Monday, May 23, 2022

Layered Crêpe Torte


This crêpe cake from Scharffen Berger is based on sachertorte, with chocolate and apricot jam. Luckily, I was making this ahead of time, which allowed me to course-correct. 

The original ratio of milk-to-flour was too high; it took me 3 crêpes in 2 different pans to confirm, but indeed, once I added more flour, I had no more problems. The amounts below are mine. 

The Engineer would have liked it better without any nuts, but I am not sure that the filling would have had enough substance at that point. The kids were okay with the whole thing, but it wasn’t their favorite. I think that this summer, I will try a version of a crêpe cake with a mixture of whipped cream and Nutella as filling. If they don’t like it, I’ll stop making it, because right now, it feels a bit like casting pearls before swine! 

For the crêpes 
3 large eggs 
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour 
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar 
½ tsp. salt 
3 cups lactose-free whole milk 
1 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, melted, plus more for the pans and foil 
1 18-oz.-jar of apricot jam (I used two-thirds of a 13-oz. jar) 
4 oz. finely grated bittersweet (62%) chocolate 
½ cup ground pecans 
¼ cup granulated sugar 

For the chocolate sauce 
6 Tbsp. brown sugar 
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar 
½ cup cocoa 
1 pinch salt 
½ cup water 
½ tsp. vanilla 

For the crêpes 
Place the eggs in a large bowl, add about one-third of the flour, and whisk to combine. Whisk in the remaining flour, the sugar, and salt. Carefully whisk in about one-quarter of the milk (it will tend to splatter), then gradually whisk in the remaining milk. Whisk in 1 tablespoon butter. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. 

Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Brush on a coating of butter and let it sizzle. Lift the pan from the heat and ladle in 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of the batter (I used more). Shake and rotate the pan to spread the batter in an even layer. Return the skillet to the heat. Fill in any holes in the crêpe with a bit more batter. Cook the crêpe for about 1 minute, or until the bottom is set and golden brown. Lift an edge of the crêpe with a heatproof spatula and quickly flip the crêpe. Cook the second side for about 5 seconds to set and lightly brown. Slide the crepe onto a plate, and cook the remaining crepes, stacking them on the plate. Use immediately or, to freeze the crepes, place a piece of waxed paper between each crepe, then wrap the stack tightly in plastic wrap. 

For the chocolate sauce 
In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugars, cocoa, and salt. Add the water and gently whisk everything together. Turn on the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil while stirring; then lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sugars have dissolved and the mixture has thickened. Let cool, then transfer to a glass jar. 

For assembly 
Remove the lid from the jar of jam, place the jar in the microwave, and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and continue to heat until the jam is melted or heat the jam in a saucepan over medium heat until softened. Strain the jam into a small bowl. 

Preheat the oven to 325 °F. Lightly butter a 9- or l0-inch pie plate or deep ovenproof serving dish (I used an 8” springform pan and lined the outside with aluminum foil). Tear off a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the dish and butter it on one side. 

In a small bowl, mix together the chocolate, pecans and sugar. Place a crêpe in the center of the pie plate. Spread a scant tablespoon of jam over the crepe and sprinkle with about 1 tablespoon of the chocolate mixture. Top with another crêpe and continue to stack and fill the crêpes until all of them are used, leaving the top one plain. (At this point, the torte can be wrapped tightly and refrigerated for 1 day or frozen for up to 1 month. Defrost before baking.) 

Cover the torte with the aluminum foil (buttered side down) and place in the oven. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until heated throughout. The filling will bubble around the edges. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes. 

Cut into wedges and serve with the chocolate sauce.

Another batch of small knitting projects

I knit a bunch of small projects in the past 6 months. Right before the holidays, I made this Yngrid Cardigan with, I believe, leftover Malabrigo Rios Yarn in Teal Feather. The cardigan pattern is free; it’s worked seamlessly from the bottom up, with a pretty eyelet detail and ribbed edges. I would have preferred a top-down pattern, but I’m still really happy with how it turned out. The buttons were from Etsy

To round out the kit, I made another Simply Fair Isle Hat with scrap yarn (I think it was from the robot sweater). 

