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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

VeganTruffles_4256

Do not be fooled that these are Vegan, they are surprisingly, incredibly truffle-like.

This is the last of the vegan recipe series that I’m doing for the time being. It was a great experience to cook this way and I’m very happy to have been able to document it. Cooking vegan is not nearly as difficult as I originally thought and like most everything, it’s not always healthy. If I were to be serious about this type of cooking, I would definitely research different types of fats to use because I really did not like the vegan margarine one bit. The blog resource I found is excellent and I would definitely recommend it to anyone cooking vegan.

I have definitely left the best for last, these vegan truffles are the pièce de résistance!

VeganTruffles_4257

Incredibly creamy truffles, just as they should be.

Vegan Truffles

Makes about 3-5 dozen, depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Belgian chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1 tbsp margarine or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp espresso powder + 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Espresso powder and icing sugar for rolling in

Directions:

  1. Combine chocolate, coconut milk and margarine in a saucepan and heat until chocolate has melted and mixture is thick. Divide into two portions, about the same volume. Add your choice of flavourings to each portion.
  2. Pour into a bowl , cover with plastic wrap and set in refrigerator overnight (I actually had mine sit a couple of days and it was fine).
  3. Using a melon baller, sprayed with oil or vegan butter,  shape into spheres. Roll into your favourite topping. Store in the refrigerator.

I was completely floored by how authentic these truffles tasted.The coconut flavour was quite subtle, if any and what it brought to the table was total creaminess. I would make these again, even for non-vegans. I think this recipe is totally a keeper and I hope you like it too. These truffles act much the same way as real, cream version truffles so you need not worry about them melting into a puddle.

VeganTruffles_4260

Indeed, they are as creamy as they look.

 

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Dope Pie is my version of Crack Pie that I made and posted at the end of September. It was unhealthy to say the least so I had an idea to make it slightly healthier and I was successful. I’ve been making these blondies since the beginning of time and the crack pie made me think of them as soon as I tasted the first bite, so with a few alterations I came up with this.

DopePie_2

It’s really just a blondie pie.

Ingredients for Crust:

  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp water

Directions for Crust:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 177° C (350°F).
  2. In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, almonds and lemon zest and pulse until mixed well.
  3. Drop in the butter bit by bit and pulse until small crumbs form.
  4. Drop in the egg yolk and vanilla and pulse until combined. Add the water in a steady stream while pulsing and mix until the dough forms a ball.
  5. Roll out dough to fit a 25 cm or 10 inch spring form tart pan. Blind bake for about 15 minutes, flattening any bubbles as they come up.

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • ¾ cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions for the Filling:

  1. Lower oven temperature to 150ºC (300ºF).
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside
  3. Melt butter and brown sugar over low heat. Remove from heat.
  4. Add slightly beaten egg, be careful not to cook the egg, make sure the mixture is not too hot.
  5. Blend in dry ingredients.
  6. Pour into the partially baked crust and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes or until it has set and the top cracks a bit.
This is slightly healthier than the original recipe.

This is slightly healthier than the original recipe.

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I have a fatalistic attitude about life, everything happens for a reason, it’s not luck, it was meant to happen that way. During the Second World War in Budapest, my grandmother, Mom and Mom’s older sister were going to spend a lazy Sunday morning at home instead of going to church, when at the last minute, my grandmother decided that they would go and they scrambled out the door. Hours later they returned to find that their apartment building had been levelled by a bomb and they were spared. Fate: just not their time. During that same war, my grandmother had made arrangements to take the girls by train to the countryside to visit her sisters. They were all packed, on their way and just as they approached the platform my grandmother stopped in her tracks and announced that they would not go and they turned back to their apartment. Later that day that train was also a casualty of the war and everyone parished. Fate: again it just wasn’t their time.
Years ago, my little brother begged and begged my parents to get a Citizen Band Radio, they finally relented my brother set up his ‘base’. I dabbled with it from time to time and I ended up speaking to a lovely young man who’s handle was Blue Magic. Yup, you guessed it, that was JT. Fate: we were meant to meet and be together.
Do you remember that about a month or so ago my dear friend Angela (the lovely lady who puts on those fab themed dinner parties) invited me to a Steven & Chris show? Well, last week I actually worked, food styled for that very show! Yes indeed! (do you see it? It’s Fate). It’s for an upcoming show so I’ll link to it when it airs. I cooked sticky Asian spiced sticky ribs, twice baked stuffed potatoes and some chocolate squares. I also got to meet Steven & Chris! Steven actually recognized me from when I was I in the audience! Can you believe it? They tape two shows per day with about 100 people in the audience for each show! He gave me a big hug. It was an amazing experience and I’m so happy to tell you that the guys are sweet and kind, the crew is professional, courteous and super friendly. I left my cards all around so I’m hoping I’ll be called again.

