Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Noodles

Sometimes the notion of "pasta for dinner" is equal to "I have no idea what to make and noodles works for everyone". I know that feeling well - especially when you're living in a family like mine, when (if my sister's home) we can easily prepare two to three different pasta dishes every night. I know that seems a lot for our family of five, but we have one (ahem) picky eater, me with the wheat and animal protein intolerance and other assorted allergies, then the rest of the household sharing the kitchen. Dinner times are staggered, and we all get fed one way or another, so it works for now! The fact that I cook and eat after the bulk of the meals are done also saves me from the awkward explanations of the "weird" meals I make - whether grilled tofu or tempeh based or a mashed potato with spicy beans, trying to tell people that my food does taste good even though it looks anything but is a bit draining.

Thankfully nobody was home when I came about making this noodle-omelette type dish the first time. Not only did it not involve meat or dairy (something my stepfamily still doesn't seem to "get" about me) but it involved a rather interesting impulse buy of mine from the Asian market: shirataki noodles. Usually used for stir-fry as far as I can tell anyway, they're packed in a bag of water and look like cellophane noodles. They don't really taste like much on their own, so I dug around in my crisper and found a portabello mushroom, grabbed some salsa and a carton of egg substitute (not being able to handle the yolks, egg whites are about it here) and boiled some water to hydrate some TVP crumbles I had in my pantry. A couple spices and some vegan Parmesan later I had an eggy, noodley mixture sizzling away in my brand new EarthChef pan (I freaking love that thing!), which I fired under the broiler for a few moments to crisp up the top before diving in. For extra zip I broke out a tomato-chili pepper sauce I had cooked up over the weekend, and while it was blow-your-head-off hot on it's own it really worked with the eggy, starchy and meaty meal.

Skinny Pastata
Serves 1
If you don't like, can't find or otherwise don't want to use shirataki noodles in this recipe, feel free to use an equivalent amount of cellophane noodles. Likewise for the Egg Creations you can use 3 eggs, 1 egg and 5 egg whites or 8 whole egg whites.
1/4 cup TVP
1/4 cup boiling water
dash liquid smoke
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
pinch kosher salt
1 small portabello mushroom, sliced thinly
8 oz shirataki noodles, drained and rinsed
dash hot sauce (like sambaal oelek)
2 tbsp spicy salsa
2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup (150 mL) original flavour Egg Creations
1 tbsp Galaxy Foods rice Parmesan
  1. Place TVP in a small bowl and pour boiling water overtop.
  2. Add liquid smoke, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and salt, set aside for 15 minutes. Drain excess liquid.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a small, deep non-stick frying pan over high heat and coat with cooking spray.
  4. Add mushroom and cook, stirring, until browned - about 5 minutes.
  5. Add TVP, noodles and hot sauce and cook until dry and incorporated well with the mushroom.
  6. Spread mixture into one even layer in the pan and reduce heat to medium.
  7. Cook, undisturbed, for one minute.
  8. Whisk together salsa, water, oregano, salt, pepper and Egg Creations in a measuring cup or bowl and pour evenly over the noodle mix in the pan.
  9. Continue cooking over medium heat until almost completely set, then sprinkle with the rice Parmesan and slide onto an oven-safe plate.
  10. Place under the broiler and cook until browned and crusty, 1-2 minutes (this is optional, you can finish cooking this stovetop if you prefer).
  11. Eat right off the plate, or if sharing, cut into wedges and transfer to serving plates.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 204.0
Total Fat: 1.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 494.3 mg
Total Carbs: 13.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 11.8 g
Protein: 31.1 g

Spicy Tomato-Chili Coulis
A note about the tomatoes: nrmally I'm not a stickler for the seasonal / local thing, but when it comes to this sauce, it matters. You need them to be picked at the peak of their ripeness, flavour and nutrition, not crunchy like storebought tomatoes.
Makes 16 (2-tbsp) servings
3 1/2 lbs fresh, IN SEASON plum tomatoes (San Marzano if you have a garden with them) - see note above
2 hot cherry peppers (usually called "cherry bomb" or similar, you can substitute jalapenos)
1 sweet cherry pepper (usually called "cherry pick")
1/3 cup brown sugar
  1. Quarter tomatoes and peppers (seed the peppers if you're concerned about too much heat). Place into a food processor (skins and all).
  2. Puree until completely smooth.
  3. Pass the puree through a food mill to eliminate the skins and seeds, and pour that mixture into a large pot.
  4. Bring to a brisk simmer and add the sugar.
  5. Cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 4 hours, until reduced to a thick puree.
  6. Store in the refrigerator or process in a waterbath for 30 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 38.8
Total Fat: 0.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 10.8 mg
Total Carbs: 10.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 0.9 g 

I'm sending this dish over to Presto Pasta Nights (brainchild of Ruth, who's also the host this week).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Bite of Sweet, A Bite of Bitter

It's been a good long while since I've seen the Sugar High Fridays event around on the blogs. For a while, I thought our resident Domestic Goddess Jennifer had retired the long running event... but nope, it's back at Aparna's blog My Diverse Kitchen and the theme is tiny... literally. "Bite sized desserts"  are the order of the day, and lucky for me I've just done not one, but two, kinds of petit-fours perfect for the party!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Not Intended

When you hear "semolina", the application most people picture is in the creation of pasta dough. Durum semolina pasta is buttery-yellow, toothsome, and can form any sort of noodle: from fine, fragile angel-hair to the hearty, artisanal shapes made with the old bronze dies. You know you've got a good, authentic(ish) bundle of fettuccini on your hands when the strands are slightly rough and pebbly from the edges of the extruder... they hold onto even the thinnest sauces with the culinary equivalent of a vice grip and the cooked dough never seems to get mushy even after sitting in the fridge overnight. While I loved and (more than) willingly ate my fair share of whole wheat and spelt pasta before discovering my wheat and gluten intolerance, there was just something about those sunny strands that was, witout question, better.

But I'm not here to talk to you about pasta-making. No, no... been there and done that. And while I may have loved making the sheets of lasagne and pockets of beet-tinted, pumpkin-filled ravioli, let's just say that the family... didn't. So my poor, maligned pasta maker has been sent to the basement to languish until I move out and I had to find a new use for the bag of durum semolina flour in my pantry.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Better Broth

Have you ever found yourself looking into the depths of your freezer in search of something - anything - to make for dinner, and come face to face with a bag or two of some unidentifiable edible? On one hand, you know you should really use up that quarter pound of ground beef, or the handful of vegetable medley that would barely serve one. But when you're feeding a household those piddly amounts of freezer food just don't cut it in the volume department. We all know it takes well over 1/4 lb of meat to feed a family of four, and at the same time you're not likely to find many takers for the chronically mushy, freezer-burned plant life.

That is, until you break out the soup pot. Soup is the great equalizer of the food world - if you can chop an onion and saute a mirepoix, even if you have not a clue what that is, and you have access to some form of liquid, anything is game. You can add almost anything you find in your freezer, fridge or pantry to a flavourful broth, and over a lazy afternoon coax out everything good that you forgot about those forgotten ingredients.

It's almost always a case of "I found this in the freezer/fridge/cupboard, what can I do with it?" that directs my cooking experiments with my mom's weekday soup menu. Whether it's that last chunk of ground beef, those slightly wilted mushrooms, the almost sprouted potato or the ten cans of beans brought home by a certain step-parent from Costco in a fit of World War mentality, mom knows that I'll figure out something to make them all work together. Usually the size of the pot is determined by just how much crap stuff I can find in about a half hour, and of course the ever-economical shell beans are a great stretching tactic. This week's pot had no less than five types of beans in it - frozen green, fresh Romano, canned Mexican red and dried adzuki and kidneys - and got fleshed out with some tomatoes, sweet potatoes and barley. Still dealing with the overabundance of cucumber in our crisper drawers, I grated half of one big guy and let it melt into the broth seamlessly.

This soup is one of those that freezes incredibly well too - which is good, because it fits neatly into the category of "soup for a year" bulk-wise!

