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Archive for the ‘Nuts’ Category

It’s been many years that I’ve anticipated getting the wonderful cookbook Plenty, by Ottolenghi. Last weekend, the book in my hands, I poured over every recipe with so much excitement.

As a busy student in my 4th year of medical school, and my fiancé in his first year of residency, we sometimes stall when it comes to creative ways to cook delicious vegetarian meals. We get a weekly local food box, which is wonderful, but we sometimes lack the creativity that we used to have. This cookbook has completely turned that around, helping us come up with fantastic delicious and realistic ideas.

Pulses are a wonderful alternative to meat protein. I tout their benefits to many people who ask me about ways to increase fibre or to those who are looking to increase the amount of alternative proteins. They fill me up, so that if I am on my feet all day long, I am still able to function at the end of the day.

This recipe is particularly flavourful, with nutty richness and crunch, the surprise hints of mint, and the buttery celeriac. I cannot recommend it enough!

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Directions – serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup puy lentils
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small celeriac, peeled and cut into 1/2 cm wedges
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp hazelnut oil
  • 3 Tbsp Sherry Vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp chopped mint
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 275, toast the hazelnuts for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Chop coarsely.

In a medium pot, combine the lentils, water, bay leaves, salt and thyme, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils become cooked but remain slightly chewy. Drain with a sieve.

In the meantime, bring lots of salty water to a boil in a separate pot. Boil the celeriac 10-12 minutes until soft.

While things are cooking place the oils, vinegar, mint and some salt and pepper at the bottom of a serving bowl. When the lentils are drained pour them into the serving bowl and stir to coat with the dressing. Place the celeriac, 2/3 of the chopped hazelnuts as well as 1/2 the chopped mint in with the lentils and stir until mixed in. Serve with crusty bread and sprinkle the remaining mint and hazelnuts on top.

Hope you enjoy!

-Sitelle

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The last few months have been crazy – as a clinical clerk (senior medical student), I’m often required to be at the hospital well before sunrise.  I’ve needed a hearty breakfast to keep my energy levels up, and critically, one that easy to prepare in a semi-asleep state!  For years I was under the illusion that granola was tricky to make – thank goodness my roommate helped show me the light.

Homemade granola is simple to prep and far more delicious than any grocery store variety I’ve ever purchased.   I love how I can control what I put into it (no longer do I need to put up with raisins…) and how little sugar goes in compared to the bought variety.  This recipe is Jamie Oliver’s and its incredibly versatile: simply mix and match the nuts, seeds, and dried fruits to what’s in your cupboards and to your favourite flavours.

 

Toasted Granola

Toasted Granola

(makes enough to fill a large jar)

 

Ingredients

2 cups quick cook oats

1 heaped cup mixed nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts, cashews, brazil nuts), coarsely chopped

1/2 cup mixed seeds (sunflower, poppy, pumpkin, sesame)

3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots, cherries, prunes), coarsely chopped

5 Tbsp. maple syrup

5 Tbsp. olive oil

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix all the dry ingredients except the dried fruit in a large bowl.  Drizzle with the maple syrup and olive oil and stir to coat evenly.  Transfer granola to a sheet pan (optional: use parchment paper). Toast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring the granola with a wooden spoon every 5-10 minutes to ensure it cooks evenly.  Remove granola from the oven when it is golden and fragrant. Mix in the dried fruit and let it cool down.

Once cooled, transfer to an airtight container.  Delicious served with milk or over a dollop of yogurt.

Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Cran almond and feta salad

Since I’ve lived in two very different yet both remote locations these past two years, I’ve learned that a yearning for delicious food and the absence of many of my favourite items makes for some intense cravings. Last year, I would have done just about anything for something other than palm oil and broken-grade rice; this year I would do just about anything for something other than a tasteless carrot or bitter celery.

As a member of the local volunteer fire department and ambulance service, I’m learning about standing up for myself in conversations dominated by men. This past weekend we had a pot-luck at the firehall, and I knew the food would be heavy on “man food”, which I’ve determined through my engagement in the department to mean meat-heavy (always) and often sauce-based dishes or casseroles. The food is usually delicious, but it lacks in the veggie dimension. I hate to follow the entrenched rules and bring light food as is expected of a woman, but at the same time the extreme lack of the vegetable and fruit food group made my final decision to bring a salad a no-brainer. I knew it would just reinforce stereotypes, but that’s something I can handle.

Here’s the recipe for the delicious salad we brought along to the potluck!

Cran Almond Feta with Vinaigrette

Ingredients – 6 servings

1 head lettuce (anything except iceberg if you can help it), washed, dried, and torn into pieces

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp maple syrup

2/3 cup crumbled feta

1/2 cucumber, quartered then sliced

Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp grain dijon mustard

11/2 Tbsp cider vinegar

4 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 shallot, minced

1 tsp crushed tarragon

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Once melted add the maple syrup. Once hot and mixed, drop in the almonds and cook, stirring every minute or so, until they brown. Allow them to cool and make sure the clusters are not too big by separating them with your fingers.

Wash the lettuce and cucumber and prepare. Place lettuce in a large salad bowl, and sprinkle the cucumber over top, along with the feta and the cranberries, and then the maple-candied almonds. Cover until ready to serve.

To make the vinaigrette, mix the mustard and vinegar well. Add the oil and stir vigorously until it combines. Add the shallot, tarragon, salt and pepper. Pour over salad when ready to eat!

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Don’t let the time discourage you, but do read through carefully and plan accordingly!

Let me start by saying this is one the things I am proudest of baking, entirely from scratch!

Although I’m very busy, I find that it’s being busy with a whole variety of activities many of which are organized to keep everyone up here sane through the long, dark, and cold winter. People are very creative in the North, since there are few opportunities for leisure outside of the realm of your imagination. In the fall we took on the challenge of making our own sourdough starter. This week, we took on 36-hour sourdough cinnamon buns as a fun challenge.

On one of the coldest mornings in Hay River, I realized we had the rare chance of being home enough over the next two days to give these 36-hout cinnamon buns a try. As the recipe starts with a warning that these are very time-consuming (and coming from an author-chef who makes her own phyllo pastry) I was a bit worried because my time did have a finite limit (going to see Les Miserables) the following evening at 7pm. I had to try it, though, as this was my only window in the foreseeable future.

Inspired by the northern climate, I decided to add some creativity to this dessert with pecans, and exchange cranberries for raisins as they are more of a local product. The result was dangerously tasty.

DSCN4240_NRW

 

Ingredients:

 

Starter, Day 1: AM

-1/4 cup starter

-1/2 cup flour and equal parts warm water

 

 

Starter, Day 1: PM

-1 cup flour and equal parts warm water

 

 

Day 2: AM

Dough

-1/4 cup butter

-1/2 cup sugar

-2 eggs

-1/2 cup buttermilk

-4 cups all-purpose flour (approximately)

-1 1/2 tsp sel

 

Filling

-1/2 cup butter

-1 1/2 cups brown sugar

-3 Tbsp heavy cream

-2 tsp ground cinnamon

-1 cup dried cranberries

-1 cup chopped pecans

 

Glaze

-1/8 cup melted butter

-1/8 cup cream

DSCN4245_NRW

 

Directions:

 

Day 1, AM: feed the starter the flour and water. Cover loosely and let rest.

Day 1, PM: add to starter: flour and water. Cover loosely and allow to sit in a warm place overnight.

Day 2, AM: Allow the butter, eggs and buttermilk to warm to room temperature. Cream the butter and sugar for 3-4 minutes, and then add one egg at a time. Finally, add the buttermilk and mix well. After this, I added the starter, and mixed in 2/3-3/4 of the flour. I added a little more flour over time, until you have incorporated it fully, and proceeded to knead for about 10 minutes.

After that, let the dough rest covered with a damp tea towel for 20 minutes.

Add the salt gradually, and continue kneading for another 8 minutes until the dough feels very uniform. I recommend to keep the surface on which you’re working and your hands nice and floury while you work.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, and mix it around so it is fully covered in oil. Cover with a damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm place until it’s doubled in volume – for me it took around 6 hours, but it can take usually between 4-8 hours.

