Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Eulalia!!!

Okay, random I know. But if you (like Andrew and I) are a fan of Brian Jaques' Redwall series, you'll get the whole significance of the title. If you aren't... well, I can't help you there! I'm still in the midst of reading Triss after Andrew began reading it to me during our nights apart at the beginning of my university career (and yes, I know it's kind of childish being read to, and a book about talking animals at that, but hey, I still sleep with music playing!), and it's a great book even though it's taken me several years to get through it! Between cooking, chauffeuring, blogging, cookbook reviewing and my latest project - a knitted blanket for my best friend Heather - there aren't enough hours in the day! In the Fall, when we add school to the list... well, we'll see how far down the list reading falls!

I bring up the Redwall series because what I have today (my version of the British pasty) is favourite of the mice and hares of Redwall Abbey in the books. While Andrew was eating the one I made for him today at lunch (with gusto, I might add) I told him the name of the pies, and he said "just like in Redwall!". As he finished his pasty (and provided some excellent hints that I incorporated into this recipe) I decided that that was exactly the perfect name for this dish - the Redwall Pasty. It is certainly a wholesome and filling meal, and a vegan one at that! TVP crumbles get paired with lots of delicious veggies before being all wrapped up in a savoury olive oil crust (which is surprisingly simple to make).
Redwall Pasties
Serves 4
1 cups flour
1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 - 1/3 cup water
3/4 cup dry TVP granules
1/2 cup hot vegetable broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
12 oz cremini or portabello mushrooms, chopped
1 rib celery, minced
1 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cold vegetable juice or water
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix flours and salt together.
  3. Pour oil and water all at once to flour.
  4. Stir to mix into a dough.
  5. Shape into 2 flat balls.
  6. Wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  7. Combine TVP and hot broth and let stand 10 minutes.
  8. Heat a saucepan over medium fire, spray with canola or olive oil spray.
  9. Add the onion and cook (stirring) until golden, about 7-8 minutes.
  10. Add red pepper, mushrooms and celery.
  11. Cook (stirring) until mushrooms are beginning to colour, about 5 minutes.
  12. Add the parsley, pepper and garlic and stir to combine.
  13. Stir in the re-hydrated TVP.
  14. Combine cornstarch and vegetable juice, stir into cooked mixture and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  15. Remove from heat and set aside.
  16. Roll 1 round of dough out on lightly floured surface and cut in half.
  17. Place 1/4 of the TVP mixture in the centre of each half of dough and bring up sides of pastry to enclose the filling.
  18. Pinch the seams to seal completely, place pockets on a baking sheet, and dock with a fork for the steam to escape.
  19. Repeat with remaining dough.
  20. Freeze pockets at this point for later if required.
  21. If baking immediately, place trays into oven and bake 25 minutes, rotating sheets at 15 minutes.
  22. Serve and enjoy!
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 341.5
Total Fat: 11.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 133.8 mg
Total Carbs: 45.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 7.1 g
Protein: 16.6 g

These would be delicious warm or cold, and leftovers can be warmed (tented with foil) for 15-20 minutes in a 400F oven, though I don't recommend microwaving them. You can also freeze these (unbaked) for later, if you like, just bake them about 1 hour in the 375F oven and enjoy good, wholesome British fare.

These parcels, and all their yummy goodness, are making their way over to Cate's ARF / 5-A-Day roundup for next week! I missed this week's go-around, but check out her wonderful summary of the healthy dishes made this week here! Even with a head cold, she doesn't let her Sweetnick's readers down!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Adventures with Oatmeal

I'm on a quest, fellow readers... a quest for the perfect oatmeal cookie formula for my bakery. You see, I never really developed a foolproof recipe for these particular baked goods, and I need to get a good one down pat (especially since I want to re-enter this year's cookie contest at the Markham Fair!). I'm looking for something fairly specific:
  • Chewy
  • Fairly flat (i.e. not cakey/poofy)
  • Travels well
  • Doesn't use a ton of butter / shortening
  • No eggs

I don't even know if something like that exists, but I'm willing to look and try! At the very least, the family (and the Exxon crew) will be eating some more whole grains than they're used to, and hopefully enjoying it along the way!

These first ones were definitely interesting ones to make, and I can't really say I was disappointed with the results either. The molasses and cinnamon perfumed the house while they baked, and they were flat like I was looking for. My only complaint was that when I was bagging one for Andrew this morning (I baked them yesterday afternoon), I discovered it was hard as a rock. They may be more suited to ice-cream sandwich cookies (ooh, with a rum-raisin or a sticky toffee pudding flavour, or maybe this exotic one... divine!), though, since they'd soften a bit.

Rich Oatmeal - Molasses Raisin Cookies
Makes 12
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and set it aside.
  2. Mix the flour, rolled oats baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Stir the molasses, brown sugar, canola oil, water, and vanilla extract well.
  4. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients along with the raisins. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Flatten each cookie lightly with the back of a wet spoon.
  7. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 109.6
Total Fat: 2.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 38.9 mg
Total Carbs: 21.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 1.3 g

Not overworking this particular cookie dough seems to be the trick with these next ones, but they hardly spread at all, leaving some fairly ugly cookie balls on the sheet. I definitely reccomend soaking the raisins though - I keep forgetting to, and always regret it. I gave the measurements in both volume and weight... weight is always more accurate (and I always use it for the bakery).

Chewy Bakery Cookies
Makes 48
1 1/2 cups flour (149g)
1 teaspoon baking soda (5g)
1 teaspoon cinnamon (5g)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening (220g)
1 cup packed brown sugar (201g)
1/2 cup sugar (95.82g)
2 tsp cornstarch egg replacers (10g)
1 teaspoon vanilla (5mL)
3 cups quick oats (241.3g)
3/4 cup raisins (113.6g)

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
  3. Beat together the shortening and sugars until creamy.
  4. Beat in the egg replacers and vanilla until smooth.
  5. Beat in the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir in the oats and raisins, stirring just until mixed.
  7. Drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
  8. Bake 12 minutes per batch.
  9. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to wire rack.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 110.3
Total Fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 2.4 mg
Sodium: 52.5 mg
Total Carbs: 14.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.8 g
Protein: 1.3 g

I still have one more recipe to test out (thanks, Tippy!), but I got frustrated with cookies and decided to whip out a batch of muffins instead. These used up some of the leftover peaches from Sunday's fruit flan, and some of the almonds that are always kicking around our house (the family loves nuts). The shot of these (I'm actually getting quite proud of my foodie photos now, though I know they are nowhere near the ranks of most of you!) is being sent off to GreedyGourmet's event SnackShots #3: Muffin, to join the ranks of the others out there!

Peach - Oat Almond Muffins
Makes 12
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
½ cup low-fat plain soy milk
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp honey
2 medium peaches, peeled and diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt, ginger and oats in a bowl.
  3. Separately, mix soy milk, applesauce, oil and honey.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into the dry mix until just moistened.
  5. Fold in peach bits and almonds gently.
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes, until tests done.
  7. Remove from cups immediately and cool on wire racks.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 133.3
Total Fat: 5.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 72.5 mg
Total Carbs: 19.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 2.9 g

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Something Mommy Made

Well today was another social gathering here at the house. We had my mom's aunt and uncle over, and my mom had planned out an elaborate (and for once, not Italian!) menu for their lunch. In fact, the whole meal (with the exception of my dessert, which in all my research I can only find Canadian references to... anyone know?) was French in origin, and started with a different style of the classic Vichyssoise in the fact that the rich, creamy potato and leek soup was served piping hot, not cold as is tradition! Technically, the name for this type of soup is Potage Parmentier, which was described aptly by none other than Julia Child as a dish that "smells good, tastes good, and is simplicity itself to make".

Well, I was asleep when my mom toiled away in the kitchen this morning to make it (and the kitchen was even clean when I came in... the joys of having company!) so I'm not too sure how much effort it did in fact take. I do know that she had to do it (as well as the rest of the meal) single handedly since the stepfather.... well let's not go there... so it can't be a major production like the Potage a la Tortue and Caille en Sarcophage from the fabulous movie Babette's Feast. I do, however, know that it smells fantastic while cooking, and it is well worth the monetary expense of a good wine and the caloric expense of good, 18% table cream and rich butter when you make this - it isn't every day that you get this indulgence, and your guests will fall in love with you, I promise!

Mom's Winter Vichyssoise
Serves 8 as a starter
1/4 cup butter
4 large leeks (white parts only, diced)
1 small white onion, minced
2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 cup table cream (18%)
2 fl. oz white wine
Fresh chives, for garnish
  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add leeks and onion and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and stock and cook 30 minutes.
  4. Puree in a blender until smooth and season with the pepper to taste.
  5. Return soup to pot, stir in cream and wine.
  6. Heat without boiling until ready to serve.
  7. Sprinkle individual bowls with chives.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 225.4
Total Fat: 11.8 g
Cholesterol: 35.1 mg
Sodium: 655.9 mg
Total Carbs: 26.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.0 g
Protein: 3.5 g

As for my addition to the party? Well, I can't claim putting together an elaborate French meal, but I did make a rather pretty (and from what I'm told, delicious) fruit flan for dessert! If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, you can order one from my little bakery enterprise, since I can't be sharing the recipe with all those secret recipe spies around!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Biscuits for Beginners

I'm not really in a talkative mood today, been feeling very tired recently due to being ill and creating a delicious (but multi-stepped) dessert for some house guests that my mom and stepfather are having over this Sunday, and I'm in a mopey mood now that Andrew's off in Ottawa for a long-weekend grad party (though I am glad you went, honey!). So, I figure that I'll just pass along this pre-typed, nicely formatted lesson-style recipe that I have had tucked in my back pocket for a while after writing it to help out a fellow baker who was slightly nervous about biscuit making and baking in general. It's written for children, which I did on purpose, because I intend to pass it on to the Home Ec class at my old elementary school and keep the delicious tradition that is the buttermilk biscuit alive. Enjoy!

Beginner's Biscuits
Makes 20
Don't sell yourself short on your cooking abilities, even if you’ve never made Tea Biscuits before... if you have access to a few ingredients as a base (and I mean literally 5 ingredients), a working oven, a bowl and a cookie sheet these biscuits will be fine. I learned these when I was young, straight from the book, without my mom's help (only my dad was home, and he doesn't bake all that much!), and they're hard to destroy unless you forget one of the 5 ingredients. You don't even have to grease the sheets! They even freeze well, which is good because this recipe makes about 20 biscuits. Just remember that the measurements are important (including the oven temperature), so do make sure they are correct. Also, give yourself lots of time and relax! This should be enjoyable... and you will get your hands dirty. No getting around that!

OK so first things first - your equipment. You will need:
  • 1 big mixing bowl
  • 1 half-cup measuring cup
  • 1 full-cup measuring cup
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 mixing spoon
  • 1 rolling pin
  • 1 large-mouthed drinking glass or round cookie cutter
  • 2 cookie sheets
  • 1 oven
  • oven mitts
  • 1 wire cooling rack
  • hungry people!

Get all this out first. Make sure you have everything!
Now, preheat your oven by turning it on to 425 degrees Fahrenheit or 220 degrees Celsius.
Get out all your ingredients now (if you like, measure them all into separate bowls, but that means more dishes). They are:

  • 4 cups of plain, white flour (not self rising)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda (bi carb)
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening (AKA Crisco)
  • 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
  1. Using your mixing spoon, blend the flour, the baking powder, and the baking soda together in the big bowl.
  2. Dump in the shortening.
  3. Now, using your fingers, work the shortening into the dry ingredients. The goal is to get the shortening into about the size of small green peas, and to have all those bits covered in the flour blend. It will look like a fine gravel, but don't work it to a paste. Good photos are here.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Pour the buttermilk right into the shortening and flour mixture.
  6. Now, using your mixing spoon, stir the buttermilk into the mixture, but just until a soft dough comes together. Don't beat it, you just want everything to come together.
  7. Take some extra flour and sprinkle it on your countertop.
  8. Dump out the biscuit dough and make sure everything is in one lump (you can knead it a bit to work in the last of the flour from the bowl).
  9. Using your rolling pin, roll out the dough so that it's about 1" (2 cm) high, and even all the way through (make sure you're not squishing down the edges).
  10. Take the glass or the cookie cutter and cut out as many circles from the dough as you can at one time.
  11. Move the dough circles to the cookie sheets, about a finger space between them.
  12. Squish the dough bits together back into one piece and roll it out again like you did before.
  13. Depending on how much dough is left, either cut out more circles or divide it in 2-3 equal pieces about the size of the circles you cut before.
  14. Put those on the cookie sheets too.
  15. Put the sheets in the hot oven. Set your timer for 12 minutes.
  16. When the timer rings, take the sheets out of the oven and carefully move all the hot biscuits to the wire rack.
  17. Let them cool about 10 minutes before taking a bite of your handiwork!
  18. If you need to freeze them for later, make sure they are cooled completely (at least 2 hours). Place them all into a Ziploc bag and freeze them. They will reheat in about 30 seconds in the microwave.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 142.4
Total Fat: 5.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.7 mg
Sodium: 19.8 mg
Total Carbs: 20.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.7 g
Protein: 3.2 g

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

They're Growing!

I know, I know, I've been very absent off and on these days. What can I say? It's only the last full week of April, and already our thermometer has climbed past 20C! Needless to say we've all been out enjoying the sunny, warm weather - I've even been able to drive around with my windows down, which is a big deal considering at the beginning of the month I was hard-pressed to turn down my heater! Unfortunately, we can't be too sure about being frost-free for the rest of the year, so we can't plant our mini-greenhouse worth of seedlings just yet (though I have some very strong tomatoes clamouring to escape their pots!).

So I decided to kick-start this year's gardening extravaganza with a slightly easier-to-accomodate planting measure for indoors: sprouting! I used this guide to get me started, and I'm in no hurry to stop! So far, I've finished growing (and with Andrew's help, eating) a batch of lentil sprouts, and my jar of mung bean sprouts finished today and is resting in the fridge for me to devour later on. Now I've got some mustard seeds on the go and I bought 1 kg. of alfalfa seeds too, which are far and away my favourite sprouts on the whole planet.

In fact, those sprouts have formed an integral part of my lunch for the past few days, with an incredibly delicious, flavourful "sour creme" tofu spread I concocted and some delicious tortilla wraps. With so many nutrients in such a small package (including saponins which lower the bad cholesterol and fat but not the good, and plant estrogens that promote bone health), I've been feeling quite the virtous luncher lately!

Herby Tofu Spread
Serves 2
1/2 pkg Mori-Nu Lite Firm Silken Tofu (or your favourite)
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp dried dill weed
  1. Blend all ingredients until very smooth in a food processor.
  2. Chill thoroughly before serving, and stir well before use.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 35.5
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 71.9 mg
Total Carbs: 1.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 5.5 g

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Now That's Just Corny!

Who here likes cornbread? Okay, well, who likes muffins? Why not combine the two, and have something ridiculously easy and fairly healthy to toss in your lunchbox or munch with a cup of coffee in the morning? The base recipe for all of these morsels came from the newest and one of the most awesome cookbooks on my shelf: "The Cornbread Gospels" by Crescent Dragonwagon. The wonderful people at Workman Publishing were kind enough to send me a copy of this cookbook to see what I thought of it, and while I have marked several of the recipes to try, I figured I would share the goodies I've made already.

This first muffin (which Dragonwagon titled Macaw Muffins [p. 114]), were devised originally for the avian crowd of eaters before being modified for us people. I changed up the "humanized" recipe a bit to play with the proteins, sweeteners and flours used, and made a buttermilk version instead of the soy milk called for in the book. The verdict on this one was definitely mixed - I recieved some emails from my mom's co-workers with rave reviews, while my mom said that both she and a few others found the little cornbreads very dry. I'd be willing to try this again, though, with more liquid (possibly pureed carrots or applesauce) and with soaked raisins instead of the plain, dry ones I added this time. This is what I made, so eventually you'll see this again with the changes I make.

My Macaw Muffin
Adapted from The Cornbread Gospels
Serves 16
PAM
1/2 cup Kamut flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp stevia extract powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2.5 oz silken, low-fat tofu
1 egg
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp soy lecithin granules
1/4 cup peanut butter (chunky or smooth)
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 carrot, minced
1 apple, skin on, minced
1/2 cup raisins
  1. Preheat oven to 400F and grease muffin tins.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a food processor, puree tofu, egg, oil, and lecithin until smooth.
  4. Add peanut butter and buttermilk and pulse just to mix.
  5. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just to incorporate.
  6. Fold in carrot and apple pieces, and raisins.
  7. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from tins immediately and cool on wire racks.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 128.2
Total Fat: 5.0 g
Cholesterol: 13.8 mg
Sodium: 58.8 mg
Total Carbs: 18.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 3.9 g

The next two muffins that I made were my elaborations on Dragonwagon's "Simply Corn Muffins" recipe, which she claims are "among the best you'll ever taste". Well, I can't speak to that effect (though I'm sure they are very good), so I'll have to ask Andrew (my beloved guinea pi... I mean taste-tester / quality control technician) for his thoughts, as I gave an entire batch of one kind and one single piece of the others to him (the remaining chocolate chippers went to my mom, who then informed me she doesn't like cornbread... after devouring them at work). I'll give you the modified recipes I made up on her base, since I can't leave anything well enough alone!

