Crispy Prosciutto with Figs, Roasted Hazelnuts and Parmesan Mousse

Crispy Prosciutto with Figs, Roasted Hazelnuts and Parmesan Mousse

Whoaaaaa. As December gets into it’s groove, our calendars are already filling up with Holiday gatherings and events and I don’t feel nearly ready.  It’s the same story every year; October hits and I smugly congratulate myself on realizing how imminent the Holidays are  and vow to get planning early. December hits and here I am, no plans! No freezer full of cookies! No lists or dog-eared recipes! Cue the annual panic.

Thankfully we don’t do a whole lot of the hosting around the Holidays and, instead, stick to bringing dishes with us to gatherings with friends and family. I do like to have some fun cocktail-style recipes in the back of my head in case company comes or we decide to host a last minute party (also an annual occurrence), so of all the things I didn’t do this year, I did manage to create a recipe worthy of the wonderful people I’ll be sharing the Holidays with and for once, I’ll let that be enough. Life is hard enough without the Holiday pressure, right? (more…)

Homemade Orechiette with Wild Mushrooms, Sage & Pancetta

HOMEMADE ORECHIETTE WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, SAGE & PANCETTA
Nothing says cozy like a bowl full of pasta. And if that pasta happens to be homemade… all the better! And if it’s Homemade Orechiette with Wild Mushrooms & Pancetta then things about to get real cozy, real fast. We have been working on some recipes to share with family over the holidays and this one is at the top of the list. It’s impressive, making your family think you’ve slaved for days and days (you won’t!), as well as hearty and stick-to-your-ribs delicious. Serve with some crusty bread and red wine and your Holiday hosting duties are done like dinner.

It’s taken me a very long time to work up the courage to attempt homemade pasta. Like bread and pastries, pasta has daunted me for years, scaring me into believing it was a task saved only for Nonnas and professional chefs. Well guess what, I am neither (though being a Nonna seems like a sweet gig) and somehow, someway I managed to mix, knead, cut, shape and cook a batch of delicious, toothsome, pillowy orecchiette in little more than 1.5hours. And now I feel like a real butthead for not having tried earlier.

HOMEMADE ORECHIETTE WITH WILD MUSHROOMS, SAGE & PANCETTA (more…)

Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble

Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble

I used to be a really great host; dreaming up themes and excuses to entertain, planning and executing seamlessly without a detail missed. Tables set with style and glasses never empty. Then I birthed a 10lb child that brought utter joy and complete chaos into our lives.

If you have children, I don’t have to explain why I am no longer a skilled host. I can hardly finish a sentence without forgetting what I want to say and I don’t know if I’ve finished a hot meal, uninterrupted, let alone cooked one without leaving something unattended to for far too long, in 2 years. We do generally host family dinner at our house, since it’s easier with all Ruthie’s “things” here to keep her entertained, but whenever possible we get the heck outta here and let someone else, someone far more competent, handle the hosting details. I can’t say I miss it all that much, if I can be honest with you. I’d rather bring an offering of food and a nice bottle of wine (potentially already sipped from – whoops!)

Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble

This recipe was created with the “OH JEEZ – we have company coming and didn’t prepare at all!” panic that happens often in our home. The night before, after the wee one is in bed, I think to myself, “I should probably do some prep for tomorrow morning” and then allow that thought to pass as quickly as it came as I fade into a child-free coma sprawled out on the couch, limbs akimbo. Future-Kelly can handle it (note: Past-Kelly is a real jerk).  So for situations like this, this Fried Hot Genoa and Egg Scramble RULES. It’s freaking DELICIOUS. Spicy and savory, easy to prepare but impressive enough for company, like when relatives show up at your door on Boxing Day and you’re like “OH GOD I FORGOT – WHAT DO I MAKE WE HAVE NOTHING READY!”. The ingredient list is minimal, making use of what you probably already have leftover from holiday entertaining. Starting with a good quality Genoa, with it’s salty garlicky and mouth-watering flavour, makes it easy to get big flavour with little effort.

