So there I stood. Apples in one hand, looking slightly worse for wear, and a jar of rum-spiked salted caramel, previously used for candy apples, in the other. I knew the two would go together, having just used them in combination, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Something special and unexpected.
Before I knew it, my knife was steadily gliding through the apples as I watched them mound in a heap beside me. I glanced over periodically at a recipe from Dara at Cookin’ Canuck as reference and tossed the apples into a sizzling, buttery pan with warm spices until golden and fragrant. The caramel glazed the bottom of a pie dish waiting to bubble up and snuggle sweetly into the buttery apples. This was going to be something. Hopefully something delicious, but one never can tell when the words baking and experiment meet.
If you can imagine an apple cobbler, sweet and gooey and mounded with buttery biscuits then you’re almost touching on what we have here. But this, this was something else. The boozy caramel hugged tight to the apples and caramelized around the edges of the biscuits making this some sort of cobbler meets caramel apple hybrid dessert. And really, what could be better than that? Very few things, my friends. Very few things.
As we inch closer to the Christmas holidays, I’m making notes of the sweets and savories that worked in my favor so I might share them with friends and family. This one is at the top of my list to make again and again. I hope you might invite it to your table, as well.
Rum-Spiked Caramel Apple Cobbler
adapted from Cookin’ Canuck
If there is a premade caramel you really like, you could use that in place of the homemade stuff but make sure it’s of good quality as it will make a big difference in the overall flavour of the cobbler.
2 tbsp butter
4-5 large gala apples, enough to fill your pie plate 3/4 full.
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup rum-spiked caramel, recipe to follow
buttery biscuit dough, recipe to follow
Preheat oven to 450.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and toss in the apples, nutmeg, cinnamon and clove. Cook until apples are soft and starting to brown.
Pour the caramel into a pie plate and arrange the apples evenly over the caramel.
Flour your fingers and pinch off even pieces of the biscuit dough that are about 2 1/2” around. There should be about 6-7 biscuits. Place the biscuits over the apples. Pop in the oven (on a lined cookie sheet in case the caramel bubbles over) for 30 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown.
Scoop into bowls and top with ice cream or whipped cream!
adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
makes 1 large jar
*special equipment: a good kitchen or candy thermometer.
Feel free to halve the recipe if you don’t want leftovers.
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
1/2 cup light or dark corn syrup
5 tablespoons dark rum
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pinches sea salt
Place all ingredients in a very tall pot (this caramel bubbles up a lot) over medium-high heat with the candy thermometer clipped to the pot. Don’t stray far, you should be mixing fairly frequently. Cook until caramel reaches 250, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Buttery Biscuit Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup cold buttermilk
Whisk together the flour, baking powder + soda, sugar and salt. Use your fingers to mush the butter into the flour mixture until it has a coarse, mealy texture. Pour in the buttermilk and use a fork to pul together until a wet dough forms. Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes while you prepare the apples.
I’ve always been more of a savory girl. It’s not uncommon for me to opt out of dessert altogether in favor of a second heaping portion of dinner. My tongue belongs to the salts and savories. But lately, all I’ve wanted is Oreos.It started when I made 6 dozen Oreo Cookies’n’Cream Cupcakes for Magpie Jewelry's Benchworks event last week. I bought about 4 boxes and there they sat, untouched on the counter until it was time to bake. Talent, some might say, but not so much for me. For some obscene reason, I was under the impression that I didn’t like Oreos. WHO DOESN’T LIKE OREOS?! I thought I could lay claim to being the only living soul who didn’t weaken at the knees at the site of a chocolatey, creamy cookie and a big glass of cold milk. Well, friends. That’s ALL over. I ate one ("Just a taste…") and all bets were off. Shamefully, I had to go out and buy more Oreo’s because I ate too many out of my baking stash. Whoops! Since then, it’s been a challenge of mine to get them into anything….namely my mouth.
