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Archive for June, 2014

At the cottage we like to sit back and relax, put up our feet, read a good novel, scan some trashy magazines and on occasion have been known to enjoy a cocktail or two ;-). Simple is usually what I lean toward because of the effort one needs to make to bring everything up for the weekend. I know I’ve posted a guacamole recipe before (here and here) and even got flak for calling this one mocamole, but I thought I’d share a super simple rustic version made with the ripest avocado for a light snack at the cottage. This recipe has only 5 ingredients and you need only one bowl, a fork and a knife to make it. See, I told you it was simple.

Guacamole2

This dip comes together very quickly; I disappeared for less than five minutes to make it, our guests were surprised I made it from scratch so quickly!

Super Simple Guacamole

Makes about 3/4 to 1 cup of dip but it depends entirely how big your avocado is

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 5 small grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro and a sprig or two for garnish

Directions:

  1. Scoop out the flesh from the avocado, no need to be gentle as you will mash it with a fork.
  2. Mash the avocado with a fork (I told you so).
  3. Add the garlic and the lime juice and mix well.
  4. Fold in the chopped tomatoes and cilantro.
  5. Garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve with celery sticks, cucumber rings, or crackers.
Guacamole

I love that mashing with a fork still leaves you with some lovely, creamy chunks of avocado.

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It was someone’s birthday recently and a very specific request for cake was made: Black Forest Kirschtorte! I haven’t made this cake in quite some time and had forgotten which was my GOTO recipe. So I sat down with my favourite pastry cookbook, Barbara Maher’s Traditional Cakes and Pastries, published by Burlington Books in 1984. Coincidentally, this book was a gift from one of my dearest friends, University Kim (I have two Kim’s so I’ve differentiated this way for years!) she signed it “a friend forever” and she sure is!

I’ve made many successful recipes from this cookbook from the Normandy Apple Tart to Profiteroles (and some that I haven’t even blogged about) and for the most part the recipes were detailed and correct. Not this one.

I usually read through the ingredients to make sure I have everything I need and I skim the directions to make sure I know what I’m doing, which I also did. But when I actually got down to the nitty gritty to make the cake (well into it, to be exact), I noticed that they completely forgot to include the flour in the instructions (actually, in this case it was the almond mix). So I had to improvise and it seems to have worked. The cake is a genoise-style with strong chocolate flavouring from both melted good quality chocolate (I used this one) and cocoa powder. It’s light enough that you don’t squeeze out all the whipped cream when you cut it, but it’s got enough body to hold the drunken cherries. All in all, quite a tasty recipe and it’s Gluten Free! I stabilized the whipped cream so that it lasts a few days, otherwise it will just make the cake soggy.

I cut the recipe down to 1/3 size because we didn’t want a large cake and I added the cocoa powder because we like chocolate and removed flour and bread crumbs ingredients, you can definitely check the original recipe on page 93 in her cookbook. The recipe is a bit different that what you might be used to in North America as the cinnamon really flavours the chocolate beautifully, if you’re not a fan, leave it out!

BlackForestCake_3147

A deliciously boozy cake

Black Forest Kirschtorte

Original recipe by Barbara Maher’s Traditional Cakes and Pastries, published by Burlington Books in 1984.

Makes one small cake, about 2 cups of batter. Serves 4-7 people.

Ingredients for the cake:

  • 42 g ground almonds (not blanched, coarsely ground)
  • 1/3 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 tsp ground cloves
  • 10 mL kirsch
  • 47 g caster sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 2 tbsp crême fraiche or sour cream
  • 33 g good quality chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 2 egg whites

Directions for the cake:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 350° F (180° C).
  2. Prepare your pan by coating all over with butter and dredge with sugar.
  3. Combine the almonds, cinnamon, cloves and moisten with kirsch.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, combine the sugar and egg yolks and beat until thick, creamy and pale in colour. Add the orange extract, melted chocolate, crême fraiche and lastly the cocoa powder and mix well.
  6. Fold in the beaten egg whites.
  7. Pour evenly into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the cake has shrunken for the sides a little bit.
  8. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then turn out to a cooling rack.