Apple - Cheese Corn Muffins
Serves 12
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
1 apple, grated
3 rounds Mini Babybel cheese, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat together buttermilk, eggs, honey and oil.
  4. Gently blend into the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in apples and cheese.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes, unmould immediately onto wire rack to cool completely.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 196.6
Total Fat: 9.1 g
Cholesterol: 41.4 mg
Sodium: 83.8 mg
Total Carbs: 24.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.3 g
Protein: 5.1 g

Choco - Corn Muffins
Serves 12
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp stevia extract powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 muffin cups.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, beat together buttermilk, eggs and oil.
  4. Gently blend into the flour mixture.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes, unmould immediately onto wire rack to cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 185.4
Total Fat: 9.7 g
Cholesterol: 36.4 mg
Sodium: 41.9 mg
Total Carbs: 21.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 4.1 g

Well, I think all this corny, low-sugar, apple, cheese, nut and grain goodness should feel right at home with the other entries to Cate's ARF / 5-A-Day event. Be sure to check out the newest of her ever-tempting round ups this Tuesday over at her blog Sweetnicks!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Total Gluttony

It's official: I have the best mom ever. We spent our morning and early afternoon today perusing the delights at the foodie Heaven that is Toronto's St. Lawrence Market, and though we couldn't get to everything (I think that would take at least a weekend!) we did find plenty to amuse both our eyes and our stomachs. I restrained myself today, though (still battling guilt over her buying me a new laptop two weeks ago!) and only bought some dried mung beans (you'll see why later), some decadent (and very hard to find) large, soy-based multigrain tortillas and some alfalfa sprouts to quench my insane, unfounded craving for greenery. We finished our excursion with a late lunch at Sakura Ichiban (for those in the neighbourhood, it's at Jarvis and Adelaide E)

When I saw on the blog Not Quite Nigella that there was a bake off for, of all sweet and tasty things, banana bread, I was off like a shot. My whole family pretty much lives off of my bakery's variation of the fruity tea loaf, but I wanted to change things up a bit for today's entry to the melee. This is by no stretch of the imagination the most insane version of banana bread I've ever concocted - no healthy pretenses, full of fat and in no was a staple in a healthy diet, but so good I doubt you'd care!
Glutton's Banana Bread
Serves 12
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup almond meal
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp almond butter
3 mashed bananas
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease a loaf pan.
  2. Whisk together all the dry ingredients, set aside.
  3. In another bowl, beat together remaining ingredients.
  4. Gradually fold in flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Bake 25 minutes, tent loaf with foil.
  6. Continue baking another 20 minutes, until tests done.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in pan before unmoulding onto wire rack.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 212.4
Total Fat: 6.9 g
Cholesterol: 5.0 mg
Sodium: 7.4 mg
Total Carbs: 36.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.7 g
Protein: 4.1 g

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Creamy Curry and Kid Stuff!

I love broccoli. I know, it's weird, but I've always liked the little trees, whether they were crunchy and raw on a veggie platter at a party or steamed and tossed with lemon and some Parmesan cheese at the dinner table. It's particularly good roasted along with it's other (slightly maligned) cruciferous buddy, Brussels sprouts! But in soup? Not so much. The cans of "cream of broccoli" glop are nowhere near what the texture or taste of this vegetable should be, in my opinion. I'm not an insane soup fanatic, regardless, but I've only found one single kind with broccoli that I actually enjoy (Tim Hortons' Hearty Vegetable, which for some inexplicable reason has been missing from the menu for the past 2 years whenever I pay the chain a visit).

So why am I telling you this? Well, you see, I made a creamy broccoli soup today. Totally out of character, I know, but I was frozen solid after my Piloga class and a sandwich just wasn't going to cut it! Curry cravings kicked in too, and I had a half block of tofu in my fridge that would soon go to waste, so in those ingredients went along with a pop of garlic, onion, and a sprinkle of nutritional yeast. A tablespoon of rolled oats fleshed things out nicely, and a blend of spices that I learned from Andrew (who finally got his G2 and his passport today, so we can travel!! Yay!) and a trip through the (lidless, it fell behind our immovable pantry) blender made my lunch today anything but glop in a can.

Curried Broccoli Puree
Serves 1 Hungry Person
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
2 cups chopped broccoli (florets and stems)
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 tbsp rolled oats
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 block low-fat Mori-Nu silken firm tofu
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
  1. Bring broth and water to a simmer in a saucepan.
  2. Add broccoli, onions, and oats cover and cook until very tender - about 10 minutes.
  3. Transfer cooked mixture to a blender with garlic, nutritional yeast, tofu, curry powder, salt, black pepper and cinnamon.
  4. Puree until very smooth.
  5. Re-warm briefly before serving if desired.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 230.0
Total Fat: 3.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 2,101.3 mg
Total Carbs: 30.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.2 g
Protein: 25.2 g

I tell you, it was fantastic! And if you do make the soup and finish all your veggies, you can have a purple cookie! The story behind these was this: my sister (like all of us) goes through craving phases, and about 7 or 8 months ago one of those cravings was for grape Jell-O. It's the only flavour she likes and my mom jumped on it as soon as she noticed, buying 3 boxes of the stuff. Problem was, the yen for Jell-O disappeared after the first go-around and we were stuck with 2 extra boxes and no desires to eat them.

Enter the Jell - O cookie recipe. I had seen something like this floating around the Web when I Googled "Jell-O recipes" and was tired of seeing salads (ew!) and poke cakes pop up on the page. Base recipe in mind (the source of which is now long gone, sadly) and the ingredients at hand, I made up a good-sized batch of the little devils. They'll be off to my dad's place tomorrow (after I return from my favourite place in Toronto) so he can let me know if they taste as good as they smelled! The one thing I do recommend with these, though, is to let them sit out (uncovered) on a rack overnight. They're a bit too cakey-textured the first day.

Jell-O Cookie Gems
Makes 30
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 (3-oz) pkg Jell-O, any flavour
1 egg
1 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup water
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Cream shortening, sugar, Jell - O and egg together in a medium to large bowl.
  3. Beat in the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Roll dough into balls, and flatten each slightly.
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes, remove to racks to cool completetely.
  6. Let sit out, uncovered, 1 day before enjoying.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 98.5
Total Fat: 3.8 g
Cholesterol: 9.0 mg
Sodium: 15.8 mg
Total Carbs: 14.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 1.8 g

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Have Thirds!

