DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

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I considered going back to basics and entitling this post, simply, “Bread and Spread,” but decided against the too-generic descriptor (even though it does offer up a lovely rhyme).  But these two foods, when eaten together, really could inspire poetry (if you’ll forgive the extended metaphor), so I opted for my slightly rhapsodic title instead.  And besides, with Easter coming up tomorrow, “pastoral” seemed like the right choice.

I’ve been hankering after this Potato Bread ever since I read about it a while back on Johanna’s blog (and originally posted on Redacted Recipes). Johanna’s version of the recipe, bespeckled with little amethyst wisps of grated purple potatoes, was not only visually beautiful, but her post also described the bread itself–its taste and texture–as veritably irresistible. 

Now, I’m not a huge fan of bread per se (I rarely, if ever, eat sandwiches–though I made an exception for a Tempeh Ruben a while back).  If I do eat bread, I want it to be the dense, dark, whole-grain kind that originated in an anonymous Eastern European country.  This sounded like just the ticket, so I set about altering the ingredients to render them a bit more NAG-friendly.

onionbread4.jpgIn the end, I baked this bread three times (I forced myself to stop at three, because I also ended up eating most of each one!). Because the original recipe contained cheese, I substituted nutritional yeast to provide a similar flavor.  My first effort (right) contained a bit too much yeast, I’m afraid, and the sharp astringency was a little overpowering.  With attempt number two, I halved the yeast, but added diced avocado to emulate  chunks of soft feta cheese scattered throughout the bread (photo below). 

onionbreadslice3.jpg (Ehm, er. . . wouldn’t recommend this one.  I might try the avoca-cheese again in future, but I’d use much less and definitely cut the chunks very small; that way, it might just work). 

Third time was definitely the charm:  I introduced chopped roma tomato and subbed fresh dill instead of thyme.  Number Three (photo below) was, by far, my favorite.

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As Johanna attested, this bread was fantastic.  Even though mine isn’t quite as pretty to look at as hers, the moist, dense interior and perfectly balanced flavors of the green onion, cheesiness, and potato worked in agreeable harmony.  Each bite provided a slightly different mosaic of flavors, each with its own unique configuration and gustatory sparkle. I, too, had to stop myself from consuming too much of this delightful loaf at one sitting.

And while it was stellar all on its own, the bread also made a perfect base for a favorite spread of mine, Carrot Pâté. I created the latter recipe about five years ago (when I first started teaching cooking classes), as a way to veganize a fabulous pâté I’d been preparing for over 10 years before that (back when favorite recipes had to be clipped from magazine pages and preserved in file folders).   

Most of the carrots we consume around here tend toward the pre-peeled, miniature variety (aka “baby carrots”). Those are what we feed The Girls as treats, and, equally often,  as “dessert” after dinner.  And although Elsie adores the minis (and will even occasionally bare her teeth at Chaser for the culinary privilege), she turns her wet, black nose up with disdain at the regular, full-sized kind.  (Once, I ran out of the miniatures, and tried feeding her ordinary organic carrots. I took great care to cut them into strips approximately the same size as baby carrots. She examined my offering like a mortician views a corpse, let out a little contemptuous snort, and walked away.  Huh?)  Have you ever known a DOG that’s a picky eater? And not only that–this is a dog whose puppyhood was characterized by eating poo for dessert! But no; no regular carrots for this Prima Donna.

Um, excuse me, Mum, but if I might just interject to point out that the baby carrots are harvested much earlier in the growth cycle and are, therefore, significantly sweeter?  And also that you didn’t peel those big ones, either, Mum.  So they still retained all those little bumps and ridges on the exterior, which was rather irritating to my sensitive gums and teeth.  Just saying.”

carrotpateslice1.jpgAnd while it’s technically a  pâté, I actually prefer to eat this for breakfast.  With the sweetness of carrots and light, custardy texture courtesy of silken tofu, it’s a perfect morning accompaniment.  Along with the bread, you’ll be getting your morning serving of protein, veggies, and carbs, all in one delicious repast.  In fact, this would be an ideal pairing for a leisurely Easter Brunch, if you haven’t got your entire menu set already.