Ingredients for the cherry syrup and whipped cream:

  • about 20 fresh cherries with stems and pits (around 330 g or 3/4 lb). Reserve 7 cherries for decoration, set aside.
  • 33 g (1 oz) granulated sugar
  • 85 mL (3 oz) red wine
  • 85 mL (3 oz) water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 30 mL (5 oz) kirsch
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream (35%)
  • 1 tsp gelatin

Directions the cherry syrup and whipped cream:

  1. While the cake is baking wash, pit and stem the cherries; cut them in half.
  2. In a small sauce pan add the sugar, red wine, water, cinnamon stick. Simmer for 20 minutes, add the halved cherries and poach lightly for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the cherries and allow to drain into a dish. To thicken the syrup, bring to a boil and cook down for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. Remove the cinnamon stick and add the kirsch, stir well.
  4. Soften the gelatin in a very little bit of water (2 tbsp) set aside while you whip cream.
  5. In a very cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form, add the softened gelatin and whip to combine evenly.

Directions to decorate the cake:

  1. Cut the cooled cake in half. Drizzle the cherry syrup onto the bottom and top layers and allow to absorb. Spread an even layer of whipped cream and dot with poached cherries. Add a bit more whipped cream on top.
  2. Place the top layer down on the bottom layer and drizzle with the cherry syrup (reserve some syrup and poached cherries for serving). Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and decorate with the seven cherries that were reserved at the onset.
  3. Serve with cherry syrup drizzled on the plate and some of the reserved cherries.
Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!

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I’ve been busy :-). You already know that I’m writing social media content for a marketing company’s food related client(s) and now they’ve up’d the ante and put me on contract to write for them, every month until September! Plus last week they’ve scored yet another food related client! YAY! I’m totally loving it, but it means even less time for blogging, boo. These days my mind is filled with possible posts and brand related photography for their posts and not mine…and then last week my recipe testing gig also started up again and I’ve been working hard at testing recipes for my recipe developer client. But I’m not complaining, just letting you know that I may not be by to comment on every post you make but I do read them (in the middle of the night) so know that I’m out there thinking of you ;-).

And my food styling is still going on, last week I actually styled (not assisted) for a shoot for my old (boss, friend, neighbour, Kim) and it was fantastic! Here’s a photo of the photographer and Kim as we wait for an approval for the shot from the client (not at the shoot).

Waiting for approval.

Waiting for approval.

Temperatures in Toronto and the cottage have been on the cooler side but it’s been incredibly humid; for example one day last week we had 98% humidity! That’s what we call close, one would comment that “it feels very close today.” I’m still not complaining because it’s not -25C and it’s not snowing…yet. But it does feel close!

We had a friend over for dinner and I wanted a refreshing starter for our dinner so I came up with this tasty soup. I know I’ve already posted about a chilled melon, kiwi and prosciutto soupbefore but this one is different. For vegetarians, I suggest you use feta instead of prosciutto for the saltiness.

HoneydewSoup_3058

Chilled Honeydew Melon Soup with Crême Fraiche and Prosciutto and frozen melon balls

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 800 g honeydew melon
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 75 g cucumber
  • Mint to taste
  • 1 large basil leaf
  • 3 tsp Crême fraiche
  • Frozen melon balls
  • 1 slice prosciutto, crispy fried

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients except the crême fraiche, frozen melon balls and prosciutto into your blender or immersion blender container and process until smooth.
  2. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  3. Make tiny little melon balls with a very small melon baller like this. Place on a piece of parchment and freeze for several hours.
  4. Garnish with frozen melon balls and crumbled crispy fried prosciutto or crumbled feta.

