stuffed with kale and bacon that I had in the freezer.

2 cups carrot juice
1 ¾ cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 Tbsp. olive oil
10 oz. (1 ½ cups) dried orzo pasta
1 cup matchstick carrots (see note above)
½ cup water
¼ tsp. salt
½ lemon, zested and juiced (roughly 1 tsp. zest and 1 ½ Tbsp. juice)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional, as this isn’t lactose-free)
freshly ground black pepper

In a medium saucepan, heat carrot juice and chicken broth over medium-low heat; cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat until melted. Add orzo; cook and stir 3 to 5 minutes or until orzo is golden brown. Stir in carrots. Add about 1 cup of the hot broth mixture to the orzo. Stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth mixture, 1 cup at a time, stirring until just absorbed. Cook until orzo is tender. Remove from heat. Slowly stir in up to 1/2 cup water until creamy. Stir in salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Top with feta (if using) and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sweet Orange Risotto

I found this recipe from Whole Foods at the perfect time, when I was trying to use up some arborio rice from my pantry. It’s essentially rice pudding, but made with a risotto method. The downside is that it takes some effort to make, but on the upside, it was really good! I loved the combination of orange and vanilla with the taste and richness of coconut milk! The original recipe used a lot of strawberries, too; I used them as a topping only, and while I liked them, I think this would be good with other fruit, too. Note that if you’re going to serve the pudding right away, you could consider using only 4 cups of milk; if, however, you’re going to store it in the fridge and eat it later, cold or not, then I’d use all 6 cups of milk to prevent it from being too stiff.

6 cups reduced-fat (2%) lactose-free milk (see note above)
½ cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup arborio rice
zest and juice of 1 orange
1 cup canned coconut milk
strawberries, to garnish

In a medium pot, heat milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla until just simmering. Reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm (do keep an eye on this, as milk is prone to boiling over).

Melt butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring often, until fragrant and toasted, about 2 minutes. Add orange zest and juice and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add about 1 cup of the milk mixture and continue to simmer, vigorously stirring often, until almost absorbed, about 3 to 5 minutes more. Repeat process until all of the milk mixture has been incorporated and rice is thick and creamy, about 30 minutes.

Remove pot from the heat and stir in coconut milk; set aside for 5 minutes.

Spoon risotto into bowls, garnish with strawberries, and serve.

Friday, April 21, 2017


A while back, I was approached by the Head of Social Media Marketing for LactoJoy, a German brand of lactase supplement. They wanted to send me a free sample and hear my thoughts. I accepted, and then of course it took me a while to test it, what with having a new baby and all. But I finally got around to writing a post! So all opinions here are mine, though the product was given to me for free.

[If you need a refresher on definitions and mechanisms of lactose and lactose intolerance, please read this post on lactose intolerance (according to Blogger, it’s my second-most popular post to date – I couldn’t tell you why chocolate babka is first).]

One of the characteristics of LactoJoy is that it has a high FCC, (14,500 FCC lactase units per tablet), as compared with only 3,000 per Lactaid tablet. FCC stands for Food Chemical Codex; the higher the FCC, the more lactase enzyme. It takes roughly 1,000 FCC lactase units to break down 1 g of lactose, depending on the individual. And to be clear: I had a preferred kind of lactase tablet, specifically Lactaid Original (not the Extra Strength, not the Fast Act, certainly not other brands), because I had figured out exactly how to dose it for the foods I eat the most. The standard dose of Lactaid Original is 3 tablets, so 9,000 FCC lactase units – LactoJoy’s dosage is much higher. My worry was that with such a high dosage of lactase, I’d experience negative side effects from taking too much. After all, that is the case with Lactaid – too little and you risk symptoms like diarrhea from your lactose intolerance, but too much and you might end up constipated. However, it turns out that this is usually due to other additives in the pills, not to the lactase enzyme itself. Since LactoJoy contains almost just lactase and potato starch, this isn’t an issue. I can confirm that I’ve tested it on many occasions, and I haven’t had any problems whatsoever! This makes it so much easier to dose, because there is no overdosing, and underdosing would be rare indeed. It’s actually one less thing to worry about, and it wasn’t until using LactoJoy that I realized I’d been taking that worrying for granted, but LactoJoy is so much more pleasant in that respect.

