February 12, 2015

Rosemary Rye Brownies

As if the world needs yet another brownie recipe, right??

Of course I'm a bit biased, since I specifically honed and tweaked this recipe until I arrived at the brownie of my dreams (during a blissful era marked by multiple revolving pans of brownies on my counter), but I think I can safely say you will love this brownie too. It has received the all-telling moan of approval from several friends. 

I'm always looking for new ways to use rye since we grow it and mill it ourselves. Last summer, my friend Ladleah had the brilliant idea to make brownies with our rye for Maine Fare and that's what first put the bug in my ear. 

Rye has a robust flavour that pairs beautifully with dark chocolate, and I have a little theory that because it contains less gluten than wheat, it creates a less doughy, and more chewy brownie. Either way, I believe it makes a brownie that has much more personality and je-ne-sais quoi than one made with plain white flour. 

Add the fragrant earthy tones of fresh rosemary (inspired by my mom's basil chocolate cake) and you've just taken this brownie to a whole other level. There. Have I sold you on it? I hope so! And I hope you have a wonderful Valentine's Day. 

You'll find my recipe on PBS Food.

February 10, 2015

Red Lentil Walnut Ice Cream

OK, I know you might think red lentil ice cream sounds a little crazy, but stay with me here. Here's the thing, red lentils, when cooked, naturally turn into a rich purée that is very tasty all by itself. And it just so happens that when you combine that purée with coconut milk, maple syrup, and a little salt, the lentils take on a taste that is strangely addictive and almost caramel-like. Add walnuts and you've got yourself a dairy-free ice cream that is unique, delicious, and even quite healthy. Did you know lentils are high in fibre, protein, potassium, folate, iron, and manganese? Our very own Canadian-grown superfood!

This ice cream bypasses the usual milk, cream, and egg custard that most ice cream recipes require. It needs no cooking, aside from the lentils, so it's very easy to make. It's also fully vegan, free of milk, eggs, and artificial sweeteners.

It does come with one caveat though: it should be eaten on the soft side, ideally right after it comes out of the ice cream maker, when it's smooth and creamy. If it freezes fully, it becomes hard and brittle and falls apart easily. The bourbon is optional but make sure to add the salt, it brings all the flavours together.

Serves 4 to 6

1 3/4 cup cooked red lentils (about 1 cup dry red lentils)
1 x 400ml (14 oz.) can of full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (add 2 Tbsp more if you like a sweeter ice cream)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1 Tbsp bourbon (optional)

Place 1 cup dry red lentils in a fine mesh sieve and rinse well under cold water. Drain them and place in a small saucepan with 1 1/2 cup of water and bring to a simmer on medium-low heat. Cook covered, for about 25 minutes or until the whole thing turns to a thick purée. Stir often to make sure it's not burning on the bottom as it cooks and thickens. If the lentils are cooked but still too soupy, leave the lid off so more water evaporates. Once they are fully cooked and very soft and mushy, remove from heat and allow them to cool a little, with the lid off for about 10 minutes. The red lentils should now be almost as thick as mashed potatoes. Measure out 1 3/4 cup of lentil purée for this recipe (you may have a little more than that in the saucepan).

In a food processor, blend the coconut milk, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and the warm lentils until you have a smooth thick mixture. (Be sure the lentils are still warm - if they are cold, the coconut fat might not melt and emulsify well which will not give you a smooth mixture - if this happens, simply heat all the ingredients for a couple minutes in a saucepan on low heat to help the coconut milk to fully emulsify, then return the mixture to the food processor).

Cool the mixture for an hour in the fridge, then use it in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Halfway through, add the toasted chopped walnuts and bourbon. Enjoy before it's fully frozen or hardened, when it's still soft and smooth.

February 03, 2015

Lima Bean Stew with Tomatoes, Olives, and Kale

How are you all coping with the snow there, fellow northerners? 

Over here, the wind howled and whistled all night long, trying its best to bring this old house down, and now there's a glittery expanse of jagged drifts and soft snow mounds out there. After sitting at my computer most of the morning in my winter jacket, wool scarf, two layers of pants, and a hot water bottle at my feet (it takes a while to get the wood stove going again in the morning), I finally opted to embrace the situation instead of curse it. The road still hasn't been ploughed, which means it is ALL ours. Not a vehicle in sight, perfect for a blissful cross-country ski under a serene blue after-storm sky. A sky that seems to be saying "who, me? I didn't do it". 

I've always found winter to be a challenge, but days like today, I realize it really is all about whether I chose to enjoy it or not. Spending time outside changes everything. I keep having to remind myself of that, and get off my butt a little bit more often. For me, it means the difference between loving or hating winter.

I had wanted to get this stew recipe out to you in time for the storm. But it's just as good apres-storm as before. Stews, soups, broths... these are the necessary armour to face a Nova Scotian winter. And lately, we've had a good rotation of various versions of all of these bubbling away on the stove. This one was quite a hit, and I thought I should share it with you. So if you're in need of a bowl of something warm to comfort you after all that snow, here's what I'm proposing: a tomato-ey lima bean stew with a rich flavour from the use of green olives, red wine, garlic, and smoked paprika. (Recipe link).

You'll find the recipe over here, on PBS Food. Enjoy!!