DIET, DESSERT AND DOGS HAS MOVED!

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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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There are times when I glance around my chaotic home office, and I despair a little.  Then my eyes glaze over and I fall into a reverie about the good ol’ days, when I used to be organized: desktop in order, with clearly demarcated “to do” and “done” piles.  Mail returned with great alacrity, and an empty “inbox” each evening.  Shoes and boots lined up like bottles at a county fair, erect and waiting for the ball that will topple them. Laundry folded, laid neatly in drawers (never left to languish untouched on the top of the dresser for days).

Ah, yes, it’s a lovely dream. In more recent times, what with papers to mark, driveways to shovel, cooking classes to teach, orders to bake, dogs to walk, blogs to write–well, I admit that I’ve become a little slack on the home front.  But seriously, do you really need more than four square inches of desk space to pay your bills online? Do you really need bookshelves to hold all your books, when the packing boxes they were moved in will do a perfectly acceptable job? Do floors really need to be washed all that often (speaking of, if your floors aren’t up to snuff, just get a puppy.  Presto! It’s like one of those zoomba roboty things that catches every spill–leaving floors spic and span–with no effort on your part!). 

Well, weird things are starting to happen now that I’ve cut chocolate out of my life.  Suddenly, my disorderly surroundings began to feel intolerable (I mean, it’s been this way pretty much since the day we moved in here), and I went on a tidying rampage: clear the mess on the desk! Fold that laundry! Line up those shoes! Tote that barge, lift that bale. . !  And then, I felt like cooking.  Cooking onions.

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I had always considered onions to be a mere accessory to something else: an adjunt to the roasted garlic in a spelt pizza, a great starter ingredient for soups, or a bedrock for that slab of tempeh in a Tempeh Ruben. And yet, ever since the CFO came to visit a few weeks ago, onions have been tumbling around in the back of my mind. During her visit, she convinced me to buy a copy of Cooking Light magazine, something I’d never done before despite being an avowed magazine junkie (uh oh, I detect a pattern here. . . can the Week of Magazine Asceticism be far behind?). 

Guilty of judging a magazine by its cover, I’d always assumed the recipes within would be rife with “diet” or “lite” ingredients (usually chemically-enhanced or highly processed) as a way of creating these so-called lighter versions of strandard fare (geez, didn’t I notice it was called Cooking Light and not Cooking Lite?).  Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong!

As soon as I flipped open the current issue, a stunning photo of cipollinis beckoned. Now, I’d never even heard of cipollini onions before that moment but, like a new word you finally look up in the dictionary that subsequently pops up everywhere thereafter, these onions had entered my consciousness and I began to notice their presence in familiar places–old cookbooks, food tv shows, other blogs. Within a week, I’d seen them mentioned three or four times.  

As much as I love onions, I’d never based an entire dish on them before.  (I’d only heard of such a travesty once, during my final PhD year. At the time, my friend Ginny’s husband was being called upon to chip in  at home for the first time in their 10-year marriage, as Ginny was overwhelmed with work and studies and often late for dinner.  One evening, after a long night’s studying at the library, Ginny returned home to find that her hubby had attempted to cook dinner on his own.  As she gravitated toward the heavenly scent of sauteed onions, her husband beamed with pride as he directed her to a huge frypan on the stove, lifted the cover, and revealed–a pan of fried onions!  That’s right: he could think of nothing to combine with them, nothing else to add, but he did know how to fry. Last I heard, they were getting a divorce.)

 
 

 

 This recipe combines buttery-soft onions with plump raisins and toasted pine nuts in an allluring, glossy glaze.  Once the dish was complete, it did look very much like the photo in the magazine.  It also tasted great, with the sweet-tart appeal of a good chutney. It was then I realized, much like Ginny’s husband, “what am I going to do with all these onions?”  As a side dish to some hunk of meat, they might seem sufficient on their own, but that wasn’t happening in my house. Don’t get me wrong–it was very, very good; just not good enough to stand on its own. cipollineraw.jpg So I decided to ladle the mixture over herb-roasted Yukon Gold potatoes and–voila–a lovely, light dinner was born.  

And, ironically, you really do need to be organized to make this dish.  Just to peel the onions, you must blanch, cool, squeeze, and pull off the skins.  This alone took me 30 minutes, before I even began to prepare the rest of the dish. 

Yes, cipollinis are lovely.  But heck, with my schedule, next time I’ll just use chunks of the good ol’ regular kind.

Because the potatoes provide the true substance of this dish, I’m submitting this as my entry for “The Potato–A Blog Event”  by Eating Leeds.

Roasted Potatoes with Sweet and Sour Cipolllini Onions

(from Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2008 )

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This recipe offers a gussied-up version of the archetypal combination, roast potatoes and onions. We ate this as a main course, but if you prefer, you can serve these separately, as side dishes.