Have you ever heard of thirded bread? Me neither, that is until I spent an afternoon reading Crescent Dragonwagon's new book: The Cornbread Gospels. In the chapter titled "Northern Cornbreads", she explains that in the colonial era in the United States, wheat supplies were very low, leading to the new British immigrants combining wheat and rye flours with cornmeal in their bread baking. Both quick and yeasted breads were "thirded" and it's a practice still used today for items such as Boston Brown Bread.

Newfound knowledge in tow, I decided to try my hand at a "thirded" bread of my own, with my own blend of grains and molasses. Essentially this old recipe turned into a "use - up" type of sweet, dark quickbread that I wouldn't hesitate to make again with whatever bits and pieces of flours and grains I had around. It is whithout a doubt an easy, infinitely variable and fast accompaniment for anything you could care to serve it with. Andrew and my dad each got half of this creation, so I'm eagerly awaiting the verdict!

Thirded Sweet Quickbread
Serves 12
½ cup rye flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup buckwheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp fresh ginger
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg
6 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a loaf pan.
  2. Combine flours, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  3. Seperately, combine the remaining ingredients.
  4. Add the wet mix to the dry ingredients and blend just to combine. Do not over-mix.
  5. Pour into pan and bake 40 minutes, or until it tests done.
  6. Cool 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack and cooling completely.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 74.7
Total Fat: 0.7 g
Cholesterol: 18.1 mg
Sodium: 21.8 mg
Total Carbs: 15.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 2.2 g

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Bitter - Sweet Symphony Continues!

I promised you yesterday that I would share my delicious recipe for chocolate dipped strawberries (though this applies to other fruits too, especially ones like dried mango slices!), and I do really think it's one of the best out there. You do have to keep in mind 1 or 2 things about this summertime snack though. One of them is (unless you live in a greenhouse all year) this is a SUMMER snack only. Strawberries that aren't in season = bitter / sour results, especially with my little twist. Never mind that strawberries should never be eaten fresh at all unless they're picked from the berry farm down the road! I have some fond memories of those days! But I digress. The second key point is to make sure you give the first layer ample time to dry and set before you attempt the second dunk. Black may LOOK nice with white, but we don't want brown muddy second coats on our berries!

All this ado aside, I'm now passing on this ARF / 5-A-Day worthy dessert (which you'll be able to see on Cate's blog, Sweetnicks,) to you!

Bitter - Sweet Dipped Berries
Serves 40
40 fresh, ripe, IN SEASON strawberries
4 oz unsweetened (yes, unsweetened) chocolate, melted
2 oz white chocolate, melted
  1. Dip each berry 3/4 of the way into the bitter chocolate.
  2. Place on a wax paper - lined baking sheet to set completely.
  3. Dip each strawberry 1/3 of the way into the white chocolate and allow to set in the same manner.
  4. Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 27.3
Total Fat: 2.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.2 mg
Sodium: 2.2 mg
Total Carbs: 2.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.9 g
Protein: 0.6 g

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bittersweet... Well, Mostly Sweet

Yesterday marked the last of my 12 Baking Basic classes at George Brown College, and I have to say we sure went out with a bang! I am definitely going to miss the wonderful people I worked with and give a HUGE thanks to everyone for helping me out in class (or even talking to me, I'm shy!). Phil, I'm definitely going to try your fruitcake this Christmas, and Ferdie, good luck with the moving plans for the future! Enjoy the market! In a way though, I am grateful this class is over, since getting down to the college, with a heavy toolkit + purse + backpack, in the middle of a crappy, snowy Winter scene, was not favourable even when I had the car (gotta love those damn parking garages... why bother setting up VISA-only (no cash, apparently) payment for a $3 flat fee? Jeez!). Even if you take the transport out of the equation, I can't really say I learned anything from this class, it was more of an opportunity to be creative with someone else's kitchen and ingredients. Hey, I passed (with honours - I got an extra tuxedo strawberry!!) Sigh... guess it's back to the home kitchen for the time being!
It wasn't all a lost cause, of course - that one class gave me the green light to take any of the other Bakery Arts courses at the college, which I intend to at least look at after the construction is finished and everything is back up and running, and when I'm not in another school for nutrition!

On the menu for the last class was Strawberry Shortcake. Now, a good Canadian girl, I never pictured a sponge-based layer cake whenever this dessert was mentioned. To me, it was slightly sweet biscuits with plain whipped cream and plently of in-season (only!) strawberries piled high. Who knew? Anyways, Amjad (being the awesome, yet sneaky chef that he is) shared a secret of his that I'm going to pass on in my modified version of our class' recipe, along with MY kick-ass version of chocolate-dipped fruit (dried or fresh) that blows away anything that the fancy-pants restaurants can dish up with their dainty sorbets and molten lava cakes - that's for tomorrow. (yeah, I'm on a weird rant-thing today. Go figure).

Anyways:

Amjad's Strawberry Shortcake
Makes 1 10" springform cake - 16 servings
1 cup white sugar
7 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp lemon extract (optional)
4 very ripe strawberries, hand mashed
2 1/4 cups bread flour
3 cups whipping cream
2 pints strawberries, sliced (reserve 8 for garnish)

  1. Preheat oven to 390 F (200C). Thoroughly grease a 10" springform tin.
  2. Whip eggs and sugar together for 12 minutes.
  3. Beat in salt and extracts.
  4. By hand, fold in strawberries and flour gently so you don't deflate the eggs!
  5. Pour immediately into the pan and bake 25 minutes.
  6. Cool 30 minutes in pans before turning out.
  7. Whip cream to stiff peaks, adding sugar if desired.
  8. Slice cake into 3 layers.
  9. Layer cake, a thin layer of whipped cream, strawberries, another thin layer of whipped cream and more cake until all the strawberries and 1/2 the cream have been used.
  10. Cover the cake with the remaining whipped cream and decorate as desired, using the whole strawberries for garnish. Serve within 48 hours.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 319.2
Total Fat: 19.2 g
Cholesterol: 154.1 mg
Sodium: 45.4 mg
Total Carbs: 31.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 6.3 g

Yum!

