Sick day soup

Ah, the late-winter cold. Charming cousin to the Autumn and Christmas colds I’ve had this year. Despite me taking better care of myself than ever, a little bit of stress and enough germs in the workplace had me down for the weekend, plus yesterday. I felt indifferent to most food, but I wanted to make something healthy and filling, that wouldn’t upset my tummy.

Enter this soup. It’s packed with protein and carotenes, and makes enough to last for days. Think of it as the charming cousin of split pea soup and sweet potato soup. Also, it’s darn cheap to make, and tastes delicious with garlic toasts and plenty of cracked black pepper. Note that you can use a different mix of split lentils and beans, but for the best texture you should choose mostly ones that have their skins removed.

Lentil-yam-soup

 

 

 

Sweet potato, lentil, and sun-dried tomato soup – An Agent Minty original recipe

Makes eight 1-cup servings.

Ingredients:

  • One medium sweet potato, cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Herbs: parsley, sage, savoury
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3/4 cup moong dal
  • 2/3 c green lentils
  • 2 veggie bouillon cubes
  • 1 small can of V-8
  • 1.5 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

Instructions:

  1. Toss sweet potato cubes in enough oil to generously coat.
  2. Toss with salt and herbs of choice.
  3. Bake in a casserole dish at 400F for approximately 40 minutes, until very soft. 
  4. Meanwhile, wash your lentils until the water runs clear.
  5. Add the lentils to 8-10 cups of water, pus a generous amount of olive oil in a large pot and heat on medium-high.
  6. Once the lentils have come to a boil, turn heat to a gentle simmer and add bouillon cubes and V-8. Partly cover with a lid.
  7. Add more water as needed to prevent the lentils from sticking, stirring every 10 minutes or so.
  8. Simmer lentils for 30-40 minutes until they are very soft and start to break apart.
  9. Add in cooked sweet potato, sun-dried tomatoes, and nutritional yeast. 
  10. Simmer for another 10 minutes to allow flavours to combine.
  11. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until it is smooth.
  12. Season with salt as needed.

Weekend scones for the one you love

It’s only Wednesday night, but I’m already thinking ahead to the weekend. 

 

Annick only gets to come home from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I’m really looking forward to seeing her this weekend, especially. 

 

An easy breakfast to make is scones. They are quick (10 minutes from pantry to oven), flexible (add dried or fresh fruit, chocolate, nuts, cheese, or spices), and taste delicious as leftovers, too. 

The dough is also fairly easy for beginners; just remember not to knead it for too long, or the scones will be tough. 

The recipe I use is actually adapted from my go-to biscuit recipe from the Purity cookbook (Purity was an old brand of flour 50 years ago). If you want to make biscuits for dinner, omit the sugar and fruit. If you want to make shortcake, double the sugar and sprinkle more on top. You can roll the dough out and cut shapes using cutters or a knife, hand-shape them into flattish balls, or (my favourite), make two large disks and score them in sixths before baking (this gives them soft sides). 

They bake in less than 15 minutes; for ones that are thicker than 1 inch when rolled out, leave them in a little longer or the insides will be doughy. 

Delicious hot out of the oven with butter and jam! 

 

Rapid Scones (adapted from The All-New Purity Cookbook):
 

Ingredients: 

– 2 cups All-purpose flour 

– 4 teaspoons Baking powder 

– 1 teaspoon Salt 

– 1-2 tablespoons Sugar 

– pinch of Nutmeg 

– 1/3 cup Shortening 

– 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons “milk” 

– 2 tablespoons Dried fruit or nuts (optional) 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and nutmeg.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening until the largest crumbs are about the size of dried peas. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, use two butter knives slicing in X’s.
  4. Make a well in the mixture and add 3/4 cup of milk.
  5. Stir with until moistened. If you want to add fruit or nuts, add them now.
  6. If the dough is still crumbly, add the remaining milk. Don’t make the dough too sticky!
  7. Stir until the dough is mixed. Don’t stir until it is an even paste (like bread dough). It should be soft and smooth, but a little bumpy.
  8. Knead once or twice.
  9. If cutting out shapes, roll to 1/2-inch thickness on a floured surface and cut out desired shapes.
  10. If hand-moulding, pinch off bits of the desired size, and shape them before placing them directly on a non-stick baking sheet.
  11. Alternately, divide into two 8-inch circles 1/2-inch thick on the baking sheet. Score each round into six.
  12. Sprinkle with sugar if desired.
  13. Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
  14. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.
  15. Allow to cool completely before wrapping or storing in a tin.

Friendship Pie

My friends are great. They are there to call when I need a second opinion about something, or to cheer me up when I’m feeling lonely.

They are beautiful and talented in diverse ways, and I’m lucky to have them in my life. The nice thing is that they will introduce me to new friends, and so the circle grows even bigger over time.

Last night I went to a dinner party at Ali’s house. Between the six of us there, the meal needed to be gluten- and nut-free, and vegan. I volunteered to make dessert because I like a challenge! I learned a lot while making this pie, and because of it’s accommodating nature for the sensitivities of my friends, I’m calling it Friendship Pie.

While looking around for Nanaimo bar ideas a few weeks ago, I found the Daring Bakers challenge hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. I realized that the gluten-free graham crackers would make an excellent base for a crumb-crust pie.

The recipe called for rice, tapioca, and sorghum flours. The bulk store I shop at doesn’t carry sorghum flour, so I used coconut flour instead. Apparently it’s just powdered dried coconut meat! Consequently, while I was mixing up the dough, the kitchen had the wonderful aroma of coconut. I had to veganize it, and adapt it for what I had available in my kitchen.

This was my first time baking gluten-free, and I found the texture of the dough to be unusual – almost crunchy (I am an incorrigible cookie dough eater). They also took about half of the time Lauren recommended for baking.

The recipe made approximately 2 and a half dozen crackers; enough for Annick and I to snack on for two days, plus enough for a thick pie crust and some to give to my friend.

I used the recipe from Veganomicon for the pie crust, which uses yet more coconut! I didn’t bake it for as long as recommended, because I wanted a crust that wasn’t too crumbly. My graham crackers were also well-done, so I didn’t want the crust to taste burnt.

The ganache filling of the pie is a result of a happy accident. In December I tried to make ginger truffles, but the ganache never set firmly enough. As a result, I had a creamy ganache to use as a filling for my Christmas bûche, and I use the same chocolate-coconut milk proportions for an easy, rich filling.

For the final fancy garnish on the cake, I wanted to make white chocolate mousse.

My last attempt at making white chocolate was unsuccessful, but I had a PLAN this time! I made paste with a small volume of coconut milk and the soymilk powder, stirring and pressing with a spatula until all of the lumps were dissolved. To this I added the vanilla and powdered sugar, again making sure that the sugar was dissolved before proceeding.

I then added more coconut milk, because I wanted this to be a whippable custard (?), not a solid chocolate. Next I added the cocoa butter and stirred it until I got an emulsion, then added MORE coconut milk. I let this chill in the fridge so that it would be easier to whip, and meanwhile relaxed.

Once the mixture was the consistency of thin yogurt, I whipped it as much as I could. It didn’t whip as well as coconut cream, but it did get airier. I filled up a tube with it, and piped it onto the pie.

Result: One tasty pie, and several “oh my god this is so good!” comments.

Friendship Pie, dedicated to all my friends, old and new!

Recipe: Friendship Pie

Graham Crackers (Adapted from Celiac Teen):

Ingredients:

– 1 cup Sweet rice flour
– 3/4  cup Tapioca Starch/Flour
– 1/2 cup Coconut Flour
– 1 cup Brown Sugar, Lightly packed
– 1 teaspoon Baking soda
– 3/4 teaspoon Salt
– 7 tablespoons Margarine (I just used the normal soft kind)
– 1/3 cup Honey, or half honey and half corn syrup
– 5 tablespoons Soymilk
– 2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together.
  2. Cut the margarine into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles fine cumbs.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients in a mixing cup and add to the dry ingredients.
  4. Mix with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until well combined.
  5. Gather all crumbs into a ball, divide into two halves.
  6. Flatten each half into a patty the side of your hand and wrap in plastic.
  7. Chill in the fridge overnight.
  8. The next day, preheat the oven to 350F.
  9. Dust the counter and rolling pin with rice flour, and roll out each half to approximately 1/8-inch thick.
  10. Cut out crackers in your desired size and shape.
  11. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  12. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, until they appear a toasty brown colour.

Graham Crumb Crust (from Veganomicon):

Ingredients:

– 1 3/4 cups Ground graham cracker crumbs

– 1/2 cup Unsweetened shredded coconut

– 2 tablespoons Sugar

– 3 tablespoons Margarine (again, the soft kind is OK)

– 3-5 tablespoons Soymilk

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Pulse enough graham crackers in a food processor to make 1 3/4 cups.
  3. Add the sugar and coconut to the crumbs in a microwaveable bowl.
  4. Add the margarine on top of the dry ingredients.
  5. Microwave until the margarine is almost completely melted.
  6. Stir until all four ingredients are well combined.
  7. Add enough soymilk that the crumbs are moist and hold together when squeezed.
  8. Press the crumbs thickly into a 9″ pie plate.
  9. Bake until the crust is slightly firm when touched, but the coconut is not too dark.
  10. Cool on a rack while preparing the filling.

Chocolate ganache filling (Adapted from Josee di Stasio’s coconut ginger truffle recipe in Chatelaine):

Ingredients:

– 2/3 cup High-quality coconut milk (gold can, but room-temperature and SHAKEN before opening)

– 200g Dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat the coconut milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, on medium heat.
  2. Once the milk is simmering, remove from the heat.
  3. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl.
  4. Stir with a spatula until the ganache is a shiny, dark brown.
  5. Pour into a prepared pie crust, or refrigerate for other uses (this is delicious for dipping fruit, or filling a cake).

White chocolate whipped topping (original by Agent Minty):

Ingredients:

– 1 teaspoon Soymilk powder

– 1/2 cup, divided, High-quality coconut milk (gold can, but room-temperature and SHAKEN before opening)

– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

– 1.5 tablespoons Icing (powdered) sugar

– 50g Solid food-grade cocoa butter

Directions:

  1. Combine the soymilk powder with approximately 2 tablespoons of coconut milk in a saucepan, off the stove.
  2. Do NOT proceed until all powder is incorporated! A spatula works well for this – I have to press the clumps against the side of the pot to break them up.
  3. Add the vanilla and stir.
  4. Turn the heat under the saucepan to medium-low.
  5. Add the icing sugar and stir until well combined.
  6. Heat the paste for a few minutes until you have a smooth mixture that is slightly warm.
  7. Add half of the remaining coconut milk.
  8. Once the mixture starts to simmer, remove the mixture from the heat and add the cocoa butter.
  9. Allow the cocoa butter to melt and stir rapidly to disperse the fat into the mixture.
  10. Add the remainder of the coconut milk and stir to get a creamy emulsion.
  11. Pour into a mixing bowl and chill for at least an hour.
  12. Whip the mixture with the whisk attachment of a stand mixture until the topping is the texture of soft whipped cream.
  13. Pour gently into a piping bag fitted with a large decorative tip.
  14. Pipe rosettes onto the pie or whatever else you wish to garnish. Idea: pipe into parfait glasses, chill, and serve with fruit as a light dessert.