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VeganTruffles_4256

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

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

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

VeganTruffles_4257

Incredibly creamy truffles, just as they should be.

Vegan Truffles

Makes about 3-5 dozen, depending on size

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

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

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

VeganTruffles_4260

Indeed, they are as creamy as they look.

 

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

Almond, Cranberry and Orange Biscotti

Makes about 4 dozen little cookies

Ingredients:

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

    Directions:

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

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    My friend, Sawsan over at Chef in Disguise made this salad and posted it early this week and by luck we had all the ingredients on hand and by that same luck we needed something to go with our oven roasted Salmon. I can honestly say it was delicious, the flavours and textures really worked well together, please pop over to Sawsan’s blog and check out her photos (it was dark by the time I snapped the shots and my photos are pitiful!). If you don’t have salmon to eat with it, a little goats cheese would be very tasty indeed!

    I left out the pomegranate seeds as they are now out of season and were $7.00 for a very small container! We should have substituted pine nuts for the pomegranate seeds…next time. Sawsan gave me a great tip, she said she buys her pomegranate when on sale and she seeds them into a little container and freezes them for just this type of application! That’s just genius, thank you for sharing that great tip!

    Thank you Sawsan for another wonderful recipe.

    I used a square form, the round one would have worked out better!

    Layered Avocado Beet Citrus Salad

    Serves 3 (I made extra for lunch the next day)

    Ingredients for the Salad:

    • 4 Beets, roasted until fork tender, peeled and cubed
    • 2 oranges sectioned and cut into cubes (juice reserved)
    • 1 medium avocado, cut in half, pit removed and cubed
    • 1 1/2 cups arugula leaves, cleaned and dried

    Ingredients for the Dressing:

    • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (one to two oranges)
    • 2 Tbsp olive oil
    • 2 Tbsp vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp honey
    • 1/8 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon mustard

    Directions for the Dressing:

    • Combine all ingredients into a small jar and shake well. Refrigerate.

    Directions for assembly:

    • Arrange the arugula leaves in the centre of the plate.
    • Place a plating ring or square (7 cm) on top of the arugula leaves.
    • Layer with the beets then the avocado and finally the oranges.
    • Remove the ring and drizzle with the dressing.
    • Enjoy!

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    As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my brother and his family came for brunch this past weekend and I wanted a slightly healthier salad to go with a slightly less healthy savoury bread pudding (you can see a similar recipe at Bits and Breadcrumbs, but my version had ham and cheddar cheese, you get where I’m going with this?). This spinach salad comes from an old recipe book that I bought for my MIL about 15 years ago. She had talked about Oprah and her chef and that they were coming out with a cookbook, In the Kitchen with Rosie; she loved Oprah, so I made a mental note and put it on her Christmas list. Well, I should have known because she went out and got it for herself, so then I was stuck with the book.

    There are some darn good ‘low fat’ recipes in this little book and some great tricks as well. But the one recipe that keeps making an appearance in my kitchen is the warm orange dressing on a spinach salad (this one is for you, Lisa). Now you can add what-ever you wish to create your very own spinach salad, but this is what our’s had on Sunday: baby spinach, hard-boiled egg whites, grape tomatoes (I like the colour), a little crispy fried pancetta (I know, not healthy but there was not very much of it), thinly sliced mushrooms, orange sections and toasted pine nuts. When you toss this lovely salad with the warm dressing a symphony of flavours start playing in your mouth. So delicious.

    A slightly healthier alternative to Spinach Salad

    Warm Orange Dressing

    Serves 6

    Ingredients:

    • 1 Navel orange
    • 1⁄3 c Shallot, minced finely
    • 2 Cl Garlic, peeled and minced finely
    • 5 T White Balsamic vinegar
    • 2 t Sherry vinegar
    • 1/24 cup of orange juice with pulp
    Directions:
    1. Peel the orange and remove the white pith, and separate the segments (do this over a bowl in order to reserve the juice). Squeeze the residual juice from the membranes into the bowl and reserve; add the additional OJ to this mix.
    2. In a small saucepan, add the shallots, garlic, vinegars, and reserved orange juice, and bring to a boil over low heat.
    3. Just before you wish to serve, combine all the salad ingredients, add the warm dressing and toss to coat.

