Monday, July 30, 2018

Raspberry Ricotta Cake

I had seen this recipe in a few places – I think it’s originally from Bon Appétit, but I made Molly Wizenberg’s version. This cake was absolutely delicious! The ricotta was a great addition, and summer berries are always great. I’m thinking the Engineer would have enjoyed this more with blueberries, but the rest of us loved it as is!

I’m posting my recipe for ricotta again below, because I realize it’s annoying to have to click away and then flip back and forth between two tabs. This time, I made it with lactose-free cream (I highly recommend this if you have the cream, as the resulting ricotta is so much richer and – obviously – creamier) and I doubled the recipe, to make sure I had enough, because when I use only milk I get about 1 generous cup of ricotta. It turns out that the yield is greater when using cream as compared to only milk, possibly because you have more solids to start with (maybe someone who is well-versed in cheese-making could chime in). Anyway, since the strawberries were in season, I used leftover ricotta to make this strawberry raspberry arugula salad with ricotta topping, which I also highly recommend.

For the ricotta
3 cups lactose-free whole milk
1 cup lactose-free cream (if unavailable, use 1 more cup lactose-free whole milk and see note above)
½ tsp coarse sea salt
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Pour the milk, cream and salt into a 3-quart nonreactive saucepan. Attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer. Heat the milk to 190 °F, stirring it occasionally to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, then stir it once or twice, gently and slowly. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.

Line a colander with a few layers of cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl (to catch the whey). Pour the curds and whey into the colander and let the curds strain for at least an hour. At an hour, you’ll have a tender, spreadable ricotta. At two hours, it will be spreadable but a bit firmer, almost like cream cheese. (It will firm as it cools, so do not judge its final texture by what you have in your cheesecloth.) Discard the whey, or, if you’re one of those crafty people who use it for other things, of course, save it. Use the ricotta right away or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the raspberry ricotta cake
1 ½ cups (210 g.) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 g.) sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups (325 g.) whole-milk ricotta (see above for lactose-free version)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick lactose-free butter, melted
1 cup (100 g.) frozen raspberries, divided (I used fresh raspberries)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan (I used a springform pan), and press a round of parchment paper into the bottom; grease it again.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, ricotta, and vanilla until smooth. Gently stir ricotta mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended. Then fold in the butter, followed by ¾ cup of the raspberries, taking care not to crush them. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it evenly, and scatter the remaining raspberries on top.

Bake the cake until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before unmolding. Cool completely before serving.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

So, it turns out there are banana breads I hadn’t made yet – one of them being this double chocolate banana bread from Smitten Kitchen. As is the case with all banana breads, it is easy to make and incredibly satisfying first thing in the morning. And with all the chocolate, it’s obviously an easy sell with the kids. Give it a try!

1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour (or white whole wheat would work too)
½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. table salt
3 medium-to-large very ripe bananas
½ cup lactose-free butter, melted
¾ cup (145 g.) brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup (about 6 oz. or 170 g.) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chunks or chips

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan, or spray it with a nonstick baking spray.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. (My cocoa is always lumpy, so I think sifting it is essential.) Whisk together and set aside.

Mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl. (You’ll have a little over 1 cup mashed banana total.) Whisk in melted butter, then brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients with a wooden spoon until just combined. Stir in chocolate chunks or chips.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out batter-free, though a smear of melted chocolate is normal. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around the edge and invert it out onto a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Almost-Ketogenic Vanilla Cupcakes

A few months ago, I tried another vegan cupcake recipe, this one with a maple buttercream that called for coconut oil and non-dairy milk powder. The frosting was way too liquid; I added a tablespoon of ground chia seeds and let it set up in the fridge, but it was still a disaster. I don’t know if it was just too hot for the coconut oil, but I have to admit I’m not too keen on recipes that only work if the weather is just right (I’m looking at you, meringues). The cupcakes themselves were only okay.