While the dough is rising, melt the butter over medium-low, and watch it bubble until the bubbles get very small and the colour changes from a white to a faint golden colour. Remove from heat immediately. Add the remaining ingredients, return to heat, and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Cool and beat the mixture until it is a good consistency for spreading.

Once the dough has reached twice its original volume, punch it down and roll it out to a large rectangle between two pieces of slightly floured parchment paper.

Remove the top parchment paper, and spread and push the filling evenly into the dough, leaving about 2 cm around the edge. Roll it up lengthwise tightly, and pinch the edges closed. Slice it into 16 rolls, and place into a baking tray lined with parchment paper. This is a bit of a delicate job, but I managed with my fingers and a knife.

Cover with a damp cloth and let rise again until nearly doubled, between 2-3 hours. Preheat the oven (finally!) to 400F and bake for 20-25 minutes. I had a drip-catching tray underneath, as recommended in the recipe, and that was really good to avoid oven fires or a smoky house.

Immediately out of the oven I brushed each with a mix of 1/8 cup melted butter and 1/8 cup cream mixed together. These were divine!

Good luck, it’s not the easiest recipe but it is amazingly delicious.

-Sitelle

 

 

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My grandmother recently turned 90!  To celebrate her birthday, we held a luncheon that included this salad. A recipe from the now-defunct magazine Gourmet, this salad is simply lovely.  The dressing is the star – creamy and with just a hint of sweetness, the kick of the curry and ginger makes this dish shine.  I also love how the dressing is not too heavy, lightened by the yoghurt.  The chicken is gently poached, ensuring that it stays nice and moist. And the tanginess of the red grapes and mangoes compliment the saltiness of the cashews.   You simply can’t go wrong with this one!

If you plan to assemble ahead, hold back the cashews and add at the last minute.  Otherwise they will lose their crunch.

As an aside –  if you happen to have curried mayo leftover from sweet potato fries, this is a delicious way to use it up!

Curried chicken salad

 

Curried Chicken Salad with Mangoes and Cashews

(serves 6 generous portions)
 

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup chicken broth

1 1/2 lb skinless boneless chicken breast

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup plain yogurt

2 Tbsp curry powder

Zest of one lime plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 firm-ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cubed

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup salted roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
 

Directions

Combine chicken broth with 4 cups of water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add chicken and simmer, uncovered, for 6 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and cover, then let stand until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and cool for 10 minutes.  Chop into 1/2-inch cubes.

While chicken is cooling, whisk together mayonnaise, yogurt, curry, lime juice and zest, honey, ginger, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add chicken, onion, mango, grapes, and cashews.  Stir gently to combine.

Bon appetit!
 
– Catherine

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To accompany the cranberry sauce post I did a few days ago, here’s the recipe for an absolutely divine cheesecake we made for a dinner party last night. G. has been coaching boy’s volleyball, and last weekend he brought a big bag of his home-made chocolate chip cookies along for the team. They loved the cookies apparently, but the poor quality of the flour meant that before the boys managed to eat all of them many had disintegrated. He came home and announced we must make a cheesecake to use up the crumbs. Yes!

Warning! Bake this cake in the morning – it requires a lot of cooking and cooling and rest before you can serve it to your guests or bring it to a dinner party. It’s well worth the effort though, I promise. It’s lighter than many cheesecakes, and the nuts in the crust along with the browned butter make it absolutely irresistible.

Ingredients

Crust

1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs (we used crumbs from the chocolate chip recipe at the back of the “chipits” chocolate chip bag, and picked out the chocolate chips we could find)

3/4 cups chopped pecans

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup browned butter

Filling, first layer

2 eggs, well-beaten

1 lb (454g) cream cheese (this is two packages of philadelphia cream cheese, not one!)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp lemon juice

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Filling, second layer

1 1/2 cups thick sour cream

1/2 cup white sugar

1 tsp vanilla or 1 Tbsp maple syrup

pinch of salt

1-2 cups Spirited Cranberry Sauce

Directions

In a saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Once it is melted, allow it to begin to bubble. Reduce the heat and watch it carefully until the bubbles start to get bigger and then smaller. Once they are tiny and look foamy, keep your eye out for little golden and then light brown specks in the butter. Remove it from heat immediately as the butter is now at the browned butter stage which is delicious as it tastes like hazelnuts but it can easily be burned. If you like you can keep a shallow pan of cold water next to your stove and when the butter is browned you can dip the bottom of the pan in order to kill the cooking process and protect your butter from burning.

