Sunday, July 19, 2009

cornmeal pumpkin pancakes

My son had a friend sleep over last night and they requested pancakes for breakfast. Now I really like my son’s buddy – he’s a great kid, but he is truly one of the pickiest eaters I have ever encountered. If it’s not plain plain plain, he won’t even look at it. So it’s always a challenge to cook for this kid. But this morning I was feeling plucky. Sure I’ll make pancakes – but let’s see what I can sneak into the batter to make them both nutritious and palatable to the fussiest of nine-year-olds!

I recalled a recipe I had for cornmeal pancakes. Now the original recipe calls for squash puree, but I’ve substituted canned pumpkin in the past and it turned out very well. I rooted around in the pantry and lo and behold – canned pumpkin. Also I had some buttermilk in the fridge which needed to be used up. (I know what you’re thinking “Squash puree? Canned pumpkin?!?!?” but stick with me here people – it’s so worth it!!!)

I decided to take my chances. I sent the boys outside to play so they wouldn’t be the wiser. I whipped up a batch in no time and promptly tossed the empty can of pumpkin in the recycle to be rid of the evidence. I called the boys in and waited with baited breath… Would he spit them out? No! My son’s friend gobbled them down… Success!!! But ixnay on the umpkinpay!

Healthy Cornmeal Pancakes

(adapted from “Simply Great Food” by the Dieticians of Canada)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup cornmeal

¼ cup granulated sugar

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

1 ½ cups buttermilk

1 cup canned pumpkin (or 1 cup butternut squash puree)*

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, combine whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda and baking powder.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, canned pumpkin, oil and vanilla. Whisk into flour mixture. If mixture looks too thick, add up to ½ cup buttermilk to thin it out.

Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray lightly with vegetable cooking spray. For each pancake, pour ½ cup batter onto griddle and cook until bubbly around the edges, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and keep warm in a low oven.

*The original recipe says you can also substitute mashed sweet potato for the squash puree.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies with dried cranberries

The boys were asking for cookies, so cookies it was. What can I say – bend my arm! They wanted oatmeal chocolate chip and I thought it might be good to toss in something else for fun, too… I had some dried cranberries in the house and… Yum! Sweet chocolatey goodness with the tart tang of cranberries. Sweet and tangy and chewy. The perfect thing to have with a glass of cold milk.

Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

¾ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1¼ cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 cup dried cranberries

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1½ cups packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, stir the oats, pecans, cherries, and chocolate together.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together, with an electric mixer on a medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla until incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually mix in the oat-chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Working with ¼ cup of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 ½ inches apart. Flatten the cookies to a 1-inch thickness with your palm.

Bake the cookies until the edges are set and beginning to brown but the centres are still soft and puffy, 20 to 25 minutes, switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through baking (the cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem undone).

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

raspberry streusel bars

We are currently experiencing a bumper crop of raspberries. I can't keep up! Seriously - one could go out every day and pick yet another huge batch of berries. But this isn't really something I can complain about, can I? Too many yummy berries... oh no! Poor me! Whatever shall I do?

But the truly annoying thing is that when trying to find recipes which utilize fresh raspberries, most of the raspberry recipes call for... raspberry jam! What's up with that? So apart from actually making jam itself, I had to compromise and find a recipe that uses both. Fortunately for me, it turned out really well and it was raspberryiscious!

Raspberry Streusel Bars

2½ cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 ¼ sticks unsalted butter, cut into 18 pieces and softened

½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats

½ cup pecans, toasted and chopped fine

¼ cup packed light brown sugar

¾ cup raspberry jam

¾ cup fresh raspberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 13 by 9-inch baking pan with foil sling * and grease the foil.

Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, and salt together in a large bowl. Beat in 16 tablespoons of the butter with an electric mixer at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand, 1 to 1 ½ minutes. Reserve 1 ¼ cups of the mixture for the topping.

Sprinkle the remaining mixture into the prepared pan and press into an even layer with the bottom of a measuring cup. Bake the crust until fragrant and the edges begin to brown, 14 to 18 minutes.

Mix the reserved flour mixture, oats, nuts, and brown sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and pinch the mixture between your fingers into hazelnut-sized clumps of streusel. In a small bowl, mash the jam, raspberries and lemon juice together with a fork until just some of the berry pieces remain.

Spread the berry mixture evenly over the hot crust, then sprinkle with the streusel topping. Bake the bars until the filling is bubbling and the topping is deep golden brown, 22 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.

Let the bars cool completely in the pan, set on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Remove the bars from the pan using the foil sling, cut into squares and serve.

*Foil sling – fold two long sheets of aluminum foil so that they are as wide as the baking pan. Lay the sheets of foil in the pan, perpendicular to one another, with the extra foil hanging over the edges of the pan. Push the foil gently into the corners of the pan and up the sides. Try to iron out as many wrinkles as possible. Grease the sides and bottom before using.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

chocolate ice cream

It’s summer. Is there nothing better than ice cream? After making Dulce de Leche Ice Cream last week, I had a request from the boys for chocolate… How could I resist? Chocolate ice cream on a hot summer day. It’s pure bliss! This ice cream provides excellent chocolate flavour… nice and cocoa-y… rich and creamy.

Classic Chocolate Ice Cream

6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 egg yolks

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 cups whipping cream

2 cups milk

1 tsp vanilla

In the top of a double boiler over medium heat, melt chocolate. Gradually whisk in cocoa until smooth. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until thickened and pale yellow. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring cream and milk to a simmer. Gradually whisk into the egg mixture.

Return the entire mixture to the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Be careful not to let it boil. Strain into a clean large bowl. Let cool to room temperature.

Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until completely cold or overnight.

Stir cream mixture. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.