Once I was in Canada, though, I decided to try a vanilla cupcake recipe by Ketogenic Girl (full disclosure: I knew her briefly when we were teenagers living abroad). I’m not actually considering a ketogenic diet, because it is way too restrictive for me (not to mention the anecdotal negative side effects), BUT I was curious about ketogenic baked goods. That being said, I used regular sugar because I didn’t have stevia and I don’t like the taste of it anyway. I don’t know how erythritol compares, but I didn’t feel like tracking it down… So these are almost-ketogenic, but that was good enough for me. Also, since these are gluten-free, I’m not convinced that baking powder is necessary, but I didn’t want to change the recipe too much in one go – I already ran out of almond flour and had to top it up with hazelnut flour as it was! I really liked the cupcakes themselves, but for the frosting, I recommend either increasing the amount of sugar or omitting the frosting altogether. Everyone here liked these, though the Fox was the most vocal about it!

For the cupcakes
1 cup (4 oz./115 g.) almond flour (I used 2.8 oz. almond flour and 1.2 oz. hazelnut flour)
2 Tbsp. coconut flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup lactose-free cream
2 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
¼ cup (1¼ oz./36 g.) erythritol or granulated/powdered stevia (I used granulated sugar)
½ tsp. liquid stevia (I omitted this)
½ tsp. vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp. vanilla extract)

For the frosting (see note above)
½ cup (4 oz./115 g.) lactose-free butter, softened
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, softened
2 Tbsp. granulated stevia or erythritol, ground until powdery (I used powdered sugar)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line 11 wells of a standard-size 12-well muffin pan with paper liners. (The original recipe said 10, but I got 11 cupcakes from this – too bad it’s not an even 12!)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, coconut flour, baking powder, and salt until well blended. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Add the whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the powdered sweetener, liquid stevia, and vanilla and mix to combine.

Fold the flour mixture into the cream mixture and combine well.

Fill each cupcake liner about three-quarters full with the batter. Bake for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes before frosting.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Using a stand mixer or handheld mixer, whip together all the frosting ingredients until creamy and fluffy.

When the cupcakes are cool, scoop the frosting into a piping bag and pipe the frosting evenly onto the cupcakes. Alternatively, use a knife to spread frosting on each cupcake.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Crème étagée au citron

J’ai reçu un livre de cuisine Famille futée en cadeau récemment; je l’ai feuilleté en mettant des signets autocollants sur les pages qui m’intéressaient, et j’ai pu essayer la crème étagée au citron. Le fond de la verrine est de la chapelure de biscuits graham; personnellement, je trouve que ce serait un peu meilleur avec de l’huile de coco, pour que ça se tienne ensemble davantage, mais c’était bon comme ça aussi. La simili-crème au citron (« curd ») elle-même est végétalienne et peu sucrée, mais très savoureuse grâce au jus d’orange – elle garde tout de même une jolie couleur jaune. Le Petit Prince n’a pas aimé le dessert, mais le reste de la famille l’approuve!

2 citrons
½ tasse de sucre
¼ tasse de fécule de maïs
½ tasse d’eau
1 tasse de jus d’orange
½ tasse de chapelure graham
½ tasse de yogourt grec sans lactose à la vanille

Presser le jus des citrons dans une tasse de 1 litre (4 tasses) allant au four à micro-ondes. (J’ai pressé le jus dans un bol allant au micro-ondes; j’en ai obtenu environ ½ tasse.)

Ajouter le sucre, la fécule de maïs, l’eau et le jus d’orange. Fouetter pour bien délayer la fécule. Chauffer au four à micro-ondes à puissance maximale pendant 2 minutes. Fouetter vigoureusement pour obtenir une texture parfaitement lisse. Chauffer de nouveau à puissance maximale de 1 à 2 minutes, ou jusqu’à épaississement. Fouetter de nouveau.

Répartir la chapelure dans 4 petits verres ou verrines. Verser la crème au citron et laisser refroidir environ 20 minutes au frigo. Au moment de servir, garnir chaque portion de yogourt grec à la vanille.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Black and White Cranberry Cherry Vegan Cheesecake

Somehow I’m now busier in the summer than during the rest of the year. Probably because the Little Prince doesn’t have daycare three days a week anymore… Plus, admittedly, I don’t have a comfortable desk in the summer, so I’m less prone to sitting down at the computer. I did want to post this recipe, though – it came in very handy when I was trying to unload some frozen cherries and cranberries. It would be a good dessert for the holidays, too! I changed a few things to make prep easier. I also noticed that it took all afternoon for the chocolate layer to harden, so I recommend making this cake the day before; to make it easier to slice, move it from the freezer to the fridge a few hours before serving it (but don’t store it there, or the chocolate layer might melt too much).

For the coconut milk in the chocolate layer in the cheesecake, it gets a bit tricky: there’s a product called So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk (which I’m not linking to because it was actually so hard to find that I had to get it online and I’m wondering if it might be discontinued). It’s sold in carton packaging (as opposed to a metal can) and is actually thicker than canned coconut milk. If you fond some, you can use it directly at room temperature for this recipe and I find that easier; otherwise, you have to refrigerate cans of coconut milk overnight and skim the creamy layer at the top (use the coconut water for smoothies or something).

For the crust
1 ¾ cup raw cashews and/or almonds
1/3 cup cacao powder
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and soaked if dry
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted (I used 4 Tbsp.)

For the chocolate layer of the cheesecake
2 cups of the thick cream part at the top of refrigerated canned coconut milk (see note above)
½ cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
½ cup cacao powder
¼ cup chocolate chips, melted

For the cashew layer of the cheesecake
2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight; rinsed and drained)
½ cup pure maple syrup or agave nectar
½ cup canned coconut milk (or more So Delicious Original Culinary Coconut Milk; see note above)
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, seeded, or 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

For the cranberry cherry topping (you could consider halving this)
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. salt
2 cups pitted frozen cherries
2 cups fresh whole cranberries
1 cup water
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

For the crust
Place the nuts into a food processor and pulse until ground. Add dates, cacao powder, and coconut oil to the food processor and pulse until combined. Press mixture into the bottom of an 8” springform pan. Place the pan in the freezer while you make the filling.

For the chocolate layer of the cheesecake
In a high-powered blender like a Vitamix, blend coconut milk (2 cups of the thick cream part from chilled canned coconut milk if not using the So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk), maple syrup, and cacao powder until smooth. Add melted chocolate chips and blend until chocolate is incorporated and smooth. Pour on top of the prepared crust. Tap the pan a couple of times gently to remove any bubbles. Place in the freezer on a level surface. (Since this will need some time to chill before you can make the cashew layer, you can either stop here for now or go ahead and make the cranberry cherry topping.) Rinse the blender thoroughly but don’t bother washing it just yet.

For the cashew layer of the cheesecake
Place cashews with the maple syrup and lemon juice into your Vitamix and blend until it starts to get creamy. Add in coconut milk and vanilla blend until smooth and creamy, scraping the sides as needed. Remove pan from the freezer, making sure the top of the chocolate layer is set, and pour/spread your filling into the pan on top of the chocolate layer. Gently shake the pan side to side to even out and carefully tap the pan on the counter to get out any possible air bubbles. Place in the freezer on a flat level surface.

For the cranberry cherry topping
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large sauce pan. Whisk in water and lemon juice. Add cherries and cranberries. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Once the mixture comes to a boil, continue cooking for 2 minutes while stirring constantly to prevent burning. (If all of your cranberries start popping, reduce the heat.) Remove from heat and let cool. Place mixture in a jar in the fridge to cool completely and until ready to serve. You can make the topping up to 2 days ahead of time.