For the potatoes:

2 lb. (about 1 kg.) Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into quarters

2-4 Tbsp. (30-60 ml.) extra virgin olive oil

generous sprinklings of oregano, rosemary, parsley and thyme

salt to taste

For the onions:

1/4 cup (60 ml.) raisins

1/2 cup (125 ml.) hot water

2 pounds (about 1 kg.) cipollini onions

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) butter (I used olive oil)

3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) water

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) sugar (I used agave nectar)

1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.) sea salt

1/4 tsp. (1.5 ml.)  freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) pine nuts

Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).  Grease a large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet, or line with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil.  Place in a single layer in the pan and sprinkle with the herbs.  Roast in preheated oven until done and a little crispy on the outside, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare the onions:

Place raisins in a bowl and cover with the 1/2 cup hot water. Let stand 30 minutes or until plump.  Drain.

Trim top and root end of onions. Cook onions in boiling water for 2 minutes.  Drain, cool and peel. (The skins were supposed to slip off easily, but they were not not exactly cooperative).

Melt butter (or olive oil) in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions to pan, stirring well to coat. Stir in 3 Tbsp. water [I found I had to add more later on to keep the mixture from scorching], red wine vinegar, sugar (agave), salt, and black pepper. Cover, reduce heat and cook 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. [I found I needed more time than this before they began to really caramelize.]

Add raisins and pine nuts to pan. Inrease heat to medium, and cook, uncovered, 10 minutes or until lightly browned and liquid almost evaporates, stirring occasionally. 

Divide potatoes into 4 servings, and ladle the cipollini mixture on top of each. 

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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A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog entry about the trio of chocolate desserts I’d created for Valentine’s Day, each with at least one “secret” ingredient that conferred extra health benefits.  I promised to post the recipes for each one, starting with the Gluten-Free Brownie and followed by the Vegan Molten Chocolate Cakes. Since I’ve already posted the first two recipes of

****BULLETIN****BULLETIN****BULLETIN*****

We interrupt this blogcast to bring you this breaking news that Ricki’s recipe for Vegan Molten Chocolate Cakes has been voted the winner of the Vegetable Love contest over at Susan’s Fat Free Vegan Kitchen ! (Well, okay, maybe it was by a very small margin, but we’re not complaining).  The contest asked participants to submit recipes for romantic, vegan, low-fat dishes that contained vegetables.   Skip on over and take a look at all the fabulous entries!

I have to admit that I was completely taken by surprise (thanks, Veggie Girl, for the heads up via your comment!) and absolutely thrilled.  Baking, like writing, is something I love doing so much that I’d still do it even if I weren’t being paid for it (hey! wait a second. . . I am doing it and I’m not being. . . ).  But it’s so great to have the positive feedback on this blog (Your comments are great!  Keep ’em coming!!) and to know that people out there enjoy the recipes. 

So thank you all for voting, thank you for reading, and a big thank you for encouraging me to keep on doing something I adore.  (Now, if only I could figure out how to put that cute little heart-beet icon on my blog page. . . ).

****WE APOLOGIZE FOR THE INTERRUPTION. AND NOW, BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG ENTRY, ALREADY IN PROGRESS.****

the trio, I thought today, Valentine’s Day, would be the perfect time to post the final recipe.  These aren’t exactly what I’d call “romantic” cookies (at least, not in the same way that an oozing, gooey, warm molten center might be), but they are definitely a heartfelt offering of love.

Pairing eggplant puree with chocolate and peanut butter, these cookies provide some heart-healthy fats (monounsaturated in the peanuts) and great antioxidant benefits (the anthocyanins in the eggplant, flavonoids in cocoa), plus great fiber.  They’ve also been kid-tested and approved by several of my friends’ and colleagues’ children, and I am happy to report that absolutely NO eggplant was detectable in the fudgy, peanutty, chocolatey treats.

Finally, I’m going to beg solicit plead implore ask you once again if you’ve got any neat ideas for a Valentine’s Day dinner that my HH and I will share on Saturday (we’re deferring the Big Day by two days, so you still have time!!).  Since you’ll all be done with your own dinners by then, how about telling me what YOU all had?  Then I can copy plagiarize reproduce honor your great dishes by trying some of them out at our own dinner.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  Hope it’s both sweet and loving.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudgies 

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

Down the Donut Hole*

February 12, 2008

*Or, Chasing That Rabbit Seems the Easier Option Right About Now

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So what’s a blog that focuses primarily on healthy foods doing with an entry on donuts?

I may not have consumed any of these sweet treats in the past 8 years or so, but I am a lifelong member of the “I Love Donuts” fan club. Well, cake donuts, anyway. As everyone knows, there are two types of donuts in the world: the airy, yeasty kind, and the denser, cakey kind.  (Which basically means that, as a donut lover, you can be either an airhead or dense.). 

In our house, for instance, the HH is the light, yeast-based aficionado while I’m the fan of heavier, cakelike donuts.  Several years ago, I came across a recipe for yeast-free blueberry donuts on Emeril’s webpage.  I immediately printed it off and made them that very night, and, I can honestly attest, they were fabulous.  With the tender, cakelike interior and thick, slightly crunchy-pebbly glazed exterior, each one offered up sweetness and a succession of juicy, tart mini-explosions courtesy of the berries scattered throughout.  I enjoyed every mouthful of that sugary, fried yumminess, knowing it was likely the last “conventional” donut I’d eat. 