The tablet itself is very small (perhaps too small for the scoring line to be very useful). It can be chewed, though I find that the potato starch gets caught in my molars and it takes a while for my tongue to work it out before I dare eat dairy. The taste is neutral, not sweet like Lactaid. The tablet is small enough that it can easily be swallowed, though, even by people like me who have trouble swallowing pills, so that’s what I do now. (For reference, the website describes them as having a 7.5-mm diameter and a 4-mm thickness. Here are photos of it next to a ruler, and next to a Lactaid Original tablet.)

The scoring line would come in handy for medication. I personally do take prescription meds (on an empty stomach) that require a single Lactaid tablet; with LactoJoy, I’d probably use a pill cutter to get a bunch of half-tablets and store those with my medication.

What really stands out about LactoJoy, though, is the design of the box, which is a modern-looking black tin. It looks like a box of mints, certainly not like the bottle of medicine I carry with me everywhere! I’ve gotten so used to carrying a bottle of Lactaid for nearly half my life that I’ve basically gotten used to it, even though there is a certain social stigma with taking out meds at mealtime in public. I’d MUCH rather have a tin of LactoJoy handy!

The box I was sent is this one, which contains 45 tablets, though it comes in a larger size as well. The box itself has an ingredient list in German, despite its English cover and tagline (Stay Fresh!), but it comes with a printout of the information in English (this is available on the website as well). As for the price, it is very competitive (€12.99), and larger quantities offer a better value. With the exchange rate as I type this, it comes out to $13.89 for the box, meaning $0.31 per tablet/dose; to compare, I buy my Lactaid Original at $17.34 per 120-tablet bottle, which comes out to $0.43 per 3-tablet dose. Shipping is free within the E.U. via Amazon, but unfortunately for those of us in the United States, we are SOL. As far as I could tell, none of the Amazon vendors deliver to North America! For what it’s worth, the company spent €6.20 (about $6.63) on postage to get it to me via registered mail.

In conclusion (and for those of you thinking “TL;DR”): If LactoJoy were available in the U.S., I would absolutely switch brands and buy that instead of Lactaid. If LactoJoy finds a distributor that ships to North America, I’ll even consider paying more for the shipping to buy this because I like the product so much. I really hope this becomes an option!

Batch of links - Baby stuff

- 11 lies the maternity section told me when I was pregnant. Because I can so relate, even for nursing clothes!

- A quick follow-up to my post about dietary restrictions during pregnancy… Last summer, there was a recall on flour, of all things, because of possible contamination with e. coli, but according to this, King Arthur wasn’t affected at the time, and I haven’t heard anything since. I’m not sure if it will become “a thing” (we must now forever avoid raw flour) or not, we’ll see.

- If you are avoiding alcohol, there are still fancy grape juices, PureBlue UnWine with blueberries, and non-alcoholic substitutes for cooking, in addition to regular non-alcoholic wine and beer.

- As it turns out, some raw milk cheeses are safe for pregnant women, and some pasteurized ones are not. This is hard to navigate, especially when combined with lactose intolerance… I’m certainly looking forward to a good brie again, I should get one this weekend.

- It is also recommended to avoid feeding raw milk to children, in case you didn’t already.

- What pregnancy cravings would look like if they were served fancy. I can’t exactly relate, as I’ve had more aversions than cravings…

- If you’re pregnant, you should still get the flu vaccine – in addition to protecting against flu viruses, it apparently cuts the risk of stillbirth by half!

- Here’s why you accidently call your kid by the dog’s name – or call your youngest by your oldest’s name. It turns out that your baby and your dog light up similar parts of your brain.

- There’s a rise in a new type of family: singles who are choosing to be coparents without a romantic relationship. Unsurprisingly, most people pursuing this type of arrangement are “well-educated and financially secure”, and a significant percentage of parents are homosexual. This seems so much more complicated to me than single moms sharing a household, so I can only hope that there’s some kind of reliable algorithm to help would-be coparents figure out if their values are compatible! I’m enough of an introvert and control freak that I think choosing to be a single mom would be easier, but then again I’m really glad I have a great partner with whom to parent.

- Millenials are more confident in their parenting than others, and I wonder whether this has to do with how much they read about parenting compared to previous generations. Or maybe they just haven’t realized how little they know yet. The article goes on with interesting data about how parents from racial minorities and lower socio-economic classes perceive their children’s strengths and weaknesses as results of their parenting, whereas white and upper-class parents think it’s intrinsic to the children.

- Long-lost photos show what hasn’t changed about motherhood in 50 years.

- 24 surprising things about parenting in the United States, as seen by moms of other countries. Conversely, global parenting habits that haven’t caught on in the U.S.