A few months ago, my niece Laura passed the Bar and became a lawyer, the first in our family! We are all so proud of her. We invited them (Laura and beau) over for a celebration dinner and she asked that I cook WW friendly. Dessert can be challenging so when I saw Sissi’s fabulous plum tart recipe, I knew it was going to be the celebration dessert. Plus, I was able to get wonderful blue plums at a Farmers Market on the way home from the cottage (you see that that is fate too, didn’t you?). Thank you Sissi, I served it with sweetened Greek yogurt and it was delicious and beautiful too.

 

Plum Tart

Makes 1 tart about 20 cm or 8 inches in diametre.

PlumTart_3

These are delicious locally grown plums.

Ingredients:

  • 450 g blue plums
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3 tbsp oatmeal
  • 3 Phyllo pastry sheets
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp slivered almonds

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C or 350°F
  2. Prepare a small 20 cm or 8 inch spring form pan by placing a circle of parchment on the bottom that comes up over the sides. Brush parchment with olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Cut each plum in half and remove the stone. Continue until all the plums are done.
  4. Lay all three phyllo sheets in front of you. Brush the top one with the melted butter. Fold in each corner into the centre and then fold in between each corner to make a circle.Repeat brushing and folding the other two sheets around the first one.
  5. Lay the phyllo bundle into the bottom of the spring form pan so the sides come up about 2.5cm or 1 inch. It should be crinkly, it’s prettier that way.
  6. Sprinkle half of the sugar and the oatmeal on the pastry bottom. Begin to lay the plums in a circular fashion. When complete, sprinkle with remain sugar.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until plums a fork tender. If the sides are baking too quickly, cover sides with foil.
  8. Sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top.
PlumTart_2

The pastry crisps up very nicely.

PlumTart_1

It’s quite a lovely treat.

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.45.19 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 8.47.18 PM

Notes:

  • I added the oatmeal to help absorb any liquid the plums might release during baking.
  • As Sissi mentioned, you may increase or decrease the sugar to your taste.
  • This tart would be gorgeous using any stone fruit like nectarines or even sliced peaches.
  • I’m excited to try a savoury version next.

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CrackPie_Blog1

I forgot to take powdered sugar to the cottage to decorate the top.

It’s not what you think. At the very least, it’s not the crack that Toronto has become famous for (didn’t you know?). It’s the other crack that Chef David Chang and Christina Tosi’s Milkbar in NYC that has this crack elevated to the highest of honors, it’s Crack Pie. If you have never heard of Crack Pie, it’s a decadent combination of butter, sugars (brown and white), eggs and oats. It’s incredibly rich and moreish. But I warn you, a slice of this pie will cost you dearly (and I’m not even going to talk about the $44 price tag for whole pie sold at Milkbar in NYC). Is it worth it? The calories and the time to make it? I’ll let you be the judge. If you ask me if I’ll make it again, I’m going to say probably not. It’s not that it wasn’t good, that it was, but there are a lot of other desserts that are equally as good without being as caloric (Bon Appetite’s recipe details the nutritional facts as: 1 slice (a pie serves 12 people) 350.8 Calories,  53.8 g Fat (21.0 g Saturated Fat)). Some of my dear readers will swoon over this recipe and some will be appalled because it’s not something that generally fits into this blog. To those who are appalled I apologize, it’s not often I make something so outlandishly bad for you. To those who swoon, tread lightly, it is as dangerous as the illegal kind (crack, that is!)

