Sunday, February 26, 2017

Basic Bread Pudding (and Variations) #SundaySupper

Do you celebrate Pancake Day at home? Also called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, this Tuesday is traditionally all about eating rich, non-Lenten foods before Ash Wednesday kicks off Lent. Here, it's an excuse to have breakfast for dinner and dessert for brunch - take a look at the Sunday Supper site for more ideas on how to celebrate too. 

While pancakes, French toast and beignets are ridiculously delicious and 100% worthy of a Mardi Gras menu, when cooking for a crowd they usually result in the cook getting less-than-perfect eating at the end (nobody likes cold doughnuts!). My solution is simple, just as decadent and even more foolproof: bread pudding! By piling assorted bread objects into a dish and soaking them with a sweet egg and milk custard, the quintessential comfort (and flavour base) of French toast is embodied in it's casserole form. What makes bread pudding even better to me is it's openness to adaptation - change up the breads, add cocoa or peanut butter, stir in nuts, fruit, cheese or chocolate... anything goes! I've even made savoury bread pudding with pepperjack cheese, spinach and sundried tomatoes.

Double Coconut and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding


For example, this Double Coconut and Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding variation on the classic recipe was designed by three of my Grade 8 students in an "Iron Chef" style competition in Home Ec. It's made with leftover choux puffs, custard powder and EXTRA vanilla!

The recipe I'm giving you today is the bare bones of the equation - from here, add away, and use up all that gras this Mardi!    

Appetizers

 

Main Dishes

 

Sides

 

Desserts

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday!

We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

 

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement?

It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Lemon Poppyseed Biscotti - Two Ways (and an @InfinityJars review)

As a baker with an extensive, whole-foods based stock, I'm in a constant state of wondering if the seeds and grains I've purchased are still at their peak quality or if they're starting to go "off". My freezer is always packed to beyond bursting with various items, even more so now after we had a pantry moth issue that invaded almost everything. However, there is limited freezer space, and when it comes to times of year like the holidays it's at a premium. I was super-excited, therefore, to find an offer from a new-to-me line of storage solutions: Infinity Jars. They use a thick, deep purple glass to make their products, which helps to block the UV light that can cause things like spices and grains to break down and turn rancid, and they seal out the air as well.


What I thought was cool was that this technology isn't actually brand-new at all, but is actually from the ancient Egyptian era. While they kept their sacred oils and herbs in theirs, I decided to preserve two of my sacred objects in the ones I received: poppy seeds and freshly-ground lentil flour. According to the company, you can keep the jars out on the countertop without worrying about degredation from light, heat and moisture, and so far, so good! My only sticking points are the relatively small sizes of container available (they go up to 1 L), and the price - granted, this is a premium item and well worth the cost, but I would stick to a few jars that I keep my most often used seeds or freshly milled flours (or coffee!) in.

So, now that I could store my stuff at room temperature with zero quality compromise, what did I choose to do? Well, my decision was helped by the fact that my supply of poppy seeds didn't quite fit into the smaller container and I had just bought a large bag of lemons to make lemonade in my Home Ec class. Since I make quite good biscotti (if I say so myself), but still manage to fail at lemon poppyseed cake more often than not, my decision was settled. But why only make one batch if I could make two - one more-or-less standard, and the other a gluten free, vegan affair?

Lemon poppyseed biscotti is a light Tasting accompaniment to a strong coffee! #sweet #cooking #baking #food #vegetarian #lemon #cookies #biscotti


The traditional version of lemon-poppyseed biscotti were made bright and light with lots of lemon zest, lemon extract and lemon juice. Just enough poppy seeds dotted the slices to bring a hint of nuttiness that helped set off the sweet and sour elements, as well as a visual appeal of course.

Lemon Poppyseed Biscotti
Makes 10
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp non-dairy milk
1 large egg + 1 egg white, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp lemon extract
2 tsp lemon juice
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ tbsp lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sanding sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. Whisk together the oil, milk, egg, egg white, extracts, 2 tsp lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest until combined.
  3. Add the flours, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds and gently mix until combined.
  4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured baking sheet and, with floured hands, pat dough into a rectangle about ½" thick.
  5. Brush entire surface with 1 tbsp lemon juice and sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  6. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the top and sides of the slab are lightly browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
  8. Cut into 1" thick slices using a sharp knife.
  9. Set slices cut sides up on the baking sheet.
  10. Return to the oven to bake for 10 minutes.
  11. Flip, and bake the other side for 10 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet (cookies will become crunchy as they cool).

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 151.9
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 18.6 mg
Sodium: 15.6 mg
Total Carbs: 28.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 4.2 g
When I was scouting for Christmas cookie ideas a few months ago, I came across an idea for making these traditional cookies with besan - AKA chickpea flour. In addition to the poppyseeds, the delicate cookies get a hint of texture from rice grits and a tang from powdered citric acid. I used aquafaba to bind my biscotti, but flaxseed works too (as would a commercial egg replacer I bet).