Mix the cookie crumbs along with the brown sugar, and then pour the butter over that whole mixture. Mix well, and then press into a round, 2 1/2 inch deep springform pan (ideal… we don’t have anything of the sort though and managed well enough). Press the bottom and sides up to form an even crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes while you process the first layer of cheesecake. Remove the cream cheese from the fridge so it can soften a bit, as with the eggs.

Next, preheat the oven to 375F. Whisk all the ingredients for the first layer together, except the cinnamon. If you have a food processor, process them together. If not, as is the case with us, you can press it through a sieve several times with a spoon and that does the job too although it is a bit messier! Spoon that into the crust and bake for 20-22 minutes. When it is cooked remove it from the oven and let it cool to room temperature. This takes several hours. Sprinkle the cinnamon over top of the first layer.

To make the second layer, preheat the oven to 425F. Mix the ingredients for the second layer thoroughly. Pour it all over the first layer. When the oven is ready, cook for five minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool first to room temperature and then to chill thoroughly in the fridge for at least 6 hours before it is ready to be served.

Before serving, prepare spirited cranberry sauce, and drizzle over top.

-Sitelle

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After all of my travels last year throughout the world, I must say I was interested to find in Canada some of the basis of many meals and cooking techniques I also found in other places. I also grew more aware of what foods are available in Canada, and what exactly Canadian food is. If this is not a Canadian recipe, then I do not know what is!

As I cooked the first batch of dried blueberry pancakes smothered in maple syrup for my village in The Gambia, I realized I’d shared a true Canadian flavour with my hosts. Maple syrup.

This recipe draws on inspiration from the Joy of Cooking’s classic sponge cake recipe. I love the recipe as it is delicious while also being totally dairy-free and also oil-free, which makes it a crowd pleaser as long as no one has trouble with gluten or wheat.

I invented the icing, inspired by a rich but complementary cream cheese base, and made unique with pecan butter and maple extract.

I hope you like these as much as Catherine and all my friends did – they sure disappeared fast! It was such a pleasure to finally bake something for Catherine as we are in the same city for just about a month! I think we should take advantage of proximity while we can.

Ingredients – 12 cupcakes

3/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/4 tsp salt

3 egg yolks (save the whites in the fridge, they will be used in a few minutes!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup amber (or any other you have) maple syrup
1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp maple extract (optional)

3 egg whites

Ingredients – maple pecan cream cheese frosting

2/3 cup pecans

1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/8 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup icing sugar
1 Tsp maple extract
pinch salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. To make the cupcakes, sift all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks for about a minute, until they begin to thicken. Gradually add in the sugar and maple syrup, and beat for a further 3 minutes on high. Add in the extract, and then beat in the boiling water.

Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients. You can do so with a beater on low or with a whisk (my preference). Using clean beaters and a chilled bowl, beat the egg whites into medium-firm peaks.

Carefully incorporate one quarter of the egg whites into the batter with a rubber spatula, and then add the remainder when it is light and airy. Do not over-mix.

Spoon the mixture into the cupcake liners, filling them to 3/4. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes depending on your oven, until a toothpick poked into the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.

To make the pecan cream cheese maple icing, start with making the pecan butter. If you have a food processor or blender, place the nuts inside and allow them to be processed until they become coarse pecan butter. Add in the cream cheese and butter, and continue to mix until everything is smooth. Add in the sugar and extract, and continue to pulse.

If you do not have a food processor, just buy some pecan butter and mix it in with the other ingredients in a bowl using a fork and then a wooden spoon once it is broken up.

If the icing is too runny, add a bit of icing sugar, or refrigerate! You can garnish the iced cupcakes with pecan halves if you like!

-Sitelle

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