Notes:

  • Our melon was very sweet so we didn’t need to sweeten it further, but you may use honey to taste.
  • Vegetarians should replace the prosciutto with a very salty feta to get a similar profile.
  • Vegans could get a similar profile replacing the prosciutto with chopped sun-dried olives.
  • The frozen Mellon balls were made with this tiny melon baller

HoneydewSoup_3054

 

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Hello lovely readers! I hope you enjoyed last month, I’m finding it a little difficult to believe the month of May sped by so quickly. I don’t even want to think about June yet but here we are. My dear friend Genie, over at Bunny, Eats, Design created a monthly event called Our Growing Edge  to help showcase some out of the box recipes or recipes we’ve always wanted to try but never did. Suffice it to say that participation last month was excellent and we had 19 entries and some people even posted twice! Now that puts me to even more shame because I missed the deadline so this post is strictly a hosting of this event! Congratulations to you for trying something new and different and sharing it with us in Our Growing Edge.

Allow me to introduce our lovely contributors to May’s Growing Edge. (May I remind you to add the Our Growing Edge logo to your post and link back to my blog, your host this month, please  see Rules here).

 

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First off, my name is Eva and I’m a Canadian woman who started blogging shortly after we began a 100 square feet (9.3 metres squared) addition/renovation to our craftsman-style kitchen in Toronto, Ontario because I wanted to document the proceedings. As it turned out, the blog was more of a venting place because, like any major renovation, we had some issues. At the end of the project I enjoyed blogging so much that I continued to blog with the perfect segway into Kitchen Inspirations. That was over seven years ago, 700+ posts in 58 categories and a gazillion photos. These days I’m working in the food industry as a Food Stylist (assistant) and creating social media content for food related clients! It’s all good as they say.

Starting off our May roundup is our Growing Edge’s esteemed creator, Genie who  is “a graphic designer obsessed with food and bunnies”! Bunny, Eats, Design contains some extraordinarily adorable photos of her bunny, Tofu,  some really cool bunny designs and of course, delicious food. For this edition of Our Growing Edge Genie tackles Tzatziki Sauce which made me change my dinner plans and make souvlaki when I saw the post. Thanks Genie.

Next up we have Pang from Circa Happy; Pang grew up in Thailand but is now living in San Francisco with her husband. Pang began blogging because she was fascinated with some lovely blogs and thought it might be a wonderful place to document her experience of learning new things in the kitchen. Pang brings to us a beautifully photographed Raspberry Jam recipe that made me lick my lips when I scrolled through her gorgeous post. Thank you Pang.

Dana at I’ve got Cake brings her blog to us because she “truly believe<s> that like Cake & Ice-cream, good Food & great Style should go hand in hand”, the blog is where we join Dana in her journey to learn as much as she can and enjoy at the same time. Shellfish Ragout on a Bed of Spinach is Dana’s entry to this month’s edition and boy does it look delicious. Thanks Dana for the detailed step by step, it sure makes this recipe very approachable.

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream and Avocado Rice are two of Sudha’s posts for us this month. Sudha is a scientist by day and culinary explorer by night on her delicious blog called Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous. Sudha’s exploring cooking with “ingredients break barriers and come together in a synchronized serendipitous scrumptious manner” Thanks so much Sudha for your two submissions!

Who doesn’t take notice when you see a heading like Chocolate Dinner Party? Audrey knew what she was doing with that headline that’s for sure — afterall, she is an English teacher by day! Born in Malaysia and now living in New Zealand, Audrey writes about recipes, food ideas and places to eat, all while managing her ‘bubs’ on her lovely blog called Rice and Kai. You can certainly tell this lady likes her chocolate, thank you Audrey.

After all that chocolate, I had to inject a little healthy into it with some Sprouted Buckwheat Muesli from the lovely Ashley (Ash) on Organic Ash. Ash’s blog is her ‘soap box’ on which she shares and hopes to start discussions that are important to her. Thank you for the lovely, health conscious recipe.

Jing, over at Daily EZ Cooking also generously submitted not one, but TWO posts for this edition, thank you Jing. The Pot stewed beef liver is something I’ve always wanted to cook at home, only ever having similar dishes in restaurants. And the Steamed Eggs look like they could well be a staple for a quick yet satisfying meal. Your step by step recipes will certainly make that easy.