This biscotti is a bit indulgent, I admit. It probably doesn’t need the Oreo’s since biscotti is already a cookie…but… you know… just eat them in moderation, ok!? These little babies are rich and chocolatey and begging to be dunked in milk or a hot cup of coffee. And despite their indulgent nature, they are almost completely made of whole wheat flour. That counts for something, doesn’t it? I’m sure whole wheat cancels out butter and sugar….or something like that. Make ‘em, eat ‘em and then eat ‘em again.
Some days require a pick me up and there’s no shame in allowing yourself a simple pleasure to help you navigate through the rest of your afternoon or evening with a smile on your face. Especially if that smile was brought on by the warm yeasty scent of freshly baked cinnamon buns.
I made these a few weeks back on a particularly rough day. I spotted Oh, Lady Cakes' Small Batch Cinnamon Buns and felt that something like that would be the perfect reward for a day hard won. I switched them up a bit by using some organic almond butter I had laying around and tossing in some bittersweet chocolate. I'm a total lunatic for dark chocolate and almonds in any way/shape/form so this was a natural pairing for me and one I hadn't tried in a cinnamon bun before. They are decadent and barely sweet - just the way I like things. If you prefer sweeter sweets, add a bit more sugar or switch to sweeter chocolate.
Cinnamon-Almond Butter Buns with Bittersweet Chocolate
adapted from Oh Lady Cakes
makes 10-12 servings
2 1/4 tsp (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 105-108˚F)
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup cane sugar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
4 cups unbleached flour
1/4 - 1/3 cup all-natural almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp room temperature butter
pinch sea salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 tbsp melted butter, for topping
2 tbsp coarse sugar (like turbinado)
For the dough:
Mix the yeast and warm water together in small bowl, stir gently once or twice, and let sit until frothy, 5-10 minutes.
In another small bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar, stirring until sugar is melted. Add the milk and mix to combine.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture and the milk/butter mixture. Using a fork, pull the flour, bit by bit, into the well while stirring. Once the dough comes together in a ball, start kneading it in the bowl to grab up all the rest of the flour. Dump onto a lightly floured counter and knead for 5-6 minutes until smooth. Place in a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let rise until doubled, 45mins -1 hour.
Line countertop with parchment paper and dust with flour. Roll dough out into a 1/2” thick rectangle.
For the filling:
Combine everything but the chocolate and stir to combine. Taste and add more cinnamon if you feel it’s necessary. It should taste sweet and equally of almonds and cinnamon.
Spread mixture over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle chocolate over the filling. Starting at the short end, tightly roll the dough up. Cut into 10-12 equal rounds, place in a large, buttered/oiled baking dish (they should be touching each other). Let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375.
Brush buns with melted butter and sprinkle the coarse sugar (optional). Bake for 20-30 minutes or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in pan.
Most of the recipes on this here blog are come by organically. Whether it be a dish that tells a story of where I am at some point, a bundle of asparagus that moves me to do some research and make something new, or a particularly moving line in a book (My Berlin Kitchen, these days) that sends me reeling for the kitchen, apron barely tied before I start rummaging through cupboards and tossing things into a basket to be turned into dinner.
But sometimes, when I’m too easily convinced that the couch is better than the grocery store, I go on the hunt. Looking for the perfect recipe, one that requires little more than what’s already housed in our kitchen. There are a few places I typically look, Food52 being one of my main one-stop-shops. They run the gamut of recipes, from 3 ingredient dishes, to full on dinner party menus that would stress even the greatest cooks. I tend towards the simpler, less involved varieties. Less is more in my life these days, and I’m sure you’ll agree that summer yearns for the simpler things.
When I stumbled on the recipe for David Lebovitz's Chocolate Sorbet, I knew I'd hit the motherload. Six ingredients (plus a few extras I chose to add in), very little hands-on time, and the resulting sorbet is impossibly creamy (like real ice cream), dark and cocoa-y, and rich beyond any sorbet I’ve tried. I knew I’d met my match immediately. And off I went, boiling and whisking, churning and freezing. This may just be my new favourite summer fling.
Vegan Mexican Chocolate Sorbet
recipe adapted from David Lebovitz via Food52
makes 2 pints
I made two pints of this because…well… more is more sometimes? I knew it would disappear fast in our freezer and I wanted to be sure I actually got to eat some of it before it was gone. Feel free to halve it based on the initial recipe if you’d like.