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays

Lemon Poppyseed Besan Biscotti
Makes ~12
1 ¾ cups (210 grams) chickpea flour
⅔ cup Arrowhead Mills Rice and Shine Cereal Brown Rice Grits
1 tbsp lemon zest
¼ tsp citric acid (optional)
½ tbsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
¾ cup sugar 
½ cup aquafaba
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon extract
¼ cup poppy seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, grits, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, aquafaba, oil, and extracts until blended. Add the flour mixture and poppy seeds, stirring until blended (dough will be stiff).
  4. Divide the dough in half and place both halves on the prepared baking sheet. Using moistened hands, shape into two parallel rectangles, spaced about 3 inches apart.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and the centers are set. Let cool on the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes.
  6. Cut each rectangle crosswise into ½” slices. Place the slices flat, cut sides down, on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges are dark golden.
  7. Turn off the oven and cool inside 1 hour, then remove to the counter and cool completely on the pan

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 192.8
Total Fat: 7.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 9.1 mg
Total Carbs: 28.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 4.2 g

So, either way you slice it, a finger or two of a bright, sunny biscotti is a light tasting accompaniment to a strong coffee! 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Floral Grape and Lemon Focaccia

I've never been that skilled at making "pretty" flatbreads. I have no clue why this is, but rather than pans of perfect, evenly-dimpled focaccia, puffy naan, pocketed pitas and the like, mine are... well, ugly. I guess, if you wanted to be politically correct, you'd call them "rustic".

Floral Grape and Lemon Focaccia

However they look, for the most part I am able to nail a decent enough flavour profile with my loaves. Rather than the tangy, mouthwatering nuances of sourdough that infuse most of my larger boules, I stick with either straight-yeast or quickbread recipes when I need a flat outcome. Focaccia, though, with all it's pretty little dips and pots on the surface, always seemed like simply too much work for everyday bread, and since around here my breads are first and foremost a carrier for any number of  Toast Toppers, the olive oil and herbs that sit atop what seems like every type out there often conflict.

Floral Grape and Lemon Focaccia

Then, while poking around for inspiration for an upcoming Bread Bakers event, I found a way to get the dimpled treat on the table in under an hour, using basic pantry ingredients: yeastless focaccia. One bowl, one spoon and a pre-heated pan (ideally stoneware) are your only necessary tools, whole flour, water and baking powder are the ingredient A-B-Cs. I whipped up a 100%-plain loaf at the beginning, which was great hot and fresh from the oven, dipped into spicy marinara sauce, but since the oven was still on and the stone was still hot, I made a second loaf for teatime. This one was on the sweeter end of the focaccia world, although not cloyingly so - the dough, while sugar-free, was lifted with the delicate flavour and aroma of Meyer lemon zest, offsetting the deep sweetness of the grapes scattered on top and the dusting of slightly peppery, nasturtuum-infused sugar dusted on top. Paired with some sweet iced tea (or maybe a glass of limoncello), it hits the spot on a sunny afternoon - even if the temperature outside still isn't quite Mediterranean!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Chocolate Malted Milk Balls

I was one of those weird kids growing up who loved chocolate malt balls. I think I took after my mom with regards to my taste in most chocolate stuff (i.e. dark and semi-bitter), with the sole exception that she likes fruit with hers and I'm a purist. Maltesers and Whoppers are all well and good, of course, and are a definite bonus at the theatre, but they're also not the best quality chocolate-wise - and it's a milk chocolate, at that. This past holiday season though, I finally got the opportunity to make my own version of the poppable treats, and it turns out that making dozens of them is as easy as whipping up meringue. 

Malted Milk Balls

Without their chocolatey coating, these drops clock in on the low end of the calorie and fat scale too - after all, it's only egg whites, cocoa, malt powder and a touch of sugar. Then again, that bittersweet chocolate coating really works with the sweet(ish) centres to balance the flavours, and definitely helps to make these a grown up goodie!

Malted Milk Balls

Of course, like with all good things, these malt balls come with a small caveat - they take forever to make. Oh, the meringue whips up in 8 minutes flat (at least in my mixer), but you might want to make yourself comfortable while piping out trays of malted milk mall drops. Of course, since it's meringue and it needs to be crunchy, the baking is long, slow and low, finally ending with two hours of cooling in the oven for good measure.

Worth it? You bet - if the taste alone doesn't get you, the nostalgia sure will!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chocolate Beet Muffins

While Valentine's Day is over, we are still firmly entrenched in the month of all things "chocolate". Granted, for me (and most of the women I know!) every month, if not every day, is worthy of celebrating with chocolate, and what better way to celebrate than with a decadent, yet (slightly) virtuous muffin that you can enjoy for breakfast, with coffee or as dessert?

Chocolate Beet Muffins

I adore muffins for their simplicity and variability - you can have a relatively run-of-the-mill blueberry or chocolate chip from the bakery, or take things up a notch at home with your favourite ingredients. For example, these rich, sweet mouthfuls I whipped up for V-Day are made not with eggs, but a mixture of chia seed and aquafaba. Seeing as it's also "heart month", I utilized the cholesterol-lowering benefits of oats in my flour choice, and I also couldn't resist utilizing one of my favourite heart-healthy foods: beets. Coincidentally, beets also pair beautifully with dark chocolate, infusing an earthy sweetness into the bitter cocoa mass. For extra moisture and flavour,  buttermilk stepped up, admirably filling in any dry spots that might have dared show up in the batter. Finally, because I was feeling fancy, I tossed a sprinkle of white chocolate chips on top.

Thankfully, these aren't the type of sweet that needs to cool down before enjoying (although if you put them directly from oven to freezer for 30 minutes you're rewarded with an almost brownie-like texture), so go ahead and sneak one once they're cool enough to handle. If you burn the roof of your mouth, I'm not responsible!