recipes

Magical Parchment Paper

Baking cookies on parchment paper

In case you didn't know - baking with parchment paper is like magic!

Line a cookie sheet with cooking parchment, and bake cookies directly on it (rather than on a greased pan). Your cookies will come right off with no problems: they will not stick to the parchment paper and your pan will be clean! You can also line a loaf or cake pan with it: the cake will come right out of the pan and the parchment paper will easily peel off the cake or loaf. As well, the paper is somewhat heat-resiatant, and can be handled soon after being pulled out of the oven.

More magic:

Panne Rizo

While in Vancouver recently, my lovely sister-in-law bought some gluten-free baked goodies. The tasty treats were from Panne Rizo, a gluten and wheat-free bakery/deli/cafe - especially good for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance (celiac disease).

When tasting gluten-free versions of wheat-based baked goods, there will usually be a difference in texture (more granular) and sometimes flavor.

gluten-free treats from Panne Rizo


We tried three traditional treats - all made with rice flour:

  • Walnut brownies: iced and very sweet - almost as sweet as fudge, very similar to a traditional bakery brownie, great texture
  • Ginger cookies: crunchy and chewy, nice spice blend, slightly granular texture
  • Banana bread: tasty and moist, very similar in taste and texture to a traditional wheat-based banana bread, slightly granular

We also tried the rice bread, and it was surprisingly light and moist.

...so many other tasty nutritious grains, nuts, and seeds to try baking with: Amaranth Shortbread? Chocolate and Chestnut Cake? Bring it on! More on gluten-free goods another time.

Bon weekend :-)

Say Kimchi!

Kimchee in Korean

I can't get enough kimchi. I'll eat it as-is, like a pickle, whenever I have a savoury kimchi craving. I'll eat a pile of it with a can of tuna for lunch. I'll eat it with brown rice and adzuki or mung beans for dinner. I hear it's great on barbecued hamburgers too...

For those of you not familiar with kimchi, it's a traditional Korean side dish (as well as a condiment and a key ingredient in many dishes) typically made with fermented cabbage, chili pepper, garlic, onion, and various other vegetables. It has a wonderful spicy, sour, savory taste. There are many variations, for example, some kimchi is based on cucumber or radish. It often has seafood paste in it like shrimp, fish, or oyster - though I've tried fantastic vegan versions as well. Apparently, most Koreans love their kimchi and eat it everyday. There is even a Kimchi Museum in Seoul.

I picked up two kinds of kimchi (cabbage and radish) from a Korean-owned fruit stand in my old neighbourhood. It's the good stuff: home-made and packed with fresh ginger and leeks - so good that my partner is now a kimchi convert.

Whole-cabbage (Tongbaechu) and diced-radish (Kaktugi) kimchi

A Versatile Classic ~ Healthy Banana Bread

banana bread touch test

What classic baked good is easy to make, delicious, nutritious, yeast-free, portable, and can use up all sorts of bits floating in your pantry? You guessed it ;-)

I often make variations of these basic, easy, healthy banana bread recipes:
Healthy Banana Bread and Easy Gluten-free Banana Bread

Wonderfully versatile, banana bread can incorporate just about any nut (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts...), seed (pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy-seeds...), fruit (figs, dates, apricots, berries...), flour (wheat, rice, spelt, barley...), sweetener (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, fruit concentrate, marmalade/preserves, sucanat, stevia...), spice (cinnamon, nutmeg...) chocolate (chips, baker's chocolate, bars - dark, medium, or white), carob chips, extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, orange...), or booze (rum, Kahlua, Grand Marnier...).

Tips for delicious and healthy banana bread variations:

nuts: use 1/2-1c. nut combos like pecans and walnuts are great. chop up large nuts
seeds (use up to): 1Tbsp poppyseeds, 2Tbsp sesame seeds, 1/4c sunflour seeds or pepitas
booze: 1-2Tbsp
extracts: 1/4tsp lemon/orange, 1/2tsp almond, up to 1Tbsp vanilla
sugar: 1/2c of sweetener/sugar (brown sugar, sucanat, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup, preserves...) is enough to make a sweet tasty bread. (I use as little as 1/4c.) try sweetener combinations like: 1/4c honey, 2Tbsp orange marmalade, 2Tbsp brown sugar
chocolate: 1/2c is great. you can, of course, use more or less (1/4c-1c)
mixing tip: coat chocolate and dried fruit with flower before mixing in to prevent it from sticking to the pan

*Bonus: a great way to use up all those over-ripe bananas!

UPDATE: Some new variations:

Chocolate Fractal Banana Bread: Gorgeous, delicious and marbled with chocolate.
Super-Healthy Banana Bread: Multi-grain, whole-grain and wonderfully spiced: gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and flavorful with no unnecessary sugar or fat.

Stuffing and Cake

Lauren's Vanilla Dark Chocolate Sour Cherry Soy Cake

Regarding the large batch of cornbread I made for turkey stuffing the other day...

We ended up having to get 2 free-range chickens instead of a turkey - not too much room inside these guys for the amount of stuffing we ended up making. There was a lot of stuffing: I think there was enough to feed about 15 people. It did turn out great and everyone brought leftovers home. Not super healthy, but super tasty! and perfect for a special occasion.

I've cut the recipe in half, and have included directions for the larger version, as well as a vegetarian stovetop version: Pecan Cornbread Stuffing

Besides the succulent chickens (thanks Crispin!), we also enjoyed lovely wines, amazing cheeses, Czech salad (thanks Michelle and Ryan!), mashed maple sweet potatoes, and a beautiful delicious cake (thanks Lauren!). It was a vanilla, sour-cherry dark chocolate cake made with soy beans from her parent's farm, topped with warm dark chocolate sauce and fresh raspberries: awesome!