Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Soft Salted-Butter Caramels

Easy to make and delicious...what more could you want from a sweet treat, this one, my latest project for Tuesdays with Dorie from the book Baking Chez Moi.
I hope everyone has a happy and healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tourtière Turnovers

These are miniature versions of the savoury meat pie from Quebec that is traditionally served on Christmas Eve. This variation was made with ground pork filling seasoned with savory, thyme, cinnamon and cloves and baked in flaky puff pastry.
The minced meat was first slowly simmered with aromatics, herbs and spices then combined with mashed potatoes. The filling was very moist and flavourful as a result.
The recipe makes 48 cocktail portions but I made 16 turnovers, more of a snack or light lunch size. Tomato relish is the recommended accompaniment; I served them with a broccoli slaw that had the same sweet and sour flavours that helped cut the richness of the pastry. They were delicious hot or cold. 

Both recipes are from the book I'm cooking from this month, A Taste of Canada by Rose Murray. The recipe for Tourtière Turnovers is on page 16 and can also be found here. The recipe for Broccoli Slaw is on page 169.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cocoa Linzer Cookies - Tuesdays with Dorie

Our Tuesdays with Dorie choices from Baking Chez Moi were quite festive this month. I started with the Linzer cookies, chocolate spice cookies sandwiched together with either chocolate or jam filling.
I filled them with whipped chocolate ganache left over from another project and between that and the cocoa powder and cocoa nibs in the cookies, the chocolate flavour was quite intense. I think I would have liked a fruity jam filling to balance things out but these chocolate-y cookies definitely had their fans and were gone in no time at all.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cranberry Walnut Loaf

The book I'm using this month is Rose Murray's A Taste of Canada, filled with recipes both traditional and modern, and representative of the cultural diversity of the country. I've cooked quite a lot from it already but it keeps drawing me back to try more so this month I'm focusing on food for the festive season.

One of my favourites from the book is the Apricot-Almond Bread, a lovely, almond-scented tea loaf with a moist, fine crumb. I made the Cranberry Walnut variation this time, that was just as moist and delicious as the original.
The fresh cranberries provided pops of vibrant colour and bursts of fresh flavour, the toasted walnuts added a nutty crunch, and the thin lemon glaze that was absorbed by the warm cake added extra brightness and a glossy finish.
It would be a perfect Christmas morning treat but also a wonderful cake to gift to family and friends.

This recipe for Cranberry Walnut Loaf is on page 55 of the book.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Desert Roses - Tuesday with Dorie

Very little effort (and no candy thermometer - yay!) was required in producing these little candy treats made with cornflakes, toasted nuts and dried fruit bound with rich chocolate.
I used only cherries and sliced almonds and followed the bonne idée and made half a batch with white chocolate. They were incredibly easy to make and so very good; everyone loved them.

This is the 74th recipe the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group has made from Dorie Greenspan's book Baking Chez Moi which means we've passed the half-way mark (we actually did that with the previous recipe but I only just realized it)...only 71 recipes to go!

Visit here to see what everyone else made this week.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Crispy Parmesan Sole with Almond-Green Bean Sauté

I made another delicious meal using two more recipes from French Food at Home, this one, in less than 30 minutes! I know, if you're anything like me, you're skeptical of this promise but this dish really did take only 30 minutes...15 minutes for prep (including the time it takes for the broiler to preheat) and 15 minutes to cook.
Everyone in my family enjoys breaded fried fish but this recipe was for a non-fried version with a crunchy coating that was more Parmesan cheese than breadcrumbs, seasoned with herbes de Provence. Instead of drizzling the breaded filets of sole with browned butter at the end, I misted them with olive oil before they went into the oven to help them brown. All it took was three minutes per side under the broiler to crisp the crust and cook the fish through. It was a really easy and tasty way to prepare fish.
My family and I like green beans even when they're simply steamed but it's nice to do something a little special with them, especially when all it involves is adding toasted almonds and minced shallots. I adapted the recipe slightly because of family preferences and sautéed the shallots briefly before adding the blanched green beans. This was a delicious side that was perfect with the fish but would go well with a number of different mains.