I used Mastro’s Hot Genoa, sliced thin and fried up with red onion, cuddled into some creamy fresh eggs specked with Crème Fraîche and finished with a healthy, literally, handful of kale. If you don’t love kale you could use spinach or watercress. Serve it up with some fresh crusty bread, or maybe a skillet of fried potatoes, or between two sliced of toasted Italian bread with sliced tomatoes and a slick of mayonnaise or butter.  This also works as a great make-ahead breakfast during the week – cut it into portions and keep in the fridge, warm in a pan for a few minutes and serve on a slice of toast for a hearty, satisfying breakfast.
 Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble

Fried Hot Genoa & Egg Scramble
Serves: 4-6
 
We trust Mastro and San Daniele's deli meats - they've been crafting authentic Italian specialties across Canada for 40 years, and they honour the taste and tradition of savoury Italian deli by combining their expertise with the finest ingredients using traditional methods.
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, sliced thin
  • ¾ cup Mastro Hot Genoa, sliced into ½" strips
  • 8 large fresh eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream, optional
  • 1 cup rough-chopped lacinato kale
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • crusty Italian bread, for serving
Instructions
  1. Pour oil into a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion and hot Genoa. Fry until the Genoa is starting to crisp and the onions is lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Pour in the beaten eggs, kale, salt and pepper, Let the eggs set for 1 minute, then push the cooked parts to the center of the pan and tilt gently so the uncooked egg will spill to the edge of the pan and cook. It should take about 6-8 minutes to cook completely. Let cool slightly and divide among plates. Top with fresh ground pepper and serve with a piece of toasted Italian bread.


DisclaimerI am part of the #MASTROYOURHOLIDAY Campaign sponsored by Mastro and San Daniele and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Za’atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Pizza night is a fairly regular thing around here. It’s quick to make if you plan properly and can be made with literally anything we have in the kitchen and be guaranteed to be delicious. From a pie topped with sauteed greens and a few fried eggs to a slice with hot peppers and pineapple (a personal fave – don’t even get me started on pineapple haters!), there is pretty much always a way to make pizza work in a crunch. When I opened my PC Black Label Black Box this month to find some 00 Farina Fine Wheat Flour and a jar of Pizza Sauce I knew pizza was in the works. But in the spirit of the #PlayWithYourFood campaign, I felt that pizza was a little too common and predictable. This campaign is all about getting creative and experimenting.

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce
If I’m making a batch of pizza dough, I try to make enough for two portions. This way, I can freeze one or save it to turn into some sort of cracker or flatbread but recently I’ve been thinking a lot (a lot) about Grissini, those skinny and impossibly crisp bread sticks you may have seen served on a cheeseboard or wrapped with a salty slice of prosciutto.

After this week’s pizza night (which we topped with hot Genoa, olives and mushrooms – daaaaayum it was good), I put my second batch in the fridge and made a test batch of Grissini in the morning. Warm from the oven they were crisp, salty and fragrant – how could any of those things not make for a home run? My only worry is that I may have awoken a monster. I also came to the conclusion that they desperately needed something warm and spicy to dunk into.

I’ve done a few more experiments with Grissini over the last weeks and found a recipe that I feel works really well and tastes light and crisp – the Italian 00 flour makes a big difference here due to it’s extremely finely milled grain. It provides a silky smooth and light/crisp dough every dang time.

