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Archive for the ‘Peanut Butter’ Category

It’s been a busy few months for me! I’ve moved to a new city and started a new job.  Most recently, my job took me up to Moose Factory, Ontario. It’s primarily a Cree community about 10 kilometres south of James Bay (the southern-most section of Hudson’s Bay) on the Moose River.  It was just gorgeous, truly a winter wonderland from mid-November onwards!

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Sunset on the banks of the Moose River

But the food situation could only be described as dire.  I was shocked at the prices and the resulting food insecurity (not to mention the boil water advisory on the reserve).  I saw families at checkouts with only canned food in their cart as that was all they could afford! I’m lucky to have a decent salary and was only buying for myself, but even something as simple as a bowl of pasta with tomato sauce quickly added up to $10-15!  Here’s some prices from my grocery shop in Kashechewan, a community nearby Moose Factory:

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The frighteningly high food prices of Kashechewan, Ontario

All to say, when I got home to Ottawa this past weekend, I was craving a big and varied veggie stirfry.  I decided to make one of my favourite recipes, Lotus Land Linguini from  rebar: modern food cook book.  This medley of crisp veggies with a delightful spicy & creamy peanut sauce continues to be one of my absolute faves.   In it’s original form it’s vegan, but as a special treat I added some shrimp.  And to keep with the Asian theme, I served it with rice noodles instead of linguini (making it gluten-free too!).  I have yet to meet a friend or family member who hasn’t asked for the recipe.  Just the culinary treat I needed!!

– Bon appetit!

Catherine

 

lotus-land-linguini

Crisp veggies in the wok!  Oh so delicious 

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Wishing you and yours a very happy new year!

The past year has flown by.  It’s been a busy year – finishing up my Master’s thesis, travelling in Tanzania, starting medical school – and I have been very fortunate.  While I’ve had fewer new cooking adventures (to be remedied in 2013), I have certainly enjoyed many old favourites with friends and family!

Gourm(eh?) continues to exceed expectations. It’s hard to believe that a small project for me and Sitelle to share recipes has turned into a blog that has received over 30,000 hits!  We look forward to sharing many more in 2013 – including a few more Canadian specialties.

To start off 2013, I wanted to share the five most popular recipes from 2012.  Bon appetit!

– Catherine

5. Lotus Land Linguini

Creamy lotus land linguine

This pasta from rebar was initially cooked to fulfill a peanut craving.  The lotus land linguini turned out to be a fun and tasty dish enjoyed by all – the leftovers were perfect as a picnic lunch the next day on a wintertime outing to Peggy’s Cove!

4. Whitewater Cinnamon Buns

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

Waiting for the cinnamon buns to finish rising

These cinnamon buns from Whitewater Cooks were nice and cinnamony, and perfect for a late morning brunch!

3. Spicy Steamed Fish, Gambian Style

Gambian platter

Sitelle shared many of the recipes she picked up while living in Gambia – and this one looks divine!

2. Christmas Cookies

Swedish Pastries (Thumbprint Walnut Christmas Cookie)

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Slice-and-Bake Icebox Cookies

Icebox Cookies

Christmas baking is a favourite family tradition, and these two cookies are my great-grandmother’s secret recipes.  They continue to be loved year after year!

1. Benachin

Bowl of benachin

Another of Sitelle’s Gambian dishes was our most viewed of 2012, and this is certainly a dish meant to be shared with company!

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One of my favourite things to go home to after a long day of work is to have a cup of tea in a quiet house, especially when the snow has already begun and winter is fast approaching. Baking some cookies can do the trick too, which I did yesterday. Without any cookbooks or internet at my disposal yesterday, I was left to my own devices, which included a jar of peanut butter (no recipe on that label), some butter, sugar, flour, and… jam! I love thumbprint cookies with jam, so why not take the old PB&J sandwich to the next course, and turn it into a dessert? The result was delicious!

Now that the snow has begun, I just wish I could bake cookies every day when I come home.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup brown sugar

-1/4 cup soft butter

-1 egg

-1/2 cup peanut butter (I like the “just peanuts” kind)

-1 cup flour

-1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

-1 tsp baking powder

-pinch salt

-strawberry or raspberry (my favourite!) jam

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugar together, and then add egg and peanut butter. Stir until mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients well. Add peanut butter mixture, and mix in with your hands. Grease a cookie sheet. Place small balls of batter on sheet and make thumbprint hole inside. Fill with jam.
Bake for 15-18 minutes or until cooked but still a bit soft. Cool on a baking rack and serve with a glass of milk or hot-chocolate!