Over the holidays, I promised the Fox to make him his own scarf. So as soon as we were back home, I had him choose colors from my stash; he picked blue and red yarn, so I knit him a small striped scarf until I ran out of red. 

Then I went back to my pink-purple-blue yarn from my adventure in dyeing and decided to make the Staghorn Mitts by Madelinetosh. I actually liked the pattern very much, and I think the mitts would have been great with a solid or slightly variegated yarn, but given the way I had dyed my yarn, it effectively became self-striping, which is not what I was going for. Then of course once the stitch count changed a bit, with increases for the thumb gusset that was eventually left on a stitch holder, the color pattern changed, and the overall look did not please me. 

So I frogged the mitt and used doubled-up yarn to make another headband, which is now in my Etsy shop. The color pattern is much more pleasing to me this way! 

My friends the Actor and his Leading Lady had a third child, so I made them a Boy Sweater with Malabrigo Rios Yarn in Reflecting Pool. Despite the name, the sweater pattern is definitely unisex! It comes in sizes ranging from 3mo to 8yo – this looks great on older kids, too! It has a shawl collar with buttons, and a twisted rib detail that I loved making. Plus, it’s knit seamlessly from the top down – what’s not to love? I used buttons from Etsy

Finally, another set of friends had their first baby. (I think there is literally one more couple in my social circle that may or may not have kids, maybe two couples, so it’s probable that the baby knitting is coming to an end soon!) For their little girl, I decided to make the Magnolia Mini sweater with HiKoo Sueno Yarn in Bashful. This yarn is soft a blend of superwash merino and bamboo viscose and it was great to work with! I made a few modifications to the sweater pattern: as you can see from the first photo, following directions was going to give me what looked more like a dress than a sweater! I frogged it up to the armpits and just started the flower design much sooner. I also switched to smaller needles on row 16 of the detailed stitches, roughly halfway down the design, and I liked the look of it a lot more. My sleeves are not as I expected, because on the pattern photos, the sleeves look like they are a bit puffy above the cuff – not only are mine not like that, but the pattern actually calls for another of those flower designs on them. I mean, they look perfectly fine, just not what I expected. At least it’s a cute sweater!

Friday, May 20, 2022

Raspberry Ripple Buckwheat Porridge


This porridge is a bit like overnight oats in that the buckwheat has to soak overnight. I’m not a big fan of overnight oats, but hear me out! In overnight oats, the texture is all wrong for oatmeal, plus it’s cold, and that makes it unpleasant to me. This buckwheat, however, is then mixed in a high-powered blender, which makes it smooth and takes off the chill. Win-win! Of course, if you use frozen fruit, it’ll be cold, but at that point it’s more like a smoothie bowl than a porridge, so the cold doesn’t bother me in that context. This breakfast was both beautiful and delicious! I got 2 generous servings. 

For the porridge 
1 cup buckwheat groats, soaked overnight 
1 Tbsp. acidic medium, such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar 
3 Tbsp. hemp seeds 
½ cup lactose-free milk of your choice or water 
1 frozen banana 
1 Tbsp. bee pollen (optional: I didn’t use it), plus more for garnish 
juice of ½ lemon 
½ tsp. ground cardamom 
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped 

For the raspberry ripple 
3 cups (275 g) raspberries (fresh or frozen, organic if possible) 
1 Tbsp. maple syrup 

Cover buckwheat with warm water and one tablespoon of the acidic medium of your choice. Let sit overnight. The next morning, drain and rinse very well. (The buckwheat may look gooey, and this is normal.) 

In a blender, food processor, or high-speed blender (this works the best), blend the raspberries and maple syrup until they are liquid. Spoon out about 3-4 tablespoons worth of purée (I kept more) and set aside. 

Without removing the remaining raspberry purée or cleaning the machine, add in the drained and rinsed buckwheat groats, and all other ingredients. Blend on highest setting until desired consistency is reached (I like mine rather smooth, but some may like a little tooth to it). Season and sweeten to taste. 