As if that recipe wasn't great enough, I have 10 Excellent Blogger awards to give out after being awarded one myself from Dog Hill Kitchen's Maggie!

First off to Big Boys Recipe's Sunny & Sid for being so deliciously creative with their photos (and awesome with their music).
Next, to Amanda of Slow Like Honey for making my mouth water with all her delicious goodies (and if you don't believe me, look at these morsels of awesomeness).
Someone who no doubt has been honoured several times with this award: Blake of Blake Makes.
Another extremely deserving blogger for her dedication to Canadian chefs and great photos out in BC - Valli of More Than Burnt Toast.
Now to Ruth of Once Upon A Feast - Every Kitchen Tells Its Stories for her dedication to her event - Presto Pasta Nights!
Another awesome blogger and event-host is Cate from Sweetnicks... check out her ARF/5-A-Day event!
Helen of Grab Your Fork for making me laugh.
Jennie of Straight from the Farm gets one for her dedication to farm fresh all the way!
New (to me) read on the block Held by Love, Baked From Scratch gets one for her insatiable sweet tooth filling my mind with ideas!
Finally (but not feebly!) Catherine Jheon of Food Network Canada's Food For Thought for keeping me up to date with the latest in both Canadian and worldwide foodie goodness.

There are so many more out there, and my hats off to you!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Working with Leftovers: Sables and Sweet Dough

Well, I'm being insanely busy again today, baking my little sister's birthday cake, wrapping her gift and backing up all my files to move them onto my new computer, so I'm going to leave you with these cookies, which were just about as fast to make (after the chilling) as it was for me to write this.

This is a very scaled-down version of a recipe we used in cooking class at George Brown College when we made the flan last weekend. I used the leftover dough from then to make these cookies, some of which I then dipped in chocolate, and they were all gobbled up by the office staffers at my mom's work!

Wish me luck in the techie realm!

Tart Shell Dough, or Sables Pastry
Makes enough for 3 9" flan tins, or about 60 cookies
¾ cup + 3 tbsp sugar
pinch salt
1 cup shortening
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
4 1/3 cups pastry flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
¼ cup milk
Assorted decorations (pine nuts, almonds, cashew clusters, chocolate, etc), optional
  1. Cream together sugar, salt and shortening until fluffy.
  2. Add vanilla and egg, beat well.
  3. Combine flour and baking powder, gently mix in alternately with the milk to form a smooth mixture.
  4. Work dough into a disc on a lightly floured surface.
  5. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 24 hours. Alternately freeze up to 6 months.

To bake: Preheat oven to 400F and place cookies on an ungreased sheet. Decorate as desired and bake 8-10 minutes.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 71.5
Total Fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 5.6 mg
Sodium: 1.6 mg
Total Carbs: 9.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.3 g
Protein: 1.0 g

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

When the Staff of Life Wins the Lotto...

Something quick tonight, because I was dumb and forgot to post this morning when I had time. Actually, no, that's a lie. I didn't forget. I was caught up in things... yes, that's it! After a wonderful workout at the gym and getting caught in the rain taking my car in for some major service, I hadn't had breakfast yet and was grumpy. So I turned to my newest cookbook (which I did actually make something from but you will have to wait for my official review!!) for comfort, and eschewed my extraordinarily tempramental computer for most of the day. But now it's edging on midnight and I have a very special recipe for you to celebrate a very special event that made my rainy day a bit brighter.

Here's the story: after realizing that my Baking Arts classes at George Brown College were going to be cancelled for a while due to the Go*d@mn construction in the building, I poked around for another option that would allow me to pursue my love of all things culinary and health-related. I found my answer *cue "holy light effect"* in the Food and Nutrition Management programs offered at both George Brown and Centennial Colleges.

Apparently, "[s]tudents in the Food and Nutrition Management program combine food service and nutrition knowledge with business and human relations skills to prepare for challenging careers in the food service industry" (Centennial College). Essentially, I'll wind up a nutritionist. Dude! Papers that will give me the liscense to lecture those around me on their eating habits! Just kidding, really. But, I do want to gear my focus onto childhood nutrition and wind up working for the elementary schooling system to overhaul how both children and their parents understand food as a whole, not just calories / fat / vitamins, but where it comes from and the work it takes to come from the farm to the table (kind of like a blend of Jamie Oliver's School Dinners campaign and Paul Finkelstein's Screaming Avocado program is what I have in mind). I sent off my papers, fought with OUAC over my transcripts and waited. I didn't really worry about getting in, though. Call me cocky, but I know that I'm smart enough to get into the programs without trying (even my math mark!) so it was just a matter of time.

So yeah, I got in officially today. Now it's just a matter of deciding which school gets to deal with me on my good (and not-so-good) days. Did I ever mention I was really really bad at making descisions? I'm leaning towards Centennial for the sheer fact that drills in my ears all day + busy train traffic to and from downtown doesn't equal "happy fun times" (quote Teaghan) for moi. Downside to Centennial is no St. Lawrence Market trips :-(. Prices for everything, eh?

So yes. A celebration is in order. The special ingredient of the day is (can we guess?)... saffron!! Yup, I'm back into the good ol' saffron stash and made something rather interesting with it this time... a semi-rich, braided raisin bread that I tweaked from Koekje's recipe that's here (also featured in last year's World Bread Day). Unfortunately, I'm still lacking in the 4-strand braiding procedure, but I tried, and the bread smelled SO AMAZING sitting there in the oven. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if like me you value my pain threshold) none of this made it into my body. Based on the reviews, though, if I had had a chance to nosh on this loaf o' goodness, I would not be disappointed! My mom ate her share (I divided it between her, my dad and Andrew) with butter with her morning coffee, but if she had the time she did mention French toast as a foil for the deliciously flavourful crumby bits left over. I forgot to soak my raisins this time but I won't forget the next - the ones sticking out burned slightly, looking like blackheads all over my pretty loaf!

