Afghans and New Zealand Christmas

My lack of posts may be acceptable if nothing had been going on in my life.

However, in the past two weeks, I have done 5 days of tramping (NZ terminology), or hiking for all those Canadian folk, cycled 75 kilometres to a seaside town, swam in the ocean, visited with family, eaten too much, baked and read (almost done my second novel). I know I am on holiday when I have time to finish a novel in less than one week. It is marvellous.

I have been meaning to post the recipe for Afghans. Not because I created this wonderful biscuit, but because it is a NZ favourite and a personal must-have at Christmas time. The best way to describe it? A chocolate shortbread with cornflakes dedans (that’s French for within)

This recipe is brought to you from the Edmonds Cookbook – a staple in most NZ kitchens.

Afghan Biscuits

  • 200g butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cups Edmonds, standard plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • walnuts (optional)
  • chocolate icing (I made up the recipe below as the written recipe calls for actual chocolate which I didn’t have. This is just as good I think.)

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Sift flour and cocoa.

Image

2. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in cornflakes. 

3. Spoon mounds of mixture onto a greased oven tray gently pressing together.

4. Bake at 180 C (355 F) for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.

5. When cold, ice with chocolate icing and a walnut piece.

Chocolate Icing: 

  • 1 tbsp butter, or alternative
  • 1/3 C cocoa
  • 2 C icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk, or alternative until icing consistency is reached

Beat all together until smooth.

Image

On Christmas day, we went to three different meals. Breakfast at my aunt’s brother’s house, lunch at my uncle’s home and dinner out at another family member’s farm! My uncle resides in England much of the time with his lovely opera singer wife who hails from Germany. They put on an absolutely amazing meal! The most delicious salad was served to start – fresh lightly cooked artichokes from Dorothee’s garden with capers, hard boiled egg, fresh dill covered in a lemon mayonaise dressing. I would like to try to create a vegan version in the future.

In case you are interested in opera singing, here is my aunt’s website.  I hope I can see her perform one day, as this past week was the first time we have met!

ImageImageImage

Craisin (Orange) Scones

After neglecting my blog for so long, it is hard to know what to write about! In the past 3 weeks, I have made some delicious food, said goodbye to my wonderful preceptor and nurses at GGH, visited with new friends in Guelph, checked out a craft fair in Chicago, IL, written my final exam for the semester (18 months left!) and been on at least 6 airplanes!

I am currently in Sydney, Australia waiting for my flight to New Zealand, where I am heading for my Christmas holiday!

I have a few recipes I would like to post, but they might not all come at once. I brought my mom’s famous craisin scones for my last shift at the hospital and I promised the staff that I would put the recipe on my blog. Other soon to be posted recipes?

  • GF Moroccon Vegetable Pie
  • Spelt seed bread (similar to the bread I bought at With the Grain in Guelph!)

Craisin (Orange) Scones

Ingredients and Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F

2. Soak ¾ C craisins in boiling or very hot water for 10 minutes, or however long it takes you to prepare the rest of the recipe…

3. Mix dry ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ C all purpose unbleached flour
  • ¾ C spelt flour (or whole wheat)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you like your scones)
  • 1 (generous) tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp orange rind (if you have it – I didn’t this time, but it is so good!)

Image

4. Cut ¼ C softened butter (or vegan margarine) into dry mixture until it looks like course crumbs.

5. Drain craisins. Toss them in the dry mixture until they are flour coated and well dispersed.

6. Whisk 1 egg and put into a ¾ C measure. Fill to the top with soy or almond milk. It should be roughly 2/3 C milk alternative.

IMG_1385

7. Add egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients until just combined. Add a bit more milk if needed, depending on the flour you choose (spelt flour will likely absorb a bit more liquid than whole wheat).

8. Place by the spoonful (2 generous tablespoons per scone) on a baking sheet 2-3 cm apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

IMG_1386

9. Optional Icing:

Heat 1-2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate with about 2/3 C. icing sugar until smooth. Pour by the spoonful onto the scones and allow to cool and harden before serving! This is really a nice touch that I highly recommend!

IMG_1423

I asked a couple of kids to be in this photo with me in front of this screen which projects different “faces of Chicago” every few minutes! They agreed!

