Meal Plan Mondays & Hazelnut Sandies with Barberries

Lots of yummies on this weeks list!  But first, how about a cookie recipe?

I know you’ve been waiting for the English translation of the last Francophone Fridays post, the sablés aux noisettes aux baies de bérberies (dans la langue de Molière) or Hazelnut Sandies with barberries (in the language of Shakespeare).

When the adorable Mihl and P. finally came visit us last year, they came with loads of goodies for us to eat.  One of the special treats they lugged with them across Europe (well, from Germany to south-western France anyway) was a bag of beautiful dried barberries!  Mihl uses them in some of the many recipes she has on her blog Seitan Is My Motor, and I couldn’t wait to try them for myself!  If you’re unfamiliar with these tart Persian berries, you can read a little  over at Wiki if you’d like.

Once I had the coveted berries in my possession, I found myself  wondering what to do with the little gems.  I had too many ideas, but a limited supply of berries, and I didn’t want to squander them on just any-old recipe where dried cranberries or currents could be used.  Then, it hit me (gently, I wasn’t harmed).

We have lots of things in common, my dear Mihl and I, among which dear memories of our sweet grandmothers.  I decided to honor their memories with these cookies, heavily-inspired by one of my great-grandmother’s recipes.  These sablés (sugar cookies) or “sandies” as my great-grandmother Mary  called them, are subtle and sophisticated with a lovely duo of textures : crumbly, buttery sugar cookie and sweet and tart dried barberries.  The ground hazelnuts  add just a hint of bitterness which plays wonderfully with the brown sugar-encrusted cookies.   If you don’t have barberries, dried unsweetened cranberries would work well, though I would probably dice them up, or try dried currents.

Hazelnut Sandies with Barberries

For about 40 cookies – advance preparation required!

2 tsp Ener-g Egg Replacer

2 tbsp water

175 g non-dairy butter, room temperature

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

180 g sifted powdered sugar

300 g AP flour

2 tbsp cornstarch

1 tbsp baking powder (11 g)

120 g ground hazelnuts

110 g dried barberries (or cranberries)

4 tbsp brown sugar

1) In a large bowl combine the flour, cornstarch, powdered sugar, baking powder and ground hazelnuts. Set aside.

2) In a small mixing bowl or in a food processor, whip the water and Ener-G until it’s frothy, at least 3 minutes.

3) With an electric mixer, cream the powdered sugar and butter until it’s light and fluffy, then add the Ener-G, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Continue mixing until well combined.

4) Now add the flour, a little at a time, then fold in the barberries.  Divide the dough in two.

5) Spread half of the brown sugar on a piece of tinfoil about 30 cm long.  Lightly flour your hands, and roll one half of the dough into a log about 20 cm long.  If you’re having a difficult time working with your dough, try dusting it with some flour, a little at a time, and it will be easier to work with.  Go with your gut, and if the dough is very sticky, just knead a little flour in until it’s “workable”.

6) Gently roll the log through the brown sugar, covering the exterior.  Add a little sugar to the foil if there are some sugar-free spots.  Roll up the log with the foil, twisting the ends shut.  Do the same with the other half of the dough, and refrigerate for at least two hours.

7) Pre-heat the oven to 175°c and prepare two cookie sheets with silicon mats or parchment paper.  Gently unroll the dough and slice cookies 15mm thick, wiping the knife clean each time.  If you’re having a difficult time slicing the cookies, don’t fret!  Just cover it back up and put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes, then try again.

VIII) Bake for about 13 minutes, until they are just firm and lightly browned on the bottom.  Let them cool slightly for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Now for this week’s Meal Plan :

Monday : crêpes sucrées et salées (savory and sweet crêpes) with sautéed mushrooms and onions for the savory, and powdered sugar and lemon juice for the sweet.  So. good.

Tuesday : Risotto with mushrooms and peas, served with braised dandelion greens.

Wednesday : Polenta with garlic gravy.

Thursday : Hot & Sour Carrots and Lentils, a tester recipe for The Urban Vegan.