Freeze for 2 hours or until ready to enjoy. If storing in the freezer longer, remove 35-45 minutes before serving, or an hour or two ahead if you want to put it in the fridge. Cut cake and serve with cranberry cherry topping. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Flourless Tahini Brownies

I wanted to use up a jar of tahini, so I made these tahini brownies from Bon Appétit (they were adapted from a recipe by David Lebovitz that I had tried once before). As it turns out, I might have to make these on a more regular basis! We all really enjoyed them. Note that these are definitely fudgy brownies, not cakey at all, but for once I didn’t mind!

Also, I didn’t have agave nectar, so I used corn syrup, but it was too thick and I had to water it down a bit. I’d recommend maple syrup as a substitute here. (The only reason I’m talking substitutes is because I just don’t have it in me to keep ALL the sweeteners on hand; I’m from Quebec, so maple syrup is one thing about which I do not compromise.) As is, the recipe is gluten-free and dairy-free, if that’s helpful at all.

3 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder (I recommend sifting it)
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp. virgin coconut oil
4 Tbsp. tahini, divided
2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. agave syrup (see note above)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line an 8” square baking dish with 2 overlapping pieces of parchment paper, leaving at least a 3” overhang on two sides.

Whisk cornstarch and cocoa powder in a medium bowl until no lumps remain. Set aside.

Heat chocolate, coconut oil, and 1Tbsp. tahini in a small saucepan over low heat (I used a double boiler), stirring, until melted and smooth.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat eggs, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light, smooth, and doubled in volume, about 3 or 4 minutes. Beat in salt and vanilla to combine, then beat in chocolate mixture, scraping down sides as needed, until incorporated. Beat in cornstarch mixture, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is thick and holds its shape, about 30 seconds.

Stir agave syrup and remaining 3 Tbsp. tahini in a small bowl.

Scrape batter into prepared baking dish and smooth top. Dollop agave mixture over and swirl into top of batter with a skewer or toothpick.

Bake brownies until sides are puffed, top is browned, and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 22 to 26 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting into squares.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Stash-busting knitting projects

I got around to making a few projects with yarn from my stash, and the most satisfying part is that I finally got around to knitting stuff for myself!

The first was a cardigan called First Snow, which I made for a little boy born in February in our extended family. I bought some Cascade 220 Superwash Merino yarn in Tuffet and used two kinds of green yarn from my stash for the design, along with buttons from my stash as well.

Obviously this left me with some Tuffet in my stash, but I used a good chunk of that to make the hair for the Fox’s doll (I made one for the Little Prince and one for his cousin, so of course he was going to get his own!).

I then used up all of my remaining Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light yarn in Posy to knit a little cardigan for my niece’s doll (again, with a button from my stash). I really like how it turned out! I could make entire doll wardrobes with leftover fabric and yarn, given enough time. I got the Fox’s doll to model the pink cardigan, since he is very secure in his boy-doll-hood despite not being anatomically correct, but I also managed to snap a pic of my niece’s doll wearing it.

Finally, I made two double rib toddler hats: one with some dark grey yarn and, when I realized it was a bit too big for the Fox, a smaller one with smaller quantities of light blue and light grey. I think I finally got the hang of jogless stripes with that one! It’s unblocked on the photo, but still. I love the earflaps, too, even though the kid keeps pulling it off. I meant to use it for our trip to Alaska, but the weather was so nice that we didn’t even need it. At least one of them should still fit next winter, though.

Then I had the first break from kidswear in my queue in I don’t know how long! The first think I made for myself was the Drifted Pearls scarf. Okay, so this wasn’t exactly helping whittle down the stash, but I had been meaning to make this scarf forever and I simply did not have yarn in the right gauge! Since there was a 50%-off sale on Lotus Cashmere yarn, I bought some in teal – how could I pass up a half-off cashmere scarf? That being said, I think the project would have been nicer with slightly thicker yarn, so if I make it again I’ll use something like the recommended Rowan Lima, with which I’ve worked before.

Then I made myself a slouchy beanie with leftover Airport Hot Sauce Pixie yarn. The skein I had left was more orange than red, at least compared to the one I had used before and finished up to do the band of the beanie, so that was a bit of a bummer because I really liked the red tones more. I also think that it turned out a bit too big. On the bright side, it won’t crush my curls, but I might frog it and start over, or make one with another yarn. I’m actually wondering whether this type of hat only looks good when styled for a photo, and perhaps inevitably looks odd in real life. Thoughts?

I was going to follow this up with a vest for myself (with yarn that has been earmarked for this project for… over 5 years?), but I’ve hit a bit of a snag, so I’m knitting a sweater for the Fox until I can get that figured out – more on that in a later post.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Poulet au beurre

J’ai combiné deux thèmes dans ce billet, et le lien est le poulet au beurre, ce plat indien que je ne mange que rarement à cause du lactose. Je vous vends la mèche tout de suite : j’ai une excellente recette de poulet au beurre sans lactose plus bas!

Tout d’abord, j’ai entendu parler il y a quelques mois d’une entreprise du domaine de l’alimentation canadienne nommée Epicure (et, parce que je joue cartes sur table, c’est que la tante maternelle de l’Ingénieur est devenue représentante). Epicure offre de nombreux produits : mélanges d’épices, poudres pour préparer sauces, vinaigrettes, trempettes et bouillons, mélanges de base pour préparer certains plats, en plus d’équipement pour cuisiner. Leurs produits sont sans gluten et sans noix; beaucoup sont aussi végétaliens et cachère. Dans le but d’offrir des aliments santé, leurs produits contiennent très peu de sodium, de gras et de sucre. Et en fait, pour nous, c’est un peu ça le problème. Pour les gens qui ne se sont pas fait prescrire une diète à faible teneur en sodium et qui préparent la majorité de leurs repas à la maison (comme c’est le cas pour nous), ça ne vaut pas la peine de se préoccuper du sel, par exemple. Et donc, on a trouvé tous ces produits très, très fades. Et puis bon, d’accord, ce sont des aliments santé avec des recettes faciles à préparer, mais en partant, tout ce qui utilise le terme « clean eating », je trouve ça suspect. C’est tellement subjectif que ça ne veut rien dire! (Je remarque aussi en écrivant ces lignes que ça a été traduit par « manger santé » en français sur leur site, ce qui est déjà plus précis, mais je trouve que ça montre aussi le ridicule du terme anglais – parce que « healthy eating », ça existe aussi!)
Nous avons essayé…
- une pochette de mélange à falafel – c’était bon, sans plus, et peut-être un peu trop sec.
- une pochette d’assaisonnement pour poulet au beurre (ah-ha!) – correct, mais fade.
- une pochette de mélange pour pouding au caramel salé – inexplicablement, c’était aromatisé au café, pas au caramel, et c’était fade en plus.
- une pochette de mélange à pakora – assez bon, quand même, mais on s’entend que les légumes ne venaient pas avec!
- un mélange d’épices à guacamole – j’aime bien mieux mon guacamole maison.
- un mélange d’épices à sauté asiatique – correct.
- de la poudre pour bouillon de miso – fade, même si j’avais ajouté du sel.
En conclusion, Epicure, ça peut être vraiment génial pour certains, mais pas pour nous. C’est peut-être aussi pratique pour les gens qui apprennent à cuisiner, remarquez. (Si jamais ça vous intéresse quand même, écrivez-moi en privé et je vous donnerai les coordonnées de ma personne-contact.)

Toujours est-il que ça nous a donné envie d’un bon poulet au beurre. Et j’avais sous la main cette recette sur Fraîchement Pressé, qui avait l’air très bonne. Je l’ai donc essayée, et… c’était absolument délicieux! On capotait un peu tellement c’était bon, en fait. Un des meilleurs poulets au beurre que j’aie mangé de ma vie, et certainement LE meilleur sans lactose! Je vous recommande fortement ce plat. J’ai remis les ingrédients dans un ordre que je trouve plus logique ci-dessous, j’ai utilisé du lait de coco au lieu de la crème et j’ai fait mon propre ghee avec ces instructions et ½ tasse de beurre. En théorie, le ghee commercial est sans lactose, c’est vrai; mais on peut en faire aussi soi-même (avec du beurre sans lactose, on a confiance), et comme ça, je n’avais pas de restant à utiliser sans trop savoir comment, alors c’est ce que je recommande. J’écris donc les instructions ci-dessous aussi. J’ai servi le plat avec du riz; du pain naan aurait été un bel ajout.