The recipes I used for this meal were Parmesan Flatfish (page 80) and Green Beans with Shallots and Toasted Almonds (page 174).
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Coffee Glazed Pork Chops with Bacony Brussels Sprouts

This month, I've dusted off yet another of my infrequently used cookbooks, French Food at Home, by Laura Calder. In looking through the book and deciding what to make, I was struck by the simplicity of the recipes, particularly in the chapter titled Dinner Fairly Fast....who doesn't want good tasting food quickly?

The first recipe I made was A Good Coffee Chop (page 102). I used my cast iron pan set on high heat to give the meat a good sear, then lowered the heat to cook it through. We really enjoyed these beautifully caramelized, juicy pork chops. The coffee used to deglaze the pan at the end produced a rich tasting sauce that wasn't obviously coffee-flavoured. So good!
In the chapter on side dishes, I found a recipe for Bacony Brussels Sprouts Leaves (page 179) that was a fairly quick way to achieve caramelized Brussels sprouts. I ignored the vegetable prep instructions that involved removing the leaves of the sprouts and discarding the centres. Some leaves came loose during trimming but the bulk of my dish consisted of thinly sliced sprouts. They were briefly sautéed then combined with crisp bacon bits. Cooked this way, they retained so much of their colour and texture and didn't taste at all cabbage-y.

Both dishes were delicious and I've bookmarked them to make again.
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Brown Sugar Tart - Tuesdays with Dorie

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie project was a simple tart that required only a few ingredients apart from the baked tart shell: heavy cream, eggs, sea salt and lots of brown sugar. As you can imagine, it was very sweet.
There's only one person in my family who likes this kind of sugary custard tart and he was quite pleased that he had it all to himself (a half recipe that made a 6" tart). My husband had his first slice with homemade pear sorbet and enjoyed the rest plain.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Roast Fennel-Orange Chicken with Crunchy Butternut Squash Spirals

This Mediterranean-inspired roast chicken dish is an easy, one-pan dish that produces moist, beautifully bronzed chicken and tender fennel and onion, all subtly flavoured with orange and thyme.
A mixture of orange juice, orange zest, thyme and olive oil provides the flavour for the chicken, which is first dipped into it, then arranged on a bed of sliced fennel, onion and orange. In lieu of the extra olive oil called for in the recipe, I drizzled the remaining orange-thyme-oil chicken dip over the entire pan of chicken and vegetables before roasting.
An equally effortless side dish of roasted butternut squash spirals (they need only 10 minutes in the oven!) topped with crunchy herbed breadcrumbs was its accompaniment. 


Both recipes are from the book I've been cooking from this month, Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig: Roast Chicken with Fennel and Orange, page 188, which can also be found here; an adaptation of Roasted Delicata Squash with Thyme Bread Crumbs, page 108.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Moka Dupont - Tuesdays with Dorie

This week's project for Tuesdays with Dorie was one from the "Fancy Cake" chapter of Baking Chez Moi and required no baking. Essentially, it was an ice box cake comprising alternating layers of rich chocolate buttercream and espresso-dipped cookies.

The recommended cookies aren't available here so I bought low-sugar, high fibre cookies, not for their so-called health benefits but for their size and scalloped edges alone.
The chocolate buttercream was very rich and buttery and, as warned by the author, gritty in texture. I didn't care much for it on its own, but in combination with the cookies, the flavour of the cake was quite good and the chewiness of the bran in the cookies I used detracted from the graininess of the buttercream. I thought it was fine but the chocoholics in the family loved it.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Savoury Za'atar French Toast with Seared Tomatoes

When I came across the recipe for savoury French Toast in the book Modern Jewish Cooking, I knew I had to make it. My family and I love French toast but I'd never made a version that wasn't sweet. Flavoured with za'atar, the Middle Eastern spice blend that includes toasted sesame seeds, thyme, oregano and sumac, and served with some seared tomatoes, it sounded delicious. Then I noticed the recipe for Challah with Sautéed Leeks and Thyme. What better bread to use for this than a savoury version of challah, an enriched, eggy and slightly sweet bread.
I needed only one loaf so I made a half recipe and shaped it into a simple twist rather than a more involved braid. The classic challah dough was soft but easy to work with and it produced this beautiful golden loaf with a light and fluffy crumb and leek filling swirled throughout. We enjoyed some of it right away and I set the rest aside for a few days to get a little stale (which it never really did!).
The recipe for the French toast called for a standard mixture of eggs and milk,  and za'atar-flavoured butter for frying. I omitted the butter and added the spice blend and lemon zest directly to the eggs. Once the dipped bread slices were cooked and placed in the oven to keep warm, I seared the tomatoes in the pan and added an extra sprinkle of za'atar.

This was a delicious alternative to sweet French toast made even more special by the fabulous leek-filled challah bread. 

The recipe for this wonderful savoury French toast and tomatoes is on page 36 in the book and can also be found here. The recipe for the challah is on page 236 in the book.

I'm cooking from the book Modern Jewish Cooking this month so I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Babas au Rhum - Tuesdays with Dorie

This week's project for Tuesdays with Dorie was a small yeasted cake soaked in sweet syrup and filled with cream. 

The batter was easy to make and came together in just over 15 minutes in the stand mixer. I didn't have regular yeast so I used instant yeast. I reduced the amount to 1-1/2 tsp (about 25% less) but even that was too much I think. It has a faster rise than regular yeast but I was still surprised that during its second proof the batter crested the top of the pan (I used a regular muffin tin) in less than 15 minutes(!) and mushroomed over the top during baking. I ended up not with the pretty little spheres I'd hoped for but ungainly looking oversized muffins!
The texture was good....the crumb was fine and delicate but again I think my choice of yeast or the quantity I used was a problem because even drenched in the citrusy-rum syrup, which was quite delicious, I could taste yeast. They did get eaten but this definitely was not one of my better bakes.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Steak and Za'atar Fajitas with Grilled Peppers and Onions

Fajitas are a fun way to get a tasty meal to table quickly and the recipe from the book Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig is a particularly good one, combining tender steak strips with grilled sweet peppers and onions.
The key to the beef's texture and incredible flavour is the marinade. It includes ingredients you would expect to see - onion, garlic, lime, red pepper flakes, olive oil - and one you wouldn't, the Middle Eastern spice blend za'atar. Made from toasted sesame seeds, thyme, oregano and sumac, it's nutty and earthy tasting with a citrusy tang from the sumac. It's very good with steak but I think it would go well with chicken also.
Warm tortillas, fresh coriander and lime wedges are all that are needed to finish this meal. Delicious!

I'm cooking from the book Modern Jewish Cooking this month so I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Simplest Plum Tart - Tuesdays with Dorie

The second selection this month for Tuesdays with Dorie is my favourite type of fruit tart - lightly sweetened fruit baked in a tart crust. Its success depends on the quality of the fruit so I made sure to use only the ripest of Italian plums.
I used crushed speculoos cookies to absorb the liquid. They added such a nice subtle spice flavour that complemented the plums so well that I would love to make this tart with a spiced tart shell. Dorie has a recipe for one in another of her books, Baking From My Home To Yours...maybe I'll try that one next time.

Visit here to see more fruit tarts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Maple Cookies

Now for something sweet from the FoodNetwork, the online cookbook I've been using this month....cookies! 

These maple cookies are perfect for a packed lunch or an afternoon coffee break, or, as my husband believes, any time of day. The recipe comes from chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Emeril Lagasse who's known for "kicking it up a notch" and does he ever with these cookies. They not only contain maple syrup and pure maple flavouring but they're glazed with maple sugar icing. 
The dough was really easy to work with, which isn't always the case with sticky maple syrup as an ingredient, but it did soften quickly and needed to be chilled from time to time. I re-rolled the scraps and made more than 5 dozen cookies. Even with the extras, there was enough glaze for all, the trick was to keep it warm so it could be applied thinly.
These tasted incredible the day they were made and, unbelievably, they were even better the next day, with the same crunch as freshly baked but stronger maple flavour. 

I originally found this recipe on foodnetwork.com but it's no longer available there. It is on Emeril's site so if your want to make these cookies - and I know you do - the recipe is here.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bacon-Wrapped Roasted Pork Tenderloin

This month, I decided to tackle some recipes from the FoodNetwork that I've saved over the years. First, I made Bob Blumer's delicious Pepper-Crusted Maple-Glazed Salmon from the American site. This week, it's Michael Smith's Bacon Roast Pork Tenderloin from FoodNetwork Canada.
This dish is another winner! You can't go too far wrong wrapping meat in bacon; it not only adds flavour, it helps to keep lean cuts like this tenderloin moist. I also love the way this recipe is written: you can use any sweetener, any mustard and any herb or spice for the pork marinade, and it will taste fabulous. I used brown sugar, grainy Dijon mustard and fresh rosemary.
I served it with some rice and Sautéed Mushrooms with Spinach and Pepper, a recipe from Deborah Madison's book Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  

This made a quick and delicious weeknight meal and thinly sliced leftovers made very tasty sandwiches for lunch the next day. This is another recipe that will be repeated. I'm already thinking of different sweetener-mustard-herb combinations to use next time!
I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Brown Butter-Peach Tourte - Tuesdays with Dorie

Two tarts to celebrate seasonal fruit were chosen this month for Tuesdays with Dorie. This week, I made the peach tart. Actually, this peach dessert wasn't the typical open-faced tart I've become accustomed to making from the book Baking Chez Moi, but a tourte with a top crust made from the same cookie-like tart dough as the shell. Peach season here is short but sweet and this year's crop was particularly good, perfect for a pastry like this.
I decided to be more generous with the peaches so I loaded the crust with whatever it could hold, about one-and-a-half times what the recipe called for but even with the extra fruit, this was too buttery for me; I would have preferred it without the top crust and the browned butter but everyone else who had some really enjoyed it. 

To see the other fruit tarts, visit here.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Pepper-Crusted Maple-Glazed Salmon

If you love salmon, I have the perfect dish for you. It's a little sweet, a little salty, a little spicy, and perfectly delicious. Salmon doesn't really need much at all to make it taste good and this recipe used only three additional ingredients: maple syrup and soy sauce for the marinade, and freshly ground black pepper.
My oven is a little cranky at high temperatures so I roasted the fish at 475F (instead of 500F) and placed it pepper-side down at first to crisp, inverting it part way through cooking. The crunchy crust that formed provided a wonderful textural contrast to the moist salmon flesh and the black pepper heat was mellowed by the sweetness of the maple syrup.
I served the salmon with bok choy and sugar snap peas cooked en papillote, in a parchment envelope, with spring onions, garlic, orange zest and some fresh mint. The flavour combination was very nice and complemented the salmon well. 

This was made as a quick, mid-week family meal but I thought the salmon, in particular, was an elegant, company-worthy dish, one that will be repeated often.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray since both recipes came from cookbooks I don't use very often. The Pepper-Crusted Maple-Glazed Salmon was from one of my favourite online cookbooks, FoodNetwork, and can be found here. The side dish, Baby Bok Choy, Sugar Snap Peas, and Garlic en Papillote was from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan and has been published here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Coconut-Passionfruit Ice Cream Sandwiches

End of summer means many different things to me, mostly good things, but also one I don't look forward to, one of my most dreaded household chores, defrosting the deep freezer! But it must be done to make way for all of the gorgeous local produce I freeze every year.

I decided to treat myself to something a little special after surviving this year's ordeal ;)! I was inspired by the container of passionfruit curd, left over from this White Gold Passion Genoise and destined for the freezer, and the amount of space I'd created in that appliance, enough to now comfortably house my ice cream maker's freezer bowl. A batch of one my favourite ice creams was in the cards.
Passionfruit curd forms the base of this ice cream. All you have to do is blend in some cream, milk, a little sugar and vanilla bean paste and churn. It's as easy as that and results in an incredibly smooth and creamy ice cream with pure passionfruit flavour: tart, fresh and tangy.
In defrosting the freezer, I always come across ingredients I forgot I had that need to be used soon. I knew the unsweetened coconut I found would pair perfectly with my ice cream, especially in cookie form. These too were easy to make with all of the ingredients added to the food processor before being rolled out, chilled and baked (a process I altered slightly from the original recipe).

These sandwiches were completely delicious. The cookies had good coconut flavour, weren't very sweet, stayed remarkably crunchy and complemented the ice cream perfectly. It's a special combination that will be repeated.