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce
Here I’ve served them with a generous spattering of za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend made with savory herbs like marjoram or thyme as well as earthy cumin and coriander and some added sesame seeds, salt and tangy sumac, both in the dough and on the outside of it for double-the-flavour. The amounts and varieties of herbs and ingredients in Za’atar vary from region to region, but I’ve never met one that I didn’t enjoy thoroughly – especially when crisp warm bread is involved.  When cooked into the crisp Grissini, the spices become super fragrant and warm. Once dipped in a harissa-spiked pizza sauce, flecked with basil and oregano, you’ve got a snack worthy of just about any occasion. Make the dough the night before and place covered in the fridge and you can simply roll out the next day when company arrives or when you’re feeling a little peckish. Admittedly I ate most of these myself, crunching away while I worked at my computer. Before I knew it, I’d downed about 6 of them (no apologies here, though).

Za'atar Grissini with Warm Harissa Tomato Sauce

Za'atar Grissini with Harissa Tomato Sauce
Serves: 30-35 sticks
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE GRISSINI
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast (from a ¼-ounce package)
  • 1 cup warm water (105-115°F)
  • ½ tsp honey
  • 1¼ cups semolina flour
  • 1½ cups PC Black Label Italian "00" flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ cup Za'atar spice blend, Divided (1 tbsp IN dough, 3 tbsp ON dough)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 1 cup PC Black Label Italian "00" Flour, for roling out/dusting counter tops
  • .
  • FOR THE HARISSA TOMATO SAUCE
  • 1 jar (350ml) PC Black Label Pizza Sauce
  • 2-4 tbsp PC Black Label Harissa Spice Blend, depending on spice tolerance
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. FOR THE DOUGH:
  2. Mix the warm water, yeast and honey and let stand until frothy, 5-6 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt and 1 tbsp of the za'atar blend. Make a well in the center.
  4. Pour in the warm water/honey/yeast mixture into the well in the flour and start mixting everything together until a ball starts to come together. It will be a bit sticky. Dump onto a floured surface and knead a few times until you've got a smooth ball of dough.
  5. Grease a large clean bowl with olive oil and place the dough ball in it. Toss it about so it's coated in a bit of oil, we don't want it to dry out. Cover with a clean towel.
  6. Let it rest until doubled in size, 1-2 hours.
  7. Preheat oven to 400.
  8. Once it's doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and roll out into a large, round rectangle about ½" in thickness. Brush the whole thing with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining Za'atar blend. Cut long, finger width strips from the rectangle and twist/pull until you've got a long, thin bread stick (my strips were about ½" in thickness, but it's not a big deal if yours are thicker - they will still be delicious!)
  9. Place on a parchment or silicone mat lined baked sheet and bake, turning pan halfway through, for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
  10. FOR THE SAUCE
  11. Bring a small pot with the sauce, pepper and Harissa blend to a simmer. Taste and add more Harissa, if desired.


DisclaimerI am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
From the second my eyes pop open in the morning, my stomach is growling, ready to book it to the kitchen and fuel up. But, with a 2 year old to think about first, I often miss my hunger window and then settle for barely room temperature coffee and table scraps from said 2 year old (spoiler alert: sad mushed bananas and soggy toast with the PB licked off).  I needed to add an in-between that would just fill me up enough until I had a few minutes to make a smoothie or a bowl of yogurt/granola.

Now, before you tell me that crispy butter-rich, cheese swirled scones aren’t a suitable substitution for a healthy breakfast, I know.  Lord help me, I KNOW.  But waking up and popping one of these super-savory scones in the oven for a few minutes and then, hold on to your horses, slicking it with just a bit more hot butter makes waking up a TREAT.  I know I’ll be able to pack vegetables and grains into the rest of my day, so I’m here for morning indulgence if it means heading into the day with a happy belly.

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
Literally exploding with chopped roasted mushrooms nd oozy cheese, these scones packed a hit of salty umami that savory-lovers like me will fall hard for. I much prefer a savory baked good in the morning to a sweet one, so I’ve been reaching for these without tire since making them 4 days ago. In the afternoons, I love cutting them in half and toasting them with some tomatoes and greens in the middle.

While I’m calling these scones, they’re sort of a hybrid between that and a flaky biscuit. I didn’t think that Biscone had a great ring to it so here we are. Call them what you want, but promise me you’ll make them. And then, if you’re feeling particularly badass, make them into breakfast sandwiches.

