Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Corn Dog Muffins

I don’t know if you remember the corn dog muffins I told you about late last spring. (I’m tempted to call them pogo muffins, because Pogo was THE brand of corn dogs when I was growing up, but I’m not sure non-Canadians get the reference.) We love the ones I make with Jiffy mix, but they crumble so much that I had to find an alternative. I could have tried more corn bread mixes in the hope of finding one that doesn’t crumble, and maybe I will eventually, but for now I wanted an actual recipe.

On the recommendation of a friend, I first tried Cook’s Illustrated’s all-purpose corn bread, which calls for fresh corn. It was great, but unfortunately the Little Prince didn’t like it (because of the corn kernels!), and since I was looking for a recipe primarily for his lunches, this won’t work. The recipe on Weelicious was for miniature muffins, and I didn’t feel like adapting it unless I really had to, so I set it aside. Then I saw that Deb Perelman had a recipe titled perfect corn muffins on Smitten Kitchen, and you guys, this is it.

These muffins are delicious and exactly the kind of cornbread I like, which is to say sweet Northern cornbread. They call for yellow cornmeal (NOT coarsely ground), and some of the cornmeal is cooked before being mixed in, which I believe is what helps these muffins hold together so well. The Little Prince, the Fox and I loved them! Note that the muffins plump up beautifully, so much so that the sausages were hidden, so you might want to pop them in the muffins halfway through baking. I got a total of 16 muffins, and can tell you that greasing the pan works better than using paper liners. They are also excellent without sausages, FYI.

2 cups (280 g.) yellow cornmeal, divided
1 cup (130 g.) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ¼ tsp. fine sea or table salt
1 ¼ cups lactose-free milk (ideally whole)
1 cup (240 g.) lactose-free sour cream (I used full-fat plain yogurt)
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) lactose-free butter or margarine, melted and cooled slightly
5 Tbsp. (60 g.) sugar
2 large eggs
4-5 cooked hot-dog sausages, cut crosswise into thirds (and lengthwise in half if serving to small children)

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Either grease or line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with disposable liners (again, I recommend greasing, and I got a total of 16 muffins).

Whisk 1 ½ cups cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.

In a medium saucepan, combine milk and remaining ½ cup cornmeal. Cook cornmeal mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens so that the whisk leaves a clear line across the bottom of the pan that slowly fills in. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool a bit.

Whisk butter, then sugar, then sour cream into cooked cornmeal until combined. At this point, the wet mixture should be cool enough that adding the eggs will not scramble them, but if it still seems too hot, let it cool for 5 minutes longer. Whisk in eggs until combined. Fold in flour mixture until thoroughly combined and the batter is very thick. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups; it will mound slightly above the rim. At this point, if you don’t mind the sausages ending up hidden, you can add a piece of sausage to each muffin.

Bake until tops are golden-brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 13 to 17 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking to ensure even cooking (if you haven’t inserted the sausages into the muffins yet, do it at the halfway point). Let muffins cool in muffin tin on wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove muffins from tin and let cool 5 minutes longer. These are great warm, but at room temperature and even cold, they were appreciated by my kids and husband.

Natural Bridge Caverns

For our October outing, we finally went to Natural Bridge Caverns. I say “finally” because we’d been meaning to go for a while, but it’s not stroller-friendly (the trail is paved, but there are stairs as well as steep inclines and curves, and it’s slippery), so we had to wait until the Fox was older. Even then, the Engineer had to carry him much of the way, but we’re glad we visited!

It’s a registered National Natural Landmark because of all the beautiful examples of geological formations (it’s also on the National Register of Historic Places because of the artifacts that were found there, some dating back 10,000 years). The cave was discovered in 1960 by four local college students (and the one who felt a draft from a crawlway, leading to the huge inner rooms, has the awesome name Orion Knox). The namesake natural bridge is outside the entrance of the cave; it spans roughly 60 feet and was formed about 5,000 years ago.

The temperature is 70 °F year-round, which sounds comfortable, but the humidity level is 99% AND you’re essentially hiking for over an hour, so things got hot and we were certainly glad to feel the breeze again once we got out (I believe it was in the 50s that day). The stalactite and stalagmite formations are very impressive and have names like “Castle of the White Giants” and “Watchtower” and well as the “Hall of the Mountain King”. There are even helictites!

The place also has a massive obstacle course, and it looks really fun, but it wasn’t open yet on our visit – we’ll have to come back someday.

On a separate outing, we went for a long walk on the paved trail in Panther Springs Park, turning back when the Little Prince was tired. It’s a really pleasant area and I hope to explore it more at some point.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Chai Sweet Potato Cupcakes

As you know, fall in Texas doesn’t feel like fall at all, so sometimes the only way to get in the mood, so to speak, is to make food that I associate with fall. These chai sweet potato cupcakes are a perfect example. I don’t have chai tea on hand, so I changed the recipe (the spice mix below is mine). The original recipe was for 24 cupcakes, so I halved (below) it and ended up with 9 cupcakes (note that you might want to increase the frosting recipe by 50% if you like your cupcakes frosted generously; I didn’t have enough to make all 9 look like the one shown here).

These were delicious! We all liked them very much. I used homemade sweet potato purée (my preferred method is roasting in foil at 425 °F for 1 hour, then mashing), though the recipe specifies that you could use canned sweet potato purée, and I see no reason why you couldn’t also use pumpkin or squash.

For the chai syrup
½ cup water
3 Tbsp. sugar
4 cracked cardamom pods
4 whole cloves
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon

For the cupcakes
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup granulated white sugar
7 Tbsp. grapeseed oil
2 large eggs
1 ½ Tbsp. chai syrup
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup puréed cooked sweet potato

For the frosting (see note above)
½ cup lactose-free butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ to 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp. chai syrup, or to taste
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
ground cinnamon for dusting the tops

For the chai syrup
Combine the water, sugar, and spices in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture starts to bubble and sugar dissolves. Simmer over low heat until mixture has reduced by about half and has become syrupy. Strain and set aside to cool (discard solids).

For the cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350 °F and grease or line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices in a small bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugars and grapeseed oil. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed. Turn mixer to low and add in the eggs, chai syrup, and vanilla. Stop mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two batches. Mix until just combined. Fold in the puréed sweet potato.

Divide mixture between the wells in the muffin tins (I got 9); do not fill more than 2/3 full Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked into a cupcake. Cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting
Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix until smooth. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients. (I like to add the liquids first, then add powdered sugar until I get to the right consistency.) Once combined to your liking, turn the mixer up to medium and mix for a few minutes until smooth and fluffy.

To assemble, transfer the frosting to a piping bag and frost the cooled cupcakes. Alternatively, spread the frosting on the cupcakes with an offset spatula. Dust with a pinch of cinnamon (I forgot).

Friday, December 06, 2019

Big Cereal Cookies

These cookies were originally called mookies, shorthand for muffin-top cookies, but even though that might be descriptive of their appearance, it was misleading. You see, these did not AT ALL have the fluffy consistency of muffins, which is what I had been expecting. I baked the second batch less than the first (15 minutes as opposed to 20), and they were definitely better, so I’m reducing the time in the recipe below. That being said, you should still expect a somewhat hard cookie (would it sound too weird if I called it a tough cookie?).

The reason I wanted to make these is because I had a whole lot of Rice Krispies left over from making these awesome meatballs. Of course, then I had to buy Corn Flakes for the cookies. So I also made corn flake-breaded chicken (I’ve posted recipes for this before, and there’s one right on the back of the box) as well as a custard tart with a corn flake crust, but sadly, the crust was my least favorite part of it. So I recommend buying the smallest format of Corn Flakes you can find for these cookies, maybe something like this, or honestly, you could use the cereal of your choice. I think these big cereal cookies are a bit like kitchen sink cookies and easy to adapt!

I got a total of 17 cookies, using an ice cream scoop to shape them.

1/2 cup lactose-free butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup lactose-free milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup oats
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3 cups corn flakes
1/2 cup rice krispies
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Add milk and vanilla and mix well.

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the cereals, nuts, and chocolate chips.

Scoop dough into 2-inch balls on the prepared baking sheet. At this point, I prefer to flatten them just a bit. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown (the original recipe said 20 to 25 minutes, but that was *way* too much in my oven).

Batch of links - Long reads

- The lonely death of George Bell, about what happens in New York City when a body is unclaimed.

- The doctor will see your iguana now, about veterinarians for exotic pets in New York City.

- The Case of Jane Doe Ponytail, a read about the sex trade, specifically what happens when a Chinese immigrant in Flushing is caught by the police selling her services as a “masseuse”.

- An article about the life and death of Stella Walsh, an intersex Olympic champion. This has ramifications about how we classify athletes’ sex today.

- An essay about mental health care in Geel, Belgium, written by Anne Thériault (who is delightful on Twitter).

- When the Culture Wars Come for the Kids is a great, thoughtful essay. In addition to all the questions it raises, it made me so glad I’m not living in New York! Related: it now costs $ 350,000 per year to live a middle-class lifestyle in a big city.

- The secret lives of Democratic women married to MAGA men. I’ll admit I have trouble understanding how you can marry someone without discussing politics first…

- Growing up disabled in China was a hard read. It was written by a translator whose native dialect, interestingly, does not have a word for “love”.

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Chocolate Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

I made several “seasonal” desserts at the end of the summer and in the early fall, but none of them was good enough for me to make a post out of it. A decent berry and buttermilk cobbler, a raspberry buttermilk cake that didn’t look like the photo at all, a blackberry lemon cake with white chocolate and olive oil (in which, sadly, I couldn’t taste the white chocolate), another peach tart with date almond crust similar to these (it was fine, and I seriously considered posting it today with the title “Impeachment Tart” but I got a hold of myself). Then a single crust plum and apple pie that was just meh.

The Little Prince then asked random questions about cheesecake and the various flavors one could use to make it. I realized I had a recipe for crème brûlée pumpkin cheesecake bars, which also have chocolate, so I decided to try those. I don’t have a blow torch (and I refuse to buy such a unitasking tool), so I broiled them a few minutes. I think I got the effect that was intended, but next time, I would prefer them un-brûléed, especially considering that the cheesecake isn’t exactly like a crème brûlée custard in the first place. And that's why I changed the title. I really liked this dessert, as did the kids; the Engineer had to scrape off the top to be able to eat it, as he dislikes caramel.

The original recipe had plain melted chocolate between the crust and the filling, but I knew that once in the fridge, that layer would become way too hard. So I used my peanut butter chocolate pie recipe as inspiration and added some milk to it – my version is below.

For the crust
9 whole graham crackers
5 Tbsp. lactose-free butter or margarine, at room temperature (I think melted would work, too)
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used a 10-oz. bag)
½ cup lactose-free milk

For the filling
2 (8-oz.) packages lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup pumpkin purée
2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1//8 tsp. ground ginger

For the brûlée topping (optional, see above)
¼ cup granulated sugar

For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line an 8”-square baking dish with foil, leaving an overhang.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until finely ground. Add the butter and pulse until moistened. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until lightly browned and set, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with the milk and mix well (I did this in a double boiler).

Remove the crust from the oven and spread the chocolate mixture on top evenly. Let cool and reduce the oven temperature to 300 °F.

For the filling
Place the cream cheese in a clean food processor bowl and pulse until smooth (you can also use an electric mixer). Add the sugar, pumpkin, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, flour, salt, and spices and pulse until combined and smooth. Do not overmix.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until the cheesecake is set but still slightly jiggly in the center, about 45 minutes (I left it in there an extra 25 minutes). Do not overbake.

Place the cheesecake on a cooling rack to cool completely in the pan. Cover and chill until firm, at least 2 hours. Using the foil overhang, transfer the cheesecake to a work surface and use a big sharp knife to cut into squares (I used the broiler instead of a blowtorch in the next step, so it made more sense to me to leave the whole thing in the pan).

For the brûlée topping
On a heat-safe work surface, sprinkle the top of each square with sugar and torch until it turns a deep amber color. Alternatively, use the broiler to brown the sugar (I used it for 5 minutes). Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Mini Baked Pancakes

My friend Jen shared this recipe for mini baked pancakes, which I ended up making for breakfast. I made some with heart sprinkles, and the rest with miniature chocolate chips (I got 35 in all). The kids *loved* them! I could also see this batter being used for savory versions. As these are pancakes and not muffins, I recommend refrigerating leftovers instead of leaving them at room temperature; they also freeze beautifully.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups lactose-free milk
¼ cup (½ stick) lactose-free butter or margarine, melted
2 eggs
toppings of your choice (chocolate chips, sprinkles, sliced bananas, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Spray a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray (or just grease it).

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the milk, butter, and eggs. Mix in the dry ingredients. Scoop the batter into each muffin tin hole, filling them about ¾ of the way. Add your toppings of choice.

Bake for 15-20 minutes (though check at 10 minutes), then remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes, then remove from muffin tin.

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Almond Cardamon Tea Cake

This almond cardamom tea cake is from Samin Nosrat’s Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (from the “Fat” chapter). It was easy to make, and the flavors were both simple and complementary. This cake was truly excellent! The Engineer gave it 5 stars, and both kids ate it with gusto (the Fox almost swiped it while I was taking a photo the next day, as you’ll see below). I loved it too!

For the almond topping
4 Tbsp. (2 oz.) lactose-free butter or margarine
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 scant cup (3 oz.) sliced almonds
1 pinch of flaky sea salt

For the cake
1 cup (5 ¼ oz.) cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt OR ½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ½ tsp. ground cardamom
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (9 ½ oz.) almond paste, at room temperature
1 cup (7 oz.) sugar
2 sticks (1 cup or 8 oz.) lactose-free butter or margarine

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Set a rack in the upper third of the oven. Grease a 9 by 2-inch round cake pan (I used a springform pan), line it with parchment paper, then grease it again and dust it with flour.

To make the almond topping, in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, cook the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid bubbles. Remove from heat and stir in the almonds and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and use a rubber spatula to distribute it evenly across the bottom of the pan.

For the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together the vanilla, cardamom, and eggs. Set aside.

Place the almond paste in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to break it up. Add sugar and process for 90 seconds, or until the mixture is as fine as sand. Add the butter and continue processing until the mixture is very light and fluffy, at least 2 minutes. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure that everything is being combined evenly.

With the machine running, slowly start to add the egg mixture, spoonful by spoonful, as if making a mayonnaise (this is an emulsion!). Let each addition of egg be absorbed so that the mixture regains its smooth, silky look before adding more eggs. When all the eggs have been added, stop and scrape the sides with a rubber spatula, then continue to mix until well combined.