As I said, using the best cocoa, dark chocolate (with no milk ingredients if you’re concerned about it being vegan), spices and vanilla is important here. It will make all the difference. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can read David’s tips on how to churn by hand here.
4 1/2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (+/- depending on heat-tolerance)
1 1/2 cups dutch-process cocoa powder
2 cups roughly chopped high quality dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet)
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a large saucepan, add half of the water (2 1/4 cups), the sugar, spices and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, whisking often, and when it comes to a boil, let it bubble away for 45 seconds as you whisk constantly.
Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and the rest of the water. Transfer to a blender and blend for 15 seconds on high (don’t skip this step! Something science-y happens and I won’t try to explain it, but it makes a big difference in the overall texture of the sorbet). Chill completely in the fridge.
Pour into your prepared ice cream machine and freeze according to your machine’s manufacturer instructions (mine called for a 20-30 minute churn followed by a 6 hour stint in the freezer to firm it up).
Serve with a few flecks of salt.
I’ve been so looking forward to sharing this post! You know how excited I get when I try something new - I want to yell it from the rooftops so you can all be as tempted and seduced by new products, flavours and brands as I am. Or because I just like to yack and yack. That, too.
When I started writing in this little corner of the internet, I decided I wouldn’t take on sponsorship’s because I felt it might be harder for people to feel connected with me on the other end of their computer screens and I might come off insincere or pushy. Sponsored posts can sometimes come off like a schmoozy, cologne-drenched salesman trying to shove the highest priced, lowest quality products down your gullet. Granted, there are some really incredible and well-partnered writer/sponsor relationships out there, it just never seemed right for me and what I hoped to accomplish.
So you can imagine my reaction when Kalikori Olive Oil approached me to team up and spread some love about their olive oil, which I had been using for quite some time. I knew I loved their product (loved might even be a small understatement, I am somewhat obsessed) but wondered if you all would still trust me to be honest about my thoughts on food if I was taking on sponsorship.
Ultimately, and not without much thought, I decided it was a move that I felt comfortable making. I would never take on something that didn’t feel sincere and aligned with what I’ve always wanted to accomplish here - honest talk about real, whole food and ingredients - and I truly believe that this product connects with that and so I’m anxious to tell you more about this small business that produces such an incredible product. And so, let’s talk about my favourite olive oil!
photo courtesy of Olive Oil Times
Kalikori Olive Oil is a family-owned and operated business run out of Montreal (1.5 hrs from my hometown of Ottawa). The paternal grandfather of the Ligris family, Vassiily, planted vatsikes olive trees near Kalamata in Messinia in the 1950s and three generations later, Vassiily’s granddaughter Effy and her family took charge of the companys operations and has since been slowly, naturally, finding it’s way into the home of adoring customers who have all but fallen in love with this peppery, green olive oil. Each year, the family heads to Greece to assist in the harvest of the olives and oversee the processing. This is as “small, family run” as it gets and the passion for their craft is entirely evident in not only their eagerness to talk about all the ridiculously tasty ways you can use their oil for, but in their efforts to create a consistently impeccable product. Every one of the some-30 bottles I’ve purchased has tasted the same - rich, peppery and clean with a zingy bitterness that sort of tingles as it makes it’s way down your throat. It has a low acidity and is moderately flavoured. I sometimes sneak into the kitchen just to slurp a spoonful of it. It’s that good.
Each month I’m going to share a recipe that shines a well-deserved spotlight on this small family business’ olive oil and it’s unique, grassy flavour and how you can make the most of it. This month I really wanted to play with the flavour combination of olive oil, orange and toasted fennel. The earthy oil and sweet, toasty fennel pair so wonderfully with the orange zest and juice. I decided to bake these flavours into a loaf of quick bread that would brighten up any afternoon tea or breakfast coffee. It’s delicately sweet and has such a nice brightness to it. The olive oil makes the crumb a bit denser, but it makes for a moist, tender loaf.
If you want to try out Kalikori’s oil in this recipe, you can find some have a peek at their supplier, Favuzzi’s, Where to Buy page. Just search in your city.
Kalikori Olive Oil, Toasted Fennel & Orange Loaf with Orange Glaze
adapted from The Vanilla Bean Blog
makes 1 loaf
1 3/4 cups AP flour (Sub in 1/4 cup whole wheat if wanted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp toasted, ground fennel seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tbsp orange zest (from 1 large orange)
Juice from 1 large orange
1/2 cup milk (soy or almond ok, too)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup Kalikori Olive Oil
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 5-by-9 inch loaf pan
In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking power and soda, salt, and fennel. Stir until combined.
In another large bowl, mix the orange zest and sugar until combined. Add the juice, milk, eggs and olive oil and gently whisk to combine. Add the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
While baking, mix the ingredients for the glaze until smooth. Taste and add more juice if necessary.
Remove the loaf from the pan and place the on a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment. Poke about 10-15 times evenly on top of the loaf with a toothpick and spoon the orange glaze over the top. Let cool. Slice and serve.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. Kalikori Olive Oil sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend restaurants or products I use/enjoy personally and believe will be good for my readers.
It’s rare that we talk about cookies around here. If we’re being honest, it’s rare that we even eat cookies around here.
Not because we don’t like them. Oh helllllll no! We like them a little too much. A plate piled high with 2 dozen cookies magically turns into crumbs in a matter of hours around here. Especially when there’s cold milk in the fridge. We can’t help ourselves! I’d feel bad if I wasn’t certain this was a universal issue. Who among us can practice self control while the scent of freshly baked cookies is wafting through the air?! The answer is; nobody. Not one single soul. And if you’re about to tell me “Kelly, I can totally control myself around cookies”, then I don’t know if we can be friends anymore. I’m sorry. It’s just too painful.
I’ve got a backlog of a few healthy post-Thanksgiving dishes, ones that I’m entirely proud of, I really wanted to share with you all, but after yesterday, after THE cookie… they ended up on the back burner so we could talk about THE cookie today. Mondays are hard and deserve some gooey, melting chocolate wrapped in a warm brown-butter dough and speckled with crunchy toasted pepitas. I want to make your Monday better with cookies. Can’t you just let me do that? And promise me you’ll whip up a batch like…TONIGHT. Even this afternoon? As soon as humanly possible? Right this second?! I know I can count on you.
Brown Butter, Toasted Pepita & Bittersweet Chocolate Cookies
adapted from Buns in my Oven
makes approx. 2 1/2 dozen
If pepitas aren’t your thing, you could absolutely swap out for your favourite toasted nut. However, they really are a great addition to the cookie so try them if you’re feeling like something a bit different.
If you don’t enjoy a salty kick in your cookies, halve the amount of salt added.
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
300g (approx 1 1/2 cups) bittersweet chocolate chunks/chips (Camino makes the best if you can find some)
3/4 cup pepitas, lightly toasted in dry skillet
In a heavy skillet (not a non-stick pan, they make it too difficult to see the colour changed in the butter), melt the butter oven medium heat. Let it cook, swirling the pan every minute or two, until golden brown and nutty smelling, 10 minutes. Don’t let the bits in the bottom burn -that means you’ve cooked too long. Remove from heat and pour into a shallow dish. Refrigerate until re-hardened (if it’s not completely hard, that’s ok).
Preheat oven to 350.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using your hand-mixer, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the eggs in, one at a time and scraping the bowl in between. Add vanilla.
Mix the baking soda, salt and flour together and add it slowly to the batter, mixing only until combined with each addition. Try not to overmix. Add the chocolate and pepitas and stir again just until they’re incorporated. If it’s a bit too dry, add 1 tbsp milk or water just to moisten.
Drop 1 1/2 tbsp balls of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until edges are just lightly golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack, pour cold glass of milk, dunk cookies in milk and slip into a euphoric cookie-coma.