If you would like to make these tropical treats for yourself, the recipes can be found here:

Pure Passion Ice Cream is surprisingly from a book devoted to pastry, The Pie and Pastry Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. The recipe for passionfruit curd is included but I made mine for another project from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Coconut Crisps from The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum are the cookies I used to sandwich that delectable ice cream. The recipe is also available here.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

White Gold Passion Genoise

The White Gold Passion Genoise was one of the recipes that drew me to Rose Levy Beranbaum's book Rose's Heavenly Cakes. In the author's words, "it's a glorious combination of white chocolate and passion fruit". How could I resist? When I saw the five pages of instructions, I thought perhaps I could after all but I do love a baking challenge!
There were a few components to tackle: the genoise; passionfruit syrup to moisten and flavour the cake; passionfruit curd filling; white chocolate-cream cheese buttercream. Some of the parts were a bit tricky for me to make. I've baked my share of rubbery genoise with flour pellets speckling the bottom and I've witnessed what overheating the white chocolate custard base for the buttercream does to it but everything went well this time since I paid close attention to those five pages of helpful hints and tips.
I made the cake the first time for my birthday a few years ago - yes, I bake my own birthday cakes - and thought it one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted. I deviated slightly from the original recipe this time and created a 4-layer cake with a double recipe of genoise and syrup and 1.5x the buttercream. I used an entire package of frozen passionfruit purée for the curd, about twice what was needed so there was plenty left over (for one of my favourite frozen desserts).
This cake captured all of the deliciousness of the original. The vanilla sponge was light and moist and imbued with the tartness of passionfruit, and the zingy passionfruit curd filling was the perfect foil for the delicate but rich white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Every bite was sheer bliss.

As with most frosted layer cakes, this one did require a little bit of planning but the experience of eating it made it well worth the time and effort of making.

I'm linking this post to Cookbook Countdown hosted by Kitchen Flavours and Emily's Cooking (Makan2) Foray. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Double-Corn Tea Cake - Tuesdays with Dorie

My latest endeavor from Baking Chez Moi was quite an interesting cake made with corn flour and fresh corn niblets. I'd never baked with corn flour before and wasn't sure what to expect.
It didn't rise that much for me so it was a little dense but it was fine-crumbed and moist and was a really pretty shade of yellow. The corn kernels were sweet and chewy, almost like dried fruit, but with concentrated corn flavour. It was a nice little cake but I wish I had followed Dorie's bonne idée and added nuts and cranberries for more flavour and to cut the sweetness.

Visit TWD to see the other members' bakes.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Profiteroles, Ice Cream and Hot Chocolate Sauce, Benoit Style - Tuesdays with Dorie

This month at Tuesdays with Dorie, a rather elaborate dessert from Baking Chez Moi was chosen as one of our projects. It was composed of vanilla pastry cream-filled choux pastry puffs, vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate sauce...a little daunting with all of those components but many could be made ahead.
I decided to try the crackle-top variation of the profiteroles that included a thin sugar cookie baked atop each puff that added a bit of sweet crunch to every bite. Filled with rich vanilla pastry cream, they were so good I didn't think they needed anything else but that wasn't the chosen recipe so I forged ahead and made the chocolate sauce and (bought) ice cream.

This was an impressive dessert that everyone really enjoyed and I would make it again.

Visit here to see what everyone else made.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Lavender Galettes - Tuesdays with Dorie

Lavender tends to be a polarizing ingredient in my family - Dorie's Spiced Honey Cake tasted strongly of it and was not a hit - so I wasn't sure how well these would go over. The fussiness of cutting individual parchment rectangles and thinly rolling a sticky dough in humid weather didn't add to their appeal.
So I was happy that they went over quite well. They were wafer thin, crisp and flaky like a rich cracker, and delicately flavoured with orange and vanilla with lavender as a subtle back note. There were some who would have preferred them sweeter but I liked them just as they were.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Martine's Gâteau de Savoie - Tuesdays with Dorie

This week's pick from Baking Chez Moi was from the "Simple Cakes" chapter. Baked in a bundt pan, this light, airy (almost fat-free) cake, with its lovely vanilla flavour, relied solely on eggs, with whites and yolks whipped separately, for its leavening.
I made a few changes to the recipe: I reduced the sugar by 100g and used a lower-protein cake & pastry flour. I also successfully baked it in a 10-cup pan which was smaller than recommended. The cake did rise above the top of the pan but the batter didn't spill over.
It had an interesting texture with a fine, even crumb that appeared to be quite moist but was actually a little dry, probably the effect of some of my changes. Fortunately, like the sponge cake that it is, it had the ability to absorb liquid without disintegrating so Dorie's roasted strawberries made an excellent accompaniment.