-Sitelle

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Several posts ago I wrote about peanut butter-based snacks. I love peanuts and peanut butter so much. Although there is a risk of peanuts carrying aflotoxin (you know, on those really gross-tasting peanuts), the Canadian food supply keeps them at acceptable levels. Peanuts were my dietary staple in The Gambia. I’d grab a bag of roasted peanuts on the road; I’d pick them in the fields with the women and we’d carry them home in big buckets on our heads; we’d hull them on raised concrete platforms with a nut in each hand which we’d whack on the concrete and remove from the shell, with a big pile between our knees that never seemed to end. Peanuts are the way of life there. I ate them every day.

To make peanut butter, simply roast your peanuts, squeeze them in your hands to remove skins when they have cooled, and then place them in a blender or food processor or food grinder and let it spin! The longer you go, the smoother it gets. Add a teaspoon or two full of vegetable oil if it is not liquid enough – that will depend on the variety of groundnut you have! Adding a pinch of salt will bring out the flavours more if you’re interested.

Upon my return, I’ve craved peanuts big time. Thanks to my lovely host families, I had a plentiful supply, despite my distance. I quite enjoyed roasting them and turning them into peanut butter, before they were transformed into the delicious snacks and meals which I’ve already started posting including the Domoda and the Chocolate Kickers, and this childhood favourite snack of mine, these peanut butter logs.

Ingredients – three 4-inch logs (approximately)

1 cup peanut butter (I prefer the ‘just peanuts kind’, which you can buy or make yourself with a food processor or blender – simply follow the instructions under the picture)

4 Tbsp honey

5 Tbsp milk powder (or 7 Tbsp if instant), or more as needed

2-3 Tbsp desiccated coconut

Directions

Mix all ingredients together using a strong fork or whatever works for you. Place a third of the desiccated coconut on a sheet of parchment paper, and spread evenly. Form a third of the mixture into a log, and roll in the coconut. Place in parchment paper or wax paper and freeze.

Slice once frozen, and serve immediately for an energy-packed snack!

You can also add dried cranberries or mini chocolate chips for extra punch.

Hope you enjoy these!

-Sitelle

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There was no question in my head as to which snack I should prepare for a weekend of rock climbing in Kingston at the Kingston Mills. Co-incidentally, this snack is equally well suited to my most lovely co-blogger’s current occupation: successfully summiting Mount Kilimanjaro! (congrats girl, you rock!!).

So, as a tribute to our somewhat extreme activities these days, I thought I’d post one of my very favourite outdoors snack recipes, which is loaded in energy. Keeping a tupperware with a few of these delicious bites at the top of a daypack on a long canoe trip results in instant joy and energy, even at the prospect (and then the end) of a gruelling multi-kilometer portage. Just don’t risk forgetting it in there at night, as the animals are sure to come and feast if you allow them the opportunity!

The best thing about it, aside from its delicious taste and the amount of energy it packs in, is that it’s ridiculously easy to make, totally versatile, and will last as long as your trip (well, until supplies last!).

I originally found this recipe in the trailside cookbook, and this snack was called Chocolate Kickers. Since that fateful day where I first tried these I’ve taken the recipe and made a few changes, but it’s pretty much the same idea. It won’t take you more than 30 minutes to prepare, 15 of which are resting time. Ready? Go ahead, you’ll be done in no time. You probably can even make it at the camp site, but they’re so easy to make I’d just bring them fully made from home and keep the campsite cooking time for other delicious adventures like baked stuffed apples or blueberry pie.

Ingredients – makes about 20-25 bites of energy

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1.5 cups crunchy peanutbutter

1 cup dark chocolate chips

2/3 cup powdered milk

1/2 cup to 1 cup dried cranberries or desiccated coconut

1-2 Tbsp water (approximately)

Directions

Put all ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well with two forks and probably your hands. Shape into bite-sized balls or press to 2/3 inch thick sheet and cut out with your favourite cookie cutter.

Let the chocolate kickers rest for 15 minutes, then pack into tupperware or airtight bags.

Hope you enjoy these!

-Sitelle

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Having another home in West Africa means I have added a whole new repertoire of recipes, West-African style, to my cooking – and I’m really excited to share them on gourm(eh).