Pour le ghee (ou beurre clarifié)
½ tasse de beurre sans lactose (ou davantage, pour faire des réserves)

Faire fondre le beurre dans une petite casserole à feu moyen-doux. Une fois fondu, le beurre se séparera en trois couches : la couche supérieure sera mousseuse, la matière sèche du lait se retrouvera au fond, et le beurre clarifié flottera entre les deux. Laisser mijoter le beurre pendant un moment jusqu’à ce que la couche intermédiaire soit odorante et dorée et que la matière sèche au fond commence à brunir (il faudra pousser la mousse sur le dessus pour jeter un coup d’œil.) On peut laisser la matière sèche brunir davantage, mais personnellement, je trouve le risque de la laisser brûler trop grand, alors je préfère arrêter le processus là et éteindre le feu.

Ensuite, il suffit d’écumer toute la couche mousseuse sur le dessus et de laisser le liquide reposer une ou deux minutes. Puis, avec un tamis ou une passoire et une étamine, verser délicatement la couche de beurre clarifié dans un contenant en verre en laissant la matière sèche au fond de la casserole. Si le beurre clarifié ne contient absolument pas de mousse ni de matière sèche, il peut être conservé à la température de la pièce pendant plusieurs semaines. Si on ne l’utilise pas dans cette recette, on peut s’en servir comme huile de cuisson ou assaisonnement.

La quantité de beurre ci-haut donne environ la bonne quantité de ghee pour la recette ci-dessous – honnêtement, ce n’est pas une cuillérée de plus ou de moins qui va faire foirer la recette, je pense.

Pour le poulet au beurre
6 c. à soupe de beurre clarifié (ghee)
1 gros oignon, tranché en fines lamelles
1 c. à thé de cannelle
1 c. à thé de cardamome
1 c. à thé de curcuma
1 c. à thé de paprika
1 pincée de poivre de cayenne (j’ai pris du piment coréen)
sel et poivre, au goût
3 poitrines de poulet désossées et sans la peau, coupées en petits cubes
3 gousses d’ail, hachées
1 morceau d’environ 1 pouce de gingembre frais, pelé et haché
1 petite boîte de tomates en dés (398 mL, soit environ 15 oz.)
1 c. à soupe de pâte de tomates
1/3 tasse de poudre d’amandes
½ tasse de yogourt grec nature sans lactose
¼ tasse de crème sans lactose ou de lait de coco
coriandre fraîche

Faire chauffer le ghee à feu moyen-doux dans une grande poêle. Ajouter les oignons et les épices en remuant pendant quelques minutes jusqu’à ce que les oignons soient translucides, soit environ 5 minutes.

Ajouter le poulet et continuer à mélanger environ 5 minutes, jusqu’à ce qu’il ait perdu sa teinte rosée à l’intérieur. Ajouter l’ail et le gingembre pour les 2 dernières minutes de cuisson.

Incorporer ensuite les tomates, la pâte de tomate et la poudre d’amandes. Réduire le feu et laisser mijoter une dizaine de minutes, le temps que la sauce épaississe un peu.

Juste avant de servir, ajouter le yogourt et la crème et bien mélanger. Parsemer de coriandre et servir.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Vancouver and Alaska

In early June, my mother-in-law treated our little family to a vacation – a cruise to Alaska, for which her sister joined us. We took the opportunity to spend a few days in Vancouver, and we had such a wonderful time!