Eggs Florentine from My Utensil Crock is a full-time attorney’s blog documenting healthy foods that don’t taste like health food; her blog is a beautiful collection of nicely lit photos that look very delicious. The Eggs Florentine would make a fabulous brunch for the coming weekend, don’t you think? Thank you MUC for your submission.

Nom Nom Panda made Homemade Eggettes which look suspiciously similar to Ebelskivers! Nom Nom takes us through the history and the process while she experiments and kindly shows us what it’s not supposed to look like too. Thanks Nom Nom Panda for the photos of the pans too, it’s very helpful for those who want to find it in their country.

Maddy over at Nourish Full is an inspiring young person on a journey back to health through healthy living and eating. For this month’s installment of Our Growing Edge Maddy made an irresistible Forbidden Rice Butternut Squash Risotto that just looks so good you have to pinch yourself that it’s still so healthy!

Bashful Bao‘s Anna whipped up a luxuriously creamy vanilla bean pudding with her Netherland Dwarf rabbit Isadora (Izzy) (not sure if Izzy was involved but anytime you can insert a bunny into a blog is a good thing!) Though bashful, Anna posts delicious recipes regularly so it’s not surprising this pudding sounds and looks so good!

I knew I would instantly like Chandler at the International Poor Chef School because her blog url is The Chef with Red Shoes! How cute is that? Chandler, you’ll notice that some of my followers are really into shoes (like me) so you’ll feel right at home here. I love her Kitchen Hacks section where she shares her tried and true tips and tricks in the kitchen. Chandler’s submission is a delicious Malfati recipe which she garnishes with a gorgeous (and simple) crimini (or cremini) mushroom sauce, a perfect accompaniment.

Then off we go to Auckland to visit Carine at Sweet as Honey, a French wife and mother of two who recently had to reinvent herself with less sugar! We’ll just say she was already sweet enough! Carine made beautiful Sugar-Free Apricot Pistachio Bars that look so yummy, you’d never guess that there is no sugar in them!

I’m sure you’ll be as surprised as I was when you read Lindsey’s recipe in Sneaks and Sweets, yes indeed, that’s avocado in a mint-chocolate cookie! I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that Lindsey will always choose a dessert over a vegetable and apparently is a ‘bottomless pit’ when it comes to her favourite eats! We can all relate to that. Check out Lindsey’s gorgeous and healthy recipe here.

Meet D from D’s Bistro; Di considers herself a traveling food lover, who has no intentions to teach us how to cook, she just wants to share her delicious recipes! Speaking of which, check out this incredible Arugula Salad with Drunken Poached  Pears and Goats Cheese, Arugula, goats cheese and what? Drunken Poached Pears? Wow.

Oven & Apron‘s Amanda dishes up a beautiful Almond Pavlova for this month’s Our Growing Edge. Amanda documents recipes that are both sweet and savoury with a “comfortable home-y feel” but this Pavlova definitely screams celebration! Amanda is embarking on a new beginning so please join me in wishing Amanda all the best in finding her dream job that “embraces her creative side”! Good luck Amanda.

And last but not least please check out Carissa’s Pretty/Hungry Blog where she made a gorgeous and delicious Vegan Alfredo! Carissa makes healthy, delicious and beautiful food on her pretty blog. Her alfredo sauce is silky and creamy and uses almonds which is genius!

Thanks again to you all for these gorgeous and delicious entries to May’s Our Growing Edge. I hope you discover someone or something new and give it a try.

Our host next month is Phuong from My Kitchen of Love please click on over here to post your entry and don’t forget to include the Our Growing Edge logo and a link to the host’s blog. Thanks again.

 

 

 

 

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These days life goes like this
Wake up, check that off of some list
Gotta be a little something more than this
The bottom of my coffee cup.**lyrics from Bon Jovi’s Summertime

We’ve talked about lists before (here and here), it’s nothing new and as I was compiling yet another list I started to wonder how many lists I’ve made over the years. I usually start a templated list if I find myself creating the same list more than twice, or if I do the same stupid thing twice, or …

At the risk if sounding a little crazy (ok, maybe a bit more than a little!) I thought I’d share a few more lists I keep (don’t worry, it’ll just be the titles, not the entire list!)

