Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

30 11 2009

 

A bin of apples at the farmer's market

 

It’s a cool November morning and I’m sitting here staring at my bowl of Special K with low-fat milk feeling uninspired.  I’m craving something sweet and comforting and I’m afraid my healthy option just isn’t cutting it (little wonder, since I don’t really like cereal that much).  I’m tempted to make a run for the cafe near my house because they sell fantastic pastries including almond croissants, chocolate croissants and fruit danishes.  However, I don’t need to develop a daily pastry habit so perhaps I can whip up something that fits the criteria of being (relatively) healthy yet comforting. Apple Walnut Bread is the perfect solution.  It’s also a great idea for those of you who overindulged this past weekend and are looking for lighter options while recovering from turkey and pumpkin pie overload.

Using apple sauce in place of some of the fat keeps the bread moist and flavourful while whole wheat flour and oatmeal add fibre. Serve with a cup of coffee or tea for a great breakfast option that suits these grey days.

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Makes one loaf

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup quick cooking oats, such as Quaker brand
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup applesauce
  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or safflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated (about 1-1/3 cups grated apple)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Topping:

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard sized loaf pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add dry ingredients (flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and nutmeg). Stir until thoroughly combined, making sure spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Add eggs, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add grated apple and stir until well distributed through batter. Gently fold in walnuts but do not over mix batter. Pour into greased loaf pan.
  4. Prepare topping: in a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Sprinkle sugar mix and nuts over batter.
  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool. Run a knife around the perimeter of the loaf before unmolding it from the pan. Slice and serve.

 

Spiced Apple Walnut Bread

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com





Pumpkin Breakfast Treats

24 11 2009

Pumpkin: it's not just for pie!

With pumpkin pie on the Thanksgiving menu this week in millions of homes, there will likely be some leftover pumpkin purée. Why not put it to good use by whipping up some delicious breakfast treats for a house full of guests?  Try these delicious recipes I wrote for Suite 101.com:

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Pumpkin purée helps keep these muffins nice and moist. Filling the muffin cups almost to the top will make large, puffy bakery-style muffins. The recipe can easily be doubled to serve a crowd.

Pumpkin French Toast – French toast is always popular for breakfast but adding pumpkin and spices makes it even better. It’s also a great way to use up leftover bread. Serve with real maple syrup.

Pumpkin French Toast with maple syrup

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





A Vegetarian and Vegan Thanksgiving

23 11 2009

Fresh cranberries at the farmer's market

American Thanksgiving is this week and it’s the biggest food day of the year for millions of people. Cooks across America have been busy in on-line chat rooms and blogs discussing menus and what recipes they’ll be making for their feasts.  Turkey is usually the centerpiece of a traditional Thanksgiving meal but what if you or one of your guests don’t eat meat or poultry?  Not to worry – there are plenty of delicious options that everyone can enjoy without feeling like they’re missing out.

Many recipes can also be adapted for vegans (who don’t eat any animal products, including milk, cheese, butter and eggs).  To make a recipe vegan, sometimes all you have to do is substitute margarine or oil for butter and leave out any cheese the recipe may call for.  I have noted which recipes can easily be adapted for vegans. Here are some suggestions for a delicious, meat-free Thanksgiving dinner:

Stuffed Butternut Squash is an elegant vegetarian alternative to turkey.

White Bean Dip with Fresh Herbs – Get the party started with this vegan-friendly dip made with white beans and hearty autumn herbs. 

Mushroom Crostini – These make impressive hors d’oeuvres for any autumn dinner. Leave out the cream, parmesan and sour cream if serving vegans.  Adjust the flavour by adding more seasonings to taste.

Butternut Squash Soup – This low-fat soup is easy and delicious.  To adapt for vegans, omit the brown butter – use olive oil to sauté the sage leaves instead.

Peppery Leek and Potato Soup – Using vegetable stock instead of a chicken base makes this easy soup suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.

Stuffed Butternut Squash – This makes an impressive main course dish that easily takes the place of turkey.  Can be adapted for vegans (see pointers in the article).

Potato-Sage Dressing – Cooking the stuffing outside the bird means that everyone can enjoy it, including vegans.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots – Take a break from the usual green bean casserole with this vegan-friendly dish.

Cranberry Sauce – Just because you don’t have turkey doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some vegan-friendly cranberries with your meal.

Mashed Potatoes – Always a favourite, mashed potatoes can be adapted for vegans by nixing the butter and cream.  Use a little vegetable stock and a bit of olive oil to give them a creamy texture.

Mashed Potatoes are a must at any Thanksgiving table.

Butternut Squash Gratin with Sage and Parmesan – The key to this dish is the butter and parmesan so vegans may have to pass on this one but vegetarians and meat-eaters will no doubt enjoy it.

Corn Scallop – This dish is tasty and rich but unfortunately it’s not vegan-friendly. However, Roasted Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs is – just use olive oil in place of the butter. Fresh corn is not in season right now but canned corn works very well in this dish.

Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Feta – This hearty winter salad is practically a meal on its own.  Leave out the feta for vegans.

