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Archive for the ‘Desserts’ Category

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.
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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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    Flash back to November 2013, please recall our Indian extravaganza thank you dinner I made for our very generous neighbours. As you know, I’m not a huge fan of Indian desserts (remember this one?) so when I planned the dinner party I knew right away that I wanted to make a version of Chai Crème Brûlée. Sadly it’s winter in these parts which means it gets dark anywhere from 4:30, so I wasn’t able to take a decent photo until I was able to remake this tasty dessert and shoot it in daylight!

    Chai flavours really come out in this creamy crème brûlée

    I served with two spoons so you can have a taste too!

    Chai Crème Brûlé

    Serves 1 (slightly more than 1/2 cup serving); just multiply by the number of people you need to feed to get your amounts

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup of whole milk or cream per person
    • 1.5-2 tsp sugar per person
    • 1 black tea bag
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 2 star anise
    • 3 green cardamon pods, smashed gently.
    • 1 egg yolk per person
    • 1-2 tbsp per person of sugar to brûlée

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 135°C or 275°F.
    2. Infuse the milk with the Chai spices: combine milk or cream, sugar, black tea bag, cinnamon stick, star anise and cardamon in a small pot and heat until just under boiling, simmer for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool with a lid on the pot (or refrigerate overnight, which is what I did). Strain to remove all the bits, discard strained pieces.
    3. Once cooled, whisk the infused milk, egg yolks in a vessel with a pouring spout.
    4. Pour this mixture into ramekins. My ramekins were about 2/3 of a cup each. Place ramekins into a roasting pan with 5cm sides, put the pan into the pre-heated oven. Pour enough water around the ramekins to reach up just over half way on the side of the ramekins (it’s much easier to do this once the pan is in the oven so you’re not balancing the custard and the water on your way to the oven).
    5. Bake for 30-45 minutes to an hour or so. You’ll know they’re done when you can stick a knife in one and it comes out clean. Remove the ramekins from the baking pan, set them on the counter allow them cool. (The deeper your custard is the longer it will need to bake).
    6. Sprinkle a thin layer of  sugar on the top of each. Make sure it’s a THIN layer, but also make sure it completely covers the custard. Now torch it! Garnish with Whipped cream if you’d like (for the dinner party, I infused the whipping cream with a hot cinnamon stick which I heated for 1 minute on high in the microwave. I refrigerated the whipping cream and hot cinnamon stick until serving and then I removed the stick and whipped the cream).

    Tips:

    • To save some time, just use a prepared Chai teabag.
    • Don’t squeeze the tea bag, it will be bitter.
    ChaiCremeBrulee_1923

    I know you want to dig in!

    ChaiCremeBrulee_1925

    The chai flavours really go well with the creamy crème brûlée

    Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 12.29.17 PM

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    AppleCake_1034

    The aroma that wafted through the cottage was intoxicating. Or maybe it was the wine.

    My family has always been cake people; JTs family are pie people. I always thought it was the difference between Europeans and the English. We usually had some fruit with or in our cakes whereas JTs family always had some pastry with their fruit. This was never a big deal for us because I’m not much of a dessert eater, but it did pose a challenge because I had to learn how to make a pie! Now that we’re more accustomed to each other, I make a variety of cakes and pies and JT happily samples them.

    Recently, my friend Barbara Bamber from Calgary author of Just a Smidgen posted a gorgeous Martha Stewart recipe for a fall apple cake and I was smitten! When I suggested that I bake this cake to take over to my niece’s cottage-fest on our last weekend at the cottage JT was all over it. It’s moist and quite flavourful, the perfect mix of fruit and cake. We served it warm and at room temperature and both were very tasty. Although cake is always considered a treat, this could be perfect as a breakfast muffin, made in smaller portions.

    Martha Stewart’s Apple-Cranberry Cake

    makes one 9″ spring-form pan cake

    Ingredients:

    • sugar for dusting pan
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 6 tbsp butter, unsalted and melted, plus a bit more for the pan
    • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
    • 1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • 3 Golden Delicious or Janagold apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 2 mm sliced wedges
    • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
    • 2 tbsp brown sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp butter cut into pieces

    Instructions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a 9″ springform pan and line the bottom with parchment. Sprinkle with sugar and shake the pan to coat.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
    3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together melted butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, milk and eggs.
    4. Slowly fold the butter mixture into the flour mixture, just stirring until blended.
    5. Spoon the batter mixture into the prepared springform pan, smooth the top evenly.
    6. Arrange the apple slices and dried cranberries as you wish onto the cake batter. Then press each piece of fruit gently down into the batter.
    7. Sprinkle over with the 2 tbsp brown sugar and cinnamon. Top the brown sugar by dotting the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over.
    8. Bake until top is golden and the fruit has softened, about 35-50 minutes in a convection oven (fan oven for my European friends), or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Notes:

    I added cinnamon to the batter, the original recipe did not have it.

    AppleCake_1028

    Next time I will shroud with foil so that the top doesn’t darken as quickly.

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    Hope all the Canadians reading this post are having a Happy Thanksgiving this weekend! The second Monday of October has been designated as Canadian Thanksgiving, not sure why, but we’ll take a holiday in October any day of the week!

    We used to spend Thanksgiving at the cottage, often inviting my dear Mom and her hubby Geo, but since her passing in 2005, we’ve been invited to my brother’s cottage in the Muskoka. It’s quite a different life-style than ours to have a cottage in Muskoka. For example, you needn’t do much grocery shopping in the city because you can get everything and anything you need for the weekend in one of the well stocked grocery stores; in comparison, last time I forgot Parmesan Cheese and I was even going to settle for the powdered prepackaged cheese but our little shop didn’t even have that, so we had to drive an hour to find it! You might wonder why it’s so different in the Land of the Thousand Lakes (our cottage area) and Muskoka. Well, let me tell you. It’s because Hollywood has descended on Muskoka and while we have 1,000-2,000 square foot cottages (93-186 square metres) (ours is about 600 square feet), Muskoka boasts 10,000 and 20,000 square foot cottages (930-1860 square metres) with helipads and landing strips!  There is name dropping in Muskoka whereas we just talk about the dear we may have seen on the back road driving in. Goldie Hawn has a sprawling cottage on the same lake as my brother. We’ve never really been close to it, but apparently people think it’s ok to moor their boat and hop out to look around. She has security. My SIL spotted her in their local grocery store, where you could order Sushi grade tuna for the weekend (I’m lucky to get mac and cheese at ours). Steve Martin visits Martin Short who also has a nice place down the road on my brother’s lake. I heard that Steve Martin is very kind and hands out business cards that prove you’ve met him: “this  certifies that you have had a personal encounter with me and that you found me warm, polite, intelligent and funny” and of course he signs it. Martin Short’s wife once ran after my brother while he jogged down the road in front of their place to warn him that there have been bears seen that very morning! So you see, while we hob nob with the dear, chipmunks, bunnies and beavers, the folks in the Muskoka’s hob nob with the rich and famous.

    My brother’s family is down to earth and their cottage is much more modest than those around them. They are generous to a fault and we always eat well and drink copious amounts of wine when we visit. We’ve had balmy 24°C days and on the very same weekend, we’ve had snow flurries! But it’s always a relaxing weekend to connect with family and take long quiet walks around the lake.

    Snow flurries a few years ago. View from the dining room and kitchen.

    Snow flurries a few years ago. View from the dining room and kitchen.

    Although I didn’t make this galette for the Thanksgiving weekend, it dawned on me that it would be the perfect sweet for afternoon tea or dessert after a big turkey dinner. I used the lavender sugar that my dear friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails) brought up when they visited us at the cottage this summer. It just made this dessert that much fancier! Thanks Barb.