- I’ve shared this link about infant CPR before, but we can all use a reminder.

- I was talking about this with the Engineer recently: here’s a GIF that shows what a baby sees every month for the first year of his or her life.

- What do stay-at-home-moms do all day? Here’s one example.

- I just looked this up on YouTube because I remembered seeing it on Oprah as a teenager: Priscilla Dunstan has decoded babies’ language, based on five types of cries emitted reflexively for basic needs. I can’t say that it’s been this clear with my kids, but interestingly, my youngest makes a sound like the French word “Lait!” (milk) when he’s hungry!

- This mom is confessing her parenting crimes in hilarious notes to her baby (and there’s more on her website).

- Last year, when I read how one Japanese mom’s rant about lack of daycare options for her child actually prompted the government to create 500,000 new daycare slots, I couldn’t help but be in awe. We have that same problem in Quebec; in the States, we don’t even have maternity leave. But one blogger’s viral post was enough to change things on a national level in Japan? Rock on!

- It’s also interesting to read about 24-hour daycares, which I hadn’t heard of in Quebec. There’s more of a need for them in places without maternity leave, decent minimum wages or subsidized daycares, but maybe they do exist there too and I was just oblivious?

- There’s now a smart breast pump, called Willow, retailing for $430. I have to admit that for all it claims to do, the price is surprisingly affordable – functionally, I’d compare it to the Medela Freestyle, which is about $150 less. I actually ended up getting the latter through my health insurance – if you live in the U.S., just go to Pumping Essentials, fill out the form, and they’ll take care of everything. I think this will be a lot less work than the Medela Harmony with which I made do the first time around!

- And here’s a good article about breastmilk that actually explains how a mother’s body can produce antibodies specific to her baby’s infection. (Spoiler: baby spit backwash.)

- Here are three stores that are nursing-friendly; the most useful one is probably Target, given how many there are and how often people tend to shop there.

- An interview with the woman who was the Gerber baby.

- Canadian babies have significantly higher rates of colic than elsewhere in the world, according to a recent British study. This really interesting article offers a new possible (read: as yet untested and unproven) explanation for colic: it might be tied to the same mechanism as SIDS and be caused by “glitches in the development of infants’ neural networks as they transition from involuntary to controlled breathing.”

- Had you heard of harlequin sign in infants? I hadn’t, until my baby turned half red (and I mean, literally half).

- Mothers cradling infants on their left may have a deep evolutionary origin; it’s perhaps not just because we’re predominantly right-handed.

- Some children’s books that we have enjoyed: The Snowy Day, the Llama Llama books (especially Llama Llama Misses Mama and Llama Llama Mad at Mama; though I wish Papa Llama were more present, or anywhere to be seen, actually); Extra Yarn (that *never* gets old!); I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat (although the third in the trilogy, We Found a Hat, was a bit disappointing).

- As for movies: the Little Prince doesn’t yet sit through a whole movie, but he’s getting there. He’s enjoyed parts of The Incredibles, Kung Fu Panda and The Iron Giant, but recently we’ve been really into My Neighbor Totoro.

- I didn’t know this, but there’s a hotline (1-800-4-A-CHILD) that one can call anonymously to get parenting advice, resources, and a sympathetic ear. The goal is to prevent child abuse by overwhelmed parents. You can read more about it here.

- This reminded me of an episode of Dear Sugar Radio that I went and dug up, about Moms who hate motherhood. It’s worth a listen if you have time, and one of the things that I loved was that the hosts (Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond) addressed everything that I wanted to say to the authors of the two letters they read on that episode.

- An artist illustrates the silly things kids say, and you can even get custom art.

- Finally, I probably won’t need this for a while given how young my kids are, but it could be helpful to others: a guide about kids and vaping.

S'mores Cupcakes

I finally got around to making this Real Simple recipe! It’s actually pretty easy, including the marshmallow part: all you do is bake them a bit so that they melt, and then you use them to top the cupcakes. The marshmallows do puff up quite a bit and then deflate as they cool, and keep in mind that they’ll be really sticky if you serve the cupcakes right away – they were actually more manageable the next day (compare on the pictures – the handheld cupcake is from day 2). I’d make these again, and/or use the marshmallow trick in other recipes!

