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Lime and Matcha Cheesecake

You may recall that last week I posted a recipe for homemade ricotta from buttermilk and sour cream, well this is what the ricotta became and it was delicious! It was a cake I made for our dear friends Rae and Mon when they invited us for dinner one night in June. Check out the notes, I give some very good tips on how to bake a cheesecake without it cracking!

Lime and Matcha Cheesecake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes one 23 cm cheesecake

For the Crust:

  • 175 g graham cracker crumbs
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 35 g coconut sugar
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 10 g unsweetened coconut
  • 1.5 g lime zest (about 1 lime)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Line the bottom of a 23 cm springform pan with parchment grease it well including the sides.
  3. Line the outside bottom of the pan with foil tightly. Cover the outside of another, slightly larger pan with foil so that it is water resistant.
  4. Combine all of the above crust ingredients and mix until well coated with the butter. This step may be done in a food processor.

Press into the prepared smaller pan and bake for 20 minutes. Cool completely.Decorate with lime zest, matcha powder, coconut and thinly sliced limes.

For the Cheesecake:

  • 150 g granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 300 g buttermilk, sour cream ricotta (recipe)
  • 120 g sour cream
  • 3 g lime zest (about 2 limes)
  • 50 mL lime juice (~2 limes)
  • 15 g AP flour (check weight)
  • 5 g matcha powder
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F.
  2. Beat the egg whites with 50 g of sugar until stiff shiny peaks form.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with 100 g of sugar until they are thick and pale.
  4. Add the ricotta and greek yogurt to the egg yolk mixture and then add the lime juice and zest and beat until well blended.
  5. Sift the flour and matcha powder into ricotta mixture.
  6. Finally, fold the beaten egg whites into the ricotta mixture until well blended. Spoon into the chilled prepared crust.
  7. Set the pan into the slightly larger pan with the bottom covered in foil, and set both into a tall-sided roasting pan and pour just hot water into the roasting pan so it goes about half-way up the sides.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the centre doesn’t jiggle when gently shaken. Turn the oven off, allow to cool in the oven undisturbed. Once cool, refrigerate until ready to serve.
  9. Decorate with lime zest and matcha. Serve with lime infused whipping cream or with blueberries.

A deliciously flavoured, baked cheesecake.

Notes:

  • I always beat my egg whites first so that I don’t need to wash my mixer whisk attachment.
  • To prevent cracking while baking and cooling:
    • Set the 23 cm springform pan into a slightly larger, springform pan with the bottom covered tightly with foil to double ensure water-tightness and insulate the sides so that the outside bakes at the same rate as the inside.
    • Set both pans into a high-sided roasting pan.
    • Fill the roasting pan (not the larger springform pan) with hot water to about the middle height of the springform pans.
  • Step 3 and 4 may be done in a large food processor, which will result in a smooth cheesecake, otherwise, the ricotta curds will add some texture to the cake.

In my line of work you inevitably garner leftover ingredients that no one else wants that are not standard fare in your pantry. This recipe is one of those happy examples. As you well know, I abhor tossing food so I searched the net for a tasty way to use said ingredients, whole milk, buttermilk and sour cream and found that you can make ricotta! How exciting is that? We were invited to dear friends for dinner, so I made a delicious cheesecake out of the ricotta (recipe to come next week).

Buttermilk and Sour Cream Ricotta

Makes 235 g Ricotta

Ingredients:

  • 500 mL whole milk
  • 500 mL buttermilk
  • 200 mL full fat sour cream

Directions:

  1. Heat the milk, buttermilk and sour cream over a medium heat in an enamel pot to about 82° C (180° F). Allow it to sit, undisturbed for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined sieve and strain (covered) until relatively dry (overnight) in the refrigerator.

I would have thought the buttermilk and sour cream would have made a much tarter ricotta but it was fine.

Make additional ricotta out of the whey:

Makes an additional 65 g ricotta!

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL leftover whey from making ricotta above
  • 250 mL milk (higher fat is better, I used 1% because that is what I had)
  • 15 mL vinegar or lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Heat the whey and milk in a non-reactive pan over medium heat until it reaches 91° C (195° F). Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar or lemon juice. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
  2. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve. Strain for several hours for a firm ricotta.

Notes:

  • Use an unreactive pot like Le Creuset.
  • I did not salt the ricotta because I had a sweet application planned for it.
  • The buttermilk and sour cream curdle naturally when heated, so an acid is not required.
  • Reserve the whey for recipes that call for cooking with stock or water, it is healthy and flavourful.

Dear friends, I have finally made a website of my work. Please feel free to visit evataylorfoodstyle.com. The blog will not change, it will always be my ever growing recipe book, the website is for work. If you know of anyone needing a food stylist in Toronto, please send them to my website. As always, your comments are appreciated more than you can know.

It’s not often you will see a ‘fast food’ establishment reviewed on this blog, but this time I had to do it. My first experience at Mi’Hito Sushi Laboratory was with a dear friend and long ago tenant, Lower Level Leanne. We needed a quick and healthy bite after we shopped at Tap Phong (my favourite restaurant supply store). She ordered the Rising Sun Sushi Burrito which was filled with raw salmon, lettuce, cabbage, avocado, tempura crunch, tobiko, carrot, crab meat, green onions, spicy mayo dressing ($11.99) and I had the Ahi Tuna Poké Bowl which had raw tuna, spinach, cabbage, carrots, edamame, crab meat, mandarin orange ($12.99). Although my poké was good, both she and I were blown away with her burrito, made with seaweed instead of a wrap! And it was HUGE. So I knew, the next time we were downtown and needed lunch, Mi’Hito would be our stop!

JT and I were touring downtown for Doors Open 2018 way back in May (scroll down to see some of our pics of Our Adventure) and fortunately, we were close enough to Mi’Hito to make a lunch stop (OK, full disclosure, I planned our route to end close to it!) This time JT and I shared a custom Sushi Burrito, made with raw tuna, avocado, lettuce, seaweed slaw, corn, sesame seeds and cucumbers ($15.99), it was awesome, fresh and totally filling. And their wasabi (in a little packet like soy sauce) was the hottest I have EVER had! The burrito comes in a really cute paper cutaway container, which is great for takeout, but a little overkill when eating in.

The food is served on little aluminium trays with small packets of soy and wasabi. The restaurant itself is fast food, no table service. It is brightly lit, with several large back-lit menu boards hanging behind the counters and a TV in the seating area. You can order off the menu or chose a custom bowl, burrito or taco. They also have sushi, but the burritos are so much more interesting!

I will definitely keep this place on my radar when I’m downtown.

This is half of the burrito. It is about 8 cm (3 inches) in diameter and about 22 cm (9 inches) long (full burrito). There are no vacant holes in this puppy, it is CHUCK FULL!

Here are some of the photos from Doors Open 2018. We visited several sites over two days but these were the most memorable pics. We have lived near Colborne Lodge for 17 years and have never toured through the house. You can read about the house and its history here. The Masonic Temple is special to me because my parents’ Puppet company performed for a CBC Children’s Christmas Party in the 1970’s. The graffiti pics are from our esteemed College of Art. There was graffiti all over the inside of the building, it was rather shameful. Plus, it wasn’t all that great for an art college!!!

Sweet Potato Buns

From the recipes on this blog, you would think that we eat a lot of bread, the reality is that we do not, I make bread when we entertain, but I do love making bread. I was drawn to this recipe from my friend, A Boleyn’s blog, Cooking is fun. She made the most beautiful buns I have seen in some time. They were golden, perfectly round, fluffy and very soft looking AND they had an unusual ingredient: Sweet Potato! This bread’s texture reminded me of Hokkaido milk bread, which I have been meaning to try my hand at, it has a simple roux “starter” technique known as tangzhong that gives it a light, fluffy texture. While this recipe isn’t Hokkaido milk bread, its finished texture reminded me of the technique, plus there is a bit of a starter with flour, water and yeast.

The buns did not disappoint; this recipe will definitely make my go-to bread recipe repertoire, to be honest, I’ve made three batches by the time this post goes live!

This is a soft, slightly sweet and quite addictive bun.

Sweet Potato Buns

Recipe makes 16 buns, about 60 g each (unbaked)

For the original recipe please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here: SweetPotatoBuns_recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 454 g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 65 g all-purpose flour
  • 125 mL warm water
  • 8 g quick rising yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 45 mL unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 mL honey
  • 7 g sea salt, finely ground
  • 240 g bread flour, or more as needed

Egg wash:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, or to taste

Directions:

  1. Cook sweet potato in salted water, until soft. Strain well (reserve cooking liquid for the yeast) and mash with a fork or potato masher; measure out 260 g and allow to cool completely. Reserve leftovers for another use (like gnocchi).
  2. In another bowl, mix together 65 g flour, warm water (cooking liquid) and yeast, and whisk until smooth.
  3. When yeast is frothy (about 10 minutes), pour it into the large bowl of your stand mixer, add the mashed sweet potato, one egg, melted butter, honey, sea salt and about 210 g of flour. Mix well using the dough hook attachment and knead for 2 to 4 minutes (I needed 4 minutes). If the dough is too sticky (mine was OK the first time but subsequent times it was too wet), add the remaining 30 g (or more) of flour and knead until the dough is soft, elastic and shiny (about 2 minutes).
  4. Turn the dough out into a well-oil the bowl and cover. Allow to rise until double in size (about 1 hour), I did this in an unheated oven.
  5. After it has doubled in size, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and press out the air bubbles. Using your fingers, press the dough into a rectangle about 2 cm thick. Divide the dough into 16 equal portions (about 60 g each) and roll into a smooth ball. Allow to rest for 45 minutes on a covered baking sheet.
  6. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Combine the remaining egg, water and mix well. Brush each bun with the egg mixture and sprinkle each with sesame seeds.
  7. Bake in a hot oven until golden or when the internal temperature is 200° F (about 15 minutes).

Notes:

  • I used bread flour because I did not have enough All-Purpose flour. I have since made it with all purpose flour and it was equally as delicious.
  • I have made this recipe three times, the last time the dough was much too wet so I had to add more than the 30 g of flour (probably closer to 80 g).
  • Use some of the water you used to boil the sweet potatoes for the yeast because it has flavour and nutrients.
  • The 454-ish gram sweet potato yielded about 330 g. The leftover 70 g of the sweet potato will make a generous amount of gnocchi.
  • The 70 g of sweet potato leftover was mixed with the remaining egg (after I egg washed all the rolls) and enough flour to make a gnocchi dough and some grated Parmesan Cheese. I freeze uncooked gnocchi on parchment on a cookie sheet and then pop them into a ziplock baggy. I got enough gnocchi for about three smallish servings.

The gnocchi made an excellent lunch with a blue cheese cream sauce.

Spring Green Gazpacho

As you know, my friend, David Chrighton (Fine Dining at Home) was on Master Chef UK last fall (I know, sooooo cool). He went all the way to the finals! Sadly, he didn’t win the title, but OMG, he went ALL THE WAY to the finals! David is a Captain for an airline and flies commercial jets. I can certainly see how nerve wracking Master Chef can be, and that’s where his pilot nerves of steel came into play! Not that he wasn’t a wee bit nervous (we did spot a few beads of sweat on his brow) but he never wavered, not even when he was cooking a Michelin Star Chef’s recipe! Ashley Palmer-Watt, head chef of Fat Duck, three-star-Michelin resto in Bray, was a guest on the show on Episode 24. Each participant had 5 hours (5 HOURS!) to complete one of Chef Ashley’s famous recipes. David lucked out and got one the most complicated recipes with 120 stages of preparation! Now THAT is stressful!

Now don’t get into a tizzy that I will post one of these complicated recipes, no sirree, I don’t have the the patience, but one of the positive windfalls of being a runner-up on Masterchef UK, is that Dave is now a celebrity chef! He is still a pilot but he also does pop-up restaurants and demonstrations at fairs and markets! During one such pop-up, he posted an awesome looking white gazpacho and since we were having a heat wave, I knew I had to recreate it for a dinner party. Dave didn’t post the recipe so I improvised; my version was a light green so I called it Spring Green Gazpacho!

The recipe is rich in flavour but not heavy. A variety of complex flavours coat the mouth and speaking of mouth, it has an incredibly smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Thank you, Dave, for the inspiration. By the way, Dave totally rocked that complicated recipe for Chef Ashley.

Spring Green Gazpacho

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 600 mL

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 175 g cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 150 g grilled corned, removed from cob
  • 100 g avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 125 mL milk (avocado gives the fat, so feel free to use a low fat milk)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 3 g fresh basil leaves
  • 100 g Greek yogurt
  • 20 g toasted almond flour
  • salt, to taste
  • Cubed cucumber, grilled corn, pomegranate arils, chiffonade of fresh basil as garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Press through a fine sieve. Store in the refrigerator for maximum 4 days.
  3. Serve chilled with a garnish of chopped cucumbers, fresh basil and grilled corn and pomegranate arils.

I have been thinking about hacking a spring roll recipe to avoid deep frying and I believe I have found the answer. If you like crispy spring rolls with a flavourful filling and a delicious peanut dipping sauce, then you will like this recipe. JT is all about the deep fried spring roll and I adore fresh rolls (rice paper rolls that are not cooked). It’s easy to accommodate when we go out because we order what we want (and usually have leftovers for another day!) but at home, I prefer not to make two separate dishes so poor JT has to endure the fresh rolls (I also don’t like deep frying). It was the middle of the night when I came up with this idea: to use phyllo pastry as the roll paper! The idea festered in my brain for some time, I even bought the phyllo pastry and had it in the fridge for a week before I carved out some time to make them. To be honest, the first attempt was a bit soggy, the phyllo absorbed all of the liquid from the filling and didn’t crisp up and that’s when I put my thinking cap on and came up with this winner! The first set was made with half a phyllo sheet, this time, I used an entire sheet for one roll. I also brushed each sheet with sesame oil and sprinkled coconut flour over each sheet (coconut flour absorbs liquid quite effectively without much taste). The result was outstanding, JT approved with gusto. I will definitely make these again.

So crispy, you will never guess that they were not deep fried!

Crispy Baked Spring Rolls

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 6 x 20 cm rolls

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 60 g protein, your choice, finely minced
  • 5 mL each, soy sauce and hoisin sauce
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 30 mL sesame oil, divided
  • 45 mL grape seed oil
  • 20 g coconut flour
  • 6 sheets phyllo pastry
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 mini cucumber, finely sliced
  • 42 g glass noodles, cooked

Directions:

  1. Heat 15 mL sesame oil in a small frying pan, add the garlic and shallot and cook until softened. Add the protein and cook through. Season with soy sauce and hoisin sauce. Cool completely.
  2. Combine the remaining 15 mL sesame oil and grape seed oil in a small container.
  3. Take one phyllo sheet and brush with combined oils. Sprinkle a small amount of coconut flour on the oiled sheet (I find using a small sieve makes this very easy).
  4. In the centre of one short end, spread some grated carrot, sliced cucumber and glass noodles. Add about 1 tbsp meat mixture and spread. Fold the bottom and top sides into the roll (about 1/3:1/3:1/3) and brush with a little of the oil mixture, sprinkle with coconut flour and begin rolling tightly from the filled end. The first layer of the pastry will crack, but don’t worry, it will be covered with several layers. Repeat until you have 6 finished rolls.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  6. Brush the finished roll with the remaining oil mixture and lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden, turning occasionally. Serve with peanut dipping sauce, recipe below.

Ingredients for the peanut dipping sauce:

  • 60 mL chunky peanut butter
  • 45 mL rice vinegar
  • 5 mL soy sauce
  • dash of honey
  • lime juice

Directions for the peanut dipping sauce:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients and whisk until well combined. Taste, adding sweetness or salt as needed.

May I offer you a couple of these tasty spring rolls?

Notes:

  • Protein choices: ground beef, pork or chicken. For vegetarian, try crumbled tofu or even tempeh.
  • The pastry thickness is essential to make a crispy spring roll, otherwise, the filling moisture overwhelms the pastry and it becomes soggy.

I must apologize, my post did not post as I had hoped (perhaps it was because it was scheduled for Wednesday!). Better late than never!

Our summer began with the most perfect temperatures (for me), low 20’s° C (low 70s° F) with low to no humidity. You have to understand, Toronto becomes a sauna in the summertime, high temperatures and humidity and which makes it seem so much hotter and muggier than it actually is. It’s usually so soupy that a shower seems less wet than going outside! As soon as July hit, so did summer temperatures 34° C (93° F) and in rolled the humidity (making 34 seem like 42° C or 107° F). I am a sweater, I sweat thinking about physical effort, it’s really awful, so these hot temps force me to stay inside with the A/C cranked low and a fan blowing on me. It really is a curse.

I came up with this recipe for a lunch during a long-weekend that I was locked inside my house. I wanted something fast, light and easy with ingredients I had at home. Usually, I wouldn’t blog about this type of recipe but JT loved it so much, he literally asked for it again the very next day! This is day two, I didn’t have enough home-grown tomatoes so I added a vine-ripened tomato I had at home. I’ve made this salad a few more times! The bulgur adds a lovely texture, not quite chewy but not soft either. The tuna is a nice addition but it’s even tasty without it for a vegan recipe.

Mediterranean Red Bulgur Salad with Tuna

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

This recipe makes 4-6 servings

To make this vegan, omit the tuna.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g red bulgar
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 can tuna (flaked white albacore in water)
  • 10 cm cucumber, finely diced
  • a handful of parsley, chopped finely
  • 3-4 mint leaves, chopped finely
  • 12 or so kalamata olives, chopped
  • a handful or so of grape tomatoes, finely diced
  • Handful of chopped artichokes

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 60 mL)
  • same quantity olive oil, or less
  • 10 mL tomato paste
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, tomato paste and salt and mix well.
  2. Add the garlic cloves to the bulgur water with salt. Cook the bulgur according to directions (mine said 500 mL water with 200 g bulgar). If all of the water did not absorb, strain. Discard garlic.
  3. Pour dressing over the strained, hot bulgur. Cool slightly.
  4. Combine everything for the salad and mix well.
  5. Serve immediately in a bowl or spoon into iceberg lettuce leaves.

Notes:

  • If you don’t have any tomatoes, use about 125 mL sundried tomatoes in olive oil, strained and chopped.
  • I usually buy chunk albacore tuna because we like it better than flaked but this recipe is better with flaked because it distributes more evenly.
  • If you dress the bulgur when hot, it will absorb the dressing more and evenly.
  • I would have added a little Greek Sheep’s Milk crumbled feta if I had some at home. If you do, omit the salt in the dressing.

We were scheduled for a Progressive Dinner when we returned from Arizona. Our neighbours John and Nancy were the main-course hosts so they chose the theme: the Kentucky Derby. This group is a hoot and everyone chose something fun to wear that was indicative of the Derby. JT and Tom wore bow ties (JT made his bow-tie from a standard tie using this video, don’t you just love Google?!). Iona and I wore crazy hats and Nancy dressed up as a jockey, she is around 5 feet tall and really looked the part. Neighbour John dressed as a stable-hand, all in denim! It was a super fun night that ended somewhere around 2am!

People at the Derby seem to wear brightly coloured clothes and the guys always seem to sport bow ties.

I was responsible for dessert and I went a little crazy and did Mint Julep three ways: Panna Cotta, Macarons and Trifle! You may notice a sablé horse on the plate too but I didn’t like the recipe so it will be ignored. The desserts went over well, the bourbon was noticeable but not overwhelming, as was the mint. I doubt I’ll make these flavours again but it was fun for the night. And yes, we were served Mint Julep’s at Tom and Iona’s as part of our starters.


My crazy hat!

Kentucky Derby, Mint Julep Three Ways

  • Panna Cotta
  • Macarons
  • Trifle

Mint Julep Panna Cotta with White Chocolate Almond Crumb

To print the Mint Julep Panna Cotta, please click here.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 g Powdered unflavored gelatin
  • 50 mL Cold water
  • 700 mL Whole milk
  • 75 g Sugar
  • 2 g Tonka bean, finely grated
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 g small bunch Fresh mint leaves, including stems
  • 1/4 tsp Real Mint extract
  • 65 mL Kentucky Bourbon (to taste and optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves

Directions:

  1. Dissolve gelatin in the cold water. Set aside. Lightly rub vessels with a non-flavoured oil, set aside.
  2. Warm milk with sugar, grated tonka bean and cinnamon to 150° F (DO NOT BOIL), add mint leaves and allow to steep for 10 minutes Stir in gelatin until dissolved.
  3. Strain milk mixture through a fine sieve and discard mint. Into the strained mixture, stir in the mint extract and Kentucky Bourbon a little at a time, tasting each time until the desired flavour is achieved. Cool slightly.
  4. Pour into prepared vessels and chill for 2-4 hours or until set.

White Chocolate Almond Crumb

Ingredients:

  1. 50 g white chocolate chips
  2. 5 mL Bourbon
  3. 25 g ground almonds
  4. 15 g coconut flour

Directions:

  1. Melt the chocolate with the bourbon on low heat, stir in the ground almonds and coconut flour, it will be rather thick.
  2. Sprinkle/spread relatively thinly on a Silpat and bake for 3 minutes in a preheated 350° F oven, until golden.
  3. Cool completely and crumble with a fork until relatively fine. Reserve for assembly.

Please click here to print this recipe.

Serves 6

The Blueberries

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Blueberries
  • 125 mL Bourbon

Directions:

  1. Combine the blueberries and bourbon and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or one day.
  2. Strain, reserving the blueberry bourbon. Set aside until assembly.

The Sponge

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 120 g all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Line a 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) cake pan or jelly roll pan with parchment paper, carefully folding the corners. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Separate the eggs into two medium bowls. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form, but not dry. Set aside.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy and falls in a thick ribbon.
  4. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the pale egg yolk mixture.
  5. Sift about 1/3 of the flour into the egg yolk mixture, then alternate folding in with the egg whites being careful not to deflate the batter.
  6. Once all of the egg whites and flour have been folded in, the mixture will be thick. Pour carefully into your prepared baking pan and spread out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your cake tester comes out clean.
  7. Lift the cake out of the pan using the parchment edges and allow to cool completely.
  8. Measure your Mason jar diameter and select a round cookie cutter of similar size. Cut 12 rounds for the trifle and set aside.

Stabilized Mint Julep Whipping Cream

Ingredients:

  • 3 g unflavoured gelatin
  • 15 mL Cold water
  • 15 mL Bourbon
  • 1 mL mint extract
  • 125 mL whipping cream,
  • 8 g icing sugar
  • 2 g freshly chopped mint, as garnish

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the gelatin in the cold water, mix in the bourbon and mint extract, set aside.
  2. Whip the cream with the icing sugar. Add a bit of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture and whisk well to combine. Strain this mixture if it’s lumpy. As you are whipping the cream, add the gelatin mixture and whip until well-combined.
  1. Layer one sponge round into the bottom of each mason jar, sprinkle about 5 mL to 10 mL of the reserved blueberry bourbon onto each sponge in the mason jar. Add about 15 blueberries on top of the sponge in each jar. Using a pipping bag, trop the blueberry layer with the stabilized whipped cream. Sprinkle lightly with the chopped mint garnish.
  2. Layer the second sponge on top of the whipped cream, sprinkle about 5 mL to 10 mL of the remainder of the reserved blueberry bourbon onto each sponge in the mason jar. Top with the whipped cream and finish with about 12-15 blueberries in each jar. Sprinkle with the remaining mint garnish. Tightly close lid and refrigerate until serving.

Mint Julep Macarons

Makes about 10 macarons (four ;-)for the cook!).

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 35 g blanched, finely ground almond meal or flour
  • 58 g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg white, room temperature
  • 25 g granulated sugar
  • A pinch of gel food colouring (I used green)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Line your baking sheet with parchment with circle-round templates beneath it (this is a more detailed account of this recipe).
  2. Combine the almond meal with the icing sugar and sift a few times, discard or reserve the larger bits for something else.
  3. In the small bowl of your stand mixer, whisk the granulated sugar and egg white together by hand and then beat on #4 for 2 minutes, #6 for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the pinch of food colouring now and beat for a final two minutes on #8.
  5. Pipe onto the prepared parchment onto the circle-rounds. Tap the baking sheet on the counter to remove any air bubbles and bake for 13 minutes or until feet have developed but the cookie does NOT brown. Cool on parchment and remove carefully. Fill with Mint Julep Buttercream (recipe below).
  6. Unfilled cookies may be kept in the freezer for up to one month in an air-tight container.

Mint Julep Buttercream

Ingredients:

  • 57 g butter (softened)
  • 200 g icing sugar
  • 2.5 mL mint extract
  • 25 mL bourbon
  • 2.5 mL brandy
  • Gel food colouring of choice

Directions:

  1. Combine softened butter with the icing sugar, mint extract, bourbon and brandy and beat until extremely light and fluffy.
  2. I wanted this buttercream to resemble the colour of bourbon so I coloured it with a little brown, red and yellow gel colouring.
  3. Fill a piping bag with the buttercream and fill each half cookie carefully. Top with the second half of the cookie. Store on its side in an air-tight container in the fridge. Cookies remain fresh for up to one week. Allow to come to room temperature before serving, but make sure the room isn’t too warm otherwise the buttercream will melt.