Scrape the batter into a large bowl. Gently fold in the flour in three additions until just incorporated. Avoid overmixing. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 50-60 minutes (the original recipe said 55-60, but I think I should have pulled mine out at 50 minutes), or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The cake will just pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool on a wire rack before running a knife around the edge and then inverting onto a plate. (If you have trouble, you could warm the bottom of the pan directly on the stovetop briefly, but mine came out fine.) Remove the parchment paper and then set onto a cake stand until ready to serve.

Monday, December 02, 2019

Boulettes de porc de Ricardo, de deux manières

L’été dernier, dans le magazine Ricardo, j’ai vu cette recette de boulettes de porc. Il s’agissait d’une recette de base que l’on pouvait ensuite apprêter de deux manières différentes : à la courge et à la crème ou bien à la sauce barbecue et aux poivrons. Selon le magazine, il suffisait de la moitié des boulettes pour chaque version, mais avec notre appétit (deux adultes et deux jeunes enfants), je recommande d’utiliser toutes les boulettes dans l’un ou l’autre des cas, afin d’avoir des restes pour un deuxième souper.

Pour les boulettes à la courge, j’ai remplacé la crème par du lait de coco; la sauce n’a pas épaissi, mais elle était délicieuse! Nous avons trouvé le repas un peu chenu, mais en y repensant, ça aurait été absolument parfait avec du couscous ou du quinoa, pour absorber la sauce. Je garde ça en tête pour la prochaine fois.

Pour les boulettes aux poivrons, j’ai suivi les recommandations dans les commentaires et j’ai doublé la quantité de sauce – c’est en effet ce que je recommanderais, donc si on utilisait toutes les boulettes, il faudrait quadrupler les quantités. C’est ce que je vous ai écrit ci-dessous. J’ai servi le plat avec du riz, cette fois-là, et c’était excellent! Les enfants n’ont pas aimé les poivrons, mais ils ont trippé sur la sauce barbecue, alors ça compensait.

L’ingrédient « magique » des boulettes, c’est les Rice Krispies au lieu de la mie de pain, qui leur donnent une texture moelleuse tout en étant rapides à utiliser. Le désavantage, c’est qu’on dirait que mon épicerie ne vend que des boîtes géantes (18 onces) de Rice Krispies! J’ai donc fait du granola, des biscuits (recette à venir), puis j’ai refait la recette de boulettes deux fois pour les mettre au congélateur. J’ai mangé des Rice Krispies pour déjeuner. Et il me reste encore des céréales. J’ai depuis vu un format plus petit, soit une portion dite individuelle de 1,3 onces (comme ça mais dans un autre magasin), et si jamais vous pouvez mettre la main là-dessus, c’est ça que je vous recommande (à moins que vous ne mangiez régulièrement des Rice Krispies, bien sûr).

Dans tous les cas, j’ai utilisé ma cuillère de 3 onces pour former les boulettes, et j’en ai obtenu 28 chacune des trois fois que j’ai fait la recette de boulettes. On peut bien sûr utiliser ces boulettes dans d’autres préparations, mais j’ai tellement aimé celles suggérées que je les partage ici toutes les deux, avec mes modifications (celles élaborées plus haut ainsi qu’une réduction de sauce forte).

Pour une recette de boulettes
2 œufs
1 tasse de lait sans lactose
2 tasses de céréales de riz croquant (de type Rice Krispies)
2,25 lb. (1 kg.) de porc haché maigre
½ tasse de fromage parmesan râpé finement
3 c. à soupe de moutarde Dijon
½ c. à thé de sauce sriracha
1 c. à thé de sel
poivre, au goût
¼ c. à thé du muscade moulue
1 pincée de clou de girofle moulu

Placer la grille au centre du four. Préchauffer le four à 425 °F. Tapisser une plaque de cuisson de papier parchemin ou de papier aluminium huilé.

Dans un grand bol, mélanger les œufs, le lait et les céréales de riz. Laisser imbiber 5 minutes. Ajouter le reste des ingrédients et bien mélanger avec une fourchette. Le mélange sera tendre.

Avec les mains légèrement huilées, façonner chaque boulette avec environ ¼ tasse du mélange de viande (moi, j’ai pris ma cuillère de 3 onces). Déposer délicatement les boulettes sur la plaque.

Cuire au four 30 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que la viande soit bien cuite.

Pour l’accompagnement à la courge et à la crème
1 courge butternut d’environ 3 lb., pelée, épépinée et coupée en cubes
1 oignon, haché finement (j’ai pris un oignon rouge, c’était plus joli)
1 c. à soupe d’huile végétale
1 c. à soupe de fécule de maïs
10 oz. de bouillon de poulet concentré
¼ tasse de crème sans lactose (ou de lait de coco)
2 c. à soupe de feuilles de persil plat
3 c. à soupe de fromage parmesan frais râpé

Placer la grille dans le bas du four. Préchauffer le four à 425 °F.