To assemble, spoon some of the buckwheat porridge into a bowl and swirl with about a tablespoon of the raspberry purée per portion (I used more), and sprinkle with bee pollen. To make a fancy presentation, use a glass, such as a tumbler. Layer the porridge and raspberry purée, then drag a spoon up the side of the glass, swirling the two shades of pink together. Garnish with bee pollen and a raspberry. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to two days.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Low-Carb Enchiladas


A while back, I tried making a simple chicken enchilada casserole with low-carb tortillas. I thought it was really good, albeit not photogenic at all, but the kids didn’t like it. (The Little Prince currently does not like melted cheese, unless it’s on a pizza, and I’m having trouble dealing with that.) 

Then, for my own lunch, I decided to make another version of low-carb enchiladas, one with egg instead of tortillas. I adapted it a bit to what I had on hand (using marinara sauce instead of enchilada sauce, and lactose-free mozzarella instead of Monterey Jack). Honestly, the process of making the omelets felt daunting before I started, but once it was done, I realized it had been surprisingly painless and easy! I got 7 tortillas and had leftover filling and sauce, so next time I’d use an 8”x11” pan. I also think that you could omit the bacon for a vegetarian version and it would still be great. 

This was absolutely delicious! I really loved eating my lunches that week. This made about 4 servings. 

8 large eggs 
¼ cup lactose-free milk 
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper 
4 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, divided 
6 slices bacon, chopped 
2 cups baby spinach 
1 ½ cups black beans 
1 cup quartered cherry tomatoes 
½ cup enchilada sauce 
½ cup shredded lactose-free cheddar cheese 
½ cup shredded Monterey Jack (I used lactose-free mozzarella) 
cilantro, for serving 
chopped avocado, for serving 
pico de gallo, for serving 

Preheat oven to 350 °F and grease a square baking pan (see note above) with cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until very frothy. Season mixture with salt and pepper. 

In a small or medium nonstick pan over medium heat, melt about a ½ tablespoon of butter. Add about ¼ cup of egg mixture and swirl pan. Cover with a lid and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the eggs are set in the middle. Remove from heat and repeat, adding more butter as necessary. Set aside. 

In a medium skillet over medium heat (I used the same pan as before), cook bacon. Remove bacon pieces from skillet and drain most of fat, leaving about 2 tablespoons of bacon fat. Add spinach, black beans, and cherry tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

On a cutting board, lay out one egg tortilla. Top center with spinach filling and bacon, then roll up tightly. Repeat with other tortillas and filling. 

Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce in baking pan. Add enchiladas in a single layer. Drizzle more sauce on top, then top with cheddar and Monterey Jack. Bake until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. 

Garnish with cilantro, chopped avocado, and pico de gallo. Serve warm.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Poppy Seed Tahini Dressing


I made vegan meatloaf and served it with roasted root vegetables and a poppy seed tahini dressing. I chose vegetables that I like, but I made the dressing as is, and it blew me away! I really recommend it. I used the last of it on a salad later in the week. 

For the dressing 
1 small clove garlic, finely grated (preferably on a microplane) 
½ tsp. kosher salt, divided 
½ tsp. lemon zest + 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon) 
2 Tbsp. well-stirred tahini 
1 Tbsp. olive oil 
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped 
2 tsp. poppy seeds 

Stir together garlic and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl (I used a jar). Mash with a fork until a paste forms. Add lemon zest and juice, tahini, and olive oil, whisking until smooth. Stir in parsley, poppy seeds, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water until dressing reaches desired pourable consistency.

Vegan Meatloaf

One of the dishes that my kids typically like is meatloaf, but since I try to not eat meat every day, I figured I’d make vegan meatloaf. It is topped with ketchup and barbecue sauce, which help give it the familiar taste of meatloaf, but it’s full of vegetables and legumes. It wasn’t exactly the same as regular meatloaf, of course, but it was good! 

I served it with roasted root vegetables and a poppy seed tahini dressing

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil 
½ yellow onion, finely chopped 
2 stalks celery, finely chopped 
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped 
1 cup finely chopped baby bella mushrooms 
2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed 
1 cup panko bread crumbs 
¼ cup freshly chopped parsley, plus more for garnish 
2 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce 
1 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce 
¼ cup ketchup 
¼ cup barbecue sauce 
½ tsp. smoked paprika 
kosher salt 
freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat oven to 375 °F and line an 5"-x-8" loaf pan with parchment paper. 