Now, it’s not as if I dream about donuts or anything. I don’t consciously yearn for them on a regular basis, nor do I even emit a little whine in their general direction whenever I drive past a donut shop.  No, once I determined to change my diet several years ago (even though I couldn’t bear to give up desserts entirely), I simply put donuts out of my mind.  I set them aside in the little back room of my memory, where they remained in storage next to other items in that mental locker, like my pair of old, hand-embroidered overalls; my undergrad essays on The Canterbury Tales or Blake; the childhood birthday cards from my aunts and uncles; or the cassette tape of songs that Rocker Guy (he of the black leather pants) wrote, and gave to me as a gift the week before he went back to his old girlfriend. 

In other words, I was still aware of the existence of donuts somewhere in the universe,  but the thought of them didn’t really infiltrate any of my conscious thoughts.

Until yesterday.  Ah, that was when I happened upon the blog event hosted by Peabody and Tartelette called Time to Make the Donuts.  Devotees of The Secret and its new-age philosophy would say I brought this upon myself, that I set an INTENTION to call donuts back into my life–that I had a deep seated, unrelenting, subliminal desire to once again taste at least one more teeny morsel of that cakey, dense, nutmeg-dusted confection.

But naw.  I just felt like baking donuts.

And so the challenge began.  Like Alice in her Wonderland, I found myself surrounded by concepts that at first glance seemed familiar, yet were not as they were supposed to be:  my fantasty donut was tender and cakelike like the “real” thing, but baked rather than fried (I knew I couldn’t wander that far from my newfound eating habits); and it had to have organic, whole ingredients while still being vegan. 

And so, there I went, down the donut hole!

Attempt Number One: 

hardonuts.jpg  I started out by adapting a basic recipe for “Cake Donuts” from Joy of Cooking, making the usual substitutions for the eggs, flour, and sugar. This initial result gave me what were essentially hard, circular cookies.  Not very sweet or tasty cookies, either. Verdict:  trash ’em.

 Attempt Number Two:

On to the next batch! These, too, were flat, hard, and yes, dense; not donuts, exactly, but more like horseshoes that had somehow been forged incorrectly and melded together on the open end.  Verdict: Into the garbage!

Was it time to give in, and just fry the damn things?  But no, I’d come this far. I couldn’t give up now!

In a bit of a tizzy, I let my mind wander toward other donut-shaped foods to see if I couldn’t come up with something novel (I really didn’t want to relent and just bake donut “holes”).  Just give it up, I thought, the deadline is February 12thAre you crazy? You don’t have time to reinvent the donut by then.

But then, it hit me: Rue St. Viateur.

St. Viateur Street in Montreal is home of a small, cramped  bakery that my dad would take us to every Sunday morning. This was the shop we’d drive for 40 minutes across the city to reach, through one suburb after another until we finally came upon the small wooden door set in grey stone. 

After circling the block for 15 or so minutes to find a parking spot, we’d head to the old, grimy building and join the lineup along with scores of other people standing shoulder to shoulder, the vibrating queue snaking out of the store and round the block. There, we’d wait for almost an hour as heat escaped out the door in excited bursts and brought with it a mist made of honey-water, creating its own billowing breeze of sweetness in the air.

All this, just to receive the ultimate prize: our very own brown paper bag filled with a dozen fresh, steaming, soft and glossy bagels that had just been pulled from an old-fashioned wood burning oven on a huge and well-worn wooden paddle.   

Eureka!  That was it!  I’d do a sweet variation on those bagels!  A donut-bagel!  A dogel! (Of course, I loved this new invention immediately; how could I not, what with the its first syllable being “dog,” and all?).

So I took my mind for another quick stroll and recalled how those sooty, sweaty, paddle-toting bagel bakers performed their magic at the tiny outlet that was St. Viateur Bagels. With one flick of the fingers, they’d expertly twist a roll of dough into a bagel shape. With a swift pinch to hold the ends together, the men dropped the dough into simmering vats of honey-water, just for a minute, which sealed the exterior “skin” of the bagel and also bathed it in a light, subtle sweet glaze that offered up the most golden, glorious sheen once baked. 

Dogels, here I come.

Attempt Number Three:

donutplain.jpg The result of this final venture, I’m happy to say, far outshone the other two, and produced a donut that was almost authentic in its cakelike texture. I’m still working out the details, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying a couple of these fragrant, soft and tempting delights.  Verdict:  A keeper!

As far as hybrids go, I’d say the dogel was one of my favorites. In fact, I loved it almost as much as a similar hybrid in my house, the Borador. Though there’s no denying that I’m partial to the latter.

(“What a great adventure, MumBut, um, where’s this rabbit we’re supposed to be chasing?”)

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P.S.  I’m still actively soliciting recipe ideas for my Valentine’s Day dinner, so if you’ve got a salad, entree, or dessert idea, please let me know in a comment, and I might just use it for my romantic evening with the HH! 

No, this isn’t a contest and there’s no prize.  But you’ll have my undying gratitude PLUS the satisfaction of knowing that you encouraged the HH to actually cook something (and that you saved me from a lifetime of doing so if we end up cooking the boring recipes I’ve chosen on my own).