I thought this meal would be a great submission to Weekend Breakfast Blogging, which was created by Nandita at Saffron Trail and is being hosted this month by Mansi of Fun and Food.  The theme this month is “Balanced Breakfast Meals.”

(“Actually, Mum, I love this pâté even when you make it with “those” carrots. Pureeing the carrots makes them so much more palatable. So please feel free to share.“)

And to those of you who celebrate it, Happy Easter, all!

Cheesy Onion Potato Bread and Carrot Pâté

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Cheesy Onion Potato Bread

adapted from Green Gourmet Giraffe

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

You will quickly become addicted to this hearty, moist, and filling bread–be warned!  I’ve included my own adaptation of the recipe here. 

Vegan Carrot Pâté

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

If you consider carrots as mundane, plain-Jane, plebeian roots to be served only when drenched in sweet glaze or when playing second fiddle in a duo with peas, you’re in for a real treat with this pâté

 

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

 

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Well, it snowed AGAIN yesterday (is this grating on your nerves as much as it’s grating on mine?* I mean, it is now March 19th.  Like, what’s up with that? Snow is just. . . so. . . wrong at this time of year.  In either hemisphere). 

I am yearning for spring like the Tin Man yearns for a heart, like the artist formerly known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince” (now known just as “Prince”) yearns for purple, like Hillary yearns for the nomination–but it’s all for naught.  It’s still miserable outside.  I’m still miserable inside. Oh, woe, oh boo hoo, oh woe is me (shouldn’t that actually be “woe is I”? Ach, whatever.)

Well, if I can’t have a dip in a pool, I’ve decided to just have a dip.

Dips evoke warm weather in my mind. I love me a good hummus, smoothed languidly over falafels on outdoor patios, or lolling atop baby carrots as the HH and I enjoy a relaxed preprandial interlude, watching The Girls fight wrestle frolic on the lawn during summer evenings. Traditional spinach and onion dips, bean dips, veggie dips, even sweet fruit-and-nut dips–they’re all served at outdoor Bar-B-Qs, weekend picnics, or summer wedding buffets.

(“We love dips too, Mum.  Especially skinny-dips. How long till we can play in that wading pool again, Mum?”)

As soon as I began to search for dips on other food blogs, I was rewarded with a treasure trove of recipes. A few that intrigued me included Kalyn’s Slow Roasted Tomato Hummus ; Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen’s Shiny Happy Hummus; Farmgirl Fare’s Hot Artichoke-Chard Dip (how can you go wrong with chard?); Green Gourmet Giraffe’s Spiced Carrot Dip; and  The Good Eatah’s Super-Simple Magic Bullet Bean Dip (partly because I’ve been fascinated by that Magic Bullet ever since I first saw that cheesy infomercial starring Mimi and Mick, at home with their annoying, hung-over friends).

Still, the dip that beguiled me the most was the Creamy Aspara-Dip from Chocolate Covered Vegan.  Brilliantly green and smooth; glossy, even–how could I resist that emerald harbinger of springtime after all these months of desolate winter wasteland?

“The Ugliest Food You’ll Ever Love,” trumpeted the blog entry, and “If you aren’t a vegan, this dip will most assuredly NOT convince you to become one.” I remained undeterred, and not just a little entranced by the radiant, grassy hue. Katie promised to share the recipe with those who asked, so I asked away. 

I should pause at this juncture to explain something.  I feel extremely fortunate to have begun cooking and baking quite early on, and equally fortunate to have developed a concomitant ability to virtually “taste” a recipe just by reading the ingredients.  This sense comes in handy when I want to decide whether or not to try something I’ve never eaten before (pears and balsamic vinegar?  Yes.  Smoked tofu?  Yes.  Kale and seaweed salad?  Okay. Goji berries and mint?  Not so much.)

The HH, on the other hand, was not blessed with this particular brand of sensory imagination.  On Sunday mornings (okay, more like afternoons), we’ll sit across from each other at the brunch table, leisurely perusing the National Post, Globe and Mail  and Toronto Star as we sip on our respective hot beverages (his: hazelnut-flavored coffee with 10% real cream; mine: Krakus coffee substitute with chocolate flavored almond milk–like a mochaccino!). We’ll occasionally pause to read something of interest to the other across the plates and mugs.  

