Along the Grapevine


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No-bake chocolate Cookies for Campers

These no-bake cookies are so easy to make and contain only four ingredients. From start to finish they take about ten minutes and are perfect for satisfying that occasional craving for sweet that might strike anywhere, any time!

DSC03119If anyone had asked me a few weeks ago what recipes do I never post, I would have said chocolate chip cookies. Not that I don’t like them, but they are an example of one of those things that just doesn’t fit with this blog which focuses on things I have in my garden, are seasonal and maybe even unusual. But never say never, and here is my first recipe containing chocolate chips – not the commercial ones but chopped dark Belgian chocolate.

The reason for this turn around is that we recently had a visit from a fellow blogger Stef from The Kiwi Fruit. She and her friend John are currently driving across Canada from east to west and I have been following them with considerable interest. For some stunning photos of the country, stories of their adventures and great recipes visit her blog – you will not be disappointed.

I met Stef originally at Fiesta Friday, so it is fitting to bring these cookies to this week’s event. Of course, I invited them to stop by here and camp on our property, and to my delight they accepted. They proved to be perfect camping guests with plenty of tales to tell. Unfortunately I did not think to get many pictures, as we were too caught up in chatting, mostly about food and travel.DSC03102

Their visit did make me think about the challenges of cooking and shopping when on the road – and this is one long road across Canada. Over 5,000 km as the crow flies, but much further when making detours to visit every worthwhile site along the way. I was thinking how John sometimes gets a craving for something sweet and how difficult it can be to make any of the traditional baked treats while camping, so I came up with this simple recipe which is like a cross between truffles and cookies. Chickpea flour, brown sugar, butter or coconut oil and some chopped chocolate bits or chips are all that is needed, cooked quickly in a pan over medium heat and then rolled into little balls of rich, sweet, chocolatey goodness.

No-bake Chocolate Cookies

1 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup butter or coconut oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar according to taste

about 4 Tbsp chocolate bits

Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the flour and stir continuously over the heat for about five minutes. The mixture will become a slightly darker colour and will bubble and thicken. Add the sugar and stir until it all dissolves, about three more minutes. Remove from the heat, cool slightly and stir in the chocolate. While still slightly warm, form into balls and then let cool completely. This recipe makes about 1 dozen small cookies.

I made one recipe with butter, the other with coconut oil. I preferred the flavour of the latter as it was nuttier tasting, but the former was easier to work with. Either way, they were delicious, and I hope Stef and John enjoy them as much as we did. I also wish them all the best on their odyssey and thank them sincerely for taking the time to visit us. It was a real pleasure!DSC03120.JPG

Linked to: Fiesta Friday, Foodbod and Dad Whats 4 Dinner.

Posted one year ago: Milkweed flowers


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Crabapple Rolls

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This is a good year for crabapples, unlike last year. This means I am busy preserving these delicious little fruits for use all winter long and perhaps beyond – depending on our luck next year.

As I was experimenting, I ended up unintentionally with some crabapple jam. I was aiming for jellied candies, but in total frustration, just turned it into jam. This is uncannily similar to my crabapple paste – just as easy but less concentrated.

To do this, I used 6 cups of crabapples and covered them with water. After boiling them long until soft, I strained them through a food mill, ending up with 6 cups of juice. To this I added 3 cups of sugar and cooked it until it was the consistency of liquid honey.

Crabapples have so much pectin in them, there is really no need for any other ingredients other than sugar and water. The flavour is much heftier than regular apples, so it is ideal for mixing into marinades, sauces and baking where you want that tart fruitiness to come through.

I decided to use some of the jam I made to make a filled cookie inspired by the ever-popular fig newtons. The apple flavour is strong enough that I did not need to add any other flavourings, keeping pretty much to local ingredients. If you don’t have crabapples, you could substitute any fruit jam or paste. In the case of jam, you will need to thicken it as I have done in this recipe, but a fruit paste probably won’t need any.

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Crabapple Rolls

Ingredients

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbsp softened butter (or substitute)

2 Tbsp liquid honey (or equivalent)

1 egg

1/2 cup applesauce

2 cups crabapple jam (or other preserves)

cornstarch for thickening

Method

Mix the flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Combine the butter, egg and applesauce and add this mixture to the dry ingredients. Combine thoroughly and knead it into a ball. Cover and refrigerate for about one hour.