Dans un plat de cuisson de 9"x13", mélanger la courge, l’oignon et l’huile. Saler et poivrer. Cuire au four 40 minutes.

Entre-temps, dans un bol, délayer la fécule dans le bouillon et la crème.

Répartir (toutes) les boulettes sur la courge. Verser le mélange de bouillon sur les boulettes et les légumes chauds. Poursuivre la cuisson au four 10 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que la sauce épaississe (ce n’est pas arrivé même après 15 minutes pour moi, et je ne voulais pas faire brûler mes boulettes). Rectifier l’assaisonnement au besoin. Parsemer du persil et du parmesan pour servir.

Servir avec du couscous.

Pour l’accompagnement aux poivrons et à la sauce barbecue
4 poivrons (idéalement de couleurs différentes), épépinés et coupés en cubes
2 gousses d’ail, émincées
1 oignon, émincé
1 c. à soupe d’huile végétale
1 tasse de ketchup
¼ tasse de sirop d’érable
1 c. à thé de paprika fumé (ou plus, au goût) ou de piment coréen
feuilles de basilic, pour le service (je les ai oubliées dans le frigo)

Placer la grille dans le bas du four. Préchauffer le four à 425 °F.

Dans un plat de cuisson de 9"x13", mélanger les poivrons, l’ail, l’oignon et l’huile. Saler et poivrer. Cuire au four 30 minutes, en remuant à mi-cuisson.

Entre-temps, dans un bol, mélanger le ketchup, le sirop d’érable et le paprika. Saler et poivrer.

Badigeonner (toutes) les boulettes de la sauce afin de les enrober. Les répartir sur les poivrons. Poursuivre la cuisson au four 10 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que la viande soit laquée. Garnie de feuilles de basilic.

Servir avec du riz.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Batch of links

- Which pumpkin pie should you make for Thanksgiving? A blogger reviewed 12 recipes and ranked them so I didn’t have to. From my blog, though, I’d recommend pumpkin chiffon pie and this traditional-style pumpkin pie.

- Bon Appétit had a cool article in the Thanksgiving issue: it’s an interview with three Indigenous chefs about what Thanksgiving means to them.

- A very interesting article on what cookbook authors get paid. Some publishing houses now aren’t even offering advances, which is outrageous when you consider how expensive and time-consuming it is to create recipes!

- I’m often pleasantly surprised by Parents magazine. Recently, they had an article abut essential oils, and before I could shake my scientific fist at them, they stated that while they had started the article with the intention of creating a guide explaining which oil to use for which ailment, as they were doing research, they actually realized that a) most essential oils are not proven to cure anything, and b) essential oils can actually be quite dangerous. So the article turned into a warning instead.

- Parents also had this article with the results of the latest scientific studies in 8 areas of interest (like whether probiotics can help with colic or the benefits of the HPV vaccine).

- The Little Prince and I used an app that let us move throughout the International Space Station. Here’s what they have in the kitchen area.

- Weeknight dinners around the world. Including Texas!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Cauliflower Rice Bowl

I’m still a big fan of Buddha bowls. I try to branch out once in a while, like with this avocado BLT with basil mayonnaise or this succotash with bacon and croutons, though neither was popular with the Fox. I also really liked this tuna salad that is made with yogurt instead of mayonnaise – I served it once with apples, cucumbers, and hard-boiled eggs, and another time as part of a salade niçoise composée, so there was usually something there that my toddler might appreciate.

Then I had leftover riced cauliflower in the freezer and didn’t really know what to do with it, so when I came across this cauliflower rice bowl recipe, I decided to go for it. It turned out I had less than called for, but you don’t have to be so finicky about amounts with bowls, so it worked out. I had crumbled feta on hand, and the pieces seemed too small to go in the oven without making a mess, so I served it cold with the warm vegetables (sweet potato, in my case). For me, the pepitas were what really made this dish, and they were SO delicious roasted! That being said, I think I really took them to the edge by roasting them for 7 minutes (whereas the cauliflower rice should have gotten at least 10 minutes in the oven), and they don’t keep as well stored with the other ingredients in the fridge, so I’d consider roasting them separately, in a dry pan on the stovetop. The amounts below should make 4 servings.

1 ½ lb. root vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, or a combination), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. lactose-free feta cheese, drained
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
3 cups fresh or frozen cauliflower rice (I had less)
½ tsp. ground turmeric
1 (15.5-oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
finely grated zest of 2 medium limes
juice of 2 medium limes, plus more wedges for serving
1 medium avocado, pitted and quartered (I used 2 total)

Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 425 °F. Place the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil, then season with ½ teaspoon of the salt and several grinds of black pepper. Toss to combine, then arrange into an even layer. Roast on the lower rack until beginning to brown, about 20 minutes.

Flip the sweet potatoes and push them to one side. Add the pumpkin seeds to the now-empty portion of the baking sheet and crumble the feta into large pieces over the sweet potatoes (see note above). Place the cauliflower rice (if using frozen, break up any clumps first), turmeric, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and several grinds of black pepper on a second rimmed baking sheet and toss until evenly combined. Spread into an even layer.

Place the sweet potatoes on the upper rack and the cauliflower rice on the lower rack. Roast until the pumpkin seeds are toasted, the sweet potatoes are golden-brown, and the feta is warmed through, 7 to 10 minutes more. Meanwhile, place the chickpeas, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a medium bowl and toss until evenly coated; set aside.

For each serving, transfer ¼ of the rice, ¼ of the sweet potato and feta mixture, and ¼ of the chickpea mixture into a bowl. Sprinkle with ¼ of the pepitas and top with a piece of the avocado. Drizzle with more olive oil and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with a lime wedge.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Pumpkin Fluff

Fellow parents, you too can be a snack time hero!

I never thought I’d get around to making this recipe, but then I decided that it was the perfect, seasonal thing to serve as a treat at snack time. I used graham crackers as a vehicle for this dip (gingersnaps would be good, too), and the snack was EXTREMELY well received.

If you were to run out of pumpkin fluff while you still have a lot of graham crackers, I’ve got two words to make you a hero again: chocolate hummus. You’re welcome.

1 (15-oz.) can of pumpkin purée
1 (9-oz.) container of Coco Whip, thawed overnight in the fridge
1 box of instant vanilla pudding (just the powder; make sure it’s lactose-free)
pumpkin pie spice, to taste (I omitted it)

Whisk everything together and serve with crackers for dipping. Refrigerate leftovers.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Maple Bacon Sugar Cookies

I’d been hanging on to this recipe for at least a few years, and then when I was desperately trying to figure out what dessert to make, and happened to have half a container of lactose-free sour cream to use up, I thought, “Why not?” You don’t need a special occasion for these – treat yo’self.

The recipe makes double the dough you need. Because there’s only 1 egg, it would be complicated to halve (maybe using a flax egg?), so I made the recipe as is and froze half the dough. It’s not something I’m used to keeping on hand, and I’m pretty sure Future Me will clean out the freezer one day and be surprised that there’s sugar cookie dough in there. But hopefully she’ll be grateful, because the cookies were so good! They’re a great base for any frosting, obviously, you don’t *have* to use bacon. I changed the order of the steps to make it easier to follow. I also reduced the amount of sugar in the frosting (less maple syrup and no milk, which made the frosting a bit stiffer and therefore reduced the need for powdered sugar as well); the version below is mine. I got 23 cookies.

For the cookies (see note above)
4 cups flour + more for rolling out the dough (I used a 50-50 mix of white and white whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) lactose-free butter or margarine, softened
1 ½ cups sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup lactose-free sour cream

For the maple frosting
¼ cup lactose-free butter or margarine
1 pinch kosher salt
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
crumbled crispy bacon, for topping (about 8 oz., or to taste)

For the cookies
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Add the sour cream; mix thoroughly. Add the dry ingredients in two parts, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Divide the dough into two parts and wrap each in wax paper. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. For the amount of frosting in this recipe, you will only use half of the dough – you can freeze the second batch of dough for another use, or just double the frosting recipe.

Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.

On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Roll the dough so it’s about ¼” to ½” thick and use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out shapes of the dough. (I just made round ones because I thought the bacon gave them enough pizzazz.) Use a spatula to move them to the prepared baking sheet with minimal damage.

Bake the cookies 6-8 minutes (the original recipe said 8-12, but in my oven, 8 was already a bit too much. Admittedly, this depends not just on the oven, but on the thickness and size of the cookies). You never want them to get too browned around the edges, or they’ll be too crunchy. Let cool completely before frosting.

For the maple frosting
Combine butter, salt, syrup, vanilla, and 1 cup of the sugar. Add remaining sugar and mix until smooth and creamy.

Frost the cooled cookies with the maple frosting, and sprinkle bacon bits on top. Cookies keep well in the fridge for a up to a week, or a few days at room temperature. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Pizza Balls

I’m always trying to find new recipes for the Little Prince’s lunchbox. Sweet potato and parmesan muffins were poorly received (I tasted them too and they certainly weren’t my favorite). Then one day, he came home from school with a recipe printed on a piece of paper and asked me to make it for him. I gathered that the company that takes care of the food at his cafeteria held a pop-up (which they call “Discovery Kitchen”, according to the hand-out) and tried to get students interested in new foods. So I tried this recipe for curried chicken pasta salad (I can’t find it online), and the Little Prince didn’t touch his lunch that day, saying he didn’t like it. So I sent him to school with another lunch the next day, and served the pasta salad for our own lunch at home. And, readers – it was FOUL! The Fox and I absolutely hated it, and I forced myself to eat some because that’s what was for lunch and everything, but I threw the rest away, I’m never making it again, and I suspect that this recipe might turn off kids in our school district from curry, chicken, and pasta salad in general.

So back to a safe bet: I got pizza sauce out of the freezer and made another recipe from the Weelicious Lunches cookbook: pizza balls (the recipe seems to be gone from the Weelicious website, but it’s here. This was VERY well received; I got to eat one pizza ball myself, and gave one to the Engineer as well, and we all agree we love them.

For the filling: obviously, use something your kids (or you) will like. I knew broccoli florets wouldn’t fly, so I went with pepperoni, but if your child will eat finely chopped vegetables here, go for it. For the cheese, I used lactose-free shredded mozzarella (look for something that has 0 grams of sugar on the nutrition label). And for the dough, I used 1 pound of homemade dough I had in the freezer and 1 pound of storebought dough, hence the different appearance of my balls (ahem).

2 1-lb. packages white or whole wheat pizza dough (homemade or storebought)
¾ cup broccoli florets, cooked & chopped (or filling of choice, see note above)
1 cup lactose-free mozzarella cheese, shredded
½ cup pizza sauce (again, homemade or storebought)
olive oil
parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Grease a 9” pie plate or cake pan.

Bring pizza dough to room temperature and divide into 16 even pieces.

In a bowl, combine the broccoli (or whatever addition you choose), mozzarella and pizza sauce.

Roll out each piece of dough into a round, about 3 inches wide, and place 1 tablespoon of the cheese mixture in the center. Take the edges of the dough and bring them to the center, pinching along the edges to make sure they stick together, then roll into a ball.

Place the ball, sealed side down, in the pie plate and repeat these steps making the rest of the balls. Brush each ball with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Poulet épicé aux abricots

À la fin de l’été et an automne (la saison est longue au Texas!), j’ai essayé quelques nouvelles recettes avec des fruits à noyaux, mais sans trop de succès. J’ai fait un tagine de poulet avec des abricots et des pistaches, mais je n’ai pas été trop impressionnée. Puis ce filet de porc et nectarines à l’orange un peu décevant. Jamais deux sans trois, n’est-ce pas? Alors j’ai aussi essayé ce poulet épicé aux abricots, mais avec de petites pêches au lieu des abricots. Je savais que je prenais un risque, avec un plat qui a des goûts si prononcés, mais en fin de compte, tout le monde a aimé! Même que le Petit Prince m’a demandé d’en refaire, et il a adoré la sauce! C’était vraiment gagnant, comme recette. J’ai servi ça avec du riz.

Pour le mélange d’épices
1 c. à thé de gingembre moulu
1 c. à thé de curcuma moulu
1 c. à thé de cannelle moulue
1 c. à thé de graines de coriandre broyées
1 c. à thé de fleur de sel
½ c. à thé de poivre moulu
½ c. à thé de piment de la Jamaïque moulu

Pour le poulet
1 ½ lb. hauts de cuisses de poulet désossées
¾ tasse de confiture d’abricots
¼ tasse de vinaigre de vin blanc
¼ tasse d’eau
1 c. à soupe de moutarde de Dijon
1 c. à soupe de graines de moutarde
1 gousse d’ail, hachée finement
4 abricots, coupés en deux (j’ai pris de petites pêches)
1 gros oignon rouge, coupé en quartiers
½ tasse de pistaches grillées, hachées grossièrement
¼ tasse de menthe fraîche, hachée

Parsemer le poulet de 2 c. à thé du mélange d’épices et frotter pour faire pénétrer. Laisser reposer 15 minutes.

Entre-temps, dans une petite casserole, mélanger la confiture d’abricots, le vinaigre, l’eau, la moutarde, les graines de moutarde, l’ail et le reste du mélange d’épices. Porter à ébullition en brassant de temps à autre. Réduire le feu et laisser mijoter 5 minutes. Réserver.

(Les instructions du paragraphe suivant sont celles de la recette d’origine; ma démarche est entre parenthèses à la fin.) Régler le grill à puissance moyenne. Mettre le poulet sur la grille huilée et fermer le couvercle. Cuire 5 minutes. Retourner le poulet et le badigeonner de ¼ tasse de la sauce réservée. Mettre les abricots et l’oignon rouge sur la grille. Fermer le couvercle et poursuivre la cuisson de 5 à 7 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que le poulet ait perdu sa teinte rosée à l’intérieur et que les abricots et l’oignon soient marqués (retourner les morceaux et badigeonner le poulet de ¼ tasse du reste de la sauce à la mi-cuisson). (Dans mon cas, j’ai décidé de ne pas me servir du grill et d’utiliser plutôt le four. J’ai fait cuire le poulet à 425 °F pendant 20 minutes; idéalement, il faudrait mettre l’oignon à cuire avec, et faire cuire les abricots pendant les 5-10 dernières minutes.)