I cannot take credit for this pie on my radar because it was my dear fellow blogger Lorraine, over at Not Quite Nigella who introduced me to it in June last year. It was part of the Daring Bakers Challenge (I do not participate) but I saw it pop up all over the place in the blogs I follow. I filed this recipe in a spot I file many recipes that are not as healthy, most likely never to be made, but we were at a fund raiser for one of the Photographer’s wives who was doing a hike to Machu Picchu to raise money for breast cancer research and awareness and one of the food stylists made Crack Pie (she made it in a slab and cut it into tiny squares). I knew I had to try it. JT loved it, so when we had my nephew over for dinner in late August, I took the plunge and made it.

CrackPie_Blog2

If I had to describe this pie, it’s like a decadent blondie.

Momofuku’s Crack Pie

Makes 1 pie about 25 cm diameter

Ingredients for Oat Cookie Crust:

  • 9 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature, divided (6 & 3 tbsp)
  • 5 1/2 tbsp packed light brown sugar, divided (4 & 1½ tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions for oatmeal cookie crust:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F (180° C). Line a 13″ x 9″ sheet with parchment and spray lightly with cooking spray.
  2. Using a mixer, beat  6 tbsp butter with 4 tbsp brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes).
  3. Add the egg and beat again until pale and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  4. Fold in the oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and stir until well blended.
  5. Turn out the oat mixture into prepared baking pan and press out evenly to edges of pan or close enough.
  6. Bake until lightly golden about 18 minutes.
  7. Lift parchment with cookie onto a wire rack and cool completely, about an hour.
  8. Once cool, crumble the cookie into a large bowl and add the remaining 3 tbsp (45 gm) butter and 1-1/2 tbsp brown sugar and mix well until the mixture is moist and will stick together when pressed between your fingers (think graham cracker crust).
  9. Pour the cookie crust mixture to a 25 cm spring-form pan and press into the bottom and sides using your fingers and/or anything that will press it firmly. Set aside.

Ingredients for filling:

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp dry milk powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tbsp table cream (recipe called for whipping cream but I had table cream on hand so I used it instead)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • (Powdered sugar for dusting) – I forgot

Directions for filling:

  1. Preheat to  350° F (180° C). Spray a 25 cm spring-form pan with baking spray.
  2. Whisk sugars, milk powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and add melted butter and whisk until blended.
  3. Add the cream, egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour the filling into the crust.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes (filling might bubble up) then reduce oven temperature to 325° F (160°C) and continue to bake until filling is golden on top and set around edges (20 minutes longer).
  6. Cool pie completely on a wire rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Carefully glide a knife around the edges to loosen and remove the sides of the spring-form pan and slide the sides off. Position on a serving plate.
  7. Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into thin wedges. Serve cold with a drizzle of caramel and a dollop of whipped cream.
CrackPie_Blog3

Would you like some crack with that?

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Thank you all for your generous and kind comments, I may just take you up on your lovely offers to be my assistant!