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones

Roasted Mushroom and Aged Cheddar Scones
Author: 
Recipe type: Baked Goods
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
Ingredients
  • SCONES
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher/sea salt
  • ½ cup COLD butter,
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk
  • ⅔ cup grated aged cheddar
  • 1 cup chopped roasted mushrooms, recipe follows
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly, to brush tops of scones
  • .
  • ROASTED MUSHROOMS
  • 450g whole cremini, wiped clean and stems removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. FOR THE SCONES
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or two knives until you've got a crumbly mixture with butter pieces no larger than peas.
  4. I like to put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes here to make sure everything is as cold as possible. If you skip this step, no problem.
  5. Add the lightly beaten eggs and buttermilk and stir to combine. It will be wet and sticky.
  6. Add in the cheddar and cooled chopped mushrooms and knead the dough, folding it over on itself 5-6 times to incorporate the mushrooms and cheese.
  7. Again, I like to pop it in the freezer at this point for another 10 minutes.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, turn the sticky dough out and knead lightly a few more times. Roll the dough ¾ inch thick. Cut out 3 inch squares, then cut diagonally to make triangles. You should have about 10 scones.
  9. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with a little beaten egg and a sprinkle of fresh ground pepper if you'd like.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  11. FOR THE MUSHROOMS
  12. Preheat oven to 425.
  13. Toss whole mushrooms in the oil, salt and pepper.
  14. Spread on a baking sheet and roast, stirring a few times, until tender and browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely before chopping up and adding to scone mixture. If you have leftovers, save them for an omlette in the morning.
Notes
I've used Cremini mushrooms here, but you feel free to use what you like best.

As for cheese, I used a cheddar aged for 3 years but again whatever you like will be great. Something sharp and tangy works really well.

Bacony Baked Beans with The Works

Bacony Baked Beans with the Works

If you’ve ever read the blog Smitten Kitchen, you’re familiar with Deb Perelman’s particular style of effortless but soul-satisfying recipes, and they don’t come without a healthy dose of humour either. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to come out from whatever rock you’ve been living under and get with the program, man.

Over the years I’ve come to trust her recipes the same way you might a well-loved family cookbook passed down through generations. They’ve weaved themselves into our every day, providing warm comfort on cold days (baked potatoes with wild mushroom ragù), inspiration when you’ve shot yourself in the foot by promising a wedding cake (hazelnut brown butter cake), or a salad that goes the distance in 30 degree heat (skirt steak salad with blue cheese). Reading her entries on the blog feel akin to sitting down for coffee with an old friend.

BACONY BAKED BEANS WITH THE WORKS

So when Appetite by Random House asked if I’d be interested in taking a look at and cooking something from Smitten Kitchen Every Day, I relished the idea of catching up with an old friend (in my head, of course) via a new book full of charming stories and accessible dishes that put some excitement back into every day cooking.

I spent a good day pouring over the recipes with a pot of tea by my side. Dog-earing pages and making lists of what ingredients I needed to pick up to make the jam-bellied bran scones on page 8, the broccoli melts on page 94, the halloumi roast with eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes on page 116 and the kale dusted pecorino popcorn on page 291.  The recipes will have you tossing together a healthy meal for your family in as much time as it takes to order a greasy pizza (which we have nothing against – but sometimes you just want something real and satisfying). Unfussy enough for hectic weeknight meals, but posh enough to impress on a date night at home or a Sunday dinner with friends.

