Sunday, May 31, 2009

Baked Seitan

Surprisingly, though I've been a vegetarian for about 6 years, I've never eaten or made seitan (or tempeh for that matter). Tempeh and seitan are not often found in grocery stores around here, and while I have now found tempeh (and will try it soon) I still haven't seen seitan. I think I found it at an Asian grocery store but it was reeeeally spongey and honestly I was a bit scared. But now that I have this recipe for baked seitan, I don't care about finding it in grocery stores. I am totally in love with it - it's truly awesome, and easy to make. It's just like really good homemade veggie sausages, and the texture is wonderfully chewy. It does have a strong flavour though so if you add it to another dish it will effect the flavour (versus plain regular seitan).

How can I resist this fluffiness??

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Chickpea Cutlets with Mustard Sauce
Lemon Miso Tofu and Eggplant
Matthew's Delicious Tofu
Asian Beet and Tofu Salad
Spaghetti and Beanballs with Onion & Roasted Garlic Tomato Sauce

Baked Seitan
Adapted from here

My only modifications were to use less cayenne and less oil, and to use steak sauce instead of vegan Worcestershire sauce.

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp allspice
2 tsp garlic powder

3/4 cups water
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp steak sauce

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for a minute or two.. it doesn't need long.

Form into a log (6-8" long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Oatmeal Bread

I recently bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I thought it would be a great way for me to ease into bread making without having to do any of that horrid kneading that I hate. Well since I made this bread I've actually made some other breads and I'm warming up to the idea of kneading - though my wrists get sore so maybe I'm doing something wrong. I now understand what a gluten cloak is (after watching this video with Danielle Forestier and Julia Child). And I'm even thinking of tackling some of the recipes in Reinhart's The Bread Baker's Apprentice. I was telling my family that I think I may have been bitten by the bread bug and they were looking at me like I was crazy (they've never heard of being "bitten by a bread bug").

Anyway, of course I'll be posting about those other breads I made but today I'm talking about this oatmeal bread! Quite good for a no knead bread. It's very soft and has a fluffy inside - not cake fluffy but bread fluffy. The bread tastes like it already has butter on it and the crust is chewy. I wish it had a greater portion of whole grain but it does have oat bran, wheat bran and oats. I halved the recipe and it made 2 small loaves in 8x4 pans. I'm not sure if I'm doing something wrong because it seems like either the dough isn't rising like it's supposed to, or there isn't as much dough as there's supposed to be. But it is super easy to make and tastes yummy.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Golden Cinnamon Loaf
Soft Pretzels
bill's Coconut Bread
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Oatmeal Bread
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Makes three 1 1/2 pound loaves.

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1/2 cup oat bran
1/3 cup wheat bran
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
4 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1. Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water, milk maple syrup, and oil in a 5 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

2. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon. You may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.

3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or with a tea towel, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses/flattens, about 2 hours.

4. The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise. Refrigerate in a container (loosely covered) and use over the next 8 days.

5. On baking day, oil a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound (cantaloupe size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go.

6. Elongate the ball into an oval and place it into the prepared pan. Allow to rest and rise for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or just 40 minutes if you're using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

7. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350F, with an empty broiler tray on any other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.

8. Place the loaf on a rack near the center of the oven. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until deeply browned and firm.

9. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Cookbook Release: Sweet Freedom

As I'm sure many of you know, the wonderful Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs has just released her first cookbook Sweet Freedom! Sweet Freedom is a baking book that doesn't use wheat, eggs or refined sugar - but believe me that you won't feel like anything is missing. Ricki's recipes have really opened my eyes to this world of delicious healthier baking that makes me not even miss baking with eggs, dairy and wheat (and I think you guys know how much I love baking!) I'm already seriously addicted to the orange raisin tea cakes and the cocoa nibbles.

Chocolate shortbread.