Friday : Pizza Night!  How I love you so…

Do you blog your weekly meal plans?  Super-cool world-traveler Vegan Snorkler  has one up today.  Let me know, I’d love to link to your plan to share the planning mojo with everyone.  And don’t forget, if you’re looking for meal plan inspiration you can visit the MPM archives.

Meal Plan Monday : The wings that weren’t, and the cookies that were.

I made these beautiful cookies last week :

In the name of science and not wanting to make a flop of the cookies I’m planning on making for gift-giving, of course. These lovelies are the pignoli cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  I’ve had Italian pignoli cookies before, but it’s been ages, and I wanted to give them a try.  I’m a big fan of the pine nut – it’s a fatty little bugger, but jam-packed with iron.  I usually add a tablespoon to top pizzas or salads, so Guppy was a bit leery seeing it in a sucré posture, but was won over instantly.  Monsieur-half-French-half-Italian-Fish, however, was not so inclined.  So much for his Italian roots.

As you can guess from my title, the seitan wings didn’t happen last week, and I was rather put out about it.  The beauty of the meal plan is in its non-contractual nature: I’m not going to get in trouble if I don’t stick to it. They’ve been re-slated for this week, however, because I’m not giving up!  Next week I’ll be very pleased to bring you a review of where many of these tasty recipes came from.

Monday : Caramelized Tofu, Brown rice with pineapple and green onions

Tuesday : 2 potato Shepherd’s Pie, green salad

Wednesday : Sushi Rice Balls, Japanese Pancakes and Teriyaki Mushrooms

Thursday :Seitan Buffalo Wings with Super Slaw (hoping!)

Friday : Pizza night!

If you haven’t already, please stop by my friend Ricki’s blog and leave a comment on this post.  She’ll be giving a donation to Second Harvest for every comment left.  What a great way to bring a little food and cheer to those in need this holiday season (oh, and you could also win some Simply Bar yummies, but that’s just a perk).

Vegan MoFo Day XXVIII : Cookies & Doughnuts

First the doughnuts!

These doughnuts are great because they are calorie free, fat free…well, you can’t really eat them. They would make a fun little holiday gift for little (or not so little) ones.  I’ve finally put together a How To page, with lots of tutorials and fun things to make and do.  Go check it out!

And now the cookies…

These are the chocolate crinkle cookies and the black and whites from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar.  Making these I had lots of help from Guppy and her friend who took turns rolling the cookies in the powdered sugar.  The recipe calls for corn syrup to help the cookies to spread.  Corn syrup is easy to find in North America, but not here.  I used golden syrup since it’s easier to find, but they didn’t spread as much as I’d have liked.  I think I have an idea for next time, and I’ll let you know if it works.  Taste-wise they were delicious, and Guppy brought some to her teacher who asked for the recipe.  I’d never heard of crinkle cookies before but I am so glad I gave them a try.

The black and whites were nothing like the black and whites I’ve had from the Jewish bakeries in Paris, but they were still very yummy.  Normally they are more crispy, but these were very cake-like.  Guppy and friend helped with the icing, which explains the lumps, but they had so much fun frosting them who really cares about aesthetics…

I’m sure you’ll be seeing other cookies from VCIYCJ as we get closer to the holidays!

Vegan MoFo Day XX : Caramel Pecan Cookies

I can’t even tell you how delicious-amazing these cookies are.  It’s not because it’s a secret, just because how can I verbally express such things?  These cookies are the most buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookies I’ve ever made.  You’ll need caramel syrup, (like the kind baristas use for your coffee) to get them just right.  You could probably use brown rice syrup, corn syrup (if you dare) or golden syrup, but they won’t be quite the same – though still muy delicious.

Guppy prefered them without the pecans, so the for my second batch I made them plain – so I guess these cookies are just caramel cookies.  Either way you make them, you’ll end up making them again and again.

Caramel Pecan Cookies

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup soy milk

1/2 cup oil

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

1 tbsp cornstarch

3 tbsp caramel syrup (or rice or golden)

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

About 24 lightly-roasted pecans

Heat your oven to 185°c/365°f and prepare 2 baking sheets with either parchment paper or silplat.

