Brownie Bites from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook

Here’s the recipe for Brownie Bites which CTV co-anchor Nancy Richards and I prepared during the noon news show on CTV Kitchener today.

This recipe is one of my contributions to the brand spanking new cookbook, The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook, which was edited by the incomparable Mairlyn Smith. This just-released book (which is already into its second printing!) is from the Ontario Home Economics Assocation. All the recipes come from Ontario professional home economists and students.

You’ll find recipes for two other dishes I had on display (Autumn Apple Crepes from Deb Campbell and Mexi Meatless Shepherd’s Pie from Amy Snider Whitson) here.

Brownie Bites
Make 24 mini muffin-size brownies

½ cup (125 mL) quinoa flour
1/3 cup (75 mL) natural cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
2 omega-3 eggs
2/3 cup (150 mL) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (75 mL) canola oil
1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly spray 24 mini muffin cups well with canola oil spray.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together quinoa flour, cocoa powder and baking powder until well mixed.
  3. In a large bowl whisk eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla until blended.
  4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, whisking until blended.
  5. Divide batter between muffin cups, filling each with about 1 tbsp (15 mL) batter. Cups should be about 2/3 full.
  6. Bake until slightly puffed and a toothpick inserted into a brownie comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it, 13 to 15 minutes. Don’t overbake.
  7. Remove from oven; let cool in pan on a wire rack for 2 minutes, then turn muffin pan over. After a minute or two, lift up pan. Brownie Bites should have released from pan onto wire rack. Carefully turn each brownie over to finish cooling on rack.

* To serve, plate brownies and sprinkle with icing sugar and cocoa powder or serve on a puddle of raspberry coulee.
* For an extra special treat, press a chocolate macaroon or mini Rolo into the centre of each Brownie Bite before baking.
* If you are gluten-free use gluten-free baking powder.

Per serving: 3 brownies (without chocolate macaroons or mini Rolos!): 202 calories, 12 g fat, 0 g sat. fat, 48 mg cholesterol, 17 mg sodium,  24 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 17 g sugars, 3 g protein.

Cranberry Cereal Crisps

Cranberry Cereal Crisps

If you didn’t OD on baking or eating sweets over the holidays, or you just like to keep your cookie jar full, here’s a great cookie recipe that can be made easily and is really tasty. And, it’s a good way to use up the last couple servings of crisp rice cereal (i.e. Rice Krispies) languishing in the bottom of the box.

The texture of these cookies is also really pleasing: melt-in-your-mouth tender, yet crisp – all at the same time!

This recipe makes a big batch (about 5 dozen), so to be fair to your waist, hips, thighs, and all those other body parts where excess weight tends to migrate, enjoy a few, then freeze the rest to eat over the next while!

Cranberry Cereal Crisps
(Makes about 60 cookies)

1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
1 cup (250 mL) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup (250 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
3-1/2 cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) large flake oats
2 cups (500 mL) crisp rice cereal
1 cup (250 mL) dried cranberries (or chopped dried apricots)

Beat butter, sugars and egg on medium speed of electric mixer until light and creamy. Stir in oil and vanilla.

Stir together flour, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture along with oats, mixing on low speed until well blended. Stir in cereal and cranberries or apricots.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls (about 20 mL), about 2 inches (5 cm) apart, onto an ungreased cookie sheet.

I like to use this handy cookie batter scoop. (It's the clear acrylic utensil with blue-bottomed scoop.) It allows you to easily measure out a specific quantity of batter.

Continue reading

Julie and Julia mania

I suspect Julia Child has a few new fans since Meryl Streep brought her to life in the big screen production Julie & Julia.

From what I’ve been hearing and reading since the movie’s debut on Aug. 7, copies of Child’s My Life in France are being snapped up along with Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the cookbook she wrote with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle.

Julie Powell‘s book, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, and her blog (The Julie/Julia Project), on which the movie was based, are also proving to be popular reads.