It’s that time again…. Farmers Feast #2 is here! And it comes bearing brilliant red berries and crispy smoked bacon. That sounds good, right? I thought so, too.
When Tara dropped off the basket this week (I wasn’t able to make it to the market last Sunday because I was shoving my face full of oysters, fish burgers and Kichesippi beer at The Whalesbone 5th Annual Oysterfest – I know, it’s a rough life. I’m super hard done by.) I first laid eyes on the pint of impossibly plump, unblemished and heart-achingly deep plummy red cherries. I don’t know if I heard anything Tara said for the first 10 seconds as my brain slowed to a hazy berry-induced coma while I fully absorbed the excitement of it all. To their right, a pint of equally stunning Red Currants, as delicate and glossy as glass beads. I knew that despite my urge to start popping them in my mouth like M&Ms, I wanted to hold out and do something extra special.
Along with the berries came some bacon, naked oats and a red wheat flour blend, humongous fava beans pods (which, to be honest, I was a little terrified of at first), some rainbow Swiss chard, delicate sugared flower petals (that are so beautiful I’m almost scared to use them!), some incredibly pungent Belarus garlic, spotty, organic brown eggs and some life-changing amber maple syrup (that I’ve been sneaking regular swigs from).
Since we’re mere days away from celebrating Canada’s 145 birthday (she’s a lovely old broad, ain’t she?), I thought something Red and White might be suiting for the occasion. Fluffy white clouds of billowy whipped cream layered between tangy, succulent cherries, lusciously tart red currant curd, and a crisp, salty-sweet maple bacon granola. Are you still with me? Should I send help? Quick, get the nearest person to hurl a glass of ice water in your face! That’ll shake the bacon sweats right outta you!
Though I wasn’t able to use everything offered in the basket (I wasn’t sure if you’d welcome the idea of Fava beans in your parfaits), I came pretty darn close. The list of vendors who graciously provided the contents of the Farmers Feast this week are;
Roots & Shoots Farm – rainbow chard
Garland’s Sugar Shack – amber maple syrup
Castor River Farm – flour, quick oats and smoked bacon
Corinne Mooney’s Fleurs Combestiles – sugared flowers
Acorn Creek Garden Farm – Belarus Garlic
Warner’s Farm – currants and cherries
Waratah Downs Organic Farm – fava beans
Reinink Family Farms – Organic eggs
Cherry & Red Currant Curd Granola Parfaits
After making and tasting the final product, I’m not 100% sold on the addition of bacon. The bacon itself was un-frigging-believable in flavour, but it didn’t add much to the final product. Try as I may, sometimes things just seem better on paper. So I’ve made adjustments if you’d like to leave it out.
That said, the Maple-Bacon Granola on it’s own is something you MUST try. I back it 100% and have been eating it with a spoon since yesterday morning.
Red Currant Curd
adapted from La Twisted Chef
2 cups fresh red currants (about 1 pint) rinsed (save a few for garnish!)
6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into pieces
pinch of salt
In a saucepot, add the currants (stems and all) and a splash of water. Cook until the berries have burst and released all their juices. Use the back of a wooden spoon to gently help smoosh them.
Strain the juice into a bowl pressing on the pulp to make sure you’ve gotten all the juice.
Stir half the currant juice (for a more tart curd, add about 3/4 of it), yolks and sugar together in the rinsed sauce pot and place over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and add butter, 1 piece at a time, until incorporated. Scrap curd into a bowl and push a piece of plastic wrap right against the top of the curd (to prevent a skin forming). Refrigerate for at least an hour so it can set.
adapted from Married and Cooking
6 slices bacon (optional)
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup pecan pieces
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup bacon fat (or vegetable oil if you’re cutting out the bacon)
Preheat over to 350.
If using, place the bacon on a wire rack over a clean cookie sheet and place in the oven. Bake until crisp (about 10-15 minutes). Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl and reserve. Let bacon cool and then crumble into small pieces. Maintain the oven temperature.