Braised Garlic Swiss Chard – Cooking swiss chard in lots of garlic and stock makes eating your greens a lot more delicious.  Use oil in place of the butter for vegans.

Roasted Tomatoes – These sweet and addictive slow cooked tomatoes are great in salads, on pasta or even just eaten with bread. They are vegan-friendly as well. 

Celery Root Slaw – This tangy salad is the perfect accompaniment to rich dishes.  If serving vegans, use a vegan-friendly mayonnaise that doesn’t contain any eggs.

Salads – Mixed greens and other vegetables are a great option for vegetarians, vegans and health-conscious diners.  Recipes for Basic Vinaigrettes will give you  lots of ideas for dressings.

Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline – The pumpkin custard contains eggs and milk so it’s not vegan-friendly but everyone else will enjoy this dressed up version of a classic.

Apple Pie – Another classic.  Be sure to use a pastry recipe (or prepared dough) that doesn’t contain animal products if serving vegans.

Take a break from green bean casserole with vegan-friendly Roasted Green Beans and Shallots.

Many people are eliminating meat and animal products from their diets for both health and ethical reasons but there’s no reason why they can’t enjoy a tasty holiday meal as well.  

Bon Appétit and Happy Thanksgiving!





Pumpkin Pie with Maple-Walnut Praline

19 11 2009

Pumpkin pie with maple-walnut praline and pastry leaves

No Thanksgiving table is complete without pumpkin pie.  Many places sell them but they are very easy to make and cost a fraction of what fancy bakeries will charge.  My version features a basic pumpkin custard that has been dressed up with a crunchy maple-walnut praline and cut out pastry ‘leaves’.  Of course, if you’re in a hurry, you can just make the basic pie without the additions – it will still be delicious.

Pumpkin Pie with Maple Walnut Praline

Makes one 9″ pie

Praline:

  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup neutral oil such as canola or safflower

Pie Filling:

  • 2 cups plain pumpkin puree (not spiced pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk (not sweetened condensed milk)
  • ¾ cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Uncooked pie crust for two 9″ pies (see Basic Pastry Crust for a good recipe)
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 teaspoons water
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon sugar

To Make Praline:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine walnuts with maple syrup and oil. Toss to coat.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Spread walnut mixture so it’s in an even layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, making sure the walnuts do not burn.
  4. Remove nuts from the oven and let cool. Gently break up any pieces that have stuck together with your fingers. Praline may be made in advance and kept covered in the fridge until use.

Preparing the Pastry:

  1. Roll out one portion of pastry dough (enough to fit a 9″ pie plate). Place pastry in pie plate and crimp edges.
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prick a few small holes in the bottom of the pastry and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. Roll out second portion of pastry dough. Cut out leaf shapes using a cookie cutter or knife. Use knife tip to score leaf ‘veins’ into the pastry.
  4. Brush pastry leaves with beaten egg mixture. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake for 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. Set aside to decorate finished pie.

To Make Pie Filling:

  1. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin puree, eggs, cream, sugar, spices, salt and vanilla. Stir until thoroughly mixed and spices are evenly distributed. Set aside. Filling may be mixed in advance and refrigerated until use.

To Assemble Pie:

  1. Pour pie filling into pastry crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until the centre has set.
  2. Remove pie from oven and let it cool completely. Sprinkle praline along edge of crust. Arrange pastry leaves decoratively in the centre of the pie. Serve pie with whipped cream.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This article first appeared on Suite 101.com.





Butternut Squash Gratin with Sage and Parmesan

17 11 2009

Butternut squash at Jean Talon Market, Montreal

 

Squash and pumpkins are the superstars of fall.  They are cheap and readily available and can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes.  A butternut squash gratin makes a great side dish for Thanksgiving because it can be assembled in advance which makes one less thing to fuss with on the big day.  Because the ingredients for this dish are so simple, it’s important to use good quality products: fresh sage leaves, real parmesan cheese and real butter.  

Butternut Squash Gratin with Sage and Parmesan

(VEGETARIAN)

Makes 4 to 6 servings as a side dish

  • About ¾ of a medium butternut squash (enough to yield 4 generous cups of sliced squash)
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 20 small to medium sized fresh sage leaves or 10 large leaves torn in half
  • 1 cup (about 75 g / 2.5 oz.) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a standard sized loaf pan and set aside.
  2. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, trim off both ends of the butternut squash and discard. Place the squash upright on a solid cutting board and peel it by cutting the skin off in a downward motion. Cut the peeled squash in half vertically down the middle and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any stringy flesh.
  3. Using a very sharp knife or mandoline, cut squash into thin slices, about 1/8″ thick. Slice enough squash to yield about 4 generous cups of squash slices. Set aside.
  4. In a medium saucepan, heat butter on medium-high heat. Once butter has completely melted, reduce heat to medium and add sage leaves. Watching carefully and swirling the pot frequently, heat butter for about 5 minutes, until it turns a dark golden brown and sage leaves are crispy. Remove from heat.
  5. In loaf pan, layer 1 cup of squash slices, overlapping them in 2 or 3 layers. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of butter-sage mixture and top with ¼ cup of grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Repeat layering until there are a total of four layers, finishing with cheese on top. Gratin can be assembled in advance and refrigerated.
  7. Bake gratin at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until squash is tender and the top is bubbling and brown.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

This recipe first appeared on Suite 101.com

Butternut Squash Gratin with Sage and Parmesan





Maple-Caramel Custards with Sea Salt

10 11 2009

 

Maple-Caramel Custard with Sea Salt, plated on a maple leaf.