Books that I’ve read (title and author): I started this list about 27 years ago after a couple of times I had purchased the same book twice because they had changed the cover graphic and I thought it was a new novel from that author (soooo annoying)! I wish I had done the same for movies (I tend to block out the ones that sucked and for some reason we keep wanting to watch them).

Menus for dinner parties: again, this list goes back 20 years, started it so I wouldn’t duplicate meals for the same guests. I used to keep this list in a notebook but about five years ago have switched over to electronic lists in my Notes/Reminders on my iPhone.

Preferences or allergies of my friends and family: This is really a no-brainer because it keeps things simple and you won’t poison one of your friends.

Work outfits: I started this list for my very first full-time job so I wouldn’t wear the same thing twice in a week; the list took a hiatus for about fifteen years (read, I got bored) but I’ve recently started it again because my memory isn’t as good as it used to be.

General household measurements, like table sizes for table cloths, window sizes etc.

General shopping lists for standard items, for example  I keep a list of everything I buy at Costco and then I need only to check off the things I need on that trip.

Wish lists, we always seem to come up blank when we ask each other what we’d like for Christmas, but I know darn well we had a bunch of things in mind over the year.

My favourite restaurants: from time to time I am asked where to eat out in TO so instead of reinventing the wheel, I keep a running list that I review every so often and that way I just copy and paste that list into an email.

My shopping routes in NYC, Chicago and Paris: I know that sounds pretentious but we don’t go that often that I sometimes forget about that little tucked away place (kitchen gadget store), plus it’s handy if I get asked.

Travel wardrobes: This is a list of outfits I put together for various holidays, it’s handy if we go to the same place at the same time of year, I start with that list and amend as necessary. This list also helps me remember all the accessories needed for specific outfits (I’ve forgotten a belt or scarf before and that just makes me annoyed because I refuse to buy something I already have a perfectly good one at home). It also helps me maximize the clothes by coordinating pieces to make more than one outfit. Somehow I always end up tossing in a few extra things just in case (never can have too many shoes, Kristy!)

General ideas: in the old days I’d keep a pad and paper beside my bedside just in case I come up with something great in the middle of the night, now it’s in my iPhone.

Christmas Baking: I like to change it up a bit year to year and a year is a year!

Christmas cards: to whom I sent and from whom I received.

Cottage menus: but you already know that: I found a Meal a Plan app that I’m trying out, it stores recipes and pantry items (including inventory), you create a meal plan calendar and it pulls your shopping list for you. Once I’ve used it a few more times, I’ll do a review.

Blog post ideas: self explanatory.

So you see, I’ve designed my list keeping in a way that will save me time and headaches for things I do often! And there is one more list for this post: the ingredient list for this tasty recipe. This recipe just happened one morning at the cottage when I didn’t just feel like a plain poached egg on toast. Combining the rich avocado and setting it off with the sweet watermelon really worked; I also added a drizzle of balsamic just to make things interesting.

Do you make lists to help keep you organized or because you have a bad memory? Share what you make a lists of in the comments, it may help someone organize a bit better.

PoachedEgg_2791

A surprisingly tasty combination of flavours!

Watermelon, Avocado, Tomatoes and a Perfectly Poached Egg on Arugula

Makes enough for lunch for two

Ingredients:

  • handful or two of arugula, washed and dried
  • 2 slices watermelon, cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 4 compari tomatoes, cut into quartered
  • 2 eggs, poached perfectly
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. On each of two plates, place a handful of arugula, casually top with cubed watermelon, sliced avocado, quartered tomatoes and one perfectly poached egg.
  2. Combine balsamic, EVOO, Dijon and salt and pepper (be careful though, the Dijon has a lot of salt in it already) and whisk. Drizzle over each salad evenly.

The runny yolk adds to the richness of the dressing, that’s why the dressing is just drizzled and not tossed!

 

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