While the dough is resting, mix the cornstarch with the jam and heat through until thickened. I used about 6 Tbsp of cornstarch, but this will vary according to the consistency of the jam used. It should be thick like peanut butter. Allow to cool.

Divide the dough into four pieces and roll each one on a floured surface into a rectangle about 5 inches wide.  Spread the jam mixture down the middle and fold each side over the middle and seal. Place in a 350 F oven for about 15 minutes or until the dough is cooked.

Remove from the oven. Allow to cool and slice.

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Linked to Fiesta Friday #93


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Going wild for the holidays

This is the season for baking, and this year I have decided to go wild, using as many of the foraged fruit preserved during the summer months as I can. Since I do relatively little baking, this is a great excuse to make some of my traditional recipes more interesting with some new and local flavours.

My first recipe is for alfajores. These treats are from Latin America where every country or region has its own version. As the Arabic sound of their name suggests, they were brought by the Spaniards during the conquest, who themsleves acquired some form of the recipe from the Moors . This recipe is gluten-free and uses less butter than the traditional.  The most common filling is dulce de leche, but I have seen different fruit preserves used as well, and much prefer them. So as part of my wild menu for the holidays, I have made them with my own dulce de manzana silvestre, or crabapple preserve, and used only dried coconut to embellish them.100_0856

Recipe for Alfajores

3 egg yolks

1/3 cup butter

1/4 cup icing sugar

1 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup rice flour

1 tsp guar gum

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

dried coconut (or chopped nuts of your choice)

Mix together all the ingredients except for the coconut and roll into a ball and knead until it all sticks together. If the mixture is too dry to stay in a ball, add a few drops of water. Set aside to rest for half an hour. Roll out to 1/8 inch think and cut into rounds of about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Bake at 300 degrees F for about 10 min. They should be cooked but not browned.

Once cooled, spread crabapple preserve on the bottom of one, and place another on top to form a sandwich. Roll the edge of the circle in shredded coconut or chopped nuts.

My next recipe is the anglo equivalent of alfajores. Simple and ubiquitous, shortbread too has as many versions, and if you have a favourite recipe, simply add the sumac powder to give it a local, lemony flavour. The recipe I used is a traditional one from Grace Mulligan’s Dundee Kitchen: A Scottish Recipe Cook Book, and is as basic as a shortbread recipe can get, which is the way I like it. I made mine in cookie form, slicing them thin, but you can roll out the dough thicker and make petticoat tails, rectangles or put them in a mould.

If you haven’t prepared your own sumac powder, you can find it in some specialty Middle Eastern or Asian shops.100_0864100_0877

Sumac Shortbread

8 0z butter

12 0z white flour (2 1/3 cup)

4 0z sugar (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp)

1 Tbsp sumac powder

Cream the butter and add the sugar. Mix the sumac powder into the flour and gradually work into the butter mixture. Knead it until it forms a good ball, or use a food processor. Divide the ball in two. Cover the work surface with a little sugar and roll out each ball into a log shape. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour. If they get too cold, they will crumble when cut. Cut the rolls into thin slices, place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and bake at 300 F (150 C or Gas Mark 2) for about 15 minutes or until they are lightly browned.

And if you make alfajores according to the recipe above, you will have three egg whites you will want to use. In order to help you decide how to use them, I am recommending this recipe from David Lebovitz to add to your holiday baking.  I followed his recipe to the letter, except did not do as he suggested and coat them in egg white and nuts, because then I would have to do something with the left over yolk. Anyway, they were fine and I saved myself a lot of work.

Amaretti

3 cups blanched almond powder (can be made by processing blanched almonds until a powder is formed)

1 cup sugar

3 large egg whites

pinch of salt

3 Tbsp apricot jam or marmalade

a few drops of almond extract.

1. Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, but are not dry.

2. Mix almond powder and sugar.

3. Fold egg whites into the almond mixture with marmalade or jam and almond extract.

4. Form into balls (about the size of walnuts), place on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake at 325 for 25 or 30 minutes.

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