Anyways, this is my version of the recipe, going out to the After Hours Party at Zorra's site (1x umr├╝hren bitte).

Saffron - Raisin Bread
Serves 20 - 1 large loaf
1/4 cup warm water
1 ½ tsp yeast
¼ tsp ground saffron
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups flour
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 cup low-fat milk, warmed
2/3 cup warm water
2/3 cup raisins, soaked and drained
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsp canola oil
1 ½ tsp salt
  1. Dissolve the yeast, ground saffron and sugar in the warm water. Let stand 10 minutes.
  2. Place the flours into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, and the saffron/yeast mixture.
  4. Knead about 10-15 minutes – until smooth and elastic.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl.
  6. Let the dough rise on a warm and draft free place, about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and deflate the dough.
  8. Divide the dough into two pieces.
  9. Make two strands of equal thickness and length, about 2 feet long each.
  10. Cross the two pieces over their center, placing the 'vertical' strand on top. Bring all four ends down toward you, making a large M shape.
  11. Move the far-right strand over the strand to the left of it.
  12. Move the second-to-the-left strand over the two strands to the right, making it the far-right strand.
  13. Move the far-left strand over the strand to the right of it.
  14. Move the second-to-the-right strand over the two strands over the two strands to the left, making it the far-left strand.
  15. Repeat these steps until the dough is braided.
  16. Place the braid on a lightly greased cookie sheet and cover.
  17. Let it rise for 60 minutes in a warm and draft free place until it has almost doubled in size.
  18. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the braid for 50 minutes. Remove to a wire rack and cool completely.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 168.2
Total Fat: 2.7 g
Cholesterol: 15.8 mg
Sodium: 22.4 mg
Total Carbs: 31.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 5.0 g

Monday, April 7, 2008

Grab a Snack!

I've been bad and haven't updated as I've cooked, so the next couple of posts will be catch-ups! The weekend went by in a glorious blur, and though I'm so grateful and thankful for all the birthday wishes and gifts that I recieved I'm happy in a way that it's over... now I get to let the attention focus on Teaghan for a while (her birthday's on Saturday... my baby sister's going to be 17!!). By the way, my famously delicious birthday cake is that big purple round thing with the gaudy "20" on it... what can I say, I'm a kid at heart! The purple was my choice too... I joked that I used Barney guts for the frosting (note: no giant purple dinosaurs were harmed in the making of this cake!).

However, birthday festivities weren't the only thing on the proverbial menu this weekend... my second-to-last baking class at George Brown College was on Saturday, and we made fresh fruit flans. Essentially this was an assembly-only class - we had made the sweet dough for the crust and the sponge cake for part of the filling the week before, so all we had to actually make was the vanilla custard. Then is was one sugary thing on top of another... cookie crust, chocolate shell (to prevent soggy bottoms!), the custard, the sponge, fruit and then a hot, creepily shiny apricot jelly glaze to cap it off. Sadly, as pretty as mine looked, the bottom of one tart crust shattered while I was moving it from the glazing rack to the cake round, so there was a little bit of soggy custard leaking though by the time I went to cut it last night. There were no complaints in the taste department, though... but apparently the stuff I bring home is never on the "sickly sweet" side (like supermarket bakery products are), so my goodies always go over well.

Anyways, gooey sweet treats aside. On to more home-made beety goodness! I love the sweet-salty combo of things like sweet potato fries and salted, just tender beets, and so I jumped at the chance to make these nibbles when I saw some gorgeous, vibrant purple bulbs at the fruit and vegetable market next to my acupuncturist's office down in Roncesvalles village in Toronto. A good scrub and a shave in the mandoline slicer later and they were on a baking sheet, sprinkled with coarse salt and awaiting their fate at the hands of my oven. It took a few batches to get it right on the money, but eventually I was rewarded with delicious, fat-free, and perfectly seasoned crispy snacks that cost a heck of a lot less than the bags of veggie chips I see in the stores! Who says chips have to be expensive and fried?

Sweet N Salty Beet Chips
Serves 4
4 large beets, scrubbed well but unpeeled
PAM or other nonstick spray
1 tbsp kosher salt, or to taste
Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Slice beets very thin (I like using my mandoline).
  3. Spread evenly on a lightly greased cookie sheet, spray with nonstick spray and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Roast 15 minutes, then flip the chips.
  5. Continue to roast 10 - 15 minutes, then turn off the oven and allow the chips to dry inside for about 1 hour.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 35.3
Total Fat: 0.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 64.0 mg
Total Carbs: 7.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 1.3 g

Don't forget to check out this post and it's fellow healthy goodies at Sweetnick's ARF / 5-A-Day Tuesdays event this week!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cement Cake... A Failed Birthday Experiment

Hooray, hooray, I'm 20 today!
Yup, you read that right - little ol' me is growing up! I get to leave behind my foolish teenage years in order to pursure my foolish adult ones - and I fully intend to live it up! Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me or left messages on my Facebook profile... I felt so special! Andrew gave me my birthday gifts this past Tuesday (since he's at work Thursdays through Mondays... :-( Get out of Tim's, honey!) and I couldn't have been more excited... DVDs of Sweeney Todd and one of my favourite all time movies... Alice in Wonderland!!! As if that wasn't great enough, I had an awesome haircut today from Christina at Valentinos (she did my hair for my mom's wedding), my mom's taking me to the Market on the 18th (wonder if it was all the hints I dropped...), and I'm going for dinner at Ichiban Sushi tonight with my dad and Martha, followed by a Mongolian Grill meal with the family on Sunday and more sushi with the work ladies, my mom and Andrew on Tuesday! I'm thrilled, and feeling spoiled rotten! I guess you only turn 20 once in your life, but I really don't deserve the spoilage... should I go in the crisper?

