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: Theme-Night Family Fun & More tester treats…

Despite the amazing weather and sunshine, I’m feeling the January “blahs”.  I’m not sure if you experience these, but for me it happens shortly after the holiday decorations come down and the afterglow of December’s festivities is as dark as these winter mornings and evenings.  I am, if you will, like a flower…I need long days of sunshine and gentle warm breezes to nourish me.


What do you do when you get the winter blahs?  This week The Fish Family will be having two “theme-nights” to break up the monotony of January.  Yes, we are throwing caution to the wind and serving up some festivesauce with an Irish Night and an Indian Night.  You’re jealous, aren’t you?

As many of you know, it really is the little things that matter, and though it might seem silly to tell Guppy, “Tonight, we’re travelling to India…” and spend our dinner talking about the animals, stories and people we could relate to the country of India, for the curious 5 year-old she is, it’s rather exciting.  I recycled a few old lesson plans I’d used for children and found some “Animals of India” colouring pages for her to work on while I prepare dinner tonight, and we could even extend the experience by watching “The Jungle Book” later in the week…it only takes a few minutes of planning to create an event out of what would otherwise be a boring Monday night dinner.

Theme-Night meals for teens or adults are not necessarily more labour-intensive, on the contrary!  Watching a film connected with your meal, or just the simple addition of pre-dinner cocktails, the apéro, if you will, can add sass and spark to a regular meal – even if your cocktails are non-alcoholic!

Smaller children will love making a game of something so ordinary, and it can help open up conversations with older kids, too.

Here’s our week :

Monday : Indian Night! Kale with raisins & Chana Dal* served with Paratas, and Kheer* for dessert.

Tuesday : Spirals with “Feta” & Spinach. – this one is from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions by Celine Steen & Joni Marie Newman.  Many of you I’m sure all the recipes I teased you with while I was testing for this one (even though the silly publishers forgot to credit my name, grr!).  Now you can go get your own copy – you’ll be so happy you did!

Wednesday : Irish Night! Colcannon* with Irish Soda Bread and Seedcake* for dessert and Irish Coffee for the grown-ups!

Thursday : left-overs

Friday : Pizza Night!  This is our favourite night of the week, and we never grow tired of it.

The starred (*) dishes mentioned above are test recipes for The Urban Vegan’s book-in-progress, and here are a few pictures of what I was testing last week :

hot crossed buns

sweet mint tea

Shirley Temple (for Guppy!)

I’m actually testing much more than you’re seeing here, but with the absolute lack of daylight (Winter Blahs!) there has been a significant decline in food photos around here…long live March 21st!

Do you blog your weekly meal plans?  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 Mondays : Balsamic-Roasted Butternut Squash

Now that the holidays have come and gone, this week’s meals are a little more frugal and a little less festive.

And that’s okay.

As we explain to Guppy, there is a time for everything : a time for eating Christmas cookies and chocolates, and a time for soup and lighter fare.  Coming down from the holiday excitement is always a little melancholy for me, but Friday’s pizza nights means there is always a party to look forward to, right?

Monday : Spinach Quiche and roasted-garlic and white bean soup (from the freezer – I’d forgotten about it  – total score!)

Tuesday : Potato and butternut Soup and baking powder biscuits

Wednesday : Seitan with Quince, Apple and Onion, Rutabega-Fennel Clapshot (test recipes for The Urban Vegan’s forthcoming cookbook!)

Thursday : left-overs

Friday : Pizza Night!

Here’s a peek at two test recipes we enjoyed last week from The Urban Vegan :

Pumpkin-Maple Muffins – enough said.


Spicy Lentils – I’m such a fan of lentils served just about any way, but this picante recipe was a real winner.  I served it up with some balsamic roasted butternut squash, because I can.

And so can you!  This isn’t a test recipe, but it is one of our favourite way to eat butternut squash – try it!

Balsamic-Roasted Butternut Squash

+/- 5 cups cubed butternut squash

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste

Heat your oven to 200°c/400°f and toss the cubed squash with the olive oil and vinegar.  Using your fingers, crumble the dried thyme over the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat.

Spread the cubed squash in a shallow baking dish or on a baking sheet in one layer and bake for about 45 minutes or until melty-tender.  Sprinkle with some salt if necessary before serving.

Do you have a favourite frugal (ie : cheap) recipe you love to serve?  Please feel free to share with the kids at home!  And don’t forget, if you’re looking for meal plan inspiration you can visit the MPM archives.


Meal Plan Mondays : Tester Yummies

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend, because even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it was still the weekend, right?  We had a lovely time, and we even got snow on Christmas Eve morning!  Guppy woke to a few centimetres of snow, just like in holiday stories, and she was elated.  The snow of course didn’t last, but it couldn’t have come on a better day.

The recipe testing continues for The Urban Vegan’s upcoming cookbook, and I must say that everything I’ve tested so far has received 4 stars.

chickpeas with tomatoes, eggplant and kale

tuscan bean dip

classic chocolate chippers

polenta-kale cutlets  with pan-seared tofu with basil balsamic glaze

Here’s this weeks vittles, the foods with a* are tester recipes.

Monday : Minimal Pastina Soup with Spinach* (lunch), Insanely Thick and Comforting Squash Soup* (dinner), served with baking powder biscuits.

Tuesday : Pumpkin-Maple Muffins* (breakfast), Spicy Lentils* served with mixed rice (dinner).

Wednesday : Tajine salé de seitan à la courge (savory seitan and squash tajine). I’ll be posting this recipe later in the week, too!

Thursday : Quiche – I think spinach, but I’m not sure.  We’ve been craving quiche, so I’m all about keeping the troops happy.

Friday : Pizza night, I hope.  If I get my wish, we’ll be hanging out here for New Year’s Eve…time will tell!

Are you making anything special this week?  Lighter meals seem to be de rigeur with all this celebrating, don’t you think?

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).