Here are a few photos from Chicago where I spent the weekend with one of the most amazing people, my dear friend, Josina. She came from Minnesota where she is currently working to meet me for the weekend! We checked out all the best food locations including this vegan restaurant called Native Foods which is from California. We were thrilled to eat whole bowls of vegetables seasoned with fresh tahini and spices.

IMG_1426IMG_1407

The famous 'bean' downtown in Millenium Park with a city backdrop!

The famous ‘bean’ downtown in Millenium Park with a city backdrop!

Raw Vegan Mint Nanaimo Rounds

Last week, Pauline made these amazing triple chocolate delicies. As I was devouring their velvety texture, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favourite desserts – Mint Nanaimo Bars! I have been known to eat half of a 9″ x 9″ pan in one day.

I decided it wouldn’t be too difficult to modify the first recipe into a new and improved, and perhaps healthier Mint Nanaimo Bar! Here is the original recipe from pure2raw.com. I changed things only slightly and added in my own mint layer.

Are they healthier? Better ingredients, but definitely calorie-dense. In one of these mini rounds, there are close on 230 calories! They are super tasty, but I don’t find them addictive like processed sugar. I think that’s a good thing.

Image

Ingredients

Bottom layer –

  • 2/3 C walnuts
  • 8-10 dates
  • 1/4 C Fair Trade cocoa
  • 1/4 C unsweetened coconut
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mint filling –

  • 2/3 C cashews, soaked
  • 1/4 C coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 4 dates
  • 1/4 C spinach leaves (remove stems)
  • 1 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate top –

  • 1 C cashews, soaked
  • 1/4 C coconut oil
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 C + tbsp Fair Trade cocoa

Directions:

This recipe is pretty simple. It just requires a few steps as you have to make each layer individually.

You can do layers in any order, but if you want to not dirty another container, start with the bottom.

1. Throw everything into a food processor and blend until slightly crumbly. Press into a greased (I used coconut oil) mini muffin tin, or really any pan you like. Technically this would make about 16 rounds if you had two small muffin tins.

Image

2. Repeat with the next two layers, but process until very smooth. Add to the previous layer.

3. Place into the freezer for a few hours to set! Serve cold.

You may have noticed that I wrote Fair Trade cocoa. I normally hate it when recipes I find online include the brand name of a particular product, especially when you know it won’t change the taste. However, I will shamelessly promote Fair Trade (which isn’t actually a brand, but a certification process) products because I really believe that Fair Trade is making a difference to peoples’ lives around the world. I hate the thought that my indulgences of coffee, bananas and chocolate (three of the worst industries in terms of human rights) are exploiting people, so I try whenever I can to pay the extra money to ensure farmers are being paid fair prices. If you want more information, check out FairTrade Canada.

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Makes 16-18 muffins

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 10-20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup chopped apples (skin on)
  • 1 Tbsp. buckwheat flour (or any other GF flour should be fine!)
  • 1/4 Cup mashed banana (or unsweetened applesauce)
  • ½ Cup liquid sweetener – I used ¼ C agave, and ¼ C maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup GF flour mix + 1 tsp xanthan gum*
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup oats
  • 3/4 Cup Light or fat-free sour cream/ plain yogurt/ or soft tofu with 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

* I sometimes whip up my own with the flours I have on hand. The last time I used: 1/4 C white rice flour, 1/4 arrowroot flour, 1/2 C sorghum flour, 1 large tsp xanthan gum, and they turned out great!

Separate mixing bowls

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease muffin tin(s) – I fill the cups ¾ full and it made 12 regular and 9 mini muffins.

1. In small bowl, toss apples with 1 Tbsp of buckwheat flour. Set aside.
2. In a larger bowl, combine applesauce or mashed banana and sweeteners. Add eggs and mix well. Add vanilla.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Mix well and add to the liquids in the larger bowl. Add sour cream & oats, stirring after each addition. Fold in apples – be careful not to overmix!
4. Spoon into prepared muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Fill any remaining cups 1/2 full of water. Bake in preheated oven for about 8 minutes for mini muffins and 15 minutes for regular muffins! Depending on your oven, you may want to go 2-3 minutes more.

For gluten free muffins, these are pretty darn good!