Mostly, the HH reads me stories from the Business section, about how an economic disaster (the likes of which we’ve not seen since 1929) looms, say, or where to find the latest ultra-exclusive audio gadgets (did you know you can buy stereo speakers that cost over $100,000, for instance?).  I read to him from stories in the Arts and Life section, about how workplace bullying is more harmful to employees than sexual harrassment, say, or how women who rate their relationships as happiest are the ones whose spouses share at least 50% of the household chores.

Every once in a while, though, I’ll forget that he lacks an ability for conceptual cooking and may emit a remark such as, “Oooh, listen to this: watermelon and basil salad.  Doesn’t that sound fantastic?” To which he’ll counter with a response such as, “Bwwwffffzztttt!” (that’s a spontaneous spraying of hazelnut-flavored coffee and 10% real cream over the Business section of the newspaper). Of course, he simply can’t imagine it.

Well, as soon as I read the list of ingredients in Katie’s dip, I knew I’d enjoy it, despite her dip-deprecating comments.  And it was, indeed, lip-smackingly, lick-the-spoon delicious: creamy, with a citrusy tang and sweet, green undertones.  Though he couldn’t imagine it beforehand, the HH was happy to consume a hearty portion.  And it provided us both with a little dip into virtual springtime.

Because this recipe contains not one, but two veggies, it’s the perfect dish to submit to Cate’s weekly ARF/5-A-Day event, over at Sweetnicks.  She posts the roundup every Tuesday evening, so feel free to check it out then!

Katie’s Creamy Aspara-Dip

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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This dip is quick, easy, and, as Katie wrote, “this stuff tastes terrific.” While it’s great on crackers or crudités, I bet it would make an excellent pesto-like dressing for a summer pasta salad as well.  If summer ever arrives, that is.

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Spiced Cauliflower Soup

March 17, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

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It occurred to me yesterday that the last three food posts on this blog have all been desserts.  Is this my chocolate withdrawal talking?  Well, maybe so, but that means a contrapuntal savory dish must make its appearance today.  No; more than just savory–we need something spicy.  No; more than just spicy; we need something SPICE-EEEE!  Aye, Carumba!! And I have just the thing. . . .

One of the aspects of blogging I love is reading about others writers’ food adventures.  By reading food blogs, you can vicariously cook and eat almost anything, without lifting so much as a measuring spoon. Another great byproduct is how blogging encourages you to try cooking something new almost daily, stretching your culinary muscles and gustatory acumen. Would I naturally think to peruse my cookbooks in search of a novel pasta dish every week?  Not likely.  Would I ordinarily wax poetic about rice pudding in any other context?  Negative.  Would I customarily resurrect old standards that I haven’t thought about in years?  Certainly not. And yet, today, that’s exactly what I’ve done!

When I read about this month’s No Croutons Required challenge hosted by Holler at Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen, I immediately decided to rummage through my old recipes to locate this particular soup. Back when we were first together, the HH and I would devour this soup at least once a week for several months at a time.  In those days, the HH pounced at the opportunity to share dinner prep (what we won’t do in the first flush of a new relationship!).  At that time, we cooked together almost every evening. These days, on the other hand, after the HH arrives home from work and we’ve walked  The Girls  we often embark on a game of verbal ping-pong:

Me: “What should we do for dinner?” (Subtext: I don’t really feel like doing anything for dinner.)

HH: “I dunno.  Um, did you cook anything yet?” (Subtext: What the heck were you doing here all day?”)

Me: “No.  I was waiting for you to get home from work before deciding.” (Subtext: I’ll be damned if I lift so much as a finger without your help, buster! Just because I work at home doesn’t mean I don’t work hard, too, you know. I’d appreciate just a little acknowledgement of what I do, if you don’t mind.)

HH: “Hmm.  How about pizza?” (Subtext: I am lazy and don’t feel like cooking.)

Me: “You know I don’t eat pizza!” (Subtext: How could you forget that I don’t eat wheat, or cheese, or sugar-laden pizza sauce??? Don’t you pay attention to what’s been going on here for the past eight years?  Don’t you ever notice what I do or do not eat??  Don’t you ever think of anyone besides YOURSELF??  Oh, I see what’s going on here. I see now how little you appreciate me.  Oh, don’t try to deny it.  It’s clear that you’ve never really cared for me!  You’ve never really loved me at all!  Otherwise how could you even suggest–)

HH: “Are you sure?  Well, okay, sweetie, if that’s what you want, that’s fine with me. (Subtext: Great. I really would prefer to go out.  Man, she’s the greatest.  Man,  I love this woman. )

Okay, maybe that wasn’t exactly our daily conversation, but we did go out to dinner a lot in those days.  

These days, on a slightly tighter budget after my two years away from work, we tend to throw together something quick and easy, or something I’ve come across in search of blog recipes.  The HH plays sous-chef and chops or slices according to my directives.  He sets the table and plays with The Girls while the dish finishes cooking.  And gee, he doesn’t even mind waiting for me to photograph our daily dinners.  (Man, he really is the greatest.  Man, I love that guy!)

Okay, sappy interlude is now over. Back to the soup.

This is one of the first Indian recipes I ever tried, shortly after I went off wheat, eggs, dairy, etc..  I discovered fairly quickly that my dietary restrictions could be met easily in Asian restaurants, primarily Indian or Thai.  As we visited one after the other restaurant in our neighbourhood, I also quickly discovered that I adored Indian food–and that I wanted to learn how to make it myself. 

This soup comes from the first Indian cookbook I bought, The New Indian Cooking Course, by Manisha Kanani and Shehzad Husain.  It is incredibly easy, quick, and delicious.  Not overpowering, there’s still enough zing in the soup to imprint its spicy tingle on your tongue after the bowl is emptied–perfect for the No Croutons Required event. 

(PS  I’ve finally posted a photo for another fantastic spicy soup, the Moroccan Tomato Soup that I wrote about back in December (and which the HH and I enjoyed again recently).  If you like spice, head on over and take a look! )

Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Adapted From The New Indian Cooking Course

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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This soup is a great way to incorporate cauliflower, a vegetable that isn’t particularly exciting on its own. For a more powerful spice, increase the amount of ginger and cumin accordingly.  

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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[“Can you guess why I’m so happy?”] 

Last week, we took Elsie for her annual checkup at the vet (a place she absolutely loves–go figure).  At the end of the appointment, the vet pronounced her an ideal specimen of canine health.  Not only that; Elsie had lost nine pounds since her previous visit.  Nine pounds!  That’s, like, 63 in dog pounds!  She’s been hanging on to that excess weight for a couple of years, at least. 

This was quite the contrast to our first vet appointment, back in 2002, when she was both underweight and unhealthy. We got Elsie from a Rescue Mission here in the city, because  I was keen to save a little pup that would otherwise face certain death.  But there was also a monetary consideration, as the mission charged only $200 versus the $1200 or so we’d have to dish out for a purebred pup.

I remember the event perfectly: it was a blustery, snow-swept Saturday in February (a day very much like most of last week, come to think of it–except THIS IS MID-MARCH), and we were assured that our little 12-week old fuzzball had received all the pertinent shots, was proclaimed worm-free, and had been given a clean bill of health by their vet. 

As he shoved her into my eager embrace, the scuzzball “attendant” behind the counter drawled, “Waell, you just take her in to your vet on Monday morning, and if there’s any problem, you can bring her on back.”  (Right.  Quick inventory: cramped, smelly, fecal-encrusted and rusty cage in dingy, musty basement; approximately 50 clamoring, whining, unkempt pups crammed into it shoulder to shoulder; Elsie, sweet, reticent, timid, hovering in the back corner, eyes pleading as she silently implored me, “Please!  You must help me! Get me out of here!  Pleaaaassseeee. . . . “). Return her to that torment, under any circumstances?  Um, I don’t think so.

Needless to say, when Monday morning rolled around and we  made it to our regular vet, we were hit with this diagnosis:  worms (yes, the scum-bag guy lied!  Imagine that!), fleas, mange, parasites, broken tooth, and your garden-variety malnutrition. To look at her, you’d never have known; she was nonetheless alert, frisky, and exhibited a voracious appetite (which remains to this day).  We embarked on a series of medications, unguents, and shots to rid her of all the vermin.  Ultimately,  we calculated, restoring Elsie’s health cost us about the same as if we’d purchaed 2.7 purebred pups instead.  Of course, by then  we already loved her so much that there was no question–it was worth it. 

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[Elsie, pre-weight loss]

So, now that she’s svelte and healthy, how did Elsie achieve this amazing feat? The same one, I must admit, that’s been eluding me since I started this blog back in November? And, more important, what can I learn from this?

First and foremost, Elsie now has a new sibling to share her time and energy. Ever since little Chaser Doodle arrived on the scene, Elsie has spent most of her time warding off the “let’s play” advances of her baby sister.  Chaser attempts any tack to entice Elsie to play: tug a little on the ear, nibble a little on the collar, poke a bit at the bum, taunt ceaselessly with the Nylabone, or nudge repeatedly with a paw. Sometimes, Elsie just gives in and plays. And play means exercise.

Human Counterpart: Seems I need a new baby or a new playmate. Hmmmn.  Baby may pose a challenge, as both the HH and I have passed our best-before dates for procreation (together, we must be something like 4,732 in dog years). And a new “playmate?”  Well, I’m not sure how the HH would like that one, either. But I do think a dieting buddy is a workable option; most of the women I know are watching their weight, too, so it would make sense to team up. 

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[The new, svelte girl]

Second, I’ve cut way back on the treats I offer The Girls, compared to the quantity Elsie received before Chaser’s arrival.  Partly because current dog-training philosophy advises against treats, and partly because I no longer require treats to engage Elsie’s attention (since she’s got another dog to play with now), the number of daily biscuits has diminished by half at least.  That’s like cutting out snacks during the evening, or reducing your meals by 25%.  No wonder she’s lost weight!

Human Counterpart: Cut down snacks.  I may need to establish nap-time between 2:00 and 3:00 (when my blood sugar crashes) for a while, but that, too, shall pass. And fewer snacks means fewer calories.

The Girls also spend a lot of time romping outdoors, running off leash for a minimum of 45 minutes per day. Before Chaser’s arrival, Elsie was walked for the same length of time each day, but never felt the urge to run (or even walk very fast).  Obviously, having a playmate has made a difference.

Human Counterpart: Take a daily romp in the woods.  Well, if I translate this into human terms, what I really need to do is more exercise.  I’ve read that in order to lose weight, the average person must exercise ninety minutes a day.  Ninety!  And once women reach perimenopause (and after), they require an hour a day just to maintain weight.  So if I tally up the hour or so I walk The Girls each day, plus whatever extra I add on with the treadmill or the workout club, I should realistically be able to reach that goal. 

Why haven’t I incorporated any of these tricks yet?  Maybe I needed Elsie as my inspiration. I know it’s worth a try. I mean, Elsie does look marvelous, and, even better, she seems to have more energy these days for frolicking and gamboling.  And lord knows I could use more frolick and gambol.

Yes, Mum, I’d highly recommend it.  I do enjoy my frolicking.  But now, can you do something about getting Chaser off my back?”

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Maple-Walnut Cookies

March 14, 2008

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site. Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thank you for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new home of Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we?  Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans on this blog than you do.”

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Despite my constant whining about winter (When, oh when will it finally be over?? How much longer must I endure this bleak, bleached, desolate wasteland of frigid snow? How many more days must I suffer through this torturous, crystalline hell on earth? ), I fully recognize that the season Below Zero does have at least a few minor benefits. 

For one, you get to cuddle closer to your honey while watching Battlestar Gallactica or a DVD.  You feel justified when you stay home from that excruciatingly boring dinner meeting (“but the roads were impossible. . . “).  You have a legitimate reason to cover up your all-time high weight of mumblemumbleundisclosednumber pounds and wear loose sweaters.

And then, when the season finally begins to wane, you have the opportunity to eat fresh maple syrup.

Although technically, the trees aren’t tapped until early spring, in Canada you can purchase real maple syrup year-round (yay!). When I first changed my diet and left white sugar in the dust, maple syrup quickly became one of my baking staples.  Its subtle, buttery, vaguely smoky and intensely sweet flavor is the perfect enhancement for so many foods–pancakes, of course, but also baked beans, scrambles, chocolate pudding, even some noodle dishes or casseroles.  Whether you enjoy the lighter grades that contain a higher water content (the syrup darkens in color, thickens somewhat and intensifies in flavor as it’s condensed) or the richer, darker varieties, true maple syrup is a unique and noteworthy enjoyment.