It wasn’t our first time in British Columbia, but the kids had never been. We took them to Science World, which was absolutely fantastic! It’s a great science museum for kids and grown-ups alike, with interactive exhibits on lots of different topics both indoors and outdoors – though I think my favorite was Eureka. You could easily spend most of the day there, and as a bonus, there’s a great playground right next to the parking lot.

Of course, no visit to Vancouver is complete without walking in Stanley Park! We also went on the Stanley Park Train and had lunch at Stanley’s Bar & Grill. We had originally planned to hike in Stanley Park and see the giant redwoods, but this proved too difficult given short legs, strollers, and the distance we would have had to cover in addition to the rest of the program that day (the Vancouver Aquarium) and time lost taking a walk in the wrong direction earlier in the morning because somebody couldn’t read a map (*cough* the Engineer can no longer be relied upon if he doesn’t have Google Maps turned on *cough*). The Vancouver Aquarium, though expensive, is not to be missed. Plan for at least half a day there, as there are so many things and animals to see! I think my favorite was Helen, the Pacific white-sided dolphin (her pectoral fins were maimed in a fishing net, so she cannot be released in the wild), not to mention the otters and sea lions. There are exhibits about local flora and fauna as well as more exotic wildlife.

We did not hit all the trendy restaurants, but we got fantastic dim sum takeout from Hon’s Wun Tun House as well as stellar tandoori chicken from Indian Bombay Bistro.

After the initial few days in and around Vancouver, we were off to the ship. I won’t give you a detailed review of the cruise, but Anita Chu from Dessert First wrote good reviews of her Disney cruise that hit the same cities (here are parts 1, 2, and 3). We chose Norwegian, in part because the prices are lower than Disney and in part because there’s no obligation to have dinner at the same seating each night or to dress up on given nights, so this gave us more flexibility with small kids. (For a family-friendly cruise line cheat-sheet, click here.)

We were on board the Norwegian Jewel, a ship with roughly 2,400 passengers and 1,000 crew members. There was complimentary child care, but the Little Prince only went once (because he came back in a bad mood and said that he hadn’t liked it, so even though he refused to elaborate, we didn’t make him go again). There was also a place to play with babies (not a drop-off option, but that wasn’t what we wanted anyway). The Little Prince spent much of his on-board time asking us to take him to the kids’ pool and hot tub or to the video arcade. I made use of the spa once, when I got what was possibly the best massage of my life (ask for Rebecca).

A quick word about food restrictions on Norwegian… They say that they can feed you gluten-free, but there are caveats. The buffet only has a few options at any given time. You can eat gluten-free in the restaurants only if you order 24 hours in advance, and even then, the staff isn’t always knowledgeable – they brought out a French onion soup, complete with bread on top, to the person with coeliac disease at our table, and this was after a clear discussion with her about her restrictions when we sat down to eat. As for lactose, there are no signs at the buffet indicating whether anything has dairy in it (only whether it’s gluten-free or vegetarian). When I asked whether a specific dessert had lactose, the staff didn’t know and had to ask the chef, then the chef on deck didn’t know and had to call down to the kitchen, and when no one could give me any answer yet 20 minutes later, I walked away with Jell-O and a marshmallow on a stick. Also, in one of the à-la-carte restaurants, I was not told about lactose even when I mentioned my intolerance. I mean, normally I can navigate this myself, but the menu had some inaccuracies in it – beyond the grammatical mistakes, there was a dessert described as a flourless chocolate cake, which I’m usually fine with – but when it was in front of me, I realized that it was more like a cross between a génoise and a napoléon, meaning layers of very flat cake and chocolate mousse. Not only was it full of lactose, it also had flour, even though it wasn’t a “traditional” cake! So yeah, bring Lactaid (for the record, I gave the staff feedback on this matter, but I doubt Norwegian will change its policies based on my opinion alone).

