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Many years ago, a dear friend discovered this recipe for chocolate chunk cookies; she shared it with us and then. Here is the original recipe.

Granted, there are A LOT of chocolate chips in these babies but damn, they’re GOOD!

Double Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

Makes 60 cookies

Ingredients:

  • 227 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 100 g granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 mL pure vanilla extract
  • 360 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 300 g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
  • 300 g milk chocolate chips
  • 150 g of dried, unsweetened cranberries or dried cherries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the butter and two sugars in the large bowl of your stand mixer with the creaming paddle attachment and cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time beating well. Add the vanilla.
  4. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together and add in two batched into the batter, mixing until combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
  6. Drop walnut-sized balls onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and press down a bit.
  7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until slightly golden. For chewier cookies, slightly underbake.

 

Orange Olive Oil Cake

We rented a different house this year in Arizona and the kitchen was much better equipped so I had a lot more fun with it. Needless to say, we entertained a lot; three sets of friends came down from Toronto and of course, our two sets of friends in Encantarra were repeated guests. I’m guessing I was the first one to give the kitchen a good workout, even the BBQ had not been used in the two years the house had been rented!

I made this cake the first week we were in Arizona. I found the recipe in a very outdated Phoenix magazine. The recipe was created by a 14-year-old boy. I loved the use of olive oil in it, plus I just adore orange cake. I modified the recipe a bit so that it better reminded me of a cake my dear Mom used to make.

Orange Olive Oil Cake

This recipe originated in the Phoenix magazine, May 2015 but I couldn’t find it online. I’ve converted it to metric and made some alterations.

Makes one 23 cm cake

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 175 g sugar, divided
  • 80 mL EVOO
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Juice of 2 oranges, divided
  • 150 g all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50 mL Grand Marnier
  • Icing sugar for dusting

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F
  2. Spray a 23 cm pan with non-stick spray
  3. Combine the eggs and 150 g sugar and beat until light and smooth.
  4. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and vanilla.
  5. Add all of the zest and 45 mL of the freshly squeezed orange juice and beat until well combined.
  6. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix well.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat only until combined.
  8. Pour into the prepared 23 cm pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick tests clean. Allow to cool.
  9. Meanwhile, combine the remaining juice and sugar and bring to a boil until the sugar has melted into the juice. Cool and add the Grand Marnier.
  10. Turn out the cooled cake onto a decorative plate and slowly spoon the orange juice mixture onto the cake allowing it to be absorbed.
  11. Decorate with icing sugar.

This is a highly flavoured and scented cake that is kept moist by a delicious orangy syrup.

Would you care for a slice?

As you know, we spent just over a month in Arizona again, and our friends house-sat for us. I made these tasty treats for dessert the night before we left, they absolutely loved them. The cornflakes replaced the graham crackers and we didn’t even miss them. I have made these treats a few times since then.

I often get my dessert inspiration from my dear friend Liz, that Skinny Chick Can Bake; this tasty treat came from her but I modified it to be gluten free. Although I’ve never tasted the original version, I can tell you hands down that this one is a real winner! If you like peanut butter and chocolate, give this super easy, tasty treat a go.

Gluten-Free Reese’s Peanut Butter Squares

Makes one 20 cm pan

Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL butter, melted
  • 120 g corn flakes, pulsed to a powder
  • 170 g icing sugar
  • 195 g natural peanut butter
  • 6 g sea salt
  • 190 g semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 15 g butter or vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in the large container of your food processor and process until smooth and comes together.
  2. Press into a 20 cm square pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile add the chocolate chips and butter or vegetable oil to a microwaveable bowl and melt, stirring intermittently.
  4. Cool slightly and pour over chilled peanut butter pan, spread evenly. Refrigerate for an hour before slicing.
  5. Slice with a warm, dry knife, wiping between slices.

The winter light is quite evident here, but don’t allow that to dissuade you, these are very yummy.

The cornflakes add an incredible texture that make these taste just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Tarts, only better!

Notes:

  • I’ve used a variety of natural peanut butters (no sugar or salt) to make these, including crunchy, with no substantial difference to the outcome of this recipe.
  • To make this recipe vegan, try melted coconut oil. Although I have not tried using melted coconut oil, I’m certain it would work because there is not much in the recipe.
  • Once the recipe initially sets, you can bring the bars to room temperature to serve.
  • Try using other nut butters (such as Hazelnuts) to up the ante!

Happy New Year! Hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, spoiling your loved ones! Wishing you a new year filled with joy, good health, good friends and good food! Love from Éva

I do apologize for not being more present with my blogging buddies, but we’ve only just returned from our month-long sojourn in Arizona. We had three sets of dear friends visit us for 5-6 days each during our stay; it was a fun-packed time away, also enjoying our dear friends who currently live in Arizona.