The recipes are divided up into Breakfast Baking, Cookies Bars and Squares, Cakes Cupcakes Toppings and Frostings, Cheesecakes Pies and Baked Puddings, and Raw and No Bake Treats. The recipes are coded to indicate which are corn free, gluten free (or gluten free option), nut free (or nut free option), and soy free (or soy free option). Ricki also included a section on the ingredients she uses, including some awesome tips on how to convert conventional recipes to wheat free, dairy free and refined sugar free. And one thing I also love about the book is the amazing index - honestly so many cookbooks don't take the time to prepare a careful index or sometimes list things incorrectly or just not at all. But Ricki's is superb - you can look up both ingredients (like coconut oil) and categories (like cookies and bars).

Pecan coconut chews (raw).

You can check out some of the yummy recipes from this book that I had the opportunity to try while helping Ricki test the recipes here - including the previously mentioned addictive orange raisin tea biscuits, old fashioned spice cake, peanut butter cookies, sunshine breakfast loaf (oh how I love that one), and crispy fruit chews. I wanted to try out a couple more recipes for this post so I made the chocolate shortbread and the pecan coconut chews (tried both the raw and baked versions). The chocolate shortbread cookies were sandy, as promised, and quite addictive. The pecan coconut chews were good both raw and baked, but on the first day that they're baked OH WOW. Delicious crispy edges and nice soft insides. I can't wait to work my way through all of the recipes.

Pecan coconut chews (baked).

I thought it would be fun to ask Ricki a few questions and share them with you guys. Check out Shellyfish, Vegyogini and for more interview questions and stuff about the book. Check out Ricki's page to see how you can order the book (, through the publishing company, or as an e-book). Alright, on with the interview!

What inspired you to start creating baked goods made without wheat, dairy and refined sugars?

I've been a baker all my life (well, since age 6), and when I had to change my diet because of health issues about ten years ago, I just couldn't imagine giving up baking. I had done some catering in my 30s and after studying nutrition, I began to create new recipes for baked goods I could still eat. When I shared these with cooking class participants, people began to ask me if my desserts were for sale anywhere in the city. That led me to start my bakery, Bake It Healthy, which I ran for 3 years. By the time I wrote the book, I already had quite a number of the recipes completed because I'd been selling them through Bake It Healthy. All I had to do with those was convert them for the home baker. But it wasn’t until the company closed and customers still kept asking me if I’d bake a birthday cake for them, or supply treats for a baby shower or anniversary party, even though I wasn’t technically doing catering any more, that I realized there was a real need for this type of recipe. I wanted all those people to be able to reproduce the desserts in their own homes.

What are your five must make items from your cookbook and why?

Ooh! Like any proud mother, I love all my "babies," but I'd say these are the ones of which I'm most fond:

Chocolate Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies--my "go-to" cookie because it's foolproof, easy, fudgy and chocolately (and how can you beat "chocolate"??). And it's a hit with vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike!

Easiest Almond Cookies--another quick and easy cookie, that has the advantage of being gluten-free (and grain-free), too!

Orange Raisin Tea Cakes: a quick and simple scone-like cake that was a big hit with the cookbook testers. They're perfect for breakfast or afternoon snack.

Sweet Harvest Muffins: this was one of the first recipes I created, and it was the best selling muffin at Bake It Healthy. Moist, chocolatey and containing three types of hidden vegetables--it's a great way to start your day.

Raw Fig and Cherry Bars--these are a great raw bar that offer a high calcium and protein content. They are the perfect take-along energy bar or snack.

What's your favourite ingredient to work with?

I am inclined to say agave nectar, because it's sweeter than sugar, natural, and has a very mild flavor that goes with anything. I love baking with it. But coconut milk has become a close second these days... it adds richness and creaminess, yet is cholesterol free and considered a "healthy" form of fat.

What's your favourite type of thing to bake (ex. muffins, cookies, cakes, etc)?

As I'm always saying on my blog, I'm basically a lazy cook--so bars, brownies or cakes are a big favorite. Just mix once, pour, bake and cut--easy and quick!

