Friday, June 15, 2012

strawberry basil popsicles

Here's a recipe I made for The Stop's Market Cafe this morning. Strawberries and basil? Don't be skeptical, it's a great combination, just like watermelon & mint or apples & rosemary. Throw them in a blender, and into the freezer they go, with a little help from some brown sugar simple syrup. When you freeze things, the sweetness mellows out, which is why frozen desserts usually have a bit more sugar than you might think they need.

Gourmet popsicles are all the rage right now. Join the fad! Get yourself a popsicle mold set at a dollar store, and get creative! Use some of these recipes for ideas, or just pour in some fruit juice or leftover smoothie. Also, here's an awesome article about paletas, Mexican popsicles, from epicurious.

strawberry basil popsicles
2 pints of strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water

Combine the strawberries and basil in a blender, and puree. In a small pot, bring water and sugar to a boil, turn off the heat, and stir until the sugar has disolved. Let your simple syrup cool for a few minutes, then add to strawberry puree and blend well. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. To remove popsicles, run the mold under hot water for 30 seconds.

You can also use paper cups for popsicle molds - fill cups and freeze. Take them out of the freezer after an hour, and poke in some popsicle sticks. Return to freezer until completely frozen.

(Get up early tomorrow morning, and head to Wychwood Barns - look at what delights await you!)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sesame & Almond brown rice balls with avocado

This recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks. I've never made a recipe I didn't like from Heidi's site (and I've made my fair share of them). I admit, I changed it a bit (I just can't help myself). I really love rice vinegar on rice, with that delicious, sushi flavour, so I added it to the mix. These are a great lunch or picnic finger food, and keep well in the fridge overnight, if you want to make them ahead of time. You can also serve them with some soy sauce for dipping.

sesame almond brown rice balls
makes about 15 small rice balls, originally from this recipe.

2 cups short grain brown rice
3 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds (black or white)
3 tbsp toasted chopped almonds
1 or 2 green onions, minced
1 avocado, in small chunks (1 inch dice)

Rinse the rice. Using a heavy bottomed pot, bring rice, water and salt to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40-50 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Alternately, cook rice in a rice cooker.

While rice is cooking, toast sesame seeds, then almonds. Mince green onions, and prepare avocado in small, 1 inch chunks.

When the rice is done, fluff with a fork, and stir in rice vinegar. Let the rice cool, then add almonds, most of the sesame seeds, and the green onion. Take a small bowl, and line it with plastic wrap, so you have quite a bit overhanging the sides. Fill the bowl with a handfull of rice (about 1/3 cup). Make an indent in the middle, and poke in a piece of avocado. Gather up the plastic wrap, and twist, lifting the rice out of the bowl, and shaping it into a ball. Remove the plastic wrap (you can reuse it for the rest of the balls), and put on a plate. Sprinkle the finished rice balls with the leftover sesame seeds.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

a vegan cookie and a not so vegan cookie

Surprise! They're the same cookie. Here's a recipe for my vegan friends and my non-vegan friends. A chocolatley cookie, somewhere half between the land of crispy and soft, perfect for a summer potluck or picnic when you need something that vegans and carnivores will appreciate equally. Or, if you're like me, make them into a drippy, delicious ice cream sandwich. Feeling virtuous? Use whole wheat pastry flour, flax eggs and Earth Balance (vegan margarine). Feeling decadent? Use white flour, eggs and butter. Either way, its a forgivable recipe, and its gonna taste good no matter what (it's a chocolate chip cookie, right?).
(trying out a sketching program for mac, surprise, it's not markers! and I wish I had a touchscreen.)

Chocolate chocolate chip cookies
adapted from this recipe on Epicurious, makes 16 large cookies

3/4 cup softened, unsalted butter (OR Earth Balance margarine)
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg (OR 1 tbsp ground flax seeds, whisked with 3 tbsp water)
1 tsp vanilla paste or extract

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose flour)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup chocolate chips
(make sure they're dairy free if you're making the vegan cookies, most semi-sweet varieties are vegan.)

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, cream together butter/margarine and sugar with a wooden spoon. Add egg/flax egg and vanilla, and beat until well combined.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, soda, baking powder and salt. Add these dry ingredients to the wet mixture, and stir until well combined. If the mixture is too dry, add a few splashes of soy milk or water (I had to add 2 or 3 tablespoons). Finally, stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop tablespoon-size balls of dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten slightly with your hand. Leave an inch or two between each cookie, they will spread out a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the centre of the cookies no longer looks doughy and jiggly. The cookies will not be crispy. Let them rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Now, you're ready to make...

Chocolate chocolate chip ice cream sandwiches
You'll need two cookies for each sandwich. Hopefully you haven't eaten them all yet.

chocolate chocolate chip cookies
softened vanilla ice cream (leave it on the counter for 10 minutes)

Scoop spoonfuls of ice cream onto an upside-down cookie. Put another cookie on top. Wrap the whole thing in parchment paper or plastic wrap (you could reuse the paper you baked the cookies on), and put them in the freezer for at least a half hour. Resist! Let them get nice and cold and frozen, before devouring them, like cookie monster. COOKIE!