Last week we went out for dinner in our hood to Bloom, a really great restaurant serving what they call “Nuevo Latino Cuisine”.  Every second Thursday they feature live jazz musicians and as luck would have it, we usually choose the off Thursday, as was the case last week. There is nothing I enjoy more than live music during dinner, particularly in a venue whose patrons appreciate the talent and don’t make noise over the performance, so to say I was disappointed would have been an understatement. But our evening ended up being even more exciting than I expected because as soon as we walked in I noticed a gentleman with an uncanny resemblance to Tiggy from the remarkably successful HBO series called Sons of Anarchy (I bin-watched all six seasons in a very short month)! As soon as we were seated we googled the show and it turns out that it WAS Kim Coates from the famous show! Imagine my excitement. I’m fairly conservative about approaching famous people so I was not about to intrude on his dinner. We had a lovely meal (which I will review next time we go when I don’t forget to take photos) as did Kim Coates and I persevered not to disturb him. Unfortunately the table next to our’s heard me ask the waiter if he was indeed Kim Coates and they approached him for photos. He was extremely generous and kind and took several photos and chatted with them. JT decided it was our turn (he doesn’t watch the show but knows how much I enjoy it) and Kim very kindly came over to our table for photos and a chat. He is Canadian (born in Saskatoon) and is an actual rider (coincidentally one of the few of the cast who didn’t need to be taught how to ride a hog!) It was very exciting and I was instantly taken back at his generosity with his precious personal time. I do, however regret not apologizing to his dinner partner for usurping his guest. So that’s my brush with fame in Bloor West Village.

For those of you in "The Know" that's a photo of Tiggy and I!

For those of you in “The Know” that’s a photo of Tiggy and I!

Mmmm. Peaches.

Mmmm. Peaches.

 

Onto the recipe. Today I’m sharing not so much a recipe but more of a serving suggestion for Ontario Peaches (of course, you may use any old peaches, but we’re pretty pumped here in Ontario because Peaches are in season right now)! We’ve grilled them for a little contrast in hot and cold and of course, texture. Plus it looks and sounds cool! The Ricotta is delicately flavoured with some lemon zest, a little icing sugar and a pinch of pure vanilla extract (though, not enough to discolour it). I made it for my GF BFF and she said it reminded her of German Cheese Cake! I left the peach skin on and it softened up beautifully with the grilling. The dish was sweet enough, but I wanted a little pizzaz for plating so I made a simple caramel sauce and I toasted a few walnuts and coated them with some Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar that my dear friend Kristy (from Eat, Play, Love, Our Family Food Adventures) gave me last year when we met in Toronto. All in all, the dish is a winner and will be served again this summer before the peaches are out of season.

This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.

This is not a well styled photo. I took it rushed just before I served it.

Grilled Ontario Peaches with Lightly Sweetened, Lemon-zest Scented Ricotta

An original Kitcheninspirations recipe

Serves 4-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 250 mL ricotta cheese
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Caramel Sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1 tbsp chocolate balsamic vinegar
  • finely sliced mint

Directions:

  1. Heat grill to 450°F. Cut peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay face up on a baking sheet and sprinkle gently with cinnamon (you may also bake the peaches at 450°F for about 10-15 minutes or try broiling them, but I have not experimented with this). Grill cut side first for about 2-4 minutes and flip for another minute or so. Set aside.
  2. Combine ricotta cheese with the icing sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and mix well. Taste and adjust as required.
  3. Serve 1-2 peach halves per plate. Cut peaches into thin-ish slices and lay in a semi-circle on the plate. Add a quenelle or scoop of the ricotta in the centre of the plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce, finely sliced mint and walnuts. Serve immediately.
Grilled Peach_3585

Can you just taste them?

GrilledPeaches_3591

A wonderful combination of flavours.

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The tart lime custard is a lovely contrast to the sweet blueberries.

It’s our 28th wedding anniversary. Yes, I was a child bride! We celebrated at the cottage, hence the slight delay in this post. We actually married on the Holiday Monday of the Victoria Day long weekend (today) because we didn’t want to wait a year for the reception hall. One place I called had a 3-year waiting list! Can you imagine waiting 3-years for a reception hall? How long did you have to wait? We also didn’t want to pay a king’s ransom for our wedding and the holiday Monday was less expensive than a Friday or Saturday; it meant that we had funds to put a down payment on our first home. What’s the most expensive wedding you attended? About 20 years ago we went to a wedding that was over $40,000!