What's your husband's favourite thing for you to bake?

My husband loves coconut, so he's a fan of coconut cream pie. I hadn't perfected the pie in time for the cookbook, but the whipped cream topping did make it into the book! He also loves the Coconut Macaroons.

How do you go about creating recipes? Do you have base recipes that you modify or just start throwing things together?

If there's a recipe from my files or old cookbooks that I used to love and wish I could eat now, then I'll go about adapting it with natural sweeteners and alternative flours. The rest of the time, though, I just play with ideas or may create a recipe based on something I ate in a restaurant or heard about on a radio show, for instance. Recently, for example, a friend of mine who lives in Ecuador emailed and I remembered that she enjoyed coffee with cinnamon in it. So I created a muffin with those two flavors.

Is there going to be another baking book coming? ;)

I'd love to do an entirely gluten-free baking book, or perhaps one that uses only stevia, which would be great for anyone with diabetes or candida. I've got lots of ideas for different types of recipes--just not enough time!

Thanks Ricki!
Check out how you can order the book here. (And I definitely do recommend you check it out!)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Asparagus and Feta Pasta

I think this is the first recipe I'm posting from New Vegetarian Cuisine. I bought this book some time ago but never got around to trying out any recipes. I've started cooking out of it more though and while not all the recipes are keepers, some of them are. And the thing I like about the cookbook is that most of the recipes are healthy, relatively easy to make, and use easy to find ingredients.

This is one of my new favourite dishes, so please don't be put off by the less than stellar photo of it! The "sauce" has so much flavour (and I say "sauce" because it's not really saucey but it does coat the pasta). It's made of a delicious combination of sun dried tomatoes, feta, parsley, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, capers, oregano and pepper. You can easily sub in broccoli or any other vegetable for the asparagus (though asparagus is a favourite of mine so I won't be subbing anything in until asparagus goes out of season!), and you can use whatever pasta you want, though I'd recommend something that can catch this type of sauce well like spaghetti, fettucine or the suggested cavatelli. I'm submitting this to Presto Pasta Nights, being hosted this week by I'm a Food Blog.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pasta with Creamy Spinach Walnut Sauce
Santa Fe Pasta Salad
Artichoke Rotini Pasta
Soba Noodles with Zucchini Ribbons

My Abby. <3

Asparagus and Feta Pasta
Adapted from New Vegetarian Cuisine

The original recipe calls for more pasta and less asparagus but I like my dishes more heavy on the veggies so I adjusted it as such.

Serves 3-4

10 sun dried tomatoes
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
4 ounces feta cheese
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
2 tsp dried oregano
1/8 tsp black pepper
9 oz whole wheat spaghetti
20 thin asparagus spears, cut into 2" pieces

1. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes and water. Let stand for 2 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid.

2. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor. Add the parsley and process until coarsely chopped.

3. Crumble the feta into a large serving bowl; drizzle with the vinegar and oil. Sprinkle with the capers, oregano and pepper. Stir in the tomato mixture.

4. In a large pot of boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the asparagus in the last minute to parboil it. Drain.

5. Transfer the pasta and asparagus to the serving bowl. Toss with the tomato mixture and the rserved tomato soaking liquid; mix well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake

I finished my last final today! Yaey. Well I don't have much more to say about that, so here is some yummy cake.

This cake was one of the two birthday cakes I made for my boyfriend. And it was definitely one of the more stressful cakes I've made because it involves layers of mousse in between cake (I was worried about the mousse deflating, which I think it did) and then the layered cake/mousse/cake/mousse is frozen, then you put a layer of hot chocolate ganache on top (and let it cool again). I was freaking out about the hot ganache melting the mousse, the mousse deflating, and to top that off I put the chocolate ganache on right before we were about to walk out the door (with the cake), not allowing the ganache to firm up with an immediate refrigeration. My boyfriend proved his love to me (or to the cake?) by keeping the windows open (it was cold out) to try and keep the cake cool, because he knew how worried I was about it on the 20 minute drive to drop it off in his brother's fridge.

Well, despite all of my freak outs, the cake was really awesome. Maybe the mousse was supposed to be lighter, but I loved the texture the way it was. In the photo of the unsliced cake, the ganache looks weird and clumpy because it's hot (and maybe I messed something up there), but it set up quite nice once refrigerated. Overall a really really good chocolate cake. Oh and did I mention that it has 17 ounces of chocolate?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Chocolate Volcanoes
Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
German Chocolate Cake
Rich Chocolate Cheesecake

Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake
Adapted from The Cake Book

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups (212 g) all purpose flour
1 2/3 cups (332 g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (28 g) natural (not Dutch processed) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (121 g) sour cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup (4 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup safflower or corn oil
3/4 cup ice cold water

Chocolate Mousse Filling
9 ounces (255 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp instant coffee powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Classic Whipped Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tbsp (21 g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Make the cake:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x3 inch springform pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and grease the paper. Dust the paper and the sides of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk to combine, and set aside.

3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla extract until blended. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the melted butter and oil together at low speed. Add the cold water and mix to blend. Add the dry ingredients all at once and mix at medium-low speed for 1 minute. Add the egg mixture and mix for another minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

5. Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a wire rack and cool the cake for 20 minutes.

6. Invert the cake onto the rack. Reinvert the cake and cool completely.

Make the chocolate mousse filling:
7. Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. (Leave the chocolate in the processor.)

8. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, coffee powder, and salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. With the food processor running, pour the hot milk through the feed tube, and process until the chocolate is completely melted. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla extract, and process until blended. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

9. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the ehavy cream at high speed until soft peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the remaining cream until completely blended. (The mousse should be used immediately.)

Assemble the cake:
10. Using a long serrated knife, trim off the domed top of the cake so taht the cake is perfectly level; reserve the tirmmings. Cut the cake horizontally into 2 layers.

11. Place one of the cake layers in the bottom of a 9x3 inch springform pan. Scrape half of the chocolate mousse over the cake layer and spread it into an even layer. Top with the other layer. Scrape over the remaining mousse and spread it into an even layer.

12. Cover the top of the pan with plastic wrap or foil and freeze the cake for at least 3 hours, until firm.

Make the whipped cream:
13. In the chilled bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, whip the cream at high speed just until it begins to thicken. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate.

Make the bittersweet chocolate glaze.
14. Place the chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and process just until finely ground. (Leave the chocolate in the processor.)

15. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate to the pan. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the glaze is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Transfer the glaze to a small bowl. Let the glaze cool for about 10 minutes before using.

Glaze and garnish the cake:
16. Remove the cake from the freezer. Run a sharp thin-bladed knife under hot water and wipe it dry. Run the knife between the cake and the side of the pan to release the cake; reheat the knife as necessary. Remove the side of the pan. Using a small offset metal spatula, smooth the mousse of the sides of the cake.

17. Place the cake on a wire rack and set the rack over a baking sheet. Pour the warm glaze over the top of the cake and use the offset metal spatula to smooth it evenly over the top and sides. (Ashley note: I found it hard to "ice" so I just spread it and dripped it down the sides.) Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour (to thaw) before serving.

18. About 30 minutes before serving, remove the cake from the refrigerator. Cut the cake into wedges and serve with the whipped cream.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Baking Powder Biscuits

Thank you all so much for your many suggestions for bean and lentil recipes! I will definitely try some of them out and hopefully my love for beans/lentils will grow a bit more. I shouldn't be spending much time to update my blog considering that my finals are just about to start, but food blogs are a good break from studying evaporation systems, filtration systems, and the cheese making process (admittedly the last one is more interesting).