When we were kids, I never realized that what my mom referred to as “maple syrup” was actually artificially-flavored corn syrup.  My dad and sisters loved the stuff, and would slather it on a stack of pancakes so thickly that the syrup soaked right through to the cake on the very bottom of the pile, rendering them all a soggy, sticky mess. 

I could never warm up to those heavy, dense, wet cakes.  It wasn’t until I began to purchase pure maple syrup as an adult that I truly learned to appreciate pancakes.  At first, I was skeptical, cutting just a corner of the pancake and tentatively dipping it into a little pool of syrup on my plate, as if I were testing lakewater with my big toe; but once I experienced that authentic light and sugary elixir, I felt comfortable pouring it on and plunging in with gusto.

Tasting genuine maple syrup also called to mind a childhood event when I was lucky enough to sample the “real thing” away from our corn syrup-infused kitchen at home.  Once, on an extra-curricular school trip in April, our grade three class visited a maple farm north of the city.  There, we attended an event known as “Sugaring Off.”  (To this day, the term sounds vaguely like an expletive to me: “Why, you sonofa–just sugar off!”  “Oh, yeah?  Well you sugar off! And your mother wears army boots, too!”)

The maple farmers would hold these events just as the sap began to run, using freshly tapped syrup.  They’d heat it just enough so that it caramelized instantly when poured over a base of pristine, white, freshly scooped snow that had been spread evenly across a long metal table.  Immediately, the syrup was transformed into toffee against the frosted snow, and we kids wielded soup spoons, scooping in a frenzy of delight as we dug in and all shared the huge slab of sweetness. 

Of course, these days, the practise would be banned for hygienic purposes. When I was a kid, however, no one worried about the snow harboring parasites, or fox pee, or fungus-infested decomposing pine cones. . . we just ate it.  We all double-dipped, even triple-dipped, sharing the same enormous, rectangular, metal plate. And it was delicious.  Like soft, warm, just-cooked caramel. . . . oh, how I loved it!

 
 

 

 So when I heard about this week’s Root Source challenge to create a recipe with maple syrup, I knew I had to participate.  Since I’ve been baking exclusively with natural sweeteners for the past few years, anyway, this task didn’t strike me as very different from what I’ve already been doing. And while I had a few maple syrup-based recipes in my repertoire, I wanted to create something original for this event.

Since I’m off chocolate for the time being, I considered other foods with which maple syrup can be paired successfully.  One of the most common combinations–walnuts and maple syrup–exists precisely because these two ingredients complement each other so well. So I decided this was no time to buck tradition; maple and walnut it is!

The result of my kitchen playtime is these Maple-Walnut Cookies.  They’re light, crisp, and really showcase the unique flavor of the syrup, especially the day after you bake them, when the flavors mature. If you prefer a chewy cookie, reduce the baking time by two or three minutes. 

 Maple-Walnut Cookies

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TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

 

[Ed. Note–This recipe won the CookThink Recipe Challenge for Maple Syrup, and was published on the CookThink site.  Almost as exciting as a good sugaring off party!]

[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog.  For more information, check the “Cookbook” button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

 

Sometimes, you just want to eat something now.  I’ve decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required.  Here’s my first “Flash in the Pan.”

Speedy Fruit Sorbet

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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When I crave something sweet, creamy, and cold, this is my current indulgence.  It’s made almost entirely of fresh-frozen fruit, so there’s absolutely no guilt.  And it’s ready in about three minutes.  I’m loving this sorbet!

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

Butterscotch Mousse Pie

March 12, 2008

butterpieslice.jpg 

DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

If you’re reading this page, you’ve landed on the old site.  Please visit the new location by clicking here–and don’t forget to update your readers and blogrolls!

As always, thanks for reading.  I look forward to seeing you at the shiny new Diet, Dessert and Dogs!

“Um, Mum, we are coming with you, aren’t we? Because (and sorry to have to tell you this), we actually have more fans than you do on this blog.”]

 

I have to admit that I was never much of a pie person until very recently. 

“I mean, really,” I would ask pie-lovers, “What is it if not just an oddly-shaped fruit (or veggie) sandwich? Apples and cinnamon between two layers of crust. Blueberries between two layers of crust. Pumpkin between two layers of crust.”  Bah.

Oh, but that was just my cynical self, the one with pie envy, talking.  Once I learned to produce a truly great crust, all my counter-crust sentiments dissolved, like butter under your fingers. 

Traditional pastry, it seems, relies on the unique chemistry between cold fat and dry flour, cut into little bullets of butter or lard that subsequently melt and expand while baking, thereby creating pockets of air space.  If you’re not using solid fat in the mix, the crust simply doesn’t work out the same way, even if you DO refrigerate it; it just never achieves the same degree of tender flakiness.  As a result, I never had much success with pie crust. And because I don’t use margarines, the option of Earth Balance isn’t a possibility for me, either.

Every time I used to attempt a pie, I’d end up feeling a little like Jan, the “less-than” sister of the Brady Bunch: all I could do was clench my fists and wail, “Crust, Crust, Crust!!” 

Well, once I discovered vegan baking and nut-based crusts, those floury flakes lost their ability to bully this baker! Even though I don’t make them very often, I now truly enjoy a good vegan pie, and the crust is just as appealing to me as the filling (though I still favor non-fruit fillings). 

After experimenting with various combinations of ingredients, I was completely euphoric to discover that a mixture of ground nuts and oats, with a healthy sprinkling of flour added in, served as an ideal base for vegan pie crust.  With that discovery in hand, there was no stopping me!  First, I made variations on traditional fruit-filled versions; then I moved on to explore pumpkin or sweet potato fillings; finally, I graduated to the much-loved vegan chocolate mousse and other “cheesecake” fillings.  But what next? (“How about a dog-friendly pie, Mum?  You know we love your crust!”)

Well, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am either blessed or cursed with the strange ability to remember numbers of all types–phone numbers or addresses that I’ve encountered once, weird statistics (like, did you know that 1 in 3 Americans can’t properly decode a bus schedule?), or single numerals from something I learned long ago (for instance, all I now recall from high school chemistry, a course in which I excelled at the time, is Avogadro’s Number: 6.02 x 1023 ). Similarly, I do remember that Pi is 3.14 (more or less)–though of course, I’ve never had a single occasion to make use of that fact. 

Except for now!  As it turns out, Kitchen Parade is hosting a Pie/Pi event this month: “Pi Day: Recipes for Homemade Pie.” Well, that suited me just fine, as I’m now happy to participate with both types of “pie/pi.”  And I immediately thought of the perfect filling for my entry. (“Yay! A pie for us! What a great Mum!”)

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I was recently fortunate enough to spend a week testing out my new cookbook, Vegan Express by Nava Atlas, and  fixed my sights on the very last recipe in the book, Butterscotch Mousse Pie.  Butterscotch is one of my favorite flavors after chocolate–and guess what?  This pie has both!  Soft and airy, the filling is a cross between a mousse and a custard, with a butterscotch flavor well represented by brown rice syrup and butterscotch extract.  It was a big hit with my HH , who is normally a cow’s dairy kind of guy. (“But Mum. . . you know we can’t have chocolate. . . Aw, Mum, crust, crust, crust!”)

Nava has kindly allowed me to reprint the recipe here, so I’m going to copy it verbatim from the book (with any adjustments I made in square brackets beside the original instructions).  I gussied it up a bit with my own version of whipped cream (the recipe for which I’ll post anon), so hope you like it!

To make the entire pie gluten-free, just use a GF pie crust; the filling and topping are both already gluten free.

Butterscotch Mousse Pie

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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Nava notes: “As I mentioned in Butterscotch Apples, I adore this seductive extract.  If you do too, the scent of the pie as it bakes and cools will drive you mad. And I can almost guarantee that the rich flavor won’t disappoint. You can find good-quality graham-cracker crusts in natural foods stores or the natural foods section of supermarkets.” 

Buttery, Rich Oat-Nut Pie Crust

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.

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This version, while unlike a traditional pastry crust, is nevertheless rich-tasting, and crumbles delicately, melting beautifully on the tongue.  

TO VIEW THE COMPLETE RECIPE, PLEASE VISIT THIS PAGE ON THE NEW DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS, BY CLICKING HERE.