Mix the oats, cinnamon and pecans and pour onto a cookie sheet. Place in the oven, stirring every so often, until oats and nuts are lightly toasted and golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and pour into a large bowl. Add the maple syrup, bacon fat (or oil), crumbled bacon and salt. Mix well and pour back onto cookie sheet. Bake for another 10-12 minutes or until oats have absorbed the oil/syrup and feel dry and crunchy to the touch. Let cool and pour into a jar.
For the Parfait:
1 ½ cups whipping cream
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 pint cherries, pitted and rough chopped
Pour whipping cream and maple syrup into a bowl and, using electric mixer or stand mixer, whip until stiff peaks form.
In 4 serving glasses (alternatively, 2 tall glasses), spoon a layer of whipped cream, then a layer of curd, a sprinkle of cherries, another layer of whipped cream and a thick layer of granola. Do another layer of whipped cream and curd, and then top with cherries and granola. If you’ve reserved any currants, garnish with them.
Place in the fridge for 30 minutes to set, and then dig right in there!
As I was flying 40,000ft in the air over the British Columbia Rocky Mountains, something struck me (aside from the usual “I’m probably about to die. I better eat another crunchy Cheeto just in case!”)…
I really need to eat some vegetables.
Yes, these are the thoughts that scatter throughout my mind when I’m not thinking about how the airplane is inevitably going to kill me (I get terribly psychotic on airplanes - the only cure is booze and candy… but isn’t that the cure for anything anytime?)
The past week has been a never-ending feast of all things cream-sauced, butter-filled, sugar-crusted and hollandaised… my gut is feeling a little worse-for-wear to say the least. The very least.
I returned home Saturday evening, tired, jet lagged and hungry, to a lively bundle of freshly cut, ruby red and green Rhubarb from my great friend Ashley’s Mom, Wendy. Keeping in mind my promise to eat more veggies and fruit this week, I got busy making some White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes.
…..what?! Pie isn’t considered healthy? But it’s got fruit in it! Well jeez, guys. I can’t be held responsible for that!
In all seriousness, these are not exactly healthy. But what they lack in nutrition, they make up for in utterly delightful flavour. The combination of the sweet, floral white peaches, tart rhubarb and gentle rose-water flavour is perhaps one of my new favourites. Just eat them in moderation (and don’t keep sneaking past your boyfriend to pick pieces of the dough off in the fridge and chew them as fast as you can so he doesn’t know… but he always knows).
Individual White Peach & Rhubarb Galettes with Rosewater Pastry
Pate brisee adapted from Martha Stewart
Note: White peaches, which have a lighter flesh colour and are slightly more floral in flavour than typical yellow peaches, are recommended but not mandatory in this recipe.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup unsalted butter chilled and cut into small pieces
1 tbsp rosewater
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
In the bowl of a food processor (which you can chill for 30 minutes prior to dough making for optimal results), add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse for 5 seconds to blend.
Add the butter, rosewater and 2 tbsp of the ice water and pulse. Add more ice water, 1tbsp at a time while pulsing until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. When you pinch it, it should easily come together.
Pour out and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight (can be frozen and stored for 1 month).
1lb (about 4 cups) trimmed rhubarb, sliced into 1” chunks
4 very ripe white peaches, pit removed, sliced thin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp rosewater
1/4 cup cornstarch
coarse sugar for finishing
Toss all ingredient in a bowl.
Once dough has been chilled, divide into 8 equal sized portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece to a 7-inch round, 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the rounds to 2 baking sheets. Add a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling into the center of the dough. Fold edges over the filling leaving an opening in the center.
Once all the rounds are filled and folded, brush the dough with water and sprinkle with coarse (turbinado or sanding) sugar. Place the trays in the fridge while you pre-heat the oven t0 400 degrees.
Bake for 25 minutes until crust is golden. Turn heat down to 375 and bake until fruit filling is bubbling and set.
Remove and let cool on a wire rack with parchment paper underneath (to catch all the saucy drips).
Serve on their own, with a little whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on the side.
Isn’t it odd? In a beautiful, bewildering, can’t-seem-to-wrap-your-head-around-it, how did I get here sort of way. The idea that one single day can bring about so many exciting opportunities, so many changes, exchanges, smiles, frustrations and successes never ceases to amaze me. Life is absurdly fascinating.