Like most people, I love chocolate desserts.  However, sometimes I’m craving something a little different and caramel fits the bill perfectly,  Maple syrup goes well with the caramel, making the flavour even deeper and richer. A sprinkling of sea salt to finish adds a bit of crunch and further enhances the caramel.  It sounds a little strange but trust me, it’s good!

I have been intimidated by custard in the past, after a bad experience with hollandaise sauce that turned into a clumpy, scrambled egg mess.  However, if you take your time and follow the instructions carefully, you shouldn’t have any problems. The key is to add the hot cream slowly to the egg yolks, whisk constantly and strain the final custard to get rid of any stray lumps.  Cooking the custards in a water bath will ensure they don’t scorch in the oven.

To plate the desserts: If you’re in the north and happen to live anywhere near trees, there are probably a million leaves on the ground right now. Maple leaves have a beautiful shape and colour so I collected a few from my yard to dress up the plate a bit when serving the custards. They’re thematically appropriate and cost nothing so you can’t go wrong!

Maple-Caramel Custards with Sea Salt

This dessert has two complicated sounding components – making the caramel and preparing the custard.  However, it’s not difficult if you take it step-by-step. Placing a dishtowel at the bottom of the water bath will keep the ramekins from slipping around and spilling on their way in and out of the oven.

Makes 6 desserts

For the Custard:

  • 5 large egg yolks (save the whites for another use)
  • 2 Tablespoons golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • A pinch of regular salt (kosher or table salt)
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk

For the Caramel:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup, preferably #1 Medium (I use Ontario or Quebec syrup)

To Cook and Finish the Custards:

  • 6 small ramekin dishes (about 3″ to 4″  in diameter)
  • A dish towel
  • A pitcher of water
  • A roasting pan with high sides that can accommodate 6 small ramekins
  • Sea salt
  • Large maples leaves, to dress the plate (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, add egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Whisk together until smooth.  Set aside.
  3. To make the caramel: In a large saucepan, add 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup water.  Heat on medium-high.  The sugar will dissolve and the mixture will begin to bubble within a couple of minutes.  Occasionally lift the pot off the burner and carefully swirl the mixture but do not stir it with a spoon.
  4. Cook sugar mixture until it begins to brown- about 7 to 8 minutes. Once it starts to turn golden it will darken VERY quickly so do not leave it unattended! Continue cooking for another minute or two, until the caramel is about the same colour as the maple syrup (a medium-dark amber colour) and remove the pot from the burner.
  5. Carefully add the butter and maple syrup.  It will bubble up a bit as the ingredients are added so use caution.  Stir mixture and return to the burner on medium-low heat.
  6. Slowly whisk the whipping cream and milk into the caramel.  Remove the caramel mixture from the heat and let cool slightly for about 1 minute.
  7. Very slowly pour the caramel/cream mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly (you may want to have someone help pour the caramel if the pot is heavy).
  8. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup or other heat-proof vessel that you can easily pour from (such as a pitcher).
  9. Prepare the ramekins: In the bottom of a large roasting pan, place a folded dishtowel and smooth it out so the ramekins can sit evenly.  Place the ramekins on the dishtowel and fill each one with the custard mixture.
  10. Use a large pitcher to carefully pour water into the roasting pan, being careful not to get water in the custards.  Fill about 2/3 of the way up the outside of the ramekins.  Make sure the dishtowel is completely submerged in the water so it doesn’t burn in the oven.
  11. Bake the custards for 45 to 50 minutes or until they are set in the middle.  Let cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Sprinkle with sea salt just before serving or place a small dish of salt on the table so diners can add their own. Garnish the plates with maple leaves for a fun presentation if desired.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

8 11 2009
P1010163

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto

Pork is the perfect autumn dinner – it pairs well with seasonal herbs such as sage and thyme and it’s robust enough for cooler weather.  It’s also incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed as ham, bacon, chops, ground, pulled or roasted.  Tenderloins are available at any supermarket or butcher and are small enough to cook quickly. Unfortunately, they can also be a bit dry and boring. By stuffing it with a savoury mix of bread cubes, herbs, swiss chard, diced prosciutto and mozzarella, I’ve made a basic loin a little more interesting.  Wrapping it in prosciutto helps keep the meat moist and adds extra flavour.  Serve with orzo, rice, risotto or roasted potatoes.

To get the recipe, check out a recent article I wrote for Suite 101.com: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin Wrapped with Prosciutto.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!