BACONY BAKED BEANS WITH THE WORKSBACONY BAKED BEANS WITH THE WORKS

I made the Bacony Pintos with The Works on page 197-198 and have been slowly devouring them through the week, the toppings always changing slightly to suit what we have on hand. Beans are like tiny flavour sponges and to waste an opportunity to cook them in the presence of BIG flavour is an even bigger waste. Thankfully Deb knows what’s up and developed a recipe that provides pillowy soft beans packed with fragrant spices and zippy heat. Add to that a roster of acidic, salty, crunchy, fatty and luscious toppings and you’ve got a meal that works for just about everyone in the family. They hint to a comforting bowl of baked beans, without the cloyingly sweet additions of ketchup or molasses, that have been kissed with TexMex flavour and punch. I am ALL ABOUT them and I think you should be too!

Bacony Baked Beans with The Works
Author: 
Recipe type: from Smitten Kitchen Every Day
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BEANS
  • 1 lb dried pinto or light kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water that covers the beans by 1"
  • ¼ lb bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne or a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce
  • 2 tsp coarse salt
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (if using salted, reduce the amount of salt you add to the mix)
  • .
  • FOR THE FIXINS
  • Soft Flour or Corn Tortillas (estimate 2 per person)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ Medium White Onion, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • juice from ½ lime
  • 1 large avocado, diced or sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh tomatoes
  • sour cream/Mexican crema/plain yogurt
Instructions
  1. FOR THE BEANS
  2. Preheat the oven to 375.
  3. In a large skillet, cook your bacon pieces over med-high heat until crisp. Set aside on a towel-lined plate to absorb acess fat.
  4. Remove all but 2 tbsp of the bacon fat and turn heat down to medium.
  5. Add the diced onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Add in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  6. Add in the tomato paste, spices and cayenne/hot sauce and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  7. Add the salt and your presoaked beans. Cook for 60 minutes, checking in after 45 to see if they are cooked through or if they need a bit more liquid to finish cooking. If after 45 minutes they aren't cooked but are looking dry, add in ½ cup of stock and keep cooking until they are tender.
  8. FOR THE TORTILLAS
  9. About 30 minutes before your beans are done, cut your tortillas into wedges and brush with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread them out snug on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until crisp and starting to get some golden colour (if you can't fit in your oven at the same time as the beans, bake them after the beans are out while they cool a bit).
  10. FOR THE RELISH
  11. Combine the onion, jalapeno and cilantro with the olive oil and lime juice. Season with salt to taste. If you want to tweak by adding more or less of any ingredient, go for it.
  12. TO SERVE
  13. Serve the beans in the skillet they were cooked in, adding the crumbled bacon over the top and serve with the fixins on the side. Let everyone build their perfect plate of fully-loaded baked beans.
Notes
For the life of me I couldn't find a bag of dried pinto beans at any of my local shops so I settled for dried light kidney beans. They held up well to the cooking time and stayed perfectly tender with just a little bite. Feel free to use either bean, whatever is available to you.

I also had a few tomatoes to use up so I added them to the relish, making it more of a salsa. I'll share the recipe as written though, and if you feel obliged to toss some diced tomato into your relish - brilliant! If not, these will probably still be the best beans you'll ever eat.

 


Excerpted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant and Unfussy New Favorites. Text and photographs copyright © 2017 Deb
Perelman. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
I am a big fan of contrasting flavours, finding that perfect balance between salty and sweet, vinegar and salt, fat and acid. When you bite into somthing that hits that harmony, all the tastes aligned, it’s heaven. If something is just sweet, I generally decline. But if it’s sweet with some acid or salt, I’m definitely going in for a bite.

I made these Crostini with that in mind. Creamy, lucious brie drapped over a salted crostini and topped with sweet & herbal honey/thyme roasted pears, fatty pine nuts and the ingredient that truly brings it all home, the Borettane Onions.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

Borettane onions (from Boretto, Italy) are similar to a pearl onion and known for their flat, saucer-like shape. Often pickled in aged balsamic, they are juicy with an incredible sweet/sour flavour that -pop- when added to cheese boards, sandwiches, charcuterie or pizza.  They make a killer topping or addition to a host of fatty/creamy dishes, cutting through the richness with their tangy sweetness and would be hella good with grilled beef or portabello dishes. When I opened the jar, my mouth started watering immediately. They smelled savory and rich at first, but on first bite they are sweet/sour heaven.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie

I received these Borettane onions from President’s Choice Black Label Collection as a part of their #PlayWithYourFood campaign. For the next few months they’ll be sending me two fun ingredients to play with each month and I’m tasked with experimenting and coming up with a fun recipe to share with you all. This month I recieved both the onions and the Hot Cherry Peppers. Both would make an enticing addition to a cheese board, but these peppers have plans for a pasta dish with lots of lemon, pepper, basil and Parmesan.

Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
Honey-Thyme Roasted Pear Crostini with Borettane Onions + Brie
serves 6-8 as an appetizer

2 large pears, sliced in half & cored
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 small baguette, sliced thin (about 15-20 pieces)
olive oil
sea salt
1 200g wheel brie
6-8 President’s Choice Black Label Borettane Onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
honey, for garnish
fresh thyme, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.
In a small dish whisk together the olive oil, honey, salt/pepper and thyme leaves. Whisk well to combine. Rub down the pear halves with the honey-thyme mixture. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until browned and soft.  Let them cool until yoou can comfortably handle them, then slice into 1/2″ strips lengthwise.

Once pears come out, place baguette slices on a clean cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until golden and crisp. Watch closely so you don’t burn the bread.

Top crostini with a slice of the brie and follow with 1-2 pear slices, a few thin onions and a sprinkle of pine nuts. If you like, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme on top make them extra special. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.


DisclaimerI am part of the #PlayWithYourFood Campaign sponsored by Presidents Choice Black Label and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

 

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies

from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies
There is a reason you don’t see a whole lotta baking on The Gouda Life. Sure, maybe a yeasted bun here or a galette there, but for me baking requires great concentration and even greater restraint. Two skills I am sorely lacking in.

Recently a blog I helped co-found in 2014 with 4 other Canadian food bloggers, BAKED, has relaunched with an updated crew of contributors and a mess of new and drool-worthy recipes. Taking part in BAKED has always proven challenging for me as a non-baker, but each new recipe pushes me to learn more, work harder and reach new goals in the kitchen. Though the recipes on the blog are savory and sweet, I like to try and challenge myself with the latter as it’s something I shy away from if left to my own devices.

Sweet by Ottolenghi & Helen Goh
If you catch me getting down with a cookie or a slice of cake, it is likely a very good cookie or slice of cake. And if I happened to, by the grace of someone holy, bake it myself, I probably followed along with a cookbook or blog that gave clear and concise instructions. Otherwise you would probably find me in a dark corner holding on to my block of cheese and shaker of salt, crying like a scared child.

This is why I am perfectly smitten with Sweet, the latest cookbook from famed Ottolenghi & longtime friend and contributor Helen Goh.  Sweet features simple treats such as Chocolate Banana and Pecan cookies and Rosemary Olive Oil Orange Cake, alongside recipes for showstopping sweet treats like Cinnamon Pavlova with Praline Cream and Fresh Figs and Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnut, and Rosewater. The exotic flavour profiles that Ottolenghi has become celebrated for are present still, but this time with a sweet twist that transforms them into something alltogether new. I appreciate that it has a little bit of something for every type of baker, those who burn toast and those who build magnificent structures out of sugar. Aside from that fact, it is quite simply a stunning piece of work to have in your collection of coffee table/cookbooks. I’m so looking forward to cooking my way through some of the more advanced recipes to challenge myself (deep breaths).

Chocolate, Banana, and Pecan cookies

I wanted to start somewhere simple so I decided to go with the decadent and gooey Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies from the book. The cocoa and dark chocolate chips provide a hit of bitterness against the sugar that’s both in the cookie batter and hugging the cookies themselves (giving them a thin crispy sugar coating. yuuuu-hum!).

Truly, I love this recipe; when the cookies are baked properly they are just barely set in the centre so still a bit oozy when fresh from the oven – begging for a hot cuppa something to wash them down with.  The banana and nutty pecans that toast lightly during baking scented the air like banana bread and daaaang, I wish I could have bottled it up for a rainy cold day and spritzed it all over myself. All in all, these cookies are W I N N E R S and I’ll be making them again and again and again.

Chocolate, Banana, and Pecan cookies

Sweet by Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

Chocolate Banana and Pecan Cookies
makes approx. 2 dozen

8 tbsp room temperature butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup + 2 tsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 1/2 tbsp Dutch-processed Cocoa Powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup dark chocolate chips or 3 1/2oz dark chocolate, chopped
2oz (1/2 small) ripe banana
1 1/3 cups pecan halves, finely chopped
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp confectioners’ sugar

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). beat on medium speed until the butter and sugar and light and fluffy. Add the gently beaten egg little-by-little until incorporated.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt and then add to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed for 15 seconds. Beat in the chocolate chips and banana and then place the bowl in the fridge to firm up for at least 2 hours (I left mine overnight).

When it’s firm, use your hands to roll the mixture into 1″ balls. You may have to wash your hands a few times during this process as some of the chocolate will stick to them and start to build up. Place the finely chopped pecans in a small bowl and roll the dough balls in them, pressing so the pecans stick into the dough. They should be completely coated in pecans.

Line a baking sheet with parchment and place the dough balls on there, no need to space out, before placing in the fridge for an hour. They can stay like this until you’re ready to bake (for up to 2 days in fridge, 3 months in freezer).

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 and line two baking sheets with parchment.  Place the confectioners sugar in a small bowl and roll the cookie balls in the sugar, rolling around and pressing gently so it sticks.  Place on your lined cookie sheet 1″ apart. Flatted the cookie balls to 1/3″ and bake for 10 minutes in your preheated oven. Gently transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool, they will be soft to the touch and are best eaten warm so dive in after they’ve had a few minutes to cool down.

 



Copyright ©2017 by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. Photographs copyright ©Peden+Munk. All rights reserved. Published in Canada by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Random House LCC.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
Since having our daughter, we spend  a whole lot more time at home. Friends and family, gratiously so, almost exclusively come to us and the days of “hmmm…let’s just go out to eat and see a movie” are not as simple as they used to be.

We’re lucky that we love to host and luckier that our friends and family don’t mind schlepping out here to come to us. When they do, we try to greet them with a good time and even better food. Homemade snacks and cocktails and a pile of good board games usually does it.

Caramelized Onion Dip

The snacks I tend towards for game nights are often a tip-of-the-hat to the chemically-based, boxed and powdered delicacies of my youth. Something about a bowl of gelatinous, gritty, sour-creamy french onion dip comforts me in a way only nostaligic food can. But as a home cook and someone very aware of  that fact that real ingredients make far superior dishes, I know that we can do better than that box of sodium-laden soup mix to pump up a tangy, creamy base full of flavour. The secret lies in all those delicious sugars that come out when you caramelize a humble onion.

While not what I would call healthy per se, it is pure comfort and nostalgia while remaining simple enough to throw together at any given time. Whether you’re hosting game night or just looking for a smooth and creamy dip to serve with a bag of chips or crostini, give this updated Caramelized Onion Dip a whirl. I dare you to tell me it doesn’t take you back to the 80s/90s living room table with a bag of Ruffles.

Caramelized Onion Dip

Caramelized Onion Dip
serves 8-10 as a snack

Notes:
-I opted to slice the onions thin as I like a big bite of onion in each bite. If you have little ones or someone that doesn’t LOVE onions, I would suggest dicing them small prior to caramelizing. It will create a more uniform dip consistency.

-You want a really creamy base for this dip so don’t skimp on the fat in the sour cream. I used Gay Lea’s 14%mf version because it’s got a great tanginess and creaminess to it. 

2 tbsp olive oil
3 small (2 large) red onions, sliced thin or diced
1 1/2 cups Gay Lea Original sour cream
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
kettle chips, to serve*

In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, start to sweat the onions down with a few piches of salt and pepper. Stir every 5 minutes or so, giving them a few really good turns so the ones on top make it to the bottom. Don’t stir them too often, you want them to get lots of colour without burning. If you notice them starting to char or get too brown too quickly, turn the heat down. Cook the onions until they have significantly, almost 50%, reduced in volume and are deep golden brown and sweet, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Reserve 1/4 of the onions for garnish if you like.

Fold together the cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl until smooth. Add the garlic powder and 3/4 of the onion mixture and fold together. Spoon into a large serving dish and smooth out. Top with remaining onion mixture.

Serve with chips or baguette.

*I like to pour the bag of chips onto a baking sheet and cook at 300 for 5-6 minutes until they are warmed. It’s not a necessary step, it just takes things up a notch with the warmed chips.


PTPA & Gay Lea Pie Face
Giveaway


Disclaimer: I am part of the #BornOnTheFarm Campaign sponsored by Gaylea Food Coop & PTPA Media and receive compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. Regardless, I only work with brands I use personally and enjoy.

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties

Tuna & Quinoa Patties

I came here to write an eloquent, meaningful post about trying to be everything (mother/freelancer/wife/whole human) and having that turn into doing nothing because the pressure is just so intense and overwhelming….but it has been such a hard week at home with our 2yr old that I can’t quite seem to grasp on to the words dangling behind my eyes.

So instead, let’s talk about these White Tuna and Quinoa Patties that have been keeping us afloat in our sea of toddler emotions. I knew by 7am on Monday morning that this week had potential to be a doozy so I started rummaging through the cupboards to see what grains, proteins and other high-vibe ingredients we had to make these satiating patties that come together quickly, reheat exceptionally well, and really provide both flavour and nutrition when your on the go-go-go. I love the way the cooked quinoa gets crispy when fried so you get these tiny crunchy POPs in your mouth. The lemon helps keep them light and fragrant while the oats bulk them up and keep everything bound.

I like to fry them in a little neutral oil and serve either with some greens, tomatoes, avocado and a drizzle of oil/vinegar, or topped with a fried/poached egg and served over greens. Now, if that even feels like too much it is absolutely OK to eat them cold from the fridge in your underwear as you mentally prepare for the day ahead. Get that fuel in your body however you can, you’re gonna need it.

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties

Lemony Quinoa & Tuna Patties
makes 8-10 patties

1 170ml can tuna*, drained well and squeeze of excess liquid
1 cup oats (not quick cooking)
1 1/2 cups finely chopped kale (curly or lacinato)
1 cup cooked quinoa (red, white or black), squeezed of any excess liquid
4 eggs
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
coconut or vegetable oil, for fryingMix all ingredients in a large bowl and let sit for 10 minutes for the oats to soften and absorb some liquid. If they are too wet to bind, add more oats 1 tbsp at a time. The mixture will feel sticky but should hold together when formed.Heat a few glugs of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Form 1 tbsp of the mixture into a test patty, place in the oil and fry for about 1 minute on each side until cooked through. Let cool slightly and taste for seasoning, add more salt or lemon juice to taste. When you’re happy with the seasoning, scoop 1/4 cup of the mixture into your hands and form into patties. Fry on each side, making sure not to overcrowd the pan, until deep golden brown and crisp. Serve on their own as a quick snack, hot over salad greens with chopped vegetables or with a fried egg.
*Not all tuna is created equal. Avoid purchasing species that are over-fished, like Bluefin, and instead opt for Skipjack (best choice) or Albacore (OK alternative). If you’re ever unsure of which species you should avoid, check The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program.

Save

Save

Save