Cooking in Gambia is a totally different story than here. Imagine cooking mostly one-pot meals over an open fire, or if you are fortunate enough, an improved cookstove. It a communal experience, and the saying ‘many hands make for lighter work’ is fitting as the work is hard, and most often done in groups.

I found it interesting that my taste buds actually adjusted while living there: a dish I did not like at first became one of my favourites by the end – and this was actually the case with a number of dishes. Domoda, however, was always at the top of my list from the beginning!

Domoda is a rich groundnut (peanut)-based stew, a favourite of mine from Gambia and Senegal.

Ingredients – Dinner for 6
2 purple (spanish) onions, diced
1.5 lb cubed stewing beef or 6 chicken pieces
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp (heaping) tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, germ removed
2 bouillon cubes (I like to use chicken)
1 tsp peppercorns
2 cups just peanut smooth peanutbutter
Juice from one lemon
1 scotch bonnet pepper (very spicy) or 1 jalapeno pepper
3 carrots, peeled and then cut into thirds or quarters
1 eggplant, washed and quartered
1 cup squash cubes (any kind – butternut or acorn for example, peeled)
salt to taste
water
1.5 cups uncooked rice, medium grain

Directions
In a heavy-bottomed pan with a lid, heat oil over medium-medium high heat. Brown the beef, reduce the heat, and add the onions until they are translucent. Then add the tomato paste and stir. Cook for another 3 minutes stirring occasionally. If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the peppercorns and then add the garlic and the bouillon cubes until you get a smooth paste. If you don have a mortar and pestle, just chop everything finely and mix by hand.

Add the seasoning mix to the meat, stir, and then add the vegetables and the whole (washed) hot pepper. Cover with water, stirring well to incorporate all the tomato onion mixture. Increase the heat and bring to a simmer. Once it simmers reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, remove a cup of hot liquid and pour into a large bowl with the peanutbutter. Stir well with a fork until the peanutbutter is all incorporated. Stir this into the pan with everything else, and stir well so everything is evenly mixed. Add the lemon juice. Let the mixture simmer uncovered until you have a stew-like consistency. If you find the vegetables still need more time but there is little sauce left, just cover the pot.

When it is almost ready, cook rice according to package instructions.

To serve, ladle stew over rice. You can squeeze the hot pepper on your spoon a tiny bit to get spicy juices out thereby tailoring how spicy your own plate is – and then share the hot pepper with the others. Just remember scotch bonnets are VERY spicy!

Alright, bonne appétit.
-Sitelle (Alias Ya Ndey)

Pumpkin

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This pie only confirms a universal truth: chocolate and peanut butter are a match made in heaven. Nested between a chocolate crumb crust and a smooth ganache is a peanut butter cheese cake.  It’s hard to imagine a more delicious combination…

This is one of the more ingenious recipes in Joy of Cooking. 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

(1 9- or 10-inch pie)

 

INGREDIENTS

Crumb crust:

1 ½ cups chocolate wafer crumbs

¼ cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the cookies)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) of unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 teaspoon cinnamon
 

Peanut Butter Filling:

8 ounces cream cheese (1 block)

1 cup peanut butter

½ cup sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup whipping cream
 

Ganache:

¾ cup whipping cream

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

8 ounces finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
 
 
DIRECTIONS

Crumb crust:

In a bowl, combine crumb crust ingredients. Press into a 10-inch pie or springform pan, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes in a 350°F oven.

Cool the crust before filling (can be done in the fridge/freezer).
 

Peanut Butter filling:

Beat in a large bowl until smoothly blended the cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form.Using a spatula, fold in half of the whipped cream into the peanut mixture to lighten it, and then fold in the remaining cream.

Spread the mixture into the crust, press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pie and refrigerate until firm, about four hours (or if you are in a rush, throw it in the freezer).
 
Chocolate Ganache:

Bring the whipping cream to a boil, stirring in the instant coffee.  Remove from heat and add chocolate. Stir until most of the chocolate has melted. Cover and let stand 10 minutes, then stir/whisk gently until completely smooth. Let cool to lukewarm and then pour over the pie and spread evenly.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (again, you can also use the freezer) and up to 3 days.

Serve with masses of whipped cream and salted peanuts for an absolutely delicious dessert.  Eat slowly – you will want to savour each and every bite!
 
– Catherine

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