10 11 / 2013
It seems as though I’ve been averaging about one blog post per season these days, so in honour of Fall which has so swiftly entered into our midsts, I’d like to share a delectably simple and easy crowd-pleaser, Roasted Pears with Maple Marscarpone and Nut Oat Crumble (otherwise known as Roasted Pear Crumble).
I’m not sure when or why, but somewhere along the way, the Pear got shunned. Pears are tricky as we only grow them locally during a short period of time, much like the rest of our produce. And, much like our produce, can taste pretty miserable if eaten out of season. Pears, when picked prematurely, are comparable to jawbreakers, and lack any and all flavour. On the other hand, the overripe pear can be mushy, bruisey and mealy. What’s a pear-eating girl to do?
Picking out a perfect pear, smack dab in the middle of the season is certainly a treat that shouldn’t be wasted. And, like it’s more popular cousin, the apple, tastes even more complex when roasted. Pick fruit that is slightly underripe as a mushy pear won’t hold up in the oven, and get creative with your nut mixture. Instead of sweetening my marscarpone with sugar, I used real maple syrup. If you can’t find marscarpone, use a nice cream cheese (no philly if you can help it). Dress up your dish however you like, but be sure to finish with a drizzle of good olive oil and a maple syrup to match.
Supporting Pear Love, one recipe at a time.
- Blonde in the Kitchen
23 8 / 2013
Summer, it’s finally here! I made this faux ice cream a few weeks ago just before our season appeared to take a turn for the worse. Now that our summer has returned (bring on the frizz!), I thought it appropriate to write about this decadent, yet sinless, hot weather treat.
Ok, I’ll admit, I’m not lactose-intolerant, gluten-intolerant or allergic to peanuts. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t swap in coconut milk for my usual skim, bake with gluten-free flours, or use almond butter for my PB&J’s. Variety is the spice of life after all.
As lucky as I am, I can’t forget about the people who run screaming for the hills at the thought of an extra-large Dairy Queen Blizzard. And for that, I give you a dairy-free ice cream option using coconut milk and fresh, perfectly ripe, in-season peaches. Once you master this recipe, you can just as easily supplement strawberries, blueberries or a fruit of your choice — just be sure to adjust the sweetness. I used this recipe by the Gluten-Free Goddess, but dairy-free recipes are pretty easy to find.
Don’t think I’ve renounced the cow just yet. I still plan to make my first custard-based ice cream in the very near future.
I need to keep it spicy right?
Blonde in the Kitchen
20 6 / 2013
How about that? The minute the Spring weather arrives, Summer walks right up and invites itself in. Better late than never I guess. To mark the end of a rather confusing Spring, I thought I’d share a quick appetizer recipe perfectly suitable to serve throughout the summer.
I hit one of the early St. Lawrence Farmer’s Markets this season and found an abundance of spring garlic (think leeks crossed with green onions). The whole exterior of the market was perfumed with a rather delightful garlic smell — fresh, earthy chive mixed with that pungent tang of garlic that only a good swig of Listerine can tackle. I couldn’t think of any reason to buy them, but then again, I couldn’t think of any reason not to. It was mentioned that the the garlic, left whole, would grill up nicely as a side dish to a steak, but since my 500 square foot condo severely limits my ability to cook outdoors, I had to find a solution beyond, “to keep the vampires away”.
This Spring Onion Tart with Honey and Pecorino from Sweet Paul, Spring 2012, is the perfect vessel to get that just-plucked garlic into your tummy (by swapping in the garlic for the onion). This flavour combination reminds me of a refined version of a feta and honey crepe my room mate used to make in university. Though our tastes have changed, and eating Nutella from the jar is no longer deemed an appropriate dinner option, nothing beats salty Feta doused in achingly-sweet, flowery honey. This recipe calls for Pecorino, which, though not nearly as salty as the Feta, allows the garlic to shine in this playful combination of flavours.
07 4 / 2013
If there is any retribution for this unnaturally long winter season, it is hidden beneath the veil of an amber-coloured national treasure. Cold, frigid nights, accompanied by warm, sunny days should, ideally, create the optimal conditions for free-flowing sap. This sap — colourless and odourless — is boiled into golden, sugary submission before landing on your Sunday morning breakfast table.
I recently made a trip up north to visit a best friend and her family in Haliburton only to find her father boiling sap from the freshly-tapped maples that envelop their forested home. What a treat it was to watch has he poured jug after jug of the clear liquid into his sap tray (passed down from his father), laid out over coals. He boiled sap for three days — a man truly devoted to his craft. Luckily for me, I was sent home with my own personal supply of the liquid gold, having only just left the coals and cooled — a cook’s treat!
In order to pay a proper homage to my syrup, I made pancakes, what else? The divinely moist morsels were adapted from Sweet Paul’s Spring 2010 Issue. The added ricotta makes these pancakes fluffy, but light; not the dense and cakey result you get from boxed batter. The addition of the bananas to the syrup is a decadent touch and completely unnecessary, but then again, if you’re going to all the trouble to whip up the batter and fry each pancake to golden perfection, you might as well heat some bananas up in the syrup and enjoy yourself.
I halved this recipe and froze the leftovers in between squares of parchment. If you chose to do so, thaw the pancakes in the fridge and then toast them in the toaster to reheat for a quick breaky.
02 4 / 2013
Happy Jays Home Opener Day! Today, for most, marks the official kick off to Spring, when the Dome (though closed tonight on this rather nippy Tuesday evening) opens it’s doors to thousands of Blue Jays fans eager for the kind of sticky-floored, street-meat-fuelled, $20-pint haze that kicks off the start to a hopefully successful season, and longed-for, Summer heat.