Using a metal whisk or a fork, combine vigourusly all but the last three ingredients in a medium mixing bowl until smooth (it’ll look like a thick caramel).  Now sift in the last three ingredients and stir until you’ve got a smooth, easy to work with dough.  If it’s still very sticky, just add a little flour until you can work with it easily.

Now roll the dough into golfball sized balls (or larger if you want big cookies) and pat them a bit when you set them on the baking sheet to make a disk.   Set a pecan on each cookie to make them look beautiful.  These spread quite a bit, so set them a few inches apart, then bake for about 14 minutes or so.  You want to remove them from the oven just before they are fully cooked if you prefer soft, chewy cookies (we do!).  Let them cool a few minutes on the baking sheet to be sure the bottoms are browned, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack.

Don’t forget to leave a comment here for a chance to win some chocolate!

Vegan MoFo Day IX : Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

It’s Vegan MoFo Day IX already!  I am so impressed by all the amazing recipes and formidable camaraderie taking over the blogosphere.  One thing I’ve been particularly enjoying is discovering so many new blogs and bloggers!  Don’t forget to visit the Vegan MoFo Blogroll and spread the love!

Now for the cookies!

These are really like big thumb print cookies, but bigger is better, right?  As far as cookies go, I’m thinking yes!

These are a healthier peanut butter cookie baked with a big ‘ole slob of ganache in the middle – what could be better?  These make a lot, like 3 dozen, so get ready to share!

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

3 to 3.5 cups whole wheat pastry flour (milling is very different here, so start with 1 cup and add more as needed.)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

generous pinch salt

1/2 cup brown sugar (plus a little extra for rolling)

1/2 white sugar

2 tbsp canola oil (this might not be necessary, depending on your peanut butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cups natural peanut butter (chunky is fine)

3/4 cups non-dairy milk

1/4 water

about 1/2 cup ganache

A quick note about the ganache.  If you use the recipe here you’ll end up with just enough left for making some Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (recipe coming soon!), but please use any kind your little heart desires, ok?

Like two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.  Stir the liquid ingredients into the flour mixture and stir until just mixed (too much mixing makes for gummy cookies).  This is a thickish/dryish dough, so if yours is too liquid to handle, add a little more flour until the right consistency is reached.

Now for the fun part – roll the dough into balls, a bit bigger than a walnut.  (Like two walnuts?) Roll it in the brown sugar (this is optional), then place it on the baking sheet.  Flatten it a little, then move on to the next one.  When all the dough has been rolled, you’ll need to make little holes in each cookie – the easiest way is just to wet your index and poke a hole.  Like so:

Now put them in the fridge for about 45 minutes to an hour.  While they are chilling, you can make your ganache, have a cup of tea and read a few blogs.  When that’s done, you’ll need to fill them with chocolate.  My method is to use one of Guppy’s old aspirin plungers, but you could use a spoon or whatever.  Before you start, pre-heat your oven to 165°c/325°f, then get to work!

Now it’s time to bake!  They’ll bake for about 20 minutes, depending on how thick/flat they are.  When they’re done, leave them to cool on the baking sheets, that way, they’ll brown a little more on the bottoms without burning the chocolate.



W.I.P. Wednesday : Rush, rush, rush!


If you’re looking for the Sweet Freedom giveaway, go here! Three more days to enter!

I hate feeling like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, however, that’s pretty much what I’m looking and sounding like right now. I’ve got so many plates spinning I’m feeling a wee bit dizzy, but I know it’s pour la bonne cause.

W.I.P. Elephant

Working on appreciation gifts for Guppy’s two teachers is becoming a real priority since her last day of school is next week. I’ve just started stitching this adorable elephant that I modified from this free pattern (thank you!). Guppy’s class spent the year studying around the theme of circus animals, so I thought this cutie could look sweet on a little zipper bag…perhaps with some dark chocolate inside?

Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip & Raisin Cookies

Who doesn’t love cookies? I’m only making “special” gifts for Guppy’s teacher and her aid, but not wanting to leave anyone out, I made a double-batch of the Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (with chocolate chips, because I can!) from one of my very favourite cookbooks, The Joy of Vegan Baking for everyone else – everyone else meaning the team of aids and auxiliary personnel who do so much for the kids and who often don’t get the thanks they deserve. It’s so fun making cookies and cupcakes for her school, because they are viewed as wonderfully exotic by the teaching team – and they always ask me for the recipes. I brought these to the school last week after Guppy’s school programme. She was a lion, and she roared the very best, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her Mamafish!

Cut out pieces

And lastly, here are some pattern pieces I cut out to make two aprons – and if I can get them done in a jiffy I’ll be sending them off to this month’s Tie One On. The theme this time around is “Pie Making Aprons”, which I think just sounds so fun and summery…the flower print fabric is so cute, and I think it works really well with the gingham. We’ll see in a few days…

I can’t wait to see what everyone has been up to W.I.P.-wise! Whatever your works-in-progress, have a crafty week, and don’t forget to see what the other Wipsters are up to, and to check out our W.I.P. Wednesday Flickr Pool, too.


“Swell” friends : More 60-Day Project Love & Yummies & thank heavens for good medical coverage.

My mother just keeps reveling in the birthday love – thanks to you! A hearty muchas gracias go out to the lovely and talented Robin of Robin in Reality and to everyone’s favourite Swell Vegan, A-K!

Robin sent my mother a gorgeous handmade scarf, huckleberry tea from her native Montana and a beautiful card. Cookzine writer A-K sent her the most delectible homemade raw goodies! And have you seen how cute she looks showing off her new Swell cookzine? She’s being added to the Vegan-Cutie Hall Of Fame fo sho! She’s selling these little babies for only 3USD! 5USD for we freaky European kids. I can’t wait to make every one of those recipes – and eat it all – that Spicy Tahini Stew sounds really good right now…


And now for the Yummies! This Maple Flax Loaf was a pre-Lenten test recipe for 500 Vegan Recipes. So simple and so delicious. Miam! It was as delicious as it was beautiful!


I know the blogger police should arrest me for such a terrible flashy picture, but I’d get myself off the hook when I offered the coppers one of these heavenly Quince Chewies Cookies. If you’re at all familiar with Celine’s blog, than you know she is the cookie queen, and these babies will not disappoint! (Hey, I took the darn photo back in February when it was dark outside at 4pm!). 500 Vegan Recipes is of course going to be rocking your tastebuds! Don’t forget to sneak a peak at the Flickr Pool for eye-candy galore!

I know that I’m oh-so-behind on blog reading and emails. I’m sorry, kids, but after trying to fight a stupid sinus infection without drugs (because I hate the drugs!), I finally caved and sought medical treatment (mostly because I couldn’t fight anymore). Thanks to my tenacity stubbornness I also won two free cases of bronchitis and laryngitis. Yippie!

Would you believe that up until Spring of 2007 (when I moved to this humidisville) I’d never had a sinus infection in my life? I seem to be getting the infection of the century once in the Autumn and once in the Spring. I do live in a very humid area – near the largest forest in France (and one of the largest in Europe), but still! 800mg of antibiotics every morning plus cortisone (yuck – Shellyfish no likey) plus a bunch of other meds should be making me feel better soon. I’d actually be in bed, I want to be in bed, but the cortisone has me wired like a crazy vegan warriorfish and though my eyes and brain are very tired, I can’t sit still.

I do need to say, however, that I am so thankful for our medical system here in France. My generalist was out Wednesday so I called the “traveling doctors” and though it took a few hours, I had a doctor in my home at 11 p.m. He even gave me cortisone right then to help ease my ickyness until morning when I could get to the pharmacy. Oh, and it cost 23E, 22 of which will be reimbursed by Social Security. Next morning at the pharmacy everything was covered, and I didn’t need to pay a centime.

While it’s true that people in larger cities or who chose to go to private clinics may have a slight edge, health care is not considered a “product” or a “privilege” here – it is the basic right of every human being. My little family has had some financial close-calls this year, but never once have we had to “budget” a doctor visit or wait before refilling a prescription – an absurd reality I know so many families face.

I just think that kicks ass.

I’m done now.