Beany Beef and Barley Broth
Serves 10
1/4 cup water
1/2 lb lean ground beef
2 large onions, diced
6 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
2 baby beets, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
5 cups beef or rich chicken broth
2 cups water
29-oz canned tomatoes with juice
5 fl. oz low-sodium V8 cocktail
1 2/3 cups roasted tomato sauce (or chunky tomato sauce)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
5 oz adzuki beans, soaked overnight
6 oz kidney beans, soaked overnight
10 oz cucumber, grated
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp black pepper
35 fresh Romano beans (Italian flat beans), shelled (you can also use fresh or frozen baby lima beans)
7.5 oz sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 cup pot barley
19 oz can small red Mexican beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb fresh or frozen green beans, chopped
  1. Heat water in a large stockpot over medium-high.
  2. Add ground beef and cook until browned, stirring to crumble.
  3. Add onions, carrots and beets and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to turn golden - about 8-9 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer, until fragrant.
  5. Stir in wine and cook over high heat, stirring well, to dislodge the fond from the pot and reduce slightly.
  6. Add broth, water, tomatoes, V8, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, soaked beans and grated cucumber.
  7. Stir in bay leaves, thyme, oregano, basil, paprika and pepper, then bring to a boil.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 3 hours.
  9. Stir in the freshly shelled Romano beans, sweet potato and barley and cook 1 hour further, until beans are tender. Remove bay leaves and thyme stems.
  10. Add canned and frozen beans, uncover and cook at a brisk simmer for 30 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 402.3
Total Fat: 6.0 g
Cholesterol: 17.0 mg
Sodium: 1,024.5 mg
Total Carbs: 65.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 18.8 g
Protein: 21.9 g

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Double (and) Nothing

I don't think I could say enough how much I'm in awe of the gluten-free chefs and foodies out there. I mean, these people not only have a need to cook for themselves in a safe and nutritionally sound manner, but they have a true passion to share what they cook, eat and live with the world who reads their words. In fact, I cannot commend and thank enough all the bloggers out there who share their personal stories, trials and tribulations as well as the foods that comfort them. It takes real courage to so openly display your life, and it takes a true writer to spin each story into something far from a self-pitying rant - a readable, relatable account of what we can generally take for granted each day.

This isn't to say that the rest of the blogging community at large is any less deserving of praise - any well-written work should be valued regardless of the backstory of the author. But for those of us who do cope with food-related allergies, intolerances and diseases everyday, finding a journal that we can reliably read, understand, navigate and (most importantly) relate to is paramount. There are so many out there that I won't even begin to list them - but I'm sure you'll find more than enough inspiration and help by searching.

It was a simple search string for a rather complicated issue that led me to this recipe on Wheat Free Bread Recipes. If you follow my Twitter feed occasionally, you may have noticed two topics that I've brought up in recent weeks - helping out a young adult with celiac disease (and assorted allergies), and the fact that making anything with "standard" wheat or spelt flour left my skin and eyes itching and burning to the point where I would resort to an anti-allergy medication to stop it. I already know that eating wheat is not a great idea on my front, since it tends to lead to a fair bit of GI upset, but the trouble arsing from the flour in the air really...well... troubled me. I'm a baker at heart, after all - take away my flour and you take away my soul!

Or so I thought. Luckily, I was as wrong as I was melodramatic. Sure, the choice to exclude the allergenic ingredients of wheat, corn, brassicae, mushrooms, strawberries and dairy from my kitchen for the well-being of my client did not make for your standard experience while baking, but it wasn't exactly a slog through the valley of despair either. Rather, it was refreshing to dust off my baking "mitts" and try something new and totally unusual for me in both ingredients and method! The thrill of pulling that perfectly baked loaf out of the oven after a series of rather odd preparation instructions was akin to winning the baker's lottery - and the fact that the bread not only looked good but tasted good was the proverbial icing on the cake. Hey, if you've had your "usual" hypoallergenic food (cardboard and wallpaper paste, anyone?) you'll understand how precious that complexity of flavour is.

I'm sending this sleeper success to Susan's event YeastSpotting at Wild Yeast.

Gluten-Free Double Quinoa Bread
Makes 1 loaf (16 slices) or 16 "rolls" in muffin tins
1 1/2 cups GF all-purpose flour (mixture of garbanzo bean, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour and fava bean flour)
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup El Peto Whole Grain Cream of Brown Rice Cereal
3 tbsp soy protein powder
6 tbsp soy milk powder
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
2 tbsp chia seed
2 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp instant yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 tsp brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/4 cup quinoa, soaked 8 hours in cool water and drained

  1. Spray 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with "safe" nonstick spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flours, rice cereal, protein powder, soy milk powder, flaxseed, chia seed, cream of tartar, baking soda and yeast, stirring well.
  3. In a pot, combine water and tapioca flour, whisking smooth.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook 1-2 minutes, until thick. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  5. In another bowl, beat together soy milk, sugar, egg and salt until frothy.
  6. Beat in the tapioca mixture, then mix the whole thing into the dry ingredients.
  7. Add the quinoa and beat smooth.
  8. Scrape into the prepared pan or 16 sprayed muffin cups.
  9. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 400F. Bake loaf 45 minutes, tenting with foil after 25 minutes. If making rolls in the muffin tins, bake 25-30 minutes.
Per one 1/16th of the loaf
Calories 135.2
Total Fat 3.2 g
Cholesterol 13.3 mg
Sodium 57.8 mg
Potassium 95.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.0 g
Dietary Fiber 3.0 g
Sugars 1.9 g
Protein 6.4 g

Vitamin A 3.2 %
Vitamin B-12 7.1 %
Vitamin B-6 1.3 %
Vitamin C 0.3 %
Vitamin D 1.3 %
Vitamin E 0.2 %
Calcium 4.6 %
Copper 2.9 %
Folate 2.2 %
Iron 8.9 %
Magnesium 3.2 %
Manganese 2.5 %
Niacin 0.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.6 %
Phosphorus 5.8 %
Riboflavin 7.0 %
Selenium 3.0 %
Thiamin 1.3 %
Zinc 1.4 %

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Will it Take?

What makes a simple food enthusiast and home cook great? Is it their creativity with various ingredients? Their embrace of worldly cultural influences? Or is it their ability to go into the kitchen unafraid every day and create, drawing inspiration from sources blatant to the innocuous?

I like to think that any good foodie must not only relish cooking and eating, but must also take delight in exposing others to their discoveries and teaching them to the best of their ability. Blogs have become some of the most important, not to mention accessible, teaching and communication tools out there in recent years, and the authors have become storytellers, photographers, chemists and critics to an ever-changing audience. With the popularity and easily accessible medium of the internet also comes the ability of both authors and readers to change their preferences and styles on a whim, with writers even going so far as to end their communications seemingly mid-thought and disappear completely.

Since the demands of the blog-reading population are so fluid, it only makes sense that food blogging would begin emulating it's television counterpart and feature competition a la The Next Food Network Star. FoodBuzz, my publisher (and amazing food blogger connection resource) is doing just that, with a venture they're calling Project Food Blog. You can see my contestant profile here. But what qualifies me to take top honours? Well honestly, I think I'm just like anyone else with an undying passion. I'm incapable of going a day without cooking, thinking about cooking or creating new recipes to try out. I'm in the grocery store almost every day searching for inspiration and will try out even the most unlikely combinations regardless of their potential for failure.

What makes me different, as you know if you've been reading my blog for a while, is that I'm only aware of my successes and failures well after their creation. With few exceptions, I don't have the ability to cut bait and abandon a project after tasting it midway through. Instead I've become to rely on an army of taste-testers to give me honest feedback and critique with each new creation. Rather than being a burden on my creativity, the varied preferences of those I feed give me neverending ideas and encouragement to try new and unusual recipes. As a recipe writer and blogger, it's also given me the ability to take criticism (even if it's not constructive) and turn it into something useful that I can share with the rest of the world. Over the years, I've not only developed and grown in terms of my writing and photography skills, but I've also discovered my true passion for health and wellness through nutrition. Eventually, I turned this passion into a career path, completing a college degree in traditional nutrition and even enrolling in my current graduate program studying holistic nutritional therapy.

For all the nutritional knowledge that I have behind me now, though, the truth is that I am still 100% addicted to the pursuit of good food. I still bake up a storm with butter, flour and sugar, and I'm first to turn my nose up at bland, boring meals. The thing that I've really come to realize during my culinary journey is this: good food isn't just about taste.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Christmas in September!

