Friday, June 27, 2014

Oatmeal and Dried Fruit Squares

There are lots of pool time ahead in our summer schedule, including early swim practices and meets. These oatmeal squares are a great on-the-go breakfast or snack. They are quite different in terms of texture and taste than the other oatmeal squares I posted a couple of years ago. They are also a bit healthier. I make them nut-free to keep everyone on the swim team safe but if you know allergies are not an issue, feel free to throw in walnuts or almonds. This batch included dried cranberries and blueberries, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and bittersweet chocolate chips. I think the next one will have dried apricots and mango, white chocolate chips and shredded coconut. Can't wait!

Makes 20-25 squares
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats = 160 g de flocons d'avoine
  • 1 cup unbleached flour = 120 g de farine
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon = ½ cuillère à café cannelle
  • pinch of salt = une pincée de sel
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder = 1 cuillère à café levure
  • ¼ cup evaporated cane juice sugar = 4 cuillères à soupe de sucre non-raffiné (bio)
  • 1 ½ cup buttermilk = 350 ml de lait ribot (ou de lait normal)
  • ¼ cup applesauce = 4 cuillères à soupe de compote de pomme
  • ¼ cup oil (canola, coconut...) = 4 cuillères à soupe d'huile
  • 1 large egg = 1 oeuf
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla = 1 cuillère à café de vanille
  • ½ cup dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, blueberries, apricot...), chopped if needed = 50 à 75 g de fruits secs, coupés en morceaux si besoin
  • ¼ to ½ cup chocolate chips or chunks = 25 à 50 g de pépites ou petits dés de chocolat
  • ¼ cup pepitas (or any chopped nuts) = 30 g de graines de citrouille ou tournesol, ou de noix
  • ¼ cup shredded coconut (optional) = 30 g de noix de coco râpée

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl.
Mix the buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg, and vanilla in another bowl.
Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, stir gently to combine. Fold in the dried fruits, chocolate chips, pepitas (or nuts if using) and shredded coconut.

Pour the oatmeal mixture into a buttered 7 x 11 inch baking dish.

Bake for about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool down completely. Cut into squares. Enjoy!

Note: I keep the oatmeal squares in a sealed container in the fridge and just microwave each for 10 seconds before serving.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hummus in Cucumber Cups

In the summer, I could live on hummus. Seriously: hummus + pita bread + carrots, cucumber and bell pepper strips = lunch. Every day. There is nothing like hummus made from scratch. Sorry, I just don't like the taste of pre-packaged hummus. {Yes, I am a hummus snob}. You can use canned chickpeas but dried chickpeas are so much cheaper, and you don't have to worry about the lining of the can, recycling, etc.. Better for your wallet, better for the environment: win-win!

There are several ways to cook dried chickpeas: in a pressure cooker, on the stove, or in a slow cooker. I like the latter because that way you don't need to pre-soak them. Place 7 cups of water, 1 lb of dried chickpeas (sorted and rinsed), and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda in the slow-cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours --7 (for firmer chickpeas) or 9 hours (for softer chickpeas – ideal for hummus or chickpea salad). Drain and use immediately, or refrigerate for a few days.

The nice thing about making your own hummus is that you can customize it to your taste: some people like theirs garlicky, some like it lemony. The recipe below is just in the middle, feel free to taste and adjust as you go. Sometimes, I even throw in a few kalamata olives, or roasted bell peppers.

There's nothing wrong with serving hummus in a bowl but he cucumber cups make for a cute and fun presentation, and a nice little one-bite appetizer for a summer cook-out!

For the hummus:
  • 2 cups well-cooked or canned chickpeas, drained = 450 g de pois chiches (cuits ou en conserve,  égouttés)
  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste) = 4 cuillères à soupe de tahini
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt (optional) = 2 cuillères à soupe de yaourt grec nature (facultatif)
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling = 60 ml d'huile d'olive + 1-2 cuillères à soupe pour la présentation
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled = 2 gousses d'ail
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste = sel et poivre
  • 2 teaspoons ground paprika, plus a sprinkling for garnish = 2 cuillères à café de paprika + une pincée pour la présentation
  • Juice of 1 lemon = jus d'1 citron

Put everything in a food processor and puree until smooth. If you want to serve as is, transfer to a bowl, drizzle with extra olive oil and sprinkle a little paprika on top.
For the cucumber cups:
  • Hummus
  • 2 or 3 long cucumbers
  • Crumbled feta or chopped olives for garnish

Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips on each cucumber to make a stripe pattern. Cut cucumbers crosswise into ¾-inch slices. Use a melon baller or a round measuring spoon and scoop out the center of each cucumber slice to form a little cup. Fill each cup with about a tablespoon of hummus. Top with crumbled feta or chopped olives. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy!