Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘nutmeg’

It’s time to do the Christmas decorating and traditionally I’ve finished my exterior before I even think of the interior! Since I can remember I’ve been making my own urns for the front, not because I’m cheap (OK, maybe a little) but because I like to have creative license and design my own! Over the last few years it has become increasingly popular to use birchbark branches to achieve height, but in my hood these branches cost $6.00 EACH! I have 2-3 in each of my four urns! That’s $60 before I’ve even added my evergreen boughs! So JT and I bring them back from the cottage! A little walk in the forest, about one hour of time is all it costs! And it’s fun (I’d like to add that we only take branches from property we own, never from other property). I have bobbles and pine cones from years past and some gorgeous red sparkly ribbon from last year (note to self, make the sparkly ribbon outside otherwise the sparkles will litter the house for years!). This year I bought eight bunches of various evergreen boughs at $5 each; so for about $40 and a little creative time outside, I have my four gorgeous urns ready for the holidays. Tell me, how do you decorate your home for the holidays?

Bobbles_1460

I think I’ll get one more year out of the red ribbon; I’ll buy another roll when they go on sale after Christmas! The pine cones will last a lot longer. The Bells were a dollar store find!

Step1 Urns_1458

We brought back new branches to add to the collection we had from last year!

Step2 Urns_1456

I like to start with the floppiest evergreens with the longest needles.

Step3 Urns_1454

I love to add cedar branches because they smell so good.

Step4 Urns_1453

I keep filling in the empty spots but for my final row I like to add something with berries; this year I was able to get little white berries. Boxwood is also lovely and it adds a totally different texture but this year my “guy” didn’t have it.

The finished product, with all the bells and whistles.

The finished product, with all the bells and whistles.

Final Urns_1452

The urns in the foreground are well lit with spot lights and the urns in the background have some lovely snowflake solar lights (from the dollar store!).

And with the house all dolled up for the season, I’m ready for a bite and these days that means soup so I’m constantly on the look out for new and innovative soups. I created this one for a dinner we were hosting for my nephew. Roasting really concentrates the sugars and makes this soup deliciously sweet and creamy. I’ve made it healthy so I haven’t added any cream, but you’re welcome to. Roasting the squash seeds adds a lovely texture to this soup. To take off the shells, simply squeeze the pointy end between your fingers (or mini pliers in my case) and off will one side pop! Simple like that.

SquashSoup_1273

Creamy and slightly sweet. The crunchy roasted squash seeds really made the soup.

Acorn Squash Soup

Serves 4 smallish bowls

Ingredients:

  • 1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 head garlic, outer skin removed but leave individual skins intact
  • 4 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 Vidalia onion
  • Chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350°F. On a cookie sheet, place each half of the squash cut side up with 1/2 tbsp butter in each side.
  2. Toss the onion with a spot of EVOO and add to the cookie sheet.
  3. Put the garlic head into a small ramekin and add 3 tbsp EVOO, season with sea salt and cover tightly with foil. Put this on the side of the cookie sheet with the squash and onion. Bake for 45-60 minutes until very tender.
  4. Once everything is very tender, scoop out the squash into a glass container, add the roasted garlic WITH the salted EVOO and the baked onion and the vanilla extract. Blend until smooth adding stock until you achieve the desired consistency (I prefer it slightly thicker). Set aside and reheat to serve.
  5. To make the squash seed garnish, clean off the seeds and let them dry on a clean cloth. Add to a lightly non0-stick sprayed cookie sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes until toasted.
  6. Allow to cool and using your fingers or mini pliers, take the pointy end of the seed and press the edges into each other allowing the sides or side to pop off. Remove the toasted seed from the shell and reserve.
  7. Reheat the soup, pour into bowls and serve with the seeds drizzled over top.

Additional ideas for garnish:

  • Sear a scallop in butter and serve on top with the butter drizzled over it.
  • Sear a shrimp with the hard tail removed (I hate having to dig out the tail with my fingers) with a little lemon juice drizzled over the top.
  • If you don’t have the seeds from the squash, use toasted sunflower seeds.
  • Make a crostini with squash seed pesto smear on top.
  • A nice dollop of crême fraiche or sour cream.
  • Balsamic or pomegranate syrup reduction drizzled on top.
  • Maple syrup drizzled on top.