I hate to admit it, but Summer is at an end. Well, as far as the whole "break from school" thing goes, at least. Truth be told, our garden (and most local produce markets) will go on embracing the calander year's Summer season as long as it lasts, if not longer - yielding bushels of tomatoes, peppers, beans and eggplant at the very least, and (for me, at least) sweet, crunchy beets and carrots too. With the root veggies, it's almost not even worth pulling them mid-season (as tempting as it might be) since with the cooler weather comes sweeter roots, and even better crunch!

We've been lucky this year too. Like I mentioned both yesterday and a week ago, we're in the throes of the "overflowing garden" era, especially when it comes to things like the tomatoes, peppers and rhubarb. It wouldn't be a problem, until you realize that every pepper plant we've grown is a hot variety (the mildest ones we have are cherry peppers, ranging up to bird's eyes!) and neither my stepbrother nor stepfather can stomach the capsaicin. Or that every tomato plant we have is giving us their all... all at once. And of course, I don't need to tell you about the whiles of rhubarb. Rhubarb just is... rhubarb!

So needless to say I've fallen into a "use up all the stuff" rut. I can't bear to let the delicious tomatoes go to waste, so what I just can't eat au naturel I've jammed into sauce upon sauce for mid-winter nosh. The last time I wandered into the garden was right after a fairly violent windstorm, which knocked off a good portion of fruit from the plants - including a fair amount of unripe tomatoes. Well, green tomatoes I can deal with! Especially since I was due to make my yearly mincemeat anyway, allowing it a good few months to mellow in it's boozy sauce before pie-time came knocking in December. Along with a big freezer bag of rhubarb, the veggies made for a perfect, tangy "filler" in the mixture, and soaked up the molasses, honey and rum like sponges to water. Unlike last year and the year before, I was able to can the mincemeat in my waterbath canner so I could shove it into the depths of my pantry instead of fighting for space in the overflowing freezer. Adding dried apricots, dates, currants and craisins added a wide variety of flavour and texture notes too, which all kept their individuality at the same time as melding into the whole mixture. I think this Christmas will be a merry one indeed! 

Summer Season's Mincemeat
Makes about 10 cups, enough for 3 pies and a few tarts
3 large apples, diced
2 lbs chopped rhubarb
3.5 oz green (unripe) cherry tomatoes, halved
juice and zest of one orange
juice and zest of one lemon
1 cup Demerara sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups raisins
6 oz dried apricots, diced
3 oz prunes (about 12)
4.6 oz diced dates
3.8 oz dried cranberries
4 oz currants
1/2 cup rum
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh-grated ginger
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Cover, and cook over low heat for 3 hours.
  2. Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2" space.
  3. Process for 20 minutes in a water-bath canner. Alternatively freeze up to 1 year.
Amount Per Cup
Calories: 478.3
Total Fat: 1.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 22.3 mg
Total Carbs: 123.9 g
Dietary Fiber: 10.7 g
Protein: 3.5 g

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Franco-phenomenal Coffee Cake

You've gotta hand it to the farming communities. You know, it's tricky enough trying to deal with your own glut of produce in the middle of summer when you just have a home garden to tend - can you imagine what it must be like for a family with acres of the fertile stuff? I often wonder what it must feel like to suddenly be overburdened with what I like to term "placeholder produce" - the fruits and veggies that are never the "big sellers" in the marketplace, that you really only ever see squirreled away in the corners of the farmers' markets and roadside stalls. Things like the humble garden radish, or the occasional bunch of dandelion greens. One of the veggies that's particularly prominent mid-spring, right next to the baskets of strawberries, is of course the robust, tart rhubarb.

It's not that rhubarb is a gross plant. On the contrary, rhubarb is a delicious blend of contrasting textures and flavours... a crisp crunch and fresh, clean taste wake up the tongue on the first bite, while the toothsome, slightly stringy chew and bitter, sweet and tart flavours rush right in for a follow up. It's the strength of those flavours that make rhubarb an ingredient with a firm place in either the "love it" or "hate it" component of the human psyche. Generally, rhubarb is just too acidic, too tannic and too "rhubarby" to do anything but bathe it in a gooey sugar-berry mixture and encase it in pastry. Now don't get me wrong - I'm as big a fan of those pies as the next person, but I knew there had to be something, anything, that was both all about the plant and delicious at the same time.

Enter the church cookbook my mom has, written by a French-Canadian congregation in the St. Lawrence valley. That area is known for it's arable land and delicious produce, so it's no surprise that almost everything in the book features something from their backyards! One of my mom's personal favourites - potage parmentier - is in there, as are recipes for apples, grapes, and all kinds of veggies. Including rhubarb!

I skipped over the jam, pie filling and compote recipes (although they did have a rather interesting "Îles Flottantes" one) and landed on one for cake. Mmm, cake. Rhubarb cake. Even better, rhubarb crumb cake. With whole wheat, even! Perfect. I had my starting point.

In all honesty, I changed very little in the cake recipe, except to use spelt flour instead of the whole wheat and a banana in place of the egg. I left the butter, the sugar, and the buttermilk just as they were though - it's crumb cake after all, and since rhubarb is not exactly the sweetest thing on the planet I didn't want to turn people off! Having made it though, I think I would reduce the amount of sugar in the cake itself (probably by half) - the crumb topping is more than enough to stand up to the tart chunks of rhubarb and tangy buttermilk. I left the original poportions here, so let me know if you play around and it works well!

French Canadian Rhubarb Coffee Cake
Serves 12
1/4 cup sugar
12 oz (about 2 1/2 cups) rhubarb, diced
1/2 cup softened, salted butter (cultured if possible)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small banana, mashed
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

2 tbsp softened, salted butter (cultured if possible)
1/2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp spelt flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour a 10" springform pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together sugar and rhubarb. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, then drain liquid and set rhubarb aside.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar until fluffy.
  5. Add banana and vanilla, beating well.
  6. Beat in alternating additions of the dry ingredients with the buttermilk, blending well, then fold in the rhubarb.
  7. Scrape into the pan and set aside while preparing topping.
  8. With a fork or your fingers, work the butter into the cinnamon, spelt flour and brown sugar until crumbly.
  9. Scatter over the top of the cake batter and lightly press on.
  10. Bake 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven, then cover with a piece of aluminum foil, move to the bottom rack and bake another 30 minutes.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 279.8
Total Fat: 10.3 g
Cholesterol: 26.4 mg
Sodium: 100.6 mg
Total Carbs: 52.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.2 g
Protein: 3.9 g

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Second Sauce

You'd think that I'd be in my element right now. What with the fact that every time I go outside to weed the garden I wind up coming in with a bowl of beauties like this:


And normally, with any standard family garden, you'd be right. Even though I'm only one person, I'd be able to take care of a single garden plot's worth of output.

The thing is, we don't have a single garden plot's worth of garden. We have about five standard garden plot's worth of plants. We're also blessed enough to have had our house built on a particularly fertile tract of old potato farm - and the remainder of that farm property now plays host to a large flock of sheep, some cows and our friendly neighbourhood donkey! So to put it simply, we have a lot of vegetables coming ripe by the end of Summer, more than even my mom and I (self-proclaimed veggie-holics) can contend with. Of particular excess every single season are the Romano beans and the tomatoes.

Oh. The. Tomatoes. We've even cut down on the amount of plants we put in this year, but even then we're still faced with 4 San Marzano, 4 Early Girl, and 4 Yellow Pear plants my stepdad bought as seedlings, and I started some gorgeous heirloom seeds for Black Prince, Green Zebra, Sasha's Altai and "Heirloom Mix" tomatoes on a whim (never thinking they'd all take). Well needless to say, they did all take, and they are all to die for delicious fresh - but while it is a crime to cook any perfect in season tomato at all, to me it's a far greater sin to let them sit and rot away to oblivion.
But I would never want to subject them to just stewing in a pot. And really, I wouldn't want them to be unduly overpowered by other ingredients in a standard sauce medium. No, if I was going to do sauce, not a passata as I have already done this year, I would keep it fairly simple, bringing out the delicious flavour of the fruit with a roast like before but adding in a few other gratuitous veggies we had around - after all sauces, as well as soups, are the great use-ups of the culinary world!