Mettre le poulet sur une planche à découper. Couper les hauts de cuisses en 2 ou 3 morceaux, puis les mettre dans une assiette de service. Parsemer des pistaches et de la menthe. Servir le poulet avec les abricots et les oignons grillés. Accompagner du reste de la sauce.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Plaque de pommes de terre à la grecque

Pour lutter contre le temps froid, j’ai essayé une recette de pâté chinois aux lentilles et aux patates douces, dont la garniture était faite avec du sans-viande et des lentilles, et la purée était un mélange de pommes de terre et de patates douces. En fin de compte, ça n’a pas été un succès auprès de ma famille, et même moi je trouvais que ça laissait un peu à désirer. Et le succès, de façon inattendue, est venu sur une plaque avec du chou frisé. Il s’agit d’une recette de Coup de Pouce, facile à préparer tout en impressionnant par sa présentation.

Le Petit Prince ne trouvait pas le plat à son goût au départ, alors nous avons suivi notre philosophie habituelle, soit ne pas le forcer à manger, mais lui demander de rester à table avec nous. Et pendant que l’Ingénieur et moi parlions, le Petit Prince a mangé une feuille de chou frisé. On n’a rien dit, pour ne pas briser le charme, mais on était bien contents! En fait, le Petit Prince est dans une phase géniale (selon moi) où il goûte à presque tout avant de décider s’il aime ou pas. Et il y a encore plein de choses qu’il n’aime pas, mais au moins il est prêt à essayer, alors je ne peux pas lui en demander plus.

Un truc, pour couper les pommes de terre en éventail : utilisez une paire de baguettes chinoises jetables, une de chaque côté de la pomme de terre, avant de la couper. Comme ça, le couteau n’ira pas jusqu’à la planche, et vous conserverez donc un morceau de chair intact pour que la pomme de terre se tienne ensemble. Ce n’est pas infaillible comme truc, mais ça aide! Aussi, la recette recommande des pommes de terre à chair ferme, comme les Chieftains. Bon, si j’avais pu passer une commande à la ferme de mon cousin germain éloigné au 1er degré, ça aurait été idéal, mais j’ai pris les Russets qu’il y avait à mon épicerie et c’était très bien comme ça.

6 pommes de terres, lavées et brossées (environ 1 ½ lb.)
4 c. à soupe d’huile d’olive
1 c. à thé d’origan séché
½ tasse de fromage à la crème sans lactose
½ tasse de féta sans lactose émietté
1 botte de chou frisé (« kale »), lavé, les tiges enlevés et coupé en morceaux
½ petit oignon rouge, tranché finement
12 tomates raisins (j’ai pris tout le casseau)
sel et poivre, au goût

Préchauffer le four à 400 °F; placer la grille à la position du centre.

Couper les pommes de terre en fines tranches d’environ 1/8 po (3 mm), en arrêtant avant la base pour que les tranches restent attachées entre elles.

Déposer les pommes de terre sur une plaque de cuisson tapissée de papier parchemin. Arroser de la moitié de l’huile et saupoudrer de l'origan. Saler et poivrer. Cuire 1 heure.

Retirer la plaque du four. Couvrir les pommes de terre du fromage à la crème et du féta, puis disposer le chou frisé, l’oignon et les tomates tout autour. Arroser du reste de l’huile. Remettre la plaque au four et poursuivre la cuisson 15 minutes ou jusqu’à ce que les pommes de terre soient tendres.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Barbara's squash soup

A woman who had been very dear to me passed away a week ago today. Her husband had been dear as well, and he passed less than a year ago, but I didn’t find out until months later. It’s times like these when I feel very far from Montreal. I don’t usually share last names on this blog, for privacy and all, so I’ll just call this woman Barbara. And I want to share Barbara’s recipe for butternut squash soup with ginger and lime. It’s a great seasonal dish I’m sure you’ll love.

The first time the Engineer’s family invited me for Rosh Hashanah dinner, Barbara had made this soup, and I liked so much that I just had to get the recipe. I highly doubt it was the first squash soup I ate, but it really stood out from the rest because of the unexpected bright notes, thanks to the lime juice and the warm ginger. It was absolutely delicious! The recipe is below.

Note that 6 cups of butternut squash cubes is about one large squash, or two small ones. Barbara liked to microwave the squash first so it was easier to cut, though I never tried it that way. This recipe yields a lot, but the soup freezes well. Barbara usually served it plain, like in the first photo, but I also like it topped with plain yogurt and pepitas, or you could use a good olive oil or maybe even cilantro.

½ onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
1 ½ Tbsp. fresh gingerroot, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
6 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped
6 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion, garlic, and gingerroot in butter until onion is soft.

Add the chicken stock and squash. Simmer, covered, for 15-30 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Purée the solids (I do this with an immersion blender now, but a food processor or blender work too). At this point, you can add extra stock if you want a thinner consistency, but I rarely do – I think it’s because I usually serve it as a lunch or a light dinner with some bread, but if it’s an appetizer, you could thin it out a bit.

Add lime juice, salt, and pepper, and serve warm.