Tuesday, March 31, 2020

White- And Dark-Hearted Brownies

This is a recipe I made with my kids on Valentine’s Day. I’m typically about a month behind on posting anything, but combine that with the pandemic, and here we are. But we could all use a little love, right? And this one is fun for kids to make. (Assuming you can spare a few eggs for them to practice cracking, of course; otherwise, handle that part yourself and give them other tasks.) It’s from Smitten Kitchen, and it’s really good. I mean, obviously it’s super cute and all, but the brownies themselves are delicious! They are delightfully chewy, and I was pleasantly surprised by the white chocolate brownies in particular! This is one case where I will recommend AGAINST substituting your favorite brownie recipe, because you do need something that holds together enough to sustain the “surgery” you’ll be performing on them with the cookie cutter. Even then, they’re delicate and you have to be careful!

The yield of this depends mostly on the size of your cookie cutter. You get two 8”-square pans of brownies any way you slice them, but my heart-shaped cookie cutter is about 2 inches wide, so it only fits in there comfortably 9 times per pan, whereas Deb Perelman’s measures 1 inch and she got 16 squares per pan. Do some math with yours. As for the chocolate, it is important that you use the good stuff here, especially for the white chocolate (by this I mean: REAL white chocolate, not white baking chips). I used Ghiradelli.

The recipe below is for ONE pan of brownies; you’ll have to make it twice, once with white chocolate and once with dark chocolate.

3 oz. (85 g.) semisweet or good white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 stick (½ cup) lactose-free butter or margarine
¾ cup + 2 Tbsp. (175 g.) sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. table salt or ½ tsp. flaky salt (about 2 g.)
2/3 cup (83 g.) all-purpose flour
1 heart-shaped cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over opposite sides of pan. Repeat with second piece of foil in opposite direction. Grease foil.

Melt white or dark chocolate and butter together in a large bowl over a simmering pot of water (or in the microwave in 30 second bursts, stirring between each) until it is 90% melted; remove from heat and stir the mixture until it is smooth. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Add flour and salt together, stirring until just combined. Spread into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes (for the dark chocolate version) and 30 to 35 minutes (for the white chocolate version).

Repeat this recipe with the other kind of chocolate. I only have one 8-inch square pan, so I waited until the brownies cooled down, then I removed them from the pan (see next step) and made the second batch.

Once the brownies are cool enough to handle, lift them out of the pan using their foil “sling”, place them on a flat surface like a baking sheet, and freeze them for at least 30 minutes. (It is much easier to make cut-outs once the brownies are frozen!)

Once both batches are frozen, place them on a large cutting board. Cut each pan-size brownie into squares (2-inch squares if your cookie cutter is 1-inch; I cut them into 9 squares each instead). Making sure your brownies are still cold (pop them back in the freezer at any point if necessary), carefully, slowly, gently, press your cookie cutter into the center of each brownie and set the cut-out aside. Insert the dark cut-outs into the centers of the light brownies, and vice-versa. From here, you can let them warm up to room temperature or wrap them up in the freezer until you will need them.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Bol burrito

J’avais essayé un bol taco au bœuf, aux poivrons rouges et au riz il n’y a pas si longtemps. J’avais beaucoup aimé l’idée, mais je trouvais que le paprika n’avait pas sa place dans cette recette – je remplacerais par du cumin, moi. J’avais servi le tout au Renard dans un bol en plastique avec une cuillère, et il a a-do-ré!

Je me suis ensuite rappelé que j’avais vu une recette de bol burrito dans Ricardo et que je voulais l’essayer aussi. Celle-là, elle était vraiment à mon goût! Je vous donne ma version de l’assaisonnement à taco (que je fais toujours moi-même au lieu de l’acheter); sinon, remplacez les épices pour la viande par 2 c. à thé d’assaisonnement du commerce + 1 c. à thé de sel d’oignon. Ajoutez de la sauce forte au goût, bien sûr!

Aussi, bien que j’aie aimé la salade de maïs telle quelle, je l’ai trouvée absolument excellente apprêtée avec un reste de sauce verte tamarin-noix de cajou. Je la recommande fortement!

Pour le riz
½ c. à thé de sel
1 tasse de riz à grains longs
2 tasses d’eau

Pour la viande
1 lb. de bœuf haché maigre
2 c. à soupe d’huile végétale
½ c. à thé de fécule de maïs
½ c. à thé de piment coréen (ou plus, au goût)
¼ c. à thé de paprika
½ c. à thé de sel cachère Morton (doublez les quantités si vous utilisez Diamond Crystal)
1 c. à thé de flocons d’oignon
1 c. à thé d’ail en poudre
½ c. à thé de cumin

Pour la salade de maïs
1 boîte de 7 oz. de maïs en grains, égoutté
1 tomate, coupée en dés
½ tasse de haricots noirs en conserve, rincés et égouttés (j’y ai mis toute la boîte de 15 oz.)
¼ tasse de feuilles de coriandre ciselées

Pour la garniture
1 tasse de fromage cheddar sans lactose râpé
1 gros avocat mûr, en morceaux
crème sûre sans lactose, au goût
quartiers de lime, au goût

Pour le riz
Dans une casserole, porter l’eau et le sel à ébullition. Ajouter le riz et mélanger à la cuillère de bois. Réduire le feu au minimum. Couvrir et cuire 18 minutes. Laisser reposer 5 minutes. Égrainer le riz à la fourchette.

Pour la viande
Entre-temps, dans une poêle antiadhésive à feu moyen-élevé, cuire la viande dans l’huile avec les épices en l’émiettant à l’aide d’une cuillère de bois de 6 à 8 minutes ou jusqu’à ce qu’elle soit bien dorée. Réserver au chaud.

Pour la salade de maïs
Dans un bol, mélanger tous les ingrédients. Saler et poivrer.

Dans des bols, répartir le riz, la viande et la salade de maïs. Garnir du fromage, de morceaux d’avocat prélevés à la cuillère et de crème sure. Arroser de jus de lime.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Strawberry Coconut Granola

I decided to make strawberry coconut granola from the Minimalist Baker because, in addition to looking tasty, it called for an ingredient I’d never thought to use in granola before: freeze-dried fruit. This was great! I had some on hand because I tried giving it to my kids as a snack, and they liked it. I used strawberries, as the recipe suggested, but this would also be a great use for freeze-dried bananas! I can’t eat banana chips anymore because I find them much too hard, but freeze-dried bananas have a much more pleasant consistency. I changed the recipe a bit to suit my taste and baked it at a lower temperature; the quantities below are mine.

3 cups rolled oats
1 ¾ cups raw nuts, roughly chopped (I like pecans and almonds)
4 Tbsp. coconut sugar (I used coarse maple sugar; brown sugar or muscovado would also do)
1 pinch sea salt
6 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
½ cup maple syrup (or agave nectar)
¾ cup unsweetened large flake or desiccated coconut (i.e., coconut chips)
1.2 oz. unsweetened freeze-dried strawberries

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Spray a roasting pan (or a large baking sheet or two) with non-stick spray.

Add oats, nuts, coconut sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

To a small saucepan, add coconut oil and maple syrup. Warm over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently until the two are totally combined and there is no visible separation.

Immediately pour over the dry ingredients and stir to combine until all oats and nuts are thoroughly coated. Arrange on the roasting pan and spread into an even layer

Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Then remove from oven, add coconut, and stir/toss the granola again. Bake 5-8 minutes more. Watch carefully as to not burn, especially the coconut. You'll know it's done when the granola is deep golden brown and very fragrant.

Let cool completely before adding the strawberries. Toss to combine. I like to eat it with lactose-free milk or yogurt for breakfast, but you could also add sliced bananas, or use it as an ice cream topping.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Plush Coconut Cake

This recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. “Plush” truly is the best way to describe this vegan coconut cake! It was absolutely delicious, and the texture was remarkable. It would also be a great base for a confetti cake. I would recommend topping it with something, like large white confetti sprinkles or coconut flakes, because even though I followed the recipe to a T, the glaze eventually gave it a “wrinkled fabric” look that wasn’t the most appetizing thing (but, again, it tasted fantastic).