We didn’t have a traditional wedding cake for our wedding either because neither JT nor I like fruitcake, so we had Black Forest cake but I definitely could have enjoyed these shaker lime tarts instead. The tarts are a cross between a curd and a custard and they are plenty tart, which both JT and I adore. I made these last week when a friend dropped by to deliver his FILs pickled herring so I naturally invited him for dinner. I was inspired by fellow Torontonian blogger Ilan’s Iron Whisk recipe here but I didn’t make his recipe because I thought the Sweetened Evaporated Milk would make it way too sweet for our taste, so I adapted my old favourite Martha Stewart recipe that I first posted here. Both the filling and pastry components come together very quickly and it sure was tasty with the fresh blueberries on top.

Shaker Lime Tarts with Blueberries

Makes 4 small tarts (about 10 cm or 4 inches in diametre)

Ingredients:

  • 3 limes (I used ordinary limes but you can use Key Limes instead, you’ll need about 8)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 batch of Viennese Pastry (recipe below)

Directions:

  1. Zest the limes entirely into a non reactive bowl (glass works) and reserve about 1 tsp for the pastry. Cut limes crosswise into paper-thin rounds using a mandoline or a very sharp knife; discard ends and seeds.
  2. Place lime slices and any juice that you can collect into non reactive bowl with the zest and cover with sugar; toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature overnight.
  3. Divide the pastry into four equal balls. With the heel of your hand, flatten out the balls into a small disk. Place the disks into the centre of a spring form tart pan and press out to the edges with your fingers. Roll the top to get a nice scalloped edge.
  4. Place the tart pans on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 450° F (232° C) with rack in lower third.
  6. Pour the sugar and lime mixture through a fine sieve, pressing the lime slices to get every drop.
  7. Add the lightly beaten eggs to lime mixture and stir well to combine.
  8. Divide the lime liquid among the refrigerated tart shells.
  9. Bake tarts on parchment covered baking sheet for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F (177° C) and bake until filling is set and beginning to look golden, about 15 minutes.
  10. Allow to cool on sheet on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Remove tarts from pans, and allow to cool completely on wire racks.
  11. Top in a even pattern of blueberries.

Viennese Pastry

Originally from the Five Roses Flour Cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg yolk at room temperature
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp reserved lime zest

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients except the egg yolk and vanilla, process until the butter is incorporated and it resembles coarse corn meal.
  2. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and process until it becomes a ball. If it is very soft, you may want to refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  3. Follow directions above for use in the lime tarts.

Notes:

  • You may coat this with a neutral glaze but I didn’t.
  • You may also garnish the plate with a simple blueberry coulis. Purée fresh or frozen blueberries and pressing through a fine sieve. Add a bit of water or your favourite booze to loosen to make a rich paste.
20140519-084442-31482191.jpg

Very tasty.

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This winter we had a lot of snow. And by a lot, I’m talking over a metre (yard) high piled up on our front yard. It’s been really crazy. I’ve talked about our wonderful neighbours before and I just have to say something again. It snowed about 10cm (4 inches) overnight and by the time we had gotten up the next morning, our wonderful neighbour John had shoveled our sidewalk, all 59 feet of it and even some of our other neighbour’s sidewalk too! Isn’t that nice? As a thank you I made a batch of biscotti, a little different than this version I made last year to give them after all, I wouldn’t want to discourage such neighborly behavior!

Almond, Cranberry and Orange Biscotti

Makes about 4 dozen little cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unbleached AP Flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup toasted almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1 lightly beaten egg white
  • Plus a small amount of dark chocolate, melted with a little butter (just enough to drizzle).

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C.
    2. Toast the whole almonds on a baking sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool completely.
    3. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and nuts in a medium-sized bowl.
    4. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract and almond extract ; stir the wet ingredients into the flour/nut mixture and combine until a sticky dough forms.
    5. Transfer to a floured surface and form the dough into two narrow logs about 30 cm or 12 inches long.
    6. Place the logs onto an ungreased baking sheet and brush with the beaten egg whites.
    7. Bake for about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 6 minutes and then slice into 1 cm or 0.5 inch thick diagonal slices. Return slices to the cookie sheet and bake again for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool.

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