For the cupcakes
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (from 9 crackers)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
¾ cup lactose-free whole milk

For the ganache
1/3 cup lactose-free cream (I used coconut milk)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the topping
12 large marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 °F with the racks in the middle and top positions. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients and milk alternately, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing well between additions. Mix until just combined.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups. Bake, on the middle rack, rotating once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, to make the ganache, bring the cream to a boil in a small pot. Remove from heat, add the chocolate, and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk to combine. Let cool slightly.

To make the topping, place the marshmallows on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2½ inches apart. Bake on the top rack until golden and deflated, 6 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

Divide the ganache among the cupcakes, then top each with a toasted marshmallow. Let sit until the ganache is almost firm to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes, before serving.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Moroccan Carrot Salad

This recipe is from Sprouted Kitchen. It’s a very simple carrot salad that is surprisingly good. I made a vegan version, but you can add feta if you want – I think this would also go well with goat cheese. Note that it would look prettier with a mix of purple and orange carrots, but orange was all I had on hand and it was fine. I served this with crisp chicken with lime dipping sauce.

For the salad
4 cups grated carrots
¾ cup cooked lentils, rinsed and drained (chickpeas would work, too)
7 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
¼ cup minced red onion or shallot
5 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro
½ cup toasted pistachios
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional, see note above)

For the dressing
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 2 limes
½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
¼ tsp. turmeric
1 pinch of red pepper flakes
¼-½ tsp. sea salt, to taste
½ tsp. fresh ground pepper

In a large bowl, combine the carrots, lentils, dates, red onion, scallions and cilantro. Break up any bits of dates that are sticking together.

In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, zest and juice of the limes, cumin, nutmeg, turmeric, red pepper, salt and pepper (or shake them together in a jar).

Pour the dressing over the carrot salad and toss to coat. Give the pistachios a rough chop and sprinkle on top along with the feta cheese. Serve as is or cover and chill in the fridge.

Crisp Chicken with Lime Dipping Sauce

This is another recipe from that promotional calendar by the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which somehow isn’t online either… I modified it a bit, by using chicken cutlets instead of drumsticks and increasing the amount of corn flakes accordingly – the version below is mine. We really liked this, especially with the lime sauce! It’s admittedly nothing very original, but sometimes I need to be reminded that I can make coat chicken in cereal and bake it. I served it with Moroccan carrot salad.

For the chicken
1 cup lactose-free milk
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 pinch Korean pepper (or pepper of your choice)
1 chopped garlic clove (or use garlic powder)
12 chicken cutlets (strips)
4 cups corn flake cereals
¼ cup margarine, melted

For the lime dipping sauce
½ cup lactose-free sour cream
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. lime zest
1 Tbsp. lime juice

For the chicken
Combine the milk, vinegar, spices and garlic. Add chicken and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 425 °F.

Crush cereals and place on a plate. Remove chicken from the marinade and coat each one with cereal crumbs. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and brush with melted margarine. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked and coating is crisp.

For the lime dipping sauce
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients for the lime dipping sauce and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Buckwheat Banana Cake with Yogurt-Espresso Frosting

This banana bread from Bon Appétit is different from others I’ve made. On the plus side, it stays moist for days! On the downside, a slice of it won’t hold up to being toasted (unless you have a toaster oven, maybe, but not in a conventional toaster like mine). This means I can’t eat it my favorite way, which is warm from the toaster and spread with a bit of margarine. That being said, this is where the frosting comes in! I keep the bread at room temperature and the yogurt frosting in the fridge and assemble just before serving. I had leftover frosting, so I might make less next time, or slather it on more thickly… This was a nice way to shake up my morning routine!

For the cake
1 cup whole wheat flour (I think I used white whole wheat)
½ cup buckwheat flour (or more whole wheat flour)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
4 very ripe bananas
⅔ cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
½ cup olive oil
½ cup lactose-free sour cream

For the frosting and assembly
4 oz. lactose-free cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup lactose-free plain Greek yogurt
1 pinch of kosher salt
⅓ cup powdered sugar
½ tsp. espresso powder (decaf is fine)

For the cake
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Coat an 8½”x4½" loaf pan with nonstick spray, then line with parchment, letting it hang over on both of the longer sides.

Whisk whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl.

Mash bananas and brown sugar in a large bowl until virtually no lumps of banana remain and brown sugar is dissolved. Mix in eggs, oil, and sour cream. Add dry ingredients and mix in with a rubber spatula. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top.

Bake cake until the top springs back when gently pressed and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 55–65 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool in pan 30 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack and let cool completely.