I woke this morning feeling the same as always; tired, unmotivated to emerge from my comfy cocoon for the sake of work and wanting to stay in bed and snuggle with Ryder a little longer. I walked the same streets I do every day. McLeod to Gladstone. To Bank. To Slater. I sat at my desk, like thousands of days before. I ate my lunch, leftover ginger scallion meatballs with chicken stock, heated in the office microwaves, as always. I walked to the store to buy a birthday card for a friend. I said hello to some usual suspects, the perpetually cheerful homeless gent who sets up camp on the corner of Albert and O’Connor Street, the disinterested security officers who sit, sharing in discourse about the hockey game and the Subway around the corner, my co-workers poking fun at each other. I met Mr GL on Gloucester St for a ride home. I walked in the door to be greeted by an excited Ryder, her low grumbles stifled by her favourite florescent orange ball crammed far too deep into her gullet. My work bag fell from my shoulder onto the same cherry red chair it always does.
And then my phone rang. A number I wasn’t familiar with. I sat and listened, for what felt like an hour, and received some potentially life changing news. Good news, I should say. But until next week, I must stay tight lipped about this news.
And so I’ve come here to share the things I am allowed to share. Brownies! Sweet and salty brownies, to be more precise.
As you know, I’m not one for sweets. But somehow, once a pinch of salt has been added to the mix, I turn into a mad woman, secretly hogging all the sweets to myself, scavenging for any crumbs that, god forbid, may have fallen from my mouth to the table below. And these Pretzel & Peanut Crusted Cocoa Brownies are no laughing matter. They are intensely cocoa-y, rich and dense. The crunchy, nutty, salty topping only accentuating the incredible chocolatey flavour. I could have easily devoured all 12 of them in one fell swoop…. but I took a deep breath, composed myself and resisted their sexy, salty advances. I wish you all the luck in the world doing the same thing. Truly. It is a feat of strength.
Pretzel & Peanut Crusted Cocoa Brownies
Brownies adapted from Smitten Kitchen, topping is my own
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt (flaky sea salt works wonderfully here)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup pretzels
1/2 cup salt roasted peanuts
2 tbsp natural peanut butter
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom and sides of an 8×8-inch square baking pan (I used an11 x 7 x 2 inch Rectangular Pan, which worked, but the brownies are a touch thin) with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.
In a large heat-proof bowl, add the butter, sugar and cocoa powder. Place the bowl over a barely simmering pot of water on the stove (the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the boiling water so try to use a smaller pot + bigger bowl combo). Let the butter melt and stir the cocoa and sugar into it slowly. Once everything is melted, remove from the heat and give it a good stir with a wooden spoon. It’ll still be quite gritty at this point. Let it cool until just warm (not hot - don’t want to cook the eggs!)
While you’re waiting for the cocoa mixture to cool, toss the pretzels and peanuts into a plastic bag and smash with a meat mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Leave some larger pieces of pretzel as they give a nice texture to the finished product. Pour into a medium sized bowl and add the peanut butter. Stir slowly until everything has a light coating of peanut butter.
Back to the brownies; Add the vanilla and salt and one egg. Mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon. Add the second egg and mix well.
Add the flour to the bowl and stir until no flour-pockets can be seen. Beat with a wooden spoon/spatula for another minute to get everything really smooth and uniform.
Pour batter into prepared pan and top with salty mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean.
Let cool completely before cutting into 2” squares.
“Homemade salsa? Homemade cheese? Homemade spice blends? Homemade sauces? Who has the time?”
Or so I thought.
Until I really started cooking for myself, the idea of making my own items that I could otherwise buy in jars or deli counters just didn’t make any sense to me. Why would I bother when someone else can do it for me? Of course, the reasons for making scratch-options as opposed to canned/jarred/pre-packed are vast, ranging from sodium control to food allergies to the simple fact that it just tastes better. Afterall, that is what it’s all about, right?