So we had three stops: Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, in addition to three days at sea with a glacier viewing on one of those days. In Juneau, we saw many eagles, including bald eagles, dive for fish in the wake of the ship as we were docking. On later days, some of us saw a whale, others saw sea lions, but since we were early in the season, wildlife sightings were limited. We also didn’t go on many excursions, since most of them were not small-child-friendly, but we still had a wonderful time. The second day at sea was rough, but other than that, we had beautiful weather! Sunshine every day (even in Ketchikan), and while we did use our windbreakers on occasion, we never needed our hats.

The first stop was Juneau. Wikipedia tells me that it is the only state capital that is not accessible by road – one must arrive either by air or sea. The town itself looked nice, and I wish we’d had more time to explore a bit, but we booked a tour to see Mendenhall Glacier. The bus driver did give us the highlights of town, and he pointed out the governor’s mansion (I can confirm that one cannot see Russia from that house). The glacier itself was magnificent, and I’m really glad we went. That being said, because it was so early in the season, we didn’t book a package tour that would also have taken us to the salmon hatchery (too early for salmon), so we had a lot of time on our hands at the glacier. We could have hiked to Nugget Falls if we had planned things better (2 miles on gravel), but we ended up spending much of our time by the lake, letting the Little Prince throw rocks in the water, and hiking the Photo Point trail (0.3 miles, paved). We also looked around the visitor center during a (brief, light) shower. The big downer for me was learning that a few days prior to our visit, someone had let their dog off-leash in a restricted area and the dog had destroyed the eggs of all 18 nesting pairs of terns, who had flown all the way there specifically to reproduce.

In Skagway, there are lots of tours being offered, but wildlife sightings tend to be less impressive this early in the season, and a train ride to Yukon seemed less appealing when we factored in both kids. So we spent our time exploring the center of town, which was lovely – it’s a gold rush town that still has old-timey buildings and wood sidewalks. There is also a vintage ad on a cliff wall. The population there is about 700 in the winter and 2.500 in the summer with seasonal workers, but there are about 1.3 million visitors a year! It didn’t seem crowded that day, though, possibly another benefit of an early-season cruise. Milk is a whopping $6.59 a gallon and gas is $3.60 a gallon, which I suppose is comparable to Canadian prices but seems exorbitant when you live in Texas (I got this info in the Skaguay Alaskan, a free local paper). I think Skagway was my favorite town! I especially liked The Loom, which had a lot of local items (the only reason I didn’t buy a throw pillow is because I know my kids would destroy it) and Aurora Yarns, where I got two skeins of locally dyed yarn and some stitch markers. We also visited the Skagway Museum, which I highly recommend to learn more about the history of the place (it also serves as City Hall and was once a school). It’s adjacent to Mollie Walsh Park (see here for more about her, and here for a laugh), so the Little Prince got to play outside too. We had lunch at the Sweet Tooth Café, which had good food and great service, though surprisingly few sweet options.

Following this was the second day at sea, during which we were supposed to see Sawyer Glacier, but we ended up seeing Dawes Glacier instead. It was beautiful, and since I hadn’t had my heart set on a specific glacier, this was fine by me, but that change could have disappointed someone else.

Ketchikan is the southernmost town in Alaska and the Salmon Capital of the world, mostly known for its fishing and canning industries; it’s in the Tongass Rainforest, the second largest rainforest in the world (after the Amazon). They get an average of 12.5 feet of precipitation each year, and even though snow-capped mountains are visible from town, I think the climate is much milder than what we typically think of for Alaska. In Ketchikan, we went to see the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, which we thoroughly enjoyed (I strongly recommend buying tickets directly from the venue instead of using the cruise line, as the latter charges a big markup and the venue is easily accessible on foot from the ship anyway). We had lunch at Dwyer’s Crab and Fish Company Restaurant and walked around town for a while after that. I bought chocolate as a souvenir; it’s dark chocolate sea salt by Alaska Candy Company, based in Anchorage. It’s vegan, though it may contain milk and soy, and is peanut-free. I really liked it, but as I look at the package now, I realize that it was actually made… in Canada. Oh well. It was a wonderful trip anyway!