I'm going through a little biscuit/scone obsession over here. I haven't made too many biscuits and I'm starting off slow with some baking powder biscuits and some buttermilk biscuits (that I'll be posting about soon). There are many yummy biscuits and savoury bread-like things out there that I want to try like quick and easy ricotta cheese biscuits, sun dried tomato cottage cheese muffins, cheddar and dill beer bread rolls, and three cheese and beer bread. I really haven't explored the world of savoury baked goods enough! This baking powder biscuit is really simple but I'm sure you could fancy it up by adding herbs, cheeses, or small bits of sauteed vegetables. I think I overworked my dough a bit but I'm sure I'll improve on that in my many biscuit adventures to come.

Random Abby picture.

If this sounds, you might also like:
Caramelized Onion, Sage & Cheddar Muffins
Maple Cornmeal Drop Biscuits
Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
Whole Wheat Cheddar Scones

Baking Powder Biscuits
Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book

Makes 12 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup milk

Line baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat mat.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Using pastry blender, cut in butter until crumbly. Pour all but 2 tbsp of the milk over top, stirring with fork to form soft ragged dough.

Turn out onto floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead gently until dough comes together. Pat or roll out to 1/2 inch (1 cm) thickness. Using 2 1/4 inch (5.5 cm) floured cutter, cut out rounds. Place on prepared pan. Gather up scraps and repat dough; cut out more rounds, pressing remaining scraps into final biscuit.

Brush tops with remaining milk. Bake in centre of 400F oven until golden, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer to rack to cool.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spinach Artichoke Heart Dip

Have I mentioned that I really don't like beans? And have I mentioned that I try to eat them a couple of times a week? This is partly due to the fact that they're a good protein source and also because they're good for you. I actually like beans in a few different recipes like hummus and refried beans. They're also okay if they're mixed in small amounts with other delicious things like tomatoes, corn and avocado. Or smothered in cheese! Though of course that's kind of defeating the purpose of eating them. Anyway - can anyone help me here? Got a good (and relatively healthy) bean recipe? I'm the least creative cook and am dying to find some ways I can actually enjoy eating beans.

This dip is actually a pretty good way to eat beans though. And it's even better when you crumble some feta on top and bake it. ;) I bet it would also make a good sandwich or wrap spread, and now I'm regretting not trying it. The garlic is quite strong if you eat the dip raw, so if you don't love garlic you might want to cut back on it a bit.

Edit: For some reason I forgot that there are some bean/legume recipes I really like - Indian dishes! Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen kindly provided me with a list of some of her favourite Indian dishes that I want to work my way through. So far I've tried her chana masala which was super tasty (and will be blogged about soon).

Some of you asked what kind of cracker I had the dip on. They're Mary's Gone Crackers (in Canada I think they're just called Mary's Crackers, box looks the same though).

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Artichoke Rotini Pasta
Pan Fried Onion Dip
Cheddar Ale Dip

Spinach Artichoke Heart Dip
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

I used 1 tbsp dried basil instead of 2 tbsp fresh.

Makes 3 cups

5 oz fresh spinach, rinsed and stemmed (Ashley note: I used 1/2 a package of frozen spinach.)
2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 1/2 cups cooked cannellini beans (15 oz can, drained and rinsed)
1 cup chopped green onions
1 tbsp dried basil
2 to 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, to taste
5 to 6 artichoke hearts or bottoms, minced (15 oz can)
salt and ground black pepper to taste

If using fresh spinach: Using just the water clinging to the leaves after rinsing, steam the spinach until just wilted, 2 or 3 minutes. If using frozen spinach: Thaw and squeeze out the water.

In a food processor, puree the spinach, garlic, beans, scallions, basil and 3 tbsp of the lemon juice until very smooth. Fold in the minced artichoke heats and add more lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies

I used to make cookies all the time but strangely I seem to have slowed down. I guess because I've been making more scones, muffins, and other random baked goods. Well these cookies have been on my "to make" list for a long time. They're soft and chewy with nice crispy outsides. The dough wasn't as chocolatey as I had hoped, and there wasn't enough coconut for me (but is there ever??) They're a good cookie but not a personal favourite - the texture is perfect though. I gave some to my boyfriend to take to work and I was really thrilled to hear that someone liked them enough to email him and tell him how good they were. (He had left them in the lunch room.)