    I know it's just salad, but doesn't it look yummy?

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    The three desserts were a hit!

    From left to right: Coconut Lemon Cake, Fig Tart and Sellou

    The fig tart and the orange cardamom cream was the perfect combo of spicy and sweet. The pastry was flaky and rich. The coconut lemon cake, was moist, a little crunchy, and very lemony. The icing was glaze-like, just thick enough to hold the toasted coconut.
    The Sellou were shaped in small muffin cups, Resembled marzipan with a little crunch and unexpected perfume of lemon zest and cardamom. I had wanted a little pyramid, but I didn’t have time to get to the market to my favourite kitchen shop to treat myself to a new tool. I dusted the tops eith icing sugar like freshly fallen snow. We served the trio with espresso. JT wants me to make all three again. That makes me very happy!

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    I’ve been reading up on Moroccan blogs; one such blog mentioned that a Moroccan host can take up to a week to prepare a meal for her honoured guests! I started Monday… does that count?

    Onto dessert #2 for my little trio for Saturday night’s Moroccan themed dinner party. I found this one on Epicurious, and just liked the way it sounded but I did verify that this dessert does exist in Moroccan cuisine. I cut this recipe in half but list the full ingredients below, and it made five mini tarts, perfect! (ok, three are for the dinner party – I don’t eat dessert- and one was the taster for JT to make sure it was yummy and it sure was!!! the larger round one is for my friend (and boss) because she gives me a ride home most evenings (believe it or not, we live across the street from each other…we are indeed good friends!)

    Moroccan Fig & Sesame Tart with Orange Cardamom Cream

    Fig and Sesame Tart

    Ingredients for pastry:

    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
    • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

    For filling:

    • 9 ounces dried Turkish figs, stemmed and finely chopped (1 1/2 cups)
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 4 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
    • 1 tablespoon orange-flower water (preferably Mymouné) I googled orange water substitutions and found that you can use an orange liqueur like Triple Sec.

    For cardamom orange cream:

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons mild honey
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh orange zest
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • Accompaniment: fresh orange sections

    Directions, pastry dough:

    1. Pulse together flour, confectioners sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.
    2. Add butter and process until mixture resembles fine meal.
    3. Add 3 yolks (reserving the fourth for egg wash) and process until it forms a smooth dough, 2 to 3 minutes. (Don’t worry about overworking dough.)
    4. Transfer dough to a work surface and gather into a ball, then divide into 3 equal pieces. Form one third of dough into a small disk, then form remaining dough into a larger disk. Chill disks, each wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

    Make filling while dough chills:

    1. Simmer figs, water, sugar, and cinnamon in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
    2. Stir in sesame seeds (3 tablespoons) and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
    3. Remove from heat and stir in orange-flower water, then transfer filling to a bowl.
    4.  Cool filling to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

    Assemble and bake tart:

    1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place flan ring in center.
    2. Roll out larger disk of dough into an 11-inch round on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin. (If dough is too firm to roll out, let stand at room temperature 5 minutes.)
    3. Fit dough into flan ring, pressing dough up side of ring (dough is very tender and tears easily; patch as needed; they will blend in during baking), then trim dough flush with top of ring. Spoon filling into crust and spread evenly.
    4. Roll out remaining disk of dough into a 9-inch round on lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin. Gently lay round over filling, then roll rolling pin over top to trim. Patch if necessary.
    5. Beat together remaining yolk and cream (1 tablespoon) in a cup with a fork and brush some of egg wash over top crust, then chill until egg wash appears darker and is slightly tacky, about 3 minutes. Brush with second coat of egg wash and chill again. Lightly score top with back of a small knife to make a decorative pattern and sprinkle with sesame seeds (1 teaspoon).
    6. Bake tart until top is golden, 30 to 35 minutes (I found 40-45 minutes did the trick).
    7. Transfer tart on baking sheet to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then slide tart off parchment onto rack to cool. Gently remove ring.

    Make cream and serve tart:

    1. While tart bakes, stir together cream, honey, zest, and cardamom in a medium bowl and chill, covered. Just before serving, beat cream mixture with an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks.
    2. Serve tart, warm or at room temperature, with cream and oranges.

    My tarts were very small, about 10 cm x 4cm and the round one was about 8cm. I plan on serving the three desserts on a long rectangular plate. My ‘Platogram” is below. I usually do this for more complex dinners so I don’t mess it up after a couple of glasses of wine!

    Plating the Dessert

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    LCBO and Dufflets Chocolate Orange Bavarian Chocolate Cake

    This past Saturday we were invited to Leanne and Stefan’s place up in North York. I made dessert – I have been dying to try this recipe and now I did. It is from the LCBO’s recent “Find your flavour” brochure. It is not calorie reduced, nor is it for the light baker — this cake took about 4 hours to make in total, but you can divide up the components and do them on separate days, which makes the time more managable!

    The dome shape is made of a flourless chocolate cake, great for gluten allergies! It is very spongy and very chocolaty!

    • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 2 tsp instant espresso coffee
    • pinch of salt
    • 8 large eggs, separated
    • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • Cocoa powder for dusting
    1. Pre heat oven to 375°F. Line a 12″ x 17″ jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, set over simmering water, melt the chcolate with the instant espresso powder.
    3. Lightly beat the egg yolks with a fork and temper with the melted chocolate. Add the remainder, stir well and set aside.
    4. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the sugar slowly and beat until firm peaks form.
    5. Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then folder the remainder in two smaller batches.
    6. Pour cake batter into the jelly roll pan and spread out evenly.
    7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.
    8. Cool completely. Run a knife around the sides of the pan to separate the parchment. Turn out onto a cocoa dusted piece of parchment.

    LCBO and Dufflets Chocolate Orange Bavarian Chocolate Cake

    Truffle Cream

    • 1 1/2 cups 35% cream
    • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier
    1. Bring cream to a boil. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the Grand Marnier.
    2. Chill in refrigerator for at least two hours.
    3. (note that my truffle cream did not set, have no idea why, so to fix it, I simply melted another packette of gelatin and folded it into the ganache – it worked out perfectly!)

    Orange Cream

    • 1 packette unflavoured gelatin powder
    • 1/4 cup cold water
    • 1 cup homo milk
    • Grated zest of 1 orange
    • 4 large egg yolks
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 1/4 cups whipping cream
    • 2 tbsp Grand Marnier
    1. In a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the water and allow to sit until disolved.
    2. Bring milk and orange zest to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
    3. Pour through a strainer and re heat.
    4. Beat egg yolks with an electric beater, add sugar and beat until pale and thick.
    5. Temper the yolks with the milk, add remaining to pan and cook until thick, coating the back of a wooden spoon (do not allow to boil, you will get scrambled eggs!)
    6. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl.
    7. Add Grand Marnier and vanilla extract to dissolved gelatin, mix well.
    8. Whisk in the gelatin mixture into the egg yolks and milk. Set over ice water, stirring frequently. Cool until thickened.
    9. In another bowl, whip cream until firm peaks form. Fold cream into gelatin egg yolk mixture.

    Assembly:

    1. Line a 4 quart bowl with plastic wrap. Carefully line the bowl with 2/3rds of the cake, you can do this in pieces as the cake is rather pliable.
    2. Beat truffle cream with an electric mixer at medium speed, but be careful, over beating will cause the cream to separate.
    3. Pour truffle cream into the cake lined bowl and spread evenly. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes to allow the cream to set.
    4. Pour the orange cream evenly on the truffle cream.
    5. Take remaining cake and cover the bottom well. Refrigerate overnight or 4 hours.
    6. Serve inverted onto a serving platter.
    7. Enjoy!

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