Read Full Post »

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

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

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

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

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

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

AppleRhubarbGalette_0961

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

Apple Rhubarb Galette with Lavender Sugar

Serves 6-8

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

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

The Rhubarb was the perfect foil for this sweet dessert

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

AppleRhubarbGalette_0963

Can you see the little Lavender Flowers?

Read Full Post »

Happy birthday to my brother!
and Happy April Fool’s Day to the rest of you!
This is a joke I played on my friend Kim a couple of years ago. A hundred parking tickets.

We had our nephew Brian and his GF over for dinner some time ago, and I cooked a roast pork tenderloin dish that I hadn’t made in a very long time (sadly, I didn’t take any photos and now I know better than to post a recipe without photos ;-), so I’ll have to make it again in the near future). The pork was dressed in a flavourful Apple Cider and Dijon Mustard gravy for which I had to buy fresh Apple Cider. In my area, fresh Apple Cider is sold in 500 mL or larger and because I only needed a couple of cups of the stuff, I bought the 500 mL. So now I had about 4 cups left over. Now we could have drank it, because it was fresh and delicious, but I prefer to eat my fruit rather than drink it so I was left with the dilemma of what to do with all the cider.

I searched high and low and came across some lovely options but not practical; we don’t eat that much cake so a coffee cake was out of the question, we don’t usually eat that many quick breads, so that was out of the question, and the muffin recipes I found had too much oil in them and therefore quite unhealthy. What to do?

It was in my trusty Jean Paré’s, Company’s Coming, Muffins & More cookbook I found the solution: Tea Biscuits! Now I modified the recipe to include the Apple Cider which I reduced by less than 1/4 of its original volume and these scones did not disappoint; they were soft, buttery and had a very distinct apple cider flavour. This would be a lovely scone to serve during Autumn while you watch the leaves gently fall from the trees with a warm fire burning in the hearth a cup of tea and a couple of scones. Soon enough!

IMG_4200_BLOG

A little tangy from the concentrated flavour of the cider.

Apple Cider Tea Biscuits

Makes about 10 good size tea biscuits

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cold butter, cut into small bits
  • 1/4 cup sultana raisins
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2-3 tbsp milk or yogurt for brushing the tops.

Directions:

  1. Reduce the apple cider to about 1 cup of concentrated liquid by slowly boiling it off (takes about 40-50 minutes).
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
  3. In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cream of tartar and spices until well mixed.
  4. Slowly drop in the cold butter while pulsing and blend until is it a coarse mix.
  5. Transfer this mix into another bowl, add the raisins and mix well to coat the raisins with the floury mixture.
  6. Add the cider all at once to the flour, and mix well with a wooden spoon mix until it is a soft ball of dough. (Note this is a slightly softer ball of dough than a tea biscuit usually is).
  7. Transfer to a floured board and knead a couple of times (not enough to melt the butter with the heat of your hands).
  8. Roll out the dough to about 2 cm (~3/4″) thick and cut with a triangular cookie cutter. Repeat until the dough is completely used.
  9. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and brush tops with the yogurt or milk (for a beautiful shine) and bake 10-12 minutes until golden. You’ll need to watch the bottoms because the natural colour of these biscuits are more golden and you will only be able to tell how far along they are by looking at the bottoms.
  10. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve with unsalted butter and preserves.
  11. Enjoy.
IMG_4198_BLOG

Please take one, or even two.
Would you care for tea or coffee with that?

IMG_4199_BLOG

Melt in you mouth scones, served warm with unsalted butter.

Read Full Post »

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).

our-growing-edge-badge

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.
IMG_4167_BLOG

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!

Read Full Post »

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.

IMG_3838_BLOG

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

IMG_3862_BLOG

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.
IMG_3863_BLOG

Shhhhh, they’re baking….

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

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

IMG_3972_BLOG

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

Read Full Post »

MM910001158

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

IMG_3753_BLOG

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

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: