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Posts Tagged ‘ginger’

Bloor West Village (BWV) is really starting to shape up in terms of restaurants. Of course we have more than our share of the usual pubs and sports bars but fine dining and house made food restaurants have had a difficult go at it mainly due to greedy landlords offering absurdly high rents. But in recent times, the restaurant selection has expanded and now we have some excellent choices for good food. One of the more recent places is a Korean BBQ place and although the food is wonderful, the ambiance is not (I think I counted about 21 TVs surrounding the perimeter just below the ceiling, and it’s not a huge place!) so we will reserve our patronage for lunch or take out.

I was immediately intrigued by the spices and flavours of Korean cuisine but my only experience was with Charles (Five Euro Food, in hiatus presently) when we met up in Paris in 2012 and Sissi’s tantalizing recipes for pickles and kimchi. So one afternoon, I decided to explore said cuisine at home. Of course, I was ill-prepared and did not have some of the specific spices (Korean chili paste, Korean red pepper powder) so I had to improvise using ingredients found in my European kitchen. We loved it and, because we have a relatively young Korean palet, did not immediately taste a huge difference compared to the restaurant food we’ve experienced. In general, (in my opinion), Korean food can be rather spicy (hot) and may not be for everyone (they seem to have only one way to make it: really, really hot) so the recipe below is a slightly tempered version. Of course, you may make it as hot as you like.

Korean Pork “Bulgogi”

For the original recipe, please click here.

Print Korean “Bulgogi” Recipe

Makes 2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 200 g Pork Tenderloin, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, crushed
  • 45 mL (3 tbsp) fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 125 mL (1/2 cup) sweet pimento paste (like this) or Korean chili paste
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 63 mL (1/4 cup) dark soy sauce
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) Hungarian sweet paprika (or Korean chili powder)
  • 3 mL (1/2 tsp) smoked Spanish paprika
  • 5 mL (1 tsp) hot Hungarian paprika paste (like this), or to taste
  • 45 mL (3 tbsp) honey
  • 30 mL (2 tbsp) mirin
  • 2 medium scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
  • 10 mL (2 tsp) toasted white and black sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Combine everything but the pork, scallions and sesame seeds in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Toss the pork with the onions; cover with 1/2 of the marinade (reserve the rest for another time) and coat well, refrigerate for 1-4 hours.
  3. Warm a cast iron pan on the grill (or stovetop), add a little oil and cook the marinated meat and onions until the pork is cooked through. Leave the top open to allow the sauce to thicken.
  4. Serve with finely sliced scallions and toasted sesame seeds over sticky rice or cauliflower rice.

This is a richly flavoured Korean inspired dish.

Notes:

  • This version is not an overly spicy dish, but it is richly flavoured with a very slight kick.
  • I modified the ingredient list to suit what I had in my pantry. I cannot say whether the original recipe would be significantly spicier but my guess would be, that it is.
  • Make a double or triple batch of the marinade and reserve for future meals, it really is tasty.

Or you may use chicken, like this and make it a Bulgogi Bowl! I made a quick carrot pickle and topped shredded ice burg lettuce for a lighter dinner, it was wonderful!

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It’s tangy, crunchy and quite delicious.

I always knew that my blogging would someday parlay into something more but did I ever hope it would be two-fold? Never in a million years! First it was food styling (which I’m still doing) and as luck would have it, I recently reconnected with a colleague and a new opportunity was born: I’ve been social media content! How cool is that? I’ve been very fortunate to have been given this opportunity and I thank my lucky stars every minute! And I thought I was just lucky in love! So if you need food related social media content, I’m your gal! Email me at evataylor at bell dot net  and we’ll ‘talk’!

I know you’re scrolling ahead to see these photos so let me take the suspense out: they were taken on the morning of April 15, 2014 — I kid you NOT! I was hoping to be yearning for light, salad-ie dishes by now but sadly the weather is STILL not cooperating. Yes, we did have a couple of exceptionally warmish days last weekend but for the most part it’s still soup and stew weather. And like my rebellious feet I am holding out and silently switching gears to a more summery palate!

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I took this photo in High Park on my morning walk. Yes indeed it’s pretty…if it were December! Not April 15 for sure.

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It was cold enough that the snow stayed all day.

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It really is rather beautiful.

As I’m sure most of you operate with similar intentions, I cruise blogs particularly when inspiration evades me and this recipe was no different; it was inspired by the lovely Sawsan’s beautiful Sushi Salad. I must confess that I didn’t record or photograph the first attempt of this creation which was a huge mistake (or was it?) so we actually had this tasty dish two nights in a row! And if it were up to me, it would have been three or four!
The volumes are ball-park, use what you like, omit what you don’t! Easy. If you have celery add it, if you don’t, no worries. The beauty of this dish is the crunch and variety of each and every bite.

Sawsan used ‘cauliflower’ rice but the cauliflower was not nice the day I wanted to make this dish so I substituted Napa cabbage. Since we were having this as a dinner course, I added a marinated BBQ’d pork tenderloin as our protein but chicken or fish would be an excellent substitution.

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The avocado adds a certain je ne said quo is, but may be omitted if you’re watching calories.

Asian Inspired Crunchy Spring Salad

Serves 2 as a dinner portion. Please click here for the original recipe.

Ingredients for the pork and marinade:

  • 200 g pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce

Directions for the pork and marinade:

  1. Remove all fat and silver skin from the tenderloin. Stab it a few times with a fork, all the way around.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the marinade and roll the prepared tenderloin in it to cover. Let rest in the fridge for a minimum of 20 minutes or overnight.

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil

Directions for the dressing:

  1. Combine all ingredients and mix well. Set aside. (may be prepared the day before)

Ingredients for the salad:

(as suggestions, if you dislike something omit it and if you love something, by all means add more!)

  • 5-6 cups of finely sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup cucumber, cubed
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • 1/2 red pepper, cubed
  • 1/2 medium sized red beet (raw, peeled and julienned)
  • 2 green onions finely chopped
  • a good bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Directions for the salad:

  1. BBQ the tenderloin until the internal temperature reads 71° C or 160°F at its thickest part. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  2. Lay a generous bed of the finely sliced Napa cabbage on each plate.
  3. Sprinkle the cubed cucumber, avocado and red pepper along the outer edge of the base. Add the julienned beets to the centre so it just peeks outside the ring (the beets discolour the Napa so I didn’t want it to bleed all over it).
  4. Garnish with the green onions and cilantro.
  5. After the pork rests for 10 minutes, slice into thin slices. Lay 100 g sliced pork onto each plate and garnish with the dressing and the toasted sesame seeds.
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The abundance of colour was no mistake…perfect for a dreary, wet spring day.

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A mildly spiced layered cake

A mildly spiced layered cake

My friend Genie (Bunny. Eats. Design) in New Zealand very kindly invited me to participate in a new forum called Our Growing Edge which will be held monthly. It’s content will be defined by our cooking bucket list, so to speak — things that we want to conquer or need to conquer and upon our success (or failure!) we will create a post and link it to her page for the month. This is rather exciting because we all have our arch nemesis in cooking. Please click on over to Genie’s lovely blog (particularly on Tofu Tuesday’s when she showcases her most adorable flop eared bunny).

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In early January, my friend Sam (Sweet Samsations) posted a recipe for an Indonesian cake I had never heard of, which is not rare in this very large world of ours, but what caught my eye was the huge quantity of eggs used in this cake, Sweet Samsations uses 30 – THIRTY; I even found one that used 45 eggs! I just can’t imagine buying that many eggs for one recipe. But it is a beloved cake that’s for sure so I knew I had to look around and find a recipe with a more reasonable egg content because I HAD to make it. Fast forward to late January when Genie asked me to participate in Our Growing Edge, I knew what I wanted to make: Indonesian Spekkoek Lapis Legit. Now to find the time to bake it because it’s quite labourious as you bake each layer individually over the other in the same pan.

I landed on Food Network’s Emeril Lagasse’s recipe (didn’t make sense to me either) because his cake only used 12 eggs, and 12 is easily divided into two; I found my recipe, only 6 eggs! I did a quick assessment of the baking container that Emeril’s recipe used and determined that if I halved his recipe it would fit snugly into my 4″ x 6.7″ loaf pan. I didn’t get as many layers as I had hoped, but it still looked nice and it still had good flavour. Emeril suggests to decorate with powered sugar, and I added candied orange peel as garnish. I will serve it with the orange syrup that was the left over from candying the peel.

Indonesian Spekkoek Lapis Legit (Thousand-Layer Spice Cake)

Serves 4-6 depending on how thick you slice it

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp anise extract
  • 170 g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
  • Candied orange peel as garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat the broiler (I have this range with two ovens, I used the larger oven with the rack in the lower middle so it’s not too close to the broiler).
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 4″ x 6.7″ loaf pan and line with buttered parchment paper. I left enough of the parchment to go past the top of the pan, so I could use it to lift the cake out when it was done.
  3. Combine the nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, mace and ginger and set aside.
  4. Weigh your empty bowl, write down the measurement. In this bowl, cream the softened butter, 1/4 cup of sugar, vanilla, and salt. Add the egg yolks one at a time and beat until smooth. Fold the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  5. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar until stiff and shiny but not dry. Fold the whites into the egg yolk mixture, being careful not to over-mix. Divide the batter between 2 bowls. Add combined spices to 1 bowl and stir well.
  6. Weigh your bowl with the cake batter. Subtract this new weight from the old weight so you know how much your batter weighs and divide in half. Put your second bowl on a scale that can tare and zero it out. Pour half the batter into this bowl (you can see exactly when you reach half on the scale).
  7. Mix the spices into the second batter along with the anise extract.
  8. Pour 4-6 tablespoons of the batter into the bottom of the pan and spread out evenly. Sammy suggests to pre-heat the pan, which I didn’t do, but I suspect it makes spreading the batter much easier since my subsequent layers spread easier on the hot layer.
  9. Bake in a hot broiler for 2 minutes. Watch carefully.
  10. Pour 4-6 tablespoons of the spiced batter, spreading it over the first layer to form a thin second layer. Place the pan under the preheated broiler for 2 minutes, or until the layer is firm and very lightly browned. Continue until you have exhausted both batters. Emeril noted that the cake typically has between 12 and 15 layers — I ended up with 10, not bad for a first timer!
  11. Allow  the cake cool on a wire rack, turn out onto a cutting board and even up the sides by cutting clean new edges.
  12. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and garnish with candied orange rind.
  13. Slice thinly and serve warm or at room temperature with additional orange syrup, if you so desire.
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I should have made the layers much thinner

It's quite a show stopper!

It’s quite a show stopper!

My notes:

  • It’s a mildly spiced cake with a predominant butter flavour, I think I might increase the spices a bit more if I make it again because I thought it tasted a bit greasy.
  • The butter really does need to be soft so it makes a lovely smooth batter.
  • Many Indonesian bakers suggest to press down each layer after you bake it, although I did that, mine bounced right back.
  • It’s a very rich cake so you needn’t cut large pieces.
  • Next time I may try chocolate and vanilla layers or even vanilla and espresso flavour!

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The Eastern Seaboard got dumped on again by Nimo and Toronto wasn’t spared this time. A total of 30cm (12inches) covered the city over 28 hours! Could have been worse. Here are a few shots for your enjoyment. Hope you were spared the carnage!

The view from the office

The view from the office

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View of the backyard, the morning after


My dear friend Norma (at Garden to Wok) reminded me of a recipe I wanted to try. Norma posted Egg Foo Yung in April last year and I was so struck by it that I made it shortly after, with much success! Norma kindly suggested that next time I try it in the ebelskiver pan that Barb posted about. As you know, this Christmas Santa Barb generously bought me very own Ebelskiver pan and even though I’ve been giving it (and my arms, since it is cast iron) a good workout, I decided it was time to expand the horizons of the humble Ebelskiver pan. Last week, I needed dinner and thought, what an opportunity! So, I pulled out the pan and made Eggelskiver.

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Very nicely shaped Eggs in this delightfully light broth

I followed the original recipe exactly, with the exception of the cooking time, since these were a bit thicker, they needed a little oven time (350°F) for about 12 minutes until the egg and seafood are cooked through. Because the round part is at the bottom, they get a gorgeous golden colour without having to flip so don’t bother! I put a few chili flakes onto the soup as garnish.

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This casualty was just as tasty as it’s perfect cousins. I thought it was a good opportunity to show the texture. Sweet shrimp and scallops really rounded out the dish (no pun intended; OK, the pun was intended).

I will definitely make this again, thanks Norma for the suggestion, I almost like these better than the original!

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I like the size of these balls, you could have one or all four.

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We can’t have Christmas dinner without pumpkin pie, but it’s two weeks into January and most of us were trying to catch up from all the over eating we did during the holidays, so instead of making a giant pie, I decided to make mini tarts and that way one can have one or many, it’s up to the individual! Of course, I had this idea to brûlée the tops, just for a little difference and it worked out very well; the only thing is that you can’t do it too far in advance otherwise it gets mushy.

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This is an optical illusion, they are actually really mini!

Pumpkin Brûlée Mini Tarts

Makes 18 mini tarts and 4 4oz or 100 mL ramekins

Original recipe from Five Roses Flour Cookbook page 132

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You can see the hard brûléed tops as they shine in the sunlight!

Ingredients:

  • 18 mini tart shells, unbaked
  • 375 mL or 1 1/2 cups pure pumpkin purée (I used Ed Smith)
  • 250 mL or 1 cup warm milk
  • 75 mL or 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 50 mL or 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 25 mL or 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 mL or 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 mL or 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 mL or 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 2 mL or 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 brown sugar, air dried (spread brown sugar on a cookie sheet for a few hours to air dry)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 230°C or 450°F .
  2. Combine all of the ingredients and pour mixture into tart shells until they just reach the rim.
  3. For the ramekins, prepare by smearing a good amount of butter on the sides and bottom and then dust with granulated sugar. Fill ramekins to top rim.
  4. Tarts should bake at 230°C or 450°F for 10 minutes and then at 160°C or 325°F for 10-15 minutes (they bake much faster than the ramekins). Ramekins will need to bake for 15 minutes at 230°C or 450°F and then at 160°C or 325°F for 15-20 minutes (a cake tester should come out clean when tested).
  5. Sprinkle a good solid but not thick coating of the brown sugar one each tart and ramekin, brûlée with your kitchen torch until sugar is melted and solidifies when cool. Serve with whipped cream.
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Shhhhh, they’re baking….

You caught my lie, I didn't have whipped cream!

You caught my lie, I didn’t have whipped cream!

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Creamy centre with a crunchy topping. But still no whipped cream!

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Hello everyone! I must apologize that I have missed a couple of posts, not because of anything other than laziness. I thought I had ‘banked’ enough to last me through the weekend but I hadn’t so my blog remained inactive over the weekend. Our wonderful friends Paul and T paid us a visit, arriving on Friday and going back home on Monday. We had a great time, did lots of fun stuff (yes, I’ll blog about that soon) and ate and drank excessively! Now we are recovering until next time!

I’m inspired by many of the blogs I follow, if not for the recipe, but perhaps an ingredient or even a plating, but I know when an inspiration hits me over the stuffed-up head and it resonates throughout the day with a burning desire (no, not THAT!). Kelly over at Inspired Edibles presented this soup at the beginning of the year and it stuck in my head like that song (sorry about that, peeps) and I knew I had to make it, or something like it. I adore the Asian flavours in a soup, add some rice noodles and I’m in Seventh Heaven. It turned out that I didn’t have some of the ingredients for Kelly’s soup, so I had to improvise, but let me tell you it was YUM. That’s Y. U. M. It was like a lemongrass, sweet and sour, vegetable soup, all of the things that make you happy. That’s right, the epitome of Happy Food.

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Sweet, sour, tangy, delicious

Asian Inspired Soup

Serves 1  in a large bowl (ingredients are just rough, you can use your own taste to determine your version)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Sesame oil and a splash of canola oil
  • 140 g mushrooms (about 3/4 cup), quartered
  • 100 g shrimps and scallops (3 large shrimp and 1 scallop), cleaned and sliced down the middle
  • 60 g onions, sliced finely (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 10 g garlic, roughly chopped (2-3 cloves)
  • 10 g fresh ginger, roughly chopped (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 10 g lemongrass, roughly chopped (about 2-3 tables spoons)
  • 5 g Galangal
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
  • 3 Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 roma tomato, quartered
  • handful of rice noodles

Garnish:

  • 1/4 cup finely sliced green onion
  • pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Heat the water in your kettle until boiling. Pour over the rice noodles and allow to sit until they are totally reconstituted, 10-15 minutes. Do not over soak, you want a bit of a bite to it.
  2. In a large soup pan, heat the two oils until hot but not smoky (the sesame oil has a very low smoke point). Add the onions and stir until slightly translucent. Add the shrimp and scallop and cook lightly. Turn the heat down to a simmer and add the mushrooms. Sprinkle the coriander on the shrimp and onions and stir quickly until aromatic.
  3. Combine the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and galangal in an infuser (mine is like this) and put it into the soup pan. Add all of the stock and water and add the lime juice, fish sauce, and hoisin saucekafir leaves, galangal, fish sauce, lime juice, and hoisin sauce. Stir well.
  4. Bring to a very light boil and allow to simmer for about 5-6 minutes (be careful so your shrimp and scallop don’t over cook). Add the tomatoes but don’t overcook, just heat them up.
  5. Put one third of the cold noodles into a large decorative white bowl. Add ladle-fulls of the soup and garnish with the green onion and pepper flakes. Enjoy.

Cooks tips:

  • Store your fresh ginger knobs in the freezer in a resealable container; grate on a fine micro-plane grater when required, you need not peel it! Keeps indefinitely.
  • I usually buy a large quantity of lemongrass and chop them finely in my food processor, and then I freeze them in a reusable container. I can usually break off what I need.
  • If you are taking the left overs to work, I recommend storing the cooked noodles in a separate container to the soup so that they don’t absorb any more liquid. When you reheat the soup, do so to just before boiling (so the chicken doesn’t cook further) and that way when you put the chilled noodles in, they will cool it down to a palatable level.
  • Fish sauce is used in thai cooking instead of salt.
  • To save time, I have sometimes used Rosa’s Lime Cordial instead of lime juice, but you have to remember NOT to add the hoisin sauce as that is also sweet.
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Still tastes the same, just in sheeps clothing

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What did you do? We celebrated at our favourite French restaurant and then stopped in at a party at Kim’s (neighbour, boss, friend) place. I had had the 24 hour stomach bug the day before, so I was a little tentative to party, but it all worked out in the end.

Did you make any resolutions? I evaluated my resolution from last year and by George I did OK. I resolved to use fewer zip lock baggies and I DID! I am using reusable containers instead, mostly glass but for the freezer I still use plastic. So what’s my resolution this year? I’m going to work out more regularly even though I tend to be good about it, I will resolve to go to the gym even when I don’t feel like it. Did you know it takes 21 days of repetition to become a habit? So all I have to do is work out for 21 days and I won’t have a choice. Hmmm.

As most of you have seen by my comments, Christmas was a bit of a wash for my side of the family; my brother’s kids came down with the stomach flu and Christmas Eve dinner was cancelled. That was a real bummer and the kids felt so terrible, so I told them we would recreate Christmas dinner when they all felt better in January. JT stepped out in the morning and bought us a Seafood feast we were going to enjoy instead of a traditional Christmas turkey dinner. Late afternoon we popped over to Barb‘s for some Christmas cheer and they had a gorgeous Charcuterie spread that was so moreish, we couldn’t stop eating. And then of course, we weren’t hungry for our seafood feast. It went back into the freezer and we’ll enjoy it another time!

Santa was very good to me this year and it was extra special because I participated in Charles’ Secret Santa. My not-so-secret Santa was Charlie over at Hotly Spiced. She sent along the greatest kitchen gadgets made by a 100 year old English company Tala which is very cool because it’s Taylor and Law! There was a great retro looking sifter and a really cool measuring cup and Charlie also added a beautiful Christmas ornament and the cutest festive napkins! Little did she know I’m a bit of a cocktail napkin collector! All much appreciated and already put to excellent use. Thank you Charlie.

We’re still in holiday mode over at Kitcheninspirations and we made gingerbread pancakes that were just so yummy I had to sneak in one more holiday recipe. Remember the fluffiest buttermilk pancakes I made on Thanksgiving weekend at my brother’s cottage? Well, I reinvented them into gingerbread pancakes.

Festive Gingerbread Pancakes

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Makes 6 pancakes 10cm (4.5in) in diametre

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl or Tupperware container for travel, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, spices and salt. Set aside.
  2. Separate egg yolk from egg white and beat egg white and cream of tartar on high speed until stiff peaks form but not dry.
  3. Beat the egg yolk until light yellow in colour and thick, add milk, vanilla and melted butter and beat until smooth on a slow speed. (For this small quantity, I find my immersion blender with whisk attachment a perfect size for both egg white and egg yolk).
  4. Fold in flour mixture, but don’t over mix as we don’t want the glutens activated.
  5. Add 1/3 of the egg white to the batter and mix together gently then fold in the remaining egg white carefully, do not over mix!
  6. Spray your skillet with non-stick spray set to medium temperature (or 350°F).
  7. Drop about 1/3 cup of batter on pan for each pancake and spread out to about 4-5″ and cook until you see a few bubbles on the surface of the batter. Flip your pancakes and cook for about another 1-2 minutes.
  8. Keep warm until you have made all the pancakes and serve warm with butter, maple syrup!

Note: recipe was updated December 2019.

IMG_3754_BLOG The coolest retro cooking tools

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I thought I had my workout in the gym today. That’s what I thought when I got home and prepared to go for a walk around the hood and admire the changing leaves before they are all on the ground. I was wrong. As I went into the kitchen for a glass of water (the wine would come after the walk) I noticed the hardwood in front of our wine fridge was buckling a bit. No problem, I’ll just pull out the fridge and see what’s going on. I should have waited for JT to get home because clearly I was in the ‘blue job’ territory. But I just couldn’t help myself, I’m like that. I discovered that the fridge didn’t budge; oh no, it must be buckling under it and catching the little feet. Oh no. Now THIS is a challenge. Some brains and some brawn (and some good old fashioned Eastern European sweat) I managed to get the fridge out and the boards cut out (with my handy Dremel tool, which I use about once every four years). BRING ON THE DYI, I’m freakin’ READY! Tomorrow I’m ripping out tiles from the stairs and I’m cladding them in wood!

Fortunately, there was no water or even wetness below, so there is relief because if you’ve ever had a water leak, it’s almost impossible to figure out where it’s coming from. But now the question is, why did the boards buckle? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Doing manual labour like that inspires me to bake. Fortunately, my friend’s (boss, neighbour) daughter’s after school program is having a bake sale and since my friend (Kim) doesn’t bake much, I told her I would bake some cookies for the sale. I ended up making some old fashioned ginger snaps from my recipe from last Christmas, but then I saw a version Zsusza’s delightful cookie and was immediately drawn to it. I loved the way the cookie crackled on top. Well the kid got two batches for the bake sale (maybe a few were set aside!). I made a few alterations to the recipe, so please pop over to Zsuzsa’s blog to see the original recipe, I didn’t have nutmeg handy so I substituted allspice and I also added an extra teaspoon of dry ginger as well as a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger. It makes for a lovely warmly spiced cookie. And baking cookies is a hell of a lot easier than pulling a stuck wine fridge out of its spot.

They are soft and chewy on the inside

Old Fashioned Molasses Spice Cookies

Makes about 30-36 cookies (if you don’t sample the cookie dough)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dry ginger
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 large egg

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to (175°C) 350° F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt; set it aside.
  4. In the bowl of your mixer, beat the shortening and sugar until fluffy.
  5. Beat in the molasses, egg and the freshly grated ginger and beat on low speed until just combined.
  6. Stir in the flour mixture.
  7. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.
  8. Using a melon baller, form the dough into 19 g balls.
  9. Place the balls leaving at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (baking more will cause the cookies to be hard)
  11. The cookies will be very soft when you take them out of the oven but they will harden up as they cool, then transfer to a wire rack.

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We invited my friend Kim and her hubby for coffee and cake after seeing Cloud Atlas at the TIFF film festival. I was hoping to have a great discussion about the film (and there was a lot to discuss) but unfortunately, they hated the film so instead of prolonging their misery, I served coffee and cake.

I started the recipe and was committed to it when I realized I didn’t have quite enough GF Flour, so I improvised and added the remainder as finely ground corn meal. It added a very nice texture to the cake and no body threw it back at me!

Original recipe can be found here.

A lovely honey and ginger taste, it’s garnished with fresh figs, candied ginger slices, candied walnuts and edible rose petals.

Gluten Free Honey & Ginger Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz liquid honey
  • 6 oz gluten-free flour
  • 2 oz of fine cornmeal (just run regular cornmeal through a coffee grinder to get a fine powder)
  • 1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 3 oz of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp orange essence
  • 1/2 tsp lemon essence
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 egg (the cake was very crumbly, I might add another egg next time)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 oz finely grated fresh ginger

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (170°C).
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices into a large bowl and add the sugar and zest. Rub the butter in (you can do this in a food processor with plastic blades)
  3. Warm the honey slightly, and beat it with the egg. Mix into the flour mixture.
  4. Mix the baking soda with 3 tbsps of water until dissolved, then process it into the flour mixture.
  5. Stir in the finely minced ginger pour into a greased or lined 8″ square pan.
  6. Bake for about 50 minutes (mine was ready in about 40 minutes). Cool it in the pan for about 10 minutes then turn it onto a cooling rack until cold.

A very tasty but crumbly cake

I garnished the cake with additional warmed honey, fresh figs cut into quarters, honey walnuts, slices of candied ginger and edible rose petals.

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I released the polenta squares too early! So annoyed with myself so I thought I’d follow it up with some more tapas. I wrote this post before our trip thinking that I’ll be swamped and jet-lagged when we get back, so glad I did because I so am all of the above. Work is nice and busy, I got a great little freelance job in and I’m ready for bed at 8pm most nights! I’m not complaining, just giving you the lay of the land.
I had mentioned that I love tapas dinner parties, so the Sunday before our holiday we had friends Rae and Monica over for a simplified tapas dinner party; their two youngest girls went to a concert close by and they needed to kill a few hours, so we said, come on over! We didn’t have a lot of time, so I had to abbreviate the standard 3×4 courses, so we only had 4×1 courses in total. It was plenty of food. In fact, I had to forgo one of the planned courses; fortunately tapas are make as you go so nothing went to waste, we just had it for dinner later in the week.

I’m also trying Instagram on my iPhone 4Gs, not quite as nice as the Canon, but pretty close. It really does better during the daylight as opposed to night. I never use the flash, mainly because my 3Gs never had one, so I really don’t miss it. What do you think?

Abbreviated Tapas Dinner Party

Sawsans Flat Bread with Tapenade and John’s home made Ricotta

Because you fold the tapenade and ricotta into the dough, it makes it flavourful throughout

Chilled cucumber shooters with greek yogurt. I made the soup with vegetable stock as we had a vegetarian in our midst.

Very tasty little shots

Sizzling garlic Shrimp with cilantro and lemon with home made spelt fajita shells

I thought I made too much food…not

Gluten-free Honey Ginger Cake with fresh figs, candied ginger slices and edible rose petals

No one was gluten-free, but I had some left over cake from the previous night


Lyon and Paris also had to be broken down into two parts, too much stuff to talk about, you’ll see why. I’ll need a vacation from my vacation!

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We had good friends over for dinner on Saturday night and I wanted to make a light, healthy dinner which we could all feel good about. The couple recently down-sized about 22.6 kg (50lbs) combined total weight and I sure did not want to make them feel bad with a heavy meal. Plus it’s been ridiculously hot in Toronto, with high humidity so a heavy meal isn’t even appealing. I also planned the meal so that we had little kitchen time, other than plating and serving. We served family style to allow each individual to have as much or as little as desired.

Over the following few days, I will document the recipes that I served; here is the menu to give you a little taste:

Cocktails: Home made Ginger Ale (recipe below. I was inspired by The Cook’s Sister with this recipe)

Hors D’œuvres: Bite-sized Caprese Salad with EVOO and Himalayan pink salt.

Appetizer: Chilled Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Warm Sesame Encrusted Goats Cheese Balls (Barb at Profiteroles and Ponytails gave me the idea for this recipe, but I did the ol’ switcheroo and made the soup cold and the balls warm)(insert all goats cheese ball jokes here 😉 )

Intermisso: Lemongrass and Thai Basil Granita

Main: Susur Lee’s Singapore Slaw (aka 19 ingredients slaw) with Thai Marinated BBQ Steak (steak prepared as per Lorraine at Not Quite Nigella)

Dessert: Armenian Nutmeg Cake with Hazelnut Frozen Yogurt and Caramel Drizzle (the Armenian Nutmeg Cake was reinvented from a previous post)

Late night snack: Fresh Ontario Strawberries and Cantaloupe bites

Our guests last week were on a sabbatical from drinking alcohol so I wanted to make a special cocktail for the evening, I came across this recipe from The Cook’s Sister recently and bookmarked it for the occasion. I changed it up only to reflect the time I had to spend on the recipe, otherwise it was pretty similar. The ginger was strong enough to be refreshing and the added sugar made it just sweet enough to cut the heat from using fresh ginger. I really enjoyed it, it was a refreshing summer beverage. Of course, you can add booze to it to make it that much more interesting: gin, vodka, amber rum or whiskey seem to be preferred choices to add to ginger ale on the net.

A refreshing cocktail that aids in digestion! What more could you want?

Home made Ginger Ale

Original recipe can be found here

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated ginger (you will notice this is significantly less than the original recipe, but because it’s grated, it seems to infuse the water with enough flavour)
  • 2-4 tbsp Demerara sugar
  • 1 liter San Pelegrino (this is a lightly carbonated natural spring water)
  • 1 lime, cut into eights

Directions:

  1. To prepare the syrup, place the water, ginger, sugar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. I allowed it to boil for about 10 minutes to concentrate the flavours and reduce a bit.
  2. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate over night.
  3. When ready to serve, strain the ginger bits out of the syrup, pressing as much of the ginger juice out as possible.
  4. To serve, add 4 tbsp (or to taste) of the syrup to each glass mixing in the San Pelegrino. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with mint. Individuals can add as much freshly squeezed lime juice as desired.
  5. Cheers!

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Confession time: I made this cookie recipe about a week ago, but I completely forgot to add the brown sugar and I didn’t watch my syrup and it boiled up (sadly, I can’t blame it on drinking); the taste turned out OK while they were still warm, but the next day the cookies hardened so much that I was afraid I would crack a tooth on it. I don’t usually mess up a recipe quite so badly — into the composting bin they were tossed!

So I tried my hand at the recipe again. The success of this traditional cookie is melting the sugar, butter and syrups gently and not to over bake because then the cookies become way too hard. I used Moroccan Ginger which has a rather strong flavour making this cookie a bit spicier than most other recipes but then again, I like spicy!

Would you care for tea or coffee with your Ginger Snaps?

Ginger Snap Cookies

Makes about 36-46 Cookies depending on how big your melon baller is.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup black molasses
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground all spice

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a small saucepan gently melt the butter, brown sugar and both syrups (do not boil unless you want to end up with jaw breakers!). Cool slightly.
  4. Sift dry ingredients together into a medium-sized bowl.
    Make a well in the centre and pour in the syrup mixture. Mix well to make a soft dough.
  5. Using a large melon baller shape into small balls (about the size of a walnut). Place each ball about two inches apart; press down to form even rounds abut 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes or until very very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for a minute and then remove to fully cool on a wire rack.
  7. Store in an airtight container or freeze. If they get too hard, add a slice of bread or a moist brown sugar disk for a few hours.

Or perhaps some Sherry? It's a little early though, isn't it?

So tell me lovely reader, have you ever messed up a recipe and were you able to save it or had to toss it?

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