Last time I went to the grocery store, they were out of many ingredients, including eggs and coconut milk. You don’t need eggs for this cake, but the coconut milk is pretty much non-negotiable. If you don’t have a can of it in your pantry, consider buying coconut milk powder (like this) to tide you over.

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp. (285 g.) all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup (200 g.) granulated sugar
½ cup (110 g.) coconut oil, warmed just enough to liquefy
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk, divided
1 Tbsp. plain vinegar
¾ cup powdered sugar, for the glaze

Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line the bottom of 9-inch round cake pan with a fitted round of parchment paper and coat the bottoms and sides with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Add coconut oil, 1 ½ cups coconut milk, and vinegar and whisk until batter is smooth.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30, or until the top is springy and a tester inserted in the center comes out batter-free. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then cut around it with a knife to ensure it is loosened and flip it out onto a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way.

Whisk together ¾ cup powdered sugar with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the leftover coconut milk, adding a little at a time, until it is smooth but not too runny. Add a pinch of salt, if you wish. Once cake is fully cool, spread over the top of the cake and smooth to the edges with a knife or small offset spatula, where it will find its way down the sides decoratively on its own.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pita Chip Salad

This dish was created by Deb Perelman for Bon Appétit. In her column, she admits that if she were to just call this “warm winter vegetable salad with halloumi”, it would not be appealing to kids. But pita chip salad? It certainly worked to bring my kids to the table! I had also been meaning to try halloumi cheese for a long time, and when I found some at the store, I confirmed that it had 0 g of sugar (just check the nutrition label, because some brands might be a bit different), which means it is lactose-free. Hurrah! Halloumi grills beautifully, though I didn’t leave it in the oven quite long enough (I didn’t want to risk charring the vegetables or making the pita too crisp). Maybe I should have set the oven to broil instead of just letting it bake longer? Anyway, I liked halloumi. It was salty, and much squeakier than I had expected.

I had decided to increase the quantities of this dish to have enough for two nights, but in hindsight, I should have left them as is. It’s best eaten the-night-of, though it reheats well in the oven (20 minutes at 350 °F did the trick for me). The amounts below should make 4 servings, but keep in mind that kids might eat less. Don’t hesitate to bulk it up with pita or with a vegetable that you know your kids like. I didn’t split my pita into 2 layers because it was absolutely impossible to do without tearing it apart completely; I had 5 medium rounds of pita bread instead of 1 large one, which felt like just enough for my increased quantities (i.e., most of a smallish cabbage, ¾ of a squash, and 16 oz. of halloumi, all on 2 baking sheets instead of 1).

5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Aleppo pepper (I used 1 generous pinch of Korean pepper)
½ small head of red cabbage (about 10 oz.), cut into 1” pieces
1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges through root end (I prefer to cut off the root end)
1 ½ lbs. winter squash, preferably delicata, halved, seeded, sliced crosswise ½” thick
1 large pita bread (or more, see note above), split into 2 layers, cut or torn into 1 ½” – 2” pieces
8 oz. halloumi cheese, cut into 1” pieces
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp. ground sumac
mint sprigs, for serving (I made a chiffonade)

Preheat oven to 425 °F. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil (I also lined it with parchment paper).

Mix garlic, salt, Aleppo pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add cabbage, onion, and squash and toss to coat. Spread out n prepared baking sheet (keep the bowl handy) and roast until squash is browned underneath, 25-30 minutes (I flipped them over at the 15-minute mark).

Toss pita, halloumi, and remaining tablespoon of oil in the reserved bowl. Scatter over vegetables, then turn vegetables over with a large spatula. Roast until squash is fork-tender and cabbage, onion, pita, and halloumi are browned in spots (cheese should be soft inside), 15-20 minutes (I only left them in for 10 minutes, so perhaps a bit longer would have been better). Remove from oven and drizzle with cider vinegar. Top with sumac and mint.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Nutella Muffins

When I saw the second photo on this list of ideas for breakfast on Christmas morning, I just knew I had to make Nutella muffins. I used the basic muffin recipe they recommended, but doubled it because despite their instructions, I knew that 1 cup of flour wouldn’t give me 12 muffins. The result was ugly (they spread too much), but delicious, so I decided to use another base.

After some searching, I settled on these doughnut muffins, omitting the nutmeg and topping them with cinnamon sugar. Here is the result.

Note that when we’re speaking of 1 tablespoon of Nutella in a muffin, the quantity of lactose is tolerable for me. Of course, feel free to use your favorite lactose-free chocolate spread (such as Chocolate Soom, which is also nut-free) or make your own (like this one). I used my smallest cookie scoop to portion tablespoons of dough in each muffin; a regular size jar of Nutella gives you enough for 24 muffins.

2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
scant 1 tsp salt
¾ cup plus 1 Tbsp lactose-free milk
2 Tbsp buttermilk (or lactose-free milk with a dash of lemon juice)
1 ½ sticks (6 oz) lactose-free butter at room temperature (or cold margarine)
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
12 Tbsp Nutella (or lactose-free chocolate spread)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F and set a rack to the middle position. Spray a standard-size muffin tin with cooking spray.

Mix the 2 Tbsp sugar with the cinnamon and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to mix them thoroughly. Set aside.

Combine the milk and the buttermilk in a measuring cup, and set aside.

Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for a few seconds, until the butter is soft and creamy. With the motor running, add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the mixture increases in volume and lightens to pale yellow. It should look light, fluffy, and wonderfully creamy, like frosting. This could take a couple of minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are just combined.

With a wooden spoon, mix ¼ of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture. Continue to add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry. Mix until the dough is smooth and well combined, but do not overmix.

Fill each muffin cup about halfway with batter. Add a tablespoon of Nutella, then fill the rest of the way with batter. Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the reserved cinnamon sugar. Bake until the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Vegan Cashew Chocolate Pudding

I started writing this post last week, and haven’t had much time to get anything done since then. It’s mind-boggling how quickly life has changed here. I’ve been to the grocery store a few times since our school district announced the schools would close for a while. Some people have masks and gloves, but others are coming so close to strangers that it’s clear social distancing is not a priority for them. We’re tenser than usual about our kids not touching anything or coughing into their elbows or washing their hands properly. And there are rows upon rows of empty shelves, enough that I’m sure we all have to change part of the menus we had planned out for the week – no roast chicken or dal for me – but there’s still enough food that no one is going to starve. We’re fortunate that the Engineer still has his job and can teach remotely; as for me, even though I offer a virtual organizing service (no physical proximity!), it’s much less popular than being there in person. And my two kids are home anyway.

I’m still going to post recipes, though, because life goes on. And while I anticipate the next few weeks to be hard, especially if they stretch into months, I know that this isn’t the new normal just yet, it’s a transition phase. And maybe you want comfort food. This recipe is from Minimalist Baker; it’s a protein-rich chocolate pudding that can be made with either cashews or black beans. I’m not sure whether there were any cashews left in the store a few days ago, but I did see black beans, so this is doable if you have the other ingredients on hand – I typically do.

The version with black beans is lower in fat and higher in protein, but is said to have a grainier texture than the one made with cashew cream, so I opted for the latter at the time (otherwise, replace cashews with an equal volume of cooked and rinsed black beans, but don’t soak them). I didn’t have dates on hand, so I used more maple syrup, but it still wasn’t overly sweet – the version below is mine, scaled to make 8 generous servings (you can of course halve it if you wish). Everyone liked it; as a matter of fact, the Engineer loved the taste, though he found the texture a bit too grainy. I therefore recommend soaking the cashews overnight, as opposed to pouring boiling water on them. I’ve never tried a side-by-side comparison, but since the boiling water is supposed to be a slapdash solution if you’re in a rush, I figure an overnight soak is better.

4 scant cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
12 Tbsp. unsweetened almond milk or light coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ cups maple syrup (you can start with 1 cup if you’re afraid this is too much)
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 Tbsp. melted coconut oil

Rinse and drain the soaked cashews thoroughly. Put them in a blender along with the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add more almond milk or coconut milk if it has trouble blending, but add only as much as is necessary to help it blend. You want it pretty thick! Taste and adjust sweetness as needed by adding maple syrup as necessary.

Scoop pudding into serving containers and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator until cold and thickened, at least 2-3 hours.

You can serve the puddings plain, or topped with fruit and/or coconut whipped cream.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Crack sauce, a.k.a. tamarind-cashew sauce

I rarely make my own sauces. I think I don’t eat much meat that would call for gravy (even on Thanksgiving, there’s a 50-50 chance I’ll bother making it), and I usually think it’s not worth the hassle to make one’s own ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc. Every once in a while, someone will say they have *the best* recipe, but that can be a let-down (like this South-Carolina style mustard barbecue sauce, which was surprisingly spicy and not AT ALL what I like eating).

However, one sauce that I couldn’t get out of my head is the Cheesecake Factory’s tamarind-cashew dipping sauce, a.k.a. crack sauce – it’s that good. It’s been a very long time since I’ve been there, though; I think I was still pregnant with the Fox? And there is always such a crowd that I don’t find it pleasant to go there with kids. I decided to look online for copycat recipes, then eliminated a lot of them from the get-go for a simple reason: while they had tamarind and cashews, they did not have any herbs, but the sauce I want is bright green with cilantro. I did find this one that seemed to fit the bill, so I tried it. I changed it a tiny bit, using tamarind concentrate paste instead of fresh tamarind, and using ½ tsp. of black pepper instead of 1 tsp. Ladies and gentlemen, this is it. Crack sauce – which, because I have kids, I might have to call by its proper name. Or maybe green sauce, since it’s Saint Patrick’s Day and all. It is fantastic! It is just as good as the original, and relatively easy to make at home – the hardest part will be deciding how often to make it!

It keeps well in a sealed jar in the fridge for a week, maybe up to two if you can refrain from eating leftovers that long. I served it first with a simple salad of cantaloupe, red bell pepper, and a bit of red onion (like this one), then later with a burrito bowl (recipe to come). It’s great as a dressing or a dip.

¼ cup chopped cashews
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, quartered
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
½ cup honey
4 tsp. white vinegar
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. tamarind concentrate paste
1 pinch ground saffron
¼ cup olive oil

Combine the cashews, cilantro, garlic, green onions, sugar, black pepper, and cumin in a food processor (I used my blender). Blend with short bursts until the mixture is well blended, and the cashews and garlic have been chopped into pieces about half the size of a grain of rice.

Combine the honey, white vinegar, balsamic vinegar, tamarind, and saffron in a small bowl. Heat the mixture for about 1 minute in a microwave, then stir until tamarind paste dissolves completely. (I did this in a small saucepan over low heat.)

Pour mixture into the food processor and mix with cashew mixture for about 20 seconds. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Batch of links

- Nutrition labels are about to change! The FDA’s new requirements are outlined here. The new labels, which most products should have by 2021, will distinguish different types of fats, will show the percentage of calories from added sugar specifically, and will update serving sizes as well as daily nutrient requirements. I’m most excited about added sugars because I’m hoping this will help me identify whether some products (yogurts come to mind) have either lactose or other types of sugar, in addition to limiting foods that I deem less healthy.

- I really enjoyed this article in Bon Appétit about how there’s an entire industry dedicated to making foods crispy.

- The same issue had an awesome spread on tacos, including recipes for duck carnitas tacos with radish escabeche and goat birria tacos with cucumber pico de gallo (I’d love to eat those, but I just don’t see myself buying a 10-lb goat leg).

- You can now get an 11-layer Christmas dinner in a can, complete with chocolate cake, but why would you want to?

- A neat video about how Trader Joe’s gets you hooked. So true.

- Had you heard that the average human temperature isn’t 98.6 °F anymore? It seems to be about a degree lower now, so that a “normal” read might actually be a fever. I don’t know if/when regular protocols will be updated, though.

- I talked about the importance of recognizing names last time, so I both enjoyed and was upset by this article titled Ottawa man caught in a 2-year tussle over birth name. This is essentially a case of discrimination, with the Government of Canada refusing to recognize French-Catholic tradition that has been in place in the country for hundreds of years.

- Why is it so difficult to get new glasses or contact lenses in the U.S.? This was eye-opening (pardon the pun).

- Finally, I’m all for voters being more informed, which is why I really appreciate Chris Evans’s newest project, A Starting Point. There was an article about it in Wired recently; in essence, Evans, along with partners Mark Kassen and Joe Kiani, are putting together a website where politicians have one minute to answer questions and explain their point of view on various topics. This includes politicians from all over the spectrum, and their answers are fact-checked before going online. That being said, I can see potential flaws with this idea, as this Daily Beast article was quick to point out. The site goes live March 14th, and I hope it works as planned.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Everyday Chocolate Cake

One day, not very long ago, I found myself without a dessert. I had poorly planned my weekly menu (which hardly ever happens), so I needed to come up with something on the fly, with the ingredients I had on hand. A quick look through my bookmarked recipes turned up Cook’s Illustrated’s best easy chocolate cake, which was absolutely perfect! It was indeed super easy to make, and I didn’t need to run out to the store for anything. Best of all, it was delicious! Even better than another everyday chocolate cake I had tried previously. (If you want a gluten-free version, you could probably just swap the wheat flour with a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend, though I haven’t tried it. I can, however, vouch for this gluten-free fudge cake by A Girl Defloured, who’s got a great name for her blog!)

1 ½ cups (7.5 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup (7 oz.) sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. table salt
½ cup (2 oz.) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Ghiradelli 60%)
1 cup black coffee, hot
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
confectioners’ sugar or lactose-free whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 °F. Lightly spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (or grease it your preferred way).

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine cocoa and chocolate; pour hot coffee over cocoa mixture and whisk until smooth; let cool slightly. Whisk in mayonnaise, egg, and vanilla. Stir mayonnaise mixture into flour mixture until combined.

Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Let cool in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, cut into squares, and serve straight from the pan. Alternatively, you can invert the pan onto a plate, then invert again onto a serving platter, and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Friday, March 06, 2020

Nutella Cheesecake

I saw a recipe for Nigella Lawson’s Nutella cheesecake, but I wasn’t sure I could digest Nutella properly in large quantities, given that there’s a lot of milk powder in there. Not to mention all the sugar! This reminded me that it’s been a while since I made my own chocolate spread (I almost always have a jar of chocolate Soom on hand, though!). I decided to make this Paleo version, strictly because it didn’t call for roasting and peeling hazelnuts. You can argue that hazelnuts taste better roasted than raw, and I’d agree, but I didn’t want to overcomplicate my life. It’s sweetened with maple syrup instead of cane sugar and it is dairy-free. The recipe below is my version, which is sweeter than the original, but still not too sweet, I promise. The yield is about 1 cup, or roughly 450 g.

So I made it, I used most of it for the cheesecake recipe below, had a bit of it on toast (and more straight from the spoon), and I really recommend it. As for the cheesecake: it is meant to be a raw cheesecake, so the crust isn’t baked. In my opinion, this makes it crumble too much, so I would make a standard baked version next time. That being said, it calls for digestive biscuits (which I LOVE!) instead of graham crackers, and I wonder why I had never thought of that before! Nigella Lawson said about his recipe, “I don’t know if I should apologise for this or boast about it", and I’d say it’s definitely the second one. Note, however, than my cheesecake wasn’t as sweet as hers, given my homemade chocolate spread instead of the Nutella. Nevertheless, it was fantastic, and I’ll definitely be making this again! (Also, while the cake does look better with chopped hazelnuts on top, I prefer the consistency without them. And of course you could omit them and use nut-free chocolate spread to make a nut-free version of this cake.)

For the chocolate spread
2/3 cup hazelnuts
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup cacao powder
½ cup coconut oil
2/3 cup maple syrup

Soak the hazelnuts in water overnight, then drain and rinse well.

Put hazelnuts in a high-speed blender (I used my Vitamix) or food processor and blend until smooth, then add salt and pulse to combine. Add cacao powder and coconut oil and blend to combine, scraping down sides of jar as needed. Add maple syrup and blend to form a paste. If the mixture were to separate, just add warm water, 1 tablespoon at a time, while blender is running to bring mixture back together.

Place the chocolate spread in a jar. You can refrigerate it for up to 2 weeks, but I preferred its consistency at room temperature, and since I was using it within several days, this was not a problem.

For the chocolate cheesecake
250 g. (one 8.8-oz package) digestive biscuits, or substitute graham crackers or chocolate wafers
75 g. (5 Tbsp. + 1 tsp.) lactose-free butter or margarine, at room temperature or melted (see below)
400 g. (one 375-g. jar is fine) Nutella or chocolate spread, at room temperature, divided
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped, divided (optional, see below)
500 g. (two 8-oz. packages is fine) lactose-free cream cheese, at room temperature
60 g. (½ cup) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For a raw crust, break the digestives in the bowl of a food processor, add the softened butter and a tablespoon of Nutella, and blitz until it starts to clump. Add 25 g. (3 tablespoons) of the hazelnuts and continue to pulse until you have a damp, sandy mixture. Tip into a 9-inch round springform pan and press into the base uniformly (I like using the bottom of a glass for this). Place in the fridge to chill.
Alternatively, if you want to bake the crust, use melted butter and bake the crust at 350 °F for 10 minutes, then let cool before proceeding with the rest of the cake. I don’t think it would make much difference consistency-wise if you omitted the hazelnuts here.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Add the remaining Nutella to the cream cheese mixture and continue beating until combined.

Carefully smooth the Nutella mixture over the base. Scatter the remaining chopped hazelnuts on top (if desired, obviously) and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve straight from the fridge for best results.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Rôti de bœuf « crisse & cook »

Les « crisse & cook », vous connaissez? J’ai appris ce terme charmant dans La Presse + et je dois avouer que j’aime éperdument ce néologisme! En gros, on passe quelques minutes (idéalement) ou un peu plus à préparer le plat, puis on le crisse au four pour qu’il y cuise quelques heures, et voilà, le tour est joué! Me semble qu’un rôti de bœuf cuit comme ça, c’est parfait pour une soirée d’hiver. J’ai donc fait une des recettes publiées dans La Presse +, le rôti de palette aux échalotes.

Puisque je cuisinais pour les enfants aussi, j’ai utilisé un vin rouge sans alcool de FRE – je n’ai jamais apprécié le vin de toute façon, alors je ne saurais pas vous dire s’il était bon, mais il n’était pas cher alors pour faire de la cuisson, c’était parfait. C’est le genre de recette qui fait beaucoup de restes, que j’ai mis au congélateur pour une autre fois; je vois ça comme une très bonne chose, moi. J’ai servi le rôti avec de la purée de pommes de terre. Si vous le ressortez du congélateur (et que, donc, votre four est libre pour faire un plat d’accompagnement), je recommande le gratin de pommes de terre et fondue d’oignons de Ricardo (j’ai fait une demi-recette, puisque nous ne sommes que quatre).

1 rôti de palette de bonne taille (le mien devait faire 3 livres)
échalotes françaises (une bonne vingtaine)
7 ou 8 gousses d’ail
1 tasse de sauce demi-glace
1 bouteille de merlot
épices à bifteck (si vous avez celles de Joe Beef ou de Schwartz’s, c’est encore mieux)
sel, poivre, beurre sans lactose, huile d’olive

Préchauffer le four à 300 °F.

Éplucher les échalotes et les gousses d’ail et les laisser entières. Frotter le rôti de palette généreusement avec les épices à bifteck, des deux côtés.

Sur la cuisinière, dans une cocotte qui ira au four, faire fondre le beurre dans l’huile. Faire suer les échalotes et l’ail. Réserver.

Saisir dans la même cocotte le rôti de palette des deux côtés pendant 3 minutes. Réserver.

Remettre les échalotes et l’ail dans la cocotte, et déglacer avec le vin. Laisser réduire 5 minutes. Ajouter la sauce demi-glace, le thym, le romarin et le rôti de palette. La viande doit être juste recouverte du liquide.

Couvrir et cuire au four trois heures, ou jusqu’à ce que le liquide soit devenu une sauce.