When I came across Nancy Silvertion’s recipe for an easy homemade Ricotta in this month’s Bon Appetit, I was hesitant at best. Many ‘easy’ homemade recipes for ricotta that I’ve come across in the past were sometimes 2-day ordeals, which I, unfortunately, don’t always have the patients for. But unlike those, presumably delicious, other recipes, this one was true to it’s word. 30 minutes, 4 ingredients, and a little cheesecloth. When I say it’s easier than a kick in the pants, I really do mean it. And failing that, it’s absolutely easier, as well as cheaper, than heading to the grocery store and buying a tub of the stuff. Just in case I haven’t sold you yet, it tastes unlike any ‘ricotta’ you might buy from your grocery store. I found it to be far creamier, fresher and lighter than I had expected.
Once I finished the totally uncomplicated process of making the cheese, I really wanted to showcase it in a manner that let it shine. Having never had Ricotta in a sweet dish, I thought I might give it a whirl and see where we went. I had purchased hazelnuts and honey, assuming I could put those to good use, as well as some mint, plums and cinnamon that I found hanging around the house. Before I knew it I was roasting, drizzling, and chopping things up for one of the lightest, most flavourful and texturally-pleasing dishes I’ve had in some time. I’m well aware I’ve asked you time and time again to take my word, but for love of all things sweet and creamy, please take it again! I beg of you. I’m at your mercy! I AM!
Homemade Ricotta with Roasted Hazelnuts, Plum and Mint
Ricotta recipe adapted from Bon Appétit via Mozza chef Nancy Silvertion
As Nancy points out, this isn’t an authentic Ricotta (which means, literally, “Recooked”) since we aren’t reheating the leftover whey from homemade Mozzarella, however, I have no doubt you will find it favourable to the supermarket variety.
makes 1-2 cups
4 cups whole milk
1 cup table cream
2 tbsp very fresh lemon juice
½ tsp salt
6 layers of cheesecloth
Before you begin, set up a mesh-sieve or colander set inside a large bowl. Add the layered cheese cloth inside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring the lemon juice, cream and milk just to a boil. Do not stir during cooking. While it’s reaching a boil you will see curds start to appear. Try not to disturb them as you want to the curds to stay intact.
Once mixture has come to a boil, immediately remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Carefully spoon, (using a measuring cup or ladle, not a slotted spoon), the liquid and curds into the cheesecloth. Let cheese drain for at least 30 minutes. The longer it sits the more flavourful and creamy the ricotta will be.
Note: If curds do not start developing as your mixture comes to a boil, it means your lemon is not acidic enough. Add another tablespoon and stir being very careful not to disturb curds.
Note #2: When I was ready to eat the cheese, I gave the cloth a good squeeze to remove excess moisture. I’m not sure if this is appropriate practice, but it still tasted just wonderful to me.
If you don’t have hazelnuts or plums on hand, feel free to use a stone-fruit and nut of your choice. Peaches and pecans would be lovely together. Pistachios would be wonderful as well.
2 plums, pit removes and sliced
¼ cup skinned hazelnuts
¼ cup mint leaves
honey for drizzling
cinnamon, for garnish
Preheat oven to 325.
Place whole hazelnuts in a roasting pan and cook, shaking the pan every couple of minutes, until golden brown. About 7-8 minutes. Let nuts sit until cool to the touch.
Once hazelnuts have cooled, give them a quick run through with your knife so they are in large pieces.
Chop about half of the mint leaves, leaving the other half whole for presentation.
In 3-4 serving bowls, place a large spoonful of ricotta. Top each with 4 plum slices, a sprinkle of nuts, and some whole and chopped mint. Drizzle each bowl with honey and sprinkle with cinnamon to finish.
I asked Claire, who is the always-on-point wine blogger for local food blog FoodiePrints, what she would pair with this since I couldn’t resist giving a wine option to go along with such a pretty dish. She suggested a Sauternes would really rock with dessert. More specifically, a Chateau Guiraud. I had hoped to be able to try the pairing out before I shared but was unable to find for tonight. So hopefully you will do me the honor and report back on how wonderful I’m sure it is.
Until we meet again.