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion, celery, carrot, and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and most of the liquid has cooked out, 6 to 8 minutes. 

Using a potato masher in a large bowl or food processor, mash the chickpeas until a rough paste forms. (A few large pieces of chickpea are OK.) Transfer to a large bowl if using a food processor. 

Add cooked vegetables, bread crumbs, parsley, soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce to the bowl with chickpeas. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup and barbecue sauce. Add half of this mixture to the bowl with the chickpeas. Season with paprika, salt, and pepper, and stir until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. 

Transfer chickpea mixture to prepared loaf pan, packing the mixture in gently. Smooth top, then brush with half of the remaining ketchup mixture and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, brush with remaining ketchup mixture, and bake 30 minutes more. 

Let cool 10 minutes, then garnish with parsley and serve.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Curry Rice Vermicelli


I was really drawn to this noodle dish by Hetty McKinnon, but it took me a while to get around to making it. It’s a great vegetarian dish and was not hard to make. I really liked it; the Engineer gave it 5 stars; the Little Prince mostly liked the eggs; the Fox liked the noodles. So there’s something in there for everyone, I guess! The amounts below give 4 servings; you can’t double the recipe as is, because it won’t all fit in a wok, but what I did was double the vegetables and eggs, then cook noodles on the first night and cook some more on the second night while warming up the vegetables and eggs. 

Note that I didn’t get the noodles quite as silky as I should have, in part because I ran out of curry and reduced the oil accordingly, and in part because it was hard to toss all those noodles in the curry sauce properly! I need to work on my technique, but I still really liked this dish. 

8 oz. rice vermicelli 
3 eggs 
1 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided 
6 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil, divided 
1 red onion, thinly sliced 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped 
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips 
1 orange or yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips 
2 Tbsp. curry powder 
3 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for serving (optional) 
sriracha or sambal olek, for serving (optional; I didn’t use it) 

Cook or soak noodles according to package directions for al dente. Drain. 

Combine eggs, 1 tablespoon water, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a small bowl; whisk well. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large cast-iron skillet or wok over medium-high. Pour in egg mixture and scramble until just set, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Break up eggs with a spoon and remove from pan; set aside. 

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same pan. Add onion and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and bell peppers; stir-fry until vegetables are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from pan. 

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in pan. Add curry powder and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cooked noodles in 2 batches, along with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and ½ teaspoon salt. (Toss first batch of noodles well, coating them thoroughly in curry, before adding second batch.) Let noodles crisp up here and there on bottom of pan for about 3 minutes. Return peppers and eggs to pan and toss. Remove from heat and add scallions. Serve topped with more scallions and hot sauce, if desired.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies


When I made this recipe, the ingredients only called for brown sugar, but the instructions called for mixing the “sugars” with the oil. The comments showed that I was not the only one to be confused by this! However, since I want fewer carbs, I decided to use only brown sugar. Based on the result, I figured that they had indeed forgotten to write in the white sugar, but it suited me just fine. Everyone here liked the cookies! 

Since then, the amount of granulated sugar has been added to the original recipe, so I’m adding it below. Note that I also added salt and reordered the ingredients a bit. I think I got something like 18 cookies? 

¾ cup pistachios 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
1 tsp. baking soda 
1 pinch kosher salt 
¾ cup packed brown sugar 
½ cup granulated sugar (see note above) 
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
2 large eggs 
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract 
5 oz. dark chocolate, roughly chopped (I used chocolate chips) 

Preheat oven to 350 °F with racks in the center and lower third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. 

In a food processor, pulse pistachios into fine crumbs. 

In a medium bowl, combine ground pistachios, flour, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large bowl, whisk sugars and oil for 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, whisking well after each addition, and whisk in vanilla. Add dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in chopped chocolate. 

Using a medium cookie scoop (about 2 tablespoons), scoop dough onto prepared baking sheets 2” apart. 