So, when it came time to choose my birthday cake this year, I picked something highly unusual... and without chocolate in any form! This is a wonderfully nutty, creamy, gluten-, egg- and dairy-free orange spice cake that relies on chickpeas for a base. I set about making one I had adapted from this Morsels and Musings post (very heavily, as you can definitely see... I can't eat eggs and the stepfather's diabetic!), but I was fairly sure the taste will all be there in spirit. The original recipe did called for sugar, but I preferred the flavour the honey lent to the cake, playing off the earthy chickpeas and juicy, sweet-tart blood oranges that formed into the other pillars of the confection. Sounds great, right? And the batter... let me tell you... it tasted divine! Sure, it looked like wet cement going into the cake pan (hence today's title post), but I told myself it's all the blood orange's fault for the colouring, and the taste will win everyone ever.

And it would have... if it had baked.

Over an hour in the oven, in a shallow 9" pan, and STILL nothing looking even remotely baked. It was my worst culinary failure ever. Burned stuff I can handle, but a cake refusing to bake at all, especially one that tasted so promising... that was a harsh blow. I beat the gooey, still cement-y mass into the compost bucket without taking a photo to show you, but think Dutch pancake sprayed with grey paint... it's a pretty close comparison. Sigh.

I'm willing to bet, though, that the original recipe would be a Christmas party hit... I'd toss in a dash of nutmeg and cloves, and drizzle it with orange and maple syrup... my mouth waters just thinking about it! Sheesh, I guess this whole cake thing is more complicated than I thought! For now, though, I'm going to give you a recipe that I'm making now for birthday cake (and frosting) 2.0 - and this time I know for a fact it works! I realized that the tofu hiding in it is also Asian-esque, which works out beautifully for this month's SHF... Asian Sweet Invasion over at La Petite Boulangette!

In retrospect, this was actually a gift from the Fates, as it were... they must know how I like to bake!!

Birthday Beets Cake
Serves 12
398 mL canned sliced beets, drained
1/4 cup beet cooking liquid or water
2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
2.5 oz low-fat silken tofu (Mori-Nu is what I used)
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp liquid honey
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2/3 cup Splenda Granular
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

"I'm Too Lazy For This" Frosting
Serves 12
1 (3-oz) package Fat-Free Sugar-Free Jell-O White Chocolate Pudding mix
1 cup cold water
1/4 tsp each blue and red food colouring (optional, but purple is so pretty)
1 cup Cool Whip Free, softened
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Lightly spray two 8" cake pans with PAM.
  3. Put the drained beets into the food processor with beet liquid (or water), applesauce, tofu, vanilla, vinegar and honey. Process until very smooth.
  4. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
  5. Pour in the beet mixture and stir until well-combined.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Cool on a rack 1 hour before frosting.

----Frosting----

  1. Whisk together pudding mix, water and food colouring until smooth.
  2. Pour pudding mix into softened Cool Whip, folding in until incorporated.
  3. Chill 30 minutes before frosting cake.
Amount Per Serving (cake and frosting)
Calories: 109.4
Total Fat: 0.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 71.0 mg
Total Carbs: 23.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.8 g
Protein: 3.0 g

Ahh, a cake that's actually... cake! See (Well, not yet, but soon I'll have photos!)? Chocolate makes everything better. My faith in the universe is restored. Stupid chickpeas.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One Pepper, Two Pepper, Red Pepper, Green Pepper!

Mmm... peppers! I've blogged about my love of the roasted red several times before, and the jalapeno is way up there on my favourites list. I'm also a crazy sauce fan (everything from veggies to fish to pasta falls prey haha), and lately I've been on a sweet n' sour kick. Of course, though, I can't leave a sweet and sour sauce well enough alone... I have to add a spice kick too!

So, I got out the saucepan, the immersion blender and a sharp knife, and set to work. What emerged was a perfect sauce for low-carbers or diabetics, and it is so so delicious over anything, but especially veggies like broccoli that hold it like a sponge, and shrimp that get all coated and pretty! This recipe makes 4 servings (about 1/4 cup apeice), but go ahead and double it! Trust me, you'll want it!

Sarah's Sweet-Spicy Sauce (AKA triple S sauce)
Serves 4
2/3 cup drained (if canned), diced roasted red peppers
1/2 cup SPLENDA® granular*
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup low-carb ketchup (such as President's Choice Blue Menu brand)*
1 tablespoon dried crushed red pepper (I like mine spicy!)
1 medium jalapeno, minced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil over medium heat in a medium pot.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  3. Cook, stirring often, 25-30 minutes.
  4. If desired, puree in a blender or with an immersion blender to the consistency you desire.
  5. Freezes well.

*Note: if diabetes or carb-counting doesn't concern you, sub equal amounts of white sugar and regular ketchup, respectively.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 36.3
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 472.5 mg
Total Carbs: 8.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.1 g
Protein: 1.0 g

P.S. I apologize for the short entry today, but really I haven't done anything (what with being sick and all). Tomorrow's my birthday, though, so you'll get a nice, long-winded post on that to look forward to!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Here's Something for Your Sweet Tooth

Since all I've been able to keep down tonight is a bowl of oatmeal, some tea and Crystal Light, an orange Popsicle and a Tofutti Fudge Pop (which, by the way, are fantastic).

So yay for diet forms of GBC food!

Diet Swiss Roll
Serves 2
1 large or 2 small bananas
½ cup low-fat silken firm tofu
½ tsp cream of tartar
2 tsp vanilla
2 slices dry white bread, crumbled
2/3 cup skim dry milk powder
4 tsp. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp Splenda (or sugar)
½ cup fat free ricotta cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp honey
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spray and lightly flour a 9x13” pan.
  2. Blend bananas through Splenda until smooth in a blender.
  3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from pan. Let cool on a clean kitchen towel.
  5. Cream together remaining ingredients.
  6. Spread on cake. Roll and chill minimum 3 hours before serving.
  7. Makes 2 servings.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 346.5
Total Fat: 2.45g
Saturated Fat: .75 g
Cholesterol: 10.0 mg
Sodium: 428.8 mg
Potassium: 536.85 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 64.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.2 g
Sugars: 15.3 g
Protein: 21.55g