Sunday, November 30, 2014

Best Christmas Recipes

Sucre à la crème or Maple Fudge:  A classic Quebec holiday recipe. This version by Ricardo is by far the best!

Joy of Baking Caramel Corn: This recipe is tricky but worth it.  Watch the video and follow the recipe.  You will make it every year.

Martha's Fig pinwheel cookies: These are my favorite cookies, and I am always reluctant to give them away.  I have made them every Christmas for 5 years straight. 

Classic Shortbread:  Canadian Living is where I turn when I want a good solid no fail recipe and this is one of them.

Fine cooking's Ginger Cake: is simply delicious.  The Fine Cooking picture accompanying this recipe does not present a very elegant dessert.  Try using a small bundt pan and finishing with icing sugar.

photo by Tiffany Rieder

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Vegetable Paté as a Main Dish for the Holidays

The ingredients list in this recipe is long, but every ingredient on the list is thrown together in a food processor and blended (which takes a minute at most). This paté has the unami flavor we all crave and is a satisfying recipe for vegans, vegetarians and carnivores. If you are receiving over the holidays make this recipe ahead of time for your vegetarian guests.

Vegetable Paté
yield: 2 loaves

  • 250 ml (1 cup) pumpkin seeds
  • 250 ml (1 cup) filtered water
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) spelt flour
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
  • 1 potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) soya or tamari sauce
  • 45 ml (3 tablespoons) sesame seeds
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) miso or vegemite
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) lemon juice
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dried thyme
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dried sage
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dried savory
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) dry mustard
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) salt
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground black pepper     

                                                                                                                                         Pre-heat oven to 175C (350F).  Lightly grease 2 loaf pans. In a food processor blend all the ingredients until only the smallest flecks of vegetables are visible. Divide mixture equally between 2 loaf pans. Cook until the centers are set, but still soft (about 1 hour). Let loaves cool down a little before gently removing from pans.  Serve a whole loaf warm as a main dish or divide the paté into slices, wrap and freeze for future use in sandwiches etc.  These loaves can also be frozen whole and warmed up in the oven. Try serving with a vegetarian mushroom gravy. 


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have had some bad gluten free baking in my life.  Particularly "bread".  There are, however, more and more recipes using real ingredients that result in delicious desserts that even those without gluten intolerance would choose over grain based desserts.

The following recipe is a keeper. There is no strange after taste or that something isn't right feeling in your mouth.  My kids, who are not gluten intolerant, happily ate these cookies without complaint.  They also held up well to being dunked in hot chocolate (the cookies, not my kids). Most importantly they taste good. A mix of coconut flour and tapioca flour seems to have provided the satisfying texture you want in a cookie. 

Christmas version: I would add peppermint extract in place of the vanilla and crushed candy canes instead of chocolate chips if I wanted to turn this recipe into a Christmas recipe.

 Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
 #40 scoop 24 ml (1 5/8 oz.)  or approximately a scant 2 tablespoons
yield: 10 large cookies
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) coconut flour
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) tapioca flour/starch
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) sugar
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) chocolate chocolate chips
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) butter, softened
  • 15 to 45 ml (1 to 3 tablespoons)
  • Pre-heat oven to 175C (350F). 
  • Add all the dry ingredients to a medium bowl, including the chocolate chips, and whisk to blend. Place the vanilla extract, eggs, vegetable oil, and butter in a blender.  Puree for 1 minute.  Add to the dry ingredients. Use a fork to blend. Add the water 15 ml (1 tablespoon) at a time until the dough starts to hold together.  Scoop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet and press each scoop down with a fork. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes or until cookies are golden around edges. Cool on a baking rack.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Montreal Steak Seasoning Recipe

Steak seasoning was a staple in the kitchen of my childhood.  However I became wary of preservatives and mystery ingredients as a young adult, and have never used steak spice in my own kitchen.  Recently I was given a mortar and pestle (pretty much the only kitchen tool I was missing), and have been twitching to grind my own spices and prepare various rubs and seasonings. 

I make  my own curry powder when I have time (preferably Jamaican curry powder). I use cumin seeds frequently and have been grinding seeds from a high quality pricey batch I bought at a health food store, a la minute, when I need it.  Yesterday I ground and mixed up a batch of Montreal Steak Seasoning for a recipe that called for it.  Here is a link to the Montreal Steak Seasoning recipe. Why Montreal steak spice and not just steak spice?  Well I consider myself a Montrealer, and quite frankly Montrealers do it better! Just ask Fairmout bagel.

I especially, and with irony, recommend this seasoning to vegans and vegetarians.  Montreal steak spice works well with grilled tofu, tempeh and vegetables (particularly portobella mushrooms).  It also livens up veggie burgers.  Many of us did not start out as vegetarians and this spice's flavor is reminiscent of a certain meatiness without the actual meat.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Banana Split Oatmeal Cookies

Frozen desserts are the staple of summer, but satiating portable snacks are still needed.  Once they have completely cooled I wrap them in plastic wrap, and throw them in a self sealing plastic bag and store them in the freezer.  I pop one in a lunch box in the morning, and within an hour they have come to room temperature and are perfect for snack time. 

Banana Split Oatmeal Cookies
14 large cookies
  • 560 ml (2 1/4 cups) old fashioned oats
  • 160 ml (2/3 cup) all purpose flour
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup) ground flax seeds
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 180 ml (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 250 ml (1 cup) brown sugar
  • 5 ml (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) dark chocolate chips
  • 80 ml (1/3 cup) banana chips, crushed
  • Sufficient quantity strawberry jam
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C (350 F).
  • Add oats, flour, ground flax, ground cinnamon and salt to a food processor. Process for 30 seconds to blend and to break down oats slightly. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar until well blended (3 to 5 minutes).  Scrap down the sides of bowl. Add egg and beat for 1 minute.  Add vanilla extract and beat for 30 seconds.  Add dry ingredients, and beat on low speed until just blended.  Add the chocolate chips and crushed banana chips and beat for just a few seconds to distribute the chips and pieces. 
  • Use a 60 ml (1/4 cup) scoop to measure out cookie dough.  Place cookies at least 5 cm (2 inches) apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a flat bottomed glass to flatten cookies slightly.  Press down lightly on center of each cookie to create a small well for jam.  Add a heaping teaspoon of strawberry jam to each cookie.  Bake in the center of oven for 12 to 15 minutes.  12 minutes for softer cookies, and up to 15 minutes for firmer cookies (or until golden around edges).  
Note: Firmer cookies hold up better in a lunch box.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Week Day Dessert

 Chocolate peanut butter spelt brownies

(Inspired by Ricardo's Nutella brownies)

  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) spelt flour
  • 1 ml (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) Nutella or other chocolate spread
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) crunchy natural peanut butter (or smooth + 2 tablespoons crushed peanuts)
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) butter, melted
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170C (325F). Line a 20 cm (8x8 inch) square cake pan with parchment paper.  Butter the 2 other sides.
  • Whisk together spelt flour and salt.
  • Beat eggs, chocolate spread, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract until smooth.
  • Add the butter and mix for 30 seconds.  Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake in the center of oven for 35-40 minutes until center is set, but not firm.  Let cool.  Remove from pan and cut into 9 squares.
Take it one step further: Microwave a brownie for 15 seconds (or until warm).  Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the brownie.  Drizzle with chocolate sauce, and finish with roughly chopped peanuts.