Bake until edges are just set and lightly golden, 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Easier Turkey Zucchini Burgers


Remember those turkey zucchini burgers I made a while back? I really liked them, but they had been a bit finicky, what with getting the amount of moisture right, adding yogurt, then breadcrumbs to compensate… Well, this recipe from Real Simple made things easier! There are fewer ingredients, with cumin and garlic powder for flavor. I doubled the recipe and got 11 patties, so the amounts below would have yielded more than 4 for me. These were really good! I used flat burger buns (I like them, but the Little Prince prefers regular ones), and served them with fries. 

1 medium zucchini, grated (1 ½ cups loosely packed) 
1 lb. 85% lean ground turkey 
1 large egg 
1 tsp. garlic powder 
1 tsp. ground cumin 
½ tsp. kosher salt 
canola oil (for grilling) 
4 burger buns (toasted if you wish) 
sliced tomatoes, Bibb lettuce, mayonnaise, honey mustard (and/or toppings of your choice) 

Place zucchini on a clean kitchen towel and wring out excess liquid. Stir squeezed zucchini, turkey, egg, garlic powder, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Divide mixture evenly into 4 portions (see above); form each into a ¾-inch-thick patty. 

Heat an oiled grill to medium or a greased grill pan over medium-high. Add patties and cook, flipping once, until a thermometer inserted in center of patties registers 165 °F, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Serve on buns with desired toppings.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Chocolate-Matcha Butter Mochi Cake


I made this chocolate-matcha butter mochi cake for Passover (because rice is kosher for Passover now, don’t @ me). 

I really liked the cake, though I felt like it was a bit too oily. It is based on traditional Hawaiian butter mochi cake – I’d never heard of it, which I take as a sign from the Universe that I need to spend more time in Hawaii! Based on this recipe, one could reduce the amount of butter to essentially use a ratio of about ½ cup of butter for the box of mochiko flour; in this recipe, I used half the box, so I’d try ¼ cup of butter in this cake next time. Mochiko is also called sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour (though it contains no gluten, only starches); it is NOT the same as white rice flour or brown rice flour, and you CANNOT substitute. 

Mochiko is really what gives this cake its special chewy texture, the same as in mochi. Also, while it is true that using fresh, ceremonial-grade matcha tea will give you a much brighter, vibrant green, I had an old bag of matcha in the pantry and wasn’t about to source a second one just for this, so a dull green will have to do. That being said, it was delicious, and I just loved the chewy texture! 

6 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, melted and slightly cooled (I’d use 4 Tbsp. next time) 
1 ½ cups (227 g) mochiko (sweet rice flour) 
1 tsp. baking powder (omit for Passover, obviously) 
½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or ¼ tsp. Morton kosher salt 
2 Tbsp. matcha, sifted, plus more for serving 
2 large eggs 
14 oz. lactose-free sweetened condensed milk (I used sweetened condensed coconut milk) 
1 tsp. vanilla extract 
1 1/3 cups lactose-free cream or substitute, divided 
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped 

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350 °F. Generously grease an 8"- or 9"-diameter cake pan (I used an 8” springform pan). 

Whisk mochiko, baking powder, salt, and 2 Tbsp. matcha in a large bowl just to combine. Vigorously whisk eggs and melted butter in a medium bowl until pale and emulsified, about 30 seconds. Add sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, and 1 cup cream and whisk until mixture is smooth. Scrape into dry ingredients and whisk vigorously until smooth and very thick. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth surface. 

Bake cake until it starts to pull away from sides of pan, top and edges are golden, and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–45 minutes (a cake in the smaller pan will take longer to bake than one in the larger pan – my cake took 45 minutes). Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool 5 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack; let cool completely. 

Place chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Bring remaining ⅓ cup cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Immediately pour over chocolate; let sit 15 seconds. Stir until ganache is smooth. 

Evenly pour ganache over top of cake. Using a small offset spatula or spoon, spread ganache to edges of cake (drips down the sides are encouraged!). Let sit until ganache is set, about 2 hours. (If you are in a hurry, you can chill the cake until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.) 

Just before serving, dust top of cake with more matcha with a fine-mesh sieve. 

(The cake and glaze can be made, separately, 2 days ahead. Store cake tightly wrapped in plastic at room temperature. Let glaze cool, then chill in an airtight container. Gently reheat glaze in the microwave or a double boiler over a pan of simmering water until just melted before using.)