I have one more day of class left, a big presentation, and then 4 exams next week. Then I'm finished my Food Technology program! Can't believe it. The two years have gone by so fast yet it felt like forever at times. Then I start a new program this September to become a public health inspector (environmental healthy officer). Good luck to all the students with their exams and final projects!

I love this photo of Abby! She loves diving into piles of paper (unfortunately that includes my homework that is not so well organized on the floor).

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Coconut Shortbread
Chocolate Dipped Cherry Shortbread
Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters
Intense Chocolate Fudge Cookies

Double Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 2005

Makes about 5 dozen.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I used 138g for 1/2 the recipe.)
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups white chocolate chunks (about 9 ounces)
1 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped walnuts (about 6 ounces)

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla.

2. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Mix into butter mixture on low speed until well combined. Fold in chocolate, coconut and walnuts.

3. Using a 1 1/2 inch scoop, drop batter onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake until set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Whole Wheat Orange Spice Muffins

First off, I want to let you guys know that Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs has an extremely awesome baking book, Sweet Freedom, that will be released on May 15. All of the recipes are made without wheat, dairy and refined sugar. Some of you might remember when I was a lucky tester for her cookbook and posted about some of the recipes. And I'll be doing another post in a few weeks to feature some more delicious things from her book. (Which are fast becoming some of my favourite treats!) Anyway, Ricki is generously giving away three paper copies and five electronic copies of her book. Check out her post about it here and see how you can enter to win (and learn how you can order it)!

Now onto some yummy muffins I made! I used to make healthy muffins almost every week but then for a while I was just baking whatever muffins/scones I wanted. Now I'm back to healthy muffins again and these were a great reintroduction. I loved the combination of orange, spice, and walnuts. There are a bunch of other muffins I want to try from Pinch My Salt, in particular the Double Dark Chocolate Beet Muffins mmm.

Other healthy muffins I've made:
Applesauce-Oat Bran Muffins
Pumpkin Pecan Raisin Muffins
Banana Bran Muffins

Whole Wheat Orange Spice Muffins
Adapted from Pinch My Salt

My adaptations were to use less sugar (1/2 cup instead of 3/4) and to use Sucanat instead of brown sugar, to use light soy milk + vinegar instead of buttermilk, and to use twice as much vanilla.

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (Ashley note: I used 342 g.)
1/2 cup flax seed meal (ground flax seeds)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tbsp vinegar + 1/2 cup light soy milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh orange zest
1/3 cup neutral flavored oil such as canola, vegetable or grapeseed
1/2 cup Sucanat
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; grease 12 muffin cups or line with paper baking cups. Zest and juice 2 or 3 medium oranges, measure out juice and zest; set aside. Chop and measure walnuts; set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, flax seed meal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Using a wire whisk, blend ingredients together very well. This is your dry mixture. Set it aside.

3. In a separate bowl, combine beaten eggs, buttermilk, orange juice and zest, oil, brown sugar, and vanilla. Whisk together well. This is your wet mixture.

4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until all the flour has been incorporated. Make sure to scrape up all the flour from the bottom of the bowl as you are mixing. Once you no longer see any pockets of flour remaining, gently fold in the walnuts.

5. Using a large spoon or an ice cream scoop, fill each muffin cup almost to the top. Divide any remaining batter between the cups so that they are somewhat equal. Put the muffins in a preheated 375 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. Check to see if they are done by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin. If the toothpick comes out clean, they are done. If not, let the muffins bake an additional 2 minutes and check again. When muffins are done, let cool on a wire rack for five minutes then remove muffins from pan and let cool completely on the wire rack.