Since Pauline is pretty much doing a sugar and dairy free diet (except greek yogurt), I had to modify my previous recipe to sugar alternatives. I forgot until I had cooked my muffins for 20 minutes (as I had previously with my recipe including sugar) that maple syrup makes baked goods brown FAST.

Yes, my first batch of regular sized muffins were a bit burnt. However, with a little butter… the flavour is reminiscent of cinnamon raisin toast on the fire – a favourite of mine while camping!

I greatly reduced the time for the minis as indicated in the recipe and they worked out perfectly!

The mini muffins!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Ingredients

  • 3/4 C. pitted dates
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C. quick oats
  • 1/4 C. cocoa
  • pinch of salt

Method 

1. Put everything into a food processor until smooth. Roll between your hands into 1″ balls. Freeze 3-4 hours before eating

I obviously didn’t wait 3-4 hours, but I only had one.

Pauline gave me this idea after she found a blog recipe from pinterest for cookie dough bites (chocolate chip). On the weekend, my dear friend Bekah made chocolate peanut butter cookies to die for, and I knew after that, I had a flavour for the next cookie dough bite!

Pauline has already labelled a container for her freezer. Now… to keep it full might prove to be difficult!

Pangea Coconut Curry Soup

Almost 10 years ago, before my days of being excited about creative food, I had the most delicious soup of my life while visiting Ashland, Oregon. I wonder if I went back to visit this cafe now whether or not I would find it as amazing as I remember. Regardless, I wanted to be able to make it myself. Time passed and my favourite flavours developed – including, as you know, Thai curry, and coconut cream.

Last year, I randomly put together some of my favourite ingredients, and much to my delight, the outcome was so much like the soup I remember from the cafe in Ashland. If you ever go to Ashland, please check out the cafe called Pangea on Main street. I went back and had the same soup (Coconut Curried Yam) twice in the 4 days I was there!

I made my version last night and promised to post it for Pauline whom I am living with. I told her that she will be able to make it when I am gone with the red curry paste I leave behind!

Pangea coconut curry soup with local spelt seed bread

Pangea coconut curry soup with local spelt seed bread

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced or chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 sweet potato or yam, chopped (keep the skin on)
  • 1/4 C. coconut cream
  • 1-2 tbsp red curry paste (or to taste if you want it spicier!)
  • 1 1/4 C red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 roasted butternut squash, skin removed (you can really use any type of squash or pumpkin you have on hand, or just double your yams if you don’t have squash)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 C.  vegetable broth
  • 1-2 C. water

Method

  1. Heat oil over med. heat and saute onions with a wooden spoon until soft. (When I make this next time, I think I will just use a tablespoon of the coconut cream for sauteing the onions – less ingredients = more simple!)
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients except the broth & water, and continue to saute until fragrant. It doesn’t really matter what order you follow with your ingredients. I like that because then I can still be prepping, chopping my yams etc. while it has already started to cook!
  3. Add broth/water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until everything is soft. Puree in a blender in portions or use a hand blender if you have one!

I hope you enjoy this as much as my 18-year-old self did in Oregon!

Easy Peasy Red Thai Curry

I am new to this whole blogging thing. I can tell.

I think you are supposed to post as you do things, but that hasn’t worked out for me yet. I’ve got to start somewhere though, right?

Most people that know me know that I love Thai food. Actually, I love ethnic food of every variety (except maybe American and Canadian 🙂

I am currently living for two months with a couple who are not big into a lot of different spices. As a result, I am having to find easy meals that don’t require a lot of ingredients.

Image

Easy Peasy Red Thai Curry

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove minced garlic
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1-2 Tbsp red curry paste
  • 1/4 C coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 C water
  • 1 Tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 C chopped peppers (I used orange and red ones that I found in the freezer)
  • 1 small bunch of swiss chard, chopped (or other leafy green)
  • 1/4 C roasted cashews
  • Cilantro for garnish….and flavour!

Image

1. Heat oil over medium heat and saute onions until they start to soften.

2. Add garlic and ginger and saute for one minute.

3. Add red curry paste, coconut cream, raw sugar, soy sauce and water. Blend with a wooden spoon and let simmer over medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Stir in peppers, swiss chard and cashews. Cover for 3-4 minutes.

Enjoy garnished with cilantro, served over brown rice or other grain of choice!

Here is my lunch for the next day!Image