For the frosting and assembly
Whisk cream cheese, yogurt, and salt in a large bowl until no lumps remain. Sift powdered sugar through a fine-mesh sieve into bowl and whisk vigorously to combine, then stir in espresso powder.

Serve cake with frosting alongside for spreading over.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fresh Raspberry Tart with Lemon Cream Cheese Filling

This recipe is from Date Night In by Ashley Rodriguez. I made it a while ago already (it showed up in my Instagram feed then), but posting is slow these days! I didn’t see it on her blog, but it’s been published online here, for example. I thought it was absolutely delicious, but obviously you have to like raspberries for this! You could make it vegan by using a vegan cream cheese (I’d suggest Daiya) and swapping maple syrup for the honey.

For the crust
½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour

For the filling
1 (8-oz.) package lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup (70 g.) dark brown sugar
1 tsp. freshly grated lemon zest
1 ½ Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 pinch of kosher salt
2 pints raspberries
1 Tbsp. honey

For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Place a 9-inch tart pan on a baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar. Add the salt, cinnamon, and flour and stir until just combined. The dough will be soft.

Press the dough onto the sides and bottom of the tart pan and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and completely set.

Let cool at room temperature on a wire rack.

For the filling
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, brown sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt and mix with an electric mixer on low speed, about 5 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

To assemble, fill the cooled tart with the cream cheese filling, spreading evenly. Top with fresh raspberries and drizzle with honey; refrigerate. To serve, remove the tart from the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour before you plan on serving.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tahini Cashew Bars with Chocolate

This recipe made delicious bars! The Engineer said they reminded him of halva, and I can see why. Plus, they stayed good several days at room temperature! They’re a bit like blondies and would be easy to adapt by using different nut butters or add-ins (like chocolate chips).

The author says you could use all tahini or all cashew butter instead of a 50/50 mix as is the case here, but I’d caution you to make sure the consistency of your preferred ingredient will work – meaning tahini that isn’t too thin or nut butter that isn’t too thick. In any event, make sure your stir them well before use.

½ cup (8 Tbsp.) unsalted butter or margarine, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
½ cup well-stirred tahini
½ cup cashew butter (crunchy or smooth)
7½ oz. (approximately 1½ cups) all-purpose flour
½ - 1 cup chopped unsalted cashews, toasted or raw (optional; I didn’t use them)
3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1½ tsp. Maldon sea salt flakes or kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line a 9x13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, allowing 2 sides to hang over the edges. Lightly grease the top of the paper and sides of the pan.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer off, add both sugars and the vanilla extract, and turn the mixer on low to combine everything. Turn the speed back up to medium-high for an additional 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to fully incorporate before adding the next, scraping down the sides after the 2nd and final egg.

With the mixer on low speed, add the tahini and cashew butter until evenly combined. Scrape down the sides.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour in 3 stages until fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed, all the way to the bottom. If using, add the chopped cashews.

Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. It will be thick and almost sticky. Spread it evenly using a regular or offset spatula.

Drizzle the melted chocolate over the batter. Sprinkle the salt evenly over the top of the bars.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. Allow to cool completely, then lift the parchment overhangs to remove the bars from the pan. Slice and serve.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Pear, Raspberry, and Pistachio Salad with a Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

Another fruity salad, what can I say? I had pistachios left over from this recipe, so I decided to make the most of them. This salad was perfect! I ended up with long pearl slices, and I served it like a salade composée. The Little Prince liked this one too, even though he never eats the lettuce. You could add feta or maybe cooked chicken if you want, but I made it without. That creamy poppy seed dressing would go well with just about any combination!

For the salad
4 cups romaine, chopped
1 cup raspberries
2 pears, thinly sliced
½ cup shelled pistachios

For the creamy poppy seed dressing
⅓ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup lactose-free milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. poppy seeds

Whisk together in a small bowl mayonnaise, milk, sugar, cider vinegar, and poppy seeds (I just shook the ingredients together in a jar). Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss romaine, raspberries, pears, and pistachios. Add the poppy seed dressing and carefully toss to coat all of the ingredients. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Dijon-Brushed Chicken Breasts with Sweet Potato and Arugula Risotto

This recipe is from the Autumn 2003 issue of the LCBO’s Food & Drink. After reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I went through a bunch of my old magazines and tore out recipes (then recycled the rest). It did take me a long time to decide to make this, but it turns out the recipe itself is faster and easier than I thought, and very rewarding. I’m writing the recipe without changing it, but next time, I’d consider using only half as much chicken. Our chicken breasts were relatively large, and even after cutting out the inedible parts, we still had too much to accompany the risotto.

1 small sweet potato, cooked (I roasted mine; some squash would work nicely, too)
4 bone-in chicken breasts (see note above)
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme and rosemary

For the risotto
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small leek, white and light green part only, cut into matchstick pieces
1 ½ cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1 ¼ cups arborio rice
1/3 cup Chardonnay or other white wine (I omitted that)
3 ½ to 4 cups hot chicken stock
1 cup tightly packed arugula leaves, torn into pieces, stems removed
¼ cup whipping cream (I omitted that too)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 °F.

Peel and dice sweet potato.

Remove skin from chicken breasts. Place in a shallow roasting pan. Season with salt and pepper. Brush breasts with Dijon mustard and cover with fresh herbs, patting gently to adhere.

Roast in oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 °F. Remove from oven. Remove from baking dish and let rest while risotto finishes.

For risotto, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook leeks, mushrooms, thyme and rosemary, stirring, for 4 minutes or until softened. Transfer to a bowl.

Melt butter in a saucepan; add rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add Chardonnay and cook until absorbed.

Add 1 cup hot stock; adjust heat so stock bubbles gently and is absorbed slowly. Continue adding 1 cup stock at a time, stirring almost constantly, for 15 minutes.

Add diced sweet potato and mushroom mixture. Cook, stirring often, adding more stock when absorbed, until rice is just tender.

Add arugula and cream. Cook, stirring for 1 minute, until arugula is wilted.

Stir in parmesan and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spoon risotto into wide bowls and top with herb-crusted breasts. Garnish with watercress and serve immediately.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Strawberry Pistachio Crumble Pie

I made two crumble pies in a matter of weeks; it wasn’t planned at all, but it was a good idea. We started with a cranberry-ginger-pear pie, which was very good! Everyone ate some. If you make it, I’d recommend that you omit the candied ginger in the crumble, make sure your pears are quite ripe, and perhaps tent the pie with foil while it’s baking.

Then there was strawberry pistachio crumble pie from Sister Pie in Bon Appétit. This one was an absolute winner! Everyone ate it happily. It would be even better with seasonal strawberries this summer! I’d consider adding some rhubarb, too.

For the crust
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. ice water
nonstick vegetable oil spray

For the crumble
¼ cup raw pistachios
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup old-fashioned oats
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. poppy seeds
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. kosher salt
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter or margarine, chilled, cut into pieces

For the filling
2 lbs. strawberries, hulled, halved if large (about 6 cups)
5 Tbsp. tapioca starch
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
2 Tbsp. chopped pistachios

For the crust
Pulse salt, sugar, and 1¼ cups flour in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until largest pieces are pea-size. Transfer to a medium bowl and freeze about 5 minutes.

Combine vinegar and ice water in a small bowl and sprinkle over flour mixture; toss with a fork to incorporate. Knead until dough comes together with just a few dry spots remaining. (I did this in the food processor.) Flatten into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill at least 2 hours.

Let dough sit at room temperature 5 minutes to soften. Roll out on a lightly floured surface, rotating often and dusting with more flour as needed to prevent sticking, to a 12" round. Fold dough in half and transfer to a glass 9" pie dish. Lift up edges and allow dough to slump down into dish. You should have about a 1" overhang. Fold edges under and crimp. Place pie dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and freeze 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425 °F. Lightly coat a sheet of foil with nonstick spray and place in pie crust, coated side down, pressing into bottom and sides. Fill with pie weights and bake until edge is pale golden, 15–20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and pie weights and bake crust until bottom is light golden, 7–12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

For the crumble
Preheat oven to 350 °F. Toast ¼ cup pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 5–8 minutes. Let cool, then finely grind in a spice mill, or finely chop with a knife.

Mix pistachios, flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest, poppy seeds, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, work in butter until no dry spots remain and crumble holds together when squeezed. Chill while you make the pie filling.

For the filling and assembly
Toss strawberries, tapioca starch, granulated sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt in a large bowl to combine.

Using a small offset spatula, spread cream cheese in an even layer over bottom of crust. Scrape strawberry mixture into crust, mounding into a dome. Sprinkle crumble evenly over top, breaking up any very large pieces.

Place pie dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake pie, tenting with foil if crumble starts to get too dark before filling is done, until crumble is brown and strawberry filling is bubbling around edges, 1½–1¾ hours. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool before slicing, at least 4 hours.

Top pie with chopped pistachios just before serving.