I made this delicious winter stew for friends just before we left for Arizona. It was a perfect way to begin winter. The stew was filled with succulent seafood drenched in a creamy béchamel. And if you’re super hungry, you can eat the bowl, or part of it!

Seafood Stew in Sourdough Bread Bowls

Please click here for the original recipe.

Serves 4-6 depending on size of bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1/2 a sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 8 mini potatoes
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 500 g mixed firm seafood — peeled shrimp, scallops, lobster meat, mussels, calamari or white fish (cubbed)
  • 1 cup shredded flavourful white cheese, like Gruyère and Asiago
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • 4 sourdough bread bowls

Directions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil and sauté the onions until translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes and carrots and sauté until about half-cooked. Add the celery and sauté for about 2-4 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat and add the butter and allow it to melt. Sprinkle the flour into the vegetables and mix well. Cook for a minute or so. Add the dried herbs. Slowly add the milk, stirring to mix into the floured vegetables and bring to a slow simmer, stirring and allowing the mixture to thicken. You may bring this to room temperature and refrigerate until required.
  4. If you have refrigerated the vegetable mixture, simmer on low until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked through. Add the seafood with the longest cooking first (shrimp, scallops, calamari and lastly, mussels). Cook the seafood through.
  5. Add the shredded cheese, mix well and taste for seasoning. Serve piping hot in hollowed out sourdough bread bowls.

Here is that gorgeous winter light again.

Notes:

  • I like to spend as much time with our guests instead of stuck in the kitchen cooking dinner so I try to make as much of the dishes in advance as possible so that my time spent in the kitchen is minimal while we have guests. Because I cooked most of the stew earlier that day, I was able to reheat it and cook the raw seafood quickly without missing too much of the evening.
  • I gently warmed the sourdough bread bowls so that they kept the stew warm a little longer, things cool down so quickly in the winter.
  • I used a mixture of Wild Argentinian Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Mussels, and Chopped Calamari for this dish but white fish would also work beautifully.
  • If the thought of adding cheese to a fish dish offends you, please omit it. The original recipe called for cheddar but I did not wish to add red cheese to discolour the sauce. The cheese adds a nice background flavour with a little body, it’s really not enough to make it stringy.
  • The smooth béchamel flavoured with the tarragon and thyme made a lovely background for the seafood. Our guests loved it, the homemade sourdough bread bowls helped! 😉
  • It’s a really heavy meal, I hollowed out the bread bowls so that there was only about 1 cm of the bowl all around, even so, most of us couldn’t finish it!

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

I have had a love/hate relationship with sour dough starters. We start off loving each other, fully enjoying the dependant relationship but soon after I get bored and lose interest and the poor blob starves to death. Yes, I’ve tried putting it into the fridge to hold but it eventually dries up and I’ve a horrible mess to clean. Sour dough starters and I just don’t work. Until now!

I started this starter about a month ago. My first bread was a flop. The bread I made with it did rise but not much. But I wanted to give the starter another chance so I put it into the fridge to think about its incompetence. Then about a week or so later, I pulled it out of the fridge and within hours it overflowed the jar into a bubbling, beautiful mess! I danced with glee! My starter was alive, and not just alive, it was a living, breathing, blob of natural, yeasty, goo! We will have sour dough bread on the weekend!

As many of you have experienced, it’s not difficult to make a starter, it just takes patience. Finally, I achieved undeniable success! And the bread was awesome!

This is the recipe I used. My version was much shaggier than that in the video, so I might add a bit more flour into the mix next time (I used the weight measurements), but the bread had an awesome chewiness that was extremely moreish, so I may just leave it be. I can’t wait to try this again using an older starter, hopefully it will be a bit more sour. Bottom line is that I loved it!!

No-Knead Sourdough Bread

Makes one 25 cm boule or 4 personal-size sourdough bread bowls. Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 50 g live, bubbling starter
  • 350 g water at about 110F
  • 500 g AP flour
  • 9 g sea salt, finely ground

Directions:

  1. Follow your regular directions to bring your starter to life (if refrigerated), about 2-4 days before you need the bread.
  2. The day before you wish to bake the bread, make the dough by mixing the starter with the water, then slowly add the flour and salt mixing with a wooden spoon and then your hand, until it comes together like a shaggy dough. It will be sticky, very sticky.
  3. Return it to the bowl and cover it with a clean, damp cloth and allow to rise in a warm spot overnight (until it doubles in size).
  4. The next day, scrap the ball onto a lightly floured surface and fold the dough onto itself, a few times, tightening up the boule. Flip the boule onto the folded side and cover with the bowl and allow to rest for about an hour (should rise a bit again but not a whole lot).
  5. About 30 minutes into the rise, preheat the oven to 450 F with a cast iron Dutch oven (including the lid). Keep the Dutch oven in heating up for 20 minutes after the oven has reached 450F
  6. Remove the Dutch oven and sprinkle inside it with cornmeal. Carefully cut the boule across the top. Then gently lift it and carefully roll it into the Dutch oven. Place the lid on and bake for 20 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for 30 minutes until golden. Cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • The covered Dutch oven steams the bread at first, giving it the gorgeous, chewy texture.
  • Make sure the knob on your Dutch oven can handle the high temperature, we had to get a special Le Creuset knob.
  • This has the traditional chewy texture of sourdough bread.

Here’s a little peek of what I served in personal-size sourdough bread bowls!

Ginger Snaps Revisited

This is an old recipe that I’ve made on the blog before, I just wanted to update it using weight measures instead of imperial volume and I also wanted to use fresh ginger instead of the dried powder. If you like the bite of ginger, this one is for you. This day I made them in late October was actually quite lovely and I braved the chill to take this photo on our back deck. Winter is coming!

It has that delicious chewy texture that some ginger snaps might have if they don’t dry out.

Ginger Snaps Revisited

Makes about 36 to 46 cookies, depending on how large you make them\

Ingredients:

  • 75 g butter
  • 115 g brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup black molasses
  • 30 g fresh ginger
  • 280 g you all-purpose flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 5 g baking soda
  • 2 g ground allspice

Directions:

  1. Combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and molasses and heat gently until melted. Set aside.
  2. Grate the fresh ginger and stir into the melted butter mixture.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients and whisk or sift to stir. Make a well in the centre and pour the melted butter mixture into it and mix until all of the flour mixture is incorporated.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Drop the cookie dough by even spoonfuls (I used a large melon baller) onto the lined cookie sheet. Roll each ball in the palm of your hand to create a smooth ball, then press down to flatten with a flour cookie press to about half a centimetre.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I baked mine for 10) and cool on a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container but don’t worry, you won’t have to store them for long.

Bottarga Bucatini

Way back when I began my food styling journey I tagged along with a renowned food stylist’s assistant while she shopped for some recipe development. We purchased many things but the one thing that left an impression was a piece of bottarga that the silly cashier rang in at $4.95 instead of $495! I immediately drew her attention to the misplaced decimal point and she thanked me profusely (the high-end grocery store would have definitely taken the error from her wages!).

And that was the last time I thought about bottarga, until one sleepless night in October while watching Martha Stewart on Create TV. JT and I were intrigued but I had to find the elusive delicacy first without having to put a second mortgage on the house! I ended up on Amazon and found a small jar of grated bottarga for $20 and I was able to stomach that! As one reviewer said, it’s not the best bottarga he’d ever tasted but it’s not the worst either. We definitely liked the dish well enough to invest in a higher quality product the next time.

Bottarga Pasta

Serves 2 main portions or 4 small starters

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic purée
  • 30 mL olive oil
  • 50 g panko
  • sea salt
  • 160 g bucatini pasta
  • 20 g capers, drained
  • 20 g raisins, chopped finely
  • 10 g preserved lemon, chopped finely
  • 250 mL chicken stock
  • juice of one lemon juice
  • 45 g unsalted butter
  • 35 g pine nuts, toasted (see notes)
  • 50 g grated Parmesan cheese, plus Parmesan shavings for serving
  • 30 g grated bottarga, divided

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta until it is almost done but still has quite a bite (it will finish cooking in the sauce). Strain and reserve 125 mL pasta liquid.
  2. Add about 1/2 of the oil to a skillet and toast the panko with about 1/2 of the roasted garlic, set aside.
  3. Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. and add the remaining roasted garlic. Add the capers and raisins and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the preserved lemon, chicken stock, lemon juice, butter, and a pinch of salt and simmer for a minute.
  4. Continue to simmer the liquid and add the pasta, cook, stirring often, until the pasta is al dente, almost 3 minutes; remove from heat and stir in pine nuts, grated Parmesan, and bottarga, toss well.
  5. Garnish with reserved breadcrumb mixture with reserved parmesan and bottarga. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • I didn’t realize I’ve run out of my wonderful Spanish pinenuts until I was well into this recipe. I discovered I had some apricot kernels so I toasted them up and used them instead.
  • There are many simpler recipes for this traditional pasta dish, but I was really intrigued by the addition of the preserved lemon and raisins.
  • I made a small batch of Mark Bittman’s quick preserved lemons but didn’t end up using them for a few days, it still worked out wonderfully. I was disappointed that the recipe called for such a small quanitity.
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