Mint Julep Four Ways Plating

  1. Sprinkle the white chocolate crumb on one side of the plate. Top with the mint julep pannacotta and garnish with small mint leaves.
  2. Add the macaron on its side and finish with the uncovered trifle. Serve with a shot of bourbon, or pass like we did (I just thought it looked nice for the photo).

The horse cookie was a sablée that did not work out as well as I had hoped. Recipe will not be forthcoming. Yes, I bought a horse cookie cutter!

Recently, we spent the weekend in Niagara-on-the-Lake with dear friends. It’s not the first time we been to NOTL, but it’s the first time we spent a summer weekend there. It’s usually ridiculously expensive because it is tourist season but we found some lovely rooms above an Irish pub that’s one street away from the beaten path. The rooms are reasonably priced, a good size AND they give you two $25 gift cards for the bar! What a deal! The humidity had broken and the temperatures were manageable, it really was a lovely weekend. We ate a picnic lunch and then rented bikes for an hour or so along the bike path along side the Niagara parkway. If you’re ever down this way, I urge you to take a moment and enjoy the ride! Although I would strongly recommend you buy your picnic lunch elsewhere as the grocery store in town is ridiculously expensive!

I wish I had taken some of this silky, creamy orange gelato as it would have made a refreshing treat after the sunny ride!

Silky, Creamy Orange Gelato

For the original recipe, please click here.

This recipe makes about 500 mL gelato.

Ingredients:

  • 200 mL fresh orange juice (from about 3 good-sized oranges)
  • 45 mL fresh lemon juice
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 500 mL milk
  • 30 g skim milk powder
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into your frozen ice cream maker pot and turn on. Run as per manufacturer’s instructions (mine took about 35 minutes).

We are having a heat wave right now, so it’s a bit of a challenge keeping the gelato frozen. Yep, it’s that hot!

I also made lemon gelato which turned out exceptionally well, but, I forgot to take a photo because we took it to friends for dessert! I would have to say that the lemon was my personal favourite.

Dreamy, Creamy Lemon Gelato

This recipe makes about 500 mL gelato

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh Lemon Juice (from about 5 good-sized lemons)
  • zest of 1 lemon, very fine
  • 200 g granulated sugar
  • 250 mL skim milk
  • 250 mL heavy cream
  • 10 g skim milk powder
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into your frozen ice cream maker pot and turn on. Mine took about 35 minutes to a very creamy consistency, it will not freeze rock hard.

Notes:

  • The lemon gelato was a lot creamier than the orange version because of the 35% cream, and although I prefer less rich things, I think this is worth the splurge.
  • The lemon gelato did not freeze solid, whereas the orange did so I had to leave it out for a few minutes to serve.
  • I did add orange zest into the orange gelato but found it made it a touch bitter, so I adjusted the recipe. If you like bitter, try 5 g or less.

It’s quite funny how the universe works, isn’t it? Case in point, we were down in Arizona in March-April and my dear friend Theresa decided to introduce me to a Moscow Mule, a refreshing alcoholic bevy served in a classic copper mug. I had never had one before. It is made with ginger beer and vodka and lime juice, and it is very tasty and refreshing. Fast forward a couple of months, I’m minding my own business and to my surprise, I receive an unsolicited email from a Canadian company out west who imports and sells their very own, wait for it…Moscow Mule mugs! What a coincidence indeed! We spoke on the telephone and I suggested that I could do a post for them, focussing on a recipe that would be served in said mug. Of course, they sent me a couple of their mugs so I can post pics of the recipe in them. The mugs are beautifully hand-hammered by an artisan group in India, but most importantly, they are lined with nickel lining. Apparently, using mugs without nickel can cause a series of serious health issues (so if you have such mugs, check to make sure they have a non-reactive lining and you are not drinking directly from a copper mug). This blog post talks about the importance of nickel lining.

The Moscow Muled mugs are reasonably priced at $16.60 Canadian ($12.50 US) each and would make great hostess gifts or stocking stuffers during the holidays.

I added a couple of cute tea towels, but another great idea would be a gingerbeer kit, complete with vodka, gingerbeer and limes!

Moscow Mules were invented circa 1941 in LA in a British pub called Cock ‘n’ Bull by their head bartender, Wes Price. The story is quite interesting, so if you wish, you may read about it here.

Take the worry out of the mug, Moscow Muled mugs are made with “100% pure high-grade and food-safe copper with an inner layer of high-grade nickel.”* Plus they look awesome and will keep your bevy cool on hot summer nights! I knew I wanted to make the Authentic Ginger Beer recipe on their website, it’s relatively easy (just a bit of time) and you probably already have all of the ingredients at home. The only thing I did to this tasty recipe is half it (there are only two of us and it still made around 4 litres) and I converted it to weights instead of volumes.

Raise a Moscow Muled mug with this tasty and refreshing drink, Cheers guys.

I was gifted with two Moscow Muled Mugs for this post, the opinions listed are my own.

*moscowmuled.com

I made new zippered covers for the sectional in the background, so happy with the way they turned out.

Moscow Muled Ginger Beer

Makes about 4 L of ginger beer.

For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients, Step 1 Ginger Bug:

  • 250 mL water
  • 15 g sugar
  • 13 g freshly grated ginger

Directions:

  1. Combine the freshly grated ginger with the sugar and water in a glass jar.
  2. Stir until sugar has entirely dissolved with a non-reactive spoon, like a wooden spoon or silicone spatula.
  3. With a clean tea-towel, cover the glass jar and secure it with rubber bands and allow to sit at room temperature for a total of 5 to 7 days.
  4. During these 5-7 days, every day, add another 13 g of freshly grated ginger and 15 g of sugar and stir until dissolved. Cover the glass jar with a towel or cloth, and secure it with rubber bands.
  5. The mixture will form bubbles around 5-7 days and at 7 days, it should smell sharp with a strong yeast aroma.

Ingredients, Step 2 Ginger Beer:

  • 85 g ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 3.5 L of filtered water
  • 2 g of sea salt
  • 300 g sugar (white or brown, I used white because I wanted a clear ginger beer)
  • 42 mL lemon juice
  • 250 mL of ginger bug

Directions:

  1. on the 5th or 7th day, combine 2 L of water, ginger, sugar and salt in a large non-reactive pot, bring to a boil then allow it to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring periodically to steep the ginger.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the remaining water. Allow this liquid to cool completely. Once cool, use a very fine sieve to strain the ginger to make a clear liquid. Pour the ginger bug into the mixture (make sure that it is room temperature, about 23° C or 74° F, as you will kill the ginger bug if it is hot).
  3. Add the lemon juice and stir well.
  4. Pour into sterilized bottles, making sure they are only about 2/3 full because this ginger beer will actually ferment and produce carbon dioxide.
  5. Store bottles in a warm, dark place away from light and allow it to ferment for about 10 days. Carefully loosen caps from time to time to relieve the pressure from fermentation (I did this once per day).
  6. Refrigerate the ginger beer when it has reached your preferred level of sweetness. Refrigeration causes the fermentation to stall significantly. The longer the fermentation, the less sweet your ginger beer will be. We fermented our lot for 10 days and it produced a gingery, slightly carbonated beer that wasn’t as sweet as I thought it would be.

I know there is no orange in the Moscow Mule recipe, I just wanted a hit of colour.

Notes:

  • I used recycled screw cap wine bottles, properly washed, rinsed and sanitized.
  • Make sure you tighten the screw caps well so the ginger beer can ferment. Also, make sure you release the CO2 every day, by opening the bottles and allowing them to exhale, so the bottles don’t explode.
  • Even after the ginger beer has fermented and is resting in the refrigerator, it contains a lot of effervescence, so be careful. Open bottles over the sink. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
  • I suspect there is some alcohol in the ginger beer I made, but I don’t know for certain.

I was instantly smitten with my dear friend Lorraine’s Fig and Sour Cream Custard Tart, the gorgeous figs and stone fruit offset by the luscious golden custard, I knew I had to make it right away. Fortunately, my best friend from university, Kimberley and her husband were coming for brunch a few days after I saw the post so (after I checked that she was OK with spelt flour) I made this romantic tart! Thank you, Lorraine, for the inspiration ❤️♥️!

I always like to reduce the fat as much as possible so I used Sklar, the incredibly thick Icelandic yogurt instead of full-fat sour cream. It has a similar piquant flavour and it does not have pectin to thicken it. It is high in protein, fat-free and lactose-free so it’s a win/win.

Icelandic Yogurt Custard Tart

Makes 1 23 cm tart (about 8 slices)

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients for the tart base:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 180 g spelt flour
  • 15 g sugar
  • 2 g salt
  • 60-90 mL cold water

Ingredients for the Icelandic Yogurt Custard:

  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk (use part of this yolk for the crust)
  • 300 g plain Icelandic yogurt (I used this brand)
  • 170 g caster sugar
  • 15 mL  lemon juice
  • 5 mL vanilla

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the tart base ingredients except the water in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until it resembles coarse sand. Slowly add the cold water until the dough comes together. Create a disk and wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 1 hour, or if your kitchen is warm, in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 400° F.
  3. Roll out the dough to about 2 mm thickness and press into a 23 cm tart pan. Decorate with remaining dough or just leave plain. I decorated with the remaining dough and still had enough to make two much smaller, personalized tarts.
  4. Bake the tart shells for 20 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 250° F. Wrap the bottom of the tart pans in foil paper and set into a roasting pan with 4 cm sides.
  5. Whisk the custard ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Pour the custard mixture into each shell. Carefully pour enough water into the roasting pan to come up about 1-1.5 cm on the side and bake for an additional 30 minutes or until set. If the edges are browning too quickly, lay pieces of foil paper around the perimeter.
  7. Allow to cool and decorate with figs, sugar prunes, kiwi fruit and blueberries.

You caught me: I made hot cross buns at Easter while we were visiting our friends in Arizona but sadly their pantry did not contain icing sugar, so I was forced to skip the “cross” on the buns. They were exceptionally tasty (even without the icing cross), flavoured with warming spices and some rum-soaked currents.

Hot Cross-less Buns

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

This recipe makes 12 large, soft, pillowy buns.

Ingredients:

  • 125 mL rum
  • 100 g dried currants
  • 375 mL milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk (save the white for the topping)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 53 g light brown sugar
  • 550-600 g Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 85 g butter, room temperature
  • 15 mL milk

Directions:

  1. Soak the currents in the rum for about 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the milk, eggs, yeast, brown sugar and whisk to combine. In the large bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking powder, whisk to combine.
  3. Add the softened butter to the flour mixture and mix until the butter is well combined (you may also do this with your fingers). Add the liquid ingredients to the flour mixture and beat until a soft dough has formed (if it is too soft, add a bit more flour to it and beat). Meanwhile, strain the currents and add them to the dough and beat well. This is a very soft and sticky dough.
  4. Place in a well-greased bowl and allow to proof for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  5. Prepare a large, high sided baking pan by buttering the base and all sides.
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, make about 112 g balls out of them. Place in the prepared pan and allow to rest with a clean cloth covering it for 1 hour.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F.
  8. Combine the left-over egg white with 15 mL milk and beat well. Brush the tops of the rolls with the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 190° F. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Fresh out of the oven, these pillowy-soft buns are fragrant and delicious.

Notes:

  • The original recipe called for 50% more currents but I felt it was a little too much so I reduced it.
  • My dough was quite soft and sticky with the originally called-for flour, so I added a bit more flour.
  • The original recipe wanted the leftover rum to be incorporated into the dough, but my dough was already too soft and sticky so I skipped it.
  • This tip from King Arthur flour sounds quite interesting and I will try it next time I make this tasty recipe:
    “Want to make these buns a day or so ahead of time? Try the tangzhong technique, a Japanese method for increasing the softness and shelf life of yeast rolls. Begin by measuring out the flour and milk you’ll be using in the recipe. Now take 3 tablespoons of the measured flour and 1/2 cup of the measured milk; put them in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it thickens and forms a thick slurry; this will take about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Transfer the cooked mixture to a bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then combine it with the remaining flour, milk, and other dough ingredients. Proceed with the recipe as directed. Well-wrapped and stored at room temperature, your finished hot cross buns should stay soft and fresh for several days.”

Would you care to try one?

Master Chef UK

My blogger friend, David Crichton of Fine Dining at Home went all the way to the end of Master Chef UK, 2018! How COOL is THAT? I have to admit, I’m always a little envious of people who actually want to be in front of the camera, I always shy away from it. You may recall Dave and I met in 2016, in London and again in 2017, when he captained a Thomas Cook airplane to Toronto and JT and I were able to reciprocate his hospitality. Dave is so easy to get along with, that we fell right back into conversation as if no time had passed. When we got together, he mentioned that he was thinking of applying for Master Chef UK, Season 14. If anyone can do it, it would be Dave.Fine Dining at Home is a blog about upscale restaurant food you can serve in your own home. Dave makes the recipes easy to follow and uses unusual ingredients. JT and I were in Arizona when his episodes aired and they were addictive! We watched each show intently, fingers crossed that he would make the next round. Judges Gregg Wallace and John Torode never had a bad thing to say about Dave’s food. It was awesome. According to Wikipedia, more than 20,000 people applied to audition for the series in 2010 (45,000 THIS YEAR) and they whittle it down to 56! Can you imagine how stressful that would be? Dave kindly let me ask him a few questions about his experience and I thought you might enjoy it.

What is the process to become a contestant?
Dave: Quite straightforward. Fill in the online form. Then a telephone interview, if you’re successful with that you’re asked to take some food in and more questions. I guess after this it’s the luck of the gods that get you to the final 56.
Guinea fowl, Masterchef UK

Guinea fowl, French boned leg stuffed with brioche and rosemary and sweetcorn tempura

Were John and Gregg the judges in the interview process?
Dave: Invention tests are exactly that. No preparation, just cook. After this, you are given a little warning of a theme for the next round. This gets especially more difficult as the competition goes on and general life eats up your time. John and Gregg decide everything. They are the only two people you need to impress/influence.
How much time did you have before you had to appear on the show? How did you determine the dishes you would cook for the show? How many times did you practice each one?
Dave: I had about six weeks warning before my first heat. It was quite easy to determine what I’d cook. Just chose my favourite dishes that really say this is me on a plate. It then just became a matter of timings. Each dish would be only be tweaked to fit into the timescale. The hardest dish to practice for was actually my dessert in the final. It was a pistachio/Tonka bean panna cotta with citrus meringue, macerated berries and a basil gel. I had to invent my own way of making the gel. Trying to keep it green is very difficult. This probably took the best part of a day when I only had two to play with for the final three dishes.
Careless Whisper

Careless Wispa. We were given the topic of an idol. This was George Michael. It’s a 70% dark chocolate shell with salted butter caramel, dark chocolate mousse, balsamic vinegar and Greek Yoghurt ice cream

Did MC UK provide all of the ingredients for each dish? And were you able to put in an order for special ingredients? Were you limited by budget?
Dave: MC UK provide all the ingredients, which generally were amazing. There was no budget, but I chose to cook cheap food that everyone has access to and can relate to. I thought the judges can then appreciate the skill of the cook more. I blew the budget in the final though, one truffle for two portions of the starter!

This is the infamous Apple Crumble Mille Feuille that made a John cry!

How much time were you given with each brief before the show taping? Did you get the briefs in advance, all at once? What was the taping schedule, was it all at once or once every couple of days?
Dave: The whole show runs on a rolling schedule. Everything is drip fed to you. Themes for the next rounds etc. It was all generally filmed Monday-Friday.
It’s always a challenge to cook in someone else’s kitchen, did you get a chance to review the layout and equipment before taping the show or was it baptism by fire?
Dave: The first round really is a baptism of fire. You go in there completely blind. No one has any idea where the equipment is or what there is. You all just have to think on your feet. A great leveler.
One thing we kept commenting on was your controlled composure throughout the series, do you feel that your experience in being a commercial pilot helped? What were some of the techniques that you used to help control stress?
Dave: I certainly think my job helped. Panicking doesn’t solve anything. Problems will always occur, the sooner you can think straight to solve them, the better your chances of success. I was nervous, but I thought if I’m nervous how is everyone feeling? I just took it as if I was fighter, show no weakness. One of the best quotes I’ve ever heard was from Conor MacGregor(UFC fighter)
“Winners concentrate on winning, losers concentrate on winners” 
I believed in myself and didn’t worry about what anyone else was doing. Not in a cocky way, but why stress about something you have no control over.
Name two things that you learned from the Michelin Star chefs that you did not know before. Will we see them incorporated in dishes on the blog?
Dave: The Michelin star chefs were the highlight of the show for me. Just watching the way they work, learning their ethos quickly rubs off on you. From Tommy I finally learnt the secret to perfect ice cream and making the rocher shape. It’s all in the texture! From Ashley Palmer-Watts I learnt so many things, but mainly just to take the attitude of every ingredient and “what can I do to make it taste great?”
Do you know what you will do with your celebrity?
Dave: I wouldn’t say I have much celebrity, but I want to do a pop up once/twice a month so everyone can come and eat my food. I’d also like to explore the private dining and corporate dining world. It all fits in better with my flying. I’d also like to write a book based on my website. Just enough to keep me out of trouble.
Thank you so much for this lovely interview. JT and I are so happy for your success. I hope one day to sample your tasty dishes and not just drool over them on the computer! Hope to see you soon.
If you want to watch Dave in action, some kind soul posted the series on YouTube, Dave’s part starts at Episode 13 and goes all the way to Episode 25.

In late March/early April, we spent two glorious weeks in Arizona. We stayed with friends for this duration because we had offered to puppy-sit (Jordan) while they took a quick 7 day holiday in Ireland. We had never puppy sat before but their beautiful black lab, Jordan is quite possibly one of the laziest dogs we have ever met so she was really no problem at all. We did get her used to three walks per day, that is, until we bumped into a woman carrying a black light, walking her dog after dark. I had to ask and yes, it was to detect scorpions. That was the end of our after dark walks. Period.

I like to arrive with gifts in hand and these basil Parmesan Straws were the perfect hostess gift because I had a bunch of basil that needed using a couple of days before our departure. Plus they are pretty tasty. Jordan thought so too.

Sun-dried Tomato, Basil and Parmesan Straws

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 75 pieces

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 290 g flour
  • 10 g Fresh Basil, finely chopped
  • 50 g sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roughly chopped
  • 10 g garlic, finely minced
  • 110 g unsalted butter (cold)
  • 30 g  grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten separately
  • 15-30 mL water or milk
  • Sea salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Put all dry ingredients into a food processor, including the basil, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, and process to mix well.
  3. Add the butter and process to coarse granules.
  4. While the blades are running, pour in the egg and process until a soft ball forms. If this does not happen, drizzle little bits of water until a soft ball forms.
  5. Remove from processor and using a small amount of flour, roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thickness. Cut into 8cm x 7 mm straws and position evenly on a cookie sheet. Brush with second egg and sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden.
  7. Remove and allow to cool. This will store well in a cool, dark place or freeze.

Notes:

  • I like to use a plastic ruler to cut the straws evenly. My ruler is a dedicated food ruler that never is used with pens or pencils or markers!
  • This type of rolling pin gives you evenly thick dough, but as I have mentioned previously, it is a pain to unscrew the disks and I inadvertently have to wash all of the disks each time I use it.
  • This dough is a bit wetter than some of my other recipes because of the sun-dried tomatoes and fresh garlic.

In the Spring edition of the LCBO’s (our liquor store) Food & Drink magazine, they featured a Turmeric, Miso & Ginger Soup that immediately caught my attention. In mid-March, we were still craving soups, believe it or not, so I thought I’d give this colourful soup a go in my humble kitchen. The flavours were earthy, brightened by the lemon juice and sweetened by the peas and corn, everything one could want from the spring soup.

An Earthy soup to warm and ward off any spring colds.

Turmeric, Ginger, Miso Soup with Peas and Corn

Makes 1 L soup

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 15 mL EVOO
  • 70 g sweet onion (such as Vidalia), finely chopped
  • 50 g celery, sliced
  • 1 L vegetable stock, divided
  • 20 g ginger, roughly chopped
  • 2 g garlic, roughly chopped
  • 5 g turmeric powder
  • 20 g white miso
  • 15 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 70 g each, frozen peas and frozen corn

Directions:

  1. In a medium stock-pot, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add the celery and cook for a minute or so longer.
  2. In a small measuring cup fitted for your stick blender, add about 125 mL vegetable stock, the ginger, garlic, turmeric and miso and blend until smooth.
  3. Add the turmeric mixture to the celery and onions and cook for a few minutes, until you can smell the garlic. Add the remainder of the vegetable stock and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Add the frozen peas and corn and stir for a minute.
  4. Serve hot.

In mid-March JT and I went to the large National Home Show at the Enercare Centre. I found discounted tickets on Groupon AND I also found a Groupon discount code, which made the two tickets $17.80; that was an awesome deal because the regular price of the tickets are $20 each! These shows are getting more and more expensive and I really don’t understand why, the vendors pay through the nose to exhibit, AND the public pays a hefty entrance fee. The kicker was parking at $21! The Enercare Centre is not located downtown, it is slightly west but still within the city, but there is not much else around it — total money grab! And that completes my rant.

While at the show, there are always a few food vendors exhibiting and one of my favourites is a shortbread company who generously hands out samples. JT and I sampled one of their savoury shortbread cookies and I knew I had to make a batch. On the drive home, we brain-stormed the possible flavours and I knew the moment JT said caramelized onion that it had to be the one. We bought a very special sharp cheddar to accompany the sweet flavour of the caramelized onion, they were absolutely perfect!

Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Shortbread Cookies

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 75 cookies that are about 3 cm in diameter.

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 114 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 80 mL caramelized onions, slightly dried out, see notes
  • 120 g sharp cheddar, grated
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 120 g “00” flour
  • 90 g cornstarch

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cream the butter, caramelized onions and grated cheddar until light and fluffy (about 5-8 minutes).
  3. Sift the salt, flour and cornstarch into the creamed butter mixture and mix until well combined but do not overmix.
  4. Create two disks and wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn out to a lightly floured surface and roll about 4 mm thick.
  6. Cut with 3 cm round cookie cutter. Continue until the dough has been used up. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  7. Serve with wine or your favourite cocktail.

Notes:

  • We used the KitchenAid Flex Edge Beater, it creams the cheese, butter and onion beautifully.
  • We always keep caramelized onions in the freezer in ziplock baggies for such uses. I use this recipe.
  • Spread the caramelized onion on a piece of parchment and allow it to sit for 10 minutes, this allows some of the moisture to wick out and will allow the shortbread its melt-in-the-mouthfeel.
  • The cheddar we used today was a Welsh cheddar.
  • The “00” flour we used was an imported Italian flour.
  • The rolling pin we used was this one. To be honest, I don’t love it, it’s a pain to unscrew the disks that are not required but it does roll the dough out evenly.

The flavour of the caramelized onion shines in this delicate little savoury cookie.

Strawberry Sauce

Recently I purchased too many strawberries because they were 3 packages for three dollars! We ate most of them, but I had one package left over that I needed to do something with. My dear cousin and her family were scheduled to come for dinner and they had requested vanilla ice cream for dessert so I decided to make a strawberry sauce as a garnish; who doesn’t love home-made strawberry sauce?

Strawberry Sauce

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 300 mL

To print the recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 340 g strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
  • 47 g coconut sugar
  • 3 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Stir the ingredients together in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes.
  2. Lightly blend with an immersion blender, leaving some bits. Cool. Refrigerate or freeze until required, bring to room temperature before use.

A quick and easy recipe if you have too many strawberries.

The bits of strawberries in this sauce, sets it apart from the store-bought strawberry sauces.

Lentil Hummus Soup

Many years ago, I made a hummus soup that was so luxurious and flavourful that it felt decadent, but it wasn’t! It was all the bright flavours of typical hummus with fewer calories and fat. You already know that I love using lentils for quick and flavourful soups and sauces so this recipe will come as no surprise. It can be made as thick or as thin as you choose. I used roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic to tone down the garlic hit but also provide a beautiful nutty background flavour. I also added freshly grated turmeric, which is not in traditional hummus but added a lovely earthy tone.

Lentil Hummus Soup

Makes about 1 L, but it depends on how thick you make the soup.

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

To print recipe, please click here..

Ingredients:

  • 120 g red lentils
  • 375 mL vegetable stock, or to taste
  • 50 g tahini (or natural peanut butter)
  • 20 g roasted garlic
  • 10 g turmeric, freshly grated
  • 4 g toasted cumin
  • 15 mL lemon juice
  • 50 mL olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 10 g feta, per serving, for crumbling

Directions:

  1. Cook the lentils in the vegetable stock until very soft. Add the tahini, garlic, turmeric, cumin and lemon juice and stir well until the tahini has melted into the soup.
  2. Transfer to a glass stick blender container and blend until very smooth, adding more stock if you see necessary. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil as you are blending. Season to taste.
  3. Serve hot garnished with crumbled feta cheese.

A deliciously velvety hummus-style soup.

We had just completed a gorgeous hike one weekend in February at Kortright Centre for Conservation. It was a warmer day and the sun was beaming beautifully throughout the hike. There were some muddy spots and some icy spots but it was totally manageable. This park is not manned this time of year, but, fortunately they leave the gate open for visitors like us. The park is not maintained during the winter but a good pair of hiking boots and you’re good to go. Click down to the end to see a few pictures of our hike.

Unfortunately all of the service buildings are closed this time of year, and after an hour-long hike and ingesting 500 mL of water, one might need facilities, so we decided to stop at a Starbucks on our way home. I usually like to purchase something when I use the facilities in a place but it was well into the afternoon and I really didn’t want a cup of regular coffee and ordering a decaf at Starbucks is about the most painful experience I have ever endured so I avoid it at all costs. Instead, we ordered an oatmeal cookie which they had unfortunately sold out of so, we shared one of their Ginger Molasses cookies. It was so delicious that I wanted to replicate the recipe and bake some at home. JT and I are HUGE ginger fans and I prefer to use fresh ginger whenever I can, so in this lovely recipe, I quadrupled the ginger and used fresh and I added a small amount of candied ginger chopped roughly. These definitely satisfied my ginger craving! Do you ever feel obligated to purchase something if you use a restaurant’s facilities?

Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

Makes about 72 x 20 g cookies.

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 284 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 450 g white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 125 mL molasses
  • 20 g fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 570 g all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 3 g salt
  • 23 g baking soda
  • 6 g ground cinnamon
  • 1 g ground cloves
  • 50 g candied ginger, chopped
  • 50 g white sugar for rolling

Directions:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
  2. Add the molasses and fresh ginger and beat well.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves and whisk to combine well.
  4. Add to the butter mixture and beat until well combined.
  5. Refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  7. Make 20 g balls and roll in the sugar and position on the parchment lined baking sheet leaving about 5 cm between each cookie (don’t be tempted to flatten, it will flatten out on its own in the heat of the oven). Bake for 10-11 minutes, remove from the oven but leave them on the baking sheet because they will finish baking on the sheet. Remove cookies from the baking sheet once they have all but cooled completely.
  8. Enjoy with coffee or tea or a glass of bubbly!

Notes:

  • 11 minutes was absolutely perfect in my oven, the cookies hardened up perfectly sitting on the hot cookie sheet on the counter.
  • I always test-bake 1 or 2 cookies before I decide on how big to make the entire batch, it also gives you a solid idea of how long to bake them perfectly.
  • Weighing the cookie dough will give you more evenly-sized baked cookies. I can almost eyeball them after making a few balls, but I still like to weigh them for consistency.

Black Forest Cake

Black Forest Cake is JT’s favourite cake. It’s been his favourite since he was a little kid. In fact, it was our wedding cake! We didn’t have that traditional fruit cake, it was Black Forest Cake all the way. In late February, we were invited to dinner at friends’ and I offered to bring dessert so JT asked me to bake a Black Forest Cake. I chose this recipe because of the unusual cake recipe, to be honest, it turned out a bit dry because I did not soak the layers in the cherry kirschwasser syrup as indicated;  I didn’t want to use the full strength Kirschwasser as there was a teenager but I would definitely do it if I were to bake this cake again, I might even omit the kirschwasser so it’s not as boozy. Or maybe I’ll double it!

Black Forest Cake

For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 70 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 200 g sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 150 g flour
  • 105 g cornstarch
  • 45 g cocoa powder
  • 5 g salt
  • 250 mL jarred, canned or frozen (see notes) sour cherries, drained, reserving 12 cup cherry juice from jar, plus 16 cherries, to garnish
  • 125 mL Kirschwasser

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (I used the convection setting).
  2. Prepare two spring-form pans about 20 cm (8 inches) diameter by buttering and flouring the bottom and sides. Cust a piece of parchment to fit the bottom and butter and flour it too.
  3. Combine sugar and eggs in the large bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium speed for about 8 minutes or until tripled in volume.
  4. Combine the flour, cornstarch, cocoa powder and salt and whisk. Sift into the egg and sugar mixture and fold until combined. Pour in the cooled melted butter and stir until just combined.
  5. Pour about half of the batter into each pan and bake for 30-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely.

Kirschwasser syrup:

Ingredients:

  • 250 mL  jarred, canned or frozen sour cherries, drained, reserving 125 mL cherry juice and 12 cherries for garnish
  • 30-75 mL kirschwasser (I was making this kid-friendly so I barely used any)
  • 100 g sugar

Directions:

  1. Combine cherries with the kirschwasser and allow to macerate for 30 minutes. If using frozen cherries, just marinate the cherries in the kirschwasser until defrosted and reserve the liquid as indicated in the ingredients.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the reserved cherry juice with the sugar and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves.
  3. Drain macerated cherries and add the liquid to the cherry syrup. Set aside. If using frozen cherries, skip this step.

Whipped Cream Frosting:

Ingredients:

  • 10 g unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 250 mL milk, divided
  • 65 g 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 45 g sugar
  • 500 mL 2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 5 mL 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 50-60 g dark chocolate, melted and piped onto paper, see notes below.

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle gelatin over 90 mL milk in a bowl; let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk cornstarch and sugar in a medium saucepan and add remaining milk, heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly to thicken the mixture.
  2. Using a stick blender, blend this thick mixture with the softened gelatin and blend until very smooth (if you choose to skip this step, your whipped cream will be lumpy. You can also press it through a fine seive if you don’t want to blend). Set aside to cool a bit.
  3. Beat the whipping cream with the vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk until soft peaks form.
  4. Add about 13 of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.
  5. Add gelatin mixture to the remaining whipping cream in the stand mixer bowl and whip until smooth.

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Crumb-coat the cake with the whipped cream mixture. Place in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and drizzle onto parchment like this. Refrigerate the drizzled chocolate on a flat surface until set (you don’t want it super stiff).
  2. Add a thicker coating of the whipped cream to the cake and smooth out. Leave enough whipped cream to decorate with cherry florets.
  3. Decorate the top of the cake with the remaining chocolate and then add florets, press one cherry into each floret.
  4. Lift the hardened drizzled chocolate from the base parchment and carefully wrap all-the-way around the cake; remove the outside parchment slowly. Refrigerate until required.

Notes:

  • The whipped cream is a bit like French Pastry cream but not as rich. It is far thicker and richer than stabilized whipped cream. I loved the whipped cream.
  • This is not a sweet cake by any stretch of the imagination, but it is flavourful and our friends loved that it wasn’t sweet.
  • For the chocolate drizzles, measure the diameter of the iced cake and not the pan, I measured the exterior of the pan and came out too short because I didn’t account for the extra thickness of the frosting. It was easy to fix but why fix if you can do it right the first time.
  • Do not skip soaking the cake layers in the syrup, otherwise, the cake is very dry.
  • If I were to do this cake again, I would make fewer drizzles on the chocolate wrap so that the creamy texture of the cake below it comes through.

Kimchi

We have been really enjoying Korean cuisine for a while now, and my dear friend Barb (Profiteroles and Ponytails, in hiatus) gave us a wonderful jar of gourmet Kimchi for Christmas. The first time I ever tried Kimchi was in Paris with my friend Charles (Five Euro Foods, also in hiatus) when he took us to a Korean BBQ place. It was a delicious lunch filled with bright and heady flavours but I have to tell you that I did not love my first experience with Kimchi. Fortunately, since then, I have tried many different versions and I am very happy to report, I LOVE IT! My friend Sissi over at With a Glass is the Kimchi expert, she has made several versions and recipes using Kimchi, check out her lovely blog. In fact, it was the persistence of Sissi’s recipes on her blog that made me want to make my own, plus that jar that Barb so generously gave us was awesome and I wanted more! Thank you, Sissi and Barb.

The recipes are as easy as they sound, the most difficult part will be the waiting until it ferments and then dig in. It works well with Korean but we’ve also had it with Indian and it is wonderful. This makes a smallish batch but it is enough for a few meals.

Kimchi

Please click here for original recipe.

To print recipe, click here.

Makes 1 650 mL jar

Ingredients:

  • 450 g chopped and grated vegetables (see notes)
  • 75 g table salt
  • water to cover
  • 20 g ginger, grated
  • 16 g garlic, grated
  • 6 g Korean red pepper
  • 13 g sugar
  • 30 mL fish sauce (or 45 mL, to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, add the coleslaw mix (minus the celeriac). Pour the salt over the entire mix and rub in with your hands. Cover with water. Allow to sit at room temperature for 12-24 hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Rince the salted coleslaw mix 4-5 times with fresh water. Add the green onions and celeriac and mix thoroughly.
  3. In a small glass bowl, combine the ginger, garlic, red pepper sugar and fish sauce and mix well to create a smooth paste. Pour over the coleslaw mix.
  4. Using a gloved hand, rub the paste into the slaw until it is fully incorporated and evenly mixed. Pack the entire slaw mix into a sterilized jar, pressing down to remove large air bubbles, leaving about 2.5 cm space at the top, then cap with the lid. Allow to ferment for 2-3 days in a cool spot but not the refrigerator. It’s probably a good idea to open the jar every-so-often to release the gases that build up during fermentation. Once it has reached your desired flavour, refrigerate. Some recipes need to sit in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks but this one you may use right away, knowing that the flavours will only get better as it ages.

Notes:

  • Buying an entire cabbage is far too much for just the two of us, it would take us a year to go through it all, so I buy the pre-shredded coleslaw mix in the bag salad section and augment it with what I have at home, this time it was celeriac and green onions.
  • I would use gloves to massage the paste into the vegetables, the red pepper may stain your hands and nails.

I created this recipe in 2012, modeled after an appetizer at an old favourite restaurant which sadly closed down many years prior to 2012. Like many of my old posts, the photos are dark and dreary and deserve an update so here it is. I also threw in a sourdough baguette, the recipe can be found here. I used this starter which, frankly took a long time and was not as sour-doughy as I had hoped but I found the liquid ingredient intriguing so I gave it a go. I will try this starter used in the recipe next time.

It’s still a winter picture, so give me a break!

Sizzling Mushrooms

Serves 2-4 as an hors d’œuvres (about 112 g of cooked mushrooms and onions, without the feta)

Ingredients:

  • 20 g unsalted butter
  • 150 g mushrooms, stems removed and sliced medium thinly
  • 60 g sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 g garlic, finely minced
  • 30-60 g sheep and goats milk feta, crumbled (see notes)
  • 30 mL cognac (optional)
  • 2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small frying pan, melt the butter and add the onions, cook until caramelized (about 10-15 minutes).
  2. Add the mushrooms and cook until they are no longer wet (about 5-10 minutes) and have also caramelized. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Season with sea salt if using, but remember the feta is also salty so season sparingly.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the cognac, stirring to loosen any of the bits stuck to the pan. Remove from heat and add the fresh thyme and stir. Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the hot mushrooms and serve immediately with thinly sliced sourdough baguette (fresh out of the oven, no less!)

Notes:

  • I used a 50/50 combo of shitake and cremini mushrooms, but feel free to use whatever mushrooms you desire.
  • We prefer actual Greek Feta made in Greece of Sheep and Goats milk, here in Toronto there are many imposters so try to find this one.
  • We typically don’t use pepper, but if you like it, use white pepper to avoid the harsh dark specs on the feta.
  • This recipe cooks beautifully in a cast iron pan, if you have a small one, use it. My small one was a bit too big for this amount.

We’ve been away. In Arizona. Where it was high twenty, low thirty degrees (Celsius). I’m sorry you were still in winter, while I was enjoying endless sun and dry warmth in Arizona. Well, not really sorry. I may have even rubbed it in with some weather network posts. It was truly wonderful. It was liberating not to have that 10-minute dressing routine even before you step outside. My feet rejoiced! No socks! My feet weren’t freezing to death even though they were covered in wool and leather. I could totally get used to it. But now we’re back in reality and cooking warming and hearty dishes like we did for Super Bowl.

We hosted another Super Bowl party in February and you guessed it, the theme was the cuisine of the teams playing! I’ve always wanted to make an authentic clam chowder with oyster crackers so I took advantage of this serendipitous opportunity. The clams were sweet and the chowder was creamy and delicious. The party was a grand success and New England lost, now that’s karma, don’t you think?

New England Clam Chowder

Makes 1.75 L of chowder.

For the original recipe please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 30 g unsalted butter
  • 135 g finely chopped French shallots
  • 160 g chopped celery (about 2 large stalks)
  • 10 g garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 32 g all-purpose flour
  • 282 g Vongole baby clams, drained, juices reserved
  • 300 mL evaporated milk (not condense)
  • Pinch of smoked paprika
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring the potatoes to a boil in the reserved clam juice topped up with water to cover. Turn down to medium heat and simmer until potatoes are soft. Remove from heat, drain potatoes, reserve the liquid and set both aside.
  2. Melt butter in a heavy bottomed large pot, sauté shallots and celery with the bay leaf until soft. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the flour and stir on low heat for two minutes, without allowing the flour to brown. Whisk in the reserved potato clam liquid with a pinch of smoked paprika. Cook until thickened.
  3. Add the baby clams and the evaporated milk and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes. This chowder is much better the second day so if you are making this chowder in advance, refrigerate until cold, then re-heat on low when required.

A rich clam chowder with delicious clam bits in every bite.

A flavourful cracker that does not disintegrate in the chowder.

Lemon Pepper Oyster Crackers

Makes 150 g of crackers. For the original recipe, please click here.

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 145 g 00 flour
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 2 g freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 g sugar
  • 5 g baking powder
  • 1 g freshly grated lemon zest
  • 30 g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 70 mL cold water, or enough to make a smooth dough

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, salt, pepper, sugar, baking powder and lemon zest in the small bowl of your food processor. Pulse until well combined.
  2. Drop the butter into the flour mix and pulse until it has been incorporated and is mealy. Slowly add the water while processing, add only enough to make a dough that holds together.
  3. Turn out to a lightly floured surface and form into a solid round. Allow to rest 15 minutes.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Roll dough to about 2 mm thick and cut with very small cookie cutters (or cut with a knife into diamond shapes). Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven off and open the door and allow to cool and crisp up for an additional 30 minutes. Serve with New England Clam Chowder.

Orange Cake

Several years ago I had a conversation with a long-time blogger friend, A-Boelyn about our Mothers’ orange cake, it was a recipe I had been searching for, for many years. You see, I had lost my dear Mother’s recipe and sadly it had been my favourite cake. I am certain Mom clipped the recipe from the newspaper (so many of our favourites were found this way) but alas it has been lost for many decades. This recipe was my birthday cake request, time and time again. Its moist crumb and delicious flavour was void of heavy icing, it just showcased the beautiful orange in its glory, and a bit of booze, should you wish to indulge! I no longer recall the exact flavours of my dear Mother’s cake but if I had to guess, this recipe comes pretty close, we Europeans love the use of ground nuts in our cakes! And the flavour of this cake brings me back to my childhood, memories of Christmas marzipan! The texture is not light and airy like a sponge but rich and thick like marzipan. It’s not a cake you want a huge slice of, a small slice will satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you wanting more, and that is exactly what I want of a cake.

Orange Cake

Original recipe by David Lebovitz

Makes one 25 cm (10 inch) cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 oranges, zested
  • 300 g sugar
  • 200 g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 240 g almond flour
  • 110 g AP flour
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a 25 cm (10 inch) springform pan by buttering all sides and lining the bottom with parchment paper.
  2. Add the sugar and orange zest into the large bowl of your food processor and process until zest is chopped into tiny bits and thoroughly incorporated into the sugar. Leave the processor because you will use it again later.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar-orange mixture until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Add the eggs one at a time and beat thoroughly.
  4. Add the flour, almond flour and salt into the food processor and pulse until well mixed.
  5. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture and mix until well incorporated. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and mix only until well incorporated. It will be thick.
  6. Turn the batter into the prepared pan and using a spatula, spread out evenly.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Spoon the orange syrup mixture over the hot cake until it is all absorbed. Cool in the pan.

Ingredients for the syrup:

  • 180 mL orange juice, from the zested oranges
  • 75 g sugar

Directions for the syrup:

  1. Combine the orange juice and sugar and bring to a boil in a non-reactive pan until the sugar has entirely melted. See step 7 above for directions.

This is an extremely moist and dense cake, it reminded me of orange marzipan.

Soup has been on our menu quite often this winter. Personally, I adore soup, so much so, we’ve coined the expression “I love soup so much, it could be my middle name”! My favourite are brothie soups like chicken noodle, Phõ, lemongrass, and miso to name a few, but JT prefers creamy soups so I throw him a bone every so often and blitz the soup with my immersion blender. This one turned out exceptionally well so, I decided to repost. Plus the light is getting much better and I couldn’t resist.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 500 mL

Ingredients:

  • 25 g variety of dried wild mushrooms
  • 35 g red lentils, dried
  • 140 g shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 90 g sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 60 g celery, roughly chopped (about 1 rib)
  • 25 g butter
  • 40 g roasted garlic (about 5 large cloves)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ~300 mL vegetable stock
  • 2-4 tbsp finishing olive oil

Directions:

  1. Soak the dried, wild mushrooms in about 500 mL water for a minimum of 30 minutes. Strain through a gold coffee filter and reserve liquid. Rinse the mushrooms.
  2. Caramelize the onions in the butter. Add the celery, roasted garlic and rehydrated mushrooms and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Add the reserved mushroom liquid and lentils and simmer loosely covered for an additional 30 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, toss the sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms in some olive oil and roast in a hot oven (375° F) until caramelized (roughly 20-25 minutes), turning once.
  4. Remove soup from heat and purée with an immersion blender until smooth, adding vegetable stock to desired consistency (I added about 300 mL). Press through a fine sieve for a velvety, smooth texture. Add salt and pepper to taste and purée once more. Garnish with the caramelized mushrooms and drizzle with the finishing olive oil. Serve piping hot with Cheddar Orange Scones.

Notes:

  • No matter how well your blender purées creamed soups, push it through a fine sieve for a creamy and velvety texture. Then blitz it again just before serving. This is a tip from the 1-star Michelin chef we had a cooking lesson with in Lyon.
  • Thick creamy soups that are not made with cream, like this one, deserve a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  • Serve with a scone to make a hearty lunch.

Cheddar Orange Scones

Winter is not giving up easily in these parts. At least the days are sunny even if they are still nippy. It’s the grey days with endless overcast that really pull me into the dumpers, so I bake to make me happy; plus the ambient heat the oven gives off doesn’t hurt. I created this tasty scone recipe when I discovered a couple of rogue oranges in the refrigerator. The flavour combination may sound strange but it works, plus it’s delicious straight from the hot oven with a generous pat of butter.

Cheddar Orange Scones

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 8 large scones

Ingredients:

  • 270 g AP flour
  • 25 g coconut sugar
  • 20 g baking powder
  • 1 g salt
  • 56 g cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 150 g sharp cheddar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 125 mL orange juice (about 1 navel orange)
  • zest of 2 navel oranges
  • Yogurt for brushing tops

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425° F.
  2. In the large bowl of your food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and pulse a few times to mix well.
  3. Add the butter and pulse until well incorporated but not softened.
  4. Combine the egg, orange juice and zest and mix well.
  5. Pour into the food processor while pulsing and pulse until well mixed. If your kitchen is on the warmer-side, allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for a bit here or if it’s on the chilly-side, proceed to next step.
  6. Roll out to about 2 cm thick and cut with your favourite cookie cutter. Continue until you’ve used all of the dough. Brush tops with yogurt and bake 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden on top and baked through. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm with butter.

We had a Super Bowl party in early February and I made the usual suspects but I also wanted a slightly healthier and vegetarian version of the traditional Buffalo wings. I have made Buffalo cauliflower in the past but it never really met my expectations achieving the crunchy coating I had hoped for, so I put it on the back burner. Then in January, I started thinking about adding texture to the florets in the form of breading. I tested this recipe with panko with regular flour and the crispy rice cereal with coconut flour and to be honest, in a blind taste-test, JT voted for the crispy rice cereal and coconut flour version. The coating has a great crunch and being made of crispy rice cereal and coconut flour, it is also gluten-free. Vegans may use chia seeds instead of the eggs for the binder.

Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower “wings”

Ingredients:

  • 60 g coconut flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked well
  • 120 mL water, plus
  • 120 g crispy rice cereal, hand crushed
  • 15 g Buffalo chicken spice mix
  • 15 g dehydrated onion flakes
  • 15 g granulated garlic
  • 5 g sea salt
  • ~750 g Cauliflower, cut into 2-bite pieces
  • Non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Place coconut flour, eggs whisked with water, and crispy rice cereal into three separate medium-sized, deep bowls.
  3. Add 15 g of Buffalo spice mix into the crushed crispy rice cereal and mix well.
  4. Take one cauliflower floret at a time and dip into the coconut flour first, then the egg and lastly the crispy rice cereal and coat well. Lay each cauliflower floret (flat-side down) onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Continue until all of the cauliflower is coated with the rice-breading. You may need to add a bit more water to the egg mixture as the coconut flour tends to thicken it up.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked but not too soft (test with a cake tester, there should be resistance when poked through).
  6. Drizzle with Buffalo-style sauce, if using.
  7. Serve hot with blue cheese dipping sauce.

Ingredients for Buffalo-style sauce:

  • 65 mL melted butter
  • 15-30 mL honey (to taste)
  • 50 mL hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Combine all three ingredients in a small pan and heat slowly to a boil and boil for 3 minutes. Drizzle lightly over the baked cauliflower.

Notes:

  • I find the best results are achieved using dry cauliflower (wash and spin-dry then lay out on a clean dishcloth for 20-30 minutes).
  • You will need to coax the coconut flour into the cauliflower crevices.
  • If you are trying to be healthier, omit the Buffalo sauce.
  • This dish is best served right out of the oven, as the crispy rice cereal eventually gets a bit soggy, particularly with the Buffalo sauce on it.
  • I puréed leftovers with vegetable stock into a smooth soup and JT could not stop raving about it.

Everyone has busy days, the type of days that you’re too busy to cook and the easy thing to do would be to order in or throw some unhealthy grocery-store frozen dinner into the microwave and be done with it. We’ve all done it and what happens is interesting: you don’t eat for the love of food, you just eat and because it’s fast and easy. But then, it never hits those emotional triggers so we end up feeling awful and regretting our choice. There is nothing I hate more (other than the obvious crap going on in our world) than regretting calories. Fret not dear friends, I have the perfect solution with this slow cooker lasagna, and you need not make enough for an army because this handy hack will have you getting that slow cooker out more often!

This is the one slow cooker hack you’ve been waiting for: Line your slow cooker with a silicon mat and lay your smaller, heat-resistant dish on top of it. Presto, a custom-sized slow cooker.

The Silpat protects the ceramic slow cooker from the metal of the loaf pan.

I made this awesome Lentilles du Puy lasagna this way. I won’t lie, there is some prep work with this dish, but a little pre-planning on the weekend will make it a breeze on that busy weeknight. The recipe was inspired by my LA friend, Greg of Sippity Sup, he had made an incredible Swiss Chard Lasagne with Bechamel that literally had me licking my lips during the entire read through! He used one of my favourite ingredients: béchamel sauce!

Creamy béchamel with eggplant and roasted red peppers just melt in your mouth.

Slow Cooker Lasagna with Eggplant, Roasted Red Pepper and Lentilles du Puy

Recipe inspired by Greg’s Swiss Chard Lasagna

Makes one 12 cm x 22 cm x 10 cm loaf pan, serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 60 g Lentils du Puys, cooked
  • 100 g onions, chopped
  • 10 g Ice® Mama Mia garlic, finely chopped (see notes)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 400 mL San Marzano tomatoes, crushed
  • 250 mL béchamel sauce with a pinch of nutmeg (see notes)
  • 4 gluten-free, oven-ready lasagna noodles (I used this brand)
  • 1 Chinese eggplant, sliced into 0.5 cm thickness (about 6 slices)
  • 176 g roasted red peppers (about 6 small roasted red peppers)
  • 150 g Mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. In a splash of olive oil, sauté the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the oregano and basil and stir well.  Add the San Marzano tomatoes and cooked lentils, stir well and allow to cool to room temperature. This makes around 500 mL.
  2. Prepare a 12 cm x 22 cm x 10 cm loaf pan with non-stick spray. Spread a couple of spoonfuls of the lentil tomato mixture on the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Lay 1 and 1/3 noodles over the lentil-tomato mixture (covering the entire pan area). Top with 1/3 of the lentil-tomato mixture spread evenly over the noodles, then a single layer of 2 roasted red peppers, then lay two slices of the eggplant over the peppers. Top with béchamel and about 1/3 of the cheese. Repeat until everything is layered, making sure you top with the grated cheese.
  4. Lay a silicon mat (like Silpat)  into the slow cooker and place the loaf pan onto it, in the centre (see notes). Cover and turn the slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours or until noodles have cooked through. Relax.
  5. When the noodles have cooked through, pre-heat the broiler in the oven and broil the lasagna on high until cheese is bubbly and caramelized. Serve hot with simply dressed greens.

A nice bubbly, caramelized cheese topping!

Notes:

  • You may have seen me searching for softneck garlic sometime late last year. It was, of course, the wrong time of year for farmer’s market garlic, but that didn’t stop me from trying my best to hunt it down. During this process, a friend on Facebook mentioned Beneli Farms, a Manitoba, 5th generation farming family specializing in garlic for the last 15 years. I reached out to them and they were very quick in getting back to me and eager to help but sadly they were not able to courier me softneck garlic in time, but they did courier a large selection of their specialty garlic! I use garlic a lot but I am still going through my generous stash. For this dish I chose their Mama Mia™ Ice® Garlic for its smooth flavour. It was definitely the right choice as it did not overpower the dish, just provided a smooth, delicate garlic flavour in the tomato sauce. Thank you Garth and Miranda.
  • To make gluten-free béchamel sauce, simply substitute a good gluten-free flour with the all-purpose flour. Don’t forget the pinch of nutmeg.
  • The Silpat mat simply protects the ceramic bowl of the slow cooker from the the metal loaf pan.
  • The Gluten-free noodles I’ve used in this recipe stand up a bit better than regular oven-ready noodles and maintain a good texture in this dish. The liquid proportion I’ve indicated is perfect for cooking the noodles without destroying them, i.e., they still have bite.
  • Leftovers may be frozen for future quick meals, but don’t count on it!

With determined effort, we are not eating as much meat as we used to. That isn’t to say that we avoid it at all costs, but it is definitely far less often for sure. Most of our meals are made up of seafood, beans and pulses. I can’t say that it’s been easy, my tried and true recipes usually include meat, and it has been a challenge to make our meals interesting. JT recently mentioned he would love to have Romesco sauce again so I decided to incorporate it into our latest experiment, Italy meets Spain Falafel. I called it “Italy meets Spain” because I used Pesto as the flavouring and topped it with Romesco sauce.

The shape is rather unique for Falafels, it is more like a doughnut than the traditional disk but notwithstanding, it makes a tasty pan-fried falafel!

Italy meets Spain Falafel

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes about 24 x 20 g portions

Please click here to print recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 75 g dried chickpeas, soaked, cooked and cooled
  • 50 g dried navy beans, soaked, cooked and cooled
  • 50 g onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp pesto (I used almond pesto)
  • 5 g garlic, minced
  • handful of parsley leaves
  • oregano, to taste (I used fresh)
  • 15 g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 7 g coconut flour
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of half of the lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, lightly whisked
  • 30 g sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. In a large food processor bowl, combine everything but the sesame seeds and process until it becomes a smooth paste.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with a piece of parchment. Form the paste into 24 equal-sized portions (I used a doughnut form for these but it’s not necessary). Set each patty onto a sheet of parchment. Continue until complete.
  3. Dip one side of each patty into the sesame seeds (no need for an egg wash, they’ll stick without it).
  4. Pan fry each patty on a non-stick pan lightly sprayed with oil for 4-6 minutes per side, making sure the sesame seeds have caramelized and the internal temperature is 190° F.
  5. Serve warm with a drizzle of romesco sauce.

Moist and flavourful falafel.

My My dear friend Barb gave me this falafel press some time ago.

Notes:

  • Beans cooked weight equals roughly 270 g.
  • Serving suggestions: bed of wilted kale with romesco sauce, bed of spinach with romesco sauce.
  • These falafel freeze well.

Apple Buttermilk Pancakes for 2

Delicious, apple pancakes

Every so often I buy fruit and it goes unnoticed. Not sure why because we love fruit, but it does. And every time I open the vegetable crisper drawer (and it is often), I am sorely reminded of the neglected fruit. This recipe is one way I used said neglected fruit one wintery weekend morning.

Apple Buttermilk Pancakes

Makes about 5 pancakes about 13 cm wide and 2 cm thick!

The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 cup skim milk with 1/2 tbsp lemon juice)
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 apple, roughly grated
  • 1 nonstick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together. Set aside.
  2. Beat egg white and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form but not dry.
  3. Beat the egg yolk with the sugar until creamy, pale yellow and thick; add the buttermilk, vanilla and beat until smooth on a slow speed.
  4. Fold in the sifted flour mixture gently into the egg yolk mixture (don’t over mix as we don’t want the glutens activated).
  5. Fold the beaten egg white into the batter and mix together gently, do not over mix! Gently fold in the grated apple.
  6. Spray your skillet with non-stick spray and set to medium temperature.
  7. Drop about 1/3 cup of batter on pan for each pancake and spread out to about 13 cm and cook until you see a few bubbles on the surface of the batter. Flip the pancakes and cook for about another 2-4 minutes. Repeat until you have used up all the batter.
  8. Keep warm until you have made all the pancakes and serve warm with butter, maple syrup, and yogurt!

Do you keep a running list of things your friends and family won’t or cannot eat? I have found that it makes my life easier if I do, so one day, a long, long time ago, the “Friends’ Likes and Dislikes” list was born. Now I have it in Notes on my iPhone, it is so handy. I also keep a diary of dinner parties so I can avoid feeding friends the same thing!

My list-making started with my “list of books that I’ve read” after buying the same book twice because they changed the cover artwork! Isn’t that annoying! I now refer to the list before I make a book purchase. I have also made lists of movies we’ve seen over the years and television shoes we’ve watched; keeping track of the season and episode help you keep on track if you’re not just using Netflix for streaming. I also have a running list of movies and TV shows I want to watch so that I can reference it on a rainy weekend for entertainment. The list-making didn’t end with the end of the cottage, oh no, dear friend, it continues to live on for a number of purposes! Do you make lists? What type of lists do you make?

By the way, this would be on the No Go list for Mike because he hates nuts and seeds!

Gluten Free Pumpkin Sesame Crackers

Makes about 30 crackers

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g ground pumpkin seeds
  • 60 g sesame seeds
  • 10 g coconut flour
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Combine the wet ingredients and whisk lightly until well combined.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir until evenly mixed. Create a ball with the dough and press flat with the palms of your hands.
  5. Between two sheets of parchment paper, roll the dough until it is very thin (the best ones are only as thick as a sesame seed!). Using a ruler, cut into squares, rectangles or whatever shape you desire (I find straight-edged shapes easiest). Discard the top parchment.
  6. Place the parchment with the cut crackers on a baking sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes or until crisp. Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then break apart using the cut lines.
  7. Serve with soup or dip.

Notes:

  • Use whatever nut flour or seed flour you desire.
  • You may add flavourings but the sesame is fairly strong so you may wish to use a different oil.
  • I have used both toasted sesame seeds and untoasted, both are very good.
  • I find I usually have to remove the edge crackers earlier from the baking sheet and return the rest to bake a bit longer, continue to do so until the desired golden colour is achieved.

I have had a bum shoulder for the longest time. I’m seeing a chiropractor and she does acupuncture and some massage techniques which have been quite successful but I thought I’d help it along by adding some turmeric to my routine because it is widely known as an anti-inflammatory. We had a couple of days with back to back dishes with turmeric and it seems to have helped. Although it isn’t nearly as cold out as it was in December and early January, it is still winter in these parts and soup is definitely at the top of my list of cravings.

Slow Cooker Lentil Tomato Soup with Turmeric

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Makes 750 mL of soup

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 100 g onions, roughly chopped
  • 20 g roasted garlic (about 3 large cloves)
  • 60 g red lentils
  • 350 mL vegetable stock
  • 200 g tomatoes
  • 10 g turmeric
  • 5 g sea salt
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 250 mL Coconut Milk

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the coconut milk in the bowl of a small slow cooker and cook (mine only has one temperature) for 4 hours.
  2. Purée to a smooth creamy velvety soup, adding the coconut milk slowly. Press through a fine sieve. Reheat if necessary. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil, chili oil or toasted coconut.


It is a smooth and velvety soup.

Notes:

  • Because I blitzed the kaffir lime leaves into the soup, it is imperative to press the soup through a fine sieve to catch the hard bits. It will also result in a velvety smooth, creamy soup.
  • The coconut milk adds a bit of sweetness to the soup, but doesn’t make it sweet.
  • The lentils add creamy texture and protein.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to eat a more vegetable-based diet. I have no intention on going vegetarian but I would like to limit my intake of meat a bit more; currently, we don’t eat a lot of beef, but we do eat pork, chicken and lamb (we will continue to eat fish). In this effort, I searched out a meatless chickpea recipe with turmeric. Turmeric has gained some notoriety for its medicinal properties that I wanted to take advantage of. If you wish to read more about it, read this article. Turmeric is also quite beautiful and tasty too! I altered a Guy Fieri recipe to our taste.

Be careful as the turmeric discolours everything, even nailpolish!

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Raisins and Turmeric

This recipe makes 4 medium servings.

For the original recipe, please click here.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, if desired
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • zest of one orange, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Pour the oil into a large mixing bowl, and then add the spices, ginger, garlic, cauliflower, chickpeas and onions, and toss to coat everything evenly. Toss in the raisins and zest and mix in evenly. Place on a sheet tray and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast in the oven until lightly browned and the cauliflower is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Serve on a bed of sautéed spinach or baby kale, dressed with a light vinaigrette.

Notes:

  • I always used dried chickpeas, about 140 g dried chickpeas will yield the cooked amount required for this recipe.
  • If you have leftovers, simply warm up with some vegetable stock and purée into a smooth, velvety soup.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil seems like a lot, but it really just covers the cauliflower and chickpeas.

The turmeric shaded the cauliflower in a beautiful yellow colour.

Updated Kale Chips

In an effort to eat healthier, I developed this recipe for a snack that is flavourful, crunchy and delivers a bit of protein and vitamins! The almond flour helps with the crunch as does the coconut flour, the dehydrated onion and garlic give the flavour this healthy snack delivers.

Kale Chips

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 2 to 4

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 120 g kale, washed, dried and cut into medium-sized pieces
  • 30 g almond flour
  • 20 g coconut flour
  • 10 g dehydrated onion
  • 5 g dehydrated garlic
  • 30 mL olive oil
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 93° C (200°F )(I used my convection (fan) setting).
  2. In a dedicated spice/coffee mill, grind the almond flour, coconut flour, onion and garlic until a fine powder. Set aside.
  3. Wash kale and dry as well as possible. Remove thick ribs. Cut into bite-sized pieces keeping in mind that they will shrink to about half their raw size.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over kale and toss to coat evenly. I gave them a quick, light massage to evenly coat each leaf.
  5. Spread kale on a cookie sheet so they are on one layer and not overlapping. Sprinkle lightly with about 7 g of almond flour mixture (I found it easier to sprinkle through a fine sieve).
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes tossing occasionally until crisp. Sprinkle with salt.
  7. Serve immediately.

Notes:

  • Spice up the finished kale chips with a little cayenne pepper.
  • Instead of olive oil, use chili oil to coat raw chips.
  • Spread the oil-coated chips evenly on a cookie sheet to dry quickly and evenly.
  • A medium to larger cut leaf will dehydrate to a bite-sized chip.
  • Store the leftover coconut flour mix in an air-tight container for future kale chips.

Nutritional facts for kale chips

Smoked Salmon Roll-ups

Is anyone else’s mind-blown that it is 2018? Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were freaking out for Y2K? Now 18 years later, we are still here and I’m approaching my 11th year of blogging! Thank you all for your continued support, I feel so grateful to call all of you friends, all over the world. Heartfelt thank you.

Last summer, we visited our dear friends at their Wisconsin home. While we were there, one of the breakfasts we had were some delicious Sausage Crescent Roll Bombs, made super-easy by using regular store-bought crescent rolls! Their version had sausage, scrambled eggs, and cheese, so good. I have to admit, I haven’t had or made a crescent roll for more years than I wish to count but the breakfast idea stuck with me and I knew I wanted to make it for a special occasion. Fast forward to New Years Eve 2017 and we were having friends over for the night, but they are vegetarian so making the crescent rolls as our other friends’ recipe was out of the question, so I improvised and came up with this delicious alternative! Same store-bought crescent roll pastry, but with a twist: I used goats cheese, smoked salmon, caramelized onions, wilted spinach and scrambled eggs, topped off with a creamy Dijon and Dill béchamel sauce. Yup, it’s definitely a winner. And you can freeze them for future breakfasts or brunch! Easy-peasy!

A delicious combination of flavours that are so good, I’ve had the request to make them again and again!

You see how bright the eggs are, they are that way because of the gorgeous yolks!

Smoked Salmon Roll-ups

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • few handfuls of baby spinach
  • 1/2 sweet onion, like vidalia
  • 2 L eggs
  • 15 mL Greek Yogurt
  • 1 package crescent rolls ~235 g (I used this one)
  • 150 g goats cheese, room temperature, loosened with a bit of milk
  • 140 g smoked salmon
  • 5 g butter
  • 5 g flour
  • 125 mL milk
  • pinch of dill
  • 15 mL Dijon Mustard
  • splash of white vinegar

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Caramelize the onions in a splash of olive oil. Add the spinach and wilt. Remove from hot pan to cool.
  3. Combine eggs and yogurt and mix well. Add another splash of olive oil to the pan and heat, add the eggs and scramble until softly set. Remove from pan to cool.
  4. Open the crescent roll package according to directions (this was a bit of a challenge for me) and roll out flat. Ignoring the angled pre-cut lines, cut into 8 even strips.
  5. Spread equal amounts of goats cheese on each strip, top with smoked salmon, then the spinach and onion mixture and finally the eggs. Roll-up the strip.
  6. Spray 8-muffin cups with non-stick spray and place one roll into each cup. Repeat until all eight cups are filled. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and pastry is baked through.
  7. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour and slowly pour in the milk whilst whisking to create a smooth sauce. Whisk in the dill and the Dijon and a splash of white vinegar and cook the sauce until thick and creamy.
  8. Serve the baked roll-up on a warm plate drizzled with the Dijon-Dill Béchamel sauce.

The pastry is slightly sweet which balanced the slightly tart bechamel sauce.

You’ll just have to take my word for it that the recipe makes 8! I freeze them in muffin cups and later transfer them to a zip-lock bag.

Notes:

  • We buy these eggs because they have had the most consistently orange (note pale yellow) yolks with great flavour.
  • For New Years’ Day, I served them on a bed of butter-wilted spinach and garnished with finely chopped green onion.
  • This is a versatile recipe, you can easily make your own version like the original or with ham and cheese, philly steak, etc., you get the drift!
  • Freeze extra roll-ups unbaked in a lightly sprayed muffin tin and when frozen, transfer to a zip-lock bag. To bake, no need to defrost, simply return to a lightly sprayed muffin tin and bake at 375° F in a preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes (or until internal temperature is around 180° F).
  • Have a large group for brunch? Make the roll-ups the night before and store in the refrigerator. Bake in a preheated oven as per instructions.

This is the actual dish I served for breakfast on New Years Day. I put the roll-up on a bed of butter-wilted spinach.

Chocolate Brioche

It has been beyond cold in these parts. Entirely opposite to what Australia is experiencing. Our windchills (and humidity) take the cold over the top, for example last week it was -13C with 30% humidity and a windchill that makes it feel like -25C at 8am! That’s wild. Your skin can freeze in 10 minutes. It’s a battle of being chilled and too hot at the same time; imagine having to take literally 10 minutes to put all your outdoor gear on, you’re already sweating because you’re inside, then going outside, walking – expanding energy, getting warm in your coat, and then popping into a warmly heated shop! You just can’t undress fast enough! It’s brutal. Staying home is easy, you just don’t feel like the battle.

Having the oven on makes the kitchen a wee bit cozier during this deep freeze so I baked this old favourite. Plus the aroma is intoxicating. It is an old recipe that I posted in 2012 here but I remade it with a small addition and reduced it to one loaf so I thought I’d post the revised version. The biggest change was that I added about 50 mL of melted Belgian chocolate to the chocolate part which really enhanced the flavour without making it too doughy. I also brushed the dough with an egg yolk to make it gorgeous and shiny. We had it for New Year’s Day breakfast along the side of the Smoked Salmon Roll-ups. It was delicious.

The chocolate flavour was richer using the melted Belgium Chocolate with the cocoa powder.

Chocolate Brioche

Makes 1 relatively good sized braid. Original recipe was modified from Baking with Julia.

To print this recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 7 g dry yeast
  • 65 mL tepid water (80°F to 90°F)
  • 30 g granulated sugar + a pinch, divided
  • 50 g unsalted butter, cut into smallish cubes
  • 125 mL whole milk
  • 10 g salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 420 g all-purpose, unbleached flour, divided
  • 14 g unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 30 g icing sugar
  • 50 mL Belgian chocolate, melted and cooled
  • non-stick cooking spray or olive oil

Ingredients for the glaze:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • splash of water

Directions:

  1. Spray two large mixing bowls with non-stick cooking spray, or rub with butter or olive oil and set aside.
  2. Whisk the yeast into the water with a pinch of sugar in a measuring cup and allow to proof, about 5 minutes.
  3. Heat the milk with 1/3 cup granulated sugar and the cubed butter until warm to touch and the butter has entirely melted. Stir in the salt until melted. Allow this mixture to cool to 110°F.
  4. Once cooled, pour the milk mixture into the large stand mixer bowl attached with a whisk and add the eggs one at a time, mixing well to combine. You should have about 1 litre of liquid. Divide into two portions of about 500 mL each and set one portion aside.
  5. Put the cookie paddle onto your stand mixer. To one portion, add about 100 g of the flour and beat on low for about 3 minutes or until it comes together. Now switch to the bread dough paddle and add the remaining flour or as much as needed, kneading on medium-low speed to make a soft dough that is clean off the sides of the bowl. Now knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to one of the bowls that has been prepared. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm dark place to double in size (1 or 1 1/2 hours).
  6. For the chocolate portion, sift 210 g of flour with the unsweetened cocoa and icing sugar.
  7. Retrieve the second portion of the liquid and add the cooled melted Belgian chocolate and mix well.
  8. Add about 100 g of the sifted flour, cocoa and icing sugar and beat on low for about 3 minutes or until it comes together. Add the remaining flour or as much flour as needed kneading on medium-low speed to make a soft dough that is clean off the sides of the bowl. Now knead for 8-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to the other bowl that has been prepared. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm dark place to double in size (1 or 1 1/2 hours).
  9. When dough has doubled in size (both the chocolate and the plain versions) punch down and deflate them. Cover again and allow to rise until doubled in size (about 45 minutes to 1 hour).
  10. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Divide the plain, white dough in 2 equal portions (I find a scale very helpful) and roll into approximately 16″ lengths. Divide the chocolate dough into 2 equal portions. Combine the four ropes on a lightly floured surface and braid. Press together the ends and fold under the braid. Place on lined baking sheet and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Combine the egg and cold water or heavy cream and mix well. Brush the braid with the glaze and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the expansion joints of the braid and return to bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until the internal temperature is about 200°F. If they brown too quickly, cover browning parts with a little piece of foil.
  12. Cool before slicing. This can be frozen in an airtight plastic bag for about 1 month.

Note:

  • Stale slices of this bread makes excellent French toast or Bread Pudding!

Roasted Garlic Dip

Just prior to Christmas, I did a couple of jobs which had me buying a lot of garlic. When I say a lot, I mean literally dozens of heads! Of course, I gave away as much as I could but the majority came home with me. I am not one to toss perfectly good food in the bin, so I decided to roast the heads and freeze them for quick additions to sauces and soups. Now, I must say that this idea is genius because roasted garlic is so tasty and having some quick at hand makes it easy to add another level of flavour without the harshness of raw garlic. Over the holidays, we got together with our wonderful neighbours and I made this delicious roasted garlic dip.

Now there is that cold winter light!

Roasted Garlic Dip

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 6-8, makes about 300 mL

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 200 g roasted garlic (about 4 heads)
  • 125 g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 50 g Greek Yogurt
  • Sea salt to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl large enough to accommodate a stick blender, combine all of the ingredients and purée until smooth and silky.
  2. Serve at room temperature.

Notes:

  • I roast garlic by cutting off the bottom of the head (the root end) and setting it in about 30 mL of olive oil. I like to cover the garlic I roast so it steams and roasts at the same time. I roast the garlic in a 350° F oven for about 45 minutes or until they are very soft.
  • To extract the garlic, simply squeeze each clove into a container.
  • Some people add freshly grated Parmesan to this dip but I find it rich enough without it.
  • Save the cut ends of the garlic for soup stock.

This dip would also be a tasty cream sauce for pasta.

Happy New Year!

Southwestern Bean Soup

I wish you all the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year! Thank you for your continued support, you have all made this blogging experience so much richer than I ever could have imagined, thank you.

Our neighbourhood progressive dinner party was scheduled for the Saturday after we returned home from Arizona; I didn’t think it would be a problem since we were responsible for hors d’œuvres and appetizers. Had I read more than the heading of the email from the organizers (the main course couple), I would have realized that things were to get a bit more complicated since one person decided to go vegetarian and dairy free (for health reasons). I love a challenge but I would have liked to experiment a bit more, notwithstanding, it turned out delicious so I documented the recipe for the future. Like most recipes, this tastes better the day after it is made!

South Western Bean Soup

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 6-8 depending on serving size

To print recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 40 g black beans, soaked overnight
  • 160 g navy beans, soaked overnight
  • 100 g kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 200 g sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 15 mL olive oil
  • 5 g toasted cumin
  • 2 g toasted coriander
  • pinch of chili powder, or to taste
  • 5 g smoked paprika, or to taste
  • 7 g cocoa powder
  • 10 g garlic, finely minced
  • 40 g tomato paste
  • 2 g puréed chipotle peppers
  • 750 mL vegetable stock
  • 250 mL passata
  • 165 g grilled corn, removed from cob
  • cilantro to garnish
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt to garnish
  • grated cheese to garnish
  • 125 mL creamed lentils (see notes)
  • 1 large avocado, cubed to garnish

Directions:

  1. Caramelize chopped onions in the olive oil. In the meantime, add the vegetable stock, passata, beans to the warm crock pot and put on high for 5 hours.
  2. Add the onions, all of the spices, tomato paste, and enchilada sauce and stir well. Cover and cook for 5 hours.
  3. When the beans are soft, add the creamed lentils and stir into the soup so it is consistent and creamy. Add the grilled corn kernels, and cook for an additional 30 minutes on high, stirring occasionally.
  4. Serve in warmed bowls and top with avocado, a spoonful of Greek yogurt, cilantro, and cheese. Serve immediately with Cornbread.

Notes:

  • I use lentils as a thickener particularly when I make gluten-free recipes. Simply cook lentils until soft and purée with a stick blender until smooth. Freeze the excess in an ice-cube tray and when frozen, pop into a zip lock bag.
  • I buy chipotle peppers in a can, purée and freeze the excess in an ice-cube tray and when frozen, pop into a zip lock bag, same goes for tomato paste.

Our neighbourly South-Western- themed progressive dinner party was scheduled two days after we returned home from Arizona, I didn’t think it would be a problem because we were only responsible for hors d’œuvres and appetizers, easy-peasy! HA! Had I read more than the heading of the organizer’s email, I would have realized that things would get a bit more complicated since one person decided to go vegetarian, gluten and dairy free (for health reasons). But, you know me, I do love a challenge and as luck would have it, my experiments turned out even better than I expected! So much so, that JT has asked for it several times since, so I documented the recipe for the future use.

This recipe originated from Emeril Lagasse but I tweaked it a little bit. What attracted me to this recipe was, of course, that it was baked an not deep fried, and although deep fried would be awesome, it’s always nice to lower calories whenever possible particularly if you need not sacrifice flavour or texture! I think you will be very happy with the baked version (our group could not get enough of them)! I’ll speak to the vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy- free version in my notes below (no pics, sorry).

You can see how crispy these turned out.

Baked Jalapeño Poppers

Makes about 24 jalapeño poppers

For the original recipe, please click here.

Ingredients:

  • 12 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, stems, seeds and membranes removed
  • 170 g (6 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 140 g (1 1/2 cups) grated sharp or old cheddar
  • 3 g (1/2 tsp) ground cumin
  • pinch of cayenne, or less, to taste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) milk
  • 8 tsp Essence, divided
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • non-stick spray

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and grated cheddar and mix well.
  2. Toast the cumin until you can smell the aroma, allow to cool and add to the cream cheese mixture and stir well. Set aside.
  3. Prepare your breading station by whisking 2 large eggs with 2 tsp of the Essence and the milk in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, mix 4 tsp of the Essence with the coconut flour. In the third shallow bowl, add 2 tsp of the Essence to the panko and mix well. Reserve remaining essence for the next time (and believe me, there will be a next time!)
  4. Fill each jalapeño densely with the cream cheese mixture, being careful not to mound it too high; continue filling until you have filled all of the jalapeño halves.
  5. Dredge each jalapeño half in the coconut flour, then dip into the egg mixture and repeat once more. Finally, dip each pepper into the panko and press panko into the jalapeño to coat well. Repeat until all are coated.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to  375° F. Place jalapeño cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Give each jalapeño a light coating with the non-stick spray. Bake for 30 minutes or until panko is golden and crisp.
  7. Serve warm with sour cream and salsa.

Notes:

  • For the vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free version, I simply replaced the cheeses with creamed lentils (about 1/4 cup cooked in vegetable broth and puréed with a stick blender) and the panko with shredded unsweetened coconut. Even the non-vegetarians loved them! (Sorry, no pics).
  • I use coconut flour for baked “fried” foods because the coconut has an unbelievable absorption property which makes the batter so much crispier than all-purpose flour.
  • I used gloves to protect my hands from the jalapeños as I cleaned them, you might consider doing this too.
  • Leftovers? Freeze unbaked jalapeños on a parchment-lined baking sheet and when frozen, pop them into a ziplock bag.To bake frozen jalapeños, no need to defrost, just bake for a little longer to crisp up.
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