If you don’t have pumpkin pie spice on hand, you can make your own: 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ground ginger, 1/4 t. ground nutmeg and 1/4 t. ground cloves. Mix it together then scoop out one heaping teaspoon to use in the recipe. Mandarins, tangerines, or other sweet citrus may be used in place of standard oranges.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Milk Chocolate Cherry Twist

I am absolutely madly in love with the way this bread looks. As soon as I saw it in Canadian Living Baking I knew I had to make it, and I was thrilled with how it turned out. The dough itself was not my favourite, but then I've been spoiled by cinnamon rolls made with brioche and there's no turning back! So I would highly recommend you try out this recipe, and while this dough is easy to work with and fairly easy to make (and tastes like good white bread), I'd go for a brioche dough instead.

The recipe suggested using either cranberries, sour cherries or raisins and I went for cherries. Though I really love fresh cherries, dried cherries taste weird to me. In combination with the dried cherries were milk chocolate chips and pecans. I loved the pecans but the milk chocolate chips I used were the Ghiradelli ones, which I think taste awful and not completely like milk chocolate. What do you guys think of them? I love the bittersweet Ghiradelli chips though, and the semisweet ones are okay. Next time I'm thinking I'll try some kind of peanut butter/toffee filling. But regardless of what kind of filling you choose, or if you just want to use the regular cinnamon/sugar filling like for cinnamon rolls, preparing the dough the way this recipe suggests will give you a unique and irresistible presentation! Well any form of cinnamon roll is irresistible, but you know, more irresistible.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Golden Cinnamon Loaf
Soft Pretzels
Chocolate Dipped Cherry Shortbread

Milk Chocolate Cherry Twist
Adapted from The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book

I omitted the glaze and the icing. It's strange that the recipe is different in the cookbook than it is on the Canadian Living website. This is the cookbook version, using the stand mixer method for the dough.

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup warm water
1 pkg active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
2 eggs
3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour (Ashley note: I used 3.5 cups, 510 grams.)

1/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup dried cherries
2/3 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp cinnamon

Make the dough:
In small saucepan, heat together milk, all abut 2 tsp of the sugar, the butter and salt until butter is melted; let cool to lukewarm.

In mixer bowl, dissolve remaining sugar in warm water then sprinkle in the yeast; let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. With paddle attachment, stir in milk mixture, eggs and 3 1/2 cups of the flour to make soft, sticky dough. With dough hook, mix on low speed for 8 minutes, scraping down bowl halfway through and adding enough of the remaining flour to make dough smooth and elastic.

Place in large greased bowl, turning to grease all over. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Grease 10 inch spring form pan; set aside. (Ashley note: I used a 9 inch spring form pan.)

Make the milk chocolate cherry twist:
In bowl, mix corn syrup with brown sugar; stir in cherries, chocolate chips and pecans. Punch down sweet yeast dough; turn out onto lightly floured surface. Roll into 18x11 inch (45x28 cm) rectangle. Spread filling over dough, pressing into surface; sprinkle with cinnamon.

Starting at long edge, tightly roll up; pinch seam to seal. Place, seam side down, on work surface; cut in half lengthwise. Keeping cut sides up, twist halves together; place in prepared pan, shaping into ring. Pinch ends together to seal. Cover with clean tea towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F. Bake in center of oven until golden, about 35 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan; transfer to rack. Let cool.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Warm Vegetable Salad with Sesame-Maple Dressing

I'm often wary of making my own salad dressings because most of the ones I see call for so much oil! I know that oil is a good fat but still, there's so much of it. Anyway, those thoughts didn't stop me from trying this yummy warm vegetable salad. I was attracted by the sesame maple dressing and it didn't disappoint. Very tasty! It was really good tossed with a mix of vegetables. It's supposed to be served warm but I thought it was good cold too. And of course feel free to experiment with your favourite vegetables.