Whether this translates into more meals being served in kitchens around the country that don’t come straight from a package, a can or the drive thru remains to be seen, but if the movie serves to generate interest in all things culinary, I say thanks, Julie and Julia!

Some Julia Child and Julie Powell links –

Christmas Countdown: Pumpkin Pound Cake and a tale of three – no, four sauces

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Sauce

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Dulce de Leche Sauce

Whether you like to bake or not, at Christmas there are lots of reasons to do so. Sometimes it’s because you’ve been asked – or you’ve volunteered – to bring dessert to a party. Last Friday I did just that – offer to bring dessert for a dinner with friends.

I’ve been making pound cakes lately, and thought that would make a nice dessert.

I had tried a recipe for an eggnog pound cake made with a cake mix. The end result was okay, but the recipe really wasn’t special enough to share.

Then I made a pumpkin pound cake from Company’s Coming new cookbook, Tonight! (Magical Meals on Short Notice). This pound cake was definitely better, but the accompanying sauce was nothing to write home about, or write about at all. Well, I’ll write a little about it.

Strike one…..

The first time I made the sauce, the consistency was great, but I burnt it. In the recipe (see below), the brown sugar and butter are to boil gently together until thickened (about 5 minutes). The key words in this concept are gently and about. Obviously neither word registered with me the first time around. I should have kept a closer watch on the sauce as it thickened – then blackened! – before I checked in on it. Sadly, I was too busy trying to multi-task: clean up the kitchen, pay some bills, feed the dog….while a sauce was boiling out of control, then burning on my stovetop!

Strike two…..

I made the sauce again, but this time the butter and brown sugar never quite melded together. I probably over compensated for the first disaster and didn’t boil the mixture long enough. I added the brandy anyway, hoping for a miracle. (What was I thinking??) When I tasted the concoction, I decided 2 tablespoons (30 mL) was either way too much brandy or, maybe I really didn’t care for brandy all that much! The sauce had a strong, harsh and unpleasant taste.

With the second attempt nearly as disastrous as the first, I looked around for another recipe. Lesser, perhaps more intelligent(?!) cooks would have given up and just drizzled a commercial caramel or even chocolate sauce over the cake, but not being one to give up easily I forged on, scouring some of my cookbooks for another recipe.

Strike three…..

I found one that called for cornstarch as a thickener. This should give me the right consistency, I reasoned, and then I’d just add less brandy than called for to minimize and mellow the brandy flavour. Of course, smarter cooks would have opted to try flavouring the sauce with some thing they liked, like rum or amaretto. But I seemed determined to make myself like the taste of brandy.

And so a third round of sauce-making began. Sadly, it too was unsuccessful. The sauce, although nicely thickened, was thin in flavour and very pale, almost sickly looking. Surveying the mounds of pots and wasted ingredients, I felt like a sauce-moron.

Home run??

Since I was bringing the cake to a friend’s place for supper, I needed a solution – immediately! A raid of the fridge produced a jar of dulce de leche (a caramel creme spread – pronounced dool-say de lech-ay). I spooned some of it into a small bowl and warmed it briefly in the microwave – just enough to thin it slightly and make it easy to stir. Into the sauce I stirred a little half and half. (Milk would have worked as would whipping cream -35%M.F.) In mere seconds, I had a smooth, creamy, not too sweet sauce. I sliced off a piece of cake and spooned a little sauce over top for a test run. Mmmm. Home run! At last!

There was enough cake to enjoy for supper at my friend’s home that night, and to serve to guests at home the next day. A set of small gravy boats doubled beautifully as mini pitchers for the sauce so each person could serve themselves as much or as little sauce as they wanted.

Dulce de leche is basically cooked sweetend milk. You can make it yourself or buy it commercially. The brand I used was President’s Choice. You can use it as a spread for toast or as a topping for cakes, waffles, crepes, etc. Here are some additional recipes using it.

Pumpkin Pecan Pound Cake with Brandy Sauce
(Makes 12 slices)

When making the sauce, the brown sugar and butter should boil gently for 3 to 5 minutes without stirring, but keep watch over it. Instead of the Brandy Sauce, serve with warmed butterscotch or caramel sauce or maple syrup, or warmed dulce le leche spread thinned with a little milk or cream. A spoonful of sweetened whipped cream (add a little ground cinnamon if desired) or vanilla or butterscotch ice cream would also be a nice accompaniment.

1 cup (250 mL) butter or hard margarine
2 cups (500 mL) sugar
4 large eggs
1 can (14 oz/398 mL) pure pumpkin
2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
2 teaspooons (10 mL) baking powder
1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon (1 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) chopped pecans, toasted

Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add pumpkin and vanilla in two additions, beating well after each addition. (Mixture may look a little curdled.)

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Slowly add to pumpkin mixture, beating on low until combined. Fold in pecans.

Spread evenly in a greased and floured 12 cup (3 L) bundt pan.

Bake in a preheated 350F (175C) oven until wooden pick or cake tester inserted in centre of cake comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Let stand in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack to cool slightly.

Brandy Sauce: Combine 1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter in a small saucepan. Heat and stir over medium heat until boiling. Boil gently, uncovered and without stirring, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup (125 mL) half and half  and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brandy. Drizzle over individual slices of cake.

Recipe Source: Company’s Coming Tonight! (Magical Meals on Short Notice), Company’s Coming Publishing Limited, 2008

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream – something to scream about?

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

As much as I love ice cream, it’s not something I tend to scream about.

I scream while riding rollercoasters. (Jump aboard the Millenium Force at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio and you’ll likely agree that full-blown hysteria including top-of-the-lung screaming is perfectly acceptable behaviour before, during and after the ride! Apparently, riding the Behemoth at Canada’s Wonderland (just north of Toronto) also produces high-pitched screeching. I haven’t yet experienced this particular fear-inducing ride.)

Snakes and creepy-looking bugs also make me scream. (Did you hear about the woman in Montreal who found a python under her bed earlier this week? I had to stifle a scream just hearing the terrifying tale on the radio.)

I scream – inwardly, mind you, so as not to alarm my co-workers – when I inadvertently delete something or forget to save something on my computer and there’s no “undo” feature available to retrieve what I’ve lost.

I’d probably scream if I won the lottery. (Guess I’d have to buy lottery tickets for that to be a possibility!

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream

But let’s talk ice cream, which according to that old familiar rhyme from childhood (I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream) is supposed to incite cries of joy!

Creamy textured homemade Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream with its sweet, perfumed flavour is definitely worth at least a loud “yahoo” or two.

If you’re the lucky owner of an ice cream maker, you’ll know that the warm days of summer are perfect for enjoying homemade ice cream.

Actually, I take that back. There’s never a bad time to savour a batch of homemade ice cream or another frozen concoction such as gelato or sorbet.

So then! Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream. Strawberries you probably know all about, but are you wondering what lychees are and whether they should be added to the list of things to scream about? Rest assured they are in no way related to leeches, although lychee is pronounced ‘LEEchee’. It can be spelled ‘litchi’.

A lychee is a small fruit with a rough, reddish shell. The flesh is creamy white, juicy and sweet, and it surrounds a seed or pit. To eat lychees, you peel them and remove the seed. Eat them as is or add them to salads or desserts.

I tend to purchase canned lychees as they’re already peeled and seeded. And, I am lazy.

This recipe calls for superfine sugar. This is a quick dissolving sugar also known as berry sugar, fruit sugar, castor sugar or instant dissolving sugar. If you wish, you can make superfine sugar by processing granulated sugar in a food processor for 15 seconds.

I have a dual canister Cuisinart yogurt-ice cream-sorbet maker. It makes one or two quarts (1 or 2 L) of ice cream. This Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream recipe makes 8 cups (2 L) of ice cream. Once the churning/freezing cycle was completed (this took about 15 minutes in my machine), the canisters were full – to the brim – with ice cream.

If your machine has a single 4 cup (1 L) canister, halve the ingredients.