    AppleRhubarbGalette_0961

    The Lavender Sugar was a gift from my friend Barb from Profiteroles and Ponytails

    Apple Rhubarb Galette with Lavender Sugar

    Serves 6-8

    The Galette Pastry Recipe comes from Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 Galette pastry
    • 1/2 c Rhubarb
    • 3 Apples, chopped into equal-sized pieces
    • 2 tbsp all purpose unbleached flour
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp allspice
    • 1 tbsp egg white for brushing pastry
    • 1 tbsp Lavender Sugar for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Combine the apples and rhubarb and dust with the spices, sugar and flour, coating evenly
    2. Roll out the galette pastry to about 10cm or 3 inches larger than required. Fill centre with the fruit and turn up the sides to form the galette.
    3. Brush pastry with egg white and bake for 25 minutes or until edges are golden brown and fruit is soft.
    4. Remove from the oven and dust with 1 tbsp Lavender Sugar.
    5. Serve warm or at room temperature.
    AppleRhubarbGalette_0962

    The Rhubarb was the perfect foil for this sweet dessert

    The rhubarb came from our dear friend’s Monica and Rae’s garden in Toronto. I still have some in the freezer, it will be a welcome taste of summer in mid-winter!

    AppleRhubarbGalette_0963

    Can you see the little Lavender Flowers?

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    The days are getting shorter and the nights chillier, fall is definitely upon us in Ontario; you can feel it, see it and even smell it. We had a fire last night in our wood burning fire place! I even put closed toe shoes on today. I say it every year: I’M NOT READY!!! Is it just me or do you also feel that time is even a bit faster these days — where did the summer go?
    Several friends and family have now gone gluten free, some by choice and some by necessity. Even at our house we try to limit our Gluten intake, so I’m always on the lookout for new gluten free, beautiful and tasty dessert recipes.
    My friend Charlie at Hotly Spiced made this wonderful Gluten Free Sour Cherry Cake a while back and I knew I had to make it as soon as I saw her post! Thanks Charlie! The cake is moist, and the texture is perfect. It reminded me a little of a semolina cake, but with a finer texture. I usually have a dislike to the flavour of gluten free flours, so I made a few alterations which worked out famously; I added lemon rind, lemon essence and because I was short on butter, substituted cream cheese for the missing weight — I hope you don’t mind Charlie! It was absolutely wonderful and it’s going on my list of ‘Go-To’ Gluten Free desserts!

    GFCherryCake_0925

    I only put 1/2 cup of cherries into my cake, next time it will be a full cup (recipe is adjusted already).

    Gluten Free Cherry Cake

    Serves 6-8 from an 20 cm or 8″ spring form pan

    Ingredients:

    • 75 g softened butter
    • 25 g softened cream cheese
    • 1/2 cup castor sugar (super fine sugar, but not icing sugar)
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/2 lemon rind
    • 1/2 tsp lemon essence
    • 2 free-range eggs at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup GF flour
    • 3/4 tsp GF baking powder
    • Pinch of salt
    • 37 g almond meal
    • 1 tbsp buttermilk (or cow’s milk)
    • 1 cup cherries

    Directions:

    1. Pre-heat your oven to 180° C (375° F).
    2. Prepare a 20 cm (8 inch) spring form pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
    3. Beat the butter and cream cheese together until they are as white and fluffy as can be (this takes several minutes). Once you’ve reach the light fluffy consistency, gradually add sugar. then add the vanilla and continue to beat until incorporated.  Add the egg and beat in until well combined.
    4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and using a wooden spoon, mix into the butter fluff. Then fold in the almond meal and buttermilk.
    5. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
    6. Drain the cherries then scatter across the top of the cake.  (No need to be decorative as they will sink during the cooking process).
    7. Place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or when your cake tester comes out clean.
    8. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
    9. Serve with dusted icing sugar and cherry sauce (or ice cream, whipped cream etc.
    GFCherryCake_0924

    It’s a delicately flavoured moist cake, the sauce isn’t really necessary,
    but it’s darn nice!

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