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Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

I often forget how versatile and easy beans are to work with. Tonight, as I prepared for a meeting at home, I wanted to have a healthy and simple snack for those in attendance that would be satisfying and unique. I didn’t want to make hummus (although I love hummus), or anything with ranch dressing in it. So I googled spicy bean dip and came across a recipe for some spicy Asian bean dip on another blog. It was very popular, and incredibly easy. With a few modifications based on my pantry, this is the recipe I followed:

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Ingredients – serves 8 as an appetizer

dip
-1 cup dried white beans, cooked in a pressure cooker with 3 c water for 35 minutes (you can substitute 1 can white beans)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp sesame oil
-Juice from 1/2 lime
-2 tsp hot sauce
-2 tsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp curry powder
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1/8 cup hot water

veggie sticks
-4 carrots, cut into sticks
-3 stalks celery, cut into sticks
-1 red pepper, cut into sticks

Directions

Combine all ingredients for the dip in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. I like to add the water last and drizzle it in while the motor spins. Blend for 3-4 minutes, until fully smooth.

Serve with an array of veggies (add any of your favourites!), and you’re sure to have a crowd-pleaser! This also makes for great snacks for work or school.

Have a wonderful week!

-Sitelle

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Farmer’s markets are one of my favourite places to visit. I enjoy how markets allow me to meet the people who grow the greens, raise the laying hens that produce eggs, and who produce anything else that catches my eye.

There’s another important reason why I enjoy markets so much: I draw inspiration from everything I see, and I like to challenge myself to cook  vegetables or fruit I am less familiar with. This past weekend I attended the Sweetwater Music Festival in Owen Sound, and since I did not have any concerts to attend in the morning G. and I went to the farmer’s market to explore what local products were available.

At one of the vendors, a basket of tomatillos caught my eye, and I remembered a bunch of cilantro in my refrigerator in Ottawa.

Back home, I drew inspiration from the beautiful sunny weather, despite the cold, whipping up a tangy spicy green salsa for a lunch BBQ at my neighbour’s place. In the end, I was invited to play some board games another time, “as long as [I] make that salsa again!” I’ll leave it to you to try it, and see if it measures up to its reputation as an immediate “invite-granting” commodity!

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Ingredients – An appetizer for 8, as long as there are enough tortilla chips!

-1 lb Tomatillos, peeled and washed

-3 Shallots, peeled and quartered

-2/3 Cup fresh cilantro leaves

-Juice from 1 lime

-4 Dried red chilli peppers (or more or less to taste)

-Tiny pinch salt

-Tortilla chips

Directions

Preheat the broiler while you peel and wash the tomatillos and prepare the shallots. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and place 2/3 of the tomatillos and two of the shallots on the sheet. Make sure none are touching (they roast better that way). Broil for 7 minutes, then turn the vegetables and broil on the other side for another 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the remaining raw tomatillos and shallot, and place in a food processor (or blender). Wash the cilantro and place in the food processor as well with the hot chillis and juice from half of the lime.

When the veggies are done roasting, place them in the food processor as well, then coarsely blend it all. Add a pinch or two of salt, and some additional lime (to taste).

Place in a bowl and serve with tortilla chips – or alternatively, serve on burgers hot off the grill!

-Sitelle

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One thing we do not lack for in medicine is exams.  As such, finding ways to make studying more exciting is a constant occupation.  Somehow carrot sticks just don’t aways cut it.  A surefire way to liven up any study session is cupcakes.  Who doesn’t love cupcakes?  They are the perfect sugar boost in anyone’s day – especially when covered in delicious chocolate icing!

This particular study session happened to fall on my cousin’s birthday, so to make them more fun, I decided to add sprinkles to a Martha Stewart Recipe.  The chocolate buttercream icing is a time-tested family recipe.  I suspect the confetti will be a regular addition to my future cupcake baking adventures 🙂

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Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Icing

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

 

Ingredients

Vanilla Confetti Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons (or 3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups milk

Multicoloured sprinkles

 

Chocolate Buttercream Icing

3ish tablespoons butter, room temperature

3 or 4 tablespoons of cocoa powder

2-3 tablespoons of cold coffee (the stronger, the tastier)

A lot of icing sugar

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pan with liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and beat in vanilla.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.  Add as many sprinkles as you desire (I used about 1/4 cup).

Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about three-quarters full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the icing. Cream together the butter, cocoa powder, and coffee.  Incorporate icing sugar until chocolate-mocha icing is thick, yet spreadable.

When the cupcakes are cool, generally frost with the chocolate buttercream icing.  Top with a few extra sprinkles.  Delicious with a cold glass of milk!

– Catherine

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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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Yesterday, the bright blue sky pulled me out of bed, inviting me on a lovely run along the Don River. The crispness in the air couldn’t help but remind me that somehow we’re over at leaset half the summer, and my craving for harvest food officially began. I know many will criticize me for speaking of the end of summer, but come on – I haven’t seen any other season for about a year and a half, and I’m excited for the glorious Canadian autumn. Then the downpours began. So what could possibly be better than hiding away from the rain by baking delicious savoury muffins? That, and I also wanted to make a snack I love to show my friend who’s scoping out people’s snacking secrets…

In honour of my craving for harvest food and the change in weather, I decided to bake savoury sweet corn muffins, with herbs from our tiny balcony garden. Looking around for recipes, I decided my best bet would be to inspire myself from a variety of recipes and then make up my own, judging by the importance that left-overs are playing in the creation of these I didn’t have much of a choice in terms of ingredients or quantity, and it turns out that was not a problem at all.

Enjoy these savoury treats warm with butter for breakfast or a delicious afternoon snack!

Ingredients – makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cup roasted corn kernels (or frozen corn, if you don’t have roasted)
1 leek, white an light parts, finely diced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbsp honey
1 cup buttermilk, or milk with a tbsp of cider vinegar or lemon juice added
1/4 cup melted butter (you can substitute 5-6 Tbsp oil if you prefer)
1 large egg

1/2 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar (optional, but highly delicious)

Directions

Dice the leek, and then heat the oil in a frying pan and gently sauté the leek for about five minutes. Add the corn, the salt and pepper, and the thyme leaves, and continue to cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F.

Mix all dry ingredients thoroughly together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, beat the milk, the egg, melted butter, and honey.

Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and stir until incorporated. Add the corn mixture, and the cheese if you are using it.

Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups. Evenly fill each cup until almost  full, and then bake in the oven for between 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven! In mine, it took around 19 minutes.

I hope you enjoy this delightful recipe inspired by a true Canadian ingredient, roast corn.

-Sitelle

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As this post suggests, I am back! I must admit the fast pace of life throws me off a but here, as do all the choices availe in the super-market, and the orderly queues. Oh yeah, and Toronto feels so cold… apparently it is possible to acclimatize to new environments quite easily.

First of all I want to thank Catherine for all her wonderful contributions to Gourm(eh) while I was out of regular internet range. Catherine is alive and well in Kenya now (we traded continents, and spoke today!), and I am back in Canada. Now, it is my turn to share my west African adventures with you.

Actually, for the next little while I have many, many recipes I want to share: both Central America-inspired and Senegambia-inspired, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. I find it exciting to try new styles of cooking, and each of these recipes has so many stories and memories attached I cannot help but be excited to post them!

Akara, or bean fritters, are very common throughout West Africa. I typically purchased them from women frying them on charcoal stoves along the streets who packaged them up in ripped brown paper from flour bags and doused them in spicy sauce. Resisting the urge to eat them right away, I would carry them home and eat them from the comfort of my mat while sharing them with my friends.

Ingredients

Akara

1.5 cups black-eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 large red onion
1 jalapeno or scotch bonnet hot pepper
6 black peppercorns
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Dipping sauce

50g tomato paste
1 red onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tsp black pepper corns
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Directions

Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. The following day, squeeze or rub the skins off the beans (if a few remain, don’t worry), remove them by dumping the water out of the beans. Keep the beans in a large bowl and pass the water through a strainer to catch the skins. Add more water and continue to remove the skins and wash the beans.

Clean the onions and half the hot peppers in a food processor or blender with the beans and pulse. Pound the pepper corns and add to the mixture, and add the parsley if you want to add a bit of a unique taste. Pulse well, until a you have a thick bean paste. Add salt to taste and the remaining hot pepper if you want the fritters to be spicy (warning: scotch bonnet peppers are very, very spicy).

Heat up about a centimeter of oil in a pan with a lid over high heat. Once heat-waves show up on the oil reduce heat to medium high. Carefully add spoonfulls of the bean mixture into the hot oil. Test it with one first, and make sure to add more only when the oil is bubbling around the bean paste. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Make Akara dipping sauce (spicy):

Dice the onions and garlic. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and pounded black pepper. When the onions begin to become transparent, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the chopped hot peppers and 1 cup water. Increase heat to medium-high until mixture boils, after which reduce the heat and simmer until at least half of the water has evaporated, and the sauce thickens. Add lemon juice and season with salt.

Pour sauce over fritters, and serve as an appetiser or main course with a salad.

Hope you enjoy them!

-Sitelle (Alias: Ya Ndey)

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