Freeze homemade ice cream in a tightly-sealed container for up to a couple weeks.

Be sure to freeze homemade ice cream with a tight-fitting lid to prevent freezer burn and an ‘off’ flavour. Label the container so it’s contents don’t become mystery food.

Although this ice cream tastes great even before “ripening” in the freezer for a few hours, some time in the freezer will further improve the flavour. It’s best to enjoy homemade ice cream within a couple weeks. (Now there’s a problem. Not!)

Strawberry Lychee Ice Cream
Makes 8 cups (2 L)

2 cups (500 mL) strawberries
3/4 cup (180 mL) superfine sugar
1 can (530 mL/20 ounces) canned lychees in syrup (about 2 cups)
2 cups (500 mL) whipping cream (36% butterfat)
1-1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
6 egg yolks

Hull and roughly chop strawberries; place in a bowl along with any juices. Stir in 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the sugar and set aside for 30 minutes.

Drain and finely chop lychees, reserving 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the syrup. Set lychees and syrup aside.

Place cream, milk and remaining sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly, cook for a few minutes until sugar dissolves and mixture is just about to boil. Remove from the heat.

Whisk egg yolks in a large bowl or 8 cup (2 L) measuring cup. Whisk in 1/4 cup (60 mL) of the hot milk mixture until smooth. Whisk in remaining milk mixture, then return mixture to saucepan and stir constantly over medium-low heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 to 10 minutes. Do not allow this custard mixture to boil. (To test if the mixture coats the back of a spoon, place a spoon in the mixture. Remove and run your finger through the middle of the custard. If a clear path is left and the custard left on the spoon does not run, the mixture is ready.) Do not allow the custard mixture to boil.

Strain through a fine sieve and set custard aside to cool, stirring occasionally. (If desired, cover and refrigerate overnight.)

Gently stir strawberries and strawberry juice, lychees, and lychee syrup into custard. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. (Alternately, transfer to a shallow metal tray and freeze, whisking every couple hours until frozen and creamy.)

Pack ice cream into container(s). Cover tightly, label and freeze for at least 5 hours or overnight before serving.

Allow ice cream to soften at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Iced – 180 very cool concoctions by Jane Lawson, Thunder Bay Press, 2006

Eating and cooking according to the seasons in Niagara region

a Year in Niagara by Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh, Whitecap Books, 2002

After our trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake last weekend (see July 10th post), I was really pleased to find a Year in Niagara by food writer Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh (Whitecap Books, 2002) on my book shelf. Not that I didn’t know I had the book, but with the bookcases in my home office crammed with cookbooks and food magazines (and a serious case of age-related bad memory!), sometimes I need to stumble across something in order to remember I have it.

a Year in Niagara is a wonderful tribute to the foods, wines, chefs and farmers of the Niagara region. And it’s an interesting read. The book follows the seasons in the Niagara region of Ontario – month by month – highlighting foods grown in this area each month, and featuring recipes that use those foods.

This morning we picked up Ontario strawberries, asparagus and cherries at Herrle’s Country Farm Market in St. Agatha. We don’t live in the Niagara area (we’re a little over an hour away), but as I flip through a Year in Niagara, lots of the recipes intrigue me considering what’s now in the fridge. How about Warm Asparagus Salad with Watercress & Radishes in Rhubarb Riesling Dressing or Asparagus Ravioli with Basil Butter? Anyone for Lemon and Strawberry Cake with Lemon Curd Cream?

I spotted some lavender at Herrle’s and considered putting a bunch into my basket along with the fruit and aspagarus. But I didn’t and now I don’t remember why (why is that not surprising?!). I’m wishing I had purchased some so I could make Pink Lavender Lemonade or Cedar-Planked Salmon with Lavender Butter.

And these are just a few of the enticing recipes from the May and June chapters!

Then there’s July – Risotto of Grilled Summer Vegetables, Pork Ribs with Niagara Apple Ale & Mustard Glaze, Niagara Peach Wine, Watermelon Maragaritas

I can’t wait for August…