Sadly, instead of enjoying what might normally translate into “Canadian Patio Weather” (anything above 5 degrees is fair game), I am curled up at home, enjoying the game from the comfort of warm sweatpants and cozy wool socks. Like most of you, I am not particularly enthused by our “extended” Winter season this year. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a cold winter and being able to hide my Christmas excess under the shield of oversized sweaters and parkas, but now I’m tired of hiding behind my faux-fur lined hood, sick of cold toes and runny noses and most definitely finished with salt-stained shoes.
In honour of our confused weather system, I bring you Creamy Broccoli Soup from Whole Living. I do really relish the idea of spring soups. They always seem to be vibrant green — a bright green vegetable puréed until smooth and finished with cream or a dollop of crème freche. Asparagus, peas and leek play host to shrimp or scallops, spiked with lemon or finished with fresh herbs. These soups are the opening act to your Easter lamb, or whole roasted salmon. They emit the kind of herbal, fresh aromas we long-for after a cold, dim winter. They speak of flavours to come.
I stumbled upon this recipe while attempting to clean out my diet, literally. I needed to purge myself of the junk and really focus on the kind of clean eating that should be inherent, yet isn’t. This recipe is vegetarian, vegan and unbelievably delicious — like health in a bowl. The trick is in the avocado — a surprising addition to this otherwise plain and simple soup. Add as much chili flake as you like to spice it up, but don’t skimp on the avocado. Don’t, just don’t.
Creamy Broccoli Soup
Make. Eat. Repeat. (see link above for actual recipe)
12 2 / 2013
Have you ever had that kind of eureka moment with food when two seemingly simple ingredients marry to become the single greatest flavour combination since peanut butter and jelly? Or maple syrup and bacon? Or cheese wiz and celery? Anyone? No? Well, I did this past weekend when I made these sweet and savoury little nibbles from who else? Sweet Paul (swoon). These Roasted Grape and Thyme Ricotta Crostini (actually named Roasted Grape Bruschetta) were adapted from the Winter 2012 Issue, and to me, are the epitome of understated elegance; roasted, smeared with ricotta and laid to rest on toasted baguette, elegance.
I’ll leave you to drool over the elegance now.
03 2 / 2013
Bowl Beyoncé Sunday!
I’ve got a short and sweet post to share with all of you couch-hugging, beer-sipping, nacho-munching footballs fans: Baked Sweet Potato Chips. Though not particularly synonymous with the chilis and chicken wings of traditional Super Bowl Sunday fare, these slightly more health concious treats are just as addictive as your favourite chips, and better yet, you won’t feel so bad munching on them after Beyoncé’s performance (admit it, you put down your pulled pork sandwich while Destiny’s Child hit the stage, didn’t you?)
I made this batch with cracked black pepper and coarse sea salt, but I’ve also made variations using curry powder and sea salt and rosemary.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make a simple dip using Greek yoghurt or light sour cream, fresh herbs like chives or dill and a few spices such as cumin or coriander.
16 12 / 2012
Day 9. Day 9 is devoted to an oldie and a newbie: Coconut Macaroon Trees. Growing up, my mother made chocolate coconut macaroons, a recipe she learned from her mother, and her mother before that. A mixture of coconut, oatmeal and cocoa powder was spooned onto sheets of wax paper that lined our dining room table and left to set until dry; no baking required.
My version of the macaroon comes from a Passover tradition. Unsweetened coconut, egg white, sugar and vanilla come together to create the most heavenly aroma when baked. While the exterior turns golden, the inside remains moist and chewy — simple, yet divine.
I found the idea for these adorable Macaroon Trees in the December 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living (where else?). Mix and bake in under 20 minutes but be sure to keep an eye on your little trees as they can burn easily.
15 12 / 2012
Day 10. Day 10 is for pouring yourself a very, very cold glass of milk and sitting down to a classic Christmas flick and a plate of Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps. The addition of the espresso enhances the cocoa powder and the melted semi-sweet chocolate in this recipe. And a crispy outer shell instantly gives away to a soft, deeply rich chocolate center. Need I say more?
Happy Baking! (and don’t forget the milk!)
14 12 / 2012
11 days. 12 seemed reasonable, 11 just seems impossible. If you’re a fretting, flour-covered mess like me, I’ve got just the thing to help get you through this 11th day before Christmas: Stained-Glass Window Cookies (also referred to as Church Windows or my not-so-secret obsession). Though we hadn’t made these in years, I suddenly had a craving for artificially-flavoured, mini marshmallows engulfed in melted chocolate and butter and wrapped in a cozy coat of shredded coconut (who doesn’t?). Though I can’t actually recall making these myself, Stained-Glass Window Cookies go way back to a time when the only thing my mom would let me do during baking season was put sprinkles on the shortbread.
In staying true to my Christmas Cookie roots, I decided that this recipe was just too important not to share. Neither my mom nor I could figure out where this recipe came from however, so I used this recipe and simply omitted the nuts.
I’m almost ashamed to admit how few ingredients are actually in this recipe, especially when compared to the complexity of the Day: 12 cookie, but, like I said, I’m “almost” ashamed.
I highly suggest
insist putting these marshmallow-studded little devils in the freezer to avoid eating them up before the big day arrives. Then again, they’re so easy to make that should you decide to indulge (don’t blame you), you can easily and quickly whip up another batch.