Roasted Triple - Tomato Sauce
Makes about 3 2/3 cups (875 mL). NI is for 1/3 cup servings
4 cloves garlic, peeled
27.5 oz fresh San Marzano tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1/2 medium red onion, cut into 4 pieces
1.2 oz red bell pepper, seeded and cut into roughly the same size as the tomato halves
1/2 tbsp olive oil
salt + pepper
1/2 cup dry red wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme, de-stemmed
2 oz sundried tomatoes, julienned
7.2 oz cucumber, coarsley grated
1/2 cup water
3 oz tomato paste (1/2 can)
pinch each oregano, basil and lemon-pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Place garlic cloves on a square of foil and pour 1 tbsp of water overtop. Wrap garlic, sealing the foil packet and place on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange tomato halves, onion and bell pepper on the lined sheets, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place sheets in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.
  5. While vegetables are roasting, combine red wine, thyme, sundried tomatoes and cucumber in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook on low heat 20 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. When vegetables and garlic are done, puree in a food processor and add to the stovetop mixture.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of water to the food processor and whirl it to "clean" out the workbowl, adding the tomatoey water to the pot as well.
  8. Bring to a simmer, stir in tomato paste, herbs and lemon pepper and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes.
  9. Cool and pour into jars, keep in the fridge, freeze or can in a waterbath.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 54.3
Total Fat: 1.1 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 175.5 mg
Total Carbs: 9.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 2.0 g

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bread: Something (Sort Of) Simple

Is it really already September? I can't believe it... seems like just yesterday I was graduating from college, and there were always eons of time before my baby sister left for her own post-secondary adventure. But no, the calendar has been flipped to the dreaded "S" month, when both parents and kids would still rather be using books to press the Summer flowers with than study from. And as much as I hate to admit it, I'm a little saddened by thr thought that my closest friend in the past 4 years is now going to be 4 hours away having the time of her life.

I won't lie - I would have liked to have found some gainful employment this past Summer. For one thing, it sure would have helped foot the bill for my latest outpouring of specialty, allergen-free baking experiments filled with all sorts of new (to me) and nifty ingredients. At the same time, though, I'm incredibly grateful to have had this "one last Summer" free to spend with my little sister. In the hectic world of appointments, classes, trips, expectations and meetings, it was comforting to know that there was at least one person on your plane of existence that was in exactly the same position mentally, too.

So it didn't really surprise me that my mom - dealing with her own brands of insanity between work, home and my sister's imminent departure - requested that the latest "work bread" I bake for her be something simple. Basic. And beyond all else, something that was familiar. A simple loaf of whole wheat bread, she said, that's all I want. That's all I need right now.

Truer words were never spoken. I understand precisely what she means by that - and I too, relish in the delights of "something good" being the same as "something simple". So while this loaf is a bit more involved than "water, flour, yeast", it is still inherently one thing: bread.

This loaf is being sent to Susan for the YeastSpotting event at Wild Yeast.

Supermoist Wheat Bread
Adapted from The New Laurel's Kitchen: A Handbook for Vegetarian Cookery & Nutrition by Laurel Robertson
Makes 1 loaf, 16 slices
1 tsp instant yeast
3 cups (13.8 oz) whole wheat bread flour
2 tbsp (0.4 oz) instant mashed potato flakes
2 tbsp (0.6 oz) ground flaxseed
1 tbsp (0.3 oz) wheat germ
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup warm whole milk
1/2 cup warm water
6 tbsp (3 oz) non-fat Greek style yogurt
2 tbsp (1.5 oz) honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp (1 oz) melted, salted butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp bulgur wheat

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk together yeast, flour, potato flakes, flaxseed, wheat germ and cinnamon.
  2. In another bowl or jug, combine milk, water, yogurt, honey and vanilla.
  3. Add liquids to the flour mixture and stir well to combine.
  4. Knead with the mixer on low speed for 5 minutes, then add butter and salt and continue kneading for 10 minutes longer, until smooth and supple.
  5. Place into an oiled bowl, cover and allow to rest for 2 hours.
  6. Deflate dough and knead briefly. Shape into a round and allow to rest 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle a rimmed baking sheet with the bulgur.
  8. Shape the round of dough into a loaf, roll in the bulgur on the cookie sheet and place into a greased loaf pan.
  9. Cover and allow to rise 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 350F.
  11. Bake loaf for 50 minutes. Remove from the pan immediately and cool on a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 113.5
Total Fat: 2.4 g
Cholesterol: 4.3 mg
Sodium: 18.3 mg
Total Carbs: 20.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Protein: 4.2 g