Healthy-ish

Mock Orange

A neighbour told me today that mock orange only blooms every three years and I should enjoy the fragrant blossoms while I can. It’s not true, but it’s a pretty story and their season is so short that I think I’ll spend as much time lingering near them as I can in the next little while.

Everything, lately, seems especially ephemeral and I’m trying to take as much notice of my surroundings and its inhabitants as I can. That means walking Roxy a little farther than my tiredness would rather, so that she can make the most of a summer’s evening sniff, then talking softly to the skunk we encountered (while rapidly backing away). It means setting up a long-distance telephone visit with a friend, instead of putting it off for a few more weeks. And planting squash in the garden rather than working down the list of tasks waiting for me at my desk.

It also means doing a little baking, which I’ve not had much time for, so that I can drop off a banana blueberry oat loaf for a neighbour who isn’t well.

I think when someone is recovering from an illness or an injury, there is a lot of love and friendship that can be offered through helping with chores and errands, spending time watching a movie or playing a game, and bringing over food so that there’s always a meal at hand. I also believe in the healing power of treats, especially if they’re packing a nutritional punch.

If I had a recipe box, I’d have a section labelled ‘Almost Health Food’ because I think a little indulgence while one’s on the mend can speed a recovery up, or at least make it feel like it’s dragging on a little less. I think a loaf like this is especially good for seniors, because it’s full of nutrients, with some fat and protein along for the ride to keep them going.

It’s also one of those infinitely variable recipes that can accommodate almost anything you’ve got in your pantry. Soak some dried cherries and replace the blueberries, skip the oats and add bran or wheat germ instead, play around with the flours or sweeteners, go for chocolate and coffee instead of fruit.

In this version, I added a little yogurt, because I thought whole wheat flour and rolled oats might be too much for even the moistest of bananas. They came out perfectly.

Banana Blueberry Oat Loaf

BANANA BLUEBERRY OAT LOAVES

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, frozen or fresh

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°. Butter four 5¾” × 3½” × 2¼” mini-loaf pans and set aside. (You can flour or sugar them afterward, but I find these loaves come out of the pan quite easily.)

Toss the blueberries in half a tablespoon of flour.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, making a well in the centre. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Gently mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined, then stir in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and then place them in the oven for 35 minutes. (Start checking at 20 minutes.) I like mine to be a slightly toasty brown around the edges, but you might like yours a little less done.

Let the pans rest on baking racks for five minutes, then turn them out, turn them over, and let them cool completely. Once they’re cool, you can wrap a couple well for the freezer, wrap another in brown paper to bring to a friend, and slice into the one you’ve saved for yourself. I find they keep quite well in a parchment-lined cookie tin, if you’re not into sharing, but why wouldn’t you? These are too good to keep to yourself.

Banana Blueberry Oat Loaf

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Baking Chez Moi – Apple Matafan

Apple Matafan

There is a store near me that bundles up the produce that’s about to be replaced by the next shipment and puts it on sale. I have to be careful, because those bags of apples, tomatoes, potatoes or bananas always convince me that it’s time for a kitchen project. When it’s a big bag of tomatoes or potatoes, it’s simple – they go into the oven with some seasoning and do their thing. The large quantity of apples and bananas I picked up last week are another matter altogether. I’ve been baking all week.

 Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins

So far, my freezer is full of apple cake and I’m going to spend the next day or two dropping off Banana Espresso Chocolate Chip Muffins to friends.

The Apple Matafan I made tonight, though, isn’t going anywhere. It’s going to be breakfast for the next several days, accompanied by yogurt and maple syrup, or perhaps a bit of jam. It’s meant to be eaten within a day, but I enjoy using this kind of pancake as a sort of breakfast trifle. It’s stuffed with apples and flavoured with vanilla and brandy (or apple jack or brandy). It will fortify me as I continue to fill my freezer with apple and banana treats.

Which reminds me, it’s finally time to buy a really big bag of rhubarb. I need to buy a bigger freezer…

Apple Matafan with maple syrup

You can find the rest of the Tuesdays with Dorie crew’s entries on this month’s recipes from Baking Chez Moi here.

Kevin’s Vegan Hash

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The Little Potato Company provided me with the potatoes used in this recipe. The recipe and all opinions expressed in the post are my own.

When I was given the opportunity to try The Little Potato Company’s creamer potatoes, I was happy to participate. The company started in Alberta, but now has farms across Canada and the US. They produce creamer potatoes exclusively, which are bred to stay small at maturity, with a thin, tender skin. I was also happy to learn their potatoes are non-GMO.

I spent the last few weeks boiling, baking, frying, and mashing the samples of the two varieties they sent me and I’ve been pleased with them in every application.

Last week, I shared a very meat-forward recipe using Blushing Belles. This week, I’ve got a vegan recipe for you, which uses their Yellow Fingerlings.

My partner, Kevin, wanted me to recreate the kind of breakfast that he’s had at the very few restaurants in town that serve gluten-free, vegan meals. I came up with this hash and he liked it so much, he let me name it after him.

Ingredients

Kevin’s Vegan Hash

Serves 2 generously as a main, 4 as a side

2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 small bell peppers, cubed
6 button mushrooms, cubed
12 Little Potato Company Yellow Fingerlings Creamer Potatoes, cubed
175 g extra firm organic tofu, cubed
a pinch of cayenne pepper
2 sage leaves, crumbled (or ½ tsp dried sage)
1 sprig fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried rosemary)
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ cup Daiya Cheddar Style Shreds
salt and pepper

In a large, non-stick skillet or cast iron pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and salt generously. Fry, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften and start to brown. Add the garlic and turn down the heat to low. Continue to cook until the garlic has softened and the onions are completely browned. Season with pepper (and more salt if needed). Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil, if needed, then heat the pan to medium-low and add the peppers. Cook until the peppers are soft and a little browned, stirring occasionally, adding a pinch of cayenne pepper when they’re nearly done. Season with salt and pepper, scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil, if needed, then heat the pan to medium-low and add the mushrooms, stirring occasionally. When they begin to release moisture, stir in the sage. When the moisture is fully reabsorbed, season with salt and pepper, scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Add a tablespoon of oil, heat the pan to medium-low and add the potatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper, add the rosemary sprig (or stir in the dried rosemary). Cook, stirring occasionally, until a fork pierces the potato cubes easily. If the potatoes are not fully browned, raise the heat to medium and continue cooking until they are. Check to see if more salt and pepper is needed, discard the rosemary sprig if you used it, then scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Add a little more oil, if needed, then heat the pan to medium-low. Add the tofu and dust the cubes with the smoked paprika, frying until the cubes are cooked through and well browned. Season with salt and pepper, then add the rest of the ingredients back into the pan, stirring until everything is well mixed and heated through.

Take the pan off the heat and add the Daiya shreds, stirring until they are well distributed and melted.

Check for salt and pepper, then serve immediately.

You can visit The Little Potato Company’s website for more recipes.

FFWD – Coupétade ( or, French toast bread pudding)

Coupétade in a flowered glass serving dish atop a blue and yellow plaid cloth.

Egg bread made into an egg-y French toast, turned into an even egg-ier bread pudding. What’s not to like? Nothing, that’s what.

When I noticed that both last week’s dish and this week’s recipe called for brioche, I decided to make some. It’s a job for a stay-at-home evening, but not too difficult when there’s a stand mixer involved. The only downside to making brioche is thinking it’s too pretty to slice.

Two loaves of brioche on the cooling rack, one braided and the other sectioned.

Brioche was perfect for this dish (though I think that any good bread would do). I let the points of the French toast rise above the custard bath when I baked it and I really enjoyed the different textures this created. I also refrained from adding any flavours to the dish beyond the vanilla called for in the recipe. The vanilla worked well against the creamy egg-iness of the bread pudding. It can be lovely to have a single dominant flavour in a dish, sometimes. Relying on vanilla also brought out the flavours of the dried blueberries and apricots I tucked amongst the slices of French toast.

Coupétade, or French toast bread pudding.

I’d be happy to have this dish at (or let’s face it, FOR) any meal, but I think I’m going to file this one under potluck brunch recipes.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Coupétade