Here's Abby, helping me blog. I was trying to type up a recipe and she came and flopped on me. Made it kind of hard to type but how could I resist her?

If this sounds good, you might also like:
Bulghur Grape Salad
French Barley Salad
Santa Fe Pasta Salad
Caribbean Roasted Vegetables

Warm Vegetable Salad with Sesame-Maple Dressing
Adapted from Rebar: Modern Food Cookbook

My modifications were to use pecans instead of cashews and to omit the 1/2 bunch spinach. Instead of spinach you can use whatever salad greens you have on hand. Toss the greens with some of the dressing, then use the rest on the other vegetables and put the vegetables on top of the salad.

(yields 1 cup)

2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups broccoli florets
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 small zucchini
2 medium carrots
1 small red pepper
1/4 cup pecans, chopped

1. Start by making the dressing. Place all of the ingredients, except oil, in a bowl or food processor. Whisk or blend to combine. SLowly drizzle in the oil in a thin, steady stream while whisking or blending. Season to taste and transfer to a small pot. Heat the dressing gently over low heat while you prepare and steam the vegetables. Keep the dressing warm.

2. Slice the zucchini into 1/2" thick half-moon slices. Slice the carrots into diagonal 1/4" coins. Cut the pepper into 1/2" squares.

3. Set a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water. Add the carrots and cauliflower, cover and steam for 3 minutes. Add the broccoli, zucchini and pepper and steam until the vegetables are just tender.

4. To serve, toss the vegetables with enough dressing to liberally coat. (Ashley note: I just used all of it.) Garnish with chopped pecans.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chocolate Volcanoes

Since I discovered that my boyfriend loves chocolate lava cake, I've told him about this one that I made a long time ago and how good it was. But I never made it for him. Not very nice of me but it's hard to go back to old recipes when there are so many new ones out there! Well finally I did remake the lava cakes (though they're called Chocolate Volcanoes in this recipe) and I was really happy that he loved them!

There are a couple of really great things about this recipe. One is that you can make the batter ahead of time because they have to be frozen at least overnight. The other is that because they're baked from frozen, you're pretty much guaranteed a gooey delicious centre. The recipe calls for serving them with a raspberry coulis, which I've made before and is good (so I've listed it below), but this time we just ate them with ice cream. Nothing wrong with that!

I was happy to see all of your comments about wanting to see more Abby pictures! =) And I wouldn't want to disappoint you all, so here's another one. She's laying in front of her favourite plant pot to dig in.

If this sounds good, you might also like:
German Chocolate Cake
Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars
Rich Chocolate Cheesecake
Chocolate Chunk Malt Cookies

Chocolate Volcanoes
Adapted from The Rest of the Best and More (From the Best of Bridge Series, 2)

1 1/2 tbsp instant coffee powder
1 tbsp boiling water
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking powder
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs

Raspberry Coulis:
10 1/2 oz pkg frozen raspberries, thawed
1/3 cup sugar

To Make Volcanoes:
Dissolve coffee granules in boiling water. Set aside to cool. Grease 6 - 4 oz. ramekins.

Using a whisk, combine flour, cocoa and baking powder in a small bowl. Reserve.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Add butter and sugar and stir until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Using as electric mixer, beat in eggs 1 at a time on medium speed. Add dissolved coffee and flour mixture and continue beating until fully mixed. Raise mixer speed to high and beat for 6 more minutes. Pour batter into ramekins and tightly wrap with plastic wrap. Freeze overnight or up to 2 weeks.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Take ramekins out of freezer and remove plastic wrap. Bake volcanoes for 18 minutes - no longer! Cool on rack for 5 minutes. The outsides will be crusty and the centers will be gooey - sort of like your average volcano. To serve, drizzle individual plates with raspberry coulis. Invert each ramekin onto a plate and add a small scoop of ice cream.

To make raspberry coulis:
Combine raspberries and sugar in a blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a sieve (or a clean j-cloth) to remove seeds. Store in refrigerator.